Interview: Musician Jessie Baylin Chats Up Bloginity.
by Daniel Haim
We spoke with Jessie Baylin about her personal life, how her music career has been progressing. Jessie says It was after arriving to L.A. that she stumbled upon her gift for songwriting. A friend came to visit from New York,” she recalls, and he brought his little baby Taylor guitar. They were sitting around singing some of their favorite songs, and then he started playing this melody, she picked up her journal and knew the words that needed to go with that music. Jessie that’s already selling her album Firesight” on iTunes, Amazon and in stores, was also chosen for ‘Pick of the week’ all over the Starbucks stores.
Daniel: How did you feel back in the day, playing music at your parent’s restaurant/jazz bar?
Jessie: I was very young when they owned the Firesite Inn, but that is definitely where my musical sensibilities come from, what I was exposed to, and what really stuck with me. We would have bands come in every night to play in the main bar area and dining room and early on in the evening I would sit in with them and sing a song I’d heard them play 100 times before or I would make up a song about my mom or something silly like that, something a 3 year old would care to sing about.”
Daniel: Did you get good support from the parents?
Jessie: My parents were very supportive, and they were also incredibly busy as well. Owning a restaurant is a full time job, so we were there all the time. 24/7. We lived in a 1-bedroom apartment across the parking lot. It was a really special time in my life though. There was a lot of love.”
Daniel: Tell me, do you think you’ve always known deep inside that you were going to become such a big musician with so many fans?
Jessie: I hoped I would be some kind of performer. I always enjoyed putting myself out there & being the center of attention, and that showed at the age of 3. I liked to work the whole room with that wireless microphone, and I felt good about embracing total strangers. I suppose I knew what I wanted to be, I knew what like felt good to me and what felt like my purpose in life.”
Daniel: How is your music career progressing? Do you you feel a change throughout time?
Jessie: It’s been slow & steady, and I’m happy that the music is getting out there in the way that it is. I’ve always been a big believer in the grassroots method and I will forever keep my friends & fans involved in what I do. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without their help. Early on, I created a street team called The Sparrows” and they have been so vocal about their love of the music and spreading the word about tour dates, albums, and helping me with merch” (merchandise) along the way.
That has been such an important element to making this work and having it still feel personal as it gets bigger & bigger.”
Daniel: What part of the music life and your music career do you like the most?
Jessie: I love performing, going on the road- getting inspired by the music I see/hear along the way, the records I listen to at night while driving through the middle of nowhere in the desert, and I really love writing songs. The moment when you’ve given birth to this beautiful new piece of art… It feels so good and you’ve added something to the world. That’s what gets me really high.”
Daniel: I think that most people have these moments that they just wish they could go back in time and once again, experience them—with so many places you’ve been and seen I wonder, which part of your life would be yours?
Jessie: If I could go back in time and experience it again… Wow. That is a question. I’d have to say it would be when I left New Jersey to move to Los Angeles. From the moment we pulled out of my driveway, my heart was so hopeful and life felt completely mysterious. I wasn’t sure if I was sad or totally blessed out… But once we arrived in LA everything was new and shiny and I kissed my parents goodbye for now, and life felt like mine for the taking. I’d go back to the moment. Most definitely.”
Daniel: Growing up in New Jersey and the sudden move to L.A is a big step.
Jessie: Yeah, but it felt really natural for me. I knew that was where I wanted to be and I wanted to know what it was like to be out of my comfort zone. L.A. was a place where everyone was a stranger and it was cool to create this whole new world and vibe around me. And as soon as I got there, I just fell in love with the lifestyle. You have so much at your fingertips—the desert, the canyons, the sea… I was blown away and inspired, and I was filling journals up weekly documenting all the newness that was happening in my life.”
Daniel: How did that affect your music career?
Jessie: It gave me the opportunity to grow up and figure myself out a bit more. I needed that time.”
Daniel: Do you think there are more opportunities in California then New York City?
Jessie: For me there were more opportunities in California, I wouldn’t say that’s always the case for everyone who goes to Cali pursuing a dream. I fit in with the scene, it worked for me, people were responding to what I was doing and that caught onto a lot of people’s attention. I feel blessed to have been noticed.”
So I understand you’ve been collecting the songs in your album Firesight” for quite some time.. When were they actually written?
I started writing at 19, Yeah, these songs capture certain days and nights and hours in my life so far. Being in a few different relationships, some bad, some good, some short lived. I was moved to write songs about them all, and there are some experiences I’m still trying to get down onto the page. I am proud of this record. This feels like a good beginning to me. I’m excited for the next one now.
Daniel: And now that you are big and up there – Do you think your vision towards musicians has changed?
Jessie: I appreciate the great musicians- the girls and guys that take risks and try something unique, and that you can see are constantly pushing themselves. I’ve noticed these artists along the way, and I want to be more like them.”
Daniel: I’ve noticed that you listen to Joni Mitchel, Stevie Nicks, Billi Holiday, Nina Simone—are there any new musicians that you relate to?
Jessie: Oh yes. I love the Heartless Bastards, Ida Maria, Neko Case, MGMT, Fleet Foxes… so many. I still am heavily influenced by classic artists- and am completely obsessed right now with Judee Sill. She was a great singer songwriter and, her song The Kiss” makes my eyes misty.”
Daniel: Would you recommend our readers any of your favorite jazz-bars?
Jessie: In Los Angeles, you MUST go to the Baked Potato. I used to sneak in there underage all the time, and they have fantastic players in there nightly. It’s an institution. In NYC, I’d say…. Smalls in the West Village. Again, sneaking in underage… (Jessie laughs)