The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jessie May of Turkey Vulture, Owl Maker, MetalheadMoney, Alternative Control, and More

Posted in Questionnaire on February 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan


The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jessie May of Turkey Vulture, Owl Maker, AltCtrlCT, and More

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

Defining what I do is the hard part. I enjoy writing and music, and do bit of both. My illustrious writing career began in middle school with an “underground newsletter” of dirty jokes called The Funky Chicken. (Apparently my bird obsession goes back a long way too.) Right now I edit the blogs Alternative Control and Metalhead Money, and do some freelance copywriting on the side. I also self-published a book about personal finance last year, called Money Hacks for Metalheads and Old Millennials. I came to do that through a lot of research, personal screw-ups, and some extra time on my hands due to the pandemic.

Re: music… My most active band right now is Turkey Vulture, where I play guitar and sing. My husband Jim plays drums. I like to think of us as a really loud Americana band, but there are influences from doom, punk, and 80s metal as well. Turkey Vulture’s journey started about twelve years ago when I joined Jim’s band Pink Missile. Several bands, a marriage, and one baby boy later, here we are!

Bass is my main instrument, or at least the one I’m decent at playing. I’m on “maternity leave” from a folk band called The Shoutbacks and I’m also the bassist of Owl Maker, who I hope will come out of hibernation once all this pandemic stuff is over.

Describe your first musical memory.

Probably hearing that song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” as a nursery rhyme or something.

I also remember singing along to the Allman Brothers and Vanilla Ice cassettes in my dad’s truck!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

My best musical memory is a recent one: Jim and I made a playlist for the hospital to listen to during our son’s arrival. The playlist ended up being longer than the entire labor and delivery process lol… One highlight was hearing “Faithless” by Social Distortion in the delivery room shortly after our son was born, which was our wedding song.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I can’t think of a specific time, but I remember thinking during my first marriage (which ended in divorce), “Gee, this is a lot harder than it looks!”

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Speaking for myself, I’ve gotten more comfortable advocating for my own musical ideas. I no longer need other band members to confirm for me that a riff or something is “cool” — not that I want to run a band dictatorship lol, but it feels good to have more confidence.

On the other hand, my “artistic progression” of playing in basement metal bands also means I’m rusty at things like reading sheet music.

How do you define success?

Music-wise, I think success is creating something that connects with your audience and communicates a story or feeling to them. And if people like it enough to buy it, even better!

In broader terms, success is spending your time in a meaningful way and making your corner of the world a better place — whether that’s through your relationships, job, art, or all of the above.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I wish I could erase thousands of crime show episodes from my memory; I think they have made me distrustful and even paranoid about certain things. But on the other hand, there are a lot of disturbed people out there — and my aim is to avoid running into them.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Welp, Turkey Vulture has another five or six songs we could possibly record. Jim and I have talked about giving it a try this summer if we can wrangle the cost and scheduling. Until then, it’s gonna be all home-recorded GarageBand demos!

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To communicate ideas and feelings.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Watching our baby grow! And hopefully adding a little brother or sister to the lineup. ;)

Turkey Vulture, Tummy Time (2021)

Tags: , , ,