Jesse Kinch Opens up About the Journey to Create His Debut Album: "A Record Deal Is Replaceable but Your Heart, Soul and Integrity Aren’t"
Jesse Kinch certainly know what it means to follow your heart. From first picking up a guitar at only six years old to competing on and ultimately winning ABC's "Rising Star" to turning down a major record deal in order to stay true to himself, Kinch has had one hell of a journey and with each accomplishment or setback, he learns even more about himself and the music that he was born to create. Now, he is finally getting ready to release his debut full-length album, I'm Not Like Everybody Else on June 1st. Filled to the brim with songs that reflect his musical journey and self-discovery, I'm Not Like Everybody Else promises to be one hell of a debut release.
Thankfully, fans don't have to wait until June for more new music from Kinch, either. With a new single out now and Record Store Day shows coming up this month, he's planning on staying busy for the foreseeable future. And if you can't get enough of him before then, you're in luck! We recently caught up with Jesse Kinch to talk about his start in music, the path to I'm Not Like Everybody Else and his plans for the rest of the year. Read the entire interview and listen to his single, "Preaching Like the Pope" below!
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
Well… I’ve been singing, playing guitar and performing since I was a child. At age 23, I’m finally releasing my debut album but I’ve had a long musical history dating back to the age of 6 when I first picked up a guitar. Part of that journey started four years ago from this upcoming June, when I was the first and only winner of a music show on ABC called Rising Star. I’ve endured a lot in this industry, and have finally gotten to a point where I’m able to create and release the music I’m passionate about and grew up on!
You started getting involved in music at a fairly young age. Do you remember what that first spark was that made you want to play music and learn more about it?
It would be foolish of me to say that I became a musician at the age of six. I feel that I was born a musician. I consider myself an instrument and vessel for music. Before I actually picked up a guitar, I just listened and was fascinated by the music my parents played from 60s, 70s and 90,s rock to magnificent pop opera singers such as Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. I was amazed by the raw energy in rock n roll music but so touched by the beauty and elegance that emanated from those opera singers. I knew I was not just in love with a certain style but simply in love with great music.
At the age of six, I discovered an old acoustic guitar in my basement and immediately felt drawn to it. I knew that I had a strong sense of pitch and rhythm after mastering bar chords and tuning my guitar by ear after only a few weeks of playing. I began playing my guitar in local clubs at age 7 and right around the age of 11, I discovered my voice as another way to express this music in my soul. My parents always told me that I needed to be the complete package. I had to sing it, play it and write it. They were right and I heeded this advice. Throughout my teens, my time was consumed by singing, playing, performing and writing. I was fronting my own band of seasoned musicians, and performing in many of the legendary NYC clubs. Like I said, I had a long history before Rising Star and my debut album, which is about to be released.
I feel like everyone has those all-time favorite bands or musicians that they’re always going to love, so which artists did you draw inspiration from when you first got involved in music?
That is a hard question to answer! Since I first started listening to music, I have loved and adored so many of the greats who have paved the way for people like me in this day and age. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up on 60s, 70s and 90s rock. This had a substantial influence on the way I sing and the conviction/attitude that I put into my performances. I really gravitated toward bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix, Rage Against The Machine, and Led Zeppelin. Those were the first rock bands I was exposed to. I also mentioned before that I had an affinity for pop opera singers like Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. Their voices carry so much beauty and elegance. Their voices never sound separate from the music but just one with that magnificent orchestration.
Now when I was a teenager, I was given the gift of my father’s record collection after I bought a record player. I really began to dive into the more classic rock and obscure 60’s music that hadn’t been as heavily exposed to my generation. I would listen to so many 45’s and LPs from artists and bands like The Byrds, Donovan, The Jefferson Airplane, Simon and Garfunkel, The Animals, Fever Tree, The Chambers Brothers, Three Dog Night, The Walker Brothers, Glen Campbell, The Bee Gees, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes, The Rascals and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I also loved so many ballads of that time from singers like, Judy Collins, Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole and Tony Bennet. Listening to that record collection really opened me to a whole new world of music. I also really got into some old blues and R&B singers like Howlin Wolf, BB King, Sam and Dave, Ray Charles and James Brown. Those guys had passion!! All in all, I was exposed to so much great music, which has greatly seeped into my music, singing and performing.
Flash forward quite a few years, and you’ve had one hell of a journey to get to where you are now. How do you feel your previous experiences in music have helped to prepare you and shape you into the artist you are now?
