John Heart Jackie is the musical collaboration of Peter Murray and and Jennie Wayne. Two musical partners who have surpassed the half decade mark of musical collaboration with one another. Their latest record Episodes is a clever and sonically creative, driving release. Lyrically the album is a bit of an enigma. Undeniably, love, honesty, and exploration are at the core of the duo’s songs, yet you are left to wonder – are we listening to the words of John and Jackie, or Peter and Jennie? We got to hang with Peter at our beloved West Village record shop Village Music World to talk about Episodes and the process behind it.
Play Too Much: Tell me about the Episodes. How long did it take to make?
John Heart Jackie: Took about two years. There was an unintentional learning curve. Primarily around how to record, and how to produce this record.
PTM: Well the record sounds gorgeous, and you definitely had a great crew of musicians on this one. Did you do the recording yourself?
JHJ: Yeah. I was able to learn a lot from the people that I collaborated with, which is how the album got made, and also why it took so long. My friend Justin, for example invited me over for some Pro-Tools tutorials, but wound up turning into discussions on more broad topics. We got into things like tempo especially. At one point he said “these are too slow”. So now something I often think about is, what’s the fastest tempo a song can be at without changing it’s original feel? It effected some of the other songs as well.
PTM: Wow that’s a great thought. Especially when approaching recording. So, how did Jennie’s (aka Jackie) involvement happen?
JHJ: We write everything together. Some songs, she would send over a fully finished song, or the other way around but at times one of us would present a beat and we would build from there. The writing is 100% collaborative, but most of the production was at my studio in New York. Jennie lives in Portland, so she would send files and we would collaborate that way as well.
PTM: How do you enjoy the dynamic of a bicoastal working relationship?
JHJ: In a lot of ways I think it’s made our working relationship a lot more fluid. I moved to New York because I had to move here. I’m originally from San Francisco, but I think it’s sort of this funny non-issue.
PTM: With the album coming out in January, are you guys planning on touring?
JHJ: Oh, yeah definitely. It’s exciting because logistically it’s much more feasible to play shows as a two piece as opposed to being something larger like an eight piece band. I think as we get older and more experienced we are focused on using our time wisely. Whenever we tour we make sure we wake up super early and get to make the most of our days on tour. It’s really easy to get lost in the the cycle of waking up, going to the club, going to the gig, playing the show, and doing it all over again – so we really try to make sure we get an early start and make a road trip of it.
PTM: Do you have a favorite memory on tour?
JHJ: Oh man, that’s tough. We had a really special time in Montreal. The guys we were on tour with, happened to have bicycles. So while they were sound checking, we were able to bike around the city for the day. It’s a really fond memory, and a cool way to see a city.
PTM: Biking in a new city? That sounds like the best way to spend time anywhere on this planet. Very cool. Alright, so let’s wrap things up. If there is one thing you can let the world know about your music, what would it be?
JHJ: I think making work like this can be so much about yourself, and then once it’s done it becomes other people’s. I think so much of this band is us, but then there are these characters. Understanding that overlap, is something that takes time. We are making this thing, and we want it to be open to interpretation.