Take 5: Justin Jesso

Justin Jesso is an outstanding, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter. He has opened for artists such at Jordain Sparks. He has written songs for The Backstreet Boyand Armin Van Buuren. We caught up with him on his recent visit to London.

Welcome Justin, thanks for taking time to talk to us today. The deal is five questions, five minutes. Here goes:

When did you first discover your passion for song writing?

The first time I ever wrote a song was at a summer camp.  I wanted to write it for a girl I liked, called Leah. It was not a very good song.  I didn’t get the girl, she was not interested!  Then I started writing more professionally, when I was 16 I found a producer and a studio in Chicago, where I grew up.  I started working on my music. When I graduated I had an internship at a music publisher and focused on song writing.

Tell us the story behind your collaboration with Nina Nesbitt on the latest single ‘Let it be me’

This is what I want to say to the person I spend the rest of my life with. That’s the premise behind the song. Through the good, the bad and the ugly and everything in between, if you want somebody, let it be me.

It started with my ex. She went through depression whilst we were together. I wanted to tell her I’ll be here for you no matter what. The song was born out of the need to say that to her.  We broke up, so the whole thing never really came to fruition. When I went into studio, two years after, I knew I wanted to write something special about what I would say to the person I get to spend the rest of my life with.

I thought the song was incomplete with just one voice.  Always thought it would be a wonderful duet. I brought that up with a couple of people. Nina was brought up in the conversation.  I went to see her live in LA about two weeks after. She was phenomenal.  Absolutely fell in love with her voice and stage presence.  I was thinking this is the voice to bring this record home. 

We sent her the record, she loved it and jumped on board. Often there’s a lot of business involved. But, for this, it was actually really simple, she wanted to do it, I wanted her to do it. It happened and was done very quickly.

You got to go on tour with Kygo – what were the highlights?

I had a couple of holy **** moments!  One of those was Cochella. It was weird. It’s the biggest American gig we did.  It was absolutely star studded. We were hanging out in the trailer with Jamie Foxx. Arianna Grande was there and Miguel, who I look up to. We had a chat. It was really cool for that. The audience was so huge that it was hard to see them. It was cool to be on a massive stage.

The other one was the Sziget Festival, which was the biggest one we did in Europe. 100, 000 people.  It was Shawn Mendes then us. The crowd was just insane. That was by far one of my favourites.

And then, playing my home town, Chicago was pretty incredible too. The whole day my parents and my friends were say ‘This is so amazing’. I was just not feeling that. I’m excited to do it, but it’s just another show.

About thirty minutes before I went on, I started doing a video for my Instagram. I turn the camera on, and started say, ‘So excited, this is my hometown show’. I saw my first Bulls game her, first concerts here..’  I just started crying. It finally hit me, I’m home. That was a real moment.

You were nominated for a Grammy for your work with Ricky Martin – tell us a little about that

Sadly, I missed the ceremony. The weekend of the ceremony was the same weekend I was meant to work on an orchestral version of ‘Stargazing’ in Bergen. I had to choose. I called management saying I want to go the Grammy’s but also wanted to go to Bergen and this was the only weekend they can do it. He said, ‘Do the work’ I thought that made sense, so I missed the ceremony. But we won!

Five things you love about birthdays might include

  • Presents!  Presents are great!
  • It’s a time for reflection. Very rarely do we get time to reflect on where we are and where we are going. Having a birthday really allows you to take stock and make better decisions
  • There’s a little extra outpouring of support on a birthday. All the friends I lost touch with get in touch, all the friends am I in touch with get in touch! It’s wonderful to reconnect.
  • One of my favourite things is that each year I get the same present.  My parents gift to me is a party. I get about thirty of my friends together from all different walks of life. From College, my time growing up, my music industry friends. I get them all together, because usually I hang out with them all separately and it’s lovely .
  • For the past couple of years I’ve been traveling on my birthday so I haven’t been able to plan anything on the actual day.  I can get a little lonely on the day, but someone or something always come through.  It reminds you that you are loved.  I am always reminded on my birthday that I am loved.  

Quick Fire Questions:

Kind or faithfulFaithful

Malibu or ManhattanManhattan

Burritos or tacosTacos

Justin Bieber or Justin TimberlakeTimberlake…. actually Jesso!

Game of thrones or game of tennisAfter an episode of Thrones, tennis!