Nashville Love

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Introducing Jessta James

 May 20, 2013

Jessta James is a Montana native that has spent time all across the country. Whether it be in Los Angeles, Atlanta or back home in Montana, there's no questioning who he is and what his music is all about.  On his debut album, "Time To Get Right", available today (May 21), James delivers 13 tracks of high octane country rock. 

 "Today is a big day...a moment I've been anticipating for over a year.  Right now my heart is overflowing with joy, excitement and love for all of the people who have helped me get to this point.  It's been a long but extremely blessed road so far and I'm stoked to be crossing over into the next phase of things."

A la Colt Ford's "Dirt Road Anthem," Jason Aldean's "1994" and even Blake Shelton's new song "Boys 'Round Here," Jessta's sound is a part of a new wave of country music that creatively blends three chords, the truth and a dash of hip-hop.

Check out our recent interview with this promising and unique artist below!

Nashville Love: So, you’re not your typical country artist? Tell us a little bit about your unique sound.

Jessta James: I guess I kinda describe it as country rock infused with hip-hop. I was raised country music, and the old outlaw music. In high school I got into classic rock and southern rock, like Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker. I was heavily influenced by a lot of different eras of music. When I was in college, I really got into the hip-hop side of things just because it was such a new sound for me. I’m a big fan of just music in general. I kinda got into the hip-hop thing and really dove into that head first. Years later, when I started writing songs, and I wanted to get to the point of creating my own sound, something that was unique, it just came really natural. I realized I was all three of those things…country, rock and hip-hop. I just kinda blended them together and that sound is what I got.



NL: What made you want to pursue a career in music?

JJ: I had been a businessman my whole life. I had been an entrepreneur. I’ve been in construction, I’ve been in real estate, but I found out when I wrote my first song, I didn’t write my first song until I was 24 years old, but it was like this bug that bit me and immediately I just knew that was something I had a knack for. It came really naturally, and at the same time it was fulfillment. It was a gratifying feeling writing music, because it was an outlet for whatever was going on in my life. I would always write songs that were about me…about my life or just my story. It always had this very personal to it, and at the same time it was just a release for me. So, when I wrote my first song, my girl friend at the time, now my wife, she heard it and she was just blown away. She said this is something that you absolutely need to do. She was a big part of that in the very beginning, which is kinda rare because of the lifestyle and the sacrifices that have to be made if you’re gonna pursue a career in music. I knew it was something real.



NL: You mentioned that you liked many different types of music, who were your musical influences growing up?

JJ: Everything, really. On the country side, I was heavily influenced by my Dad, and the outlaw country music he listened to…so, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., and artists like that. On the rock side, I was a huge Led Zepplin fan, and also Bad Company. Then I got into the southern rock like Skynard and Marshall Tucker. That was a big part of who I was throughout my teen years. I enjoy soulful music at the same time. To this day, I still listen to Otis Redding on my iPod, and all kinds of genres and also Frank Sinatra. I have an appreciation for all types of music. If the music sparks a feeling or if it’s genuine, then it kinda sets the mood.



NL: Your new album “Time To Get Right” is out May 21st. What was the recording process like for this album? How did you come about picking the songs for it?

JJ: When I started recording professionally, I came from Montana, and I started recording professionally in LA and Hollywood. It was just a natural progression to go to the West coast. I had been out there for a year or two, and I had recorded a bunch of stuff, and worked with a bunch of producers, then I met someone who introduced me over the phone to a producer in Atlanta. At the time, I didn’t think I needed a new producer, it was just another one of those connections you make in this industry because you are constantly networking. I took it for what it was, and told him if I ever made it out to the East coast, I would come over and we’d get in the studio. Long story short, I ended up booked on a morning show out of Florida, and thought this might be my only chance to make it there. So, I hit him up, and we decided to meet. I drove up to meet the guy and see what he was about. That first day, we got into a studio in Atlanta, and we wrote the first song off this album, called “If That Ain’t Country”. It was very different from the music I had been recording. It was the sound I had really been looking for, and I knew it right away when I heard it. We hit it off musically, and as friends. We seemed to be on the same page. We demoed the first song, and we were both excited about it. So, before I left Atlanta, I said we needed to work on an album together. For the next 6 or 8 months, I flew back and forth between there and California, where I was still living at the time. I’d live in the studio and we’d write songs. Over that time, we wrote about 26 songs…all amazing songs. We had to narrow them down. We had to pick 10, but we ended up with 13 that fit the best together, and showed some versatility, because that’s one of my strengths, to incorporate so many different sounds in my music. As we were writing these songs, I wanted to take my audience on this sonic rollercoaster, if you will, that had a lot of different characteristics to it. I wanted these big rockin’ country songs that would be anthems and sing-a-longs. I also wanted to show some depth to it and take my fans into a piece of who I am, and what’s important to me. I put a lot of heartfelt deep songs, that reflect some of my life experiences. At the same time, we had some that were more rock sounding, some were more country, and some more hip-hop. When we decided to take the album to Nashville, we were able to put all the right country elements and instruments, and carefully place everything so that you kinda have this “sound”. It flowed and everything went together. I really feel like we ended up with something special. We took our time writing the album, even though some of the songs came in a matter of minutes.


