An In-Depth Interview With The Rising Artist JESSE KINCH On His Breakout Music, Biggest Inspirations and Much More!
Posted On 16 May 2018
Jesse Kinch has announced his long-awaited full-length debut, I’m Not Like Everybody Else, set to release on June 1st via Curb Records. A special edition vinyl of the album will be available to celebrate Record Store Day and Kinch’s Record Store Tour. The record includes original songs, and Kinch’s unique takes on covers of iconic songs such as “Billie Jean.” For more information, please visit: http://www.jessekinch.com/.
With excitement towards to upcoming release of his debut album, Kinch explains, “This album truly represents me as an artist, and embodies the many greats who have paved they way and have lent me their inspiration. Most importantly, this album is true to my vision and all those who have loved, supported, and believed in me throughout this long journey.”
Since winning the first and only season of ABC’s Rising Star singing competition series, Kinch has been working to craft the sound that gave him success on the show, and on a debut album that reflects his artistic integrity.
Kinch’s sound is an ode to the classic rock giants that came before him, but also artfully combines his diverse inspiration from artists across an array of genres. An early exposure to opera artists Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman gave him a deep appreciation for the “pureness and beauty” of music. At the same time, Kinch was listening to the unique vocal styles of artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder, who further inspired him. Eventually, he picked up an acoustic guitar at age 6 and began performing at age 11, leading him to venues in New York City and the role of the title character in the off-Broadway musical The Story of Eddie Money.
His win on Rising Star at age 20 gave him the platform to continue his cross-generation brand of songwriting and performing. From soulful covers of classics like “I Put A Spell On You“ to the more contemporary “Seven Nation Army,” Kinch was able to introduce old school rock to a young audience during his time on the show. With his full-length album, he continues to infuse modern elements of rock into his songwriting and covers.
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Learn more about Jesse Kinch in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
It’s great to be here! I’m actually back home on Long Island right now and I’m getting ready to leave for Los Angeles. I’ll be doing 3 shows there along with a big radio interview on Jonesy’s Jukebox 955 KLOS. I’m definitely looking forward to that!
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your career? What are you most excited about for this year? What is one big goal you have for 2018?
I spent 2017 being focused on preparing my record for its release. I recorded the album in the summer of 2016, but we put a final mix on it in the fall of 2017 and I’m really excited with the way it turned out. I also did a photo shoot for the album in LA that year, and put my live band together for rehearsals to prepare us for the record store tour that we just finished up. Things are moving now but if there’s anything I feel needs to happen this year it’s that I need to be performing bigger shows all around the country and eventually the world. Hey…and if the album gets enough exposure, maybe there’s a chance it’ll be up for a Grammy by the end of the year or however long it takes for something like that to happen. I’d love that…it always been a dream of mine. You never know!
Growing up, did you ever think that this would be the kind of life that you would have? Has music always been a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Man…I always knew this is what I was meant to do. I always tell people that music chose me…not the other way around. It found me at around 4-6 years old when I was captivated by the music my parents were playing from 60s rock n roll all the way through 90s rock, and even beautiful voices like tenor Andrea Bocelli and soprano Sarah Brightman. Music just became a part of my soul and it never left. All the music that I was exposed to at that age planted many seeds which blossomed throughout my teens and now in my early 20’s. It all comes out of me when I perform and write. I’m now exhaling all the music I’ve breathed in. When it comes to my first musical experiences, that probably had to be when I was playing my guitar in local clubs at age 8. By age 11, I was singing and fronting my own band in NYC clubs. That’s really where everything began for me.
How do you think you and your music has been influenced by your hometown?
If you’re talking about living in New York and playing many shows around Long Island/NYC…yes!! Everything for me started when I was performing in clubs on Long Island, and NYC. My band and I opened up for some fairly well know acts like Living Colour, and Eddie Money. Also headlined the benefit concert Rock for Haiti when they had that earthquake back in 2010. In NYC, I was just 14 and 15 years old at the time. I performed at many legendary clubs like Kenny’s Castaways, The Crash Mansion, The Cutting Room, and the Bitter End. Performing in these NYC and LI clubs helped me perfect my craft as a live performer and gave me the experience I needed to be prepared for what’s happening in my career now.
