Zoner // Jesse Boykins III

Despite the 20 degree weather in New York yesterday, things were heating up over here at the Arcade. Bringing the fire was Jesse Boykins III, a NYC based soul singer that we can’t seem to get enough of as of late. Jesse was over on the West Coast when we talked to him, “writing, recording, [and] staying warm.” Staying plenty busy in the early days of 2012, Jesse is working on a mixtape called Zulu Guru with Melo-X & The Romantic Movement, some tunes with two producers from Europe, and finishing up an LP with Machinedrum. “A lot of music…” exclaims Jesse.

Born in Chicago, Jesse actually spent much of his childhood living in Jamaica. He then moved to Miami at around 8 years old. “Early on I was heavily influenced by reggae, gospel, R&B, and Latin music,” says Jesse. In 2002 Jesse’s life made a surprising turn up North. At 16 years-old “I got picked to be a part of the Grammy jazz ensemble,” explains Jesse. “1 out of 13 singers picked from the U.S.” After the Grammy’s, Jesse was recruited to attend the New School University for Music, an outrageously huge accomplishment for a teenager, to say the least. So at 17, Jesse made his way to NYC. “I had mixed feelings,” Jesse confesses. “The 1st winter was not my wave. I didn’t go anywhere, but the people I met in New York, all creative minds were super inspiring. I was constantly learning.” One of those creative minds happens to be Bilal, who Jesse studied with for three years.

If you visit Jesse’s tumblr you’ll see the quote “We Are The Reawakening Of The Romantic Movement.” We asked Jesse to explain what this means to him. “Our generation,” says Jesse, “we need to bring romance and chivalry back. My friends and I, Street Etiquette, MeLo-X, Mara Hruby, Chris Turner, Moruf, and Emily King are [all] firm believers in music being the easiest way to build a connection. So we create to spread love & emotional intelligence. That’s what The Romantic Movement is.” Romantic almost doesn’t seem to do Jesse’s music justice though. It is beautiful, sexy, raw, and human. The song “Zoner,” as Jesse explains, is “about not being able to open up to a woman and express to her your thoughts, and the second verse is not wanting to open up to society.” A Zoner, “to me,” describes Jesse, “is a day-dreamer, a visionary. A person with a perspective on life that is not like the majority.” The video for “Zoner,” was shot in Berlin in December of 2011. “Dr Woo directed the piece. Jesee and Andreea Pavel produced it. “The models are Dinah & Alani both berlin natives.”

When we asked Jesse of his plans for 2012 he hinted towards an upcoming documentary that he has been working on since March 2010. The documentary, Jesse mentions mysteriously, is about women. When we ask Jesse to explain, he laughs, “I can’t yet!” He does, however, hint that it is inspired by his upcoming LP Love Apparatus. After getting a glimpse into “The Romantic Movement” of Jesse Boykins III, it’s pretty clear that he is an artist to experience in the flesh. “The support and love I receive at my shows is the reason why I make music in the 1st place,” says Jesse. So stay tuned for tour dates in the Boston and Bay Area, coming soon!

- Annick Mayer