Finding Para Dice with Jessica Wolff
Finding Para Dice with Jessica Wolff
Jessica Wolff is a true visionary whose exploration of life is absolutely inspirational, with passions that include music, acting, Kung Fu, and more! Para Dice is the name of Jessica’s brand new album, jammed packed with dynamic rockers now available worldwide through Metalapolis Records. Highwire Daze recently caught up with the mega-talented Ms. Wolff to find a whole lot more about the gripping stories behind Para Dice, her recent tour opening for the legendary Treat, her interest in Kung Fu and stunt work, and other topics of intrigue. Read on…
What was the name of the very first song you ever wrote, how old were you, and what was the song about?
The song was called ‘You Should Get Over Me‘ and I think I was 17. Until then I had only sang classical music and performed in musicals. Then I met a heavy rocker who offered me to write a song together. This song was the first one I ever wrote. We didn’t finish it at that time, but when I started to focus full time on music in 2010, this song came up and ended up on the first album. I still write with him today.
Where are you based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
I’m from Helsinki in Finland. Over here people listen mostly to Finnish songs. We also have a lot of great rock bands in Finland, and many make it abroad first before becoming big in Finland.
How did you wind up signing with Metalapolis Records?
For three years I tried to find a label for Europe. There were a lot of maybes and hopes. When nothing happened and the collaboration with my manager stopped, I almost gave up. I had done some stunts and acting for a short action film called “Eliza” that made it to a film festival in the US around the same time. I went to the film festival to perform, and came across a director from Australia who had many years of experience in the music business also in Scandinavia and Europe. He wanted me to act and do stunts for one of his films. But when he came across my music he decided to help me out. He invited me to the Cannes Film Festival where he introduced me to Nico from the German label Metalapolis Records. Three months later we signed the contract. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made during my musical career. The team in Germany is more like a family than business partners.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Para Dice album and title?
Yes there is. If we think about the typical way we look at a paradise, we often connect it to a beautiful place where there is only happiness and peace. I remember the time when I actually lived in a “paradise” in the Dominican Republic. I did all the wonderful things I wanted to do, like kitesurfing, freediving, motorbiking, hiking etc. Everyday was the same, full of joy and excitement, and time just flew by. But soon I realized I started to feel there’s something missing and started to feel restless and empty inside the longer I stayed. In the end I realized I could never live there permanently. I got too much of the paradise and felt like I wasn’t growing and just being stagnated on the same spot. I think to receive true happiness and calmness you need to go through challenges and obstacles in life to grow as a person. Learn where your limits are and how much you’re capable of. To me, a paradise, is that balance and harmony you find within yourself after fully going through that roller coaster of experiences, excitement, challenges, happiness and obstacles. The word Para stands for “counter” or “go against the force”. Then we have Dice, which represents daring to take risks and chances in life, and whatever happens makes the best out of the result. Good or bad. On ‘Para Dice‘ you can listen to some stories of my ride on this roller coaster.
Select two songs from Para Dice and what inspired the lyrics.
‘Ella’s song‘ is probably the one that effected me emotionally the most. Through a charity organization, a mother had made a post about her daughter who was so school bullied she didn’t dare to go outside the house anymore. They were looking for help. I don’t know why but it hit me like a bullet. I contacted Ella and offered her to catch up and just listen, talk, go for walks or work out. She told me her whole story and all of a sudden I knew that I should make a song about her and her story. And she loved the idea. I wrote the lyrics based on what she told me. We’re both really happy with the result and we’re still in contact on a regular basis.
The Sunny Side Of The Bay, would be my second choice. Every single word is directly taken from my own life and experience. I improvised a very big part of this song, which was a new experience for me in the studio. The lyrics are about how amazing it can be on tour, but how much you miss your loved one at home. This song is dedicated to Miikka Wolff, my husband.
Who produced Para Dice and what was it like working with them?
Jonas Olsson produced the album. After working with him on the album Grounded I didn’t want anyone else for the next album. It’s really easy to work with him. He listens and respects what kind of style I want for the album and I was confident to give him a lot of free hands. We’re both very straightforward when we work, which saves a lot of time. If we have different opinions we usually work on that until we come up with something even better rather than clinging on to our own ideas with teeth and nails. That can easily happen if you are not connected and not trusting the person you‘re working with.
What could one expect from a live Jessica Wolff show?
Definitely a good connection with the audience. A rollercoaster of feelings, but most of all, a band that won’t stand still and will make the stage shake. Especially the bass player, he jumps through the roof sometimes. (you will see a band on stage that has a lot of fun and loves what they‘re doing.)
