Artist: Jesse Daniel
Hometown: Ben Lomond, California
Latest Album: Beyond These Walls
Personal nicknames: Jessup
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When I was really young, probably around 6 or 7, my mom took us down to see my dad’s band play at a place called the Fernwood Lodge. We were camping down the road from the music venue and because my brother and I were a few years shy of the legal drinking age, we had to stay back at the tent while the older folks went and played music, partied, etc. There was an older woman who was watching us, so I waited until she fell asleep and I followed the sound of the music up to the bar where my dad was playing. I remember walking onto the front porch and watching my dad on stage from the window outside. Somebody told my mother that I was there and she came outside to get me. I thought she’d make me go back, but she let me stay and I hung out with them. We danced and listened to my dad’s band play with the bikers, hippies and rednecks. I remember knowing that I would be on that stage when I was old enough. It made a huge impact on me.
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
I was doing a show with Colter Wall, opening up solo at a place called The Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was slightly unsure of how the crowd would take a solo opener, because there were thousands of people there — it was sold out on a Tuesday night! The crowd was extremely receptive and I’ll always remember their excitement. As I got to the end of the set, I played “Soft Spot (For the Hard Stuff)”, which is one of my more known songs. The crowd sang the words of the chorus back to me at the top of their lungs and it gave me chills. Still does. There’s no feeling like it.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
As far as a mission statement goes, I’ve told people for a long time that my goal is to make good country music and live a good life. I want to lift others up with my music, help them through life’s hardships and make them happy. Country music is life music and I want to tell stories that are true. I’m in competition with no one and never will be. I’ll keep running my own race and doing what I love.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
I love being outdoors. As a kid, I grew up next to a mountain creek and we’d spend whole days catching crawdads, swimming and playing in that creek. If I ever get stressed or overwhelmed by life, going swimming or fishing is a guaranteed way to clear my mind and get back in touch with the here and now. On my new record Beyond These Walls, I’ve got a song about fishing and another about the beauty and simplicity of nature. Nature is as much a part of me as the music is.
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
I do a mixture of both, partly truth and partly fiction. I love telling stories from others perspectives. A lot of my songs are about my own life experiences, but I’ll attribute them to the character of the song. Many are stories from real people I’ve met in rehabilitation facilities, jails, on the street or on the road. When you look for it, the inspiration is endless. Stories are everywhere and they are waiting to be told.
Photo credit: Kayla Lilli