5 Questions with Jett Costa

via Unsplash
via Unsplash

I’m maybe fangirling a little; in just a few minutes, I’ll be interviewing the Jett Costa—ex-lead singer of Perpetual Smile and the lead singer of South of Forever. She’s really the brains behind both of these bands. I mean, yeah, Phillip Hilton had a lot to do with Perpetual Smile but Jett is the tour de force.

Tucked away in the very back of the coffee shop amidst warm wood tones and the rich scent of beans being ground and brewed, I sip my latte and try to relax. We only really have enough time for five questions, so I can’t waste any of it gushing over her. But she is cool.

When she walks in, glossy dark brown hair flowing over her shoulders and leather boots clicking on the floor, I actually sigh out loud. She slides in across from me, adjusting her off-shoulder top. There’s no guitar and no band with her. It’s just the two of us. “Fire away,” she tells me. The clock is ticking, so I do.

Welcome back. What are you doing differently with South of Forever, as opposed to Perpetual Smile?

Definitely not tanking. I think [Phillip and I] did a lot of things right with Perpetual Smile, but it just wasn’t meant to continue without him. It wouldn’t be the same. With South of Forever, we’re going in a more blues-y direction. We want to be a little more infectious, more radio-friendly. But with a very dirty sound. Perpetual Smile was more punk, more anthem. And even though we loved the male/female vocal interplay, there’s going to be a lot less of that in South of Forever’s songs.

We want to be more relatable in our lyrics. Perpetual Smile really wasn’t a serious band; we didn’t even take ourselves seriously. But with South of Forever, our goal is to change the music industry—even if only a little.

What do you mean by change?

Okay, so, right now the music industry is pretty stagnant. Each era pretty much had its own sound. But the 2000s were just basically everyone trying to copy the ’80s and ’90s. I think now we’re starting to find our own sound here in the ’10s, but it’s almost like it’s too late for the decade. So I really want to be part of the scene that defines the ’20s. I know that kind of sounds like delusions of grandeur, but I want us to matter. I don’t want us to just be “Perpetual Smile’s sloppy seconds.”

What influenced “Diving Into Him”? It’s so unlike anything that Perpetual Smile put out.

This is what I mean. With South of Forever, I really want to dig deeper. I think at this point it’s no secret that I was in rehab for alcoholism. With the way everything came crashing down, I didn’t really have time to process everything. Writing that song was my way of processing it. It was my way of starting over.

And now for something completely different. What’s your ultimate favorite song—the one that gives you chills every time you hear it?

That would definitely have to be Greg Laswell’s cover of “Your Ghost.” It’s got so much of the soul and loneliness that the original lacked. I could listen to it on repeat until the rest of forever.

People in the industry have described you as “frosty.” What do you think of that?

I couldn’t care less what people think. I’ve been called all kinds of things over the years. If they think I’m a bitch, whatever. At the end of the day, I’m getting things done. You’ve got to have thick skin in this industry. In my personal life, it’s a different story. But in the studio and on the road, you’ve got to be focused. You only last if you work hard.

Do you have any plans to settle down eventually?

I’m really not the marrying type. I don’t know. At this point, I’m more focused on my career than anything else. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that I’m committed to someone. It’s already there. And I’m really not maternal at all. I don’t feel the urge to start cranking out babies. But I do enjoy spoiling [the keyboardist’s daughter].

Get to know Jett even more in Diving Into Him (South of Forever, Book 1). Read the first chapter for free. Click here.