An entire generation of millennials grew up with Jesse McCartney, whether it was listening to his hit singles (like “Beautiful Soul,” “Leavin’,” or “How Do You Sleep?”) or watching him on TV in various shows (such as Summerland or even All My Children, though they may have been too young to remember that). For many years, McCartney maintained a constant presence in pop culture, and he only stepped out of that spotlight when he decided it was time.
While he’s not charting songs or starring on the small screen like he used to, McCartney hasn’t gone anywhere, and he’s still making solid pop music. For those willing to listen, he’s still churning out top-notch tunes that deserve a replay, and he’s now in a place to continue giving fans more of what they want than ever.
Read below for the conversation with McCartney, and if you haven’t heard any of his most recent songs, click the links and discover for yourself that he’s still the excellent pop writer he always was
I love your new single "Wasted"—tell me about how this song came about.
I’m glad you love it! The song was written with my buddy and co-writer Brandyn Burnette (AKA Eman8), one of the co-writers of my previous single “Better With You.” I went over to his place to write and his AC was broken. We were hot and sweaty and thinking there was no way we could be productive that day so we opened some cold beers. Then we got this idea about a boozing booty-calling female, and how the guy just wants to have something real with her. Once we started got started, the whole song just came pouring out.
I guess it turns out you can write a great song in overwhelming heat, as long as there’s beer.
With two singles out—"Wasted" and "Better With You"—can fans expect an album soon?
At the moment I have enough songs to release an EP which is what I plan to release next. I’m still writing and recording all the time, so I'm not ruling out an album, but I’m enjoying releasing as I go. Putting songs out on streaming platforms has given me a sense of freedom to go at my own pace, and I like that spontaneity. The new reality is that you don’t need to record a 12-song album before releasing a single.
It's been years since your last record—why the delay in between projects?
A lot of reasons. Part of it was the fact that starting another album—or having to finish 10-12 songs—felt almost too daunting. I think I’d come to a point after so many years of pressuring myself where I just got creatively stuck and needed to give myself a break. I’d been working in the industry professionally since I was nine years old, and each success added more pressure. I missed out on the years most people get to grow up, make mistakes and figure out who they are.
I gave myself permission to have no other goal than to be a regular person in the world. I hadn’t traveled anywhere as a tourist, so I did that. I also bought a house, learned to cook, do laundry, and hang out with my girlfriend. I didn’t know how long the break was going to last, and I did eventually get the inspiration and drive to write music again, and the drive is more internal. The experience was totally liberating. Best thing I could have done.
What's different this time around? Sonically, from a songwriting perspective?
With so much touring, it’s been challenging to find time to write, however when I do, I feel more clarity and mastery of the process. Like maybe I have finally hit that "10,000 hour” threshold.
In addition to singing, you also made a name for yourself as an actor. What have you been doing in that field lately?
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I’m best when I put all of my attention into one thing at a time and at the moment, music is the main focus. In the acting world I am doing voiceover work, because it only takes a few hours here, a few hours there. On-camera roles call for a bigger commitment and right now I don’t want to dilute the energy I am giving to music. I love both sides of my career and without a doubt, I will circle back to on-camera acting at some point.
What does the rest of 2018 bring for you?
I’m doing shows all over the US, mostly at colleges, some radio stations, and I’m preparing for The Resolution 2019 Tour, working on a video, and writing more music.
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask this—do you keep in touch with the guys from Dream Street at all?
I do! In fact I ran into Matt at last year’s Super Bowl, and despite him being a huge Eagles fan (I love the NY Giants!), it was great running into him. We ended up grabbing a beer after the game!