Up Close with Jessica Jackson-Salvucci of ANARIA

 


Raquel Thompson: "Alone" certainly was taken and covered by Anaria in a way that showed respect to the powerful women of rock, Heart. How did you feel you connected to these two women who helped blaze a trail in this world of music?
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: Thank you, we had such a fun time putting our spin on it! I think it would be hard for any woman in rock to not think of or be inspired to some degree by Ann and Nancy Wilson and their contributions to the rock industry. Heart is credited as one of the first female-fronted hard rock bands ever so in many respects, I see them as some of the "founding mothers" of female-fronted rock and metal. Like me, they had a varied background in music. Content-wise, Heart has always walked this line between badass and beautiful, and that is something I have always endeavored to do as a singer and performer.

Raquel Thompson: Reflecting back on your music career, what have been some of the most challenging things you have had to face and overcome as a female in a metal band?
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: As a female in a metal band, there seem to be a lot of expectations and preconceived notions about what you should sound or look like. I think overall the industry is on the road to improvement as we are seeing many women dominate their genres, blowing those expectations out of the water completely, and I'm here for it. I think it's our job to rock the boat, throw caution to the wind, and be our authentic selves. In the past, I dealt with a great deal of sexism and objectification. I think I was afraid to speak up for myself then, but I'm much different these days. I enjoy wearing crazy costumes and portraying this sexy character on-stage, it's empowering.

Raquel Thompson: Have you ever had to deal with any circumstances that made you feel uncomfortable and maybe unfair in the music industry because you were a woman?
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: Something I heard a lot about being a woman in metal was, "oh, you guys only got that gig because you have a girl singer" as if my gender somehow invalidated my talent. The standards that people seem to hold female musicians in metal to are often impossibly high, I've found. I'm not a superhero or a supermodel, I'm a girl who likes to write and sing. I am flawed, I don't have perfect skin, and I'm not skinny. I was always self-conscious of those things until recently and was very self-aware of how my flaws seemed to impact my visibility as an artist. I've learned to celebrate imperfection because that's part of being a human being. Luckily, the Anaria fanbase really seems to love us not for the clothes we wear, but for the music we make, which is the most important thing and we are so grateful for all of them!

Raquel Thompson: Tell us some of the most powerful moments you have experienced as a female in this industry.
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: Every moment I step onto the stage is a powerful moment because getting there in-and-of-itself was a challenge. As a shy person with social anxiety and depression, every day is a battle, and every day I can overcome that battle is a success. I cherish every opportunity to step onto a stage, into a vocal booth, or in front of a camera, because that is where I am allowed to make art. The audience is part of the creative experience, and whether that's one person jamming out to our album in their car or a thousand people in a stadium, the fact that I am able to connect with and share that experience through my voice is a powerful moment.

Raquel Thompson: Who do you go to when you need advice on your music, stage presence, or handling different scenarios? 
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: I don't have a personal mentor or anyone of that nature. I ask my husband's advice a lot (he's the lead guitarist of Anaria, very knowledgeable about the music industry, and surprisingly impartial given our relationship). As far as stage presence, I tend to go to videos and catalogued-advice from the great performers of the past few decades, like Tina Turner who always had such dynamite stage presence. But I do look inwards quite a lot, and try to learn from my past. I think there is a lot of value in looking back and learning from yourself.

Raquel Thompson: Is there anything you would like to see done differently to help other females in the future in this industry?
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: I'd love it if we could collectively do away with "female-fronted" being used as a genre. I don't know that I ever believed it was derogatory or meant to be used in any kind of harmful way, but there's no reason gender needs to define a genre. Especially nowadays, when there are so many women in the industry and not just singers. 



Raquel Thompson: What advice would you give other young women who may be thinking about being in a rock or metal band.
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: Being in a rock or metal band can be really rewarding, but don't lose sight of yourself. Everything in life is a journey, don't be afraid to experiment and pursue what fulfills your passion. Life is too short not to follow your dreams. Success isn't always playing a sold-out show or selling a million records; sometimes success is inspiring a little boy to pick up a guitar. Think about what impact you place value on, and let that drive your purpose.

Raquel Thompson: Do you have a favorite song Anaria has recorded and why is it your favorite?
Jessica Jackson-Salvucci: I love every song we've recorded, and each one for different reasons. But if I had to pick one, I would go for the one that I think marks when we really started to find "our sound", and that would be "Into the Flood." It's a ballad from our older works, and I feel it does a great job presenting our unique fusion of styles and elements. For me, it's one of our first songs where I began to truly express my voice. Many of our listeners have mentioned a personal connection with this particular song, and I feel that same connection. It's about persevering no matter what, no matter how many times you are struck down, no matter how bad the storm is--you must be strong and carry on. That's a personal mantra I've carried with me since its inception, and it has propelled me through some very tough times.


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