“I’m an accidentally good guitarist,” explains Poppy Jean Crawford. “I started playing just because I wanted to have chords to go along with my music.”
Listen to a song by the 20-year-old Crawford, however, and it seems like her preternatural musical ability might be more fate than chance. After all, the tracks on her forthcoming EP JEANJEANIE, out DATETK, show off not only her skill on the guitar but a unique ability to create a mood — swinging from seductive to savage and beyond — through dark, personal lyrics and a powerful delivery that ranges from ethereal to unrestrained.
“When people listen to my music, they can feel as though they’re in a trance,” Crawford says. “But it’s more than just that. There’s a wall of noise that brings you in, but beyond that there’s beauty alongside the chaos.”
Delicacy presented side by side with disorder is precisely what Crawford does best. Tracks like “Jonsies Gonesies” display a talent for mellow sounds that linger just below haunting lyrics, while “Not Today” and “Better for Me” have a drive that demands attention. When she talks about the music she herself loves — a diverse selection including P.J. Harvey, Portishead, and Bjork — it highlights the same idea; Crawford is an artist who’s not only at home among different ideas but also one who can draw clear lines between them for anyone lucky enough to follow along.
Crawford grew up in Los Angeles, soaking in the city’s creative culture. Her mother is a filmmaker and music-video director and her father is an artist, and early on Crawford immersed herself in L.A.’s legendary music scene. “In high school, and I start going to DIY shows, going to The Smell and becoming interested in writing music,” she says. “Soon enough, I dropped out of school. I thought, fuck it, I know what I’m supposed to do.” Indeed, the day she left high school she played her first club gig.
Things only got better from there. Soon enough, Crawford was in the studio with producer Ross Robinson, playing alongside rock titans including Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Justin Pearson of the Locust. She found her true inspiration not in the studio, but at home and recorded her first EP, The Hallucinatory and Addictive 4 Week Love, in her bedroom. “Doing that sparked my creativity,” she says. “Next, I started learning and doing all by myself.”
She started playing shows regularly, supporting groups like The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and earning a rabid fanbase among L.A.’s musical cognoscenti. Buzzbands L.A.’s Kevin Bronson wrote she was “an unexpected highlight… shredding like a 19-year old possessed and tossing shards of dark noise.”
JEANJEANIE will only broaden Crawford’s army of admirers. The collection of five songs shows off all of the facets of Crawford’s talent that make her work so fascinating — and for an artist showing such promise so early in her career, it’s also a strong signifier of things still to come.