Prepare to be enchanted by the future hottest musician in the world…ladies and gentlemen, hello, Jessarae! The insanely talented young singer-songwriter has rocked the stage with everyone from Seal…to Stevie Wonder…to Gavin Rossdale. And even cooler – Jessarae has performed everywhere from the Viper Room…to Club Nokia…to the Vancouver Olympics. Next up? The Sundance Film Festival. Go, Jessarae!
The rising super-superstar took a time out to talk about everything from being a 4th generation musician…to his run-in with Taylor Swift…to the best lesson he’s learned from his massively successful family…He’s the son of musician Stacia Rae Robitaille and NHL legend Luc Robitaille, and brother of The Vampire Diaries star Steven R. McQueen. Talk about an all-star fam!
MM: How did you get your start in the music world?
Jessarae: I started maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I was already a superstar in my mind [laughs]. I wore black and a couple people called me “little boy in black” – like Johnny Cash.
I’m actually a 4th generation musician in my family. My mom was a musician…I loved being around her when she was rehearsing. My grandpa had a number one hit and my great grandfather had a band. When “Guitar Hero” came out I started playing it and it felt so right that I wanted that in real life. I got a couple guitar lessons but they didn’t work out [laughs]…But I didn’t stop playing. I played every day. I was playing chords that didn’t exist. That’s how I developed my own style. I played with my thumb and not my fingers.
MM: You’re so prolific – already! What’s your songwriting process like?
Jessarae: It depends. Sometimes it starts like a melody. Other times it’s just an event or something that happens close to me. If I try to force something it doesn’t work out. I try to only play songs organically. I’m always onto the next thing. I have 563 ideas for songs on my iPhone and thousands on my computer.
I’m trying to write every day better and better. For my last record, I wanted to prove that I could be different from other young singers. I know who I am as an artist and I’m ready to take it to the next level.
MM: Love your latest video! Did you really shoot it on the beach?!
Jessarae: I did it with my family and a couple of friends. We got up at 5 AM as the sun was coming out. We were supposed to have a permit but we just kind of looked around and did it [laughs]. I got an amp on Craigslist for $10. The homeless guy in the video is a family friend. He looks homeless but he’s not [laughs].
MM: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Jessarae: I’m not religious but I do a prayer before…“Let’s be so weird on stage so no one looks away” [laughs].
MM: What’s the toughest moment of your career so far?
Jessarae: I played one show on Canada Day, and they were playing rave music. As soon as I started playing, a guy shouted out, “Bring back the other band” and I said, “Dude, I’m 15! Let me finish my set!” I played Johnny Cash and broke two strings. Something overcame my body. I had to redeem my honor [laughs]!
MM: Canada Day sounds hectic!
Jessarae: It is! I really gained my confidence though when I was in school at Wildwood. We had a band and cabaret and I got up a couple times and played for everyone in my school. After you perform for your school, you can do anything!
MM: Taylor Swift is getting some heat for writing about breakup after breakup. Would you ever write about your love life a la Taylor?
Jessarae: I love Taylor Swift. I got to meet her one time. I played a show at the Canyon Club and after I got off stage, my mom came up to me and said, “Someone wants to meet you.” It was Taylor Swift! She said she loved my stuff. It was insane.
MM: Would you do a duet with Taylor?
Jessarae: Oh yeah, definitely! Her song for “The Hunger Games” was so incredible.
MM: Do you sing to girls?
Jessarae: I told my parents I never wanted to meet someone through music. I wanted to have real relationships out of it but I’m always open to singing. My brother, Steven, used it to say when I started, “You’re going to get all the girls!” Steven likes to start trouble. A long time ago, he broke up with his girlfriend and we wrote a revenge song. He came up with some bad words. Steven is trouble [laughs].
MM: Steven is on the hit show “The Vampire Diaries.” Do you think the two of you could take on a real life vampire?
Jessarae: I think so! I’m not really scared of vampires. On Steven’s show, vampires can’t go in the sun! They’re also scared of garlic, how scary can they be [laughs]? It’s a cool time for both of us – me musically and him acting.
MM: What would you do if you weren’t a musician?
Jessarae: If I never discovered my love of music, I would have cooked!
MM: What’s your specialty?
Jessarae: Microwave popcorn [laughs]! I can cook a mean filet. That’s only when I’m being serious about it.
MM: Everyone in your family is incredibly successful. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from them?
Jessarae: I learned what it takes. Everyone in my family works so hard individually. My mother became a musician. My brother went on 50 auditions before he got “The Vampire Diaries.” My dad was living in a small town in Canada with no money. There’s no way he would have become a professional hockey player without that drive and just going for it.
MM: Obligatory hockey question! As the son of an iconic NHL star, do you skate?
Jessarae: I used to tell my parents I was going to be a singing hockey player [laughs]. I’m a really good skater. I used to fall asleep wearing skates. I was 6 at a hockey game and I fell asleep on the bench waiting to play once [laughs]. When I was growing up, everyone asked me “Do you want to be a hockey player?” I’ve had my fill. I want to do my own thing.
Hockey is so important to my family though. When the Kings won the Stanley Cup, we took it to Quebec and visited my dad’s family in this little town. My grandparents were there, our whole family! We played guitar…we ate gravy and cheese. It’s the thing to get and it somehow ends up being delicious [laughs].
MM: What’s your favorite food to eat at Kings games?
Jessarae: Wetzels pretzels!
MM: You’re starting to explode. Where do you see yourself in the next few years as you rocketlaunch in the music world?
Jessarae: I want to have a lifelong career and the only way to do that is to be true to yourself. That way of doing things takes a little longer. When I was younger, I wanted things to pay off really quickly. I look back and am happy that I’ve built things from the ground up. If those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here.
Music will always be my main focus, but I also like painting and maybe I’ll want to do a bunch of movies like Elvis! Actually, my parents named me after Elvis. His twin brother was supposed to be named “Jesse.”
Right now, I have dreams and am working really hard. I get to play shows. I get to jump in the ocean with an amp [laughs]. I’m just a fan of cool things.