Can you believe it has been 15 years since Jesse McCartney’s debut album Beautiful Soul was released? The fresh-faced 16-year-old then has since grown into a dashing 31-year-old known not just for his music, but also as an actor and voice actor.
While he may be better known as a musician these days, McCartney initially made his name as an actor, notably with an award-winning role from 1998–2001 as Adam Chandler on long-running soap series All My Children.
He also starred in short-lived series Summerland, and guest starred in dramas like Criminal Minds, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Fear The Walking Dead.
Oh, he also voiced a chipmunk named Theodore in the Alvin And The Chipmunks movies.
After a stint with boyband Dream Street from 1999-2002, McCartney released debut album Beautiful Soul in 2004, and hasn’t looked back since, releasing four more albums, and even getting a Record Of The Year Grammy nomination for co-writing Leona Lewis’ smash hit Bleeding Love in 2007.
Although his last album was 2014’s In Technicolour, McCartney says he doesn’t have a full album planned just yet, as he has been travelling and touring so much that he hasn’t had time to write songs or go to the recording studio.
That hasn’t stopped him from making music though.
“I’ve put out two songs this year, Better With You in March, and a new single Wasted a few weeks ago. Right now, I have a collection of five to six songs I plan to release next year, but not a full album,” he said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles.
“I’ve done a lot of writing and I do have songs that I’ve finished, but they just aren’t as good as I want them to be just yet.”
1. It has been 15 years since your debut album, Beautiful Soul, was released. How has your music evolved over the years?
The No. 1 thing that’s changed is that I’ve gotten older, and wiser as well. I’ve experienced more, travelled the world and met more people.
It really helps with songwriting, because I like to write based on personal experiences.
Sonically, I’ve made left and right turns over the years, and some have worked, some haven’t. My 2008-2009 stuff, like the Departure album, was a bit more urban and rhythmic, but the new songs like Better With You and Wasted are more similar to earlier stuff like Beautiful Soul.
It’s like I’ve come full circle.
2. What about your relationship with fans?
That’s one of the cool things about my audience. They’ve been very loyal and have stuck by me throughout the years. When I was 16 they were 16, when I was 21 they were 21, and now that I’m 30, they’re also more or less the same age and we can relate to each other.
Now, thanks to the power of social media, I can talk directly with my fans, tell them stories, or tell them jokes.
I used to be able to only do that on tour, but now I can just pick up my phone and have a conversation with my fans on Twitter or another platform.
It’s really revolutionised the way we connect with our fans.
3. Your TV roles have ranged from comedy to more serious dramas. What kind of roles do you prefer?
I’ve really enjoyed doing comedy over the years. I used to think of myself as only a dramatic actor on shows like Summerland and Law And Order.
But I think I’ve grown into someone who can pull off comedy. To make people laugh with a joke that you came up with is addictive.
I can see why comedians struggle for so many years but live for those 10 minutes they are on stage. Making people laugh is an addictive high.
4. You’ve also done quite a bit of voice acting.
Voice acting has its own set of challenges, because you’re trying to make something that’s not real, feel real.
You have to take a cartoon and make it have human-like emotions. That’s hard when you only have your voice to work with.
On stage, you can use your face and eyes to convey your emotions, but as a voice actor, I can only use my vocal chords to convert laughter, sadness, guilt or fear.
That can be very challenging, and very fun as well. Plus voice acting also pays really well!
5. So, which do you prefer, music or acting?
It’s hard to say. I grew up on stage, and I love to act. I’ve never wanted to choose just one. I want to be as versatile as I can, so that it’s still fun for me.
Doing the same thing over and over again can make me a little crazy.
That’s why I don’t do music every single year – I need to switch lanes every now and then, otherwise I get stir-crazy!