LOS ANGELES — Watch out Nicole! Jessy Moss is the latest tall, talented import from Down Under — and the alluring 24-year-old singer has the throaty pipes to prove it. Her debut from Dreamworks Records, “Street Knuckles,” on sale July 29, features a slew of soulful ballads and beats inspired by an array of artists from Nina Simone and Miles Davis to the Pixies and Sonic Youth to The Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang Clan. While Moss performed at Hollywood’s Knitting Factory recently, she channeled both the serpentine Gwen Stefani and the square-stanced Dr. Dre in the space of one song.
Not surprisingly, Moss says her album’s title has several meanings. First, there are the tattoos on each of her knuckles, but Moss had her share of actual fights growing up in the hippie surf town of Byron Bay, on Australia’s easternmost coast. The album, which details holdups and remembers ranting landlords and wayward boyfriends, is a quasi-confessional-narrative. “Pretty much the whole record is autobiographical,” says Moss. “Who would want to take away the hardships? Without ’em, it would all be so sh-t boring.”
Moss worked her share of minimum-wage jobs, including stints as a sheep shearer back home and a music festival trash collector in England before promoting hip-hop clubs in Sydney and landing a recording studio internship that brought her to Los Angeles. “I bugged the sound engineer until he finally taught me what he was doing,” she says. “I then went on tour with the Long Beach Dub Allstars as their sound engineer, and I used my downtime to record the base tracks to my album.”
Currently living in Long Beach, 30 minutes south of Los Angeles, Moss manages to maintain her laid-back lifestyle, which is reflected by her fashion. “I’m pretty comfortable in a tank top and jeans when left to my own devices. I’m not a big fashionada,” she says, offering her interpretation of the word for fashionista. “Maybe we’ll get there one day.”