To say Jessica Dobson has done a little bit of everything in the music industry would be quite the understatement. She signed with Atlantic Records at the age of 19 and produced two albums, but they were never released. Fast forward a few years, and she is working with bands like Beck and Spoon as their touring guitarist. In 2011 she joined The Shins as their touring guitarist, and become a full-time member in 2012. During this time she released her first album with Deep Sea Diver, called History Speaks. She left The Shins in 2013 to continue pursuing her solo project with Deep Sea Diver, and since then has released another EP in 2014 and their sophomore album Secrets in early 2016. Before their show opening for Colony House on tour this spring, I sat down with Jessica to talk about her music history, the future of Deep Sea Diver, and the best burritos in the U.S.
Ryan: The name Deep Sea Diver; where did that come from?
Jessica: It was the name of a song I had written when I was a solo artist that I really liked. Instead of going with just my name, I liked Deep Sea Diver a lot better.
You were signed with Atlantic Records when you were young and produced two albums that were never released. What is the story with that?
Oh man, I don’t know if we have enough time for the whole story. I signed at a really young age and kind of got thrown around within the label. I was a little too in over my head, and the label didn’t really know what to do with me because I wasn’t straight to radio pop, or straight to radio rock. I was this floating being that didn’t quite make sense, so finally I decided that I needed to get off the record.
What kept you pursuing music after leaving the label?
Honestly, some time away from music for a little bit, I needed to get my head straight. Playing with other people really helped, at the time was with Beck, it really refreshed me and allowed me to get my head out of my butt (laughs).
What was it like touring with Beck and working with The Shins? Any favorite moments?
I learned how to be a better front person and a better guitarist. By seeing people who I really admire do it, it really helped me learn. Playing the Hollywood Bowl with Beck to like 10,000 people was incredible. There were a bunch of crazy celebrities sitting in the front row, and my mom was there singing “Loser,” it was awesome.
What’s it like moving from the bigger operation to your own thing?
We’re our own label, so it’s a much smaller operation. It’s nice being in control of everything instead of a label’s control, so we can kind of do what we want. There are advantages and disadvantages to that, but ultimately we want to have the artistic control. It changes how we do things, but doesn’t change why we do it.
Do you have a personal favorite song you’ve ever written?
Yeah I think so, I really love our song Always Waiting. I think that captures the main angst within me and a lot of other people.
What’s the best place to eat on the road?
[To Peter] What’s our favorite food? (Laughs.)
Peter: What about that burrito place in San Diego?
Oh yeah, I can’t remember the name of that place but it’s the best for really awesome, late night greasy burritos. It’s really rare finding a good Mexican place, being from Seattle, so whenever we’re in San Diego we take full advantage of that place.
To finish off, what’s your favorite band or artist to listen to right now?
My favorite artist to listen to would be Solange, and favorite band is M83.
Listen to their newest album Secrets here.