This summer’s Sunday nights consisted of ABC’s newest singing competition, Rising Star. Of all the genre mixed singers and stars, classic rocker Jesse Kinch blew America away with his overpowering and intoxicating vocals and won the incredible prize of a record deal with Capitol Records. Jesse’s incredible performance on the show has the potential to bring rock and roll back to the throne of the music industry. MEB writer Emma Guido got a chance to chat with the future rock star on the phone about his recent victory, future plans for his debut album, and how important rock and roll is to the world.
MEB: First things first, congratulations on winning Rising Star! I’m so glad you won; you were my favorite since the auditions. How has been this past week since your victory on Sunday?
Jesse: Now that I’ve won, I’m signed with Capitol Records and now this week I have come back to New York. I’m staying at my house for a week or two and thanking everybody for their support. There was actually a welcome home party the other day with family friends, which was great. I’m taking this down time and I’m using it wisely to record some demos of original songs for Capitol Records and for my debut album. So that’s how I’m using my free time for the next two weeks. I’m hanging out with some family and friends, getting these new demos down, and making sure I have solid material for the album.
It’s so great that you are already getting ready to make an album. What can we expect from your new music?
My goal for this album is to capture the sound you heard on the show. I came on the show singing songs that I love and that I am passionate about, and I feel that those songs will influence everything on my album you heard. My goal is to capture that raw rock and roll sound. That’s my goal: to capture something from the heart, the soul, and something raw.
Now that you are breaking out in the music industry with this classic rock and roll sound, how do you feel about debuting this style that’s usually overshadowed by a pop-oriented music scene?
I don’t really know, to be honest. When I first came on the show I was thinking to myself, “I guess some older people are going to like this and if there are younger fans they are only going to be classic rock fans”. However, I remember going on to social media the next day after the show, and seeing girls that loved pop music saying, “Hey, I was never a rock and roll fan until I heard you sing that song last night”. It gives me a little hope that people will definitely embrace the music I’ll release, whether they are true rock and roll fans or not. They will hear something they like and I’m hoping they embrace it.
Did you go into the competition with a lot of nerves, not knowing what people would expect of you?
I was totally comfortable. I love being on stage and the fact that the show was live, but I wasn’t sure how America, especially the youth of America, was going to react to a twenty year old guy singing “I Put A Spell On You” or “Whipping Post”. I had no clue and just to see the reaction blew my mind. It makes you feel like there is hope for rock and roll music and real, pure music in general.
Who are some of your greatest musical influences?
I grew up on all the 1960’s rock. I was introduced to stuff like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors when I was a little kid and then got into music like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Everything from the 60’s through the 90’s rock is really some of my favorite stuff. That’s the music I’m really passionate about. There is a lot of stuff from my vinyl collection that is really rare as well like folk singer Judy Collins.
How was this wide range of music introduced to you?
My parents grew up in the 70’s so they were pretty hip on all the music that was coming out back then. My dad had a record collection and when I was fifteen he bought me a record player and gave me his records. I really dived deep into my 60’s and 70’s records and really embraced them as a passion. I got the chance to hear a lot of rare stuff other than the most popular music.
Looking back at the competition, what was your favorite moment of your time on Rising Star?
It was probably when that wall raised the first time when I played “I Put A Spell On You”. It made me realize that America has recognized and embraced what I’m doing and that all the hard work was worth it. I couldn’t believe it and it seemed like different fans of different genres all galvanized on one night and were like, “Hey, this guy singing ‘I Put A Spell On You’ is great. Rock on!” Who would have known even all the experts totally latched on to that. That was so cool.
It’s really awesome to watch on TV as well. I can only imagine how it felt for you. As I’m talking to you right now, you voice is very soft, but when you are singing, it is so strong and powerful. What are your warm-ups like? Does it come very naturally to you or is it something you need to work at?
What makes warm-ups important is that it makes you gradually ease into that voice. You want to be careful and not spontaneously belt out a song. If you don’t warm up you aren’t giving your vocal chords a chance to really ease into that.
