Pom Poms’ Jessie Payo on “Desperate Love” and Cinematic Influences


In “Desperate Love,” the sweetness of Jessie Payo’s classic sounding voice floats atop surf rock-esque guitar lines, and there’s a palpable yearning in her delivery of the song’s honest and beautifully evocative lyrics. 

Longing and wait, anticipate

Smell the gardenias blooming

This line depicts the slow and sudden growth of love, as Payo paints a picture of springtime’s atmosphere of light and newness. The slide guitar and sixties inspired coastal groove enhances this feeling of warmth, but there’s a sense of apprehension that spills into the chorus.  

Desperate love 

Once was enough

I can’t take more heartache 

Payo withers as she witnesses the conclusion of another cycle. She explores the contradictory nature of the song’s title, that love is both a pure and reckless act, and the feelings associated are strong yet fragile. We crave the rapture of love that we know is often accompanied by anguish. Is love inherently desperate, or is despair something that contaminates love? I’d like to believe the latter, but I understand Payo’s sentiment of disappointment. In a broader picture, “Desperate Love” encapsulates this time, as we’ve all been pummeled down by heartache lately. When we express this suffering, whether through words, sound, or art, I think it’s important to let that experience be. Sometimes creativity is merely a vessel to channel painful emotions, and Payo utilizes her craft to say what we’ve all been feeling. “Desperate Love” is both a testament to collective heartache and a lovely escape.

There’s a kind of paradox in the song’s title – love, this wonderful experience that is supposed to evoke positive emotions, has come to be associated with despair. How do you hold space for both of these truths, and still keep your heart open?

“Desperate Love” is inspired by that feeling of longing from a lonely heart that has lived and love yet still holds out hope for something real and true. It straddles the worlds of fantasy and reality. The desperation of one more chance at proving that romance can exist.

Do you have a favorite place to flesh out your ideas and put a song together?

I don’t have a specific place I like to write these songs. They come when they come and I have to always be ready to take the time to sit down and catch them.

“Desperate Love” has a really lovely, retro atmosphere. Do you find yourself drawn to older music, and how do you emulate this style in your work?

I’m a sucker for nostalgia and old movies. I particularly have been into 70s orchestral music and I love the crooning voices of Lee Hazelwood, Julie London and Roy Orbison.

This track also feels like it’s meant to be listened to by the beach. How has growing up in California influenced your music?

Growing up in Los Angeles I have a love for the old Hollywood that has quickly ceased to exist. Some of my old haunts remain, like Musso and Frank.

The song is quite vulnerable but also relatable in many aspects. What do you hope listeners take away from it?

I always go to writing songs that you can picture in movies. That’s where you can say I’ve been influenced by my growing up in LA. I’ve said it over and over again but I just like to write what could be in a soundtrack.


A Spotify Playlist With Good Music.

Leave a Comment

More Stories

A Word From a Sponsor.

Hey, if you liked what you read…

Tom wants to talk to you.

⬅️  That’s Tom. He writes and sends our newsletter once per week.

It’s a thoughtful reflection on life / songwriting, plus a recap of our recent stories. (See an example here.)

If you want Tom to send you our newsletter, enter your email below.