INTERVIEW: Jessica Rotter on Her New Album, 'Plains' - The Daily Country

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jessica Rotter began her musical career at the age of four when her talent was discovered during a solo at church. Since then, the songstress’ voice has been heard in movies (Frozen and Big Hero 6), TV shows and commercials as well as backing vocals and collaborations with other artists ....all in addition to her own original songs. The list of artists she has worked with reads like a who’s who of the music industry: Daft Punk, Carole King, Alicia Keys, Sam Smith, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Quincy Jones, Martina McBride and others. Now, Rotter is preparing to release her full-length album, Plains, on April 22nd. In advance of the release, she kindly took the time to answer a few questions via email.

Rotter’s family roots are steeped in music. Her grandfather was a multi-instrument artist who wrote tunes for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Her mother was a flutist and her father was a former composer. With that background as well as her classical training from Pepperdine University in opera, musical theatre, and filmmaking, Jessica—who describes herself as a “musical storyteller”—is able to transcend creative boundaries. 

Music truly seems to be in your blood. With your classical training from Pepperdine, was your first love musical theater or opera or something else?

I have always loved everything, honestly. Disney music I guess would be my first! But I was a big fan of opera from a pretty young age. 

Plains was over 100% funded via a Pledge campaign. Was that surprising to you as these campaigns truly speak to the fan base?

I think PledgeMusic does a good job of making sure you know what you’re in for so it was a fairly easy process and I was really honored by the support from my fans!

What is the significance of the title, Plains?

The open space - the ability to feel like you’re one with the entire earth or completely alone - was something I felt fit all of the songs. 

I’ve read that you said the album is about transition and searching which you not only convey in the lyrics, but the melodies as well, with an almost mystical and gentle feel to many of the songs. Was there an overall musical tone you wanted to set with the album?

Thank you. That was it - earthy yet spiritual. Deeply human and sometimes transcendent. 

What spurred the album, was there one moment of transition/searching or many?

Definitely many moments - in love and in heartbreaks and in finding my way.

I always like to know the stories behind the songs. Can you choose one song, whichever one you like, and tell the story behind it?

The song "Flying Off" was based on a dream I had. I saw a train turn into horses running on train tracks. It was symbolic for me in my relationship at the time. It was the most steady relationship I had ever been in - like a train - but to watch it become horses meant there was always the potential for running wild and breaking away from the locked path. 

The cover artwork is very simple, yet beautiful. How did you come to choose it?

Thank you - I just kind of designed it one day. I had the idea and then I found these public domain cacti from a wildflowers of California book and decided it was the perfect match.

Some of the proceeds from the album sales will be donated to the Polaris Project. Why is that important to you?

I am so infuriated by the way people are exploited in the sex trade. Most of them are tricked into it because of poverty and a lot of them are young children. It is so wrong and I want to do everything I can do raise awareness and stop slavery in our lifetime.

You’ve worked with so many artists, is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you would like to?

So many people I would love to work with - Jim James excites me. I’ve met him a couple times but I’m not good at pitching myself! I just feel like we’d have a really great collaboration.

Finally, I always like to know – is there one recent release you cannot stop listening to?

I have been in a weird Hank Williams mood recently. I know that’s not a new album… I’ll get back on my music game when my album is out! 

For more information visit her official website
Find her on Facebook and Twitter
Purchase Plains here