Artists and Bands

New York City’s Jesse Harris strikes the perfect balance between writing for himself and for other musicians

Jesse Harris is an exceptional artist who holds many talents. From winning a Grammy for composing “Don’t Know Why” to producing the soundtrack for Ethan Hawke’s “The Hottest State,” Harris never ceases to come up with creative melodies. Most recently, he released two different albums – Cosmo and Through the Night. Cosmo is composed of 12 instrumental pieces and Through the Night is an ensemble of 14 jazzy tracks on which Harris sings about themes such as dreams and love.

Whether I am listening to the pieces found on Cosmo or to his vocal melodies from Through the Night, Harris always has the same effect on me – he relaxes me. In fact, the regular harmony within his compositions always succeeds in touching deep inside my heart and soul. What is most fascinating about Harris’ music is that his songs always have the power to take the listener on a calm and peaceful journey. Overall, the two new albums confirm that Jesse Harris is a prolific artist who is gifted with the talent for making distinctive sounds that guarantee to touch anyone who listens.

Q: Is there a difference for you between composing the rhythm for an instrumental piece and for a vocal one?

A: Rhythmically, an instrumental piece can be freer because there are no vocals to support. Vocals need space, so generally the rhythm has to be more ‘underneath,’ as opposed to free.

Q: Do you have a specific method of working when creating music?

A: When it comes to writing music – no. The main thing I find inspiring is playing a lot. The less I play, the fewer ideas I have.

Q: Is your inspiration the same when writing a song for yourself and one for another artist?

A: It depends. Sometimes good songs come from situations in which one doesn’t necessarily feel inspired, so to speak, but is inspired by ideas, or inspired to finish a song. Usually when I write for another artist I’m co-writing, so it is a different process than writing alone, which is how I usually write. Writing alone I can take my time, or write when I feel like it, whereas when I co-write, the song needs to get done there and then.

Q: If you could pen a track for anyone, who would it be?

A: There are many great singers today I’d love to hear sing a song of mine. Of singers who are gone, I wish Jeff Buckley was still around; he sang other people’s material beautifully.

Q: How do you know when you have composed a special melody that will be appreciated by your public?

A: Usually, a good song feels good to play and sing.

Q: The lyrics to your songs are very inspirational; what is your main source of motivation for writing such happy songs?

A: Funny, I never thought of myself as writing happy songs, but maybe the songs I write now are happier than my older ones.  I guess I’d need to know which song you’re referring to.

Q: I really enjoy the message from “All that Happened”; do you remember with what feeling you wrote that song?

A: To be honest, I don’t. Writing songs is like speaking, in a way, ’cause if you asked me why I said such-and-such a thing last year, I wouldn’t remember. And I probably wouldn’t remember having said it.

Q: What is the one thing people should know about your sound?

A: It has variety and if they’ve heard one song, they should listen to others before deciding what it is.

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