What does it feel like to be about to release your debut album, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” Can you remember the first time you heard it the whole way through? What was it like putting it together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
I am so proud of this album because it is one hundred percent true to myself and that is all I ever wanted to hear out of my own album. I am so happy to have recorded it here on Long Island in a studio I’ve been going to since I was 13! I produced it with Kerry Gordy and my father. We were such an incredible team and creative force together. The actual recording process lasted only 19 days and that was quite an accomplishment…all of the pre-production and arranging I had done at home. I started off with a few days of recording the basic rhythm tracks with musicians that I chose. Billy Joel’s original drummer Liberty DeVitto actually came in and did all the drum tracks. After 19 days of recording and producing the album, we put some mixes and light mastering on it and took a serious listen to the project. We all knew that we captured my essence and spirit. That was the MAIN goal! I’m so proud and excited for this album to finally get out to the masses!
Why do you think Curb Records is the right place for you and your music today?
Not only did label sign me but Mike Curb and his wife are both big fans of my music which was uplifting and inspiring. When Mike first heard my home recordings he actually was considering releasing the tracks as they were! He really appreciated my songwriting, lyric, arranging skills and fully understood my vision. He did not want anyone or anything interfering with my songs foundations or my vision for the album. We were 100% on the same page. I know legacy means a lot to Mike and Curb Records and I want to impact and play a major role in that legacy. Everyone at Curb Records has been a pleasure to work with and I’m looking forward to doing more great things together!
How do you think your already released track “Preaching Like The Pope” prepares listeners for more music from me? What was the inspiration for this song?
Preaching like the pope is reflective and cleansing. It tells my story of all I went through dealing with a major label after winning the ABC television competition Rising Star. One of the prizes for the show was a deal with a major label. However, immediately after winning the competition, they tried to change everything I stood for and represented over 3 months. During my time on the show it became abundantly clear what people were craving and demanding of the music industry and the major labels. I was their vehicle and I proudly represented them. I went on Rising Star with a platform to reinvigorate my fan base and also to show younger fans music with no fabrication, by someone who could perform it, write it, and play it without auto tune or manufactured sounds. Together we had sent a clear and powerful message that was ignored by the major label and even the show itself. Just one day after winning Rising Star I was in the offices of the powers that be, and was asked “ how do we fit this square peg(me) into this round hole?” Their Rising Star winner was sent home packing a day later. By the thousands, messages poured in from all over as to what happened to me, where was I , where was my album? The album promised never became a reality!.. because what the label had promised was that the winner would get to have his or her album released. But the reality was: the winner would release the label’s album and you will sing our songs. I met with the label reps and they refused to record any of my original material. Instead I was force fed meaningless songs and was told to record them or else risk being dropped by the label. Long story short our visions were so diametrically opposed that we parted ways. I could not sell out at any price or turn my back on the fans who supported me on the show. As a few lines of Preaching Like The Pope state: “I’m walking out the door go ahead and shred my fine inked signatures, I’m back where I began, singing songs hustling with some amateurs … but that’s alright with me because I’ll never be your cookie cutter puppet dope…”
So in summary to part of this question as how does Preaching Like The Pope prepare listeners for more music from me: My listeners will know I represent them, I represent the truth, I will not call myself an artist if I let someone else paint my canvas!
How do you think you have grown since being on and winning ABC’s Rising Star? Would you do it all over again if you could? Would you change anything about your performances on the show if you could?
I would not change a thing about any performances on Rising Star and I would do it all over again. I thrived in that atmosphere and loved the energy of the show and all of the shows components… I approached every song and performance as if it were the last I would ever do. I had the greatest respect and admiration for the show’s executive producer Ken Warwick and musical director Ray Chew and my fans. We were quite the team! My growth from being on and winning Rising Star has come in a more mature and more eyes wide open approach to the music world I live in.
How excited are you to be heading out a Record Store Day tour on the East Coast? What are some venues that you are particularly looking forward to playing at on this tour?
I’m really excited! I enjoyed getting out and performing and it was cool to meet old fans and make some new ones. The love and support for me and my music is humbling and heartfelt. Highlights of the tour were The Record Archive( the place was on fire) in Rochester, and Looney Tunes on Long Island. Ran into some bad weather on the first stop at The Sound Garden in Syracuse but those who made it there were so energetic and supportive, and the staff at The Sound Garden second to none. They are the nicest people. It was my pleasure being there and I can’t thank them enough for all their kindness and professionalism.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for you? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far?
