An Interview With The Prolific Singer-Songwriter, JESSE PALTER!

Posted On 05 Dec 2018

Detroit born, LA based, prolific singer/songwriter Jesse Palter released her debut EP The Paper Trail on October 19th on Artistry Music, featuring five tracks of aggressive, piano-pounding pop/rock in the vein of Carole King, Sarah McLachlan and Sara Bareilles. The first single going to radio is “Heavy Is The Crown,” an edgy, incisive pop-rocker examining narcisscism and victim-hood at is best.  Check it out here.

Check out the EP here.

 Palter: “All of these songs are paving the way towards establishing myself as an artist and songwriter. My approach throughout this project was to find a way to capture a full snapshot of my life and what I’ve been going through. This is the beginning of what I hope will be a long, fulfilling journey.”

Palter, who launched her career in Detroit and Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to focus on her development as a pop artist, was supported in her sound and overall vision by producer Doug Petty, a veteran keyboardist who has worked with Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Nick Lachey and Lisa Loeb, among others. Petty kept the integrity of Palter’s songs from demo stage through the various layers and textures brought forth to compliment her unique artistry. A high caliber of studio musicians played on the project including bassists Tim Lefebvre and Alex Al and drummers Matt Chamberlain and Aaron Sterling.

With The Paper Trail EP, Palter has committed herself to the discipline of perfecting the craft of songwriting. She focused on strengthening her creative muscles to discover what melodies, lyrics and chord changes work best, allowing herself to be vulnerable, brave and brutally honest at the same time. The songs are autobiographical, representing her life and what’s she’s been through.

 Palter launched her jazz career as a teenager, performing oboe and trumpet in the school jazz band. She connected with singer/songwriter Andrew Gold (“Thank You For Being A Friend”), who brought her to Nashville to work on original material and record a demo, which generated interest with several major labels. At 15, she began working with the Grammy-winning production team the Bass Brothers (Eminem). Her skill for improvisational singing and a developing passion for legendary jazz vocalists, led to her shift towards jazz. She studied at the University Of Michigan as a jazz and contemplative studies major.

Her eclectic musical upbringing includes exposure to a wide array of music that inspired her to deeply respect the art of great songs and songwriters, from Carole King and Joni Mitchell, to Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and The Beatles. Music and singing was always in her blood. Her grandmother, Doris Raynor, was once an opera prodigy in NY.

In early 2019, Artistry Music will follow up The Paper Trail EP with the single “Sever The Ties” and a full-length debut album.  Follow @jessepalter on social media.

Check out her newest track, “The Wrong Girl” here:

Learn more about Jesse Palter in the following All Access interview:

Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?

Hi All Access! Thank you for having me! You’re catching me on a break at a co-writing session with a longtime collaborator of mine. Today I’m top-lining (writing the melody and lyrics) to a track he produced so it can then be pitched to other artists! After this session, I’m hoping to enjoy a glass of wine in celebration of a new song. 

Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated you and your music? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to release my ep this year (a precursor to my full-length album coming 2019). Dec 31st every year, I sit down and reflect on the previous year, and set my intentions for the year to come. My list for 2018 was filled with some pretty grandiose bucket-list goals, but at the top of the list was releasing this music. Mission accomplished! It’s my first time releasing music on a label, and I don’t take that opportunity for granted. 

Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? Could you ever see yourself doing anything else?

I was bit by the bug long before I can even recall a memory, probably just born with the gene to want to make music and the desire to be creative. I’ve been a performer in some capacity since I was a kid, and having the support of my family from a young age set me on the path that got me to this point. Finding the drive to withstand the ups and downs of the music business came later, but the music was always inside of me. As far as doing anything else, not on my radar! Music (mainly my original music!) is all I can think about these days. 

How do you think your hometown has influenced your sound and the kind of musician that you are today?

I’m lucky to be from one of the great music cities. I’ve definitely been influenced by the Motown sound, and so many of the artists that came out of Detroit (Stevie and Smokey alone are two of my greatest songwriting influences). But also, I came up on the scene playing with some amazing musicians. We were all going to conservatory around the same time, and the gigs were rolling in, so we played often. Those guys’ musicianship really influenced me and my approach to all facets of being a musician.  In general, the soulful heartbeat of Detroit has influenced me also. That city is the comeback kid, it has been knocked down countless times, never lost its soul, and it’s now on the up and up. We can all learn a lot about resilience from Detroit, and resilience is paramount to having a career as a creative professional.

It became more and more apparent that my heart is in the songwriting. It was a gut decision to move LA.  I tried it out for a month and sublet an apartment in West Hollywood before I bought my one way ticket –  and I never looked back. I wanted to be part of a scene with a high level of collaboration available at my fingertips, where the sky’s the limit and people are doing cool things.

