Jalesa Jessie aka Chief Cleopatra is the singer and multi-instrumentalist who dropped her project Friends recently. It’s the perfect showcase to Chief Cleopatra from Corsicana Texas bringing something that has some pop sensibilities with a definite funky edge. Must say, the video to accompany the single is a great one take feat. It kind of reminds us of the video for that timeless classic Unchained Symphony (1991) by Massive Attack.
Anyhow we got a little time with Chief Cleopatra to talk beginnings, her music journey so far and that forthcoming ep Luna-let’s go in!
Tell us a bit about your musical history and discography-tracks that marked a significant point in your career (if that is possible)?
Music has always been around me…whether it was in the church or just being around my parents. My mom and dad had somewhat different musical taste, but collectively, their choices in artists were stellar. I definitely think that has shaped the way I write and think about music.
With hindsight was music the obvious trajectory or could it have been a different path and indeed what could it have been?
You know, I tried to go to college after high school, but I never found anything that made me go, “ok, this is what I want to do.” Never had a moment like that. It’s always been music for me, I don’t think it could’ve been anything else. Even when I tried to step away from music to follow a more “practical” career, the universe brought me back to it.
And the back story to Friends?
The backstory on Friends is about me losing a friendship that lasted for over ten years. This person was my best friend, and when they no longer wanted me around, I was hurt. The only way I could truly cope was by writing about what had happened between us.
Why the wait with Friends by the way as this was initially penned ten years prior?
Initially, Friends was just a song I wrote, just to release some emotion. I had no idea what to do with it ten years ago. I didn’t have the right people around me that could help that song blossom the way it has, nor was I in the right headspace for it like I am now.
Your EP Luna is due for release we note there’s a bias to ‘psychedelic soul’ and ‘experimentation’ discuss that more.
As far as experiments go, I’m just diving more into my own sound that occasionally has some spacey electro vibes along with gritty guitar solos and definitely more harmonies that give the songs this psychedelic feel. Luna to me is about new beginnings, change, and reflection. This is what I’m going through, like the phases of the moon. It felt highly appropriate giving the project that title.
Talk a bit more about personnel/musicians on the single and indeed the EP
So Walker Lukens produced the whole project. I wrote and performed all the songs/harmonies. I even played drums on Friends. Throughout the project, I was blessed enough to have Jack, Curtis, and Zac from Bright Light Social Hour on board. They are Austin musical royalty, so for them to hop on my project was rad. Then of course my music partner, Leonard Martinez, comes through blazing with his killer guitar.
And give a bit of detail on that vid?
For the vid, my friend and video director for friends Konstantin Belyshev suggested we do a single-take walking shot. I said hell yes, let’s do it! What better place to shoot that type of video than on SOCO [South Congress], one of the most historic and visually interesting places in ATX.
We know you are performing at the next SXSW-huge notch on your CV?
Yeah, I played SXSW in March of this year and it definitely got me noticed by the right people. I can’t wait to share my news about that this year. But yes, SXSW was definitely a huge notch for me. Ultimately I can’t wait to put out new music because I have (I think) some great projects coming up.