THERE is so much life and fascination…
running through the blood of Jessie Munro. The stunning songwriter talks to me about her new song, Under Fire, and its personal relevance; what we will get from her upcoming E.P., On My Own – she reveals which artists and albums have been instrumental to her.
I ask Munro whether we will see her in the U.K. and whether there are any artists we need to seek out; what she learnt from Berklee College of Music; how important Los Angeles is as a musical city – Munro ends the interview by selecting a cool song.
Hi, Jessie. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. I'm great, thanks! My week has been great. How about you?
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Jessie Munro. I'm a twenty-three-year-old artist from Toronto, Canada and I'm gearing up to release my first E.P., On My Own!
Under Fire is your new one. What story started this song? Was it easy to put together?
At the time, I was kind of mid-breakup at the stage where everyone is trying to weigh in on what they think is best for you. It amazing to have so much support and I am so grateful to have the friends and family that I do, but I started feeling like there were too many people to please. I was feeling like everyone around me wanted something different but I wasn't asking myself what I wanted and, when I finally figured that out and acted on it, everyone had something to say.
As much as this song was written about a specific time in my life, it still applies to my life today. People will always have an opinion but, at the end of the day, I need to fall asleep happy with who I am and the decisions I've made.
I love your vocals and blending old sleek and modern with vintage and cool. Do you like to splice from the treasure chest of music and mix in some current vibes?
Thank you! Absolutely. I think that is one of the most important things to me. I grew up listening to artists like Carole King and truly admire her storytelling and classic melodies. When it came to developing this sound, one of the main focuses was trying to blend that classic fee good sound with more current sounds. Melodies like that are also so much fun to sing; feels kinda like butter. Haha.
On My Own, your upcoming E.P., seems to hold emotional weight. Were breakups and heartaches at the centre of your mind? Was it quite cathartic exploring these feelings through song?!
Definitely. This may sound a little strange but my producer and co-writer for this project was my ex. He's my best friend and, when we broke up, a way for us to both kinda cope with it was to write about it. Because we were the only two people who knew and understood exactly what happened and what went wrong; it was really easy for us to communicate how we were feeling and what kind of music we wanted to write to let it go. A very unconventional situation, but, for us, it worked.
There were definitely moments where we'd have to say: "Ok now don't get mad but...I wanna write a f***-you song...about you". It brought humor and emotional release to a shit*y situation; it's probably the reason we are still so close today.
Is Los Angeles a city you feel free and liberated in? How inspiring is the music and people from the area?
Los Angeles is really growing on me as a city. When I first moved here, there was an element of fear attached to it: this is the first time I've lived on the West Coast, so it has been a transition. But, I really love L.A. It's such a creative and motivating city to be in and I really love that about it. The music scene in L.A. is amazing - I'm a big fan of L.A.-based band HAIM!
Was your time at Berklee College of Music a big reason you are writing your own stuff and looking ahead?
Yeah, for sure; that was always the plan. I studied Musical Theatre prior to going to Berklee so, when I decided that what I really wanted was a career as an artist, it made a lot of sense to go to a school where I would have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with so many talented people in the same industry. I'm so fortunate to have had the chance to study there: a majority of my network out in L.A. is from Berklee.
If you could pick any musician to have a party with; one to date and another to go to the movies with...who would they be?
Impossible question but here goes nothin'….
Rihanna to party with because, duh, it's Rihanna! I think it would be fun to date Harry Styles (if I didn't say that fifteen-year-old me would be mad) and I would die to go to the movies with or just hang out with John Mayer - I live for his Instagram and I feel like he'd have some great movie commentary.
Will there be any live dates coming up? Where can we catch you perform?
I will be playing my first show in Toronto on October 4th at the Revival! Super-excited to be playing at home. I will have more dates soon so keep a look out (smiles).
Might we see you in the U.K. at all? Do you like British music?
100%. My producer is from London and I've been a handful of times. One of my favourite cities! I’m a big fan of British music: I love Lianne La Havas, Jorja Smith and Cosha. I'll be over to play as soon as possible!
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
Loads. Haha. I'm working on some singles – post-release of my E.P. I'm-super excited to share the E.P. but I'm also really pumped about what will come after! I would just love to get as much of my music out as possible!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I do, actually. When I was eighteen, I was on a show called Over the Rainbow - it was a show started by the BBC with Andrew Lloyd Webber that they brought to CBC in Canada. I was fortunate enough to be cast in the show and I remember the first live show we did. All ten of us girls were lined up on the stage waiting for the show to air and for us to do our first number. I remember standing on the stairs with our backs to the audience in our Dorothy dresses.
We each had mics on us and in-ear monitors so we could hear each other but the audience couldn't hear us. We were all equally so nervous but excited to turn around for the first time and perform to a studio audience on live T.V. - and to our families, who we hadn't seen for over a month. It was a lot of "Love you all", "Let’s do this!"; "Here we go ladies". It was a really exciting moment kind of this big reveal which, in a way, is how I feel now about releasing my first E.P. All the work and hours…and now its time to share it!
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Tapestry - Carole King
The first album I fell in love with.
Blood - Lianne La Havas
This album is a story start to finish for me. I recommend listening to it somewhere quiet with some candles or just in the dark (Ha. A little dark but it’s perfect).
Sound & Color - Alabama Shakes
Sonically, one of the best things I have heard.
I'm not a huge Country fan but, at the moment, I am addicted to Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour - summer jams.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Just do you and let's hang. Haha. I feel like I'm still a new artist coming through and I think one of the things that give me some piece of mind is surrounding myself with artists and creators who are driven and passionate about what they're doing!
IN THIS PHOTO: Charlotte Day Wilson
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There's a girl from Toronto that is killllin' it named Charlotte Day Wilson. Big fan, check her out!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Not as much recently but I'm a sucker for some wine and hanging with friends. If I have more time, I really love being around my family - we are really close - and skiing. I grew up racing and there's something so freeing about it for me.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I would love to hear Bladerunnin’ by Cosha!
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