"How dare I think that I'm that strong, strong enough to let go of mistakes." A line from a Jesse Boykins iii song. He seamlessly meshes melodic sounds with relatable lyrics that touches the soul. What inspires such poignant lyrics? Life, experiences, travel, love, all of the above? Sitting in a large room with Jesse to talk about his style and upcoming projects turned into an intimate conversation about traveling, inspirations, and his unique style. That's his gift, Jesse is able to make the largest of venues seem like the most intimate of places.
CC: What inspires your style daily?
JB: My experiences
CC: Who are your style influencers?
JB: Men who are comfortable exploring their feminine as well as masculine sides. Men like Prince. Men who are brave and not afraid to wear a skirt every now and then...the [androgyny] of the Moors, the simplicity of the monks of buddhist temples, the freeness of the long tunics worn by East Indian men, the women of Italy -- they are so comfortable wearing masculine as well as feminine looks.
The men of South Africa were so well put together. Their style immediately impacted me. I took a look at what I packed for my trip there and mixed and matched pieces I wouldn't typically throw together. But because of the inspiration in South Africa I revamped some of my looks.
CC: Like your style, your sound is a mixture of influences. What inspired you to cover some of pop music's largest hits today? It just doesn't seem like pop music is what Jesse Boykins iii represents as an artist.
JB: Well what do you think I represent as an artist?
CC: You're soulful
JB: That's the thing, pop music use to come from the soul . Pop artists use to show you so many different levels. Think about when you listened to a Michael Jackson or Phil Collins record back in the day. They were strictly pop music artists but you could feel their music, their music came from the soul. I covered these pop music hits because it was something that wasn't expected of me. I also wanted to redirect the way in which pop music was going. I wanted to show that pop music could be soulful.
CC: So how does this album, POP, show your evolution as an artist?
JB: As an artist and as a person we are always evolving. The interesting thing about being an artist is that we document our evolution. None of my albums sound the same. You hear different influences in each of my albums. On this album you hear anything from analog to reggae to electronic sounds. On POP, barriers are being broken.
With Jesse's style as well as his music, inspiration from his life experiences seems to be the center of it all. After hearing POP, I have a new found appreciation for his unique artistry which is also expressed in the way he dresses. Evolution is not simply an empty term with him, it is clearly the way in which he moves through life.