We <3 Fetter

Interview by Maija Jussila

Last week we premiered Fetter’s ‘Pariah’ – Over the weekend we sat down at l’Affiche with Jessica Tucker, the woman behind the solo project. In between mixing electronic, synthpop and industrial genres as well as creating the aesthetics for her live performances, we talked about the number of activities Jessica fills her time with and music she is inspired by.

Suddenly our conversation took an unexpected turn toward more serious topics and we found ourselves discussing how to find some balance between wants and needs, what it means to get older and the fear of getting bored. Despite some introspective subject matter, Jessica’s upbeat but laid-back nature kept us in check when necessary. We ended up enjoying our coffees and conversation in lighthearted moods, still smiling and without a single dull moment. That is the goal after all.

Hey Jessica, how are you?

I’m good. My face is still kinda numb from outside.

Yeah it’s gross outside. Where are you coming from?

I was editing video for a live performance that I want to have ready this weekend. It’s going pretty good,
I’m using these old black and white avant-garde films and it’s mixed with old footage of gymnastics. I’m making them colourful. It’s kind of fun, I’ve been staring at it for so long though, I’m not sure what’s going on. For this one film I kept thinking of something spinning, like a man body spinning endlessly. I don’t really film a lot of stuff myself, I like to use found stuff. I was trying to think of under what circumstances does a man body spin and I realized gymnastics. I made endless loops of them flipping. It just kind of got stuck in my head with this one new song I have that’s sort of about a vague male character. It’s not really real but it’s in your head, who likes to mess with the rhythm of your everyday life and make things a little crazy. I guess the spinning man comes from that.

What about you, where do you come from.

I’m from Washington State. I came to study at the Rietveld as an exchange student, I was supposed to be here only for six months but it’s been five years now.

One of the ways to fight him is to fetter him, meaning to bind him down.

From six months to five years – what’s made you stay?

Momentum. That’s what keeps making me stay.

Tell me about where Fetter comes from?

Officially I came up with that name when I was in school; I think that would’ve been 2011/2012. I started making music with that name in 2012 and performing in 2013. It started out officially during school because I wanted to make experimental music as a part of my schoolwork. I’ve been doing music for a long time in different ways. I was singing for a long time and then I started electronic stuff a couple of years before I started Fetter. The name Fetter came from one of those nights when you’re wasting time on Wikipedia, reading random articles. I was reading about Egyptian mythology and the god of evil and chaos and how to fight him. One of the ways to fight him is to fetter him, meaning to bind him down. That sounded nice, I’d only heard the word unfetter before, meaning to free, so thinking of the opposite as an action – of grabbing and holding onto – just seemed like a fitting thing for music to do.

You have a show coming up with Braids this week – who else would you love to play with?

I have an automatic answer for that, which is U.S. Girls or Jenny Hval because they’re women that I really look up to in what they’re making right now and they influence my work quite directly. That would be super fun. I worked last week at a show with Eartheater and she was awesome, and again another solo female. It was really really cool. It was really repetitive and minimal in ways but she did as much as she could in this really minimal space and expanded it, really literally with her body doing yoga on stage. And I like the way she performed songs that it wasn’t like verse, chorus, bridge, these A B C things that have to happen. She was really creating a space and she knew the breaks and melodies that she wanted to improvise within that and it didn’t have that linear quality to it.

Is that who you’re mainly listening to now? 

I got the Eartheater tape, U.S. Girls, Laurel Halo, a lot of solo females. It’s what I like, and obviously I can relate to it. I think it’s just the sound I’ve always liked and knowing that this one woman made it all.

That’s the thing, if something’s important, what do you do with it?

What are some important things for you?

I think that’s something I’m really working on figuring out and pinpointing. Maybe it’s this mid 20s crisis of like ok, now is the time to set some ground rules of what my priorities are. I’m not sure if it works like that but nevertheless I find myself thinking about it.
I think not being bored is very important and it’s a very scary thing. Physical health is also very important.

I think I’m thinking a lot about things that are not important that are constantly on my mind. Making money, I just can’t separate that as important but inevitably it is one of the most important things every day, to feed myself and have a house and I end up spending my time on silly things in order to do that. What else… Actual silliness is very important. Silly as in really goofy and laughing a lot. That’s very important to do. Family is definitely a priority and I’ve been away from them for a long time now so questioning my family’s importance and what do I want to do about it. That’s the thing, if something’s important, what do you do with it?

I also come up with these escape plans to go somewhere else in order to not be bored.

You mentioned momentum as the reason you’ve stayed. That goes together with not being bored.

I think this fear of being bored is the reason I’m constantly questioning whether I’m gonna stay here. Because people keep constantly asking me that, and I’m like what does that mean? For a year, for ever, for another week or for how long? For now I’m here but it will change. I also come up with these escape plans to go somewhere else in order not to be bored.

Have you made any future plans?

I’ve dabbled with ideas; it’s on my mind a lot. Maybe too much, I’m trying to be more present in my ideas. I was trying to come up with an excuse to go back to the U.S. and still have a mission. I would like to tour more, I haven’t toured yet. I think that’s what I’m going to prioritize for the coming year. Sometimes I wonder if reality will slap me in the face at some point, but freedom to do my music and have my lifestyle the way it is now even if that means very little money, but that’s fine.

But this is turning into a very heavy side about future. Like I said, silliness is really important and lightheartedness.

I’ve spent enough time with you to know that you are silly in the good kind of way.

Good, good to hear that.

Fetter will play at OT301, Amsterdam on Thursday, December 3rd, supporting Braids.