There’s something overwhelmingly dreamlike about Jessie Cafiero’s songwriting, to the point that it makes a listener feel like they’re sleepwalking: The ebbs and flows of cinematic, orchestral pop conjure a surreal sense of nearly floating around one’s city. It’s not surprising, then, to hear that the singer-guitarist often draws inspiration from walking around these foggy hills of ours.
Though Cafiero released a debut EP as Split Screens two years ago, Before The Storm, out Sept. 9, showcases a fuller band, a more confident, brighter sound, and a more lush dreamscape in which Cafiero’s words create an airtight, contemplative mood; this is the perfect sonic accompaniment for a Sunday afternoon, cruising around the city in the early fall air, seeing where the day takes you.
Cafiero released an accordingly pretty, otherworldly video for the LP’s first horn-punctuated single, “Stand Alone.” Check it below, and catch the band’s record release show at Bottom of the Hill Sat/20.
San Francisco Bay Guardian How and when did the band form? I understand it was mostly a solo project to begin with — how is this new record different, and what made you decide to bring in more members of the live band?
Jesse Cafiero The band formed a little over two years ago. I had already written and recorded my self-titled EP under the name Split Screens, but when I got my first show it was time to move the studio solo project into a live setting. With the new record, Before The Storm, I had already started playing a few shows in the area so I could bring members of the band into the studio, which was great!
SFBG What’s your songwriting process like?
JC It depends, I play guitar and piano so I like to write on both to have a little more variety. Since I started writing Split Screens material I’ve always had my phone around to record ideas on the fly, that’s definitely helped. I also love writing in the studio, usually I’ll have the main form of the song together by that point but writing particular parts in that setting is an amazing feeling.
SFBG You’re from the East Coast originally, yeah? How did you wind up in the Bay Area? How do you think it shapes/affects your music?
JC Yeah, I’m from a small town in upstate NY called Pine Plains and I moved to the Bay Area five years ago. It was just a good time to move, I was just out of a long term relationship at that point and had fell in love with California the year before when I visited for the first time. If anything, the natural beauty of the city is inspiring and I’ve found myself coming up with some of my best lyrical ideas just taking walks up in the hills around Sutro Tower.
SFBG I love the “Stand Alone” video. What made you decide to go with stop-motion for this song?
JC I’ve always been a huge fan of animation and for “Stand Alone” the song has this lifting quality that seemed to be a great fit with the kind of movement stop-motion creates. Also the idea that I could create a piece of visual art on my own time on an incredibly small budget was really appealing to me. This was my first time attempting stop-motion so there was a freshness of creativity that I haven’t felt in a while!
SFBG Other Bay Area bands/artists you love?
JC Waterstrider, St. Tropez, Black Cobra Vipers, Doncat, Debbie Neigher, Guy Fox, Bells Atlas, Quinn Deveaux, Lee Gallagher & The Hallelujah…I know I’m leaving some people out. The list goes on.
SFBG Plans for the coming year after the record is released?
JC I’m gonna take a well-needed breather and start writing some new material. After that I’d love to do another little West Coast tour in 2015 and begin working on another music video!
SFBG Where in the Bay do you live? What’s the Bay Area food/meal you think you couldn’t live without?
JC I recently moved to the Castro. I had never had a Vietnamese sandwich until I moved to the West Coast, and the first one I ever had on Clement Street kind of changed my life. Thankfully I live around the corner from Dinosaurs so I’m pretty set on that front!
Split Screens LP Release
With Yassou Benedict and New Spell
Sat/20, 9:30pm, $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St, SF