“I will still be here stargazing. I still look up for love.” These are the very words that sent both chilling shivers and warming acceptance up and down the spine of the hugely talented singer/songwriter, Justin Jesso.
Faced with climbing a seemingly impossible wall of intimidation, the LA-based vocalist made his Ibiza debut this summer as he performed live at Ushuaia alongside island favourite, Kygo. However, with each performance that passed, the more confident he became.
Adversity is a feeling Justin is very familiar with though, and one he tends to shrug off time and time again. Such hurdles are instead emotionally channeled into written form as he transforms unwanted feelings into words that are truly beautiful.
Following an incredible 400 million Youtube views with ‘Stargazing, this Chicago native is still riding his meteoric rise as he unquestionably leaving his indelible mark on today’s music scene.
We recently caught up with Justin Jesso and discussed his relationship with Kygo, performing alongside him at Ushuaïa in Ibiza and his brand new release, ‘My Body’.
First of all, let’s discuss your recent summer trips to Ibiza! You performed four times alongside Kygo at Ushuaïa in recent weeks. What was your biggest highlight from the performances and why?
My favourite was probably the final one as Ibiza started feeling more like home, and I was always excited to see the people who would come to multiple shows and were so appreciative of what we do. The biggest highlight for me is always meeting people after the show. Particularly in Ibiza, it’s amazing to chat with people from different countries who all come for the same reason, the music.
Kygo is an extremely talented individual. What is your relationship like with him and how did you both first meet?
Yes he is! And a great dude. So, I wrote ‘Stargazing’ with some friends in LA on a Monday and it got sent to him on a Tuesday. By Wednesday, he had sent us a version back and three weeks later, I met Kygo for the first time. He invited me to come sing the song in Vegas with him before it was released! I’ve known him for almost exactly a year now, and we have become great friends.
You’re of course the vocalist and songwriter for Kygo’s massive hit, ‘Stargazing’, one that reached an impressive 400 million views on YouTube. What inspired you when writing the lyrics for it?
The lyrics are about my ex-girlfriend. The song means, I’m waiting for you, but even if you don’t come back to me, I’m not going to lose faith in love. It’s a bit of a life philosophy of mine. Even though I’ve been hurt, I don’t want to close myself off to love, and good experiences just because I’m afraid I’ll be hurt again. That’s what “I will still be here stargazing. I still look up for love,” really means.
It’s been documented that you find it daunting to perform at clubs in Ibiza in front of large crowds, especially when a highly energetic atmosphere has already been created because of the slow build-up of your music. Why do you find these experiences so scary? Is this something that dates back to when you were younger?
Well, I think that particularly dates back to the first show, when people didn’t know the song. It’s a dance show, it’s high energy, ‘Stargazing’ starts off as a stone-cold ballad ha! But now, everyone is singing along from the first lyric, so it’s definitely not as scary. I’m much more freaked out by small, intimate acoustic sets where so much more is revealed – I can’t rely on pyrotechnics and a drop to get the crowd on my side.
Tell us about some of your most intense experiences with performing to big crowds in Ibiza and what big Ibiza DJs you were working with during these?
Well, I met everyone from Calvin to Guetta, made some new friends in Felix Jaehn and Lovra, tried to meet up with old friend Oliver Heldens, but we kept missing each other. I was definitely a bit nervous for that first show… not really knowing what to expect from the Ibiza crowd, but it was very welcoming. It usually happens the second I get onstage, adrenaline takes over and I’m not so nervous anymore.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you carry out to help ease the intensity of your fears before going out to perform?
Yes. I warm up for about 20 minutes and I stretch!
What did you do with your spare time in Ibiza this summer? Getting some downtime is so important in this day and age when working in the music industry…
I ran along the beach, but then got a bunch of blisters on my feet so I had to stop for a couple days! After that I ran with shoes ha.
Can you tell us about the concept and inspiration behind your new release ‘My Body’?
So, ‘My Body’ is about that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you shouldn’t be with someone, but you want to so bad. You know it will never work out, but you can’t help yourself. Your head is telling you no, but your body ain’t listening. It was inspired by a girl who didn’t like me back. In my mind, it made so much sense, and I definitely wanted her, but she just I didn’t feel the same way.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Lots of touring! Back In Europe beginning of October and on tour with Kygo in Australia and then opening for him in Asia October/November. And releasing an EP – this is coming soon. Then traveling and doing promotion for that. I’m very rarely home these days, but I can’t complain, I love what I do!
You can listen to Justin Jesso’s latest release, ‘My Body’, on the video below: