the age of 21, this kid has done a lot. From TV to Broadway, the silver
screen, and now the release of his third solo album Departure,
Jesse McCartney is flying high with a hit single ďLeaviníĒ and an
exciting new page in the book of his career.
After launching his solo career with his debut recording of Beautiful
Soul in 2004 and his sophomore release of Right Where You Want Me
in 2006, Departure offers an edgier, more mature sound that is
receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. With R&B sounds and
beats unrepresented in his past work, Jesse feels passionate about this
music and thinks it represents where he is in life right now. Heís
excited to share it with his fans worldwide.
While co-writing most of the music on Departure, Jesse is showing
off another side of his talent by establishing himself as a confident
songwriter. In addition to the new album, he is composing for other
artists including Leona Lewisís recent number one single ďBleeding
Love,Ē which he co-wrote with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
When we recently sat down with McCartney to see whatís going on in his
life, we learned that he is enjoying this departure in his career and
the changes that have come along with maturity. At 21 years old, life
You were on Broadway,
in daytime TV and in your first band by the age of twelve. How did you
get involved in show business and did you always know you wanted to
You know how some families are into sports? My family was just really
musically inclined. Both of my parents played an instrument, sang and
wrote songs. I was just kind of engulfed at an early age in the whole
music world. [I] grew up listening to a lot of classic records and
eventually, like you said, I started doing a lot of theatre. At first
it was community stuff with my family and I was just doing it for fun.
Then I really started loving it and I eventually I told my Mom and Dad
that this is something maybe Iíd love to do do for real
real. That was kind of the beginning of the end. But Iíd say it was at
about eight or nine when I was doing all these community productions
with my family and that was the turning point.
Before you went solo,
you were with the band Dream Street. What kind of learning experience
Well, that was exactly what it was. It was a learning experience. I
was pretty naive and green with the industry at that point and didnít
know much about it. But for me Ė I was twelve, thirteen and we were
selling records and we were signed to a label. I was young and it was
all just sort of magical. More than anything, I learned and recorded
for the first time behind a microphone and made an actual record. We
were dancing 5 days a week. Our group was choreographed and we started
touring around the country. It was definitely a learning experience and
prepped me for what was to come.
In 2004 your single
ďBeautiful SoulĒ was getting played all over the radio. How surreal was
it to have the song break so big and suddenly be all over Radio Disney,
MTV and other stations?
It was crazy! It still is crazy. You never get used to that feeling.
When I first heard it, actually I was in San Diego. What really put it
in perspective for me was hearing it in between an Usher and an Alicia
Keys song. I had to think, ďOh my, whoís that guy in the middle?Ē It
was really kind of funny.
Where You Want Me were quite different from the new CD Departure? Obviously, the name Departure is reminiscent of the music content. What has changed for you that is
now reflected in your music and lyrics?
I think the natural progression of things is enough for me to change my
sound. But, Iíve always felt more comfortable in the R & B, rhythmic
world. In my free time, thatís what Iíd sing about, Iíd write about and
listen to. I grew up listening to that style. Itís definitely the most
comfortable Iíve ever been. I wanted to make a record that was that of
a 21 year old and had a bit of an older sound to it. The fans that were
around when I was sixteen and were fans of Beautiful Soul are now
21 too and probably want something a little bit different. So, I made
the conscience decision to change it up. So far the reaction has been
incredibly positive Ė so it seems to be working out.
You co-wrote several
of the songs on the CD? Is that something you enjoy doing?
Very much. Iíve been writing for years now and I definitely have a
handle on it. Itís really fun to collaborate with other writers too.
Itís always a different dynamic to walk into a new studio with
someone. When two minds are being creative together some pretty amazing
stuff can happen.
What are you telling
us about your life with songs like ďItís OverĒ and ďHow Do You Sleep?Ē
Everything you hear on the record is an emotion or a feeling that Iím
familiar with, you know. Iíve been in and out of relationships in the
last few years and I feel like Iím just good at writing about that
stuff. I feel like Iím pretty dialed in when it comes to relationships
and certainly at my age, I think I have a firm grip on what itís like
being with a female.
Do you have a
favorite song from the CD or moment making it? Did you learn anything
new about yourself during this experience?
Thatís a tough question. It depends on the day you ask me. I think
that ďNot Your EnemyĒ is the best written. Lyrically and melodically
itís definitely a little more advanced. We really took our time with it
and it has more of a classic tone with it. But, I think that overall Ö
manÖ. maybe ďMy Baby,Ētrack seven on the album. J.R. Rotem
produced it. I wrote it with him and Evan Bogart, his writer. Itís
just a really fun song. Itís very synth driven with heavy shameless
sounds that are kind of reminiscent of the late 80ís, early 90ís.
