SOUL SINGER: JESSE MCCARTNEY For Bello Mag July 2014
Jesse McCartney might be famous for his low-key SoCal swagger, but don’t let the image fool you, this guy’s not afraid to hustle. In fact, at an age when most of us were more concerned with summer vacations and school crushes, he was busy snagging Emmy Nominations (for his role as fan favorite, J.R. Chandler Jr. on All My Children) and singing his heart out as part of the millennial boy band, Dream Street.
Then came a starring role on The WB’s Summerland, a criminally catchy pop breakthrough (‘Beautiful Soul’), Leona Lewis’s worldwide smash, ‘Bleeding Love’ (which he co-wrote), more roles in films and on television, and of course, more music… Now, McCartney’s one the most in demand actor/singer-songwriters in the business, proving not only that a little fire in the belly goes a long way. Also the audiences know the real thing when they see it.
“I try to be as honest as I can in my songwriting and my acting. I think people will call BS if they hear or view anything otherwise,” he says with the confidence of a seasoned performer who’s been doing this for most of his life. McCartney knows he’s lucky to have stumbled upon his calling in life so quickly and more importantly that it helps him celebrate another passion of his…
“I absolutely love the female race. I love everything about them and what they do to us as males… I’ve been in really fiery relationships; I’ve been in colder ones. I’ve been single. It just makes for tons of songwriting, these new experiences. I think everyone feels it; it’s just my job to let it out so they can relate to it.”
And by the sound of his unabashedly sexy upcoming LP, the 70’s funk and pop-infused, In Technicolor, it’s clear he takes that job seriously: “It’s so funny, when you grow up, the music that you listen to as a child definitely leaves an imprint on your life in one way or another. And for me, those people were Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Prince. So I sort of wanted to make a record that was a reflection of what I grew up listening to and how incredibly this music made me feel.”
It’s a direction that the ‘Leaving’ singer has been heading in since the summer of 2013, when he collaborated on a song with pop-rock group, Hot Chelle Rae, for their record, but soon found himself desiring the instantly addictive jam. “I thought, this feels like it might be the template for what I wanted to do with my album. So I asked the guys and at first they were a little hesitant, but after hearing how much of the song was actually soul oriented, they said yeah, this should totally be your record!”
The record was called ‘Back Together’, a confident slice of retro pop that would be the first single off of his well-received EP – released at the end of last year as a sort of teaser for this current project: “In Technicolor is the album that I feel like I was born to make,” McCartney says with characteristic passion. “I was happy that the response was so positive (to last year’s EP), but no matter what, I had to let these songs out.”
Like the album’s first single, ‘Superbad’, which finds the ultra-cool crooner singing the praises of his lady love as only he can… “’Superbad’ is definitely a good reflection of the album in its entirety. It’s funny, I think once you kind of study up and read about the lingo that was used back in the 70’s, like ‘Superbad’, it just sounds cooler when you put it with contemporary music and melodies. It kind of has that throwback feel.”
As does the song’s steamy video, shot in Los Angeles and perfectly capturing McCartney’s easy breezy vibe. In fact, the two seem so in sync that it’s easy to forget he’s actually a proud New Yorker. “I moved out here when I was 16, so all of my adult life has been out here… LA swallowed me up, but I definitely feel tons of roots and ties to New York, and not just in music, but also in food, art, and architecture. I love it there and miss it very much.”
Spoken like a true renaissance man… Accordingly, even though this year is all about the music -“fans can definitely expect a tour this summer”- the versatile actor and surprising voice over star of Alvin & The Chipmunks, Justice League, and a slew of other iconic cartoons – “That was kind of a happy accident, but I did grow up idolizing (legendary Loony Tunes vocal master), Mel Blanc” – hasn’t given up on his other pursuits. “I love film and television. But if I’m on set, I’m fully on set, 100%. If I take a role, that’s all I’m doing… Same with my music… I can’t be distracted; I have to give all of myself to one project at a time.”
And who are we to argue with such a clearly successful strategy?
photographer MARC CARTWRIGHT http://www.marccartwright.com
stylist TARA WILLIAMS
makeup NICOLE WALMSLEY http://www.nicolewalmsley.com
hair SIENREE using Unite Hair Care
photographer assistant BAKER CHASE
stylist assistant CHANEL GIBBONS
special thanks to CLAYTON DOYLE and PLANTATION DESIGN
Thanx for the love Jesse @JesseMcCartney