LIVING ROOM SESSIONS | http://www.jesseparentmusic.com/
“As far back as I can remember, music was the most exciting thing in my life,” says singer-songwriter Jesse Parent on the phone from his Kitchener, ON home.
“My whole life, I’ve been on stage somehow,” says Parent, 29, a self-described folk-rock, Canadiana artist, who takes his cues from Neil Young, Paul Simon, and Blue Rodeo.
Jesse is currently working on his third release to follow 2009’s self-titled EP and his first full-length album in 2012. While his EP has been described as ‘subtly captivating, a fetching blend of country, pop and folk” reminiscent of “a mellower Ben Harper or Elliott Smith,” his follow-up, This Uncertainty, added faster tempos and more electric guitar work. More Rhett Miller with a side of Sheepdogs-style rock.
“I like to write story-based, lyric driven songs. I try to draw people in, make a connection somehow,” he offers.
With his new album, Parent promises he is bringing his roots with him, but is “purposely making it hard to pigeon-hole.”
These days the Cambridge native finds himself spending a lot of time on the road in Southwestern Ontario - travelling anywhere from 200 to 600km hours a week, playing about four shows weekly.
It’s a hectic schedule to keep.
“This thing is as much a curse as it is a passion,” he says. “There’s no question that I need to pursue music. Following your passion for a living is very difficult on many different levels, but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine NOT doing it.”
But let’s back up a bit.
Having attended college in his early 20s for a career in radio broadcasting, Parent soon found himself dogged by big life questions about his career path and how music would play a role in his future.
“That’s when I started writing my own songs. The lyrics just came,” he remembers.
“It was an emotional time and I was wondering if I was doing the right thing, and what the ‘right thing’ was.”
Having been in a couple bands in highschool and before college - the latter which fell apart when ‘life happened’ and band members parted ways - this seemed to be the perfect storm for Parent’s budding solo career.
“It wasn’t a choice as much as a necessity at the time. I still wanted to play music, so I opted for the solo route.”
Parent’s early influences came from discovering his dad’s record collection: the ’70s rock of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp with the occasional Beatles or Elvis Costello record.
That’s where Parent first discovered Paul Simon’s groundbreaking Graceland from 1986.
“Since I was very young, Graceland has been one of my favourite records. When I was little, I could dance to it, it was fun. As I grew older, I began to appreciate all the other parts of that record more and more. The lyrics, the craftsmanship - everything that makes it so unique.”
Over the past few years, Parent has honed his craft with local shows and travelling throughout Ontario - from the small towns of Southwestern Ontario, to larger cities of London, Toronto and Ottawa.
And what drives Parent for all those hours behind the wheel?
“I like the sense of being with people of like minds - a kind of understanding. A connection through the music.”
“I know when I go see a show, I like to see people who are really passionate about what they do,” he says, adding that well-crafted songs are vital.
All the shows. All the miles. All the sweat and the songs.
It’s good to stay focused and busy, he says.
“Play as much as possible. Whether it’s practicing, rehearsing, jamming or writing. Work hard, play a lot and be nice. Genuinely nice. Have a good attitude and be happy to be there.”
Go see him live, in a town near you.