Interview: Jesse Etc.

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Jesse Etc. took some time to answer questions about his debut EP, working with Near Mint, and more. Check out the interview below.

When did you first get the idea for Jesse Etc.?

The inception of Jesse Etc. came while I was working on another project. The idea for that project was to write dark, electronic hip-hop music– think Justice meets Death Grips. Ultimately, you realize your strengths and weaknesses, and while I love hip-hop, I think my vocals are better suited for pop music. Once I started writing and releasing music for that project, I naturally drifted more towards my pop tendencies and decided to re-brand. Thus, Jesse Etc. was born.

At what point did you know you were going to quit your corporate job and focus on this project?

Before I was even hired. I remember going to my interview thinking, ‘Okay, I can do this for a couple of years while I save money and work on my next project. But I have to quit this at some point. I have to quit, and I have to put all of my eggs in this basket– because now it’s time to ride or die.’ Two things worked in my favor: I am almost always conscious of the brevity of life, and I have a very obsessive personality. When I decide I’m going to do something, I’m all in.

How did you get involved with Near Mint?

I’ve known Corey (half of Near Mint) for years now. He did some graphic design work for a project of mine a while back. When I finished up my new project, I sent him the EP, and he was vibing with it. He sent it to his partner, and they asked me if they could put out. I’m stoked to have worked with them for this first release.
What has been the best part about working on this debut EP?
The best part was seeing my vision actually come to life, and realizing that I am capable as a producer and as a songwriter. Artists have the tendency to be their worst critic, and even though there are already things about the EP I wish I could change, I’m proud of it. I’ve been working on these skills for years and years now, and to see it all come together for this project– it’s a brilliant feeling. And this is only the beginning.
When did you first find out about having a panic disorder and anxiety?
I remember waking up in the middle of the night feeling terrified as a child, but not because I was having nightmares. I would wake up with this dark feeling inside my bones– as if something terrible happened or was going to happen because of me. It was heavy, but it didn’t happen too often and I could shake it off fairly quickly. This feeling followed me throughout my youth and eventually, at 17, I started having severe medical anxiety– always feeling like I may die at any moment because I had some disease. I began self mediating with alcohol, drugs, sex– but those things only ever brought temporary solace. Fast forward a decade and I remember sitting in my apartment alone not wanting to be here anymore. It was the lowest point in my life, and I knew if I was ever going to get well again, I needed to make some big changes. So I laid the drinking and drugs to rest and consciously started working on myself via therapy, meditation, working out, sobriety, etc. I very slowly started to feel well again in time. I still get panic attacks, and I still deal with depression sometimes– but I’ve learned not to push those things away anymore. You have to nourish your darkness the same way you nourish your light– they both have something valuable to teach you.
Do you find yourself dealing with those better now that you’re focusing on what you love?

So many artists I admire talk about they wrote their best album when they were going through their darkest time. I don’t think that will ever be me. I have a hard time being productive when I’m dealing with anxiety or depression. Music was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to get better though– to express myself through sound and words– to connect with others– to hopefully help others– that is a huge drive for me. I get high off connecting with people. It’s cliche as all hell, but music has always saved me. I simply cannot imagine life without it.

What’s next for you once Lavender is out?

I am going to follow up Lavender with a single in early 2017. That will have 2 tracks on it. And then onto the LP, which I’m already gathering influences for. Right now, I’m spinning Kid A, Carrie & Lowell, 99.9%, In Ghost Colours, Donuts, 22, A Million, and Blond nonstop. I cannot wait to begin working on the first LP. And while I’m doing that, I’m also working with Commen Sans (a booking company) to get another tour going for early 2017.

Thanks for your time! Where can our readers follow you?

Thanks for caring! You can follow me on IG/FB @jesseetc. You can hear my debut EP on all streaming services or on my Soundcloud.