LA has not disappointed me in that regard, anything goes out here, and I’ve implemented that in my approach to my music. I was really immersed in the jazz scene in both Detroit and Chicago, but I started hearing different things when I came out here. Basically, I’m not limiting myself to any one scene or any one language in music. If I’m hearing a song with really complex harmonies and an intricate melody, I’ll write that. But, if I get an idea that speaks to me and it’s 4 chord pop, I’ll go with that flow. It ultimately boils down to the intention: does it come from an honest place? Does it feel like me? Do I want to sing it every night of my life? I think it has helped being surrounded by so many people who are the real deal out here – it has inspired me to be the most ME I can be. 

How did leaving Detroit and Chicago and moving to LA influence your sound as an artist?

It became more and more apparent that my heart is in the songwriting. It was a gut decision to move LA, but I tried it out for a month and sublet an apartment in West Hollywood before I bought my one way ticket and never looked back. I wanted to be part of a scene with a high level of collaboration available at my fingertips, where the sky’s the limit and people are doing cool things. LA has not disappointed me. 

Let’s talk about your debut EP, “The Paper Trail. What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?

The biggest surprise is how much goes into releasing a project, all of the dotted i’s and crossed t’s that need to happen to get this music out in the world! I signed the deal in 2016, and spent the first half of 2017 tracking, then mixing and mastering into the summer months. So you can imagine how excited (and a bit relieved) I am to finally release some music! Really most of the learning curve has been on the business side of things.    

What was the inspiration for the songs on your EP? How would you say that your forthcoming debut album coming out next year be different or similar to this EP?

It was important to me to approach the writing and recording of this music like a complete body of work – I didn’t know we’d be releasing 5 songs as an ep before the full album. The music was also written with a confessional, open diary narrative. I needed it to be about my life and my feelings, even if the truth is (at times) masked with ambiguity and innuendo. I knew (and both my manager and the label encouraged me) that the writing needed to be authentic and true. So I just wrote about what I was going through. The album is an extension of the EP, everything was recorded at the same time, same producer, a lot of the same musicians.

What was it like working with Doug Petty on the EP?

Doug did a beautiful job and added a lot to these songs. His production style was different than other producers I’ve worked with in my past and I learned a lot from observing his approach. For the record, I’m completely hands-on with my music. I did my best to keep an open mind, but at the end of the day I know the way my music needs to feel and the way it needs to sing (and I have strong opinions down to the minutiae). That said, Doug also requires some space to experiment and do his thing. Once we found our collaborative groove, we really hit a stride. I remember a couple of times throughout the production phase Doug said to me “it’s a PROCESS! If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Ain’t that the truth.

Why do you think that Artistry Music is the right place for you and your music today?

By the time our signatures were fully executed on the contract, I knew the label had a good idea of who I am as an artist and a writer. The label originated in Detroit, so there’s that hometown connection, and they’ve known about me for many years and have followed the progression of my career. They’re very artist friendly and believe in their artists deeply. They allowed me to do my thing on this record – trusted my vision and helped me see it through.

Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?

At this point, I crave it all, but the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had making music has been through writing songs (and the feeling right after you complete a song). Like when the song just sort of writes itself…that can be some really magical higher power stuff. I also can’t wait to get on the road and take this music around the world.

Do you have touring plans scheduled for the rest of this fall and into winter?

Look out for all sorts of exciting announcements coming 2019! 

Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? OR do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

It’s just the name of the game. I think it can be a really cool tool if it’s not abused, and a great place to discover and be discovered. I love staying in touch with anybody who supports my music and is down for the journey with me. I’m partial to instagram (because I’m a sucker for photos). But I’ve also found the importance of time unplugged spent living in the present moment.  

We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?

I’m really sensitive, really vulnerable (and sometimes impressionable), and I need all the joy I can get in life today. I don’t think we can escape the current events, but I’ve used music to help me process and as a form of release. 

What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring your music since day 1?

Oh man, there’s so much good music out there. I mean, Joni Mitchell is alive on this planet – how cool would it be to even be in her presence! Actually, I don’t even know if I’d be able to keep my cool. There are so many artists I’d love to collab with; James Taylor, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, Greg Kurstin, Jon Brion, Blake Mills, Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, I could go on and on…

What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?

If people can feel something deeply when they listen to my music, I’ll feel I’ve done my job. I put a lot heart into my songs and can’t think of any greater joy than to be able to go around the world and sing songs people can relate to – and have them sing them with me. After all, music is the universal language.

About the Author

Leah Brungardt (recently married) joined All Access Music Group in August 2011 and has been enjoying getting to know a new side of the music industry ever since. Having worked to promote radio stations in the past, seeing what makes a successful radio hit has been a thrill. As a lover of all genres of music, working at All Access Music Group is a perfect fit for Leah, and she loves learning about up and coming musicians as well. Most of her friends have come to rely on her for new music. Leah grew up overseas attending American international schools and attended The University of Arizona, where she earned a BA in Music Management. She roots for the Wildcats every chance she gets. Leah has been able to work at a variety of music-related jobs including several internships at small independent labels, ClearChannel Radio and Journal Broadcasting Group. She also spent time working retail at a store that specializes in vinyl, which was a lot of fun for her. Her favorite movie is Empire Records, so that makes perfect sense.

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