Jessie Hyde had no clue how cathartic making her first EP would be. With a background in modeling, tech, and entrepreneurship (as the founder of Glucose Goddess), songwriting revealed itself after an especially brutal breakup. She knew she had to rediscover herself, and through her writing, greatly influenced by Katie Melua and Norah Jones, she found the peace she long desired.
“Making music and releasing this first EP has changed my life. I gained a connection to a calling that I didn’t know existed inside of me, and it makes me feel more authentic,” the San Francisco singer-songwriter tells Audiofemme. “I found a refuge in music, a new nook in which to ground, extract and sublimate my feelings. Making music also invited incredible people into my life, and I’m so thankful for that.”
Hyde’s EP, called UNSUPERVISED, is raw and barebones in tone and structure, as she sifts through the rubble of her aching heart. A minimalist by nature, she rebuilds boundaries in her life with opener “Charity,” crunchy flickers pulsating against a bedrock of keyboard. A heavenly serenity sprouts from her fingertips, even when her lyrics are coarse and unapologetic. Therein lies her greatest strength.
Elsewhere, she braids together her French roots (she was born in Basque Country and later raised in Paris) with “Petite Fille,” a gritty, fear-confronting setpiece. Then, “Perpetuate” closes the release with a choir of songbirds, whose tender warbles backdrop her liberation as she finally, once and for all, declares her self-worth. “My shadow eats pieces of all the women before me,” she sings, cutting the shackles of the past.
Hyde is a monster of instinct, driven to bend her raw, intense emotions into her songwriting. Over the last seven or eight months, she came to understand the importance of honesty in her work, as well as how to define a singular voice. “Inspiration starts with a feeling. I can’t write unless I am experiencing a feeling. I can’t force it or tell myself that the next song I’ll write will be about this or that,” she explains. “It happens in the moment. A feeling comes up inside me, I find a pen and paper as quickly as possible, and I write words immediately.”
She is also “at the mercy of some sort of creative god when it comes time to go to my keyboard and try to put the words onto a melody,” she admits. “I just write words first; I never know what the song is going to sound like until I get to the keyboard. I get excited and nervous as my hands hover over the keys, and I try out a chord progression.”
The chords, melody, and words fly from her being, erupting from some dark crevice in her soul, and even when the parts don’t quite fit together, there is still a lesson to be learned. She surrenders herself to the process, and whatever will be will be. “I don’t get hard on myself if it doesn’t work. It’s not about me. It’s about something I can’t control,” she says.
As much emotion spins around on only four songs, there is an equal two-ton weight still hovering over her heart. The process of healing, from the dark depths of pain to enlightenment, is never really over. “Writing songs is the best catalyst for healing that I’ve ever found. When I have a rough day, feel overwhelmed or sad, I write a song about it in my bedroom and turn the tears into lyrics,” she says. “I extract the pain through this process, and that’s how I heal the wounds. I’ve been through the most growth and healing of my life since I started making music.”
Fear continues haunting her, however, and it’ll take even more time to mend those wounds. “I was really nervous that [this EP] would be bad. I was nervous [about] what people would think once I made the music public. My fear told me that I needed to find a co-writer, a partner, or someone to make the beats, give me their opinion, stir me into a ‘better” direction.’ I felt insecure and like my work wasn’t professional enough,” she says. “Ultimately, I worked through the fear and realized, you know, I’m just proud of myself for doing it and putting something out and learning so much.”
Jessie Hyde stakes her claim with UNSUPERVISED, a four-song anthology of her life, coursing from songs about “boys boys boys” to “more interesting territory” around womanhood and fearlessness. “I know I speak from pure truth and am not scared of telling things like they are. I have a lot to say as it relates to being honest with ourselves and others, having compassion for our process, and making space for healing and finding our power as women.”
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