In our latest #MusicBringsUsTogether interview we were lucky enough to grab a chat with American multi-instrumentalist Jesse Macht to discuss his latest music project, Race the Tide. We ask him about his inspirations in life, his advice for budding musicians, and even what he likes to sing in the shower!
Do you play any instruments? If so, when and why did you start playing?
I play all the rock instruments: guitar, bass, keys, drums. But my main instrument is guitar. I started playing guitar when I was about 15 years old after I needed a break from piano and drums.
I always loved singing, so playing guitar was a natural fit because it gave me the time and focus to concentrate on the art of song writing. The instrument came relatively easy to me, as well as learning to sing and play at the same time.
Were your musical tastes influenced by anyone?
My friend Benji was definitely the guy who introduced me to rock music when I was still listening to pop music at a young age. He introduced me to bands I still love like Sublime, Pearl Jam and Spoon. Those were some of the first rock acts I encountered back in 6th and 7th grade.
Before that, I was listening to the radio like most other kids. So Benji was the first one who helped me seek out music that wasn’t just “popular”. Obviously bands like Pearl Jam did get very popular in the end, but Benji had older siblings that listened to those bands when they were up and coming, so it was exciting to hear music that was semi-underground at first.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Jeff Buckley is my favourite songwriter and musician. I think he’s a legendary voice both as an actual singer and as a perspective. ‘Last Goodbye’ is my favourite song of his. He feels like an ancient soul with the vibrancy of a young man. He lives so loudly in his heartache and heartbreak and it comes out viscerally in his playing, song writing, and lyrics. I wish I’d had the opportunity to see him live.
What’s the best music festival you’ve performed at?
Hmmm…honestly I love the home concerts that I play. They are so fulfilling because of the intimacy and connection I make with audiences. I once played a little home concert music festival in Denver, thrown by a distant family member, which had about 75 people there. The kids were hanging on the monitors, the adults sitting on blankets and drinking craft beers. Everybody was attentive and asked questions when each song ended, just to hear the stories behind the music. Home concert tours are therefore my favourite endeavours.
What’s the best music festival you’ve attended?
Desert Trip was really fun. I went with my brother and girlfriend and some friends of ours and we heard all the oldie greats. The best set was Neil Young. Just as he started ‘Harvest Moon’ (maybe my 2nd favourite song behind ‘Last Goodbye’) an enormous orange harvest moon rose behind him. My girlfriend and I were in tears listening, dancing, and just in awe of the entire experience. The bathrooms at the festival were also super clean so that was a plus!
What’s been your most embarrassing on stage mishap?
I’ve had many but there is one consistent embarrassing moment. Somebody is always really nice and buys me a whiskey, which is my favourite to sip on during a show, and then I inevitably put it on the ground, next to my setlist and pedal board, and eventually kick it over. EVERY TIME.
What advice would you give to beginners in the industry?
Write, write, write. Did you finish writing that tune? Great, write another one. Write with every amount of energy you can before you get burned out.
What songs do you listen to when you need motivation?
When I need to psych myself up and get excited, I’ll generally listen to System of A Down. Hypnotize and Mesmerize are two of my favourite records. I also like some Hall & Oates greatest hits. Otherwise, when I exercise I usually like something poppy, keeps me upbeat. When I need inspiration for writing I’ll listen to the new records I’ve been digging.
When do you know that you’re 100% happy to stop working on a song and release it?
Never. I’m never 100% happy with a song. It’s brutal. There just comes a time when I feel like I need to hear the song as fully realized as it can be, because I keep wanting to listen back to it. But the final mix is never right, the feel is never how I imagined, and I never sing it quite right. It’s always kinda close, but never quite what I hoped. Like I said: It’s brutal.
What one song do you wish you had written?
Again, ‘Last Goodbye’ is probably #1 as I talk about it a lot. But Dawes’ ‘Time Spent in Los Angeles’ is a really great lost love LA story. That and ‘Most People’. Those two Dawes songs bring up that broken-hearted Los Angeles mindset to me. The descriptors, the way he describes women he grew up within this city, and this beautiful mix of cynicism and hopeless romanticism.
Which country would you love to tour in?
I’d love to play in Japan, but I don’t have any fans there. So for fans that I know I have, I’d love to make it down to Australia to perform some home concerts. I have plans to go there in January, and I also hope that I’ll get some people requesting me to go out there and play. Otherwise, I’d like to play more shows in and around England. I’ve had a great time there, but want more shots at playing in London.
If you could go back in time to meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
I’d love to meet Robert Kennedy. Honestly, I’d be pretty intimidated to meet him because I think he was such an important person and shining light for the world. He did and asked so much of citizens of the United States, and I have a lot of guilt behind not doing enough in service to people.
I just watched the documentary of his life on Netflix and was re-energized by his example and am currently trying to meditate on how better to be in service of people. He was a shining example of what a world figure should be and I am continually saddened that he was assassinated. I hope people will watch the documentary and hopefully be energized like I am to be involved in a new way.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
My girlfriend loves music so much and has such a sharp ear for what is great. I can always rely on her to point me towards new music. She has a hair of a different taste of music than I do.
While I am more inclined to listen to the singer and songwriter within music, she reaches out to find more vibe electronic rock music. That said, her different influence is so important in widening my pallet and I try to listen to her recommendations. Probably because 99% of the time she knows what’s really important in music.