Lisa and I are rehearsing in my living room with a small audience of just my roommate Amy. Both of these things are unusual for Lisa and me. We are not a band that has done a lot of rehearsing and we definitely don’t usually have an audience when we do. Nonetheless here we are, 2 beers and a fancy macaroon in, just jamming. It feels good. If you know us as a band, you know that we did most of our rehearsing in front of you over the last 3 years. We stood together, just the two of us, for almost 300 shows and figured out how to be together musically and otherwise. It has been so good and so hard. This is my favourite thing about Lisa. Her bass playing is a beautiful metaphor for her encapsulating (she taught me that word) presence; it hits you so hard it must be good.
We are playing a song we’ve recently both fallen madly in love with all over again. “Toppling Tower” is almost exactly a year old and was written while we were gigging in Red Deer at The Vat (obviously, Lisa is the reason I remember this). We finish playing it for Amy and she shrieks like a girl. Amy sees my songs from a place that few others do. She watches them grow from a tiny little idea in my mind to a full-blown recording I sell on iTunes. Amy’s favourite music I make is still “jocelyn & lisa”. What we do is like nothing I have ever experienced. Watching Lisa intricately weave harmonies together to find the one that has the most friction, or tirelessly search for perfectly placed bass notes according to what the song needs is a beautiful becoming. Lisa is the musical mastermind. She takes all of the crazy ideas and carves them into being something tangible, relatable and beautifully broken. How? I have watched her do this many times and I still do not know.
Tim Vaughn witnessed Toppling Tower being made and called it one of the most collaborative things he’s ever seen. To me, that’s the greatest compliment you can ever give us. To me, that means we got past ourselves to create something bigger together. This is especially gratifying because we are so intrinsically different. Our struggles align in such an explosive way that we have no choice but to face ourselves in the midst of facing each other. In the beginning of our band, I was heartbroken. So much so, that sometimes leaving my house was too hard. Lisa was the only one brave enough to knock on my door uninvited. I was so scared to let her in, scared of what she would make me do or want me to say. She grabbed my hand, took me for a walk, said nothing and listened while I cried. After I filled the entire neighbourhood with tears and a giant breath found my lungs Lisa finally spoke, “Let go of one thing, just one”. So I did. In that moment, I learned two things I hold on tightest to now: it is ok to be broken but it is not ok to be defined by it.
She is a leader to the leaders. The older I get the more I seek these kinds of people. You know the ones that can build you or break you with one look. It’s a scary thing allowing yourself to be around people that deeply affect you, but I also think it’s the only way to really know yourself. I am still deeply affected when Lisa walks in a room, as most are. Maybe this is because of the special intimacy we allow on stage, or the immense amount of respect I feel for how hard she works, or how much I admire the patience and kindness she musters for her clients everyday as a Music Therapist, or the grit and emotion she pours onto every stage she touches. Maybe. Or maybe it doesn’t matter why. Maybe it’s just a really good, hard blessing. I used to think it was brave allowing yourself to love someone you didn’t understand, but now I see its essential. Lisa taught me that too.
JA: Did you choose it or did it choose you?
LJ: It’s funny because you already know so much of this. I think that I was given a dose of music long before I ever had the ability to cultivate it. It was just given. I chose it in spite of its dangers to me. That’s where the it choosing me and me choosing it run together. When you need something to live, it’s not really a choice.
JA: Where did music start for you?
LJ: It was always there. You could not escape music in my house. I went to sleep and woke up to my father playing. I started piano lessons when I was two. I could read music before I could read words.
JA: Where does it end?
LJ: Tangibly I guess when I die. But, if you believe things live on, which I do, I don’t think it will stop. The way that my grandmother loved music passed on to my father and then to me, and that sometime, somewhere, it will be passed on to other people.
JA: How different would this industry be if you were a man?
LJ: I think it would be foolish to think that it would be easier if I was a man, and it would be foolish to think it would be harder. There have been a lot of opportunities and recognition that have come my way because of my gender with a combination of working hard at my craft. People recognize the reason why it’s rare to have a female instrumentalist is because it IS harder. I have faced things every single day that most people don’t, and that men for sure don’t have to face and I face things that are different from many women. I would be lying if I were to say that there weren’t many a time I wished I wasn’t a girl. Actually, I wished more people would just see me. But I would be amiss to not be grateful to be who I am, and part of that is being a woman.
Follow Lisa: @lisajuliejacobs
Find our band: http://jocelynandlisa.com
Follow our band: @jocelynandlisa
Like us: Facebook.com/jocelynandlisa
From these City Streets,