Jesse Roper is everything you’d expect a West Coast songwriter-musician-farmer to be. He’s got the long hair, the en vogue moustache, the shell bracelet that jingles musically as he talks with his hands. He’s serious about music, jazzed by life, deeply satisfied by growing way too many cucumbers and always coming back to what excites him.
Such as the music he’s been writing over the pandemic.
“I just wrote one that I’m like, I’m gonna blow my own mind playing this one on stage. I can’t wait, it’s so awesome,” he said, bouncing in his seat.
Unfortunately, that particular song isn’t ready for the stage yet, but he still has a whole album of songs already produced and mastered, yet to be released. Does Anybody Know and Horizons were some of the first singles he released from that set, and there are several more he might preview at the All Ways Home festival he’s headlining on Sept. 4 and 5 at Starlight Stadium.
It’ll be the first time he performs those songs live which is really when you find out if a song is a hit. It’s not the Spotify numbers, impressive though they are, it’s the cheer when the first notes ring out.
“I’ve had an anxious knot in my chest from the day Frankie announced the show, and I don’t think it’ll go away until the first note is played. ‘Ladies and Gentleman, Jesse Roper!’ they’ll say, and I’ll play, thrummmmmmmmmm, and it’s going to be awesome.”
The new music he wrote, produced by Gus Van Go, is a departure from his 2015 album, Red Bird, a bluesy rock Jimi Hendrix-esque vibe that made him a name in these parts, and he couldn’t be happier.
“I write everything under the sun. I’m influenced by Metallica and Mozart, anything good that I hear gets mixed in.” This new album – that Roper is releasing one single at a time, his way of drawing out the excitement – is more of a reflection of his varied interests. It’s got some old-style doo-wop, pop, rock and new sound experiments he had a blast finding.
He recounted the studio experience saying, “I’m hearing like a bing bong! What is that a bell? Maybe a synth sound. And Gus would go, like biing boung! No. Beeiar beier. Nah. Brrawm brawp. Mmm well, that’s kind of getting there. A little more brawp with the beier. Brawp and beier together. Layer them on top, squish them down into one sound, and there you go! It was so fun, it was like being a kid dumping all the toys out all over the floor and getting into it.”
Even though he misses live performances fiercely – “Oh my god, I need that high so bad. That’s what I do it for, you get up there you get the energy exchange, you see all those happy, smiling faces, you rock out. It’s the best thing in the world,” he said about the upcoming show – Roper says the pandemic has been really good for his songwriting.
He’s been able to clear his mind of other people’s opinions and ideas and explore the magical rabbit holes of playing with sounds, rhythms and melodies. Songwriting at its best takes him to a different place, akin to meditating.
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