Photo Credit: Richie Ramirez Jr.
The influence of the Disney Channel in the 2000s is hard to deny at the moment; from drag performers inspired by the likes of Hannah Montana to singers who grew up doing their best ‘Camp Rock’ performances. While the network has had hits since there was something quite magical about that time because it went on to inspire the likes of Jessa. An R&B singer with an alternative foundation, Jessa spent her childhood on a homemade stage singing along to Disney Channel hits and, like a lot of kids, whatever her parents happened to play. We kicked off there but got into self-love, the most common lie, and more like her latest single, “saying i’m fine.”
Kendra: When you asked your grandpa to build you that stage in the basement, what artists were you emulating at the time? Are those still artists you look up to today?
Jessa: At that age, whoever was on Disney Channel and whoever my parents played! My dad played a lot of R&B, so no one artist specifically but the genre definitely left a mark.
Kendra: Looking back at “Want Me,” how would you say you’ve grown as an artist and a songwriter since then?
Jessa: I’m much more confident in my sound, I lean more toward alternative now and write about my life, not just meaningless unspecific things. My lyrics aren’t quite as fluffy as they were in that song.
Kendra: It seems like you’ve really embraced the idea of self-love in your music. That is something I feel your generation has been the foundation of, but what about you personally? What made you realize that self-care and loving yourself was a big priority in life?
Jessa: A few years back I was in a relationship where I loved someone else more than I respected myself. It was a hard realization to make, but it pushed me to focus on taking care of myself in a more active way.
Kendra: I ask because your latest single, “saying i’m fine’ dives into aspects of that. I think “I’m fine” is the lie that’s told most around the world daily. We all do it and recognize it’s strange but keep on doing it. Has this song helped you to not rattle off the generic response when asked, “How are you,” or are you still working on that? Because it’s hard to be open about struggling.
Jessa: These days when people ask how I am I really have no qualms about being honest, if I’m not doing well I’ll definitely say so.
Kendra: You dropped ‘saying i’m fine” back at the end of March, so I’m wondering – what’s been influencing your pen lately?
Jessa: I’m dealing with long-COVID symptoms which has forced me to slow down. Recently my writing has been influenced by the quiet routines I’m forming for myself and the emotions that come to the surface when you’re torn away from the distractions you’ve surrounded yourself with.
Kendra: Now you represent the Bronx, so I gotta know – where would you say is the most inspiring place in the Bronx for you? Like, when you need to get out of your head and think, where do you go?
Jessa: I actually live in Brooklyn now, off the Montrose L. I’m trying to get outside as often as possible. I love Prospect Park and go to the beach whenever it’s warm enough.
Kendra: Now it’s time for a side note – with it being May, I always think of the end of the school year and all those memories of field trips, parties, and yearbooks. With that, I’d love to know what your fondest end-of-the-school-year memory was?
Jessa: My family has been doing cookouts on Sherwood Island in Connecticut for as long as I can remember – when I graduated high school we had one and invited a bunch of my friends and their parents. That’s my favorite way to celebrate, outdoors with my loved ones. My dad and papa never disappoint on the grill.
Kendra: Lastly, with “saying i’m fine” out now, what else can fans expect as we continue towards summer?
Jessa: I’m hoping to release another single very soon!