The Continuing Rise of Jesse Macht
February 21st, 2013 10:45am EST
Since he was introduced to Starpulse audiences in the fall of 2011, singer-songwriter Jesse Macht has cemented his status as the best unheralded musician. The talented performer with the amazing lyrical acuity released the single Out of Control in August 2012, and Jesse Macht and the Buffalo Fight dropped their album Acts of Providence not long afterward. It was a welcome burst of new material from one of music's freshest voices.
After that much work, some artists might consider taking some time off - but Jesse is making 2013 his year with new gigs and new creative partnerships. He recently sat down with BFTV to give me the dish on what he's been doing since we last spoke, and what's ahead for the future.
Acts of Providence is a compelling combination of select highlights from his previous EPs and songs that are being released for the first time. The result is an album which shows off Jesse's range, as it goes from catchy pop tunes like "Once in a Lifetime" to more ponderous tracks such as "Heartache." Because it contains everything from the now-classic "Love Is Another Drug" to fresh sounds, it's a perfect release for both longtime fans and those who have somehow yet to discover how talented he is. It provides a sense of the complete Jesse Macht.
What selections from the album stand out to Jesse himself? "Of the new ones that I've done, I'm stoked about 'Kick and Scream.' I think it's a fun tune. 'Gonna Make It Out' is another sort of pop-country tune," he said. "My favorite track is 'Heartache,' which is on there."
The album also served as a launching pad for his next efforts. "Because of that record, I was able to facilitate some writing workshops with different people," he continued. "People are like, 'Okay, this guy knows what he's doing.' It's been a lot of writing with different artists."
Those collaborators have included fellow Starpulse featured artists Eddie Anthony and Edan Dover of The Score, Matt Paradn, Stephen Gage and Ben Scala (The Spotlight), Tyler Lyle, Micah Daulton, Jacqueline Becker, and Emily Katter. Jesse co-wrote one of Acts of Providence's best tracks, "Shooting Star," with Jeremy Silver, and has written a few songs with fellow singer-songwriter Katie Boeck, with whom he shared space at Montana's Way Alt West Fest after catching the ear of event founder Dave Goodwin at two other gigs in the state.
"Katie and I wrote three great songs together and made a connection in writing together. She has family in Montana, and my old band, Burn Down the Mission, the singer's father had family in Montana, so I'd been there and I had friends there. So when [Katie] said, 'Do you want to come up to Montana?' I was totally down," said Jesse, whose next show is on February 26 at Room 5 in Los Angeles (more info here). "We went up to Montana and played and just got a remarkable reception from the people."
At Way Alt West, "I played a few different sets, and the most fun set was New Year's Eve," he continued. "I played with the Buffalo Fight, my guys from New York version of the Buffalo Fight, and it was awesome. We got promoted really nicely in the newspaper, really well received. Montana's just been this new sprouting of inspiration. I love it up there."
In addition to traveling to places like Montana and New York, he has branched out into other performance venues as well. "I've started doing these little dinner parties," he added. "It's usually between seven and twenty-five people. We sit around and talk for a little bit, and after that I'll play a set. I've done some just by myself, me and Katie have done some, and I'd like to do some with other songwriters here in LA."
Jesse ventured into online performances via StageIt earlier this month, joining the ranks of artists like Justin Hopkins, Christian Kane and The Voice's Javier Colon, all of whom have used the site. Asked if he'll continue to do more Internet gigs, he said, "I'd like to. I have all these great fans that are spread around the world. If I can find the time to do it, I'd love to." In addition to StageIt, he's a featured artist as part of the upcoming MySpace relaunch.
His fan base has grown over the last year-plus due to the overwhelming success of USA's original series Suits, which stars Jesse's brother, the also tremendously talented Gabriel Macht. Many devoted admirers of the show have also embraced Jesse's music. "It's totally helpful," he said of the impact the show's popularity has had. "The morale of it is really wonderful. It's just so nice to have an audience out there that was generously given to me through that show. It's hard to get your music out there if you are not part of the label system or on the radio [and] this was a huge opportunity to get an audience listening."
What's notable about that added boost is that not only do these newcomers find Jesse, but they keep listening, too. "When my music is heard, a high percentage of the people who hear it really like it. I've got so many more followers on Twitter and Facebook," he continued. "I hope that audience keeps growing. I hope that people keep enjoying my brother's show for his success and the success of the people working on it. I can't tell you how grateful I am."
It's not hard to figure out why Jesse is captivating new audiences and making so many connections amongst his fellow musicians, and it's not just because of his brother's TV show. The obvious starting point is that he's very, very good at what he does. While he's a great vocalist, he's even better when it comes to writing material. If you're one of those people who feels like popular music has a limited vocabulary, listen to the lyrics of "New Vaccine." Not only does he possess a gift for creative wordplay, but he's also able to use those words to evoke a genuine feeling in the listening audience. You're hearing something that will stick with you a lot longer than your average made-for-radio-airplay song.
He also has a down-to-earth, unselfish personality that serves him well. Jesse never loses sight of the fact that his success is not a solo venture. He re-branded from just 'Jesse Macht' to 'Jesse Macht and the Buffalo Fight' to include his backing band. He also makes a point of tipping his hat to his fellow collaborators and to former EMI employee Katie O'Halloran, who introduced him to a number of those artists. "She's so sweet," he said. "I went and met with her, and she had some people that were signed to her little chapter of EMI Publishing in Canada. She hooked me up with those people in New York, and we wrote a bunch of great songs together."
And like his brother Gabriel, he's equipped with a tireless work ethic, not just to keep going but to keep improving at his craft. He understands that success doesn't mean having one good release or one big break. "This business is a tough business," he reflected. "Once you have a hit single, you can make a ton of money. Otherwise, it's a hustle, like anything else." And with a comprehensively brilliant new album and plenty of promising new material in the works, it seems like his years of hustle are deservedly paying off more now than ever before.
So what's next for Jesse while he's got all the momentum? He's looking toward a new release, which would contain acoustic solo versions of the tracks he's collaborated on. "I want to do acoustic versions of all those songs, and just do them all on my own," he said, "and that would be the next record I'd put out in the spring." We can hardly wait, because he just keeps getting better.
You can find Jesse Macht at his official website (JesseMachtMusic.com), on Twitter (@jessemachtmusic), and on Facebook (Facebook.com/JesseMachtMusic). You can also sample some of his music by using the SoundCloud widget below.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my official website and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
Photo Credits: Audrey Hall