NL: Do you have a favorite song off of the album?

JJ: That’s pretty close to impossible for me to answer, because they are all so different. I can give you CLOSE to one of my favorites. They all hold a place in my heart, each one of them. I remember how exciting it was writing these songs. As we took it to Nashville and built the songs, they really came to life. So, obviously that first song, “If That Ain’t Country”, the one that kinda sparked this whole thing, is one of my favorites because its written about my home, Montana. It’s like an identity song for me, because it tells my story…going to LA, people telling me that I couldn’t blend genres of music. People told me I wouldn’t be embraced with the country crowd or the country industry because I wasn’t from Nashville. I wanted to make that song about that we ARE country up here in Montana, if anything, we’re the REAL country. We have a bunch of cowboys and ranchers. I’m an avid hunter. I bow hunt and fly fish. I wanted to give people an idea of what’s so cool and beautiful about Montana. That song has a lot of meaning to me. It’s a statement to anyone that hears it. So many people tell me that’s their favorite song, whether they are from Nashville, California, Florida, New York or wherever. Every corner of the country that’s heard it, they “get” it. I love that song for that. Also, the title track, “Time To Get Right”, I wrote that specifically about my brother who passed away in 2006 from a drug addiction. My inspiration behind that was that I wanted to write a song about what I wanted to tell my brother, but never got a chance to tell him. What I’m finding is that everyone either knows someone, or battles with an addiction of their own. That song is kinda speaking to them. It was a chance for me to take such a tragic incident in my own life, and not only try to turn something good out of it, but affect people in a positive way. Even if it lifts their spirits for the day, that’s a beautiful thing in itself. I’ve had people come up to me at shows and tell me this song changed their life and they realized it was their ‘time to get right’. That’s really powerful to me, as a songwriter, to see something make such an impact on a universal level. So, this song is definitely one of my favorites for that reason.


NL: Are you playing any shows or touring at the moment?

JJ: Yes, we’ve been touring like crazy, which is exhilarating but also a lot on the plate. I’ve got an 11 month old and it’s tough being away from him and my wife. We’ve done 60 shows or so since early January. I had 9 days off and we visited my wife’s family, then we get back on the road and have a show on the 22nd. We usually do about 3 or 4 weeks of touring, then I get about a week off. Now, since the radio single hit, even when the rest of the band gets time off, I’m still doing radio interviews. We’ve got some really fun summertime concerts coming up, and I just found out a few days ago that we’re gonna be at the CMA Music Festival at the Wildhorse (June 6th). That will be our 2nd Nashville show because we have a an outdoor festival coming up there too on the 25th. I always like the outdoor festivals. It’s just a fun environment. As far as the tour thing, it’s been a really really awesome part of this journey. I always tell people, songwriting is my favorite part of the process, but now I’ve been able to see at my shows, someone I’ve never met will come up and know every word to the song that I wrote is a pretty humbling experience.



NL: Where can our readers find more information about you?JJ:  We direct everyone to my website, . You'll find everything on there, like our upcoming tour dates which is updated every week. New dates are added all the time. I encourage people to sign up for the newsletter, because we send a reminder email when we have a release coming up, or we’re dropping a music video. We have a lot of cool contests too where fans can get free merchandise, or VIP experience at one of our shows. We’re very hands-on and engaging with the fans. Of course I’m also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and everything you can possibly imagine. There’s even a new one called Vine. I just started out doing it. What I love about it is, you make these 6 second videos, and when we’re on the road, we will give you a little clip of the band, or sound check, or a behind the scenes look at our life out on the road. I think that’s a lot of fun.



You can preview and download Jessta's album on iTunes here.