Jordanna Credit: Geoff Stellfox

Jordanna first made her mark in Chicago’s DIY scene as vocalist and guitarist for riot-grrrl group Glamour Hotline, which released an EP called Home in 2016 and supported it on a summer tour. The band broke up shortly after returning, though, and because Jordanna felt so drained by the constant fuck-you angst of performing punk, she decided that her next project would expose a softer side. In October 2017 she released the first single from her debut EP, Sweet Tooth, which came out last week. Its poppy R&B combines the sweetness of taffy with the puckering sourness of a Sour Punch straw.

“There’s a lot of emotion behind anger, but punk focuses on the anger part,” says Jordanna. “I started writing these songs for all the other emotions I needed to address—like vulnerability, heartbreak, tragedy. That’s kind of how Jordanna came to life.”

Jordanna finds strength in self-discovery and sensuality. Her singing on “I’m Your Girl” is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse’s twangy bravado, while on “Sugar” she takes after the sultriness of SZA.
“I was keeping up the moral ideas of Glamour Hotline,” Jordanna says, referring to the feminist ethos of riot grrrl. “But now I’m addressing love and romance.”

Last Saturday, Jordanna organized a night of music and art called Candyland to highlight women and nonbinary artists in Chicago; she performed as part of a lineup that also included DJ Sasha NoDisco, singer and poet Tasha, and rapper Lulu Be. Jordanna hopes her fans will feel as empowered by bodacious R&B as by patriarchy-smashing punk. Sometimes sweetness, love, and a little self-care are what you need to keep fighting.

“I can feel vulnerable, and I can feel attracted to someone who wants to take care of me and to love me, and at the same time I can be a strong feminist woman,” says Jordanna.

Jordanna’s live sets double as performance-art pieces. Because she remembers how isolated she felt when she first entered Chicago’s DIY scene, she adds intimacy to her shows by handing out roses between songs or passing around a clipboard where everyone can share their answers to the same question: something they like about themselves, for instance, or someone they appreciate.

“It creates kind of a unified bond between performer and audience and among the audience themselves,” says Jordanna. “I’m trying to build community in all of my performances.”