I think when you decide to stay true to yourself in life, you are willingly choosing to take a longer Journey where it takes time, energy, passion, motivation, tears and heartache to get there but in the end, there lies so much happiness, eternal joy and inner peace when you are finally where you want to be. I’ve known this in my heart since I was a child and it has gotten me to where I am now. I was offered many opportunities and money as a child that I decided to pass up because of the way I would be portrayed. For example, Nickelodeon offered me an opportunity where I would be acting like a complete fool and not the Jesse people see today. I was tested again after I won Rising Star, where I won this show and had a contract with a major label, but I knew going forward with their vision of what I should be, wasn’t what was best for me. I’ll never forget when I was in LA 2 months after winning the show. I had made my decision and chose the longer path. I had told all those at the top that I was going to stay true to my vision and was on my way back to the airport where I would go back to New York and back to the start. I felt proud of myself for staying true but at the same time I felt uncertain about the future, and so saddened by the fact that I had all this momentum from the show and now it would slowly simmer down. As I was driving, I passed by a giant billboard that said, “What is life when you gain the world but lose your soul?” In that moment, I felt more at ease. All I can say is that since I was performing in clubs and felt the response of the people in the crowd or when I felt the energy of the audience and voters on Rising Star, I always heard that inner voice and felt the energy of something beyond my senses telling me to stay true and that it’ll all be worth it in the end. I do wish I could have been further into my career earlier on, but this longer path has instilled more wisdom and experience in my heart and has built character that wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t gone through it. I understand now that it was necessary.
You’re currently getting ready to release your debut full-length, I’m Not Like Everybody Else this summer! It being some of the first music that many people will hear from you, what would you like listeners to take away from the album?
If there’s anything I’d want people to take away from this album it’s that it’s true to me, from the heart and coming from a genuine place. The songs are melodic, and harmonically full. The lyrics are poetic and are emanating a message of staying true to your genuine, authentic self. That’s what I’m Not Like Everybody Else is all about!
What inspired I’m Not Like Everybody Else? Did you have any goals in mind when you were working on it?
This album has been in the making for a long time. I spent my teens being a listener and absorbing all the great qualities of the songs I loved. I’ve breathed it all in and my album is me exhaling the music I’ve taken in for so long. I have such an appreciation for the artists who’ve paved the way and they have heavily influenced my music and voice. You can definitely hear it on my album and that will continue to be an inspiration for many albums to come!
You recently released your single, “Preaching Like The Pope” - can you tell us a little bit about this track?
Preaching Like The Pope is all about my experience of dealing with a major label after winning Rising Star. I had won this major television show and felt on top of the world but realized it was not the right atmosphere for me. This label did not share my vision and tried to send me in a musical direction that completely contradicted what I stood for and what people voted for. I know what my audience wants to hear and they didn’t seem to understand that. I felt the pulse of my audience but the major label was so shockingly out of touch and were more concerned about squeezing me in on pop radio. Preaching Like The Pope was my response. The first lines say it all:
“I’m walking out the door go ahead and shred my fine inked signatures…I’m back where I began singing songs, hustling with some amateurs...but that’s alright with me cause I’ll never be your cookie cutter puppet dope…I’ll be back to break the mold yeah that’s what I’ll do…The radio don’t want me you keep Preaching Like The Pope”.
I walked away and had to go back to where I started but I was okay with my decision because a record deal is replaceable but your heart, soul and integrity aren’t. They should be heavily guarded because once you give that away, there’s no getting it back.
With I’m Not Like Everybody Else out soon, do you have any shows coming up or plans to hit the road?
I’ve got some cool things coming up actually… I’m going on a 5 day record store tour around New York, Connecticut, and Long Island to promote the April 13th release of the vinyl album. One of the stops is in Rochester, and I’ll be performing on their morning show “Good day Rochester”. The next week, I’ll be performing in Los Angeles at the Muse Expo and the World Wide Radio Summit. Exciting Times!
Do you have any other big plans or goals for 2018?
I’m just really hoping to get this music heard. Hopefully I can get to a point where I can use national television as a platform again. I’ve been told that it can either happen overnight or it could be a slow build up. Whatever comes my way, I’m prepared for it. What matters now is that I just get out, perform, and promote this album the best way I can.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks you so much…you’ve been a pleasure! The only thing that I’ll add is to go on my Facebook page to see the Record Store Tour schedule. That’ll be happening from April 17th through the 21st. Also, On April 13th a double vinyl LP will be released and a new single will also be released that day.