What was it like working with multi-Grammy award winner Dave Cobb?
It was a blast. Dave created a really safe space for me to be myself, and simultaneously, because he works really fast and decisively, pushed me to be the best version of me. There was no time or room for overthinking, which I loved. He’s a very kind, thoughtful person, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to work with him. Everyone involved felt like family.
You have performed with Norah Jones a couple of times. Did she give you any good advice.
Being around Norah taught me a lot about grace and vision. She’s kind to everyone, and at the same time knows how to subtly and unwaveringly steer the ship. If I’m ever in a place where I have even a fraction of the eyes on me that she has on her, I hope I handle it with as much poise as she does.
Who is someone that you would love to collerbrate with?
There are a lot of them out there. I’d die and go to heaven if I got to do anything with Randy Newman.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing music?
My life and the people I love in it.
Do you have any other projects you are working on?
They all pertain to my career as a solo artist, but yes, there are at least three albums I’ve got lined up in my mind, all written and ready to go.
Whats playing on your ipod right now?
Nina Simone, “If I Should Lose You”
Now for the fun questions! What was a typical dinner or family meal like for you growing up?
We always sat the four of us, my parents, my brother and I, at the dining room table, with candles and placemats, all at once, eating food that my mom and dad made from scratch. It was fresh, beautiful food. And no one left the table until everyone was ready to get up.
Do you prefer cooking at home or eating out?
I love to do both. But I will say there are few things I get more joy from than going to a nice restaurant and eating a great meal with a glass of wine.
What’s a typical day like for you (food-wise) when you’re at home and how is that different from when you are on tour?
At home I eat a lot of quinoa, eggs, kale, berries, yogurt, stuff that doesn’t make me feel terrible all the time. On the road I’m a lot less predictable. Energy bars sustain me when I don’t have access to fresh food, but I eat legitimately everything and anything, so I’m big on going to whatever the best cuisines are in each place I’m in.
Tell us about one memorable meal you’ve had during your travels. What did it involve?
A few years back I did a house concert tour that led me and my boyfriend at the time to from New York to LA. We stopped in Austin and played at this very sweet man’s house for his whole family and all of their friends, and he sent us back out on the road with the most amazing rack of ribs that he had smoked and marinated himself. My ex always carried a big knife on his belt, and we were in the middle of nowhere West Texas when we both realized we were starving. So we pulled the car over in an abandoned dusty town the size of post stamp, and carved the ribs up on the hood of the car with his big, definitely not legal knife. Our faces and hands were covered in tangy red BBQ sauce, and pink dust swirled up around the car like we were in some post apocalyptic western zombie movie. It was the most Texas afternoon a yankee like me could ever dream of.
Whats one of your favorite spots in each city: NYC, LA, and Nashville.
New York: El Almacen
LA: Bowery Bungalow
Nashville: Lockeland Table
Who has a better food scene?
Probably New York still but LA has its moments.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could eat or have a drink with one person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you have?
Helen Mirren. Can’t totally explain why. Other than I think I might fall in love with her even more. And I think in one conversation over food and or a drink she might teach me a lot about life. She just seems like someone you can learn a lot from.
ABOUT Jillette Johnson:
Jillette Johnson is the rare artist who needs little sonic accompaniment to make an indelible impact. Produced by Dave Cobb (the Grammy Award-winner known for his work with Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson), Johnson’s sophomore album All I Ever See in You Is Me offers up sparsely orchestrated songs centering on her spirited piano work and ever-changing vocal texture, an instrument that’s irresistibly powerful whether she’s belting out a refrain or whispering a hushed melody. Like only the most timeless songwriters, Johnson finds infinite depth within that simplicity. Recorded at RCA Studio A—the historic Nashville space where Dolly Parton laid down “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in the same three-hour span—All I Ever See in You Is Me bears an unhurried pace and warm intimacy that echoes the purposeful looseness of its production. Drifting between hazy romanticism and resolute self-awareness, Johnson examines heartbreak and resilience with a willful and magnetic vulnerability.
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