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Hey readers!

I had the pleasure to conduct a very honest long-distance phone interview a couple of weeks ago with the fascinating Montreal/Nashville-based rock singer, Jesse Jack!  I caught up with him while he had some downtime in Florida.  We touch down on everything from the reality of the struggles to make it in the music industry, to if he ever man-buns his hair, to the (now) 53,000+ views on YouTube for his latest single Thinking Of You! Enjoy!


JGIC: This is Jersey Girl in Canada on Jamsterdam Radio. I am here on the phone with Montreal-based singer, Jesse Jack!  How are you doing?

JJ: I'm very good, and yourself?

JGIC: I'm good!  So wait a minute: you are based in Montreal? Where are you right now?

JJ: I am currently in Florida, but moving around the States over the next month and a half.

JGIC: Oh true- like a tour?

JJ: No- not a tour.  Just have a bit of work to do-  meetings, things like that.  Setting up a solid team of managers and agents so I can get this new record out in the world and appreciated!

JGIC: Busy, busy man!  What's the title of the record?

JJ: We haven't titled it yet.  We've been running with a few different titles, based on the struggles in the music industry.  As most artists know, the industry is very difficult, so we wanted to reflect that power struggle and the difficulty getting out there with the title of the album, so we were thinking something along the lines of Perseverance, or something in that domain.

JGIC: Yeah, especially in this information age- so many bands are getting out there, trying to promote their music.  Then there are (talented) bands or artists like you where you get overshadowed by these bands that are crap, and they get out there and kind of over saturate.. I don't know. It is a challenge- especially for talented musicians to be heard these's crazy.

JJ: It's definitely a challenge. I mean, at the end of the day, everybody and their friends can make a record in their basement and put it out there, which is great! It keeps the competition fresh, it keeps people to aspire to achieve new levels.. but at the end of the day, like you mentioned, there is this bombardment of media, whether you go to YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, checking out photos on Instagram or you're pinning something on Pintrest, there's such a huge amount of information, that sifting to find something that truly sticks out is very difficult.

JGIC: Yeah it's like finding a needle in a haystack!  Do you ever man bun your hair?

JJ: Pardon?

JGIC: Do you ever tie your hair in a man bun?

JJ: Yeah, when I go to the gym, people pick it out- make fun of me and stuff, but you know what- at the end of the day, I rock it out- we make it work. (laughs)

JGIC: Definitely! Because I was having this conversation with girls and we're all like "What's going on with that man bun- I don't know why it's so awesome, I don't know why it's hot!" You know?  But it just is! I checked out your video on YouTube for Thinking Of You, and I see you have long hair.  I'm like, "K- I wonder if he man-buns his hair!" You know?

JJ: (laughs) I ponytail it, sometimes I man-bun, sometimes I top-knot..gotta have fun with it! If I'm gonna have long hair, might as well mess around with it.

JGIC: That's right! (laughs) I dunno- sometimes I ask random questions, so... speaking of your Thinking Of You video, you have over 45,000 views on YouTube for that video.  How did you manage that? What did you do to get all those views?

JJ: We've really been building our Facebook following, our social media following- we focused a lot on that.  Unfortunately, YouTube is slow to catch up.  We don't have as many subscribers on that, but we're still transitioning our focus into the YouTube realm. I never used to like when artists released a two or three minute cover of them doing a million different songs, but we recently got into that and the fans are really appreciating it so we're trying to build the YouTube subscriber list also our email subscriber list so we'll have the quickest way of of accessing our fan base so they know when new things are happening- new products, videos are available for their listening pleasure. So by focusing on building our online following, we've acquired over 50,000 Facebook fans.  I mean, you can always "buy" fans, and all that stuff but at the end of the day, you have a small turnover between fans that you've purchased and people that are legitimate fans that will actually watch, subscribe, and purchase.

JGIC: Definitely.

JJ: So by focusing on building our following, we're able to get a legitimate fan base that was interested in the things we had coming out, so when we watch the video with the 50,000 fans on Facebook, I know that the video hit something like 25,000 or 30,000 views in the first day or two.

JGIC: Wow!

JJ: We put an ad on Facebook for our page- you have to pay to access your entire fanbase on your own page, right?

JGIC: Yeah.

JJ: That's just the way Facebook works.

JGIC: Damn Facebook!

JJ: We made a quick ad, and put it out there, and it was served to all of our 50,000 fans and the turnover rate was astounding!  We were actually shocked to see that 25- 30,000 of our 50,000 actually went and saw the video in the first place!

JGIC: When and how did you start with music?

