An Interview With The Fast Rising Musician, JUSTIN JESSO!
Posted On 05 Dec 2017
Get to know, Justin Jesso! Along with co writers, Jamie Hartman and Stuart Crichton, he wrote and sings on Kygo’s track “Stargazing”. Since its release on 9/22, “Stargazing” has already garnered over 130 million streams on Spotify.
The LA-based singer, writer and creator joins U2, Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding and more on Kygo’s new five-track EP of the same name.
Earlier this year, Jesso was nominated for “Song Of The Year” at this year’s Latin Grammys as a writer on Ricky Martin’s No. 1 single “Vente Pa’ Ca” featuring Latin superstar Maluma. This is just the beginning for the incredibly talented singer/songwriter.
He is currently managed by American Idol’s Randy Jackson, and published by Phrased Differently. In addition to the multiple singles slated to be released in the US, UK, Australia and Asia, Jesso is currently working on his own music, where we can expect a soulful-pop direction from the artist.
Learn more about Justin Jesso in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
Hi! Thank you! Excited to be interviewed by All Access!
Right now, I am on my porch with my dog Elvis, drinking a cup of coffee. There is no music currently playing, but if there was, it would be Michael Jackson’s the Off The Wall record, which instantly gets me out of a bad mood. The current song I keep going back to these days is the very catchy / bass driven “Sexual” by Neiked. Europe has really embraced this tune and I’m still hoping it makes its way to the US. Also jamming to Kygo’s “Kids In Love”!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
Yes. I was the kid who went for the plastic microphone over the football. My earliest musical memory was when I was one, and I was crying my face off watching the Super Bowl, until Whitney Houston started singing the national anthem. I was transfixed and stopped crying immediately.
I’ve always known that I would be a creative performer. There have been times when I’ve thought about giving up… it’s a very difficult profession and most don’t succeed. But I knew if I did, I would never truly be happy.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year? How has 2017 been treating you and your career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
In a way, yes. I said to myself last year, I’m going to be a songwriter and worry less about my career as an artist and focus on the craft of writing songs. But this year, my artist project started nagging at me, and I began to refocus on it. There were A&R’s who were hearing my songs for pitch for their signed artists, and it made me feel that it was time to get back to performing my own material. I am most excited to get back to performing and feeling that rush. I also can’t wait to release new music!!!
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected you and your music today?
I grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago. Chicago has a soul about it, and suburbia was a musical melting pot. My parents played Earth, Wind & Fire and showtunes, whereas my friends listened to Good Charlotte and Eminem. Growing up, I became obsessed with R&B, which I was introduced to through friends in the city. So, I was influenced by a little bit of everything.
So what was it like working with Kygo on the new track, “Stargazing”? How did you two first get together to work on it? Was he someone that you have been thinking about collaborating with for a while?
It was amazing. He is amazing. We didn’t meet in-person until the first time we performed “Stargazing” together at Encore Beach Club in Vegas. I’m a huge Kygo fan and it was a dream to collab. I love his approach to production. He just knows how to make great music! Absolutely an honor to work with him.
I must ask you about writing Ricky Martin’s hit single “Vente Pa’ Ca.” After writing it, did you immediately have an idea of who could sing it?
My co-writers and I had no idea. We wrote it in Denmark last April. Initially, I didn’t even sing the demo. We thought it was a song for a girl. My co-writer’s publisher then sent it to Ricky Martin’s camp and Ricky’s A&R wanted me to re-sing the vocal. We sent it back and about 5 months later it came out!
What it like being managed by American Idol’s Randy Jackson? So far, what is the best piece of advice he has given you?
Haha, Randy is awesome! The Wise Dawg! The best piece of advice is “stop pushing and let it happen.” I am very type A and drive myself crazy wanting things to happen faster. His faith allows me to slow down and make the best music I can instead of being caught up in anxiety. I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to my career and my music.
When can fans expect a full collection from you to be released? Are you currently working on new music in the studio? How will be different or similar to other songs that people have already heard?
Hopefully early 2018. I am currently working on it in the studio! It will be a bit different from what people have heard genre-wise. The songs will still be pop, and sung soulfully with a dirtier, organic and emotional approach. I want people to react the way they do to Stargazing. I love messages from people saying Stargazing helped them through a breakup, or made them feel closer to someone they had lost, or that it made them feel better. That’s why we do it.
What artist or artists do you think that you have learned the most from while sharing the stage and performing with them? Who have you been really star-struck with?
Well Kygo has the absolute best attitude. He’s the nicest guy, and it is so fun performing with him. I was and will always be star-struck by Stevie Wonder. In college, I took a class on Stevie and at the end of the first day of class, he came and spoke, which was incredible.
With the summer days over, what was something fun or new that you tried this summer?
Sugarfish Sushi in LA! Now, I love it. Also, Veggie Grill! I love the BBQ chicken dish which isn’t even chicken… its some healthy vegan thing. So basically, this summer I ate.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
I certainly think it has the power to. I just want my music to help people. Stargazing is definitely a reflection of the times. We need a little hope.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Whitney Houston… Today, I love Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Alicia Keys…
What do you hope fans take away from your music? Do you think that your music has an overall message at all?
I do. I want people to feel themselves in the music. I want my music to help the listener get over a tragedy in their life, or just make them smile and help them get through their day. I want my music to have a positive impact on the world.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
It’s a lot of hard work and a lot less glamorous than people think. Be prepared to work your ass off and always continue honing your craft. Study the greats. Speak from your heart.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Keep an eye out for new music coming in 2018! Thank you for taking the time to interview me 🙂