Deep Sea Diver on “Impossible Weight” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, December 4th, 2023  

Deep Sea Diver on “Impossible Weight”

Peaks and Valleys

Aug 04, 2021 Photography by Matt Wignall Issue #68 - Japanese Breakfast and HAIM (The Protest Issue)
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Jessica Dobson began learning piano at six years old but her real light bulb moment came when she discovered a different instrument. “When I got the guitar it was like everything else in the world fell away, it was just me and that instrument. I used to practice so much that I’d get into trouble! Playing until two in the morning on a weekday before school. I got really good at hiding under my covers so it would kind of quiet the sound down.”

Then at just 19 Dobson signed a big label deal but sadly things didn’t work out quite as she’d hoped. “Going through rejection at such a young age, you learn your lessons and I learned a lot,” she says. It led to her taking a break from creating her own music and becoming a touring musician, first as a stint in Beck’s band and later playing with The Shins. “It was like leaning by osmosis and I became a better songwriter by inhabiting that world,” she says of her time with James Mercer’s band.

With her husband Peter Mansen on drums, she then formed Deep Sea Diver, releasing the band’s debut album, History Speaks, in 2012. The band’s third album, Impossible Weight, was released last fall and it’s a record that combines Dobson’s thrilling propulsive guitar licks with moments of reflective calm. “When I started writing this record it was quite a dark time for me, questioning where I was going with my life. But I had great encouragement from the band and my partner Peter…. He said, ‘You’re gonna produce this record and its gonna be awesome!’”

By being open and addressing her feelings the clouds began to lift and the album took shape, enabling Dobson to produce one of her most emotionally honest albums to date. It’s an album that ebbs and flows through peaks and troughs and Dobson says that’s exactly the journey she wanted to take the listener on. “I tried to capture that feeling because that’s the way life is, you can’t control the peaks and the valleys…sometimes you’re in the dirt, sometimes you’re up in the sky.”

The album also features a guest appearance from Sharon Van Etten on the title track, a song all about falling apart and then picking up the pieces. “Isn’t she wonderful?” enthuses Dobson. “I sent her the song and it resonated and she brought such a beautiful, genuine, and unique presence to it.”

Dobson is certainly open to the idea of bringing other voices into Deep Sea Diver in the future. “Oh man, I’d love to collaborate with Feist, I love how she positions herself, she has her own timeline and doesn’t do things to the industry standard. There’s a lot of pressure on women, especially as we get older, and she just does her own thing.”

Dobson has had firsthand experiences of these pressures, but she does feel things have definitely improved over time and is hopeful for the future. “Sexism and misogyny are called out more often now and no longer ignored,” she says. “There are still some bad apples and it’s often sound guys, balding guys with little ponytails and they just have this fucking attitude. But there’s so much more camaraderie with females in the industry now. And I’m no longer the new singer on the block so I’m always happy to give advice and answer questions to help demystify the process and to stand up for what is it right.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 68 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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