photography by Chai Saedi
“JEZ_EBEL is a project that started in my bedroom in 2017. As a lonely teenager I found a whole online playground for my creative thoughts, and I got very inspired by watching others publish music, uncritically, sometimes even unfinished on the internet.”
With JEZ_EBEL you could think that she has already lived several lives. Her songs sound so grown up, her reflections are so convincing. And you shouldn’t make the mistake of being fooled by her instagram account, where you can find many pictures that you can see on many other accounts in a similar manner. As ordinary as it might look at first sight, as unbelievably exceptional her music (and personality) is. Perfect songwriting which is on point and has already enchanted us in e.g. In Her Eyes – she infatuates with her unique, marvellous voice which offers a fascinating mixture of tenderness, strength and complexity. And this she proves again with her new release “I Want You”.
We had an insightful and deep talk with the talented artist about religion, the unexpected roads of life and her ambivalent relationship with friendships.
I like your thoughts and “messages” about women. Especially that you have also pointed out religious leaders. I have the feeling that in Europe, for reasons of misunderstood respect, this is not addressed often enough. But the fact is that religions are often loaded with rules that go back infinitely many years and were made by men to rule over women, families and daughters. Do you think there can honestly be a change here, because I see more of a sad return to strict fundamentalism? (At least I can say that about where I live, in Vienna).
I have come to a point in my life where I believe that people alone should find faith in solitarity. A lot of beautiful things can happen through faith. Still, that faith should only reach the life decisions that affect you and you only. I myself am fundementally against organized religion and missionary work. I find it extremely comical that we have all (to some extent) agreed to the fact that we should all watch our tone when we are talking about an omnipotent “daddy” in the sky, but the existence of fairies and mermaids is too outlandish and ridiculous to even consider believing in. Abrahamic religion (as we know it today) do not take women into consideration unless they are “of” someone. A Mother, a Daughter, a Wife. There are only in these contexes they are found valuable, and any other time that they are mentioned, is when they are whores. I don’t know why I would ever want to surround myself in a belief or a God who could’nt even consider me a proper person.
I have religious family members who work hard at organizing Christian women’s conferences, but thats not being true to the religion either. Because a women should not speak in public says the bible. And if you as a “true” Christian can be exlusionary to queer people for example, “because the bible says so”, then you should go a couple rounds with yourself and consider how holy “are you really”?
It really comes down to hypocrisy and lack of self awarness that does it for me. Things can get “better” yes, but am I counting on it? NOPE.
You say: “People fear powerful, indulgent and charismatic women. The world fears the unhinged woman. And the world despises women whom they do not understand.” What has shaped you to have this attitude? And I don’t mean media opinion pieces, rather personal experiences?
To be honest, just living in my body has given me proof enough. I come from a long line of “intimidating” and strong women. Nothing was ever just handed to them and I used to watch them as a child in awe at how beautiful, nurturing but scary they were all at the same time. As a person who does not identify exclusively with womanhood (im still figuring it out, THEY/she).
I always felt really out of place. I always felt like I have had to hold back my emotions, my reactions, my charisma and my feelings so that I did’nt take up too much space or scared someone off. Whenever I saw a woman unleash her wrath at someone who had done her wrong, it was always an out of body experience for me, because I was witnessing a force that could never be contained, restrained or controlled. Its the mosy gnarliest shit I have ever seen to date. And it always seemed to inspire me how that part of a woman was feared and even ostracised. It was not until later in life that I noticed these women were labelled “hysterical” “bitchy” and “cold”. Theres a couple of instances in my early life where I have met extremely witty, quickminded and indulgent women who taught me that even if you do get an uncomforable response about who you are or how you present, that you should just stand in it. Cuz that discomfort can be just as easily used against them as they are used against you. And to stand in your truth is the most radical stance you can take in life, especially as a minority.
“To stand in your truth is the most radical stance you can take in life, especially as a minority.”
How important are friends to you? And do you have a soulmate?
