I caught up with New York based songwriter Jesse Boykins III. With his production featuring the talents of Machinedrum and rumoured tracks in the pipeline with Joey Bada$$, I was excited to pick his brains about the music he makes and his creative process.
Radd: How would you describe the kind of music you make?
JB: I always call my music ‘soul music’ but I’d call it ‘world soul’ more than anything. A lot of my influences come from my personal experiences from being out in the world and making connections. I look at soul music as anything that’s honest and from the heart, and I think we as artists are influenced by our surroundings. That’s why I call the music I make ‘world soul’.
Radd: So ‘world soul’ is more than a genre, it’s a way of thinking?
JB: Exactly – I look at it like that – music is a lifestyle thing. We have access to a wider range of things than ever before so on the whole we’re influenced by a huge variety of things.
Radd: When you write music do you have a set approach?
JB: It all depends. I think formulas are cool – I used to write really formula-based stuff. I’d come up with a topic and then write the lyrics and chords, now I’m a bit freer taking bigger risks and not just singing over things that you’d expect. I used to have a lot of insecurities about what I created but now I have more courage and confidence in my creations.
Radd : Do you think the digitalisation that’s occurring within the music industry is a positive or a negative thing?
JB: Before the Internet there were still positives and negatives: positives of making music and negatives of trying to sell it. You have to learn to adapt –It’s a balance thing; you just have to figure out the balance.
Radd : Are you concerned about the digital environment where people download your music illegally?
JB: Regardless of how it’s distributed, I still get ‘revenue’ from it. That may not be in the form of someone buying it: they might tell a friend, come to a concert, or just know my name. I’m not going to be angry at someone for listening to my music because that was the aim in the first place! When you look at it like that, it doesn’t matter – there’s nothing to be upset about really.