Jessy Wilson’s new clip for “LA Night,” premiering exclusively below, stands on its own as a music video. But the Brooklyn-born, Nashville-based singer has bigger things in mind for it.
Directed by Emerson Kyle, “LA Night” is part of a 19-minute short film Wilson is putting together that will incorporate other songs — “Oh Baby” and “Clap Your Hands” prior to “LA Night” — from the R&B/rock singer’s debut solo album Phase, which was produced by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. The full piece and its “loose storyline” is essentially a tribute to Wilson’s adopted home base, where she moved after touring as a backup singer with Alicia Keys and also formed the duo Muddy Magnolias.
“It focuses on the Nashville I’ve come to know in the six years I’ve been living here — the more diverse, urban backdrop of Nashville that people don’t usually get to see,” Wilson tells Billboard. “Nashville has this big and robust creative community, with beings who are eccentric and vibrant, that live on the fringes outside of what it’s known for, which is country music. I wanted to do the film just so I could shine a light on all of these people who have been a huge part of my inspiration and haven’t really had the focus or the light shined on them otherwise.”
But though it’s just one part of that larger piece, “LA Night” is particularly personal for Wilson, putting some flesh on an autobiographical song that she says “reflects on my journey as a musician in general.” In it Wilson reconnects with “my younger self and that ambition and disposition towards music I had when I was a child and everything was new and I hadn’t had any experiences that would leave me with a bitter taste. She represents when everything felt fresh and possible, so the video is about reconnecting with that inner child, that inner creative being and bringing her back to life and nurturing her and loving her and looking for her. That’s why in the video I’m looking for her in the streets, and then when we find each other we embrace.”
With Phase and her association with Carney, Wilson has done that in her real life as well. She sought a meeting with Carney shortly after the unpleasant 2017 breakup of Muddy Magnolias, when Wilson was looking to forge a career of her own. “I had always admired his playing style,” she says, “and then I learned he was a producer. I had a pretty big hunch that working with him would be a great fit.” That proved to be the case, and the association helped Wilson net a solo deal (with Thirty Tigers Records) and some opening spots on the Black Keys fall tour. She’ll play a short east coast headlining run during December, and while 2020 plans are being hatched Wilson is also planning to “head back into the studio to just explore what’s there since I haven’t been in that space for some months.
“(Carney) and I have already started talking about ideas back and forth, sharing playlists like we did for (Phase),” Wilson says. “I’ve started writing some and have been listening to a lot of things that I think will inspire the next album and the sonics of the next album. I think I’ll work with Patrick until one of us feels like it doesn’t work anymore, but we’ve committed to making music together as long as it feels good.”