With her new album Equilibrium having released at the end of September, Jesslee dove right into the country genre with a blast of pop infused modern country that satisfied her longtime fans while instantly attracting a whole new audience to her honest brand of music. We had the awesome opportunity to check in with her the week of the release to chat all about the album, co-producing it with Steve Virginia, her recent singles “Drinkin’ Thinkin’” and “South of Somewhere,” collaborating with Justin Champagne and Ryan Robinette on “Chillbilly,” and much more!

(Interview by: Jeffrey Kurtis

1) You released your new full-length album Equilibrium on Sept 29th. Fill us in a bit on the album. What can we expect to hear from it when we hit play?

I am so excited my debut full length record is out into the world. The record touches on everything from heartbreak to lustful battles between the head and the heart, love for the small towns, motivation, self- worth and more! Basically, it’s a playlist about life, it’s good, it’s bad, it’s in between and that’s why I named it Equilibrium.

2) You co-produced the album with your manager Steve Virginia. What was that dynamic like in the studio, and what pieces to the production puzzle did he offer that really helped shape your sound in ways that might not have otherwise been there?

Steve is an “ex-drummer” and one of my favorite contributions he offers to our production partnership is groooooooove! I LOVE his swag when he builds loops with me, and I think what he does has become so signature to my sound. Our dynamic is a lot of us throwing things to the wall and seeing what sticks… what just feels good. Both of us are not worried about making sure every choice is perfectly fitting into the traditional “country box”. We’re worried about what is best for the song in the end, what WE LOVE and what we want to hear more of. He’s my favorite person to work with because he’s fearless just like me and damn, do we have fun creating.

3) you’ve released several singles ahead of the album including “Drinkin’ Thinkin’,” one of our personal favorites so far. What about that song and its irresistible summertime flare do you really think helped make it stand out during the warmer weather months when country music is flooded with songs of similar feel?

Thank you so much and I love that you dig Drinkin’ Thinkin’! Firstly, I think what made this song stand out the most, even though it’s silly and playful, is its honesty! I think people resonate with other people’s truths and the funny thing is, although the entire story in one night did not actually happen, in pieces IT DID! Haha! When I wrote this song with Steve Virginia, Alex Pennington Smith and Ryan Robinette, we were all throwing out some of our craziest drinking stories and compiling it into one epic party night. We had so much fun writing it, and I want to believe people can feel that through the song.

4) The most recent representation ahead of the album was “South of Somewhere.” What about this song do you feel made it the one that left a perfect last impression in the hype to the final countdown on the official release of the album?

LOVE this question! We wanted “South of Somewhere” to be the single before the album dropped because it’s such a powerful statement wrapped up in a song that makes you want to shake your ass! Although the song doesn’t feel like it, it’s actually a breakup song, something everyone can relate to! But the message and the energy is saying “happiness is not a person, it’s an inside job and you deserve to still enjoy your life with or without them”. I wanted anyone going through a breakup this summer to feel good and have something to relate to, as well.

5) You teamed up with Justin Champagne and Ryan Robinette on “Chillbilly.” Talk about that collaboration. How did that all come together?

Such a great question because this was truly synchronicity at its finest! I was actually drinking some wine one night with Steve Virginia when we started talking about how we both come from small towns and Nashville is such a fast-paced city compared to our old county lives back home. We jokingly said, we’re just a couple of “chill hillbilly’s”. And as the night went on the alcohol did what it does best and as we got sillier, we started calling ourselves “Chillbillies”! The next day, WE KNEW we had to write that hook. We brought it to Alex Pennington Smith and Jason Afable and they loved it and alas Chillbilly was born. But then, after demoing it, I knew I wanted a rap in the song. So, I started sharing it around and both Justin Champagne and one of my bestest friends Ryan Robinette dug it and said they wanted to jump on the track! Ryan cut the song and so did Justin, who actually came in and wrote in his rap and the rest is history!

6) Is there a personal favorite song from the album that you couldn’t wait to share with your fans? And why that song? What does it mean to you?

Having to choose just one favorite song on an album you wrote and produced is like having to pick just one favorite child lol … it’s nearly impossible BUT what I will say is “Fly Away” is one of the most vulnerable and personal songs I’ve ever written and released. It’s my story of staying afloat during a long time of abuse I went through in my life and God and hope being my reason to hold on through those dark times. I want to write songs with meaning and messages of truth that can comfort someone else hurting like I did. Sometimes we need to be reminded we are not alone, and nothing has to be permanent. The song is also exceedingly special to me having my grandfather, one of my biggest inspirations in music, play the piano on this track.

7) You’re signed with the well-respected indie label ONErpm. What was it that they brought to the table that ultimately made this the right label home for you and the direction you’re taking your music?

The biggest benefit of being with ONErpm is their willingness to give me full creative control over my projects.

8) Obviously, the casual music lover will remember you from your time spent on The Voice. What was your experience like on the show, and besides the obvious, in what ways did being that platform really help propel your career the most?

The best part about The Voice was getting to experience having vocal coaching for the first time and learning how important that is for singers of all levels. Surprisingly enough, I was already developing some momentum right before being invited on the show and after exiting, it was truly my team at Black Label Nash who really pushed my needle forward.

9) Besides appearing on the TV show, you’ve also shared the stage with some of the heaviest hitters in today’s country music; Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Dierks, etc. What are your takeaways from watching guys like that perform that you’ve since been incorporating into your own shows?

This is an awesome question! Performers at that level develop a really great ability to take the crowd on their “show journey” and REALLY make them feel it. A great performer has “moments” that make their audience feel special or involved and that’s something I’ve loved honing in on by watching the greats!

10) We always like to end with this one for the aspiring artists that read this website. What is one piece of advice you can offer to someone who is just starting out and trying to break into the music industry?

I love this question and every time I am asked it, I will always have the same answer … STAY TRUE TO YOU! I believe people can feel when someone isn’t being genuine, and the ride is so much more fun and worth it doing it your way!


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