An ideal show for me is an involved audience either by their outgoing energy or silent deeply involved energy depending on the song.. I love an audience with many layers to their being. I love an audience that words are just important to them as the music, I love an audience with social awareness and edge, I love an audience that I bring alive, and make their lives feel important and essential. I love cross-generational audiences, I want to reach them all in some way even if only with one song. I love performing so to single out one performance would be quite impossible, because I give my all on all of them and when I cover a song or do my originals it’s because I love them. I love getting deeply involved in a song and lost inside of it for example, my closing number at a concert in Nashville. It was a Doors cover, The End… 10 minutes long , with me and just my electric acoustic. One of those very special moments for me and my audience. You can find it on YouTube, play it at night in a dark room and take the ride.
We are living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that music is going to reflect these challenging times?
When have we not lived in trying politically charged times? From the beginning of mankind til the present, the ugliness of the human element has always existed and continues to raise its’ evil head and will always continue to do so. Sadly, this is what constitutes many of our species. With that being said, there still remains more good than evil on this earth and that is why we still survive as a species. This good must prevail and I have to believe it will. I do want my music to reach people on many levels . This album does some of that and future albums will maybe be even more involved with social awareness issues, and world issues. I do have that material. What I can offer about myself is that I try to be a good and caring human being every day, respect others, respect myself, and try to do something kind and giving every day. These challenging times always need a fresh perspective a fresh outlook. How about one day of peace , one day at a time. It’s a start.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
That is a hard question to answer! Since I first started listening to music, I have loved and respected so many of the greats who have paved the way for people like me in this day and age. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up on 60s, 70s and 90s rock. This had a substantial influence on the way I sing and the conviction/attitude that I put into my performances. I really gravitated toward bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix, Rage Against The Machine, and Led Zeppelin. Those were the first rock bands I was exposed to. I also mentioned before that I had an affinity for pop opera singers like Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. Their voices carry so much beauty and elegance. Their voices never sound separate from the music but just one with the magnificent orchestration.
When I was a teenager, I was given the gift of my father’s record collection after I bought a record player. I really began to dive into the more classic rock and obscure 60’s music that hadn’t been as heavily exposed to my generation. I would listen to so many 45’s and LPs from artists and bands like The Byrds, Donovan, The Jefferson Airplane, Simon and Garfunkel, The Animals, Fever Tree, The Chambers Brothers, Three Dog Night, The Walker Brothers, Glen Campbell, The Bee Gees, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes, The Rascals and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I also loved so many ballads of that time from singers like, Judy Collins, Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole and Tony Bennet. Listening to that record collection really opened me to a whole new world of music. I also really got into some old blues and R&B singers like Howlin Wolf, BB King, Sam and Dave, Ray Charles and James Brown. Those guys had passion!! All in all, I was exposed to so much great music, which has greatly seeped into my music, singing and performing. When it comes to modern artists, I really loved and respected Duffy when she came out…She had that classic sounding album “Rockferry” which was released around 2008. I don’t know what she’s up to now but she had some really authentic music and completely followed her own heart and taste with her music. I think she sets a great example for young female singers in the music industry because she carries herself with so much class and you can see that she has respect for herself.. I would love to sing a song with her one day. I have covered a couple of her songs that I love. If there’s any artist who came out way back when and still continues to inspire me its Bruce Springsteen. The complete artist, magnificent live performer, musician, great lyricist and song writer, and social conscience. We could kill a number on stage together.. It would be something! I have also dreamed of when doing my own big concerts of bringing on stage with me some of the greats who have paved the way for me and that I respect so much.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What would you say is the overall message of your songs?
I want my fans to know this album is un-compromised and one hundred percent true to me. This album represents the truth . The original songs are all musically and lyrically written by me. No team of co -writers or multiple producers. There is not a vocal or musical note on it that’s auto-tuned, no tempo quantizing etc… and I think this pureness and musical and lyrical truth permeates from the album. There’s lots of raw energy, passion, melody and poetry. The songs on this album range from love, life, death, social awareness and more.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
I am passionate about and very aware of the world around me. I believe music makes the world a better place. I will always personally strive to make the world a better place. I believe in making friends with the earth, making friends with someone who needs friendship the most, saving the life of an animal… saving yourself.