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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Exclusive: Jesse McCartney chats dual ‘All’s Well’ EP and tour

Clara Faulkner

College students who were raised on a diet of “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” and “Horton Hears a Who!” are undoubtedly familiar with singer, songwriter, and voice actor Jesse McCartney.

The singer lit up Gen Z screens throughout their childhood and is now shining on stage as he prepares to embark on a tour to support his new EP, “All’s Well,” releasing April 5. Ahead of his stop in Boston on April 26, McCartney sat down with the Beacon for an interview, expressing his enthusiasm about returning to the road and shedding light on his latest venture.

“If you were a fan of ‘Beautiful Soul’ or ‘Right Where You Want Me,’ I think you’ll hear a lot of musical references,” McCartney said. “We played everything live for this EP in the studio, which is something I haven’t done since those albums. You kind of can draw a line there. But lyrically, everything is much different than when I was 16 years old.” 

While McCartney has been on the down low within the music industry, he is making his return. From early childhood fame, McCartney’s sound has taken him a long time to grasp and discover during his career.

“I grew up listening to soul music, R&B music, and pop, of course, but I think I naturally tend to lean into those sounds when I initially start writing for a new project. I just immediately gravitate toward those genres. ‘Faux Fur,’ which was the first single from this, became the blueprint for the rest of the project,” McCartney said.

As McCartney crafts his new sound, he embraces the opportunity to pay homage to artists who have inspired him for his upcoming work. 

“I realized that would be what I wanted to emulate the rest of the project after. It had this kind of ‘70s, hollow notes, Robin Thicke even sort of feel. I loved it. I thought it was really sexy and really fresh sounding because it was very contemporary, but also a nod to the past,” McCartney said.

Embracing his new era of music and gearing up for his upcoming tour, McCartney recognizes the enduring connection between his past and present. During the creation of his EP, McCartney found himself facing a challenging task: selecting the songs for the tracklist. After much deliberation, he managed to narrow down the initial list of 10 songs to a final selection of five. However, among these tracks, McCartney admitted he does have a personal favorite.

“I love them all for different reasons. There are truly only four records. But I really love ‘Silver Spoon,’” McCartney said. 

Reflecting on this particular track, McCartney delved into his creative process and said he intricately weaved song storylines by drawing inspiration from individuals he has encountered in the industry.

“It’s cheeky lyrically, it’s kind of poking fun at privilege and the people who grow up with privilege and aren’t necessarily bad people but are just sort of foolish sometimes,” McCartney said. “I know a couple of people like that that I’ve grown up with, but it was a chance to write a song about something that I haven’t really heard in this way.” 

Despite beginning his career at a young age, McCartney is injecting a new energy into his upcoming tour. As he gears up for his live performances, McCartney has offered fans a glimpse into what they can expect.

“My show is very high energy. I travel with a band, some of the guys I’ve been traveling with for over a decade now. We’ve had a real rapport together on stage. I spent a lot of time arranging the songs and making them sound fresh. So the old songs have a little lift to them, if you will, or a modern touch.” McCartney said. “But I’m sure to play all the old hits, all the new stuff, and it’s like a nice balance of everything. I try to pack a ton of songs into a 90-minute to two-hour set.”

Fans anticipating the tour were treated to an exclusive sneak peek into McCartney’s curated setlist for the upcoming shows. With a blend of his classic hits and newer tracks, McCartney’s setlist promises to be a dynamic blast from the past, welcomed by “Silver Spoon.”

“I’m actually putting the set list together right now,” McCartney said. “And I have it currently as the opening song of the set.” 

While exploring his songwriting process, the singer offered insights into his approach to creating music that resonates with a broad audience. He emphasized that crafting meaningful songs goes beyond just lyrics and melodies—it’s about forging a genuine emotional connection.

“I find that just writing songs that I know are going to be good and could really be universal to many artists is probably the best way to go in terms of placing songs as a writer.” He said. “Something that I’ve learned is to just really be receptive to other people’s creative thoughts and ideas, especially when you’re working in that setting.”

