She thought she was going to music school to become an opera singer. Lucky for us, her music school had different plans for her, including jazz, pop, and folk. Missy Jo, straight outta the extreme sports world of Jackson Hole, prefers her outside living slow, and her music soul deep.
1. Your name!
Yeah, it’s crazy. I have the ‘Jo’ in there, but I love Missy Elliott. I hope someday I get to meet her and say, ‘Hey, we have the same name!’
2. True or false, you thought you were going to be an opera singer?
True! In junior high, I was cast as this really exuberant, boisterous character in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Classic music theater. I was pretty soft spoken back then, and I had to figure out how to belt it out. When I did, I thought, “Oh, yeah, I want to perform.”
When it came time for college, I applied to Lamont for opera. But when I showed up at orientation, my packet said, “Jazz Studies.” And I was, ‘Okay, cool.’ I just trusted everything was going to work out.
3. So suddenly, you were a jazz singer?
Not suddenly -- not at all. Freshman year was a lot of just watching and learning, because I literally knew nothing about jazz. I had to pick up not only jazz theory, but also the kind of etiquette behind jazz, which was all unspoken.
I love jazz, but over the years, I’ve tried a lot of things. Neo-soul. Pop. Gypsy jazz. A cappella. I think I’m like a lot of artists. You can’t really put me in a genre, and that’s OK.
4. Who’s your favorite artist right now?
I've been listening to a lot of country western music lately -- maybe because I was missing home when I was away. Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline, but also Gillian Welch. The essence in her voice is so penetrating to me. And I love Nai Palm, the lead singer for Hiatus Kaiyote. Yeah, she's been a really big influence on my writing process.
5. There has to be a story behind ‘Travel Anxiety.’
Yeah, there is. I was in California back in November. I got off this train and I was having a panic attack. I sat down, and I was trying to find my space, and had my ukulele, and I just started singing, “Nobody wants this anxiety that I experience…leaves me all nervous and hungry and tired and delirious…” It pulled me out of it -- that frantic feeling. Now I sing it whenever I feel anxious, and I feel this sense of calmness, and I hope that anyone else who listens to that can find that too.
"I think I’m like a lot of artists. You can’t really put me in a genre, and that’s OK."
6. What’s fun for you?
I love being slow in nature. Growing up in Jackson Hole, there's this intense outdoors culture of extreme backpacking and extreme skiing and extreme all- this-stuff. I do love engaging in those ways, but I also like to slow down and just kind of …be outside.
7. Favorite movie?
I saw Big Fish when I was in middle school and it’s stayed with me. It’s a story of a guy -- he knows how he's going to die, so he doesn't have a fear of death. He’s just always doing what's right, or what he feels is right. I love that essence of just living life as it comes and trying not to succumb to fear all the time.
8. Cell phone background?
The San Diego sunset. Very different from the Wyoming sunset, yeah. But no matter where I am, my favorite time is the golden hour.
9. Do you want to be a professional musician, or do you have a plan B?
Music is at the heart of my life. But I also love teaching. And I have a love for hospitality, and coffee, and wine. And food! I’m also really interested in topics around sex and sexuality, and I could see myself being a sex ed teacher, because being in a small town, you realize there’s just really bad education about those types of things.
But right now in my life, I really want to pursue this life of connecting with communities, traveling, and performing.
10. Do you have a song in your head that you just have the title for but no words yet?
Not a song, but I have concepts for albums. On the pop charts, everything's about love and breaking up. And I think that's fine. That's obviously a way to write music. But I would love to write a whole album about accessing your awesomeness and divinity. About you and your higher self. Someday.
Check out Missy Jo below!