Songwriter Showcase: An Interview with Deadbeat

Deadbeat plays June 12th's Songwriter Showcase at Elastic Arts. Homeroom talks with the lo-fi solo singer/ songwriter (a.k.a. Jessica Risker) about her self-described "anti-folk apatheticisms" and influences that range from the do-it-alone attitude of Bob Dylan to the poetic musings of Daniel Johnston.

When did you first discover your talent for songwriting?

I think I'm still discovering my "talent", but I first knew I was interested in writing music in high school.  I tried my hand at it then, and wrote a little bit more in college, but it was difficult for me to finish ideas.  It wasn't until my brother sent me to the RPM Challenge a few years ago that I started writing and completing songs in earnest.  

Do song lyrics come to you at all times of the day?

Yes.  I almost always start a song with melodies that I hear in my head, and sometimes those melodies are accompanied by phrases or words.  When I'm working on a song, I tend to keep the song in the back of my mind while going about the day, and words sort of float in and fill the spaces over time.  But, some of my favorite songs were written lyrically in one big outburst of writing. 

What is the most challenging thing about songwriting for you?

The writing process can be frustrating, because when I'm beginning something, there's a gap between where it is and where I'd like it to be.  That frustration will stay with me until I figure out how to finish it, and sometimes that can take a while.  I also often get overwhelmed by the possibilities of where something can go.  But when the music is finished and I'm happy with it, it's ultimately very satisfying, and very fun to explore all the creative possibilities.  


Who has had the biggest influence on your songwriting?

I have two people in mind - my biggest musical influence is Beck, as I have always admired his creativity, humor, experimentation, and musical/artistic sensibility and aesthetic.  The second person is my brother Loren, who from the beginning has encouraged me to work at music, has always listened and given me feedback on my ideas, and has been an inspiration to watch in the patient and steady pursuance of his own artistic endeavors.  

What songs would you like played at your funeral?

I don't know!  Out of the cannon of songs "out there," I don't think I could narrow it down.  If I'm choosing out of my own songs, I would pick "Accident," as that song best captures my curiosity and wonderment at life and the beauty and force of nature.  

Songwriter Showcase with Thomas Comerford, Axons, Rebecca Francescatti and Deadbeat, 9pm June 12th at Elastic Arts, 3429 W Diversey Ave. #208, Chicago IL.