Right before temps dropped to parka weather, Baeble was lucky enough to score a first date with Brooklyn based singer-songwriter, Jillette Johnson. We took a road trip out to the North Fork of Long Island for a day full of silly hi-jinks at Corey Creek Winery, Peconic Dunes Park, and ended up at First and South for Jillette's intimate Sunday evening show. During the hour-long performance, Jillette treated a street-side gathering to a series of personal, piano-laden stories, including the premiere of a song she wrote earlier that morning titled, "Disaster Game". It was a pretty special day to say the least. Between getting tipsy off some wine, driving all over town and sharing an insane amount of laughs we're keeping our fingers crossed we'll get a second date. Have a look at the premiere of our new series First Date, just in time for Valentine's Day.
- Hey, what's up? It's Aimee from Baeble Music and today we're hanging out with the lovely Brooklyn based singer songwriter... - Jillette Johnson! - And we're going on a road trip. We're heading out to the North Fork of Long Island where we're hitting up a winery... - ...and the beach. Ahh! A shark! Doing a couple other fun things before she plays a show... at First and South. Come along for the ride with Jillette Johnson on a road trip. - So good! That was so good! awake this early on a Sunday. But the driver assured us he wouldn't fall asleep and kill us all, so we're feeling pretty good about that. I stayed awake playing dots on my phone. Jillette was exhausted. She'd stayed up all night writing a song. Long Island is beautiful in a small town New England kinda way; main streets, windy roads, trees for miles. They just have a few more vineyards. In fact, there are over 18,000 vineyards on the North Fork alone. Okay, that number is probably not accurate. We've arrived here at the Corey Creek Winery in North Fork Long Island. It's been a very long road trip, so we're excited to go have a glass of wine and uh, wander the vineyards. It's picturesque in all the ways you'd expect. It was beautiful. It was quiet. Bottle after bottle of wine. Row after row of the best grapes you've ever tasted. I wanted to take a whole bunch home. should. Grape's really good. They even had these lawn games so there's something to do once you got a little tipsy. Jillette was surprisingly good at them. - I've wanted to do what I do since I was a little kid. And I sort of have done what I do since I was a little kid. I started writing songs when I was, like, three. But those were mostly just melodies with words that I never remembered and were never to be heard again. But, I think, a lot of three-year-olds do that. But, I think, I was eight when I wrote my first song. And it was for my grandfather who had just passed away. He was the first grandparent in my life to pass away. And for the other three, I sang that song to each of them, either right before they died or at their funeral. So it was really light, fun stuff. I'm, I'm really, really lucky. My parents have always been really supportive. They always made me feel, like, it was real. I deserved to have a dream and follow it. Which I think is really important. - Where's your favorite place to write a song? - In my home, at my piano, alone, with no one else there. When I was a kid, I used to write on the piano in my house, growing up and I'm never alone in that house. In rebellion, I, I started just needing to be in a solitary space. - So were you that weird kid that was running around, like, singing to themselves all the time? - Yeah, I was definitely that kid. I managed to make some friends here and there. Or should we try this first? probably try wine first. Cabernet Franc. - Okay. - Did you see that movie, Sideways? - I did see that movie, Sideways. - I love that movie. - It was a good movie. He did not like Merlot. You know what I really like? I really like Pinot Noir. And I only learned that recently because my parents raised me to like Merlot and Chardonnay. We'll drink them still. Like, I like those. I just sort of like anything that's alcoholic. But I realize that, you know, at some point you start to make your own decision, and wine is a big part of that, you don't have to drink the things that your parents drink. I like Pinot Noir and I like Rose. Prosecco is good. And I like, you know, Whiskey and Tequila. - Yeah, cause those fit in real great with wine. - Oh, yeah. Just mix'em all. Just take, make some jungle juice. Cheers. - Cheers. - It taste like wine. - It does taste like wine. What's like the weirdest or most unexpected thing that's inspired you, or come to easy, as far as songwriting and melodies goes? - Well, I actually wrote a song, yesterday and this morning. I finished it this morning. There's this amazing masseuse, I used to call her my boyfriend because she would, like, give me all the things that I needed out of a relationship. And, I, I went and got a massage the other day cause I was, like, I had a hard time getting out of bed. And while she was massaging me, I wrote an entire song in my head. When she was like, "Okay, wake up. " She thought I was sleeping and I was not. I was, like, can you please get me a pad of paper and a pen before I put my clothes on because I can't, like, let go of this. And then I ran home and, and I wrote the melody and chords. The point of the song is life is about like sort of dogging natural disasters. And it's, it's a lot more positive than that sounds. It's sort of uplifting in a way that, like, I don't know, like, everything that I write is sort of dark but...yeah. - And what's the name of the song? - Disaster Game. I'm really, really, excited about, I'm really excited about it. Yeah. Cheers. - Cheers. We were a little tipsy, so we thought we'd head to the beach and relax a bit. Hey, guys! So we've reached our seaside destination here at Peconic Dunes Park which is a beautiful getaway from the hustle an bustle of-- - A fly flew at, in, nearly into my mouth. - We're here at Peconic Dunes Park which is a gorgeous and relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of New York City. - Weird shit with my hand. - Hey, guys. We're never gonna get--, gonna a good take here at Peconic Dunes Park. We had a couple of glasses of wine. Okay, ready? Hey, guys. We've reached our seaside destination here at Peconic Dunes Park which is a really beautiful and relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is so gorgeous out here. I wish we had a reason to be at the beach besides all the obvious cliches, but we didn't. Whatever. Jillette wanted to clear her head space before the show and the beach is one of those few places where it's easy to be alone with your thoughts. It's quiet, but it's not. The waves are rhythmic, but they don't make music. It's the perfect place to zen out. people that believes that New York is the best city in the world and the center of the universe. And while all of that is factual, you can go crazy, very easily you can go crazy in New York, so I leave a lot. we left the beach for First and South where the party was under way. DJ, outdoor grill, weird art stuff, booze, it was happening. All right, we made it here to First and South and Jillette is getting ready to play her show. What kind of people do you expect to be here? - Anybody could be here. Maybe, I don't know, like, like, Brandy could be here or Austin Mahone. All kinds of celebrities. - So young. So weird. Ohh. Thank you. Long Island. Let's just hope it doesn't rain because there's storm clouds ahead, but I don't think it's gonna rain. - Yeah, I don't think so. The enemy is in my mind, but the little bellyaches give it life Jillette went on. Inside my body while I move my mouth And what was almost, certainly illegal, a crowd began to form on the street. And once they heard her voice, they didn't leave. - I could release it to the ocean with a mighty-- fantastic, really beautiful. Her voice is an instrument that she's mastered. Not everyone can do that. It's special. Of all my friends and wipe my nose. Find true north and stumble home - The music was making people go to a different level. It wasn't just background noise. It was a connection. It was something deeper. It was, wow! This is so much more. something special happened. Remember that song that Jillette had just written in the morning? Well, she played it for the first time. - Something Real. - Something Real. - Yeah. - All right, let's do this. Oh, well this is gonna be--, I'm gonna use the mic now. Okay, this is gonna be an experiment. Let's see if I can get through this. I wrote a song this morning that I really like. Well, it was this morning and it was last night. Sort of the same thing. I guess, that's true, yeah. We left my apartment at 9 a. m. I woke up at 5:00. It was still nighttime to me. Anyway, this song is totally not finished, but I, I'm kind of excited about it. Then again, I get excited about everything that I write and then I hate it, so I might hate this song. If you guys hate this song, that'll probably mean that I'll hate this song. It's called Disaster Game. Really light stuff. Here we go. Oh my God, I haven't even started playing the song. Fare thee well fair weather friend. I'm sure one day we'll meet again when April skies turn blue the way they always do I will not weep for you. I will not weep for you. Fade away forgotten dream. You mystery morning memory. Story lines may change, but sentiments remain. I do not dream in vain. I do not dream in vain. Cut the string and let it fly off like a distant lullaby got drown out by the sea The hounds of time achieve, but it doesn't mean the music died when it put you to sleep. So darling, darling, darling, do not weep. Darling, keep calling there's a soul to keep Flowers come after rain. The little hurricane It's a disaster game Hand me down my brother's clothes, my father's eyes, my mother's nose I'll keep them inside. I'm theirs and they're mine until the end of time. Until the end of time. Cut the string and let it fly off like a distant lullaby got drown out by the sea. The hounds of time achieve, but it doesn't mean the music died when it put you to sleep So darling, darling, darling, do not weep Darling, keep calling me there's a soul to keep. Flowers come after rain Brace for the hurricane. It's a disaster game Cut the string and let it fly off like a distant lullaby got drown out by the sea. pause The hounds of time achieve, but it doesn't mean the music died when it put you to sleep Darling, darling, darling, do not weep Darling, keeping calling there's a soul to keep - Thank you. - I'm seriously so impressed. - Thank you. Thank you. - I saw you before on video, but live is a completely different thing. - Thank you. - How do you think the show went? - I had a lot of fun. I like being in, in new environments which is kind of my whole life. Like, every show is totally different. The process of digging into it. And this show was--, it was that. I mean, I got to play a lot of new songs and I got to really, like, get to know the audience in a way that makes me very happy. your favorite to play? - You know, the one that I wrote this morning was actually my favorite to play. It felt--, it just felt a lotta fun, like, a lot of fun. Like, there's something about playing a song that doesn't have any stamp or any, like, routine to it yet. There's no, like, path. Like, there's no sensory thing, like, it's just totally brand new territory. That makes it a lot of fun. - So we started here and we ended up over there. And it's safe to say we had the best time on our first date with Jillette. And here's hoping there's a second date. - Oh, me too.
