Amongst the metalcore bands and punk rock collectives at the Vans Warped Tour, one finds Los Angeles based singer / songwriter Jessarae giving the crowd something a bit different and refreshing. Performing his own brand of heartfelt pop rock, Jessarae undoubtedly gained a good amount of new fans on the Southern California Warped dates. At 18, Jessarae is already a music veteran, who has shared the stage with music stalwarts such as Stevie Wonder, Wilson Phillips, and the Plain White T’s. Here is a recent interview we did with Jessarae in the press area at the Vans Warped Tour in Pomona to find out more about this dynamic artist on the rise. Read on…
Introduce yourself and tell me how long you’ve been doing your project.
I’m Jessarae – I’ve been playing since I was a little kid – around 9 years old. I’ve been playing the last two dates on the Warped Tour – and San Diego and Pomona.
How have the shows been going so far?
It’s been great. Yesterday was amazing. It’s just good to be back. I played last year. So many cool people I’ve gotten to see again. It’s just a great experience.
What was the name of the very first song you wrote and how old were you?
I think was 8 or 9 years old. I just started picking up the guitar. I had seen a bunch of live acts, and I just love seeing the crowd. For me, it’s the crowd even more so than watching the band. I just love the way people could interact with music and sing along. I just get chills when I hear people sing along to songs that they love. It’s a feeling I crave to have – to be onstage and hear people singing my songs. But I think the first song I wrote, I wrote about my mom – it was a Mother’s Day present – it was called Beautiful Eyes – and I ended up recording it on an EP. A lot of those early songs – I remember when I was 14 or 15 – I looked back – and it was weird to hear yourself young and my voice was really high. Now I can look back and still be proud of it though – I think I accomplished something.
And how old are you now?
18 – at the beginning of this month I turned 18.
What’s the name of your current album or EP and is there any story behind the title?
The last thing I put out was something called Pilot – and it was really something I released for my fans. It’s a full length – there’s 12 songs on it. It’s really about a period on my life growing up. For me, it’s a real body of work and I’m so proud of it. That being said, I’m always on to the next thing. Right now, I’m working on a new EP, and some of the songs I’ll be playing today are from that new EP. I come to Warped Tour to kind of test out these songs. I feel like if I could grab the Warped Tour fans, then I could really be on to something.
Select a new song you’ll be playing today and what inspired the lyrics.
A lot of my songs lately have just been about growing up. There’s this song called This Is Right that’s just about since I’m turning 18 – I have an older brother whose 24 now – he’s an actor (Steven R. McQueen). He started working and being successful around my age – and it’s kind of about striving to make a living – more than just like a dream – make it a reality. That’s what that song is about.
What could one expect from your live show today?
I think it’s going to be a really good time. I have a new guitar player – he’s really cool. We’re doing some backtrack vocals, which we’ve never done. He’s doing some sick guitar solos in the songs. I think definitely it’s different from a lot of the bands – it’s not as hardcore, but at the same time, it’s gonna get you up off your feet and it’s gonna get people dancing hopefully.
If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Actually it’s so weird, and this is off the top of my head, but if any band from the past, it probably would have been Sly And The Family Stone. When you watch that crowd, they’re just dancing to every song, and I love that. I love that feeling and watching these old bands like that with the amazing crowds. Totally different kind of music, but I feel like it would work.
What would you like a listener to remember after hearing after hearing your music for the first time?
The most important thing to me when I write songs is to focus on the lyrics and if there’s a real message behind it. Definitely the melodies and the lyrics are the most important parts of my songs – and I hope people can grasp that when they see it today and I hope they like it. I put a lot of time into making something meaningful – at least to me – so when I get up onstage, I feel like I’m speaking from a true place. So if there’s something to take away from the shows, it’s to listen for some of the stories and some of the fun jams.
(Interview by Kenneth Morton – Photos by Adam Gendler)