Artist Of The Month – April 2014
Name: Jesse Clegg
Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
Instruments: Guitar, Piano, Voice
Musical Inspirations: The Police, Radiohead, Coldplay, Bob Dylan, Nirvana
Most Memorable Performance: Radio City Music Hall in 2010 for 46664 Nelson Mandela Day
Current Favorite Song: Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys
Dream Collaboration: Thom Yorke
You’re just about to kick off your 2014 tour across the US & Canada, how excited are you to be touring North America again? Its very exciting. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the States but this is a career highlight because it is the first time I’m playing so many shows in so many different cities. I love travelling and meeting new people, as well as being exposed to new music and bands, so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun all round.
Are there any cities you are particularly excited to play? I’m excited to play in New York. It was the first place I performed outside of South Africa and I have done a lot of performing there since. Its a special city and I feel a connection to it every time I pass through. I’m also excited to play in Toronto. I recorded my last album there and lived there for a few months. Its an inspiring place for young musicians and producers and Ive had some great memories there.
What would you say are the biggest between touring here in the states and touring back in South Africa? The most obvious difference is that people know more of my music in my home country. It’s quite exciting to play in cities who are just discovering you, they bring a fresh energy to the live show and they connect to the music in a different way. The songs that get a good reaction in SA are not necessarily the same in the states – which makes it very interesting for me to see the different reactions. In general the audiences in the States have been a lot of fun to play for and incredibly open to my sound.
What should fans expect when they head out to one of your shows? The shows that I am doing on this tour are unplugged. It is an intimate and stripped-down set. It brings the songs back to their most raw form and reveals how they were initially written. It also gives me the opportunity to explain what i was thinking and feeling at the time I wrote some of them. I find there is a strong connection with the audience with these shows because they can engage with songwriting and the lyrical themes.
You released your debut album When I Wake Up back in 2008, followed by the 2011 release of your sophomore record Life On Mars, how would you say your sound and style have changed over the years? I think I’ve become a bit more experimental as I have progressed. I like artists that are unafraid to reinvent themselves and experiment with different styles and genres. I hope I can keep pushing myself and testing new ways to present my songs, as opposed to just relying on a formula.
Your latest single Sinking was released not to long ago, how does this differ from the material on your previous records? It’s a more contemporary sound i feel. There are elements of indie rock especially in the rhythm section. I am listening to a lot of UK bands at the moment and I like the repetitive feel of the drums to keep a constant energy throughout. There’s also an influence of blues-rock in the guitars and so its quite a curious mixture of american blues and UK indie.
Could you describe your sound with one word? Melodic
Coming from a musical family, how would you say they have influenced you as an artist? I have grown up in hotels, tour busses and airports and so i have a very unglamorous view of what it means to be a musician. I think it has given me a sense of discipline and stamina in that I know how difficult this career can be but also what amazing moments await. The highs are very and lows are very low and if you come into it knowing that, you can always see the bigger picture and not let small things distract you from your goals.
Fresh into 2014, what does the rest of this year have in store for you? After this US tour I go back to SA for a short acoustic tour and then I will be playing some festivals in Europe over June. When I return from Europe I will be solidly working on my new material for the rest of the year.
I’d like to end off with the Quote, “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Fear of failure is basically insecurity. Art is inspired by insecurity and vulnerability and so I’m not sure how inspiring things would be if that vulnerability was removed from life. But hypothetically if I knew I couldn’t fail, I’d probably try and write in some new genres and experiment with music that is totally out of my comfort zone.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Mar. 26 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
Mar. 27 – Augusta, GA – Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre
Mar. 28 – Wingate, NC – The Batte Centre
Mar. 29 – Washington, DC – Lisner Auditorium @ George Washington U.
Mar. 30 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live
Apr. 2 – Ridgefield, CT – Ridgefield Playhouse
Apr. 4 – Somerville, MA – Somerville Theatre
Apr. 5 – Troy, NY – Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Apr. 6 – Poughkeepsie, NY – Bardavon Opera House
Apr. 8 – New York, NY – City Winery
Apr. 9 – New York, NY – City Winery
Apr. 10 – New York, NY – City Winery
Apr. 11 – Quebec, QB – Palais Montcalm
Apr. 12 – Lebanon, NH – Lebanon Opera House
Apr. 16 – Toronto, ON – The Royal Conservatory
Apr. 17 – London, ON – Aeolian Hall
Apr. 18 – Chicago, IL – City Winery
Apr. 19 – Madison, WI – Barrymore Theatre
Apr. 22 – Boulder, CO – The Boulder Theater
Apr. 25 – Saskatoon, SK – Broadway Theatre
Apr. 26 – Sherwood Park, AB – Festival Place
Apr. 27 – Kelowna, BC – Kelowna Community Theatre
Apr. 29 – West Vancouver, BC – Kay Meek Centre
Apr. 30 – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
May 1 – Portland, OR – The Aladdin Theater
May 2 – Grass Valley, CA – The Centre for the Arts
May 3 – Saratoga, CA – Montalvo Arts Center
May 4 – Berkeley, CA – Freight & Salvage Coffee House
May 6 – Mesa, AZ – Mesa Arts Center
May 7 – Tucson, AZ – Fox Tucson Theatre
May 9 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
May 10 – Thousand Oaks, CA – Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza