Back in 2010 Marianas Trench had a contest for a fan to send in a video of them singing “Good To You” and the winner would perform with them on stage in Toronto, Ontario at Massey Hall. Jessica Lee was the winner of this contest.
The 21 year old originally from Ottawa, Ontario, now three years later, is signed under the same label as Marianas Trench, 604 Records, and has an album entitled Carried Away, that will be released tomorrow, May 28th, 2013. Prior to its release, Jessica released two singles and videos for her songs “Beautiful” and “Save Your Breath”.
Now before you say anything, no, Jessica is not like one of those contest winners who has a team of people to write all of their songs for them. Along with a team of producers and co-writers assisting her, Jessica wrote her debut album by herself. With people such as Josh Ramsay, Kevin Maher (Kevvy), and Ryan Stewart working with her, her album is sure to please.
To keep up with Jessica, you can follow her on Twitter @JessicaLMusic, like her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jessicalmusic, subscribe to her YouTube channelhttps://www.youtube.com/user/JessicaLeeOnline, as well as her official website, http://jessicaleemusic.com/.
Still not enough for you? Well you’re in luck because I was able to conduct an email interview with Jessica.
How has your life changed since you heard that you won the contest to sing on stage with Marianas Trench?
JL: My life has changed pretty dramatically! I went from studying biochemistry in Ottawa to putting out a full-length pop album and living in Vancouver. It’s been a crazy ride, but I believe everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t change a thing!
How did your friends and family react when you told them that you were signed to 604 Records?
JL: My friends and family were super supportive. They always encouraged me to sing and pushed me to jump on this opportunity. I wouldn’t be here without all of their words of wisdom. Ill always be grateful for the girlfriends who told me to stop over thinking it and just do it.
Before being signed with 604, did you ever write songs or music?
JL: I did write my own music, but never had the confidence to share it with anyone. Most of the songs of the album were written after I got signed, but I have a lot of old songs that helped me evolve my “sound”.
How do you approach writing songs with the producers and co-writers that you worked with?
JL: I love co-writing because I feel like you can really feed off each other for ideas, and it’s a great feeling when you both get excited about where a song is going! We usually start with one person’s idea, and hum a melody or two and work it until we’re both happy. Lyrics often come last and we help each other out whenever one is stuck on a part. It’s a real group project and I love writing stories we can both relate to.
Did you feel any different when you recorded your own songs than you did when you re-recorded “Good To You” with Marianas Trench?
JL: Recording my own songs was very different from Good to You. I felt like I had a lot more freedom to experiment vocally whereas with Good To You, I first felt like there was a certain standard I had to live up to based on the original version and MT fans. Luckily, Josh encouraged me to chill out and do it my own way, so I did!
Did you ever think that you would have music as a career rather than what you were studying for in university?
JL: I never thought music would be a possible career for me. I always loved singing in choirs and in Church but I always thought of it as a hobby. School seemed much more tangible so I focused on that… Until the contest, that is.
What did it feel like the first time your video for “Beautiful” aired on MuchMusic?
JL: It was surreal, even more so when people would tweet me screen captures of it playing on their TVs. Much has always been supportive with my videos so I owe them big time!
Off of your album, Carried Away, which song was your favourite to write or favourite to perform?
JL: All of the songs were fun to write in different ways, especially because they all tell such different stories. Twisted Games sticks out in my mind because It was the first time Ryan and I worked together and we clicked instantly, and wrote this song in a day. Everything just kind of fell together naturally and it was the first song I 100% wanted on the album!
If you could collaborate with anyone you wanted, who would it be and why?
JL: Ed Sheeran. I think he’s a genius and his songs use all the vocal tricks I love to use. I would die to sing a duet with him (please, Ed? Pick me!)
What types of things inspire you to write songs?
JL: Real life. Life experiences tend to write the best material, including things that happened to friends or family that I felt personally affected by in some way. I want people to be able to relate to my songs so I try to tell a personal story in every one.
What advice would you give to your fans if they expressed an interest in wanting music as their career?
JL: Pursue it, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s unrealistic. If you want something bad enough, and you’re willing to work for it, it’ll happen. But make sure to practice a lot!
A lot of bands and artists interact with fans on social media sites such as Twitter. Do you believe that this is important in the music industry today?
JL: I think it’s crucial. I love all those social media sites and I’m always looking into the newest one (Vine, anyone?) Having a good relationship with my fans keeps me going – they inspire me everyday with their stories and encouraging words, and I only hope I do the same for them.
If you could tour with any band or artist, who would it be?
JL: Marianas Trench! Hah. Kidding. But not really. I’d also love to tour with Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, or of course, Katy Perry. They are super talented and seem fun!
If there was one thing that you could change about the music industry, what would it be and why?
JL: I think I would want to change the live music scene. I want people to get excited again about buying physical copies of albums and coming out to shows to buy tshirts and support the artist. Technology is great but some aspects of it (like downloading songs, streaming shows, etc.) have their downfalls.
I also asked if any fans had questions for Jessica:
Brooklyn asked: How has music influenced your life and what made you want to pursue music in the first place?
JL: Music has always been both my escape and my teacher! I would learn to sing by pausing songs during difficult vocal runs and practice it until I could do it just like the artist. I’m pursuing music because there is no better feeling than sharing something you love to do with the world. Performing on a stage is thrill I hope to enjoy for many years to come.
Heather asked: What is it like starting out as a new Canadian musician?
JL: It’s pretty intimidating, especially in today’s music scene. You have to really believe in your music and make sure you’re in it for the right reasons, or it will drive you crazy!
Emma asked: Where has your favourite place to perform a show been?
JL: Massey Hall! Where it all began 🙂 My first show with my new band at the Columbia was also amazing.
Danielle asked: What is the first song you remember listening to
JL: Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty. My dad used to sing it to me!
Jeannette asked: Did you ever think that you would get this far from winning a contest on YouTube?
JL: Never in a million years. What are the chances, really?
Morgan asked: Do you think that you’ll work with Marianas Trench again?
JL: I’d love to! Right now I’m focusing on my own stuff, but I do work with Josh often so you never know!
-Amanda Hather- Canadian Beats