For Jillette Johnson the journey has been as integral to her musical experience as the destination. Jillette, who began taking music lessons and penning songs as a child, has been performing live since she was 12, captivating audiences with her sultry, thoughtful piano-driven tunes. The musician has spent the last decade cultivating her sound and defining her unique perspective. When she moved to New York City from her small town of Pound Ridge, NY at 18, Jillette was already familiar with the city and its clubs, from Sidewalk Cafe to The Bitter End to Rockwood Music Hall.
In early 2012, Jillette inked a deal with Wind-Up Records, who were drawn in by her standout track Cameron, an inspirational number that explores the struggle of a transgendered person. The song appeared on the singers five-track EP, Whiskey & Frosting, which came out in August 2012, a prelude to her debut album Water In A Whale, out June 25, 2013. Culled from six months worth of recording sessions at Wind-Ups New York studio, the album traces Jillettes experiences and ideas about living in the city and being young in todays society. She finished the album fall 2012, just before going out on tour, and as it turned out those weeks on the road shifted the musicians sensibilities.
Theres this funny thing that happens when you go on the road, Jillette says. Because youre not around the people that youre normally around and youre in a different environment and youre constantly being creative and putting out things. Your voice starts to change, both literally and figuratively. I just started growing really rapidly and my perspective started changing a lot. I got back two weeks before Christmas and I knew that we had to have everything done by the first of the year. So I had six months to make the record and two weeks to change everything. A lot of artists dont get that opportunity, to be able to have the album that they made and come back and make tweaks. Thats pretty rare and I got to do it.
The final album, which features the five tracks found on Whiskey & Frosting, centers on Jillettes soaring vocals and the sparse, haunting piano lines she wrote to accompany them. Produced by Peter Zizzo (Vanessa Carlton, Avril Lavigne) and Michael Mangini (Joss Stone, David Byrne), the album reveals Jillettes pensive reflections on the world around her, all of which lead to a deeper understand of self-identity. Cameron, the discs lead single, was written both from personal experience with someone the musician knows and from the idea of what it means to grapple with who you are. The glowing number focuses on what it means to be authentic to ones self, a universal theme.
I do have someone in my life thats transgendered and Ive learned a lot from this person, Jillette says. But I think I actually wrote 'Cameron more about myself and about that feeling of being alien in your own skin. Its been really awesome to play that song around the country and meet people who share stories that may have to do with being transgendered or may have to do with feeling a little bit different.
The real power comes from those songs about the musician herself, however and the rest of the album follows in tone. When the Ship Goes Down, a hushed ballad, plays with the idea of the immortality you feel when youre young while the sultry Bassett Hound offers an unbalanced account of unrequited love, based on, as Jillette says, every time I showed too many of my cards and wanted someone too much. The ethereal Pauvre Coeur treads similar ground, excising the anger the singer felt about a relationship that started to devour her. True North, a soaring and epic number written in that urgent two-week period last winter, touches on what it means to return home, a fulcrum for the musicians ideas about her identity. Its about coming home and accepting the failures that you endure along the way, Jillette says. And realizing that youre gonna have a place to come home to, and thats the home inside your own head when all the other voices go away. Because theyre not you so they dont care enough to stay that long. Youre still going to have your own voice and thats what coming home means to me.
Jillette, whos toured with Delta Rae among others, brings her impassioned live aesthetic onto the album, infusing each number with a sense of intimacy and fervor. The songs shift from light-hearted buoyancy of Bassett Hound to the heavy urgency of Cameron, showcasing a viable array of musical and lyrical inspiration. For Jillette, whose years of experience and practice have set her up for whats to come, the goal is to bring these songs to life for as many people as possible.
The next year or two I think are wide open, in terms of what amazing things could happen, the singer says. And I think its just up to me to work hard every day and have a lot of luck. I hope to really build my live show. I cant get to hung up on what exactly will happen. Its really just about every day playing my heart out and connecting with fans over human experiences.