Article, Interview

ARTICLE | Jessie Gordon is the Queen of FRINGEWORLD 2018

Article | Laura Money

If you haven’t heard of Jessie Gordon yet, then you better get yourself to one of her shows. The sweetheart of Perth, Gordon’s the sultry songstress smashing FRINGEWORLD 2018. With over six shows this year, Gordon is showing no sign of slowing down as she performs everything from Jazz standards, to nineties nostalgia. We caught up with her at the halfway point, after performing 19 shows in 9 days, to see how she was tracking.

Gordon was in the middle of what she calls ‘extreme lounging’ – how else do you think she keeps that divine voice so slick?! She has to be very careful as

this year is a marathon and not a sprint! I have to take care of my health and my voice because I’m spreading my shows out across the whole FRINGEWORLD program.

The first three shows of the marathon are already under her belt –

Anatomically Incorrect Gentlemen: Dirty Gents pairs Gordon with the wonderfully talented Libby Hammer after Gordon chased her up one night after a gig. They developed the show based on what was lacking in their musical lives Рboth were used to their hyper-feminine presentations as Jazz singers, so decided to liberate themselves by dressing as old men!

Gordon and Hammer absolutely love playing these ‘lovable idiot’ characters while playing the ukulele and singing crude, yet fun songs.

Sassafrass – An Evening in Paris a five piece band that backs Gordon as she kills it on stage!


The Fairly Average Dance Party saw Gordon and her crew getting down and dirty with the tacky songs of the nineties – you know, the ones you secretly love to belt out? This era of music is totally new to Gordon to perform, she grew up listening to it, but hadn’t really done any of it on stage before.

I think we’re at a particular moment where the nineties has a fascination – we’re now nearly 30 years on, and that means that it carries a cultural weight for people in their 30s now but it also carries a kind of gravity for people who are younger who have a nostalgia for a time that they didn’t even experience.

Gordon herself grew up listening to a lot of Jazz and classics, so she understands what it is like to have a nostalgia for an era she didn’t actually experience.

I try to be very careful of that, because a lot of the swing music I play, is deeply personal. People carry a personal family history to the eras that the music is from. It’s important to realise though, that this music is not a beacon of a better time, or a simple time, or an era when ‘men were men and women were women.’ It was borne out of a complex time during great turmoil and it’s brilliant music, but it’s not a time that we should yearn for.

Gordon performs throughout the year, but there’s something about FRINGEWORLD that brings out the best in her.

Look, the crowds are out there and so many people want to see shows. So, you should make hay while the sun shines – it’s a great time to be involved in the arts!

Now, it’s completely unfair to ask Gordon which genre is her favourite, but with such a diverse program, I did ask her what she likes about all of the styles of music she performs.

“They all bring something different to the table. The hardest think I do is Jazz because it requires so much control, and that’s a challenge and I love it. But then, doing ridiculous dance parties and getting to mosh onstage is really fun and entertaining!


Gordon’s first truly solo show is next – Live Electric Loops is just Gordon on stage with a pedestal. It’s a total departure from her usual shows, and one that she finds utterly terrifying.

It’s the things that are terrifying that end up being the most worthwhile.

Despite seeing loop machines before, I still had no idea how they worked, until Gordon was kind enough to explain:

“You sing a short phrase into it, and you hit a button and it records that short phrase. When you finish recording it, it just loops that short phrase again and again so you’ve got maybe four notes and then that repeats. And then you put something else on top of it. Then that repeats as well.

You just start building layer upon layer of rhythm and harmony until you create a whole backing so you can sing a melody over the top of it.”

Some of the music she plays are Jazz standards, some are original compositions and some are created then and there on the spot for the lucky audience.

Next up is Dirty Jazz Cocktail Hour – a fun, silly show. It’s just Gordon and a pianist and it’s dirty songs with a focus on drinking songs! She likes to think about why this type of music is considered on a cultural fringe – so you get philosophy as well as Jazz!

It talks about alcohol and escapism, alcohol as a euphemism for pain. It’s got some thought in it but it’s also going to be a silly fun time!

And finally, Jessie Gordon is Ruining Your Night is a brand new show that is a combination of songs that are really personal to Gordon, songs that came at a moment of crisis in her life. Some songs that she has written, and some songs that Gordon associates with people ruining her night – moments she was entirely vulnerable. Music can be cathartic and healing, and songs become representations of moments.

It’s a love letter to music. It’s for the songs that have really meant something to me throughout my life and the songs that have been there for me.

Gordon will be gracing so many stages around FRINGEWORLD 2018 and creating new memories and emotions for herself and audiences alike. She was an absolute delight to speak to, and I can honestly say is an absolute delight to watch on stage. Gordon is perhaps the most prolific performer here in Perth, so don’t miss out on seeing her at least once – her voice is stunning, sultry, and entirely hypnotic, you could listen for hours.

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