– by Maggie Bochat
Jesse Davidson is a 19-year-old gig wizard. He can play every instrument but the keyboard, and he writes and records all of his tunes solo. You’ve probably heard him on Triplej, or caught him dancing onstage in his socks. I chatted to Jesse and his bass player Dom Symes during their National tour with Art of Sleeping.
This is your last WA show touring with Brisbane band Art of Sleeping. How has the tour gone so far?
J: Really good.
D: At the speed of life.
J: [laughs] At the speed of life?
Have there been any highlights?
D: The highlight was meeting our drummer, Tom Myers, at the airport. That was the first time Tom and I met. Jessie played with him before, but we had never played all together.
What’s it like touring with like a different band every time?
J: It’s interesting to see different peoples take on the music, how they approach it and what comes out of it. What tricks they have under their sleeve.
How would you describe your music?
J: Fun, indie, jams, sad. But it’s fun sad.
Do you write about sad stuff so you can be happy in real life?
J: I wish that was the case, that would be sweet. I just write things and that’s what comes out when you’re a young angsty writer, writing angsty songs.
Would you say you prefer performing to creating music?
J: I prefer recording and writing. The first time you come up with the idea is the best, and then when you’re recording it and it’s finished that’s satisfying. You come up with the idea and think “That sounds pretty cool, that will be a good song”, and then at the end of recording you’re like “Yes – I’m happy with this”.
Dom, how have you found working with Jesse?
D: It’s fun being a bass player playing with different drummers. Jesse tries to change things a little bit every night. Everything takes place onstage and not in rehearsal, which is fun. I played with three different drummers in past three shows – that was crazy! It’s been a really interesting tour so far.
Triple J has been a massive supporter of your music. How did that relationship start?
J: I put my music on Triple j Unearthed when I was sixteen, and I was one of the Unearthed High finalists.
D: Jesse was runner up in Unearthed High 2012, the year Asta won.
What was it like when you first heard your music on the radio?
J: Crazy. It sounded really nice, they put good compression on it. Sounds really fat when you listen to it.
And what was it like recording Like A Version?
J: Really scary. We had no idea what cover to do! We played around with all of these ideas…
D: It was stressful, like having an exam. We spent all this time rehearsing for it because it was such a good opportunity. I remember being on the plane writing out the verse, second part of verse, chorus, in the same way I’d be writing down all my last minute notes before an exam. But it was really awesome.
Just a lot of pressure?
D: Once we were in there it was fine. But we just really wanted to do a good job. When we were done we were like “Yeah, I’ve kind of played that song enough for the rest of my life.” [laughs]
What was the studio like?
J: Pretty surreal. They have a great sound guy. The only problem was the lighting – it got really sweaty. During the first song it was really good, but by the time I came around to the cover I was covered in sweat; all dirty and gross looking.
D: We were all just sweating it up. Sweating up the studio.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
J: Laneway in Adelaide was one of my highlights. I like opening festivals. I really enjoy getting it done so I’m just like “Right, I’m going to be onto it for the first hour, and after that I’m just going to be a ridiculous person”. [laughs]
Did you meet any of the headline acts?
J: Oooooh yeah. Big time. I had a great time. I was just like talking shit, getting a bit too drunk like “Yo wasssssup”. Cut that bit out. [laughs]
D: Invite Jesse Davidson on your next festival lineup; he’ll get drunk and talk shit to celebrities.
What are your plans for the future? Touring? Recording?
J: Just write heaps more and tour heaps more and keep it all going.
Any advice to young musicians?
J: Look, just get yourself a degree. [laughs]
D: Make music your first priority. Don’t worry about what you think people want to hear. I think that’s what a lot of young people do wrong when they start playing music. They’re just like “Oh, let’s write like this because it’s gonna be a pop hit and make us famous.” People will like you because you’re different, or because you make them feel a certain way, and that’s not through writing a song that you think is going to be a smash hit single. Jess?
J: I agree. Completely. I got your back man.
D: Thanks bro.
Final parting words?
J: [American accent] Be fucking true to yourself and don’t do heroin; its bad. Don’t chase the dragon…
D: Don’t chase that dragon!
J: Stay in school and believe in yourself and believe in the spirit of Christmas.
Photo Credit: Jesse Davidson