McCartney recounted the creation of “Bleeding Love,” a song he wrote in 2007 that ultimately found its way to another artist, Leona Lewis. The album featuring “Bleeding Love” and the single itself achieved platinum status in the United States.

“‘Bleeding Love’ is a good example of a song that I wrote in 2007, where I wrote it for myself, and I just really connected with the lyrics and the melodies,” McCartney said. “And it was something that I just thought was very emotional and gripping. Eventually, we just decided it wasn’t right for my record, and Leona Lewis ended up singing it, and she made it a huge record.”

What sets McCartney’s music apart and contributes to his success as a producer and singer is his remarkable ability to experiment with different sounds and genres. McCartney has pushed musical boundaries throughout his career, blending various styles and techniques to create something uniquely his own.

“I’m a sucker for horns. I just think they sound so good, and they make everything sound so fun. Not to sound like a broken record for lack of a better term, that sound, getting back to the ‘70s in that time, everything was super funky and fun, and there were horns everywhere on every album. There’s just something so good about a live horn section.”

One rap standout track on McCartney’s EP, “All’s Well,” showcases his ability to craft a unique and infectious sound that merges his fun and funky style with a modern twist. “Make A Baby” features a collaboration with rapper Yung Gravy, who is popular among Gen Z. McCartney said the two met at a college show in Minnesota and became fast friends.

“We just told each other, ‘Hey, if it ever works out, we should work on something together.’” McCartney said. “And about a year ago, I was in the studio writing, and I wrote this chorus, and Gravy just jumped in my mind. I texted it to him, and he hit me back, ‘Let’s finish this up.’ And that’s how it came about.”

With his unique blend of humor, catchy beats, and clever wordplay, Yung Gravy has taken the world of Gen-Z by storm. His rise in the music scene has been meteoric, captivating young audiences with his infectious energy and relatable lyrics.

McCartney, a seasoned veteran in the music industry, recognizes the impact of artists like Yung Gravy on the modern-day music landscape. In showcasing the evolution of the industry, McCartney offers advice for those aspiring to pursue a career in music today.

“What’s amazing about this generation and what’s amazing about trying to be creative now is that the playing field has really been leveled for everybody with the power of social media and the ability to share your stuff. I know it sounds cliche, but the cream does rise to the top.” McCartney said. 

Transitioning from discussing social media’s impact on the music industry, McCartney offers valuable advice for aspiring artists.

“If your stuff is good enough, somebody is eventually going to take notice of it. My biggest piece of advice is to just constantly share and don’t get hung up on the things that you think are incredible that no one’s paying attention to or that you put out and no one takes notice of because that happens a lot to even successful people and to people who have been doing it for years,” McCartney said.

While McCartney’s advice draws from years of success in the entertainment industry, he is eager to welcome new fans into the excitement of his music. With this invitation, McCartney welcomes those who have yet to experience the magic of his live performances.

“If you’ve never been to my show, it’s a great opportunity because we put a lot of time, effort, and resources into this one,” McCartney said. “If there was one to come to of my shows, it would be this one.”

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About the Contributor
Clara Faulkner
Clara Faulkner, Operations Managing Editor
Clara Faulkner wears multiple hats at the Beacon, serving as both the Business Director and the Living Arts Editor. Prior to assuming these roles, she demonstrated her expertise as an assistant editor, specializing in living arts—a domain she is deeply passionate about, fueled by her love for pop culture and entertainment. Additionally, Clara served as a writer for the Boston Globe, Boston.com, is a part of NBCUniversal Entertainment Group, and contributed to the music team at Intersect Magazine. In addition to her editorial responsibilities, Clara actively participates in various campus organizations, including SPJ, Associate Entertainment Producer at WEBN-TV, programming director at WECB. fm, and AEPHI. Outside of her writing pursuits, Clara immerses herself in culinary exploration, cinematic enjoyment, and language acquisition, consistently seeking fresh experiences and knowledge.
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