Jesse Heffernan is a singer-songwriter from Dublin. He was once a part of hip hop group the Animators but in recent years has been exploring soul, blues and funk music with some very interesting results. We were lucky to get a chance to speak with Jesse about his previous music, working with ChoiceCuts and much more.
What is your earliest memory of music?
“When I was young I’ll always remember the vast amounts of records my Dad kept. He had shelve upon shelve of everything you could imagine and it was always amazing looking through the different record sleeves and artwork, and eventually playing them.”
Who are your main sources of inspiration?
“I tend to always go back to the same artists and records; John Martyn, Van Morrison, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding. May You Never, Ballerina, Change Is Gonna Come, These Arms Of Mine. There’s a wholesomeness about these guys that says “This is my heart,listen to it beat”, and it inspires me.”
You have a very unique voice. How has it developed over the past few years?
“Hmm I’m not sure really. I think I’m more focused on how I want to sound now more then I have been in the past. During my time with The Animators I was always trying to fit into that sound as best I could but I never really saw myself as a hip hop vocalist, I just never had the range I think.But with my own stuff I can focus my voice on how I want it to sound, which is more interesting for the listener I think.”
Did working with the Animators change your writing process in the early days?
“Before I was with the Animators, and even some of my time during, I was writing more folk based songs, which was where I originally wanted to come from vocally, but being around The Animators really kept me on my toes vocally and with my writing. If you can imagine someone writing about the sea and fields etc and then being surrounded by those writing about various acts of violence and sexually activities, you can imagine my shock!”
What has been the highlight of your career working in music so far?
“Definitely my two years with The Sugar Club and ChoiceCuts. Getting behind the scenes with all these amazing acts was just so inspiring. I’m naturally more introverted and enjoyed observing artists in their natural state, before turning into the beasts they become on stage. It’s also interesting seeing the different types of people in each genre. For instance the hip hop artists tend to be quite loud people with strong morals and very definite characters, where as soul singers or songwriter types tend to be very relaxed and easy going people, which confirmed my choice of craft.”
Did working with ChoiceCuts allow you to get advice or direction from some of your favourite artists?
“Absolutely, though more indirectly then anything else. I liked to just see how artists would behave in the venue and it was always so mixed. For instance we may have a new up and coming act who one year would sell 100 tickets and the next year fill the place, and the difference in character would be so vast. Egos can be funny.”
What do you have in the works at the moment?
“Looking at a headline show in The Sugar Club before Christmas, been working with the great Cote Calmet who produced, recorded and played on my last three releases, as well as putting out some long awaited releases I’ve done with a really great producer called Brian Murphy. I’ve also done some tracks with Michael Buckley who plays sax with The Dap Kings and is a long time associate with the Daptones label, so very excited about that project.And also met with Universal in New York during the summer so looking to do work with them in the not so distant future.
If you could pick just 3 albums to bring on holiday what would they be?
“Vulfpeck – Vollmich, Thundercat – The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam and Snarky Puppy – We Like It Here”
How would you describe you’re music to someone who hasn’t heard it?
“Always a tough one. I would say soulful but quite laid back and chilled. Lots of different influences in the songwriting .Touches of RnB too in the instrumentation.I don’t know really I would normally try play them something instead.”
Have a listen to some of Jesse’s music here