by Stephen Krock
Detroit has always held an honored spot in the evolutionary chart of American music. And now comes an artist bound for her own page in the city’s rich and fabled musical history. With the new EP, Demons, Jessica Hernandez and her decadentlydelicious band, The Deltas, have created a joyful noise that deserves to be heard by all. It is sound that draws, not only from their home base of Detroit, but from all avenues of music.
“When you come from a place with such rich musical history there is a lot to live up to,” Hernandez says. “It forces you to try really hard to try and become even one tenth of what those icons were before you. This place is really receptive and supportive, too. If you’re doing something different and people see that and see the passion you have for what you do, they will be interested and invested. It’s like that with everything here though, not just music.”
Different is the word of the day when it comes to Demons, and gloriously so. It is at once unlike and so much like anything I’ve heard before. With hints of pure pop rock, jazz age brass, sexy prohibition era, a seductive swampy sound one might find down on the bayou, and even classic garage band surfer rock. “My influences are seriously all over the place,” Hernandez says.“Everything from Os Mutantes to Conway Twitty to Billie Holiday. Really just anything that’s timeless.”
When asked whether diversity in her own work is something of an artistic goal or simply a happy accident, Hernandez had a simple, happy answer. “I’m not just one sided as a person, so my music of course isn’t going to be either. I love jazz, I am dating a California surfer, I have Latin parents, an obsession with the circus, and a weird musical past. All of these things play into the sound and what inspires me.”
These influences shine through in spades in what has been a blessed collaboration between Hernandez and the group of fellow Detroit musicians who would become The Deltas. “I think it’s a combo of me being influenced by a lot of [those styles] of music and also a bit of The Deltas and their stylistic approach to my songs,” says Hernandez. “They are all super talented jazz guys, so anything they touch ends up getting this hint of jazziness. I really love swampy sultry horns, too, so all the horn parts I’ve written end up giving the songs that speakeasyswampiness.”
According to Hernandez, their union came about while she was first working as a solo artist. Writing a lot, doing home recordings,and playing around town. “One day I got offered a bigger festival gig and decided I wanted to add a band to the mix,” she explains. “I called a bunch of friends around town and got The Deltas together. The band has been ever evolving and involving super talented friends from around Detroit.” The name of the band stems from what I suppose could be considered an honorary band member. “A friend of ours had an old beat up Delta that he had just bought and we named the band after the car as a place holder until we found something cooler,” Hernandez says. “It kind of just stuck and we never wanted to change the name after that.”
And as such a raucous and exciting new band, change is something that Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas do not need. Yet, it is something that seems inevitable and, indeed, very welcomed. Especially considering the varying artistic roads the group takes to create their product. With more collaborations in her dreams and a mélange of today’s music in her ears, perhaps change isn’t the right word, so much as evolution. “My number one dream would be to work with Tom Waits as a producer,” says Hernandez. “I think he would know exactly how to add the oddities I love. I listen to a lot of older stuff lately. I’m on this Latin soul/garage kick right now, Los Drags, Los Holy’s, KelaGates, Cacique. It’s always changing though.”
What can we expect to look forward to with Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas? “Well, since getting this first record seems to have taken a life time to finish and get out I am about to burst with holding back songs,” she says. “After this first LP comes out in the spring there will be lots more music to come and a lot of touring and festival dates. We’re all super excited!”
So am I. And when you go give the fantastic Demons a listen, so will you. Check them out this weekend, they will be at Milkboy on the 15th.