Since the release of her debut album, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, Jessica Lea Mayfield has been winning over fans and critics alike with her dark yet tender acoustic ballads. Mayfield landed in Music City this fall for Next Big Nashville, after a year of constant touring here and abroad. Woxy.com caught up with the Ohio chanteuse in the Gibson bus, just after her show at the Exit/In.
Hey how you doing? It’s good to see you again
Yeah, it’s been quite a while.
About a year or so. Its great to see you. You’re going to play inside tonight at the Exit In. Boy, every time I look up since we last saw you a year ago you are always touring. Have you any chance at all to stop in the last year?
A little bit. Not that much at all. I’m home for week long spurts, if that, and then I’m back. I’ve definitely been touring more than I have been at home.
When you came to see us at our studios in Cincinnati, you were just getting ready to go on your first European tour. Now, a year later it seems like you’re an old pro at traveling all over the world. Tell us about how that experience has been.
It’s interesting to see and go play places anywhere I have never been. I went to Arkansas the other day and that was interesting because I had never been. Most recently, I went to Sweden. It’s interesting to see what kind of people come out to see you when you go to other countries. I guess I have really low expectations. Sometimes, I will think, “I have never been to this country, who is going to come see me play?” When you have a bunch of fans that live so far away, it’s just so amazing to see these people.
I’ve heard that European audiences in particular are really appreciative of artists. Did you find that to be true, as well?
They are really appreciative and they listen a lot. At first, you wonder if they are into it or not. They aren’t making any noise. It’ll be a packed house of complete silence. Then, they’ll clap after the song, but there is no yelling in between. My guitar player could be taking an amazing solo and people aren’t freaking out. Instead, they are intently watching every little thing he does.
Did you get a chance to be just a tourist over there?
Not really. For one, I try to get as much rest as I can. I try not to get out so much just to walk around in the cold and take pictures of such. I’ve just never been that kind of tourist girl. In fact, I live really close to Cleveland and I’ve never been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
A lot of people may not know that you worked with Dan Auerbach, of the Black Keys, on your first record. Especially with some of the touring dates in particular, you appeared on their record and also showed up on his record, as well. So has he been a kind of mentor for you?
Definitely. If anything, it’s been really interesting working with him. He has really changed my views on a lot of things. His ideas are so much different from mine. I present him with a song and I would’ve had completely different ideas for it. He will come back with ideas I would’ve never thought of. I think he has opened my mind to different possibilities, as far as my music goes. I could just play guitar and sing and record it at his house; come back three days later and it will sound like a completely different song; like magic.
Would you like to work with him on your next project?
I’m going to. Plus, he lives like 15 minutes from my house. I really enjoy working with him.
You’ve played with such a diverse array of artists, from the Black Keys to Ray LaMontagne. Do you feel that has done any good for you?
Of course, I think with any artist I have played with there is an aspect I can learn from. You go into a tour wondering, how this band’s fans will react to me versus the last tour and the last band’s fans. I think Black Keys’ fans like to rock out more.
One of your biggest influences, I read, is Foo Fighters.
Yes, they are my favorite band.
Well, given that, have you ever felt maybe it’s time for you to rock out a bit?
I get asked that a lot. It’s really hard to pick up on the influence I got from them. I have been listening to them since I was 7 years old. I get influenced more by his songwriting. Also, I grew up playing bluegrass. I think that the mismatch of all my influences came to what I am doing now. This just came naturally. Who knows, though, maybe some day I will.
You mentioned before we started that you’re a new homeowner.
Yes, it’s interesting. It’s the first time I have ever lived by myself. It’s interesting just to have all this space. Right now, it’s just boxes right now and a cat that is always angry. My parents stop by and feed him but he just whines when I’m gone.