ENTERTAINMENT

Conversations With Indie Artists: Jess Pillay And Sam Cook-Stuntz

Wes Speight explores how indie artists juggle art and being themselves

GREY Journal

The I Don’t Care That You Don’t Care podcast is a series of conversations from indie artists about creativity, the labor of love, plight, and time management. Join me, Wes Speight, as I explore what it truly means to be an independent artist.

Jess Pillay

Indie artist Jess Pillay
Indie artist Jess Pillay
“Your identity is not what you do.”

Episode IV of the I Don’t Care That You Don’t Care podcast I interviewed Jess Pillay, a singer-songwriter who has fairly recently been called back to songwriting and this time she’s writing from a slightly different perspective: her own. Jess had previously been a worship leader who not only performed but wrote worship songs. You could say some of her songs still delve into faith, but they’re also introspective, catchy, and real. They’re real in the sense that they’re relatable and catchy in the sense that I constantly have her melodies stuck in my head and, for the record, I like having them there.

I’ve had the honor of getting to play live, record, and have gotten to assist a little with her development as a singer-songwriter. Last year, she released a fantastic single and ended the year on a Christmas song I didn’t hate—which is an accomplishment, considering my disdain for both the holiday and its cheesy cheery music. Jess will be releasing another single soon, so for the meantime have a listen to her SoundCloud. She recorded several tunes there with Sam of Homespun Audio whom I interviewed in episode V.

One of the things Jess said that really struck a chord with me is something her grandmother told her. “Your identity is not what you do.” As you’ll hear and can interpret yourself, this message was important in her life at the time because she had put so much into being a musician that when she stepped back and took a break from it, she found herself and gained a new perspective. I think this happens with athletes and really any performer when, as a fan, we idolize these performers to the point where they are seen as just performers and not people who have lives outside of being a performer.

Sam Cook-Stuntz

Indie artist Sam Cook-Stuntz
Indie artist Sam Cook-Stuntz
Finding the Aesthetic that Fits the Material

Sam Cook-Stuntz is a singer-songwriter in his own right, but has recently dove into audio engineering. As he has now launched homespun audio and has impressively recorded several singer-songwriters, he continues to increase in both skill and acumen. Sam is also a very impressive musician as he juggles keys, guitar, and bass. I’ve gotten to play live alongside him and Jess as well as record and look forward to more. Sam and I chatted about recording gear, mic techniques, and “finding the aesthetic that fits the material,” which I think is wildly important as an audio engineer. Capturing what the song calls for is no easy task. For those who don’t care about recording gear, we also talked about aliens and film.

Which indie artists should Wes sit down with next? Let us know down in the comments!

This article originally published on GREY Journal.

Wes Speight
Wes Speight (stylized as Sp8), an independent artist, has played many of the venues of hometowns Nashville and Seattle, toured 13 states, Europe and Canada. Speight has released 8 studio albums and several singles since 2008, on indie labels and self-released. Speight's music genres range from singer-songwriter Americana to gritty blues rock. Speight's other passions include being a good father and husband, filmmaking, exercising, and awkward comedy.

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