Jesse Boykins III Defines Soul & The Shady Politics Of The Music Business [EXCLUSIVE]

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    jb3As a singer, you’re very emotive. But there’s always the debate over what kind of singer is more successful–the emotive singer or the technical singer. What are your thoughts?

    It’s good to be balanced in both because you want people to believe you. I mean you can be as technical as you wanna be, but if there’s no connection to the message you’re communicating, it’s like, that person can be amazing, but if you don’t know what the song’s about, that’s not the point. The point is to perform the message of the song. So I prefer to do that. I feel like it’s way more important and the songwriters I listen to they always connect on that level, as far as performing a song on its emotional level.

    Now if you’re a technical singer, you can get crafty and sing a certain kind of adlibs if you want. But for the most part, I’d rather sing the actual words to the song.

    I hear you call the kind of music you make “World Soul.” How did you come up with that?

    Well, I feel that music is in a time and place where there’s a lot of genre blending going on because we’re influenced by a lot of music in the world because we have the access via the Internet. So a lot if things are being brought to our attention that wasn’t on our radars before. Like in D.C., you had go-go. You had step in Chicago, but now there’s not really a regional kind of thing. Whatever that person is listening to or whatever music they come across influences their sound. I feel like I’m a symbol of that. I’ve been to a lot of different places around the world and I have friends, producers, or DJs who are from all over the world. They may tell me to listen I something and that will become apart of me. Through my travels, I feel like I’m a world citizen.

    When I say ‘soul,’ I don’t mean the style of music. I mean ‘soul’ like honest and from the heart. Justin Timberlake made a soul album. Bruno Mars’ album is a soul album. Kanye’s “Yeezus” album is a soul album. I don’t care who you are. If you’re making music that contains truth, you’re making a soul album.

    Do you feel like artists get stuck behind that ‘soul’ label when they create music?

    Definitely! I have an issue with that actually. That’s why I said what I said about soul not being a genre. It’s a mind state. I say that because people with do stuff to be apart of the trends. But no matter the genre, people make music to make music.

    I don’t like genres. I don’t like how you have to market things. People will tell you that your music sounds like a specific genre and the people who like that specific genre are the only ones who are going to but your music. If I make any kind of music, there’s a chance that everybody may like it no matter what genre they normally listen to because there might be something in there for you.

    Since more artists are blending different genres in their music, do you think the way those projects are marketed will change?

    They’re not going to shift or change. I have this conversation all of the time and people ask me what kind of music I make and I say “Good.” They ask how is it good and I say, “Because I spent a lot of time on it.” If you asked me what genre my music is, I’ll say it’s jungle, R&B, soul and other things. However, none of that matters to a person who had to sell it. They don’t care about all of that. They wanna know what market are we going to make the most money in the fastest. I don’t think that’s going anywhere any time soon and I don’t think artists care as much anymore.

    The album did create a mood and ambiance. Was that an intentional thing?

    No. I just feel like when you do anything conceptually and you’re in a certain mind frame, it is expressed through the music unconsciously. We didn’t go out and say, “we need to do this kind of song.” We were like, “Okay, today, I feel like the beat should be 85 BPMs. Okay, let’s do it.” It’s more organic than anything.

    When you listen to the final version of the album as a listener and no the artist, do you ever say, “Wow! I really did a good job on that one!”?

    I remember a specific moment I had because it was hard for me to get people to pick up on the album. I was shopping it to release it and it became discouraging because a lot of people were telling me that it was progressive enough or that it was too traditional. I was like, “That’s exactly what I want. That’s the present.” People were telling me to go back in and record new songs because some of them sounded dated. They sounded dated because I did the records in 2009-10. But I don’t believe in music being dated unless it’s meant for a trend.

    So when everybody was discouraging me, I was actually a little down about my record because I put like five years into it. I moved to LA recently and I remember being in the beach in my car watching the sun set as I listened to the record. I cried. I cried when I was listening to it because I wasn’t listening to it from an analytical point of view, but in a space where I was just with nature and music. I was like, “I can’t believe I let anyone discourage me from my truth.” Listening to my album was reassurance for me to go twice as hard.  It’s like everybody’s a critic, but nobody wants to take the time to think about the time spent working on it.

    What do you want fans to tell people who have never heard of Jesse Boykins III about you?

    I can tell you a story that stuck with me. My first D.C. Was on Valentine’s Day in 2008. I had just put out my first album. After the show, I was taking pictures and thanking people for coming to the show and some dude walked up to me. He said, “I just wanna say ‘thank you.’ because you saved my marriage.” I was so young a the time I was like, “What?!” He told me I had to meet his wife. When he introduced me to his wife, she got emotional. She shook my hand and started crying.

    So if anyone says anything about my music, I want them to say it is impactful. It’s something that youngest to internalize and it’s something that you want to be apart of your life. It’s something likes vitamin or a nutrient. It’s something that helps you grow.


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