Jess Locke: “The world is insane at the moment – I feel like I couldn’t help but just absorb everything!”

Jess Locke
(Image credit: Ian Laidlaw)

At face value, Jess Locke’s music may seem rather cozy and quaint. But just as the Melbourne-native strummer is typically mellow and reserved until you get to know her (at which point she erupts into a luminous blur of liveliness and laughter), her art is secretly rich with polychromatic poignancy, shades of light and dark, sugar and acid twisting and twining around soundscapes far more intricate than they imply – you just need to pay a little closer attention to scratch beneath the initial coat of indie-pop tweeness. 

Since the 2017 release of her sophomore solo effort Universe, Locke has only dug her heels deeper into the world of louder and more chaotic rock ’n’ roll aesthetics: she joined The Smith Street Band, first in their touring pack as a backup vocalist and tambourinist, and then as a full-time guitarist and co-songwriter on 2020’s Don’t Waste Your Anger LP. She thinned out her own band’s touring schedule, which led to her personal songwriting efforts spinning off in a whirlwind of wacky directions – without bassist Jim Morris and drummer Chris Rawsthorne to ground her ambitions, Locke began to explore creative avenues that weren’t bound by what’s possible to play on a stage.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…