When you are a young musician and still new to the game, there is often a moment when you have a choice: Do something the quick and easy way or do it the right way. Jessica Hernandez took the latter approach when it came time to record Secret Evil, her debut full-length album with her band, the Deltas, due out August 19.
"I wanted my first full-length to be fun, but I didn't want to make it perfect by bringing in session players and studio guys and have it be this really impersonal thing," Hernandez says. "A lot of people get pressured into doing that, and I did feel a little pressure from people at the label and management. They told me it would be faster and easier that way, but for me it wasn't about that. It was about working with people I like working with and having my band feel included."
As a result, Secret Evil sounds as bold and brash as you would expect from a band that has been given freedom to do whatever it wants. "No Place to Hide" is the perfect introduction to Hernandez's electric, soulful vocals as she rips through this piece of rock and soul with all the confidence of a seasoned veteran, while the rock track "Downtown Man" boils with sexiness. But it's not all rock 'n' roll, as the surf-pop track "Sorry I Stole Your Man" demonstrates. This song also gives a unique insight into Hernandez's fearless songwriting process and how her honesty can get her into trouble sometimes.
"I had just started dating my boyfriend -- he had left his girlfriend to date me, and I had left my boyfriend to date him -- and it was a weird situation," Hernandez says. "At first, when I was writing it, it was a true apology, but then it ended up being more of a funny 'Sorry, not sorry' kind of thing. I've had people say on my Facebook page, 'That's terrible that you would steal someone's boyfriend and then write a song about it!' But the song wasn't written in that way, like, 'I'm going to write this really evil song about stealing someone's boyfriend.'"
Hernandez says there is catharsis in writing songs in this fashion. It is a coping mechanism of sorts, as most of the material she writes is autobiographical. But as another song on the album, "Caught Up" (the kind of rock and soul track that recalls classic Tina Turner) attests, Hernandez is all about everyone exorcising their demons, not just herself.
"One of my best friends was getting caught up in a lot of situations she maybe didn't want to be in, and she was having a hard time," Hernandez says. "So I told her, 'I'm writing a song about everything you're going through. I've been focusing all my songs on myself lately, and I want to write this bitchy song so you can feel like you're getting all of your anger out.' She really liked that idea, so it's like a weird gift to her, giving her something that was a little bit angry and sassy."
Hernandez has sassiness in spades, and with Secret Evil, she is about to unleash on the world a talent that is confident and isn't about to rest on her laurels. But don't wait too long to fall in love with her music because her next album might be something completely different.
"I think that comes with being a creative person," she says. "I feel like a lot of creative people, musicians or not, are that way. You try something out -- you have your outlet in that way -- and then you move on from that to the next thing."
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
Like Up on the Sun on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest local music news and conversation.