Please note the amazing photos courtesy of Alejandro Compean
Can you give some biographical information on yourself? I’ve read you are based out of Austin, started My Empty Phantom as a kind of art project and are into film. What else should we know about you?
Hi I'm Jesse. Nice to meet you here. I'm 29 years old and have been touring/performing concerts since I was 20 years old. I make all kinds of music and am working on some new projects but my instrumental music My Empty Phantom is what I'm most comfortable putting out there right now.
How long have you lived in Austin for and have you always lived there or did you move there for the city’s legendary arts community? (Also how has it changed since you have lived there?)
I've been living in Austin, Texas for ten years. I grew up in New York City and a small Texas town. I was born in Miami Beach, Florida. My birth parents are from Nicaragua and I was adopted.
I've been visiting family in Austin my whole life. I moved here to live a creative life. Austin is always changing but I feel good people come here to live relaxed lives and support creative arts.
Do you feel that today’s technology is helping or hindering artists?
I think if certain technology helps people be creative I'm all for it.
Are you able to make a career from performing and recording your original music?
Music is more my career than ever right now. It's still a process but I feel I'm always working on a music licensing project, performing a concert, recording or getting ready for tour.
Austin is full of great bands but since you brought up White Denim they are one of the ones that have been around awhile and have played many amazing shows throughout the scene here. Really nice guys, incredible musicians.
Were there particular bands or genres of music that inspired you to start playing music?
I was listening to The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel when I was a little kid then and as I got older things like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Boards of Canada, and Bjork were my early inspiration.
How do you construct a song? What is the process?
I think most of my ideas start on the piano. Honestly I'd like to start making songs with beats first to do something new.
Ahh! I noticed you are friends with the guy from And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead on Facebook (Conrad) - what do you think of them? That dude lives in Phnom Penh…
Funny you mention them. I actually recently had an interesting talk with their drummer about music and touring. I actually lived in a house that he was the landlord of. I remember him mowing the lawn and asking me about my music gear.
I don't perform with musicians right now but that's the next step for me.
How would you describe your music in three words?
Emotional, Visual, Nostalgic
Did you know from an early age you’d be playing music as an adult?
I always knew I wanted to play music for myself and people. I never would have guessed I'd be lucky enough to perform concerts around the world. I'm thankful!
In a way I do. I've never really been taught how to do anything, so to me picking up a paint brush and painting is like writing a song. Just being creative.
Off the topic of music… what city or country you’ve best to has the best food?
I honestly think Mexico has the best food! Especially anywhere you go in Mexico City!
I read somewhere one of your goals is to inspire others to play music… is there a message in the music or is it up to a listener’s imagination?
More and more my songs are becoming about specific things to me but I still want the listeners to let their imagination wander and let the song be what it needs to be for them. I can only hope performing concerts inspires people to be creative or encourage creativity! I know people inspired me.
My Empty Phantom brought to you by Newlights Production is performing on September 17th at Brownstone x Ageha Cafe, Sukhumvit 77 (Onnut) with support by PLERN PAN PERTH. Join the event here.