Jesse Dee


Mitte Juni erschien auf Munich Records das Debüt des US-amerikanischen Neo-Soulers Jesse Dee. “Bittersweet Batch“ glänzt durch einen ausgewogenen Mix aus Gospel, R&B, Indie-Rock, Singer/Songwriter-Ästhetik und einer gewaltigen Prise Soul. Sie geriet schnell zu einer der spannendsten Scheiben des Sommers und wir nutzten da natürlich gerne die Möglichkeit bei Jesse einmal nachzufragen, was so alles hinter seinem satten Retro-Sound steckt.

Sonic Reducer: Jesse, you recently released your first solo-album ”Bittersweet Batch”. What was the major force behind you going solo? Did your experience in bands – you were in Decifunk and The Dirty Whites – lead you to that decision?

Jesse Dee: No, not really. I started playing music as a solo artist and I’ve always actively performed solo even when involved in other bands. My experiences playing with other bands have made me a better musician / performer. The music that I’m making now is where my heart is and so that is what I focus on.

Sonic Reducer: One of people you already shared the stage with is the Reverend Al Green. How important is the Gospel aspect to you and what part of Al Green’s music has inluenced Jesse Dee? Jesse Dee: I was raised in church and that’s where some of my earliest memories of singing are. I believe music is a very spiritual thing capable of taking the listener to a “higher place”. Gospel music certainly embodies that idea like no other music. I love old gospel groups – (The Soul Stirrers,The Harmonizing Four, The Pilgrim Travelers, Mahalia Jackson, etc….. ) and I think they created some of the most powerful music ever. Soul music is obviously very deeply rooted in gospel music. So the gospel aspect is important to me one, because I think if you play soul music you ought to know were it comes from, and two, gospel music moves me and I aspire to move other people with my music. Al Green is a big inluence as a vocalist in the way that he phrases things and in the way he uses every dynamic of his voice both on stage and in the studio. I think it’s safe to say he’s written some good songs as well! It was quite an honor for me to open for him.

Sonic Reducer:Staying on the topic of inluence. Etta James, Otis Redding and others come to mind, when I listen to your music. Who did you listen to when you grew up and how did these acts help shape/inluence the collection of songs on ”Bittersweet Batch”? Jesse Dee: I’ve listened to just about everything. But Soul / Rhythm & Blues music has always moved me the most. I started listening to the oldies radio station when I was about 7 or 8. They played a lot of Motown, Doo Wop, and Pop groups from the 50’s and 60’s. My father would play bands like The Beatles and Van Morrison. Like I said, between then and now, I’ve listened to just about everything else. The more music I’ve listened to over the years, the more I’ve realized that I don’t like any music better than southern Soul music. I irst began to play the guitar because of Bob Dylan and I’ve been inluenced as a songwriter by him and other like minded artists. So there is deinitely a folk – singer/songwriter influence that helped shape the songs on “Bittersweet Batch” as well. I would say Sam Cooke, Etta James, and Otis Redding are right at the top of the list for me.

Sonic Reducer: How old are the songs on ”Bittersweet Batch”? Did you have some of them lying around for a while, or were they written when the recording sessions weren’t too far away?

Jesse Dee: The age of the songs varies on the album. Some were written closer to the recording and others were several years old at that point. It was an issue of inding the songs that would work best together – some of which had been lying around for a little bit.

Sonic Reducer: Do you have any personal favorites on ”Bittersweet Batch”?

Jesse Dee: That’s a tough one. I’m really proud of the whole album. I could ind something in every song that is special to me. Some of my favorite moments are due to the combination of the wonderful musicians that play on the record and the actual sound of the recording itself. “Yet To Come” is one of my favorites. “Slow Down” is a favorite as well. One of the reasons that song is special is that it was the very irst take of the very irst song recorded. Everything else followed from there.

Sonic Reducer: The area you come from, Boston, is widely known for its superb indie-acts like Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, The Lemonheads or Buffalo Tom. How do you see yourself in relation to these kinds of bands and is there a vivid, let’s say, neo-soul-scene in Boston?

Jesse Dee: I enjoy a good indie-rock band and there are certain indie-rock aesthetics that I try and incorporate into my music at the right moments. But I don’t really relate myself to any of those bands. I can’t say there is speciically a vivid neo-soul scene in Boston. I’ve been part of a really great roots music scene going on in the Cambridge / Somerville area of Boston – lots of good songwriters and wonderful musicians. I think the Boston music scene has something for everyone.

Sonic Reducer: The picture of you on the back of ”Bittersweet Batch” was taken by Paul Janovitz (ex-Cold Water Flat), whom I interviewed for our magazine in 2007. Are you guys friends and might there be some musical collaborations on the horizon?

Jesse Dee: Yes, Paul is a friend, a good guy, and talented photographer. It was fun to work with him. We don’t have any musical collaborations on the horizon though.

Sonic Reducer: Aside from music you are also very active and interested in visual art. Is there a connection for you between those two forms of art?

Jesse Dee: I’m not as active as I used to be. I mostly focus on music. Its hard for me to fnd the time to paint But I usually end up designing posters and other visual art that pertains to my music. I’m sure if you were to dissect the creative process of the two art forms you could fnd basic similarities. But I’m not consciously making direct connections between the two while I’m doing either.

Sonic Reducer: What records are currently spinning in your player?

Jesse Dee: “The Best of Jerry Butler”, “Mercy” by Don Covay and The Goodtimers, “The Way I See It” by Raphael Saadiq, “ Keep It Hid” by Dan Auerbach, “The Jarmels – Golden Classics“… among others.

Sonic Reducer: Thanks a lot for taking time, Jesse!
[Sascha Knapek]

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October 10, 2009



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