Project Creosote New Works Application
Hello my name is Jillian Bessett. I am a musician, poet, and mother who was born, raised and currently resides in Tucson, AZ.
I have written and am in the process of preproduction for my third studio album JOY. It is a collection of eight to nine songs I have written and performed acoustically on the RC505 Boss LoopStation—a hand operated tabletop device typically used by beat boxers and vocalists. The studio version of JOY, however, will re-imagine what these songs sound like with full band production. JOY explores the themes of duality, privilege, rest, relief, motherhood, sacrifice, and divine inspiration. It will be a celebration of the power of the human voice and the ever optimistic essential parts of the human spirit. This record will be produced by my friend, collaborator, and musical soul sister Katie Haverly. Katie and I have worked on a number of projects together over the years (notably we composed the music for “The People Electric,” a feminist dance disco created by Shelly Hawkins of Hawkinsdance—which was a recipient of a grant from Arizona Arts Commission). JOY will be our first dive into a producer/producee collaboration and we are so excited. Recording and mixing is already scheduled at Saint Cecilia Studio here in Tucson with Steven Lee Tracy who is also lending his production skills to the project.
In 2014 I released Electric Moon a stripped back solo endeavor on piano. After accruing a full band we released Mr. Airplane under the moniker Jillian and the Giants—an electric guitar driven quartet heavy on rock and blues. Mr. Airplane currently has over 67K streams on Spotify and came in at #19 on KXCI's Top 100 Albums of the Year.
Outsourcing the recording to a local studio will not only be a new experience for me but also another way to bring the community of Tucson into the creation of this work. Being able to walk into Saint Cecilia and focus solely on creating art without having to engineer my own sound will really free up time and energy to focus on the creative work at hand while still affording me energy to be present in my home life.
In the past I have partnered with local non-profits like Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse in order to funnel sales from my music back into the Tucson community. I plan on continuing that work with a partnership I have already laid the framework for with No More Deaths No Mas Muertes—a local organization whose mission is to end death and suffering of migrants in the Mexico–US borderlands. A video for a live acoustic version of “Friend With a Pool” (one of the songs on JOY) was directed and filmed by my friends Shelly Hawkins of Hawkinsdance and Julius Schlosburg. 100% of proceeds from the acoustic single are being given to No More Deaths No Mas Muertes—and I plan on continuing that gesture with a percentage of the studio version as well.
It has been my experience that male presenting musicians with children are not typically asked how they are going to be able to juggle all of the responsibilities of work and home. Part of the reason I’m applying for this grant is I am hoping that my community can help support me create art while I in turn nourish and uplift my community with my work. I hope that creative parents who are looking for a blueprint on how to make art work for them feel seen, celebrated, and inspired.
In closing I'd like to thank the Arizona arts Foundation for offering me the opportunity to apply for this grant. The works that I’ve been involved in connected to this organization have been some of the highlights of my creative career.