‘Looking Past the Pandemic’ with JessB from Auckland, New Zealand

Keeping travel dreams alive and setting goals has never felt more important. We can all agree that 2020 has been an unfortunate year so far, and almost every facet of daily life has been wrought by this ongoing global pandemic, the start of which now feels like forever ago. The arts has been one of the hardest hit areas, so The AU Review has kickstarted a Q&A series “looking past the pandemic”, encouraging creatives from around the world to share their travel hopes, dreams, and the thoughts or things that are getting them through 2020, while also highlighting essential experiences in their own country.

JessB (Auckland, New Zealand)

Auckland emcee JessB has just about what is one of her most stylistically diverse projects the date, spinning dancehall, reggaeton, garage and electronica into a six-track mixtape titled 3 Nights in Amsterdam. The Kiwi rapper already had a considerable buzz around her in the lead-up, and given the sharpened swagger she’s displaying so smoothly on tracks like “Bullseye”, “Shut Up!” and “We That Filth”, look for that hype to only grow stronger as 2020 enters its last leg.

We caught up with JessB to look past the pandemic.

When travel opens up completely, the first place I’m going is…

Probably Sydney! I was over in Australia so much last year that people starting thinking I was from there. But other than that I really want to get back out to London and Europe whether for work or leisure ASAP. Expeditiously.

The stunning Tutukaka Coast

Three spots in New Zealand I think everyone should visit at least once in their life…

Tutukaka Coast… I grew up going to this area in summer, around Matapouri as a kid. For me my love for this area is probably hugely nostalgic too, but it’s such a beautiful part of the North Island.

I really love the east coast of the North Island. I have some friends who grew up around those ways and road tripping down to where their whanau is from is always so much fun. Also heaps of stuff to do and see, and people to meet.

Queenstown. I know this is like the most cliché place that everyone talks about when referencing Aotearoa, but I went there for the first time in July and holy … man I know I looked like a lil kid the way I was lighting up at all the sights. Also as someone who grew up in Auckland, seeing snow and ice etc to that degree was just something I had never experienced so it made it extra special.

Whenever I have a visitor in my city and I want to show them a good night out, the first place I take them is…

Depends what’s on? Haha. A good night out for me is less about a particular venue and more about the music and people. I would probably take them to watch one of my DJ friends play if they had a gig on.

The White Lady is an institution in Auckland [and as this writer can attest, the best thing smokin’ at 3am]

The last place I take them is…

The White Lady in town (nb- the name of a food truck not a random Caucasian woman) is always a good spot.

Most memorable thing I’ve eaten on the road..

Oh man, sometimes the catering backstage at festivals and events is so fire. Often there is a buffet style arrangement of food for the artists and workers. I have pretty clear memories of us girls being so excited to see all the food the first few times we did shows, and probably eating too much or trying to take some with us when we left cuz we weren’t used to that sorta treatment lol.

Afronation is a long-running festival in Portugal

The one international venue I’ve always wanted to play…

I don’t have many specific venues in mind, but I’ve always wanted to play at some festivals overseas in Europe etc. One of them would be Afronation which is a festival that happens in Portugal. I also always wanted to play Afropunk in Brooklyn, NYC too.

The one international destination I’m yet to visit but have always dreamed of…

I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans. Its a place rich in Black culture, especially with the history of music down there and I would love to get amongst it. Also the food is the bomb too so would want to go there and experience that .

The three things or thoughts that are getting me through this pandemic…

Exercise. Getting out everyday is literally the only thing keeping me sane at the moment. I exercise for my mental health and general enjoyment as much as I do for any fitness or aesthetic reason, so it’s something that I need to make sure I can keep up even when I can’t get to the gym.

Music. Thank god for artists! We all consume so much even in regular times, let alone when we can’t be out with the homies. It’s been a cool time for me to listen through properly to albums I hadn’t gotten to yet.

Snacks. I just be loving some good snacks, period.

3 Nights in Amsterdam is out now. For more on JessB follow her on Facebook here.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.