Hotel Fiction portrait

Jade Long (right) and Jessica Thompson, members of the band Hotel Fiction, pose for a portrait together at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens, Georgia, on Monday, January 13, 2019. The juniors at UGA met about a year ago, and soon formed the band together with their talents in vocals, guitar and piano. (Photo/Caroline Barnes)

The inception of Hotel Fiction was pure happenstance. Jade Long and Jessica Thompson knew there was magic in the air when they started writing songs together in 2018. After meeting at the University of Georgia through mutual friends with whom they had jam sessions, Long and Thompson began meeting every Friday.

Long, a junior graphic design major from Marietta, grew up writing songs and surrounded by music, and Thompson, a junior psychology major from Tucker, shared the same passion. Thompson learned how to play the guitar and first felt a taste of what it was like being in a band at a young age when she began playing for people around 10 years old.

“I had never been in a band before and Jessica was the first person I felt comfortable playing and sharing my songs with,” Long said.

Once the duo started collaborating, they decided they wanted to play for people and record together. Everything changed in April 2019 when Thompson ran into a friend getting off the phone with a band that canceled on him at the last minute. Despite only having written and played together for a short time, Thompson managed to land the gig for she and Long to play at the Caledonia Lounge.

The duo had to pull everything together quickly for the show. They borrowed Long’s friend who was in another band to play bass and Thompson’s younger brother came up from Atlanta to drum.

The “surreal” moment for Long and Thompson was the turnout for the show — a packed house full of peers. Among the people in the audience that night was a friend and fellow musician Tommy Trautwein, who approached them after the show. A local producer, Trautwein was in the process of finding clients at the time.

“Knowing they had just started and to see the chemistry they have on stage is amazing,” Trautwein said. “They had the crowd captivated and it was like they had been performing together for a long time.”

He offered to record a song with the girls in the studio of his home. They happily took the offer, making themselves Trautwein’s first clients. They selected a song Long wrote called “Astronaut Kids” to record. The single was a success — at a later show in Milledgeville, the duo were shocked to have noticed people they did not know singing their songs.

Despite having a show under their belt, the duo still did not have an official title. It took a summer of mulling it over before picking their unique band name.

“It’s two words I thought sounded cool together,” Thompson said. “I liked the word ‘fiction’ and the idea that something is make believe. We liked the daydreamy sound for a band name.”

While Hotel Fiction aims to write songs that are relatable to others, the band is also incredibly personal to Long and Thompson, with lyrics drawn from their own experiences.

Long said it takes a certain amount of confidence to perform on stage and release music from a vulnerable place.

“When you care about something so much you want it to be the best it can be so we set high expectations for ourselves,” Thompson said.

Those high expectations continue to drive Hotel Fiction. On Feb. 2, the duo will perform at The Foundry with Call Me Spinster, Chick Wallace and Bitsy in a DIY show they organized called Fiction Fest.

In terms of goals for the future, the duo laughed and said “everything,” though a bigger goal is to make a career out of their passion.

Long and Thompson’s collaboration has resulted in music and a strong friendship between the two. Long said they embody each other’s weaknesses and are constantly learning from one another. She said it is “cool” to have someone to experience the ups and downs of music with her.

“It makes the process worth it and we wouldn’t have been able to do this if we hadn’t met each other,” Long said.

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