What was it like
working with so many incredibly talented industry members like Sean
It was great. Sean is definitely some one who has become a mentor to me
and heís written so many great songs. His work ethic is different. He
works so slowly. When we got into the studio together I was pulling my
hair out like, ďWhy is he so slow?Ē Then when you get your final
product and you finished your record with him, you realize why heís one
of the best writers out there, because he knows exactly what he wants.
There is no pressure and he doesnít push himself too hard. Heís really
relaxed in the studio. Itís a great dynamic. I definitely look forward
to writing with him again in the future.
The new video for ďLeaviníĒ
is much more mature than you have shown in your past releases. Are you
concerned of losing some of your younger audience?
No, Iím not. I really donít know how much that is going to happen. I
feel that even my younger audience is fifteen, sixteen and seventeen.
If that happens, then it happens, but I think that naturally this
record is going to reach out to an older crowd. Iím prepared for that.
The decisions I made though were not made based on who Iím going to lose
but who I am going to gain and really welcoming any fan that would like
to come in. Once again, I think that most fans were my age when
Beautiful Soul came out and theyíre now all
twenty or 21.
Lately, you have done
the voices for two animated characters as Theodore in Alvin and
the Chipmunks and JoJo in Horton Hears a Who. Was that a fun
experience and would you like to do it again?
Absolutely. Animation is incredibly fun. You get behind microphone.
No hair and makeup. I like it. (laughs) You know, Fox has been
really good to me and always supportive. When they called and asked me
to be part of Alvin and Horton it was a real pleasure. I
got to work with some really cool people too, so I definitely will be
doing more of that in the future. Absolutely!
Well, great. I canít
believe Iím saying this but my five-year-old son loves you as Theodore
and insisted I tell you, ďYou rock!Ē
Thatís cool! (laughter) Tell him thanks!
You have done all
forms of acting from theatre, TV and film. Which do you prefer and will
you be doing more acting in the future?
I definitely want to get my hand in a little further with the film
career. I think that thatís something I havenít totally gotten to yet.
Itís tough when you are trying to balance all of these different things
together. Right now the music is taking the front seat. Iíve been
working on this record and have had to make some sacrifices in the last
couple of years but definitely after this album, Iím going to be doing
some more film work.
Iíd be remiss if I
didnít ask something about your personal life for all of our female
readers. Is there anyone special in your life right now?
HmmmÖ. No, there isnít. Iím just kind of single and enjoying myself.
What do you like to
do for fun?
I love sports. ESPN and I are friends right now. My TV doesnít really
divvy away from that channel. I like to kick back and watch sports but
I also like to play sports. I love to play baseball. I love surfing.
I love to be outdoors.
You have had a lot of
success internationally. Will you be doing another international
concert tour as the CD comes out?
Without a doubt. Iíll probably be doing US, Europe, Australia and Asia
Do you still live in
No, Iíve lived in LA now for about four years.
Do you miss New York
and the New York lifestyle? Itís quite different from the LA
Yes, and I do miss it very much. You know, I love LA and I think LA is
they are very different. When you grow up a New Yorker, I think New
York is always home.
Is your family at
Yes, yes Ö everyone kind of moved out west. It was pretty crazy.
You have already done
so much in your career including acting and music. What is the next big
step for you?
You know, to be honest, I couldnít tell you. Iím sort of rolling with
the punches and learning as I go. As much as Iíve done so far, I do
think Iíll branch out and do some other things. Maybe write, maybe
direct. Maybe produce, maybe get behind the camera a little bit. Right
now, I am just gonna be enjoying what Iím doing and loving it. These
are really good days and Iím just enjoying the ride.
What would you like
your fans to know about you that they donít already?
UmmÖ I love to cook!
Really! Thatís so
Yeah. I have my kitchen now. Iím in my new place and youíll find me at
two in the morning online on Top Chef or Iron Chef looking
Any favorite thing to
cook? Italian? French?
I like Italian but I think French cuisine is my favorite.
How would you like
people to see your music?
My goal with my music career is when someone hears a song, even if Iím
not singing it and it was written by me, I want them to be able to know
that itís a Jesse record. Have something that [makes] people go, ďOh
okay, I get it. Thatís a Jesse record.Ē Or if I am singing it, I want
people to know that I have established a new sound.
Are they any
misconceptions you would like to clear up?
Not as of now.
(laughs) Get back to me in a week. You never know.