Jesse: For me, music is a medium for connection
Updated: Feb 24, 2020
Jesse is a musician that fronts the band Spring Owls. I met him in a Los Angeles artist community. When I asked him about his new sci-fi-folk-rock album, he said:
"This upcoming album is about how my love doesn’t die and how I chose to see beyond the endings and focus more on lessons learned and appreciation, as I wish them well.
Many of the songs are autobiographical — talking about relationships my friends or I have experienced. The songwriting process is somewhat of a personal development or letting go practice.
Before finishing this new album, I had completed a 72 nonfiction book per week challenge. I benefited a lot from that, so I wanted to bring that in, because music is not just about giving people what they want to hear. More importantly, it’s a medium for connection — perhaps even a conversation.
I like to write and perform songs that are on the more intimate/introspective side of things, almost like we’re already close friends and we’re having a late-night chat. I believe we grow and connect most when we share those wholesome and vulnerable moments together. That’s the strongest glue we can have in any relationship.
I’m also really into the compounding effects my focus has given me.
When I zoom out and view my life in hindsight, I can see the connections between my focus and the outcomes that followed. Some have been positive, others have been downright awful. The important thing for me has been to locate the patterns and adjust as needed. I decided to play out this concept in some of my new songs.
Instead of focusing on the negative parts of relationships, I decided to focus on the good, the things I miss, or even the things I hope for in the future."
My passion for music started in elementary school.
I had a pretty bad speech impediment and I wasn’t really able to communicate well. But when I sang, I didn’t stutter. So music became an outlet for me.
As I grew older, the stutter mainly went away and I started playing more music and recorded my first CD in high school (2006).
However, my first professional album came out in 2013 and I toured the East Coast and Midwest with that album until 2017. Most of my family has been supportive, but I’m sure I’ve given them a little bit of stress. They probably got some grey hair. [laughing]
The artwork of my first album First Steps was painted by my grandma and was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's painting of the same name.
It’s a painting where the dad is on one knee in his garden, the mom is coming out, probably to say “it’s time for dinner,” and the little baby is taking his first steps toward his father.
What I like so much about this painting is that the father has many options. He could have continued working, perhaps just looking over his shoulder. Instead, he decides to drop everything that he’s doing to accept this moment when his son is taking his first steps. That means a lot to me.
My grandma has been a painter forever and I asked her if she would be able to paint something very similar. So she created the entire painting, made some changes, and also put me in it.
So my first album was about a son figuratively talking to his father. At times there’s a bit of resentment in the music, but overall it gives voice to a child coming-of-age.
Speaking of coming-of-age, I'll share a funny story with you.
When I was in kindergarten, I had a crush on a girl. I didn’t understand why the other boys and girls acted like they didn’t like romance. In retrospect, I see it was the beginning of that age old game of hard to get, but back then...I just didn’t get it.
It was Valentine’s Day and we were putting our valentines into the shoebox containers we’d made. For my crush, I got her a special gift.
I found out about her birthday and I heard birthstones were romantic. So I found a way to get my hands on earrings that had her birthstone. Mind you, this was what my kindergarten heart imagined. I put the earrings in her Valentine’s Day box with a card and waited… she didn’t have her ears pierced — the only detail I missed. [laughing]
Nothing happened. Obviously we grow up and learn how things work in society, but when I was a kid, I was sweet and innocent. I was like, "I love her so I have to tell her."
Jokes aside, there’s a strength that has come from knowing myself and what I want.
Good Love is another new song. It’s about finding myself and being ready to meet new people. I was very impatient with dating and met others just like me. The problem is that I was subconsciously seeking to find myself through the validation of a partner. It’s only until I began to accept and love myself that the best relationships and friendships started to emerge. This realization and the growth that came of it has greatly impacted my life and I had to share the story.
I’ve recently come up with the verbiage that I think is the most accurate to how I really feel: I would rather never get married and be single for the rest of my life than to be with the wrong person.
For my new album, the plan is to finish making the videos and then probably tour a bit again.
I lost music for a little while after my last tour.
That came about because I was struggling with performance being about validation. I was connected to how the audience responded to the music so much so that if the show wasn’t good, meaning that they didn’t receive it well, I’d be sad.
Now it’s more about connecting with people via the music and giving them a piece of my experience that I hope can help them. My purpose in life is to serve people by doing what I’m most passionate about.
I realized when I was reading all those books, being introspective about who I am, what I want, what’s going on in my life, that it’s all about being the architect of my own life.
I consider that to be a success.
Narrator _ Jesse
Interviewer & Photographer _ Nox
(If you're interested in Jesse or his band Spring Owls music, please visit https://bit.ly/sci-fi-folk to learn more)