Nite Jewel

LA’s ’80s-revivalist Nite Jewel may have added production value to her sophomore album One Second of Love, but it still has the flickering prettiness we know her for. The murk-pop queen switches her diva-mode on/off and talks flying first class (she didn’t enjoy it), comparing her first record to losing her virginity (she didn’t enjoy it) and travelling in general (she loves it). Also there’s a guy dressed as an ox in the video for the title track (he freaked her out).

Interview by Brenda Bosma. Photos shot on film in Venice Beach, USA by Suzanna Zak

You seem like a lady of the world. Tell me what first class flying is like?
One time I had to fly first class, because I had missed my flight. It was the only seat they had available. I actually thought it was pretty awful. The seats are only comfortable for tall people. As I’m fairly short my feet couldn’t touch the ground. Also, you don’t get your own table, you have to share this huge island with the person next to you. I was sitting next to this snobby person who was taking up the entire island with her papers. It’s a good thing you get free champagne.

What can’t you leave without when going on a trip?
I can’t leave my journals and notebooks. One time I lost one of my notebooks in Austria. I’d like to think that somebody found it and is reading it right now. Luckily I never have forgotten some of the other essential things like underwear or birth-control pills.

Have you ever taken a trip for soul-searching reasons?
After my first year of college I went on a two-month backpacking trip to Europe. I was travelling with someone who was very interested in boys. That was kind of annoying. She wanted to go out clubbing every night, whereas I had a boyfriend and didn’t care to know what kind of crazy drink they had in Barcelona. One of the best trips I’ve ever had was just driving across the US with a friend. In the grandness and emptiness of it all you can really get to know yourself.

The good thing about trips is that if you are open for it they can give you presents that lie outside of your comfort zone; the bad thing is the moment when you have to pack and head home again. How are you with goodbyes?
Kind of terrible. I suffer from super separation problems when I end tours, like I miss my tour mates terribly, even if they annoyed me. I definitely feel happy when I’m travelling. It’s hard to say goodbye to the experience in general.

Isn’t it an advantage that your husband is touring with you?
That’s not always the case. He has his own musical career. But we’re used to that. We actually enjoy the time apart – I even think it’s good for us. When we get to see each other it’s really exciting. You wouldn’t know we’ve been together for seven years.

Compared to your first album this one has a smoother and crisper sound. Would you say it’s a more mature and confident sound?
Definitely more confident. I compare my first album to losing my virginity. It´s an exciting thing, but really awkward and you don’t need to do that again, you know? So obviously all the sex you’re gonna have after the first time is gonna be slightly more knowing and self-aware.

I’m curious to know what really happened in that one second of love.
That phrase came to me in a friend’s studio when we recorded the initial sessions for this album. I had a lot of time to sit down and it got me thinking about how I experienced the world. I really felt that the connections we make online are very rapid yet intense and powerful. I don’t think one second of love is something you can really find when you interact in person.

In the videoclip for ‘One Second of Love’ you seem a bit left out. Is this exemplary of your everyday life? I read something about you sometimes feeling like an anxious chipmunk?
I feel torn a lot in my everyday life, I really can shift into different personas depending on the environment. I wanted a video about this dichotomous relationship between in-person interaction and digital interaction. It eventually is conflated into some kind of ecstasy, which you can hear in the song as well.

Yes, when the guy dressed as an ox walks in.
He was the star! He just fully busted out everything. I didn’t get to talk to him.

Is that the anxious chipmunk talking?
I think he was a rapper or something. He was quite, um… strange.

If your life from now on was a trip you could book at a travel agency, would you rather travel on a bumpy road without navigation or fly first class sitting next to a nice person to an all-inclusive resort?
The former of course. I get off on how the world looks, not how it’s been constructed.

And then the guy dressed as an ox walks in!
Yes, ’cause that can’t be constructed.

Nite Jewel play on 19 July at EKKO in Utrecht. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members.