Jess Hall creates impassioned, convention-breaking songs described as Contemporary Folk / Trip-hop. She sings in both English and Welsh and plays piano and harmonium.
Her Debut EP ‘Glas Oren’ was released in April 2014 to critical acclaim, gaining BBC Radio Cymru Album of the Week, BBC Radio Wales Artist of the Week, and airplay on BBC 6 Music.
“like Edith Piaf… really special, like Bjork, like PJ Harvey, these heroines who have innovated, who have defied the established order. And the words… God damn they’re good lines!” – BBC Radio Cymru.
“Her voice paints vivid word pictures, framed and dissected with unusual directness and soulfulness while remaining eerily other-worldly. It’s all delivered beautifully with expert phrasing and supreme sangfroid. You can almost touch the words and hear the vista. A broad palate, mixed seamlessly to provide a scintillating and truly unique experience!”
– John Hywel Morris, PRS for Music
“She mixes technology and performance, language and idiom, traditional and modern… it’s no surprise that she has trained as a visual artist… it offers a new chapter in the story of Welsh folk music… Her story is distinctive and rich and adds to Wales’ own.”
– Danny KilBride, Director, trac: Music Traditions Wales 2013
Jess was born in Cardiff to a Welsh father and North-West American mother. She grew up in an isolated rectory in rural Mid Wales, where she developed a passion for singing and song-writing that was influenced by family folk songs. She gained her first experiences of performing through eisteddfodau and developed an affinity with Welsh Folk traditions. A natural questioner of convention, she studied classical music while being influenced by a wide spectrum of artists pushing at the boundaries of popular, experimental and world music.
Jess studied Fine Art and Music at Oxford Brookes university, having decided that the two were inextricably linked. She used performance, installation, video, lyrics and vocal improvisations to raise questions and challenge understanding.
In 2006 she was a semi-finalist in the UK song-writing contest. In 2010 she was a semi-finalist in the BBC Radio Cymru battle of the bands.
In early 2013 she released her first demo with a four-piece band and later formed the Jess Hall Project with collaborator Noel Doak on double bass and beats.
In 2013 Jess was chosen as one of eight acts in Wales for the Artist Development Programme run by trac: Music Traditions Wales as part of the WOMEX legacy “an advanced training programme involving intensive work with some of the world music industry’s top managers, producers and marketers.” http://www.cerddcymru.com/1441
Jess was awarded an Arts Council of Wales grant to develop her music and it’s potential. She was mentored by Alan James of Hold Tight Artist Management and Producer Charlie Francis. Alan James (who manages Sam Lee, 9Bach, Spiro) continues to be her mentor.
In October 2013, Jess recorded her EP ‘Glas Oren’ (Blue Orange) at Giant Wafer Studio, Powys, produced by Charlie Francis, mastered by Tim Turan of Turan Audio, Oxford.
The EP ‘Glas Oren’ was released on April 3 2014. A release tour ran alongside radio, press and TV interviews and reviews, plus TV and radio performances.
Jess is thrilled to be one of 29 awarded the Horizons Launchpad Fund – a BBC Cymru Wales & Arts Council of Wales partnership. She is working with three programmers/ producers to help develop the scope of her sound and take it to the next level – they are: Garry Hughes, who was programmer on Bjork’s album ‘Debut’, Cian Ciaran of the Super Furry Animals plus the multi-instrumentalist, programmer and composer Benjamin Talbot.
Jess is excited about what’s in store next…. New songs are polishing themselves in new perspectives… plans for an album are circling…