This week, we’re introducing you to Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jesse Ruben. Read more about Jesse and why he’s prompting the entire country to vote in this year’s Presidential Election below.
- For our readers who haven’t heard you before, can you describe your music for us?
I’d call it a mix of folk music and acoustic pop with an emphasis on quality lyrics.
- What are your musical influences?
There are so many amazing singer/songwriters to draw from. Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Joni, Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, and Ben Folds. I’m gonna stop there, because I could probably just keep listing names for like an hour.
- What are your non-musical influences?
Great question, no one has ever asked me this before actually. I think the people in my life influence me a lot. I have a really amazing core group that supports me and talks through things with me whenever I’m stuck. I also spend way too much time devoted to anything related to Sherlock Holmes. And Vietnamese food.
- You’ve recently returned to music, what was that like?
It wasn’t just about returning to music, it was about returning to my whole life. I got Lyme Disease at the end of 2012, and didn’t get healthy until last year. I put everything on hold and was basically just at the doctor’s office that whole time. It’s scary, and frustrating. I am very fortunate to have made a complete recovery. In fact, I just ran the NYC Marathon yesterday to raise money for Lyme Disease Research.
Getting back to music has been wonderful, because it’s the thing that makes me the happiest. To be able to write songs, and perform in front of people again is the best feeling. I missed it. I try to make sure I don’t take it for granted, ever. I am very lucky to be able to have this job.
- You premiered “This Is Why I Need You” on Billboard Magazine, what was that like?
Definitely an item checked off the bucket list. I’m very proud of that song, and to have support from such a major publication like Billboard was huge for me.
- What’s something you want people to know about you and your music?
I think music is really powerful. I try and write songs that help people deal with difficult things. I think that’s what music is for. To make sure you know that know matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone. After everything I went through with my health, I think it’s important for people to hear that message.
- Why do you think it’s important for musicians to connect with their fans?
It benefits everyone involved. I love being able to interact with people who appreciate what I do, to find out about their lives and how my songs have impacted them. On the flip side, I think people like knowing more about the artists they listen to and support.
- What’s the story behind “Scared Of America”?
I was at a songwriting masterclass over the summer, and someone came up to me and told me I didn’t have to always be so nice all the time. That really resonated with me. That night, I was thinking about all the things going on in the world that were upsetting to me. The stuff that everyone should be freaked out about, but that we just accept as normal. I wrote “Scared Of America” to highlight those things. So we can start talking about them. Because I think there’s a lot of stuff we as a country, and as a human race, could be doing better. I think it’s my job as someone who makes art to point that out.
- Can you tell us a little bit about The We Can Project?
I wrote a song called “We Can” after I ran my first marathon. I thought the song would inspire people to run marathons. Instead, it’s turned into a really amazing initiative in elementary and middle schools all over the United States and Canada. It helps students realize ways that they would like to contribute to their communities. So far over 300,000 students have participated. I never thought I’d end up working with kids, but it’s incredibly rewarding. I really love it.
- What’s next for you in 2016/2017?
I’m finishing up an EP called A Reply To Violence that will be out next year. I’m also gonna be doing a bunch of traveling for shows and for The We Can Project. At some point, I’m gonna sign up for my next marathon.
- Coffee or tea?
Always tea. I have a hard enough time falling asleep as it is, so I pretty much stay away from caffeine. So I’m an herbal tea guy.
- Trains or buses?
Trains 100%. You can’t get stuck in traffic on a train. And they’re more comfortable.
- Dogs or cats?
Dogs. Not to hate on cat people but…duh.
- Homebody or party animal?
A couple years ago I would’ve said PARTY ANIMALLLLLL! But now that I’m over I think I’m right in the middle. I do like going out with friends, although I can’t drink nearly as much as I used to. Plus, there are SO many good shows to watch at home.
- Ideal burrito toppings?
Rice, fajita veggies, steak, salsa, corn, lettuce, guac. Yea, thats my Chipotle order.