That’s very true. When you are performing, you seem to be very into the song and the feeling it portrays. Where is your mind at when you are on stage?
My mind is totally into the song. I’m totally immersed in the music and nothing around me even exists. It’s just me and the song and the wall. I’m just always so concentrated and focused. When I’m on stage I have tunnel vision and I’m so into the song. Nothing else even matters.
Of all the experts, whom did you feel you connected with the most?
Honestly, I connected with Brad Paisley a lot. Especially performing with him out in New Jersey. He invited me out there and I performed two songs with him and his band at his show and it was such a fantastic experience. I got to know him a lot as well. He’s a very warm person and very genuine. He treats his fans with so much respect and he is a very good example to look up to. Even Ludacris was so genuine. You see this gangster persona, but in real life he is such an intelligent and well-spoken guy. It was so cool to have met him and to have seen the real Ludacris. Ke$ha is so sweet and so warm, as well. She’s very humble. One cool thing about her is that when you talk to her, it is like she never takes her eyes off of you. Also, Josh Groban is so down to earth. Last Sunday, he was giving me tips about making a record and told me to choose the songs that give you the chills. I feel like I got something out of all the experts and I’m forever grateful for meeting them and spending time with them. It was a truly great experience.
That sounds like an incredible experience. Rising Star now has really got your name out in the music scene and has created a large following for you. How has it been interacting with your fans?
It’s fantastic! Even since the first performance, the fan base has grown enormously. I’m seeing old and young on my social media as well. It’s amazed me how I’ve somehow crossed over the generation gap with the songs I sang. That has always been my goal with music: to cross that generation gap. I try my best to read all the messages and respond to them. I make sure I let everyone know they’ve been heard and I try to give everybody the respect they deserve. There are a lot of warm people online.
Do you have any special moments with fans that stick out in your head?
When I was on the show, I Skyped with fans and we filmed it for the show. They were two young girls and they were telling me how much they loved “Whipping Post” and “I Put A Spell On You” and, like I said, it amazed me. You wouldn’t expect girls that young talking about songs like that. It’s truly amazing to see and something that definitely stood out to me.
Since day one, you killed it on Rising Star, having the top score almost every week. It seemed like you had the competition in the bag from the start. Did you always feel really confident or did you have moments of doubt?
I always made sure every week that I kept that same pure rock and roll intensity. I put every ounce of passion into that. That’s all that mattered to me. I tried to disregard all the competitive thoughts and just focus on the music because that’s what’s really important. Music is about making people feel something and I felt that if I let the competitive side get to my head then it would take away from the emotion of the song. I made sure that I stayed true to myself and always kept it about the music and the performance.
Now that you have gotten such great exposure to the music industry through Rising Star, how has your perspective of the music industry changed?
This show has proved to me that people really are longing and craving something that we haven’t heard in a while. The old and the young have voted for something that you don’t really see on shows that often. I feel that the show is proof to me that America really does want real rock and roll and they have embraced it on the show and they crave an album full of real rock. Nothing overproduced or poppy. People want something raw and something real. Music is a powerful force that can cross over generations and I’m really looking forward to putting a record out. I promise to all my fans that it’s going to be something completely real, honest, true to myself, pure, and raw. It’s not going to be anything fake.
I can’t wait to hear it! Now with all these plans you have for yourself, what are you most excited for in the near future?
I’m really excited about being with Capitol Records and making a record. I’m excited about touring, playing original songs, having my fans come to the shows, playing in different states, and meeting fans. I’m very excited about the entire process. I’m looking so forward to the future and I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon. I think that if I just stay true to myself and keep it real on the record, good things will happen.
I completely agree. Before we end this interview, is there anything you would like to say to all your fans and supporters?
What I want to tell everybody is that from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all. You’ve been the best friends and fans in the world. I read all your messages and try my best to respond to them all. I promise that on this record you are going to hear me and me only. I’m always going to be myself and I can’t wait to meet you all at some shows someday.