JJ: I actually started pretty young. When I was a little kid, my mum always encouraged me to sing, just be very melodic in my day-to-day life.  We'd make up songs, and it just kind of progressed from there I never really made a public interest in singing until high school.  I mean, I was a high school kid, I was really stage-shy, didn't know too much.  Did my first high school talent show by the end of the show, I think I stood up there stiff as a board- barely moved.  I've definitely evolved a lot in that aspect from back then.

JGIC: (Laughs)

JJ: Everyone came running up afterwards!  I was like "Cool! This is the reaction you get from just standing there and opening your mouth and singing a few notes?  Really?" (laughs)

JGIC: That's awesome!

JJ: It kind of just pushed me into being like "Wow- people actually.. like, you can really do this!"  I started going to more concerts, and I just got really into it. From there it's just been a constantly progressing life choice for me.

JGIC: That's amazing!  Do you have any musical influences?

JJ: All music is my influence.  At the end of the day, I take away a little aspect from every band, every artist, every person- even in the music business- I mean, I find that people in the business are just as inspiring to me as the artists themselves because working in the business you realize the entire machine that it takes: the talent, the writers, the studios, the producers, the engineers, the business people, marketing team, social media gurus, all of it, you know?  Without every single fundamental piece of that puzzle, the entire picture can't be built so my influences, like I said, I love all kinds of music, from rock to pop to edm, to jazz, to classical... across the spectrum, all of it, I truly draw inspiration from it all and I appreciate all of it. Like I said, for the business aspect of my musical preference is I took a lot away from also seeing all the hardworking people behind the scenes that never get two seconds in the spotlight.

JGIC:  Yeah, it's definitely good to show them recognition!  So you're between Nashville and Montreal, correct?

JJ: I am!  I'll actually be back in Nashville in a couple of weeks- a lot of business meetings, a lot of.. the music business is 20-30% business and the rest is 70-80% (laughs)

JGIC: (laughs) Yeah!  Do you find the difference in the scenes in Montreal and Nashville?  If so, which one do you prefer?

JJ:  There's a huge scene difference.  I would say even between Canada as a whole and the U.S. as a whole. but especially in Nashville, I mean, Nashville is considered one of the music Centropolis' of the world.

JGIC: Yeah!

JJ:  And no matter where you go, whatever bar you walk into, whatever live venue you walk into you, I mean the talent pool is just fantastic.  There are so many great musicians in Nashville and that's what I tell people all the time- it's great to be a big fish in a little sea, you start in your home town, you grow, you gain your fan base and all that, but you have to go out.  venture out and see what else is out there. because the truth is you never know where inspiration is going to strike just by seeing something different.  I was in Downtown Nashville walking into a place and a saw this really weird not weird, but eclectic, different view on country music.  (This band) mixed this reggae-funk-country. and it was awesome. 


JJ: I wish I could remember the name of the band.. but it was truly fantastic and I said, "You know these guys are here basically playing for free- I mean, the U.S. and other places have a tip-based paying system where musicians aren't necessarily paid to play", especially at the starting level..and I said, "these guys who were fantastic, who had original tunes- the original songs were fantastic" and I'm thinking to myself, here they are just for the love of music, playing to 20 people because they absolutely love what they do.  That's where that business aspect comes in so importantly and that's why I encourage people to check out Nashville.  I mean, don't pick up and move.. aside from the legality it, it's very difficult if you are Canadian or from elsewhere to move to Nashville permanently, but you know, go check it out because the world is so big, and the truth is Nashville has a lot of pieces of it.  There are a lot of different styles in it, there's a lot of different types of artists that budding and building out of Nashville.  Nashville is not a big town, I mean you're from Toronto, right?

JGIC: Yup!

JJ: Toronto has easily got 5- 10 times the population of Nashville.. but Nashville has got this musical culture... it's been a music city since its creation.. and that itself is something to really check out to really build yourself as a musician.  In Nashville, another thing I like to tell people about is that.. Nashville has the business people- Nashville's got the labels, the publishing companies, all the people that you need to know in order to advance your career, people that you may not otherwise find, even in major metropolitan cities, that aren't as focused and geared towards the music business.

JGIC: Definitely!  So I got a question:  You seem really busy- I mean, you have a really busy schedule.  What's your take on romantic relationships?  Whether you're in one, or you're not in one, how would you handle it with your busy schedule?

