Jesse Macht Interview

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Jesse Macht

I first came across musician Jesse Macht on YouTube. His music videos came up in my “suggested videos to watch” and while I’m typically wary of the content that YouTube’s algorithms conjure up for me, they magically got it right with Jesse Macht. “New Vaccine” was the first music video I watched and its whimsical Sara Bareilles-esque quirkiness intrigued me. It had a playfulness in its creative direction and a lightheartedness that I found reassuring in time where music videos are trying their damnedest to be edgy.

Already on the Jesse Macht bandwagon with “New Vaccine,” delving further into his catalog brought up “Car is a Bullet” and it was hook, line and sinker from there on out. Macht himself describes his songs as “a familiar sound with an off center perspective” and I completely agree. His indie pop rock songs with a hint of alternative are really refreshing in both their lyricism and content. Writing a memorable chorus is no strange task to Macht and it’s evident throughout his music, even with a half-hearted listen.

We reached out to Jesse for an interview on his music, his influences and more below.

When it comes to writing, is it more natural for the lyrics or the music to come out?
Usually I write the music and melody together and write down some filler lyrics until I go back over it and then write lyrics I’m more into. Sometimes the lyrics come first, but it’s rare. I like the mood I’m in to take me to what kind of song I will write. The mood usually informs the music, which informs the lyric.

Tell us about your newest EP.
I felt like I had a lot to say that my band wasn’t able to help me communicate, so I wanted to get some of my own creativity out. I’m really excited to have this finished with my producer Aaron Tap. He’s been a great mentor through all of these recordings. I started writing my own songs aside from the band I used to play in because I wanted to make sure I’d have a retrospective on my own creativity when I was playing music as a young man. I felt like I had a lot to say that my band wasn’t able to help me communicate, so I wanted to get some of my own creativity out. These songs are some of the first songs I wrote when the band was no longer playing music together anymore. It’s exciting for me to have worked so hard and hustled to get things going for myself and to now finally have them finished is a great accomplishment. These songs, along with the others I finished before it help give the listener a more well rounded version of what I’m all about stylistically. I still think a lot is missing that one gets from the live show that they don’t get from my recordings, but that’s the process. I just have to keep recording songs as long as I can afford it. Hopefully, someday soon, somebody will help me fund my music and I’ll be able to release my songs more readily.

“Hey Annie” talks about the obsession of media and people obsessed with the grotesque parts of our popular culture. I wanted to write a song that had a very pop sensibility, stay within 3 minutes and 30 seconds, and have melody that sounded uber poppy – but make fun of the obsession with pop culture. The first verses talk about the octo-mom and the carnival that is our media landscape – and the 2nd verse remarks on Princess Diana and the mess of paparazzi and its strangle-hold on artists and other people that eventually kills them – but is only in existence because we propagate it.

“Anymore” talks about the realities of following your dreams and how things don’t turn out the way you’ve imagined and when things are good, they seem to be really good, but when things are bad, they seem to be really bad. It never feels like 50/50, but more of an onslaught of both sides and we know we’ll have to be ready for anything that is thrown at us.

“Car is a Bullet” is a love song I wrote in style of pop-country. I think there are a lot of great pop country tunes out there like Keith Urban’s hits. They inspired me to write this tune. I really wrote this song for my girlfriend because I know how much she wishes I wrote more love songs :)

Was there anything specific that influenced you that went into writing your new EP?
I have a bunch of songs that are ready to be recorded, and these three were picked both because of time and money, but also because they seem to get the greatest feedback at shows, and the band wanted to record these songs. Hey Annie is a lot of fun, and I felt like I had to have it down. Same goes for Anymore, and Car is a Bullet also felt like something I have to have down on “vinyl” so I have it for my records. Hopefully friends, fans, and family will enjoy the tunes as much as Aaron (my producer) and I have.

Can you talk about the mindset you were in while writing “Anymore?”
It was raining outside and I was house-sitting at my sister’s house. I started playing the rhythms and chord changes and it felt to me much like a TRAVIS song. Do you know that band? I had to write a review of their greatest hits record in college, and I really liked a few of their songs. Playing the rhythm of that song reminded me of that time and how much life has changed and at the same time is exactly the same for good and for bad. I wrote a bit about this earlier, but that was the mindset I was in when I was writing it. I remember being very excited about it when I finished the song because I felt like I got a lot off my chest.

Being in two different musical projects, when you get an idea for a song, how do you decide which project it should go to?
Which two projects? My band? Burn Down the Mission is on hiatus really, so everything I write goes for me. BDtM is a great musical entity and I wish we were still playing together, but the reality is the creative force behind the band doesn’t really want to – which we all understand – so we’ve gone our separate ways unfortunately.

Is there a difference when you’re creating music for television and movies versus your own solo music?
No, I try to write music that inspires me. If I’m asked to write a song for TV or Film I just use that information to inform something that inspires me about the subject. I love writing music with a specific goal in mind. It helps me focus on a particular cross section of life. I use that focus to help focus the songwriting – which I think is very beneficial for a writer like me.

I try to write music that inspires me.

How was your show at the Hotel Café?
It was great! Thanks for asking! The band was killer, and we felt very comfortable there. It was really nice to have such a great crowd, and I look forward to playing there again when I can. I hope it’s sooner than later.

Are you working on new music?
I am always writing new songs, new music, composing music for television ads and such and looking for new projects to work on. I have a new song called “Once in a Lifetime” that I’m hoping to sell to a big TV show, that’s in the works. I have another song I just finished as well. I am trying to focus on piano tunes right now, because from the feedback I get, people like hearing me play the piano. I don’t know why, I’m not very good at it, but it’s probably because it creates a certain style of songwriting when I write on the piano. It feels great to hear that because my former band members were never so supportive on my piano writing – so it’s good to feel like that’s something I should pick up again. That being said, I was not a great piano player then, and although I’m no fire burner now, I’m a bit better.

Jesse’s last message for his fans:

Thanks so much for listening – and all your support is great. Please keep spreading the word. I encourage you to write to me via my Fanbridge site and twitter and Facebook page. I love keeping in contact with them as much as I can. It’s tough, but I really enjoy the communication and I hope that’ll lead to more things to come. Any ideas they may have on how to spread the word, I’m open to! Call your radio stations, give the songs to your friends, of course encourage them to buy the songs on iTunes, but at the end of the day, all I care about is that people are listening – so however that happens, I get it.


Follow Nancy Hoang:

Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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