Jessica Meuse Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you
for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you
play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin had a baby, it would be me. I’m what
country roots melded with rock and roll influence throughout 27 years
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?
biggest highlight for me in 2017 was landing a management deal with
Warrior Records and pulling the trigger on recording my debut album. I
was working a “normal” job out in Houston, Texas before I got the
management deal and it was sucking my soul dry. I was sad. My
creativity was being buried and I didn’t have time to write and play my
guitar. I got the management deal with Warrior Records out of Los
Angeles and immediately started pulling songs together for the album. I
was flown to Los Angeles, recorded 15 brand spankin’ new original songs
at Capitol Records Studios, and now it’s about to be released on August
Lamitschka: What is your latest CD and how’s it doing?
Answer: The album is called “Halfhearted,” and it’s available for preorder starting on June 1, 2018 (with a release date on August 3rd)!
Lamitschka: How did you choose the title for the CD? Is there a story behind the name?
Answer: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I want people to take “ alfhearted”
and the songs on it on a soul-to-soul level. I want my fans to connect
with each tune personally and, hopefully, it’ll help them in some way
and ultimately bring joy. For me, “Halfhearted” is about the duality of
everything, from the macrocosmic concept of good versus evil to the
darkness and light within each and every one of us. It’s about taking
the two extremes, finding a balance, and living your best life, even
when we’re dealt a bad hand and embracing trials and hardships, because
they are a part of something much, much bigger.
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
Answer: I wrote the majority of the songs on “ alfhearted”
all by my lonesome. “Thank God It Didn’t Work” is my very first
co-write with two of my Nashville friends and I’m super proud of how it
turned out with a full production. The ONLY song I didn’t write is “His
Missing Heart (Jigsaw Puzzle),” which was written by another friend out
on the west coast.
Lamitschka: Please tell us about the songs on your album (influences, etc).
heavily influenced on the 90s country I grew up to. Anything from
Faith Hill to Shania Twain to early 2000s when Big & Rich first came
onto the country music scene. However, I’ve definitely got that grit
and attitude of rock from my influences like the Rolling Stones,
Shinedown, and southern rockers like Black Stone Cherry and Lynyrd
Lamitschka: What is the difference between your last CD and your current one?
Answer: My last CD wasn’t made with a click track and it wasn’t produced well, and this one is the complete opposite.
Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is
special about this song that makes people want to hear it?
Her Better” is relatable. A lot of people have been through what the
song is talking about — being cheated on. I think it’s important to
write about real things and real feelings.
Lamitschka: You did a duet with __Bo Bice___. How did that happen to come about?
song “Without You” was originally done solo by me, but my manager
approached me with the idea of making it a duet. We cut it up into duet
format and the first person I thought of was Bo Bice! He’s part of the
American Idol family, but he’s also a really good human being loaded
with talent, and he embodies a lot of the same values I do…so it was a
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have over your music?
hadn’t even given thought to creative control, because my
manager/producer and I just bounced ideas off one another and never
really had much of an issue. There were never any real disagreements on
anything in any song, and if one person wanted something one way and
the other person wanted the opposite, it was easy to come to a
compromise that everybody was happy with.
Lamitschka: There’s a lot of work that goes into a number one hit. What did it take to make it in your case?
persistence, and did I mention persistence? It’s all about driving
forward and never stopping and never settling. I have my amazing fans,
the Muse Mafia, to thank for getting “Love Her Better” to number 1 on
two different charts. They’re the best fans an artist could ever ask
Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?
had fans send me messages about how I’ve “saved” them before. I’ve had
fans who connected with me personally about the bullying I endured in
my past and even about the domestic violence I endured in an abusive
relationship. I’ve also had fans reach out to me about issues such as
anxiety, hair loss related to anxiety, and gathering the strength to go
to therapy — that it’s okay to go to therapy and the
negative stigma should be removed. The power that music has is simply
amazing…it’s almost spiritual. When my fans reach out to me about these
things, it fills my heart to know that following my dream and telling
my story helped them to heal in some way, to acknowledge an issue and
take action, and to overall help themselves and be the best they can
be. I’m happy to be there for them and relate with them on a human
level, because I am, after all, just a normal person. I’m reminded
almost daily about why I do what I do, and honestly, the fans are what
keep me going!
Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?
