Jessica Lea Mayfield: Kiss Me Again

By: Kayceman

Jessica Lea Mayfield by Crackerfarm
For our first feature of 2009 we'd like to introduce you to one of the brightest young stars we've come across in quite some time. Last year, a 19-year-old Jessica Lea Mayfield released her haunting alt-Americana debut With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. Produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, the album features Auerbach on various instruments as well Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy of Dr. Dog. Name dropping aside, this is all Mayfield and the album quickly became a Best Of 2008 for this editor. Truth be told, we'd be impressed if this came from a 40-year-old woman who fought off a string of drunken husbands and a lifetime of lost dreams. How a teenager pulled this off is beyond us. Jessica Lea Mayfield is one to watch in 2009. Get to know her.

JamBase: This album is emotionally heavy with a dark mood. What was the inspiration for these songs?

Jessica Lee Mayfield: I always look at things from a dark point of view. I'm an upbeat person when you meet me, but for some reason I cannot write a happy song. I don't like happy songs. When I get upset I write a song about it; it's a way for me to get it out. It's therapeutic. When I'm happy I have a dry spell of writing songs, and when I'm depressed or [going through] a breakup or things aren't going right in my life, then I have a million songs. I write a song a day practically.

JamBase: A lot of these songs evoke images of dying relationships. Were you going through a breakup during this album?

Jessica Lee Mayfield: There was more than one breakup going on during that album, breakups and just bad relationships in general. I started dating at a really young age and I got into the serious relationship aspect way too young. I started dating when I was 15 and had two serious relationships and ended my last one like six months ago. This is the longest I've been single since I started dating. So, I was just going through so much turmoil of being in a situation where I was young and I wanted to go out and do my own thing. And I was also in these serious relationships where the guy I was dating wanted me to settle down and stay home and things like that and it was really difficult.

And you're 19 now, right?

Yes, as of yesterday.

This is very advanced, sophisticated music. Do you feel old for your age?

Jessica Lea Mayfield by Lydia Chain
I do, and there are a lot of different reasons for that. One, I never went to high school. I was home schooled as a kid so I don't have any friends that are my age. I have one friend [my age] and that's it; everyone else is in their late twenties, early thirties. Most of my friends are married, most of my friends have kids and here I am and I don't even know anyone my age. I've been playing music for over ten years with my family and I've been on the road and doing that and then having serious relationships on top of that. I don't really feel like I've gotten to do anything that normal teenagers do.

What can you tell me about your family band, One Way Rider?

When I was eight years old my whole family moved to Nashville and lived there for about four years, and we played a lot of bluegrass festivals and a lot of shows; played everyday of the week someplace and just really worked really, really hard. I sang with them until I was eleven and then I started playing rhythm guitar with them, and it was like a bluegrass band.

And was that why you were home schooled?

I had to be because they [my parents] were doing their thing and we were all out playing music and it was really hard to go to school and say, "Hey, I'm gonna be gone for two weeks." We had Bill Monroe's old tour bus – don't make any Partridge Family remarks because they'll get mad – and we did all that and just worked really hard. When I was seven year's old I knew I wanted to be a musician. I always wanted to be a rock star.

Continue reading for more on Jessica Lea Mayfield...

We had Bill Monroe's old tour bus – don't make any Partridge Family remarks because they'll get mad – and we did all that and just worked really hard. When I was seven year's old I knew I wanted to be a musician. I always wanted to be a rock star.

-Jessica Lea Mayfield


Is your whole family into music?

Jessica Lea Mayfield by Kevin Corkrean
Yes. My brother, David Mayfield [age 25], he can do anything. He can play any instrument you hand him. He's always been a big musical influence for me. We've been playing together since I started and we've always liked the same kind of music. When I play songs for him, if he picks up another instrument he plays my ideas. Me and my brother think almost exactly alike, and it's the same thing when I go see my parents. Me and my brother and my mom and dad are all together and within three-minutes of "Oh hey, how are you? It's good to see you," we'll be singing a gospel quartet. It's always felt like my family is tied together like that. No one ever made me do it; it's just like the Mayfields, that's what the Mayfields do. They weren't like "practice." I never practiced, I just played because I wanted to.

How did you find yourself working with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Dr. Dog and The Avett Brothers so early in your career?

I'm from Kent and Dan's from Akron and he had heard some little recording I had done on my own. We met and we started recording and hanging out and collaborating. I've known him since I was sixteen.

I've known The Avett Brothers for about three years, and I opened for them in my hometown of Kent, Ohio and they really like my music and I really like their music, so I toured with them a bit.

What did Dan bring to your album as a producer?

He brought a completely different view. I'd bring him a lot of songs as I wrote them and he would bring his ideas, and he had ideas I would never think of on my own. Me and him look at things from two completely different points of view, so when he put it together the album came out like nothing I would have ever thought it would have because of his ideas.

Why did you decide to name the album, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt?

Jessica Lea Mayfield
It's from the song "Bible Days," and the line is, "With blasphemy so heartfelt, I wish that I had found someone else." I thought it would be a good album title. It was the last song that I recorded for the album and I hadn't had any ideas for a title. Then, when I wrote that song I just felt like it was perfect. I felt like it was a good description of me, of how I portray myself.

And how would you portray yourself, or more specifically, your music?

I don't think I could even do that. I like to think of myself as something different. I can't compare myself to anybody at all.

Can you give me an idea of your biggest musical influences?

Definitely the Foo Fighters. They were my favorite band, they still are. Foo Fighters really made me want to play music. I really like Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith - a lot of things that don't really go together at all.

What do you enjoy most about playing live versus recording?

