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Today’s Exclusive Spotlight – Jessee William. We sat down with Jessee William from Winnipeg MB to talk about his new self-titled country project.  We discuss how this project came to be, some personal experiences, and insight into the meaning behind the songs. We touch down on his other current projects and we even have early access to the first track off his debut EP exclusive to Hidden Beats. Let’s get started! 

Thank you so much for joining us, we have Jessee here with us today. Would you be able to introduce yourself?

My name is Jessee William and this record is called Headwinds. This is my first EP.

 

I grew up in Dauphin, MB, and spent summer farming in Amaranth, MB. I work on the Oil Drilling Rigs, I run a small independent label and play in some other bands. I’m also a collector of snoopy memorabilia and rare punk records.

What inspired you to write a country EP?

I’ve always loved and appreciated it. I grew up around it and it’s always been a constant in my life aside from the first few years I got into punk, in which I had complete tunnel vision and only wanted loud and fast angry music. My dad and uncles played in a bluegrass band in my early years and I just remember watching them and wanting that for myself so badly.

Thankfully in my late teen years, I met my good friend Trevor, who was actually a teacher at my high school. He really helped break me out of that mindset and showed me a ton of cool music. I remember him showing me Old Crow Medicine Show and my jaw literally hit the floor. I had no idea that “country” like that existed, I just assumed it was all top 40 stuff. I was really inspired and again had that DIY punk mentality of “I can do this”.

I’ve tried a couple of times over the years to do this project and it never felt right. I think a big part of it was just not feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to do something so outside the box from what I normally did. Plus, I really think I lacked the confidence to try it. Over the pandemic I decided none of that really matters, the world sucks so I might as well do it and stop talking about it and wondering “what if?”

You mentioned in your previous statement that this is something that is very outside the box from what you normally do. What other musical projects do you currently have going on?

I also “sing” in a Hardcore Punk band called Meantime and I play guitar in another Punk band called Pure Impact.

These songs seem very personal. I’m interested to know what inspired you, would you like to share?

Yes, they are, I think collectively we’ve all been through so much the last couple of years and I was definitely no stranger to that. Struggles with mental health are so prevalent in a lot of our lives and I’m quite thankful I’ve found this outlet for those feelings and found a way to express them in a healthier way.

“Rather Die” was written after a month-long stint at work on an oil rig in Alberta, and how hopeless I felt at the time. You want to be home to see your friends and loved ones, but you can’t afford to have a home or take care of those people if you don’t go out and work. It’s a sad double-edged sword for a lot of working-class people.

“Caught Up” is about growing up and realizing how superficial and one-sided a lot of friendships are, and how draining it is to be the person constantly giving of yourself to others.

Keith Dueck (Dangercat) told me “Brutal” is about a Brutal relationship. Can’t have a country record without a song about a relationship in shambles and all the fun that comes with it.

“Dear God” is about going up in a Christian home and coming to terms with your own beliefs as you grow up, and about how we’re told to “live by faith and not by sight” and how bitter that made me while growing up. 

Were you Influenced by any specific musical artists as well for this project?

I think my biggest Influence is Steve Earle. He does everything so well. He’s an amazing songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, which inspired me to buy a banjo and other instruments to figure out on my own. I always admired his attitude which was purely punk rock even though he played country, and he always had songs about real things, not just tan legs and blue jeans. The first music I can remember hearing in my life was ‘Guitar Town”  in my parent’s van as a very young kid. 

As far as other influences, I’ve always loved Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Emmylou Harris, Kayla Luky, Old Crow Medicine Show, Blue Rodeo, The Blue Shadows, Luke Doucet & the White Falcon, Trevor Gordon, Corb Lund, plus all the endless Punk/Metal/Hardcore bands I grew up loving. Shout out to Dangercat for letting me give Brutal my own spin. 

Are all of the instruments and vocals done by you on Headwinds?

Everything except some harmonies and Pedal Steel for which we got the extremely talented Rory Verbrugge. (@sadmachinesounds)

Can we expect there to be more to come from this project in the future?

Yes! These were just a couple of my favorite tunes out of a bunch of demos I’ve made the last year or two. Expect a full length later in the year!

Are there any other messages or ideas you would like to put out to our readers before we end our interview today?

Support local music, photographers, artists, and businesses. If a space doesn’t exist for you, make one, and don’t be afraid to do it. If the art you want to see in the world doesn’t exist go make it.

We got an early listen to Headwinds and here’s what we have to say! 

Headwinds is one of those EP’s that is well-rounded and shows you just what exactly to expect from Jessee William on his full length scheduled to be out later this year. The EP starts off with I’d Rather Die. A song that evokes familiar feelings inside us all making it a very relatable track. The EP is made up of four songs, all unique in their own ways but still, all embody those elements of classic country, the kind my Papa has shown me since I was a little girl but still remains modern with an alternative country sound.

The EP closes with Dear God which comes across as one of them if not, the most personal songs of the whole record. Be sure to check out Headwinds in full on all streaming services on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022. As a special treat, we’ve included a Hidden Beats exclusive sneak peek at the first track. 

Be sure to check out the links to stay up to date with all things Jessee William and his shoutouts for some of the people that helped make this dream a reality. 

 

Exclusive Spotlight – Jessee William is a wrap! Thanks for reading!

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