JJ: It's a very difficult thing.  Any romantic relationship you're ever going to have.. I mean, any relationship in general- family, friends, all of it.. it really becomes a year-long, long-distance relationship.  You leave your friends and family back home- assuming you're living where your friends and family are- even for me, I mean, I'm barely home in a year.  It becomes a very difficult thing to balance require time, dedication and effort, and as much as any artist is going to try, they still can't really be there.  You can be there, hypothetically: you can talk on the phone every day, you can do all these things.. but there's that physical contact that becomes difficult over time.  So you know, as artists- I mean, I don't wanna speak for all artists- but as an artist, it's definitely something that you have to think of ahead of time, plan it, and make sure that you do what is necessary to maintain healthy relationships across the board.  Whether it's romantic, family, friends, it doesn't matter.

JGIC: Okay.. (laughs) Yeah, it's something that, you know, conversations come up, type of thing and I kind of always ask those kind of questions to artists.

JJ: (Laughs)

JGIC: It's almost like a survey!

JJ: It makes sense because at the end of the day, I mean, we're always moving around, even when we are home, we're in the studio, we play gigs, we keep weird hours, we're on business calls.. there's always something going on.  The thing about being a musician is that you are your own business- and when you are your own business, your business never shuts down- you are yourself 24 hours a day.

JGIC: Yeah.

JJ: ..and you can't just stop being yourself, and in a business like this, you need to take the opportunities when they come up. Regardless.  The amount of birthdays, holidays and events that I've missed with family, friends, loved ones in relationships.. it's astronomical.  You just gotta hope that the people that you care about, care about you and understand- as well as any person can understand.

JGIC: Yeah, it takes a lot of patience and faith, I guess. (laughs)

JJ: It definitely takes a lot of patience. (laughs)

JGIC: Yeah- it's good to have a strong support system in that matter, even if people just have to back up just to give you your space to do your thing, hope for the best for your success, you know?  It's good to have those kind of people in your life.

JJ: You need that strong support system, you need that foundation or else this business will chew you up and spit you out.

JGIC: Where can people find your tour dates, I saw a few on your website. What's your website?


JGIC: So you can find all the tour dates and everything on there?

JJ: Yup. Like I said, we've been working on the business stuff, so I have a sporadic show here and there. The most up-to-date information would be on Facebook.  I'm more of a Facebook poster than the website.

JGIC: (laughs) Oh ok.

(missing audio here, due to it being too muffled to hear, but we touched down on the topic of in person interactions vs. Facebook interactions)

JJ: They focus more on the introverted aspect of themselves, when in reality we are in the most.. we have the largest possibility of communication nowadays - all the (access to) technology more so than ever.  We can get in touch easily with anyone on the planet we want at any given time and it's just a few key strokes or a few numbers away.  Yet, as a society we are moving further and further away from each other.

JGIC: Oh yeah, definitely!

JJ: We are becoming much less personal with each other and more just introverted, cut ourselves off and give this barrage of images we want our life to appear to be.

JGIC: Yeah- I've seen people sitting in the same room- while all on their phones!  Just a couple of a weeks ago, I'm like "Whoa... dudes- everybody in this room is on their phone right now!  Like.. why are we hanging out?"

JJ:  Nobody's talking anymore- like, even me... as much as my phone is a business thing and I try to be as close to it as possible, you know, you gotta put it down!

JGIC: Definitely!

JJ: Listen to the people around you.  At the end of the day, it isn't the money you make or the successes you have you're gonna wish you have more of or that you wanna be reminded of, it's those personal relationships you have with people.  I mean, that's all you can really take away- the life experience

JGIC:  Yeah- I mean, the phone can be replaced or whatever.. but the people in front of you.. you're not
guaranteed tomorrow so.. people are like "Oh ya.." (on their phones)... like, just put the phone down! It's definitely become less of a personal thing (social interactions), I guess (social media/ phone usage) is good for those who are promoting things online. {me jumping randomly from topic to topic} Our society is going downhill  Literally, when I hear music like yours, or other artists that I hope the best success for, having getting these messages out- you connect with the fans, you connect with listeners, these relatable subjects like love.  I noticed a lot of your songs are about love- a lot of people are in love, or they want love- type of're speaking to these people through your music, which I think is great! That's why I'm really happy I got to do this interview with you because it's supporting talented musicians who want to connect with their fans!  Bring people together!

JJ:  That's why we love what you guys do as well.  These independent stations that truly believe in this connection.  A lot of the major stations around the world are ran by corporations, they're ran by record labels there's a big peel in the system out there.  There's all this stuff.. and at the end of the day, you're just getting what they want you to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.  The internet has opened that up but like we discussed before: the internet has a plethora of information.  There's just way too much to process.  So how can you possibly come across a new artist that may be fantastic, that may be the next biggest thing, but will not be because they just don't have a chance in this financial world.

JGIC: Exactly.

JJ: You throw enough money at it, eventually it's gonna stick.  Unfortunately, it doesn't stick for long because it's not good.

