“I have really found a whole new passion for vocals.” – Interview with Jess Fleming of Juliet Ruin

Late March, Edmonton-based metalcore outfit Juliet Ruin unleashed a new EP titled “Dark Water”. The band continues exploring new soundscapes with a heavier approach and stepping up the vocal game once again. Juliet Ruin’s vocalist Jess Fleming enchants fans with enormous improvements in her harsh vocals and perfecting the clean singing even further. We talk the sound and vocal evolution in detail with Jess herself, exploring her newfound passion for singing and confidence to take over the screams entirely. Read more below.  

MG: Jess, thanks for your time. How are you doing?

Jess: Of course, thank you for taking the time to ask me some questions.

MG: You dropped a new EP titled “Dark Water” last month. If I remember correctly, it all started with one single. What was your goal from the first moment you started to work on “Dark Water” as a bigger unit? Do you think you’ve achieved that goal?

Jess: Yes, it did start with one single and then the band collectively drew inspiration from the song and it quickly became an EP. The goal was to see how we could write and express ourselves in the newer musical direction we started to take for our OSLaC album. We are all pretty happy with the overall sound we have achieved, and how the EP represents where we are as a band and as individuals.

MG: Lyrically, what are some of your biggest sources of inspiration? I’ve scrolled through your Instagram the other day and noticed some art and books… Or is it just life itself?

Jess: I am always writing notes and jotting things down when inspiration strikes. Oftentimes I am inspired by whatever book I’m reading, especially when I can relate to characters and themes in my own life. I do find that inspiration is a very slippery and fleeting thing, so I try to capture every thought as quickly as possible. I have a backlog of notes just in case I find myself drained for inspiration when it comes time to put lyrics to songs.

MG: Obviously, you’re the lead vocalist of the band, but your guitarist Kent and bassist Cody were helping with backing vocals on your first two records. Now, this is no longer a fact as you’ve shifted from three to only one vocalist on this EP. Why this change? Do you feel more comfortable doing harsh vocals now?

Jess: Up until I went to lay down vocals I expected to be working in some backing screams for Kent and Cody. In previous efforts my screams and harsh vocal abilities were quite limited, and I really lacked the confidence in my ability to feel like I could do all of the harsh vocals on my own. The improvements I made before heading to the studio really gave me extra confidence and the recording process was like night and day from the last time. Diego (Oracle Studios) and Kent basically said I should take over all harsh vocals and so I ended up just doing them all.

MG: How did you work on and reach this improvement? Any tips? 

Jess: I am so lucky to know such encouraging people, first and foremost. I definitely had a mental block surrounding harsh vocals, so having friends like Jessie from KOSM, and other incredible, talented women encouraging me really helped me want to learn more and believe in myself. Also, seeing Jinjer live and the whole experience of opening for them just completely changed the way I looked at harsh vocals.

I ended up finding Mary Z on YouTube and learned so much from her channel, Voice Hacks.  Because of these improvements I have really found a whole new passion for vocals and I have been really pushing myself to learn as much as I can. It’s been a great thing to work on over this Pandemic.  

MG: Not really a thing at the moment, but in the future, how are you gonna implement these changes to your live shows? Are you gonna do the live vocals all on your own as well?

Jess: We will be keeping Kent and Cody’s vocals for any parts that are layered for our older songs, but for the most part I’ll be taking over the harsh vocals for older songs, too.

MG: It seems to me like you really focus on improving the vocals with each record of yours. With your debut full-length album “Old Stardust, Love, and Chaos”, you experimented with implementing more poppier vocal lines. How was this step in your musical evolution received? 

Jess: I do definitely try to. I’ve always been a fan of poppy vocals, especially with heavier music. While that isn’t for everyone, we do get feedback about people finding the music fun to sing to and easy to dance to. That makes me happy.

MG: Speaking of evolution, there can be heard progress with each release not only vocally but also musically. The biggest difference that can be heard on your self-titled debut EP and 2019’s LP is more versatile vocals and technical approach. With your new EP, evolution doesn’t stop. Now that “Dark Water” is on the table, do you think you’ve finally found your sound? Is this what you’ve been looking for on your debut EP and LP?

Jess: Yes, as a band, we all agree that this is the sound we’d like to stay in and experiment with for a while. Dark Water is a good representation of what people can expect from us in the future. 

MG: You’re based in Edmonton. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that it is not that easy for new metal bands coming from Canada to break through, tour and reach new fans from abroad. How’s been your experience so far?

Jess: We are from Edmonton, yes. That’s very true. It’s pretty difficult to break through, even in Canada. We try our best to make connections on the road and connect with people online and through the music. We all share a similar mentality of “have fun, make music, the rest is just a bonus” and it’s worked well for us. We find so much joy in connecting and we hope to hit the road and venture to more far-off places in the future.

MG: So, every artist has their dream collaborations. What are yours? Who’d you like to tour or do a feature with?

Jess: Personally, my ultimate dream collaboration would be to sing with Devin Townsend. He’s amazing. As a band we dream of touring with Butcher Babies, Dance Gavin Dance or Jinjer. All of these would be an absolute dream.

MG: Thank you so much, Jess. All the best.

Jess: Thank you.

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