Interview: Jessta James Shares About His Brand New Album and The Fresh Hybrid Sound It Features.
Jessta James hails from Montana originally, and his brand of country features clear influences that reach far beyond the bounds of Nashville, TN. The music you’ll hear on his debut album, Time To Get Right, skillfully blends country with rock and hip hop. Now, there really are a lot of folks out there putting these seemingly unrelated genres together, but James stands apart in that there is a naturalness to his songs that I haven’t heard from others representing this sound.
He currently records and produces his music out of a studio in Atlanta, and this new album will be featured on his own label. It is currently available, having released Tuesday, May 21st, and I highly suggest you give it a listen! Before you do though, hear from Jessta himself on why his music is the way it is, and where it comes from.
So, you’re working on this new album, what is your creative process like?
My creative process is really anything and everything. Usually, typically speaking, I will sit down with my producer and my guitar player and I’ll have an idea, a concept, different musical elements I want to incorporate. And we’ll sit there and mess around with a riff, and I’ll come up with a chorus and once we have a solid start we’ll go from there. I’ve learned that its best that I finish an idea once I start.
I read that you didn’t start writing till your early 20’s, what inspired you to get into it?
I was raised on country and rock music all my life. I had never written any songs or sang but my friends and I would freestyle when we were just hanging out. Another artist heard me, and told me I really needed to write it down.
When you’re writing, where do you pull the most inspiration from?
The title track is about my brother Matt. I wrote that song to him, all the things I never got to say to him. That was a very deep, personal song. The song “Better Man” is to my whole family, about my Dad, the relationship with my son, my wife…It strikes a chord with people everywhere, when we perform it live. “Rock N Roll Angel” is for my wife. There’s no way I could be doing this without the support of my wife.
You have actual experience in the hip-hop genre, what lead you to that scene?
I got into hip hop because it was new to me. I would just find myself listening to whatever was different, whatever caught my ear. There weren’t really any artists that I could relate to because I couldn’t relate to the content in the material. But I like the sounds, it was appealing to my ear and I wanted to take it and hone it into something that fit me. When I started to make music, I realized I was all 3 of those things, country, rock and hip hop. I wanted it to literally sound like it was universal, that a lot of people could listen to.
Most country fans have a really specific idea of what country “is,” and there are certainly folks that will consider what you to be straying from that. From your POV, what “is” country music?
I’ve been exposed to a lot of older country that my grandfather listened to and my father listened to, and I feel like country used to be a lifestyle and it would imitate the life. It was about being genuine, god-fearing people with strong beliefs. Not concerned with trends, but just people being themselves. When it started out it was more about being rural, but now those qualities are being sought after. And people want that realness in their music and their artists.