Jesse Jo Stark on his new album “Doomed”, which synthesizes masculine and feminine and connects with his inner child

Nowadays, new artists often try to flood fans with music, attempting to acquire an audience through sheer saturation. But singer and songwriter Jesse Jo Stark has taken the opposite approach, producing an EP and slow streak of singles over the past five years with the intentionality and precision of rationing water in a desert.

It helps that the 31-year-old artist has other activities to fill his time. Stark is part of the Chrome Hearts fashion family and has designed for the brand, as well as running her own clothing line called Deadly Doll and engaging in acting. All along, she has created a beautifully macabre musical image, which feels distinct from the austerity that has permeated recent pop music.

condemned, her first official album out this week, is full of noir imagery and offers a seductive shade. On standout tracks like “So Bad,” which features Stark’s close friend and collaborator Jesse Rutherford of The Neighborhood, and “Tornado,” the guitar chords move like weeds on a dusty road and the voice drenched with reverberation of Stark is a class lesson in thoughtful moderation. But he is also expanding into new territory, offering a country anthem melody (“Lipstick”) and a dark version of the record (“Pussycat”), across the album’s 11 meager tracks.

Before of condemned publication GQ spoke to Stark about the release of his debut LP, collaboration with Jesse Rutherford and inspiration from Italian illustrators, Audrey Hepburn, and the dictionary.

GQ: How does it feel to be on the verge of releasing an album that has been in the works for so long?

Jesse Jo Stark: It’s so random. I feel like the fucking time has just passed. I’ve always been that person who, if I get a show or something, I won’t believe I’m playing it until I’m on stage. I don’t really know how I feel and I’m very nervous, but I’m excited. I feel like I’ve been waiting for it all my life.

You’ve been releasing music for a while, but an album should reach people who were previously unfamiliar with your discography. How do you manage to balance having songs that really appeal to you personally with songs that would make a good impression on potential new fans?

I explain each song as if it were a different mood in my day. I feel like we wake up in one mood and very fine in another. Musically, I am so inspired by a million different things and have never felt part of a specific genre. I think it’s very irritating to people because they really want to categorize you and make sure they understand what they’re listening to, but that was never my intention with my music. If I play the album live, I want to satisfy every kind of niche I have of wanting to dance or cry, want to scream. A couple of the songs I have here are from six years ago. We added the last track “Trippin” literally two weeks before the end of the album. I remembered this demo I had and I was like “This has to be the end, “so we added an outro to complete the whole record. It was about not taking it too seriously and just saying,” It feels right. This is what I want to play when I’m on stage. This is really me, at least right now.