Check our interview with stunning bright-eyed blonde singer/songwriter Jesse Lynn Madera who blends her poetic country/soul/american infused music with her poetic words of wisdom.
Hi Jesse Lynn, please tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! I was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, but have moved around a lot. Right now I’m in Los Angeles with my two boys while my husband is filming in New Orleans. We’ve really enjoyed spending time there this year, and have fallen back in love with the southeast. Now we’re preparing to relocate to Nashville like so many other people I know. Yes, I know we’re overcrowding you, Nashville, but you’re just so nice.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
A bit off.
How did you get started?
I started trying to play the piano and sing when I was very little, around 3 years old, after some sort of a family reunion or birthday party. My two cousins on my dad’s side, Lara and Johnna, came over, and they were playing and singing together in harmony for the family. The whole room was transfixed, they were truly perfect. It was transcendent. I started making up little songs not long after that.
When was it that you first realized that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I have known since I was small, but I started committing completely in my 20’s after graduating from theatre school. I chose to study theatre instead of music, and I’m glad because it helped me with my confidence onstage. I got up the courage to start playing live when I was in my mid-20s, and that was that. My first full band gig was at the Bitter End in New York City.
Did your family support this decision?
All but one.
What is your musical background?
The first songs I loved and learned to play on the piano were the Bonnie Raitt songs, “Nobody’s Girl” and “Louise”. My mom is a good singer, and when she was divorcing my father she sang a lot around the house. Maybe because she could only cry so much. So the first songs that moved me were sad. I still prefer songs like that. My father is a musician too, and always listened hard to the lyrics. He taught me how important the words are.
What kind of music do you listen to normally?
I listen to a lot of different kinds of music. My song list is always on shuffle. But I do especially love Americana, and singer-songwriters like Jason Isbell, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Dolly, and Brandi Carlile.
Now tell us about your EP “Come Visit Soon”?
It was produced by George Stanford and myself, and mixed by Ryan Lipman. The title of the EP came from a note I left for an old friend as I was leaving his house in Las Vegas a few years back. Living in Los Angeles, so far away from family, and far, both geographically and spiritually, from a life I left in New York ten years ago, I find I’m constantly revisiting people and places in my mind. Mining for material, or mining for meaning, or both. Both the 1st and 3rd tracks, the more ‘thinkier’ songs, are pulling the past forward for a visit. When you see an old friend, or an old lover, after so many years have gone by, it’s much more than a surface level, howya doin visit. It’s revisiting an abandoned place and mentally piecing together how it was, and remembering how it worked, or didn’t work. The general vicinity of then.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Welcoming, familiar, somewhat-strange.
What music influences do you have?
The songwriters I mentioned above are major influences. Also Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell. There are several pianists that I admire, including the late Johnnie Johnson (who was a family friend and mentor), Matt Rollings, John Thomas, and some other friends I have here in L.A. like Joe Shirls (who played on my EP), songwriter Joel Taylor, and my brother Travis Fitzpatrick. I’m influenced daily by the extraordinarily talented people I have in my life.
What is your next goal as a musician?
I have another collection of songs coming out this fall that is pretty different. I’m especially looking forward to holding those completed songs, and I feel like I’m pacing the floor waiting for them to come home. We are in post-production now, so I suppose my goal is to deliver these next babies! They are super autumnal. Definitely a heavier meal! Lots of big strings by Stevie Blacke, and big feelings by me.
What is your own definition of happiness?
I recently adopted someone else’s definition. Something like: When my thoughts, actions, and desires are all in line. I also need to feel at peace with people. I do my very best not to hurt other people, and when I’m succeeding at not being a jerk to others, while also not being a jerk to myself, I’m at my happiest. I am a bit of a fire ball with those closest to me though, so let’s just call happiness a work in hopefully constant progress.
What are the five things you can’t live without?
My journals, personal cookbooks, old photos, old letters, and salt.
Best advice ever given?
Stay ready, be ready. (My friend Ray Mendez, who designed the cover art for “Come Visit Soon.”)
Do you get nervous before a performance?
It depends on the performance, but I’d say yeah. Usually there’s a nice amount of nerves, and that’s a good thing. I have respect for my audience.
What is next for Jesse Lynn Madera in 2019?
I’ve got that EP coming out before the close of this year, and I’m planning on putting together a little tour in the fall.
Any advice for upcoming singers?
Perfectly imperfect is just fine as long as you mean it.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
Something people don’t know about you?
I once went 8 rounds on a mechanical bull.
What would be your dream holiday, and who would you go with?
I’d be with all three of my boys (Daddy included), and we’d be in Maine on a chilly beach, drinking something warm, and watching the seals. And then thunderstorms for at least two days.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’ve been wanting to meet Willie Nelson for years. This question makes me laugh a little because several people know about this determination of mine. So far, the opportunity has evaded me! I want to meet Willie because he feels like family. I’m sure he gets that all the time, and it might feel somewhat presumptuous or intrusive to him, I can only imagine. But it’s true that his voice, and his songs, take me to the best moments of my early years, years that came and went before a stretch of upsetting times. When I hear him sing it brings me back to what I love best about being alive. It’s going home.
What is your favorite healthy food?
My “Dirty Salad”. Balsamic onions over arugula, avocado, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, a hardboiled egg, and sometimes chicken, with a drizzle of great olive oil. I love to cook.
And your favorite cheat food?
What would be a deal breaker on a first date?
Someone who is mean or condescending to the waiter, or a bad tipper.
Which project is still on your bucket list?
I have a script I want to write.
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Somebody else cooking a big, familiar smelling meal while I snuggle with all the creatures in the house.
Do you support any charity?
I just gave to TogetherRising.org. I’m sleepless over the migrant children we are holding in such terrible conditions.
Any exciting news you want to share with us?
My video for “Holy Water”, directed by my best friend since the 7th grade, Nell Teare, is very close to being released!
What does fashion mean to you?
Take it or leave it, babe.
How would you explain your fashion style?
I like form fitting, sexy, clean lines for me. I can’t pull off the paper bag look because my hips are too big.
How important is Social Media for you?
It seems like it’s snuck up on me and become really important! I swore it would never happen, but here I am.
Where we can follow you on Social Media?
I love Instagram. Follow me at @jesselynnmadera
Favorite Quote: Right now it’s “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” (George Bernard Shaw)
Favorite Actor/Actress: Hemky Madera
Favorite Drink: Water is pretty good. Tequila is too.
Favorite City: New York
Favorite Movie: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Favorite Sports Team: Yankees
Favorite Song: It’s Only a Paper Moon
Photo Credit: Bazza J Holmes.