Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
Album: New Caves EP
Band Members: Jessica Dobson (vocals, guitar), Peter Mansen (drums), John Raines (bass)
For Fans Of: Cat Power, Fiona Apple, Bat for Lashes
Jessica Dobson’s searing voice is at first the most striking element of ethereal trio Deep Sea Diver—until you notice her skill at coaxing beautiful sounds out of a guitar. It was this knack that landed her a shot- in-the-dark gig as Beck’s lead guitarist on a 2008 world tour. “I couldn’t believe I was actually playing in the Hollywood Bowl,” she reminisces. “But I met so many musicians along the way who kept reminding me that I didn’t need to take every offer that came my way, and that I needed to just keep working on Deep Sea Diver.”
After dog-paddling in major label bureaucracy for two years to no avail (she signed with Atlantic Records in 2004 but was let go in 2008, after recording—and shelving—two full LPs) Dobson finally spotted land. After self-releasing the New Caves EP in 2009 and spending a few weeks on the road with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Conor Oberst, Dobson and her Deep Sea Diver instrumentalists are back in the studio for their debut full-length. New Caves is viscously atmospheric, with songs that recall both Chan Marshall and Nick Cave. “It’s been wonderful, having so much freedom and control over the music,” Dobson says. “Starting out in the music industry was so much business that it left me with a huge distaste in my mouth. It’s such a different thing this time around—the music is so much more pure.”
Dobson’s experience with Atlantic was a disorienting sea to navigate, and the exquisite songs on the EP echo her confusion. In her hauntingly gorgeous wail, Dobson sings of going it alone, of finding your way home and of jumping from life’s sinking ships. “I see so many people in my life who just stay the same,” she says. “But I’d rather die than stay the same my whole life.”