Bob Marley once sang, “One good thing about music-when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Local musician Jesse Brooks would agree with the legendary artist. The 25-year-old singer/songwriter has been involved with music since age 13 and shows no signs of giving up his passion for the art.
“Music always stuck with me, like it’s something profound. Just during my everyday life, there’s always some song playing in my head, whether it already exists or not,” he said after sipping on his late night cup of coffee.
“It’s always there, and it always reflects how I feel,” he added.
The musical background in Brooks’s family inspired his decision to become a musician himself. His parents are both musicians and influenced him to begin his musical career in his early teenage years. Brooks began singing and learned to play the guitar after watching his father play for years. Music became a skill that would build his confidence and drive him to come out of his shell.
“I just grew up as a shy kid, and I think that music was one of the first things that helped me not to be shy in life. My dad’s personality is not a shy personality, and my mom’s kind of is. I took after her in that regard, but playing music forces you to play in front of people and work and share vulnerabilities with them. That’s kind of the first arena where I learned how to be confident, and now I can do a lot of things outside of playing music that I might have been afraid to do before,” he said.
After years of playing guitar and taking voice lessons, Brooks branched out and began to write his own music, gathering inspiration from other musicians and putting his ideas to work. He listens to a wide variety of music, including artists like the indie-rock band Brand New and the rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, who are all some of his favorite performers. He has played in a number of bands himself. His music has ranged from genres like pop-punk to serious indie rock, but he has decided not to pursue a career only in music.
“When I was in my first band in high school, we all thought that we were going to be the next MTV band, like Blink 182. We all thought we’d have chicks in swimming pools and everything. I’d be lying if I said, ‘Oh, it’s not about being famous.’ I used to want to be famous,” he said.
With a new set of goals, both as a musician and a professional, Brooks is exploring his career options outside of the music studio.
“I’m past the point now where I’m hoping for ‘the big break’ or whatever. In this day and age, it’s kind of silly to think that people don’t want to hold a real job too. A lot of people will be working their tails off trying to get the next gig, and they’re hoping that the next gig will pay more than the last gig, and it’s really stressful,” he laughed.
After a pause, he added, “I would like to focus on my other goals, and do this as a creative outlet, and maybe still get recognized from time-to-time. You don’t have to have just one job. You start noticing a lot more people who are crossover actors and musicians and writers. They just want to do all of these things, so they go do it. With the internet, you can just put your own art online and be recognized by somebody. As long as you’re being recognized for something you did, it’s worth it.”
He is currently studying journalism at Southeastern and strives to be a writer when he graduates. With opportunities to explore the field of communications in New York, Brooks is ready to start his professional career, but plans to keep music a central part of his life.
“There’s a connection between songwriting and journalism. A lot of times, songwriters write about events and about what’s going on in their songs. Marvin Gaye did it with the civil rights movement. Bob Dylan did it. Bruce Springsteen does it. There’s that feeling of using your media to get a message out there, so sometimes writing songs is like writing the news, only songs last forever,” he said. “We’ve seen songs over history change the way people think and the way people do things. Sometimes it’s just about telling a story. It’s about other people, and things that people are going through.”
Growing as an artist is an important feat for Brooks, while writing remains at the top of his career choices.
Over one last sip of coffee, he said, “My music is more sophisticated than it used to be. It’s more grown up. Sometimes I have a side of me that just wants to focus on writing lyrics, and just writing a really good message. I think of myself as a writer. It’s about writing poetry, not just any words.”