Video Premiere and Interview: Pi Jacobs’ “No Sin to be Poor”

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Americana Highways brings you this premiere of Pi Jacobs’ video for “No Sin to be Poor,” a song from her recent release Two Truths and a Lie, out now via Travianna Records.  The song is Pi Jacobs on guitar and lead vocals; Adam Hall on dobro; Zack Hall on bass; Butch Norton on drums; Carly Byron on piano; and Jes Hudak and Kel Pritchard on vocals.  The video was directed and edited by Fernando Cordero.

With its authentic video footage, Jacobs and crew have breathed “No Sin to be Poor” into visual life.  For fans of Pi Jacobs both old and new, this underscores her ability to tap into deep honest truths. Pi Jacobs is unpretentious honesty.

We have been able to chat about things here with Pi Jacobs, and the video is just below it.

AH: Did you grow-up in a musical household?

PJ: I’m an only child with a single mom. My mom didn’t play an instrument, but we sang and danced a lot around the house for fun. She also had an amazing record collection, and we were hippies, so there were a lot of musicians just around, hanging out and jamming. I was taken to concerts starting as a baby, so I had lots of music going in my ears.

AH: How old were you when you first picked up guitar? 

PJ: I was 11.

AH: How old when you wrote your first song?

PJ: I think I was 15, it was terrible. I remember showing it to my teacher, and him saying (nicely and awkwardly ) “well…. it could use a little work”.  If I recall correctly, I was trying to write a sexy song, which of course, I was woefully underqualified to write at the time.

AH: What was the title?

PJ: I’ve blocked it from memory. too embarrassing I guess.

AH: What’s your writing process?

PJ: It happens differently every time, sometimes the music is first, or a topic or lyric. My main process when I really need to get an album written, is to just go sit in my music room, at the same time every day, and see what happens. Usually it sucks for the first week or two, and then it starts to flow. Its all about being available or the muse, and treating it like a job.  Then again, sometimes a song hits me spontaneously, without regard for where I am, who’s there, or the appropriateness of stopping and singing/ writing right at the moment. That’s when Voice Memo and emailing yourself really come in handy. I have thousands of little “notes to self’ like this – reminding me of ideas I had.

AH: Have you been writing a lot in quarantine? 

PJ: Not really, I seem to have 2 modes musically, writing, which is introverted, and performing, which is extroverted. I was so geared up to go tour all year this year, that I’m in more of an extroverted state of mind, so I’ve been learning to live-stream and trying to satisfy the itch that way.

AH: How did “No Sin to be Poor” come about? 

PJ: I started writing the album, Two Truths and a Lie in 2018, and we were at the height of the #MeToo movement. Like a lot of women, I felt angry, but I didn’t want to make an angry album, instead, I created an album of stories about women, that were not the typical “you’re so beautiful, I’m obsessed with you” and  “you’re evil and you broke my heart”, sort of stories.  No Sin to be Poor  is loosely based on my experience of standing in line for food commodities when I was about 4 or 5, and how my mom and I used to “dance it out” when we got really stressed about our financial situation.

It was the first time I remember being aware that we were poor, and the shame that went along with that. Even though some people looked down on us, and said horrible things, my Mom and I, still managed to be joyful, and we danced, a lot. Perhaps we were dancing out of defiance, but it was a lot better than feeling cowed. Flash forward: my mom became the first person to graduate college in our family. She went on to become a public school teacher, and gave 40 years of service, teaching third grade and bilingual education. I also grew up, and after a rocky start, because a college graduate, and I still like to dance, a lot. We all need a little help sometimes, and right now, most of us are going to need some. If we take care of each other, and offer a hand when it’s needed, great things are possible. It’s #NoSin2BPoor.

AH: How do you feel all this livestreaming will affect the music biz?

PJ: I honestly don’t know, I’m trying to just keep an open mind and keep trying stuff. It’s not the same as playing live, but for me right now, its keeping me sane, keeping me in a job, and with my eyes on the prize. It’s sad and scary to me that music life might never be exactly the same, but I stay positive, and I know that music will continue in new ways.

AH: When do you think you’ll be back on the road?

PJ: Again, not totally sure. We have dates in June that are technically still on, but I have a feeling they will be cancelled. I’m really hoping by fall we can get back to the job we love so much.

AH: When can we see you next?

PJ: I’ve started doing a weekly streaming series called the Midday Snack on and It’s a fun thing, where I play 1 song, and sorry of just “check in” with folks. I have a blast with it, and its starting to have a life of its own, Tuesdays are for covers, Wednesdays are acoustic, and Fridays are for rocking out.

I’m also doing some longer “concerts” online, and those are all posted up on my website:

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