JGIC: Even in the local scene- the Toronto area.. there are a lot of these talented artists are like the quintessential "starving artists", you know? It's so common, it's like: why do they have money in order to make it? Isn't the whole point of making it to make money?  (laughs) I dunno- everything is so backwards these days!

JJ: Yeah, there definitely is a huge financial infusion required in order to get your career started up: a lot of traveling, a lot of touring, a lot purchases. I mean, you have to build your stage show, which doesn't come cheap.

JGIC: Oh no.

JJ: So for every dollar that you make, you're spending ten to get your product up and running. People think, "Oh, you sold 4,000 downloads for your single on iTunes, which, for any indie band, that's a good number!" You're making about $0.60 (CAD) on a digital download on iTunes, so once you pay commissions and all
that stuff, so you're looking at, say.. $2,400.00 (CAD) of actual revenue?  The song itself probably cost more just to record.  That's not if you want to see a music video, that's not the maintenance of a website, that's not anything like that.  That's the big discussion about money in the music business.  That's why there are few start-up websites where people are paying subscription-based just to get your content for free, but the band's paying a monthly fee, so that seems to be the way the business is progressing nowadays where people can crowd fund and subscription-base.. like, "here, you can have my whole record- it's $2.00 a month and everything I come out with every month you can get free access to that, as long as you pay the $2.00 a month!" or the $24/year.  At the end of the year you have 50,000 people that are willing to pay the $2.00/month, it's still better money.

JGIC: True!

JJ: People are like "Ah yeah- I got two bucks!  What's two bucks?" I get two digital downloads, exclusive pictures, exclusive audio.. you can be sitting in your pyjamas working on a new acoustic tune, just lay down quick and give it to your fan base, you know?  That's why a lot of these things are coming up because artists are having a hard time making ends meet just because of the huge amount of money required just to even get started.

JGIC: So do you have any advice for new bands?  It seems to me that even with your busy schedule, you seem pretty well balanced from this interview.

JJ: Yup- my biggest advice would be: do it because you love it. If your motivation is any other reason, you know, you can make money as a businessman, you can get guys or girls in other ways.. if your motivations is strictly superficial, don't do this business.  If you truly love it, stick to it, keep playing, keep true to yourself.  Don't let people change you. There's been time and time again where people have told me "Oh, your sound is too 80s", well, that's great!  That's my sound! You know what: people are going to love it.

JGIC: Absolutely!

JJ: There are bands out there that have carved their own niche markets just by sticking to their guns and doing what they do best.  Once they rose to popularity and fame, well then people have accepted them for the original thing they were anyway, without them having to change to fit anything else. So don't follow anybody else's mold.  Be the artist that the label's afraid to take a chance on.  Be that artist because those are the artists that change the game.  Those are the people that make history, make music history- the ones that get shut down 72 times by 72 different record labels.

JGIC: I did a lot of nodding (in agreement) during this conversation, though you can't see that on the radio! (laughs) So we have the Soundcloud link on the Jamsterdam Radio website, so any listeners, definitely check that out!  Jesse- got any shout outs?

JJ: I always have a million shout outs!  (laughs)

JGIC: Go for it! (laughs)

JJ: First and foremost, I'd like to thank the fans.  Big shout outs to our fan base, honestly- without your support, none of this would be possible.  They are the reason why I do this.  I love music, but being able to change people's lives, it's really a huge goal, you know?  It's a huge benefit of this business - to be able to write a song and somebody turns to you and said, "That song really changed my life"... so big shout out to the fans.  My friends, family, loved ones: they keep me going.  Sometimes you have rough times but their encouragement and support always keeps me going.  My business teams- they know who they are. (laughs). And a big shout out to all the artists and all the people who just keep this business running, because it takes all of us: the fans, the artists and the business people to keep it running.

JGIC: Great!  Anything else you want to add before we sign off?

JJ:  Yeah!  Just another tidbit of advice:  Just work hard.  Love what you do, enjoy it, and learn when rest is necessary.

JGIC: Oh, yes! (laughs)

JJ: You could work a lot of hours in this business and get nowhere, or you can work minimal hours and get everywhere.  Just get out there, do your thing, love what you do, spread that love, be good to your fans and I promise you, they'll be good to you back.

JGIC:  Awesome!  Well, thank you so much for your time, Jesse- I hope to talk to you again soon!  I look forward to seeing more of your stuff on... everywhere, actually!

JJ: Thank you very, very much for having me on!  It was a huge pleasure- I'm very privileged.

JGIC:  So, everyone: check out, check him out on Facebook and follow him and go to his shows!

JJ: Thank you very much.  Very much appreciated!


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