I like the live shows because of the energy and the crowd and the people and how you can get aggression and anxiety out. You've been sitting in a van all day and then you get on stage and you're just like "Ahhhhh...." [a sound of pure release]. With recording it's cool because you can sit down and get all your ideas out and be really creative. It's a really good way to be creative; that's what I like about recording.

Where do you go from here?

I want to continue to do what I'm doing, and the touring is one of my favorite parts of it. I just want to be able to be on the road and tour and be able to come out on top and continue doing it like this as long as I can - just keep going out and playing shows, and for the shows to get bigger and the thing as a whole to get a little bit bigger and be able to go out and play these shows and have more people and more money because it's hard to come out on top, especially with gas [prices] these days, touring is almost impossible. But, that's what I like to do, I like to go out and play the shows.

Jessica Lea Mayfield kicks off a coast-to-coast tour on January 20. Complete dates available here.

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soxphan Fri 1/9/2009 04:00AM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
howopeeps Fri 1/9/2009 06:47AM
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ThatFullSound Fri 1/9/2009 06:56AM
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^^^Well, it could have been the sound quality in Cleveland. This is a good folk tune, man. I give it two thumbs up.

SCIcane star Fri 1/9/2009 07:22AM
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CoreyBauer Fri 1/9/2009 07:58AM
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manjotar Fri 1/9/2009 08:56AM
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um yeah... she's mediocre at best.

OurBandCouldBeYourLife Fri 1/9/2009 08:59AM
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God, sometimes you commenters drive me berserk. JLM touches something deep down within, I guess if you're not into music with soul you won't get it. With Blasphemy So Heartfelt is a great record if you're into good songs. It's great music for a Grey winter morning.

RichardHaley Fri 1/9/2009 09:19AM
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Great to see this. I got turned on to Jessica through The Black Keys and fell in love with her album. Really nice to see JamBase hip to Mayfield.

CoreyBauer Fri 1/9/2009 09:46AM
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bill monroe's tour bus.. thats cool though ...

Fnkmister Fri 1/9/2009 01:06PM
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RichardHaley Fri 1/9/2009 01:27PM
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^let me guess, you're between 18-25 and love techno rock. it's okay, you'll grow out of it... and i don't think i've met a man who boasts about thier erectile dysfunction, don't stress, there's help available.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 1/9/2009 05:56PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

this girl is good. don't be hating.

and RICHARDHALEY, it's okay. fnkmister is a disco biscuits fan so that automatically makes him a douche bag. but the erectile dysfunction probably comes from all the mali he's done in parking lots while playing hackey sack. fuckin' bisco heads.....

Hollow starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/10/2009 07:19AM
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Some of you mugs are tone deaf. Her music is real and good. Enjoyed the article.

standingtaller starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/11/2009 07:44AM
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This article and artist are exactly why I checkout Jambaase. I just plugged her into Rhapsody and have to say, "Wow." Reminds me of Edie Brickell meets the Cowboy Junkies. Thanks.

nicdanger Sun 1/11/2009 06:56PM
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Amazing album, great songwriter. Im glad she is getting the press she deserves....

schofizzl Mon 1/12/2009 01:20AM
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i don't think she's painful to listen to at all or not good at what she does, but i'm definitely not seeing what's so advanced and sophisticated about it... sounds like your standard moody girl music to me.. i dunno, maybe its my general disliking for most female singer songwriters (although i like this girl's voice more than most), maybe i'm just jealous that i wasn't raised on Bill Monroe's tourbus... but i have to respectfully pass on this one.

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 08:35AM
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Not bad, Not Great. Its music you have to be in right mood for.

Smittea Mon 1/12/2009 11:24AM
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Funny.... I don't even remember the first kiss.....must've been drunk. :(

porchrind Mon 1/12/2009 01:59PM
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You go Chitlin'...I know you don't like being called this anymore but I've seen OWR since you was a little gal and been very impressed how your talent has grown thru the have a unique voice and talent...don't let the haters get you down....people used to hate on Rickie Lee Jones and look at what a long career shes had...keep it up girl!

RobStarr star Tue 1/13/2009 05:19PM
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RobStarr star Tue 1/13/2009 05:42PM
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I'm old school I seen the Grateful Dead over Hundred times,seen Phish back before they had a hand full of their own songs ,way before Jambase,then I heard this crap ,This is not jam music ,The girl sounds like shes drunk or something. you what to hear good jam music ,try U-Melt or Lotus.Not some chick playing Three chord and crying in my beer. Thank god for the Disco Biscuits!!!!!

schofizzl Tue 1/13/2009 11:08PM
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robstarr, having an opinion is cool, and i sort of agree with you, but you don't have to be rude and you definitely shouldn't try to backup your opinions with the fact that you're "oldschool," that doesnt mean shit. there are plenty of braindead idiots who have also seen hundreds of dead/phish shows.

theragman Thu 1/15/2009 10:48AM
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you guys are harsh.

She's ok. She's doing her thing and getting recognized for it and here you are, complaining that she's not the Disco Biscuits?

Get over it. If you don't like it then just let it go.

Dgold starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/23/2009 04:10PM
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I love her. I first heard Jessica Lea Mayfield from the EP that came out before the album, and so picked up the album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt as soon as it came out, and started playing JLM on my Honest Tunes college radio show then and there. I've been waiting for a Kayceman write-up, and even want to say I may have lobbied for her getting into JamBase's CD players. She's one of the top artists of 2008 for me, and I hope has a long songwriting career ahead of her. She's got an outside style on her voice that, sure, some people aren't going to get it (see comments above on JamBase) but for those who like the natural warble it hits your heart by way of the ears. She's simply amazing. DGold