16th Annual Artist Survey: Mass Gothic | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019  

16th Annual Artist Survey: Mass Gothic

Jessica Zambri on the Midterm Elections, Christine Blasey Ford, Childhood Birthday Parties and Vacations, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Hanging with David Bowie

Jan 16, 2019 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Jessica Zambri of Mass Gothic (and also of Zambri and Solvey).

Mass Gothic is a duo that also features Zambri's husband Noel Heroux (formerly of Hooray For Earth). They released released a new album, I've Tortured You Long Enough, their sophomore album, in 2018 via Sub Pop.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Releasing an album this year was monumental. I try and use the opportunity to learn something new when I work on something and finally release it. We've been notoriously good at encouraging one another to be individualistic, but after spending some really intense time together making this album, we learned to focus even more, feel comfortable, each in our own skin, so that when we do come together, there's an ease to it.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats' chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

I think the more information we all have, the more interested we can be in what goes on. It's been a challenge to stay curious about differing perspectives, but I think it's imperative if we don't want to get stuck in our bubbles. I know I was shocked when Hillary didn't win and my gut reaction was, "Why am I so shocked?" I didn't take the time to listen or bother to go outside of my comfort zone enough. That's not cool.

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn't believe Ford's story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018?

That was really hard to watch and while I can't say I walked away from that feeling hopeful, I can say the opposite about the #MeToo movement. It's been really helpful to hear other women's stories and it doesn't mean there won't be more and more stories in the future, unfortunately, but the more info we have, the more useful we can be together. Healthy discussion is good. Time to pull these stories and experiences out from the dark.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry? 

Discussion is key in moving forward and while not every instance is served its rightful justice, that doesn't mean it's not worth fighting for, standing up for, and continuing to support and lift each other up. We all have to listen more.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians? 

I've been meditating and that has really helped me. It can be helpful to bring some healthy habits on the road to better prepare you for the ups and downs of touring and/or just life in general. We can't control what goes on around us and environments change, emotions change, so to cultivate some sort of stability within, which is not easy, can be grounding. I've accepted it's a bit of a lifelong practice. It's just about beginning again and again.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change? 

Biggest thing we try to do on tour is to not waste anything i.e. bag up all the food/drink, utensils, etc. from the green room and re-use until it's gone. I think it's really taught us to live more simply in general, sort of minimalist style, really use the things you have and cut out excess consumption.

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses. 

There will be massive job loss, particularly in the coal industry and that's not something to take for granted. That's lots of families losing their jobs. But, the coal industry is killing the environment and in turn, people. We can't just keep something going if it's causing insane pollution, killing communities around the country/world just to save some jobs. Where is the line ya know? Pollution kills and if we care about the people we love, animals and humans, we have to care about planet Earth.

What's your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

I remember on my birthdays my sister Cristi Jo, would also get a gift. As a young kid, sometimes that was hard to wrap my head around, even though it didn't bother me too much. Good on my parents though, teaching me to share happiness as a little one.

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid? What was your least favorite?

Sicily is up on the listtime with my family there, visiting the the graves of my relatives before me, the eating and drinking, and swimming in the Mediterranean. All gold.

What's been your most surreal experience in the music industry? 

Meeting David Bowie a couple times was a trip, to share a laugh with him was pretty special.

When you die, do you think you're going to the Good Place or the Bad Place? 

I love The Good Place, one of the best shows on TV.

Tell us about your first job. Also, what's been your most disastrous job interview or business meeting?

Working as a waitress, I once brought someone two single espressos after they asked for a double espresso. I created a very odd moment, but it's a fun memory of mine.

Beloved chef, travel TV host, and music fan Anthony Bourdain died this year. If you could have appeared on his Parts Unknown show, which city or country would you most have wanted to travel to with him?

I would've loved to be on the crew for the trip to Yemen.

With the success of candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on top of Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential run, do you think that Democratic Socialism has a real future in America or do you think it will never be embraced by the mainstream electorate? 

I think we have a healthy appetite for change. I mean we're always on to the next new thing, and really it's about giving people information without talking down to one another. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a really impressive person, studied, hard at work, and, I think, like Bernie, she is trying to get people involved, raise up voices that are unheard, and make sure we have solid knowledge about our communitiesthat's where it's at.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up and if it's not what you're doing now do you sometimes wish you had achieved that dream? 

I've always wanted to be a songwriter. And this year, I'm going to spend more time not just writing for myself, but for other people. There's something about having a common goal, collaborating and being useful/helpful to others that makes me really happy. There's no need to keep all the melodies in my head for me alone.

www.massgothic.com

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