Captivating and hypnotic, Seattle's Tiny Vipers (aka Jesy Fortino) is a stolen walk through a haunted forest. That sun-bleached record found in your grandparent's attic that, once revived, sings to daydreams and heartache long forgotten. Tiny Vipers is the memory of a memory, and Fortino casts a spell with her voice that silences a room.
I caught up with Jesy after some failed attempts involving wonky cell phones and the weariness of touring, and we got down to business. Tiny Vipers plays tomorrow night at Mississippi Studios (see endnote for details).
If you could go back in time and bring one person WITH you, ala Bill & Ted, who would you go for?
Hunter S. Thompson.
From a specific time period?
Probably in '71. Hunter S Thompson from ‘71. Before he became burnt out and angry. Like right at the beginning of him getting burnt out and angry.
Did you have a childhood pet?
I had a hamster.
What was its name?
Hampton the hamster?
Were you really attached to him?
I was. He actually lived a really long time for a hamster, too. Like maybe 3 years. He was around for a long time.
Were you a horse kid?
I liked horses. I wasn't really a horse kid, though, I didn't collect them. My little sister was a horse kid, so I know what you mean. She collected all those horses, those little plastic ones. But I didn't.
Did you have anything that you collected?
I collected dinosaurs. Different kinds of dinosaurs. Statuettes.
Did you have a favorite one?
Eh. Not really. I liked them all. I mean, yeah. It was fun.
Did you have a favorite cartoon when you were growing up?
I think Ren and Stimpy was probably up there.
Are you reading a book right now?
I just finished a book. Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy.
Did you like it?
Yeah, it was a little intense. I liked it a lot. There were a lot of bloody murders.
[A few days later I heard back from Jesy regarding this question and received this text message addendum…]
Surprise parties: for or against and why?
I'm actually reading The Maltese Falcon. I choked and couldn't remember when we talked yesterday. I read Blood Meridian a couple weeks ago. Heh, not that it matters
Totally matters! The Maltese Falcon is amazing! Never read the book myself, but it's one of my favorite movies of all time!
Yeah I bought it sort of randomly. The name caught my eye and now it's drawing me in. Really fantastic.
I think I'm for them. I've never really done a surprise party or been surprised by one, but it seems like it'd be kind of fun. I always think I'm going to do a surprise party and then they always find out.
Yeah. I found out about one once.
Was it hard?
Did you feel mean? Aren't you supposed to rub it in that they're not doing anything for your birthday?
Yeah. The worst part was the only people that showed up were my mom and my best friend. Loser… ANYWAY…Have you ever gone to a psychic?
No. My mom goes to psychics, though. A lot. She believes in Tarot cards, mostly.
Have you ever had a Tarot card reading?
Only by my mom.
Do you remember what it said at all?
It was kind of ambiguous. You're supposed to have a question in mind but I couldn't think of one that was good enough, so…I don't know. She just said that I was a dreamer. That's kind of what I named the song “Dreamer” after, actually. The tarot card reading just talked about my life in general and then she pulled out this card and said, “You're a dreamer,” and I was like, “Ok that makes sense.”
Let's say you're a religious person, for the sake of this question. If you could be absolved forever of one of the 7 deadly sins, which would you choose: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, or gluttony?
I guess I'd say envy. That's probably the only one I think is terrible. For me, personally. Everything else you can kind of get away with, but that one will always get you.
What was your first performance like?
It was a little nerve wracking, I suppose. I was playing in my friend's living room. They had a house party.
Was it in Seattle?
No, it was in…God where was it?…It was kind of down SR900, just outside of Issaquah. And I was super nervous. There were maybe 20 people at the party.
How old were you?
Maybe 16. I mean it wasn't like a real…I didn't ever really play shows. It was kind of random. But it was my first time performing. My friends were like, "you should go play some guitar or something." I was like, "oh God! Ok." You know, and then I didn't play again until like years after that. It's kind of funny.
You didn't play at all for years or just not in front of people?
I still played on my own—but I didn't actually have a guitar for a long time, so… you know.
When did you get your guitar?
I bought one when I was about 19. I was like, "I'm just going to buy one," cause my roommate that had a guitar moved out, and so I couldn't play anymore, so, yeah. I had to buy one.
What's your favorite metal band?
Metal? Oh geez…um…well, this isn't quite a metal band, but they play metal, but I don't consider them a metal band, does that count? The band is called Circle, from Finland. I think they're amazing. They play all kinds of different metal and they sometimes have ambient records, too. They're pretty interesting.
And finally, if you were making a mix tape to celebrate the month of July, what are five songs that you know would make the cut?
1. 'Shimmer' by Soft Circle
2. 'Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne' by Suicide
3. 'Lost Control' by Double Fantasy
4. 'Tonight' by Electronicat
5. 'Cant be Serious' by Ginny
SEE HER: Tiny Vipers will be at Mississippi Studios July 14th along with Rafael Anton and Cars & Trains. Doors are at 8, show at 9, $10
Tiny Vipers at Sub Pop