I have a really ambivalent relationship with friendships. I think being constantly let down, bullied and shut out in my early formative years have left a huge scar in my confidence within longer deeper relationships. I am for the first time in my life experiencing “popularity” within my circles that i dont quite know how to handle. I spent such a huge portion of my life going to art galleries, cafes and concerts by myself because no one else wanted to or even cherised it. They really don’t joke when they say bullying stays with you for the rest of your life. I am for the first time experiencing true beloning to a queer family who loves and cherises me. And they show me time and time again that my past aches dont have to be my present fears. I tend to really fall deeply in love with my friends. By that I mean that the love I feel for them could easily transform to what many would consider romantic. I think thats just how I am. I love so many people so extremely deeply. And maybe that’s the problem. I set myself up for heartaches because I put so much of my love into it. I honestly believe there are several soulmates you get to meet throughout your life. They are like small little easter eggs within a game. Sometimes you meet someone, and there is that little glimmer in their eyes that signifies “kin”, and it happens at the most random times. My first on was my dad, then a magical childhood friend, then a teacher, once an old man at a bench I never met again. It’s meeting these soulmates that inspires me to keep on living, because they are truly little gifts to me.
What great experiences have you had in the music industry so far?
The best experience has to be everytime anyone stops me in the street or messages me about how my music has moved them. It makes me honestly want to cry, because all of my songs are extremely personal to me. And to know that my art has lived its own life, serving its own purpose for someone else, is heartwarming. It means I made someone feel less alone.
Besides music, what are you really good at?
I’m honestly a trick of all trades but a master of ~some~ ha-ha-ha. I have had lots of weird hobbies over the years.
I really love writing. My plans were actually to got to a creative writing school and become a poet or author of some sorts after high school. But then my music kind of took off a bit too soon (for my comfort) so I had to jump the gun so I didn’t lose this amazing chance at creating. It’s always just been an extreme need to create and share. All my life. Either that be dancing, drama, cosplay, drawing, painting, skating, kickboxing, sewing. Its been and endless force I can’t really contain.
“I need to accept that there will be many unexpected roads that will come my way.”
You describe yourself as an “internet kid.” Would you be interested in a world without the digital?
I am a nature child at heart, that later became an “internet kid” – if that makes sense. My connection with nature was well established by my family who early on put me in an “outside” kindergarten in the woods. I spent most of my childhood in a cabin with my grandparents by the ocean or in the mountains with little supervision, this taught me to respect and cherish my surroundings. Growing up though was a whole other thing. When I started public school my mother noticed a significant shift in how I moved through the world. I obviously did not fit in and started to get scary intrusive thoughts mixed with rashes and night terrors. Still I pushed through and tried my best. I felt extremely lonely though, and sought out internet friends as early as 11 (even though my parents were strict and wouldnt let me). It is on the internet I started feeling less alone. Suddenly people found me interesting and even attractive, and my hobbies were no longer a running joke or something other people didn’t understand. I started diving into sub-cultures and sub-genres and it felt as though that finally, I had an algorithm who suggested things as quickly as my thoughts would raise. I felt stimulated by all the quick info I could obtain, and would deep dive into hyperfixations about history and science. I feel like I grew into myself on the internet. For both better and for worse.
Although I have had my fair share of both growth and trauma on the internet, I wouldnt really mind if it dissapeared. I still try to tap into who I was before all this mess. I constanly try to reach 7 year old Isabelle again. A trollish little creature who would find beauty even in the littlest of things. I feel like internet ruined that for me a little bit. I would do amazing without the distraction. But im honestly addicted at this point.
“Sometimes you meet someone, and theres that little glimmer in their eyes that signifies “kin”, and it happens at the most random times. My first on was my dad, then a magical childhood friend, then a teacher, once an old man at a bench I never met again.”
They say the journey is the destination. But from my experience I would say, where there is no goal there is no road. So my question is, where do you see yourself in about 10 years?
Not to be melodramatic, I am surprised I have even gotten to this point in my life. But I am happy I am here. With mental illness it can be quite hard picturing a future that far ahead. Especially when you are a romantic like me and find life to be a bit anticlimatic and dissapointing. I still read something somewhere that truly spoke to me. It was through astrology that someone told me that for me to be “truly” aligned with myself and my being, I need to accept that there will be many unexpected roads that will come my way. And for me, to be properly true to myself, I have to let go these rigid expectations of what I think I should do. In summary, for me to truly live up to my potential, I have to be open to all possibilites. And that may be a 100 different careers, a 100 different lovers or a 100 different lives. I still believe that I will be making music, or at least partially living off of it. I hope so! But I don’t wish to become dissapointed if that doesnt happen, you know? Only time will tell. I will definetly be creating something till the day I die though.
Thanks so much for your time!
Thank you for such interesting questions! I really appreciate it!