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Kay Hanley

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My Pal, Jessie and the Toy Boys

Posted: 02/16/2012 7:19 pm

I have had the pleasure to know Ms. Malakouti since the afternoon seven years ago when she literally showed up on my doorstep looking to record one of my songs. She was barely 16 and had never sung a note or written a lyric, but being a bossy writer, I quickly made an executive decision that she would be better off writing her own shit as opposed to recording other people's.

We sat down in my living room that day; just me, Jessie, a guitar and a notebook and wrote a sweet little song. We spent a few hours together and as she left, I handed her a notebook and encouraged her to fill it with random thoughts, stickers, observations and anything we could turn into lyrics later. I told her to come back in two weeks.

Some version of this event has taken place in my home or studio a bazillion times in the last decade-ish. The story would not be anything special were it not for the particular girl of which I which I speak: Jessie.

She returned two weeks later. The notebook was full. But it wasn't filled with the bullshitty, trite musings of a shallow 16 year-old Hollywood brat. As I flipped through the dense fabric of words and visuals that she had collected, I got a sharp, immediate sense that I was looking at the raw contents of this girl's brain, heart and soul. I realized in the months that followed that she had been spent her whole life waiting for someone to ask her what she had to say for herself. And I had asked. And she has not shut the fuck up since.

Fast forward to now: Jessie is a solo artist whose nom de pop is Jessie + The Toy Boys. She has conducted her career with a fierce focus and tenacity that puts my slacker ass to shame. She writes songs like a person who could never do anything else: every day, never satisfied, always pushing herself to expand and do better work.

On a personal note, Jessie has become family. I pray for her success in life as if it were my own.

Someday I am gonna write the entire story about me and Jessie and our wild, sometimes harrowing ride together since that day we met, but for now I will end this by sharing her new video for a new song called "Runaway." She wrote it with the estimable producer DJ Skeet Skeet and an assist from me. As always, Jessie is using the power of words, melody and visual narrative to tackle an issue that means a lot to her. The kid NEVER dials it in and for that alone, I admire and respect her.

 

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