What was the experience like opening for Treat and did you get to meet or hang out with them at all?
It was great and rough at the same time, maybe I should call it paradise ? 😉 I did hang out with Treat every day. We lived in the same bus. Great guys and always a great audience! But I had a sinus infection right before the tour started, and one day into the tour my tooth started aching to the point where I thought my head was gonna explode and I had no sleep at all. Right before I went out on the stage before my first gig, my ear monitor broke. For a moment I got terrified, because we had only rehearsed with in-ears and this also meant I couldn’t hear my voice or the instruments on stage. If someone had asked me before, would you be able to perform with three hours of sleep, tooth ache, no in-ear monitor and a sinus infection, I would have laughed and said “no way”. But what can you do? The gig started and I got out on the stage and somehow being pushed across that limit, the nervousness I had before the tour was gone. Stressing and overthinking would have made everything worse and almost impossible. So I was on stage, nowhere to hide. I just had to go for it and trust that I know the songs. It went really well, and the best thing of it all, I realized how nervous I sometimes had been for nothing before gigs. I learned to trust myself in a different way than before. And the gigs after that felt like a dance and I enjoyed them to the fullest. Without that rough start the tour wouldn’t have been as great.
If you could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Ooh, tough question! At the moment I’d say Takida, Biffy Clyro or Thirty Seconds To Mars. I usually listen to different songs from different music categories and not to full albums. But when I listen to these band’s albums, I love every single song, which makes them very special to me.
Have you ever played in the States or plan to do so in future ?
I have performed in the States. It was in the connection with the film festival. I’ve also recorded vocals there and wrote some music. But unfortunately I’ve never performed there with the band. I don’t have any plans now, but if an opportunity opens up, I‘m in.
What has it been like to release new music in the middle of a pandemic and all of social unrest in the world?
It’s a really strange and hard time for all of us. I think during times like these people are more emotional and in a bigger need of something to cheer them up. If my songs can make even one person smile it makes me happy. The pandemic hit right before the music video shootings for ‘Superhero‘ so we had to cancel them and had no idea when the next opportunity opened. Fortunately things got better over here and we just finished the music video filming. Hopefully it will be ready in time for the album release on June 19th.
When you look back on your previous albums Renegade and Grounded, what do you think of them now in retrospect?
Especially with ‘Renegade‘, if I would remake any of the songs today they would probably sound very different. It was such a long time ago and I was a younger version of myself back then. Both as an individual and as an artist. However, I always gave 100% to my albums and music. As long as you know you did your absolute best and what felt right at the time, there is nothing to regret.
There’s all of these fight scenes of you on YouTube and your bio says you do acting, Kung Fu and stunt work. How did you become involved with acting, martial arts and stunt work?
I needed something new in my life so I went to a musical group when I was 13, where I got to act for the first time. I got completely hooked and since then I joined many musicals acting schools and summer camps. I love acting, it’s like wine tasting. You get to taste a little bit of everything without having to buy the whole bottle. Since I was a kid I loved Jackie Chan and Kung-Fu even if I knew very little about it. I had always dreamed of training with a Wushu master in China. Maybe a silly Karate Kid thought, haha. Back then I was strongly into gymnastics and circus and my musicals. So there wasn’t much room to really get into something new. When I jumped out of acting school to focus on music in 2010, it suddenly became clear that it was time to fulfill that dream. Through a friend of mine I heard about Shifu Zhang Fang, who is a Wushu master from China. He’s the real deal. I was very scared in the beginning, coz the trainings were so hard and strict, but I decided to train with him at least 20 times before deciding if it was my thing or not. It turned out it was. Sometimes here and there we had some longer breaks, for example if I’ve been abroad or injured. But I always picked it up again. As for the stunts, I started in 2008. I was rehearsing for a performance when I came across a bunch of funny guys “beating each other up” in front of a camera. It immediately caught my attention and before I knew it I was a part of their group. Combining acting and martial arts was like the ultimate dream! It has opened up so many doors for me, and without them my music video for ‘Superhero‘ would be something completely different.
What’s up next for you?
The album release is my next focus. After that I can hopefully go back to work as a Personal Trainer and in the autumn graduating from the Actors Academy Of Finland. As soon as the opportunity for touring will come up it will be my main focus.
Any final words of wisdom?
The pearls can only be found on the bottom of the sea. When things get rough, stand up for yourself and dear to go through the storm to see the sunshine again.
(Interview by Ken Morton)