I said before, I grew up on a lot of 90s country! Artists like Shania
Twain, Faith Hill, and power houses like Martina McBride were always
huge inspirations to me. In addition to that, I’m heavily influenced by
a lot of rockers like Fleetwood Mac, the Stones, Janis Joplin, and
Lamitschka: What do you think about today’s music scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?
music scene is extra tough. It’s hard enough to be an artist and be
taken seriously, but we’re in a world of viral videos and people trying
to get famous for literally anything nowadays. Social media and the
internet is a huge factor in the industry now, so getting a significant
following on any of those platforms is critical to success and having an
audience at all in 2018. I see the music scene continuing along this
route for quite some time. The internet isn’t going anywhere, and it’s
all up to the fans and the support an artist has backing them.
Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
it would be more resume based instead of who’s friends with who…It
comes in handy to know people, of course, but it means something to
really “pay your dues” and get as good as you possibly can in your craft
— to be ready for it instead of just having the
convenience of funds or a buddy of a buddy who can hook you up with the
right people at the right time.
As an artist, you so many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews.
What do you like best, what’s your favorite activity?
love touring and seeing new places and meeting fans I’ve spoken to
online — I’m such a nerd, but that’s the coolest thing ever to me! When
I visit a new place, I love to explore and go for a run before the
show, and I love to discover the history and little hole-in-the-wall
places. I also thoroughly enjoy interviews because — if you didn’t
already know — I love to talk people’s faces off and tell stories!
Lamitschka: What was your big break that got you into the music business?
always been a singer, and I taught myself guitar in late middle
school. My first instrument was violin in middle school, and I
performed in a local symphony orchestra for years and years growing up.
My “big break,” however, didn’t occur until I made it onto Season 13 of
American Idol and was
able to make it all the way up into the Top 4. Before that, The Voice
had called me to schedule a private audition and I made it to the blind
auditions — I thought that was my “big break,” but man was I wrong! It
was really American Idol that helped me get a jump start on everything.
There are so many amazing people working on the show, and the coaches
and industry people you meet are incredible. I got an education that
money can’t buy, and for that I’m eternally grateful. It helped me
figure out who I was as an artist and really hone in on my sound.
Lamitschka: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?
was always blessed to have a very supportive family. My mom and dad
have always pushed me — especially mom — and helped me get to the other
side of it when times got tough. Mom actually bought me my first violin
AND my first ever guitar! She also was the one who drove me to
symphony orchestra literally every single Saturday while I was in middle
and high school, and you bet my parents were in the crowd clapping and
supporting me when I was playing a concert or singing at a bar or a
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become an artist?
I know this sounds super cliche, but music is in my blood. I just
knew. Ever since I was a little girl, I sang. I always said, “I’m
gonna be famous one day,” even before I knew what famous really meant.
It’s a calling. Writing and singing and being able to perform and make
people happy…to be able to convey a message and emotion all at the same
time in a melody…it’s like a magical power. It just kinda happened, and
I have always known it was all I ever wanted to do. I’m glad I
listened to that muse.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a songwriter?
Answer: A guy pissed me off. Surprise!
Lamitschka: What drives you?
than anything, what drives me most is my fans. If I’m having a bad
day…if I’m sad…when I am doubting myself…my fans are so uplifting.
They’re so kind and positive and they just believe in me. They don’t
realize how much they do for me, and that’s why I originally titled them
my “muses” during my time on American Idol (and they self-dubbed
themselves the Muse Mafia). Then, of course, you know I’m a spitfire
and the haters drive me onward and upward as well! Hahaha!
Lamitschka: What’s unique about you that will differentiate you from other artists?
music doesn’t have a Jessica Meuse. I am the grit, the dirt, that
raspy voice of reality that relates to the everyday person just trying
to make it in life. I don’t glam it up with glitter and gold — I’m just
real, and every bit of it is completely authentic and backed by true
stories and experiences.
Lamitschka: Any thoughts of retirement ahead?
Answer: I will never retire!
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?
be completely honest, I relax by working more. When I’m back home, off
the road, I like to work on new songs, whether that’s writing them or
learning covers for fun. I also love to reach out to new venues and
brands, etc. and work with people. I’m a total workaholic!
Lamitschka: Is there any place you haven’t played that you would like to?
Answer: I want to play in Europe! All over it! And Australia! And New Zealand! And Iceland!…Everywhere, basically.
Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do
you have your own website and what will fans find there?
Answer: I do! It’s JessicaMeuse.com and they’ll find my upcoming tour dates, a bunch of info about me, how to book me, and how to preorder my brand new album “Halfhearted” starting June 1, 2018!