Hobart’s Jeqa Band Laying Down Tracks
by Lily Whiting
Can you get more Tassie than this? Under the namesake nickname of lead singer Jess Bicanski, newcomers Jeqa are writing dreamy songs in an old apple shed in the Huon and gracing Tassie stages with self-composed tunes. A short 10 months ago, Jess, Taylor Lewincamp, Ethan MacGregor, Sam Watson, and Theo Idstrom were strangers and now they have a music filled summer ahead and plenty of exciting things in the works.
Are you from a musical background? How long has playing music been part of your life?
Jess: My Nanna was a piano and voice teacher while I was growing up, so I had my first lessons at age four. I was a part of a few choirs and school productions growing up but was more invested in pursuing dancing. I moved to Northcote in Victoria a few years ago and would go to the Northcote Social Club each week to watch local bands play. I remember thinking I wish I could write my own music, play in a band, and perform on stage. It took me a long time, but I eventually gave writing a crack and shakily performed my first song to my very encouraging housemates.
How influential has Hobart been on your music career so far?
Jess: I believe Jeqa have come such a long way in such a short amount of time because we have had enormous support from our local mates, family, and strangers alike. The connected nature of this city has meant that we see a lot of the same faces at each show, and it feels very much that our audience are coming on this ride with us and watching us as we grow. There is a consistent music scene in Nipaluna/Hobart which has facilitated regular performance opportunities for us. We have been able to practice being on stage quite a bit in our brief time of being together as a band which has helped us enormously to feel comfortable and develop a reputation, we are proud of.
You guys haven’t been together very long, how did you meet the rest of Jeqa?
Jess: After a gig of mine at Hobart Brewing Co, Ethan introduced Theo and I. While chatting, Taylor introduced himself and expressed interest in jamming with us some time. After everyone shared their excitement on the idea, I told the boys I needed accompaniment for my next gig supporting sweethearts Luca Brasi and went out on a limb and asked if they’d be interested in joining me, under the name Jeqa. A couple months into our journey, we decided to look for a new drummer as Theo was excited to take my place playing guitar while I put my energy towards honing in on my singing and movement on stage. After seeing a picture of Sam, although I had never spoken a word to our new drummer, I had recently been on a four-day silent meditation retreat with him and was thrilled to invite him to join us.
Did you grow up in Hobart?
Jess: I grew up in Devonport and moved to Hobart half-way through year 12. One of my brothers was living here at the time with a household full of musicians and I would visit and feel so inspired by the creative community here. Two weeks after my mid-year exams, I made the move.
How do you fill in your days when you aren’t playing?
Jess: When I’m not at my cafe job in town I try and spend my days around home in Sandford. I am a mega foodie, a very beginner surfer and a passionate yogi – I am becoming qualified to teach yoga next year so I try and get in as many hours practising at my local studio as I can.
How would you describe your music?
The Band: We tend to write music that is very guitar centric, involving plenty of spacey licks that take inspiration from the awesome reverb and delay pedals at our disposal. These guitars, paired with buttery bass lines and tight drums supply a foundation for vocal harmonies that invoke the ascension of our listeners to a dream realm.
What’s your creative process when you create new music?
The Band: We all have an irreplaceable role in the creative process of writing songs for Jeqa. While initially Jess provided the bones of our first songs, since spending more time together the band now utilises a more collaborative process. Songs usually stem from an idea belonging to one of us and the rest of the band shares their responses, uncovering a trajectory that is, in most cases, mutually agreed upon. We all have our separate strengths in writing, relying heavily on the beautiful voice and lyrical prowess of Jess, Ethan’s constant flow of creative juices, Theo’s dexterity and tasty shreds, Tay’s deep theoretical knowledge and expressive musical intuition, and Sammy’s phat grooves and deep fried hi-hat toppings.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
The Band: While there is no direct musical influence as a band, each of us bring our own tastes and inspirations that create a big ol’ Jeqa sandwich.
You’re getting ready to record to get your music onto streaming platforms. How has the recording process worked so far?
The Band: As we are writing these responses, we have completed our first day of recording in the most beautiful location – Jethro Pickett’s 100-year-old apple shed on the Huon River. Tassie chucked on some stunning weather that primed us for a wholesome yet intensive day of musical productivity. After hearing the initial bounces of each track, we are beyond excited to see how they end up and finally get to share with you our first released songs very soon.
How has the pandemic affected you?
The Band: Jeqa was born out of COVID, and while we have had some frustrating experiences, we have been inspired by the pandemic to use time effectively and to not take our privilege to artistic expression lightly. We are blessed by the drive for connection and creativity that each of us had coming out of the worst times in the pandemic and believe that Jeqa has used the associated difficulties of this time to our advantage.
In a music-less life, what would you be doing? Do you have day jobs?
The Band: Outside of music the band members have a bunch of things going on! Whether this lies in study, yoga, flying planes, drinking beer, or munching on nutritional yeast.
What are your favourite things to do and places to go in Hobart?
The Band: We have some special places that are held dearly within our hearts and where you might bump into one of us. We are frequent visitors of Hobart Brewing Co, The Grand Poobah and the Macquarie Street Foodstore. Much of our time is spent exploring kunanyi, surfing at Roaring Beach and frolicking around beautiful Tasmania. We also have some cheeky little band/artist crushes around Hobart we get around like the Flower Extract, The Tinderboxers and the amazing Kat Edwards, just to name a few.
Where can we find JEQA playing over the Summer?
The Band: We have an exciting summer ahead of us with a bunch of confirmed shows! Come see us in Launceston at Party in The Apocalypse on 28 December, Hobart Uni Bar on New Year’s Eve and on 26 February at Koonya Garlic Festival on the Tasman Peninsula. Follow us on the socials @jeqaband to stay tuned for all the exciting stuff yet to be announced.
What is in store for JEQA in 2022?
The Band: We are not quite sure what is in store for us in the next year. However, we do know the possibilities are endless, as are our aspirations. We wish to release more music in an EP or album format and have a band dream of going on tour and playing at our favourite festivals around Australia.