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Originally planned on being a folk music project, it naturally transformed into a fun surf rock group due to the shared love for bands like The Ventures and Link Wray. Put on a High Waisted playlist at your next shindig and you’ll be the life of the party!
High Waisted is a NYC-based band that’s influenced by happiness, confetti, Dick Dale, and doing whatever the hell they want. Fronted by the lively Jessica Louise Dye on vocals and guitar–it doesn’t matter how deep that dark pit in your chest goes, Dye’s voice warms up even the coldest of hearts!
When we call Dye “lively,” we mean the liveliest person you’ll ever meet; she’s full of spunk and charisma that creates not one dull moment in the life of High Waisted. She’s also been through more than most people at this point in their life.
Creeping up on her 30s, it’s surprising that only five years ago Dye made the decision to pursue music.
“I was 25, I had just gotten out of the air force, I had just gotten out of a really horrible relationship with my ex-fiancé, lost my house, lost everything, was living out of my car in Northern Virginia–I was a total mess,” she tells BTRtoday with a surprising pep in her voice. “I was like, ‘this is the perfect time to write some sad country songs.’”
And that’s exactly what she did. She started squatting in a house, got a boring day job, and would wake up at 4 am every morning to give herself guitar lessons that she would continue after work with invincible determination.
She confesses, she sounded horrible at first. Her musician friends in Northern Virginia gave her some pointers and helped her get a grip on the art form. Eventually she moved to NYC where she met her future band mates for High Waisted.
Dye, guitarist Steven Nelson, drummer Jono Bernstein, and bassist Jeremy Hansen are currently on their “Eat Trash, Be Free” tour, hitting places all over the U.S. When we spoke with Dye on the phone they were currently in Nashville waiting in line for tacos. The tour is for their debut album that was released this past March, entitled “On Ludlow.”
Album artwork courtesy of the band.
The album is filled with catchy surf tunes that make you want to throw on your favorite outfit and bang your head like a teenager! Tracks, like “Shithead” and “Party In The Back,” have beachy guitar riffs, crazy fun lyrics, and melodies that’ll make the ears see colors.
This is High Waisted’s first full-length album, entitled ‘On Ludlow’ because that is where destiny brought all of them together–on Ludlow St. in the city that never sleeps, New York!
She first me Hansen at a “Bring Your Own Vinyl” event he was throwing in a Lower East Side bar he worked at. She brought all her old school beach tunes and they immediately clicked. He introduced her to his friend, Nelson, who worked across the street. They started jamming, and were on the prowl for a drummer.
Less than two months later, Dye was dancing at a show in NYC’s well-known venue, Pianos, and met Bernstein. She later found out that he was the guy they had been emailing with to be High Waisted’s drummer. “It was all very serendipitous,” Dye explains.
For this album, Dye says she chose to pull from a place deep inside of her that she wasn’t able to really get out during her adolescence. She confesses that “On Ludlow” has a younger, more immature vibe–she even pulled inspiration from her very own teenage journals.
“I just want to play rock and roll music and shake my hair,” Dye exclaims. “I feel like I didn’t get to do all this stuff in my early 20s.” She adds that the album is mostly about her adventures in New York City, “the late nights, early mornings, and the boys surrounded by it.”
The creative process for High Waisted is described by Dye as a potluck. “I bring the main dish, and they all bring the sides,” she explains. “I usually bring a completed song to the table and then everyone finds their voice within it.”
Courtesy of Devon Bristol Shaw.
It’s a process that seems to work well for the band—each member has a very unique touch that they add to the music. Bernstein was raised on Led Zeppelin, Hansen is all about grunge and psych rock, and Nelson is a classically trained Flamenco-guitar player and is obsessed with Willie Nelson.
“I think when all those things come together in the crock-pot of cooking in sound and tone, with a general appreciation for a vintage vibe, when you mix all those references in, then you get High Waisted,” Dye proudly states.
Though they’re currently on tour, Dye admits that they’re using their downtime mostly to relax and write new songs for their next album. “I’d like to have it out for next summer, but you know, you can’t force the creative process,” she laughs. She plans for this record to sound more “mature and adult” than “On Ludlow.”
The band has also been considering releasing some 7’’ or singles soon. “There’s a lot of great stuff in the archives that should get out, but I don’t really want to tour on them,” Dye conveys, adding that when it comes to their live shows, she likes to keep it fun—songs that she can jump around on stage to and get the audience crowd-surfing.
One thing is for sure: the future for High Waisted is going to be an exiting one!
“We’re only going to get better, I hope,” Dye exclaims optimistically. “I’m totally happy right now! It’s really rad.”
Also, if you’re in NYC on the 15th, make sure to catch their show at The Knitting Factory with Total Slacker and Lionlimb. It’s sure to be a wild party and an all around feel-good event! You won’t want to miss it.