Review Fix Exclusive: Jesse Tepper Interview
Jesse Tepper was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but when he turned 14, he moved to Butler, Pennsylvania, where he attended high school and had no other choice but to adjust to a totally different atmosphere. Tepper graduated high school in June 2009 and currently works at Panera Bread, while pursuing his music career all within the same time.
Well known in Pennsylvania for playing his unique genre of indie, folk, alternative and acoustic in local venues and/or coffee shops, he hopes to gradually forward his career throughout his hometown and any other place that may be willing to appreciate what he has to offer.
“Personally, I was forced to move, I didn’t want to move. Living in New York and living in Pennsylvania are two different things. When I was living in New York, the people there are different, people have different views, they treat you differently based on what you look like,” said Tepper. “I remember when I was 13, a lot of people didn’t listen to the same music I did and then moving over to Pennsylvania, I felt I was accepted more. Maybe it was because it was high school, but it was a strange time to move and it left an impact on my life. The whole person I was going to become, that was all changed and I know that for a fact.”
The drastic modification to Tepper’s environment was able to change what he was going to evolve into as an individual.
These specific adjustments resulted into positive and negative experiences that revolved around the way he handled his situations.
“Where I moved to was a town, it was not a city or anything, so everything being close was just torn apart. If you took a Brooklyn city block and you just put it over two, three square miles, that’s more of what Butler is. You can’t walk anywhere. You have to drive and that especially changed my life. I ended up relying on friends, family or getting my license,” said Tepper. “All of my friends that I tried to build over all these years, especially the ones that I made when I was in eighth grade, moving back, they were all torn away from me. Granted, I only keep in touch with a couple of them, especially, my best friend, Mike. Growing up with him, it’s hard talking to people. MySpace and Facebook weren’t very big. It just sucks being a teenager and having to be stuck to a computer in order to get into contact with a friend.”
No matter where Tepper ended up living, there was always that one thing that he constantly carried around with him.
That one thing kept him whole.
Even before Tepper altered his lifestyle, music was an everlasting enjoyment for him. He is considered to be one of the lucky ones that were somehow born with the talent and ambition to amaze others through music.
“I was always singing every song. My friends and family would always comment on the fact that I could pick up lyrics easily. I would learn a song very easily, maybe within one or two listens and know the whole thing. I would love to sing whatever was playing,” said Tepper. “I really got into it in Butler, but when I was living in New York, me and my friend, Mike, would sometimes mess around and that’s when I wrote my first real song. From New York to Pennsylvania, it gradually grew.”
Not only can Tepper express his talent through words, he grabbed the advantage of learning an instrument in order to boost what he already had going for him. “I didn’t really think about sticking with guitar. I’ve gotten into guitar within only the past six or seven months. When I saw it, it was something that I wanted to do and it’s something else to master,” said Tepper. Learning guitar was far from a bad idea, simply because it gave this Brooklyn boy plenty of favorable circumstances that were able to skyrocket his capabilities even farther.
It is only natural for a musician to go through a process that determines what they would like to represent themselves as. Some prefer working alone, while others prefer groups.
Believe it or not, Tepper wasn’t always a one-man show.
“Me and my friend, Sara, we were in a band before I really started playing out solo. We would play open mics and a couple of shows. When we would play together, it was usually heavier, more fast paced, more upbeat. When playing with her, it was wonderful. We can do harmonies. If we needed, I could play some sort of percussion or play guitar and we were able to switch off,” said Tepper. “It was more open because there was more people to do stuff. But the minute that I really started to focus on my own writing, I busted out songs, left and right. Me and her wrote one song together, we collaborated on the rest and it was only two other songs. My creativity, by myself, bloomed because you’re not held back by anything else.”
Whether Tepper performs alone or associates himself with another artist, everything he writes comes straight from the heart. He composes songs in a way that others his age can relate to, but the mood he expresses, along with the words he mentions, are phenomenally original.
It’s difficult to create chipper melodies when all of your experiences aren’t too happy-go-lucky. Tepper has no shame in voluntarily explaining to his audiences what the good and bad times he has been through and why he is the person that he is today.
“All my stuff is very personal. When I try to write poetically, I’ll write in different personas, but most of the time, it ties into something that I’m dealing with. I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to write differently, but I have some stuff that varies,” said Tepper. “A lot has to do with the relationships I’ve been in. My mom leaving when I was younger was always a humongous part of my life. That has pushed me to become the person that I am, let alone, the things I write are sometimes direct correlation with that because it’s my life and that’s what I’ve dealt with. Break-ups, love, the people who influence me in my life, influence my music. Friends, family, and love.”
The amount of time and effort Tepper has put into his work contained tons of stress, especially when having to write about his personal life. Once these tracks are joined together onto a CD, it’s something he and his fans will be able to hold onto and be proud of.
Tepper has the tendency of using his experiences with love in order to express his emotions through his music.
Tepper just-so-happens to be one of those optimistic musicians that takes life how is and accepts everything that is thrown at him. Going through all that he has, he will not approve of anything lower than a high expectation. This is why Tepper separates himself from any other 19-year-old starving artist.
“I should be working on a demo, but for some reason, I’m going straight for trying to get an album out. My idea, in the beginning, was to get a demo or EP. Instead, my mind blew up with ideas and I started writing a bunch of songs. I’m probably going to try to put out an album and it’s going to be called ‘She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not,’” said Tepper. “It’s about the use of flower petals, picking them, and going over and over, she loves me, she loves me not. The whole album is about love, love lose, love, love lose, switching in-between the tracks. It’s something we grow up believing. I went back to the basics of love. It’s something ridiculous to me and throughout the album, it shows the different sides of love, into darker things and then very romantic things happen. In the end, it’s more about a realization. It’s not about it being true, it’s about you realizing it’s just a stupid, childhood, little game that we play. It’s kind of what love is, a stupid, little game.”
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