Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Race The Tide! Founded by Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, Jesse Macht, this new band has an upcoming ‘home concert’ tour planned for 2018. Check out our exclusive Q&A with Jesse to learn about how he got started, his influences, and the group’s new single The Enemy!
1) Tell us about how you got started in music?
I’ve been involved in music my whole life. As a little kid I was in choirs and played piano and violin and eventually picked up the drums and then the bass, and then in my first band we all drew straws and I got guitar and it went on from there. The real inspiration for me was in high school. I was in a cover band and when we lost our singer because he graduated, I then started to sing and we added a new guitar player. The new guitar player introduced me to some local bands like Kara’s Flowers (which eventually became Maroon 5) Rilo Kiley, and Phantom Planet and after I saw what they were doing, that they were young guys all writing their own songs, it kinda hit me all at once that I could do that too.
Once I graduated I started a band in college called the Hatch that truly taught me a lot of what I know about songwriting and playing in a band. That band broke up after nine years of hustling with little successes here and there and a rebrand and record called Burn Down the Mission. After that I went solo doing my own thing as a singer/songwriter and put out two records, “Acts of Providence”, and “Suitcase Heart”. While I was pleased with those releases, especially “Suitcase Heart”, the songwriter name tag starting to weigh on my consciousness and I felt trapped by the branding. I started this new band project called RACE THE TIDE to try to break free from the collective “white boy with an acoustic guitar” shadow and let the music speak for itself.
2) What inspiration(s) do you draw on when you create music?
At the end of the day I listen to my heart. I”ll play around and eventually land on something that inspires the next progression, the next lyric, the next sentence, and eventually a story. Sometimes listening to records that really inspire me, or watching a movie is all it takes to set off a spark. Generally, after the spark ignites, it avalanches from there.
3) What was the music scene like for you in Los Angeles when you were growing up?
I grew up on the west side of LA and there was some cool things going on. The rise of alternative la pop was on fire with bands like Maroon 5 (formerly Kara’s Flowers) and Rooney and Phantom Planet and Rilo Kiley. Those bands were making some noise in the industry and we all kind of had the same upbringing. Some privilege and some hollywood mixed in with this angst and pride about the world we came from. The music felt really apropos for the little LA world we were in because it felt smart and witty but hooky and commercial at the same time – all elements that I think our neighborhoods were interested in. Parents who work in hollywood expect hard working smart kids, and we all have this artistic influence because of the city and our parent’s livelihoods, so we came from this urge to express and share and sell. It mixed all the genres we grew up with from Pearl Jam to Michael Jackson to Tom Petty and Elvis Costello all into one… it was one of the first times in music when it was no longer cool to stick to one genre but to branch out and listen to a bunch of different kinds of music.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
I mean, I would be blown off the stage, but my hero is Jeff Buckley. If I could tour, learn, and talk to him… get a sense of what influenced him, learn guitar from him, talk about art, get inspired by similar things, share philosophy… he had all the talent and makings of philosophy of a rock god, and I am overwhelmed by the emotion and practice of his songwriting.
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
Unfortunately I do not Karaoke. I wish I had the urge to do it, but I feel so uncomfortable when I get up there. I do love singing a cover “Harvest Moon” with my band. One of my favorite songs ever.
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
It’s the oldest advice in the book, and feels really annoying to hear sometimes, and I still hear it from people: WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE. You gotta keep on writing, and when you’re not writing, you should be gearing up to write again. Find inspiration, read and write and write and write songs. Write terrible songs, write ok songs, write great songs, write good songs; just keep the muscle alive. And do anything you can to play those songs. Find the time to get out and play and play and don’t worry about what people want to hear and what songs you can play and what you “should” play. There are so many songwriters, so many artists, so many guitar players, so many bands… you gotta get out there and just enjoy being you… if that stops being fun… thats when you know you gotta move on.
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I sound like a dinosaur but I think free music ruined the industry for up and coming artists. I think there’s so much music out there that its really hard to wade through and make a career. I think supervisors, A+R, labels, publishing companies are overwhelmed with material that it has really become a who you know industry as opposed to what’s any good. I don’t think them music business is investing in talent and watching it grow anymore… it expects musicians to be more than just musicians, more than just songwriters; it expects artists to be entrapaneurs and marketers and build their own audiences all themselves, sell records and then they come in and take over… it’s not the way the best artists of our time made it. The best bands and artists were highly invested musicians and I don’t see much of that happening anymore.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
I’ve had a really hard time with this one, but for me, I’ve had a lot of luck playing home concerts. Getting in front of people I know and friends of friends and fans and friends of fans and playing right in someone’s living room, sharing my stories, singing my songs, getting rid of the venue that takes too much of a share of the door and all the drinks, and letting the music speak for itself, honestly and up front, and getting most of the money from donations is something that works for me so far. As a growing artist I think finding an attentive audience is really tough and when someone organizes a home concert, it feels like a really fresh kind of concert and its unorthodox approach open’s audience’s minds to new things and thusly new music. You can watch some of my home concerts on the Airstream Endless Caravan tour of ’17 that I hosted here.
9) Tell us about the band’s latest single “The Enemy” and the inspiration behind it?
The song was born out of exactly what the chorus hook says, “Sick of being my own Enemy.” A lot of my personality traits that have helped me in life, have also hindered me in life, like all people… and the song was born from that idea. I have some pretty intense dreams as well, and sometimes I wake up feeling as though I live a double life of dream life and real life and I get exhausted from the subconscious battles I have with myself. The song is about those dreams and that idea.
10) What next on the horizon for the group?
I will be releasing the whole EP in March and will release the video for THE ENEMY come the end of February. I’m busy starting to play my next home concert tour for March/April and looking for people who wanna tour with and help me create the venues. I’ve visited over 100 different homes the last two years, and I wanna keep on growing and finding more warm listening audiences around the country. Other videos and some hidden tracks will also be released come April/May.
Race The Tide