Interview: Jesse Boykins III
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:23:34
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R&B gets epic on Jesse Boykins III's new album Love Apparatus [iTunes link]. He expands the very boundaries of the genre with the right amount of soul and some very welcome classic rock grandiosity. Boykins' immense pipes fuel this ride, and he entrances with raw and real swagger. We know you're going to love it when it drops on April 22, 2014.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Jesse Boykins III dissects Love Apparatus and so much more.
Where does music typically start for you?
It starts in the moment for me. Most of the time, when I'm creating and writing songs, it's therapy. Any artist who is a songwriter writes about whatever it is he or she wants to let go of. As far as things go sonically, production-wise, and being able to blend different styles with my music, it's always been in my nature as an artist to take influence from everything around me. For the past couple of years, I've been fortunate enough to be exposed to all of these different cultures, sub-cultures, and styles of music from touring and traveling as well as having friends who are DJs and playing parties with them. I've been in that environment and world and seen what that life is like. I've seen what it's like to go to a festival and play. I'm trying to infuse all of my experiences, balance them out, and still stay true to myself and maintain my integrity overall. I know it's a lot, but it's subconscious now because I've practiced it for so long. Especially with this album, I started writing Love Apparatus in 2008 and 2009. It was a conscious effort. It soon became unconscious for me to try and blend all of my influences together.
Did you always have a vision for how Love Apparatus would sound and come together? Did it crystallize more now?
I always try to come up with concepts. I'm very conceptual. The art of making an album is being watered down, in a sense. When I approach anything I'm doing that's a project, there's always a vision involved. There's some sort of start or method to the madness. With Love Apparatus, for a lot of the songs, I wrote the titles before I even wrote any lyrics. We listened to Phil Collins, old Elton John, Van Morrison, and fucking Jimi Hendrix records. Then, we went and listened to some Prince. We put ourselves in that creative space before myself and Machinedrum started working on the project. I feel like that's necessary. That's what artists used to do. It's like researching before you write a paper. It's the same concept to put yourself in that energy and state. That's how I went about making the record pretty much. I always had a vision of what it was. Once I started living life along with it, the vision began to come to fruition more clearly. It was a solid vision of ballads, love, life, and the levels of a relationship between a man and a woman as well as society and a certain person—whatever the case may be. I was able to tap in and touch those energies and express that sonically. That's what we worked at. That's why it took so long.
What does "Show Me Who You Are" mean to you?
I wrote that song when I was 25-years-old. I'm 29 now. It was around the time I was reading a lot of books on Kama Sutra, Tantric Sex, and all of the different levels of sexuality I wasn't really exposed to yet. I didn't really understand them, and certain people in my life were recommending I read certain things. It brought me to this understanding of a woman and what she necessarily needs, what she feels she needs, what she feels she wants, and what I could give. "Show Me Who You Are" basically means the more open you are with me, the higher levels of ecstasy we can reach. It's about being honest and true to the moment and being honest and true to the person you're deciding to be in a relationship with. In 2008, myself, Machinedrum, and Theophilus London did a song called "Aqua Militia". We only had the hook. Theophilus had a verse on it. It was only a minute long, and Machine Drum and I wanted to make it a real song. I had my band add trumpet, guitar, Rhodes, and bass to the track. We re-arranged the song, and I built around the concept of the hook. That's how the song came about, honestly.
What inspires you outside of music?
Like anybody else trying to gain information and understand things from a different life and perspective, I watch at least a movie a day if I can. I study films. I'll watch the same film fifty times a month. I'm a slow reader, but I do read. To understand and live something, I take my time. I read up on a lot of things as far as poetry, design, and contemporary art go. I also read up on religion and spirituality. I take it all as inspiration. If I can connect it to experiences I've had or use it to help me through other experiences, I try to take in as much creative art as possible.
If you were to compare Love Apparatus to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a great question. Literally, I feel like it's a movie in and of itself. It's hard to give it just one film. Have you seen Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo and Juliet? That! Have you seen Love Jones? Okay, that! Have you seen fucking Forrest Gump? That! Put those three films together [Laughs]. I think everybody has seen those. It's a gumbo of those movies.
What artists shaped you?
I go through phases. I'll be in an emotional state of my life where I can connect to an artist. I'd say Bob Marley, definitely, even lifestyle-wise and trying to make it about more than the music and about the message and life. Have a good time. That's what I'm all about. Then, there's The Beatles and John Lennon. Then there are old school blues legends like Robert Johnson. I'd also say bands like Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and Janis Joplin. A lot of people sleep on that Van Morrison album Astral Weeks, that record!
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