Men don’t have it easy either. Awww. No, honestly, before the crowd starts booing. We live in a world where the idea of survival of the fittest has been ruling since the first single-celled organisms. But what happens to those sensitive people who devote themselves to art for the sake of feeling? How do they find their way through the world? And what’s more, how can they remain true to themselves in their quest for success?
Perhaps he cannot answer all of these questions. But in any case, this musician has an extremely exciting insight regarding this philosophical topic through his own life story and his catchy songs: Justin Jesso.
THE STORY OF JUSTIN JESSO IN BRIEF
Music runs in the family for Justin Stein, the singer’s real name. His great-grandfather, to whom he owes his self-chosen last name Jesso, was also a musician. And what a musician he was. As a well-known bandleader in the wild 1920s, his piano skills delighted Chicago gangster boss Al Capone and his companions, among others.
His far less shady grandmother plays an even more decisive role in the current success of the American singer and songwriter. It was she who sent the 5-year-old toddler onto a stage for the first time. After this brief first performance, it was unalterably clear to him that he wanted to spend the rest of his life as a musician in front of huge audiences.
Since then, Justin Jesso has been driven primarily by two things: his incredible talent, and his almost obsessive ambition to prove it to himself and to the world. His stellar music career basically began before Justin could even speak his first word.
“My mom always likes to tell this funny story. I was one year old screaming at the top of my lungs during the entire Super Bowl broadcast. But when Whitney Houston sang her version of the national anthem during the halftime performance, I was so mesmerized by her voice that I immediately stopped crying. The moment her last note faded away, my crying started all over again,” Justin says with a laugh.
It’s hardly surprising, that he declares the great R&B and soul-pop queen his musical inspiration to this day. A further influence on his music can be traced back to icons like Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and Michael Jackson.
THE BALLAD “THE END”
Another great source of inspiration for Justin Jesso is love. With all its different facets, it is an almost unsolvable riddle that always holds new surprises. It combines pleasure and joy, but it also stands for disappointment, pain, and loneliness, when mutual affection eventually fades out at some point.
Justin Jesso knows all these feelings from his own experience. Maybe too well, as he confesses in his new heartbreaking ballad.
“The End” reflects the desire to turn back time for a few moments to happier days, to be allowed to be lighthearted and carefree once again, and to imagine that you haven’t yet reached the end of your journey together for just a brief moment.
Striking singer/songwriter elements combined with catchy pop melodies and dramatic choirs as well as strings to a bittersweet mix, with which Justin now delivers a touching earworm for the dark season.
THE (VIDEO) LOVE STORY OF JUSTIN JESSO AND JEARNEST CORCHADO
The single release is accompanied by an atmospheric and dramatic video clip, which represents the prelude of a four-part mini-series, in which the bittersweet love story is continuously retold and deepened.
“The End” represents the first part, featuring Justin Jesso alongside well-known U.S. actress Jearnest Corchado, whose credits include the Netflix series “Sneakerheads” and the Apple TV+ production “Little America.”
Just as Quentin Tarantino reinvented storytelling, Justin Jesso’s music video series also follows a particular chronology. Spread over four clips, the plot is virtually “told backwards.” The series starts with “The End” and only finds its resolution or its beginning in the last part! We obviously don’t want to reveal too much at this point, but we highly recommend it: Stay tuned!
JUSTIN JESSO’S WINDY CAREER PATH
Justin Jesso stuck to his guns when it came to his career. He grew up in the small village of Glencoe, Illinois, a scant half-hour’s drive from Chicago when the merciless American East Coast winter isn’t once again bogging down the roads with its icy claws.
“Instead of picking out a football at the toy store like most kids, I was more interested in the plastic children’s microphone when I was a little boy,” Justin Jesso says.
A short period of time later, he got piano lessons and wrote his first own song at the age of 9. The young multi-talent also performed in various theater plays in Chicago, even starring in several different plays at the same time at the age of 14. Of course, this caused much chagrin to his school teachers, who regularly complained to Justin’s parents about his exorbitant absences.
