Jessie May Kitchen: I wanted to become a singer/songwriter when I was 5 years old. I remember seeign people singing on TV and thinking “Hey! That’s me,” My parents told me I could be anything I wanted as a young girl, but like most families panicked in my high school years telling me I “should find a plan B” or go for something, you know, is “easy, safe, or guaranteed money,” So, for a while i was lost and didn’t write for years. Until one day in 2016, I realized that I’m happiest in song writing and singing; that this is who I’m supposed to be. So, I picked up a guitar and was me again. My parents are much more supportive of me now that I’m older. And even if it’s not the “safest” road to travel, it sure is the sunniest.
FR: What inspired you to become an artist and whoa re your early influences?
JMK: I can’t remember a time that something had made me think, “ya know what? Let’s be an artist!” I always just was. I’ve forever created to express myself and because I love it. I did watch a lot of musical shows when I was small, such as The Wiggles, H.R Puff n Stuff, The Naked Brothers Band, and Hannah Montana, so I feel that probably influenced Younger Me.
FR: Tell us a little about your writing process. How does a song come along? What gets you going creatively?
JMK: I usually write songs about how I feel or my thoughts about life at the time. A good song comes from the heart. Sometimes I’ll be venting out a whole song. Other times I’ll be out and about busy when a lyric will come to be, so I crawl it down on a notepad or write it in my phone to put in a song later. I also write songs that are stories I’ve made up. I see or hear something I like then let my imagination run wild.
FR: Your bio mentions growing up in a split family. Tell us what went on there.
JMK: I grew up in a truggling split family: when my parents were together they would abuse each other drunk. My father’s an alcoholic and my mother’s a party girl. They would bash each other up, leaving blood on the wall and police at our door frequently. They split up when I was 9. Me and my mum has a rough relationship. We got into fist fights because I was a troubled child and missed my dad, so one day she dropped me off at his house to live. Living with my dad for 7 years wasn’t a piece of cake because of his alcoholism. My dad tried his best to look after me, he is a good parent enslaved by his addiction. Some nights I had to look after him as if he were a moody cild, other nights he would get abusive. At 16, I got tired of it and repaired my relationship with my mother to move in and help my other siblings. My oldest sister by then had also become a bit of an alcoholic, her depression alongside our parents’ genes caused her to lash out violently when drunk. This eventually led to me calling the police after she threatened to murder me, and I believed her as we’ve had very violent arguments in the past. The police put an AVO against her for a year. We have recently resolved our conflict and repaired our relationship. Still struggling, my siblings and I, often let on our own, help pay for groceries with the money they get in their part time jobs, whilst I busk in the small-town streets with my guitar and the songs I write for money. The hardships and challenges I’ve had to face can give the wrong impression, I love my family no matter what and appreciate all the positive things they have done for me. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone ever, despite how wild we are. It’s just the luck of the draw, some people are sheltered and some aren’t.
FR: What is the first record you bought and why?
JMK: My first record was the Spongebob Squarepants Soundtrack I bought at 9 years old because I was a big fan of the show. I still am!
FR: What current Australian acts inspire you and why? What international acts?
JMK: I’m really into Russel Morris as an Australian artist because I feel like I really connect with his music. The uplifting music he plays often brightens your mood. Having the power to change the way someone feels through music is real magic to me. As for internationally, I’ve always been inspired by Miley Cyrus because she used her platform to speak up about society’s issues and fights for change. I also admire how she puts 100% of her energy into her shows and spreads the message of acceptance through her music.
FR: Tell us a little bit about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
JMK: My music fits into the pop rock, rootsy, indie categories. It’s a way I express myself through lyrics and melodies. Each song has its own message or story to tell. My songs, to me, are my ultimate way of being myself. My live shows include positive energy, because performing’s all about the entertainer and audience collectively having a good time. And honesty because a lot of my songs have my authentic emotions and thoughts put into them.
FR: Favourite artists of all time?
JMK: Bob Dylan is a favourite singer/songwriter I’m highly enthusiastic about, because the lyrics to his songs are so wise. The first time I listened to Blowing in the Wind I fell in love with his music. He is a true artist and poet, expressing his understandings on the world around him through the medium of song. Cat Stevens has always written amazing songs that I grew up listening to. He’ll always have a special place in my heart because I’d practice singing to Moon Shadow and Father and Son when I was quite young. Bob Seger is another of my favourite artists. I’m a big fan of his music. i listen to him on long road trips or early morning to start the day right.
FR: Favourite film? Book? Place? Animal or pet and story is there is one?
JMK: My favourite film ever is The Greatest Showman because it’s inspiration, uplighting, and optimistic. It stand for everything I believe in, such as unity, the thrill of putting on a show, and celebrating differences. Plus, the soundtrack’s amazing! My favourite book series would be The Blood of Eden Trilogy by Julia Kagawa, it’s about a post-apocalyptic world overrun by vampires. My favourite place is high in a tree. I’ve always loved climbing trees because it makes me feel closer to nature and it’s nice to be up high, away from everything and everyone for a little while. Climbing is the closest thing humans have to flying. My favourite animals are bumble bees because they are cute, fluffy, yellow, and make me honey (which I drink in my cuppa tea every day).
FR: Favourite food or drink?
JMK: My favourite food is pancakes because they were the first thing I’d learnt to make as a 10 year old. They are so simple to make. I used to eat them at elast every day during school holidays whilst my dad was at work. They taste so good! Spread some butter, sprinkle some sugar and you’re in heaven! My favourite drink is tea. I can’t go a day without it! It warms your soul. The stronger the better. I double bag, even quadruple bag it. I first had a cuppa tea when I was 5 or 6 years old. It was at my next-door neighbour’s house. My little sister would waddle over there daily as a toddler by herself. A nice old lady with dementia, called Vi, lived next door and would let her in. If we couldn’t find Toot we knew she’d gone to visit Vi. I was sent to go fetch her back, when I got there they were drinking tea and having toast for breakfast. She offered me some and I loved it. Vi having dementia meant we would drink quite a LOT of tea at her house. You’d finish a pot and she’d forget we’d ever had any, so she’d ask, and to be cheeky we’d say we hadn’t to get more tea. Drinking teas probably somewhere in my blood anyway. My grandmother’s from Ireland – the number one tea drinking capital, and my dad’s from England – which comes a close second.
FR: You’re backstage with Miley Cyrus. What do you say?
JMK: “Hi! Oh my gosh, no way! NO. WAY. I’ve always been a MASSIVE fan of yours. Thank you so much for everything you’ve ever done. You and your music helped me growing up. Sorry if I’m over excited and too much of a fangirl, I just want you to know you have such a kind soul and help so many people in so many ways,”
FR: What’s the one thing you want/need that you think will make you a successful artists and why?
JMK: I want people to connect to my music. I’d love to attract my tribe of people because I feel we’d be a pretty fun, whacky bunch. I don’t feel I need anything to be a successful artist. The way I see it – there’s public eye successful which yes would be nice, or there’s success of the heart. Your success as an artist can’t be measured by anything or anyone else. THere’s no secret goals and lines you have to cross to become successful. As long as I can make others happy and create songs that I’m passionate about then I’m already successful.