Blended Exclusive: Interview with "Stargazing" Singer-songwriter Justin Jesso
BY WILL HEFFERNAN
Justin Jesso is a singer/songwriter from Chicago as well as a Grammy-nominated vocalist. Most of you may recognize him from the hit radio song "Stargazing" by Kygo where he is featured. Managed by former American Idol host Randy Jackson, Jesso is currently touring with Kygo on the Kids in Love Tour that finishes in Boston on May 12th. Blended had the chance to interview the rising star while he is on tour with Kygo.
How did you get into music? Where were you when you first knew that you wanted to make music your career?
I started when I was very young -- I was the kid who went for the plastic toy microphone instead of the football. When I was 5, I had my first performance at my grandmother's weird talent show thing performing for around 600 people. I walked off the stage and knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In college, I really started studying songwriting and started writing for others when I graduated, always hoping to write enough charting songs that people would start taking me seriously as an artist like Julia Michaels, Bruno Mars, Meaghan Trainor, etc. -- all started out as songwriters first. Then "Stargazing" happened and my life changed.
Can you talk about "Stargazing," how did that collaboration come to be?
I had been writing internationally, and through those circles got connected to Stuart Crichton through a songwriter friend of mine named John Reid. Stuart and I hit it off and started working a bunch, and then we brought in the incredibly talented Jamie Hartman. On our first season, Stuart, Jamie and I co-wrote "Stargazing," then my publisher sent the demo to Manager Myles and Kygo who loved the song. Then Kygo put his spin on it and it came out two months later!
What was the writing process for "Stargazing" like and what was it like being able to work with Kygo?
The writing process was really smooth. Stuart and Jamie are both so talented. I came in with this idea for a chorus and it had the word "Stargazing" in it, Jamie jumped on that word and started coming up with melodies, it all flowed from there. The song is about my ex-girlfriend and trying to save our relationship, but also knowing it will be okay either way cause I still "look up for love." We sent our basic demo to Kygo and he took it to a whole other level. Working with him on the road has been fantastic as well. We've been traveling together for a couple months now and he is the nicest guy.
Do you have a favorite line in the song?
"Stars don't disappear, they keep blazing." Cause it's true.
For people going through this type of traumatic experience described in the song, what is one piece of advice that you think would help them "find the light" during those times?
Believe that no matter what you have lost or what you are going through, it is going to be okay. Just because it's the end of something doesn't mean it's the end. Just because a love dies, doesn't mean love is dead... Sounds like a lyric, haha.
What was performing at Coachella like?
The coolest. The crowd was massive and I got to meet some amazing people like Miguel, Jamie Foxx, Ariana, Rita Ora, Julia Michaels. Hopefully, I'll be working with some of them soon!
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, John Legend, Miguel, Bill Withers, Whitney Houston, Elton John...
Can we expect more music from you soon?
Yes! Hope to be dropping a single in June!
As a songwriter, what part of music do you enjoy most? Being able to perform the song or seeing another artist sing your song?
Oh 100% no question performing my own songs. Sometimes giving my songs away hurts. It's like selling your babies.
What has been one memorable moment from this tour so far?
Well, I'm sitting on the plane on my way to DC after just playing my hometown show in Chicago at the United Center for 14k people. That stadium was where I saw the 90's Bulls, the Blackhawks... the first concert I ever saw was there. Standing on the stage looking out when I told the crowd this was my hometown and watching them go nuts was the coolest feeling. It was as if the floor was moving. I won't be forgetting that last night anytime soon.
Listen to Justin Jesso on "Stargazing" now!
Lead Image Credit: Carlos H. Coll / Instagram