Two years later, he met a music producer who gave him his first lessons in songwriting. At the age of 18, Justin Jesso finally released his debut album. This brought him to the attention of Disney’s talent scouts. On his way to becoming the next big teen star, Justin toured the country. In the process, he became a highly regarded support for young Disney acts such as Jesse McCartney, Jordin Sparks, Raven Symoné, and Corbin Bleu.
THE PATH TO SUCCESS WASN’T ALWAYS EASY
After his management contract vanished overnight without warning, Justin enrolled in Meisner Acting Training in New York City. Disillusioned, depressed, lonely.
“I was just an average actor. All my classmates were making great progress; I actually found this class completely unnecessary. During one class, I suddenly had a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t breathe and all I could do was cry. All my bottled-up emotions just burst out of me. My fears, my pain. Originally, I wanted to learn to be a good actor so that I could communicate my feelings better. In those two years, I didn’t compose a single song. At some point, I realized how much I missed music at the bottom of my heart.”
As of now, the song has earned over 123 million clicks on YouTube, and well over 450 million Spotify streams since its release. Following this success, Justin Jesso delighted an audience of millions together with Kygo on an extensive world tour that lasted two years through mostly completely sold-out stadiums in Asia, Australia, North and South America as well as Europe.
“For me, live performances are still the most exciting thing ever. I’ve been a performer all my life and love communicating with the audience. This passion for performing inspires my music as well, of course. You have to be aware of your feelings to be able to express them. You can only touch people if you are sincere and reveal your innermost.”
A mix of emotion, energy, and last but not least an unforgettable voice, which Justin also transported on his first solo single, the 2018 released track “My Body”, after much acclaimed collaborations with international greats like the Backstreet Boys, Madcon, Armin Van Buuren, Nina Nesbitt, Alle Farben, and others.
THE BREAKTHROUGH OF JUSTIN JESSO
During a writing session together with Jamie Hartman and Stuart Crichton, Justin Jesso wrote the track “Stargazing”. This became the track that would abruptly change his life.
You can check out “Stargazing” here!
“On Tuesday we sent Kygo the song, on Wednesday we got his revised version back, and on Friday the finished single was already in front of us,” Justin recalls with shining eyes.
All well and good if there hadn’t been a small problem, as there often seemed to be with his songs. “Kygo’s label wanted a bigger name as a singer. I had composed many songs up to that time, but I wasn’t allowed to sing them myself because I was too unknown. The record companies were only interested in my music, but not in me as an artist. Kygo, however, insisted that I sing my own song myself.”
Following the release of his 2019 “Let It Be Me” EP, Justin Jesso dropped another earworm with “Bigger Than”, which you can find here!
The track was created in collaboration with Norwegian producer duo Seeb, who have worked with acts such as Taylor Swift, Bastille, Shawn Mendes, One Republic, and Mike Posner, and who have racked up more than 2 billion streams of their songs and remixes. After just one week, “Bigger Than” generated nearly 1.5 million streams on Spotify. In Norway, the track directly entered the Top 50 charts, and is currently ranked 20th on the Norwegian Spotify charts.
JUSTIN JESSO INSPIRING THROUGH WORDS AND LIVESTREAM PERFORMANCES
“As a child, my biggest wish was to become as big as Michael Jackson. I have since realized how ridiculous and unrealizable that dream was. The single [“Bigger Than”] is about remembering what you’ve achieved. It’s a very spiritual song. The lyrics are about living a life you can be proud of. Doing the right thing at the right moment. Being a good person. I’m insanely grateful that I get to do what I love. Especially in these turbulent times. I’m always looking for answers. In the process, I’ve learned one thing: You should never demand things from life too forcefully. Everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. The universe has its very own rules. The more desperately you expect or hope for something, the longer it may take. You just have to be patient. Music has always helped me understand my feelings better. I’m happy to be able to help my fans today and touch them with my songs.”
The fact is that Justin Jesso’s steep way up is definitely not over with “The End”! He recently showed just how much energy he carries during the Columbia Calling: Breakfast Club Showcase. Read more about it on the next page!
Pictures © SONY MUSIC