Singer-songwriter Jess Orestano has released the first single from her forthcoming EP. ‘How To Love Me’ is a masterclass in simple, honest, direct songwriting. New Boots speaks to her about how it all came about.

How did you begin with music?
I have always loved singing since a very young age.  My Grandad always had a piano at his house, which I have since inherited, and I loved to tinker on the keys from as young as four.  Then when I was nine I followed in my Dad’s footsteps and picked up the guitar, which has been my main instrument [along with singing] ever since.

Who do you feel are your main influences?
My main influences are varied really, I don’t know if any of them appear in my songwriting but I’ve always loved Dire Straits, Eva Cassidy, Bing Crosby, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Don McLean, Jeff Buckley, The 1975, Chvrches, The Cranberries and plenty more. I take a little bit of influence from all music really, there’s not much I won’t listen to.

Is this single a bit of a comeback? First new release since 2017…
I guess you could say that. I have been busy writing and performing music for the last three to four years, but I am notorious for taking my sweet time with getting round to releasing my material! Some of the songs on my upcoming EP are ten years old! I have relocated once and moved house twice since my last release too, and although I usually gig every weekend, I can now concentrate on sorting out my recordings and scheduling them for release.

Tell us everything about this new song, ‘How To Love Me’.
My new track is about a break-up that happened fairly recently after a long relationship. It’s all about the confusing feelings that happen following a break-up. Was it the right decision? Could we have made it work? It talks about some of the reasons relationships break down, and how when you reflect you wonder what could have been done differently. Whether your expectations for a long term relationship are too high. What happens after the honeymoon period? It talks about the fears of leaving a relationship and whether you’ll meet anyone else that can love you how you need it. I was 18 when my relationship started and 28 when it ended, it was a scary and uncertain time and I felt lost for a while.

And you mentioned playing live a great deal.
Up until now, I’ve always performed solo. Just myself and my electro-acoustic guitar. I usually perform a mixture of originals and covers depending on what the gig calls for. Going forward I am hoping to perform in a small ensemble with a couple of musical friends I’ve known for years. We’re all very excited about it, and can’t wait to start gigging!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire?
Absolutely! I play all over Northamptonshire, as well as further afield – I used to live in Norfolk, so regularly enjoy popping back over for gigs and seeing my friends there. I LOVE collaborating and will regularly hop on stage with my musical friends for a few harmonies, or to strum some rhythm guitar under a bit of lead. Mark Gill, Ethan Kenna, Scott Walters, Stevie Jones, Dan Hughes, Adam the Greek to name a few. It’s always a lot of fun performing with others, especially when it’s unplanned! I regularly play at a venue called Olive in Corby, and plan a festival there annually. But I love playing everywhere!

How’s lockdown been for you? Helping or hindering your creativity?
A bit of both really! I’m the mum of a spritely five-year-old, so there have been times where I can’t really do much creatively until he’s in bed, by which time I have to be quiet so as not to wake him. That said, I’ve been dabbling in a bit of music tech again after a few years hiatus. I have started to record some new bits of songs just by playing around with instruments, and exploring software capabilities of programs such as Cubase and Ableton Live. I’ve learnt a lot in that respect and have really been enjoying myself! Different to my usual songwriting/lyric writing ventures, but I’m excited to see what future ideas I come up with.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I last streamed Sam Cooke on Spotify. I’m a big fan, and go through phases of playing his music day-in day-out. This happens with all my favourites. I’ve also been listening to The 1975 new album Notes On A Conditional Form, and it’s been interesting following their progression in production and the direction that’s taken them in.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I am starting a masters in Audio Engineering in September, which I am SO excited for! I hope to pursue my long-term desire into producing, mixing and mastering music afterwards. I’d like to start a small studio for unsigned, grassroots musicians. Northamptonshire has so much to offer musically, and I’d love to help aspiring musicians get their songs off the ground and out into the world! I am so passionate about the local music scene, and love being a part of it.

‘How to Love Me’ is out now via the usual digital platforms

Jess performing as part of Audiostage