Lincoln Jesser: “I love the idea of music being valued like fine art”
Los Angeles songwriter/producer releases his debut music NFT this week.
It’s been almost 12 years since I first wrote about Lincoln Jesser on my Arjan Writes Music Blog. Back in 2011, Jesser still went by his producer moniker Pace while attending USC and making beats in his dorm room. Following his first set of releases and remixes, the multitalented Jesser has continued to fine-tune his craft, consistently putting out great dance-pop music while becoming a go-to collaborator for many artists. Jesser is one of nicest people in the business who always brings great energy to a writer’s room. It should come as no surprise that artists like Shoffy, FRÉNE, Kendall Morgan, Gabrielle Currant, Malaysian superstar Yuna and others have tapped him for collaborations.
This week, Jesser is teaming up with singer EMME to release their debut music NFT for the song “Can’t Help But To Think About You.” It’s the first track from his forthcoming new EP, titled Escapetape. Digging into music NFTs is an exciting new endeavor to make music available to collectors. Time to catch up with Jesser and discuss the state of his music and the music industry at large.
Arjan: You've been on an incredible journey. I remember first writing about you back in 2011 around the time when you formally started your production and songwriting career. You have been consistently releasing new music since then. The music industry has gone through quite a transformation over the last decade—from iTunes to streaming to TikTok to NFTs. As a creative, what's your take on the current state of music? Are things changing for the better?
Jesser: Thank you Arjan. It's been incredible having you supporting me this whole time. I still remember when you first posted about me, and I'm still as excited and honored when you reach out now as I was then. My take on the current state of music is that creative presence is the most valuable asset an artist or creator can have -- and by that, I mean that while the opportunities for mass exposure have increased, the amount of art/content is at an all-time saturation high. And so putting your authentic energy into what you do and having fun with it, while also not being too attached to the outcome, is the most likely way to create resonance with the universe.
“Creative presence is the most valuable asset an artist or creator can have.”
There are just never any guarantees that a piece of work will ever connect, and yet, with almost everything that does, the reasons why are pretty clear. So I would say things are changing for the better in that there's more room for people from any circumstance to succeed, but I'd temper that by saying that it makes me sad in a way how many artists focus on short-term content over long-term work that might better stand the test of time, because at the end of the day most people only have so much energy to devote to their work. But, life is long, and people blowing up off jokey TikToks could create masterpieces down the line. So who's to really say?
You are releasing your first music NFT this week. Why did you decide to release “Can’t Help But To Think About You” as an NFT first? Did you find it a challenging process, or was it a relatively easy process?
I connected with Sound.XYZ a while back actually, and we expressed that we both would love to work on a drop together because I'm very into the ethos of Web3 and music. I love the idea of music being valued like fine art, or even just as a more tangible/finite substance. And so the timing just worked out for “Can't Help But Think About You.” And I've been low-key collecting a few art pieces in the NFT space for a while now, so I'm not a complete newcomer to the process. It's easy once you get the basics down!
What do you expect from your first drop? More generally, do you think NFTs provide new creative opportunities for artists?
I just hope to connect with more people in the space, and hopefully make friends with other collectors who see the value in the Music NFT experience. It's new, it's fair, and it's fun.
“There's more room for people from any circumstance to succeed.”
Let's talk about the music. “Can’t Help But To Think About You” is a smooth and perfectly-produced dance-pop gem. How long has this song been in the cooker? How did the partnership with EMME come about?
EMME and I actually met writing for a mutual friend/artist a few years back, and kept somewhat in touch. We finally got into the studio together just a few months ago and “Can’t Help But To Think About You” was born. She's got beautiful melodies and is just a fun and funny person to work and hang with. This song helped me process a painful breakup, and I think it taps into feelings a lot of us have experienced, in that cool pop way that I always strive to touch on.
You've branched out and toyed around with different genres throughout your career, from the indie-leaning "Peleton" to the nu-disco "Undone." Do you ultimately think dance and pop feel most native to you as a producer?
I do. There's something in the energy and sound of records like this one that just feels intrinsic to me. It tends to manifest when I'm feeling raw and just letting go. I've always felt a bit too dancey for the pop world and too pop for the dance world, and the more music I make the more comfortable I've become living in that nebulous space. The things that make an artist insecure tend to be the things that make them special, don't you think?
Any big plans for spring?
I'm going to continue rolling out music with my label Th3rd Brain -- “Can’t Help But To Think About You” is the first single off the Escapetape EP. And I'll have some shows to announce soon too. But really, just trying to spread love.
🖼 Collect “Can’t Help But To Think About You” on Sound.XYZ, and stream Lincoln Jesser’s music on Apple Music.