Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

Labelling Jesse Labelle

The Toronto singer sits down with Shalom Life.

By: Christal Gardiola

Published: March 14th, 2010 in Culture » Music » Interviews

Labelling Jesse Labelle

Don’t call him the next John Mayer. It’s not that Jesse Labelle minds. In fact, the Toronto singer welcomes the comparison. He told Shalom Life, “I feel humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence as him. He’s a Grammy winner.” Labelle says it’s an easy comparison and he’s right. They’re both singer-songwriters who play the guitar. Even during his performance at the Tattoo Rock Parlour last Friday as part of Canadian Music Week, Labelle’s stage movements mirrored that of Mayer’s. And they’re both Jewish. Labelle, however, wouldn’t strike anybody as the kind of public figure who would divulge details about his intimate relationships with women.

Not that his songs aren’t personal. The single that propelled him to success, "Perfect Accident," was based on his relationship with an ex-girlfriend. So was "Easier," "Don’t Leave Now" and just about every song he’s ever penned. They are all based on real-life stories and Labelle believes it is part of his identity as an artist. He said, “I can’t write about things that never happened. It doesn’t gel. The emotion and the artistry, you can’t fake those things. You can fake it. But it doesn’t last very long before people start realizing that it’s not really there.”

But don’t call his career a perfect accident either. It’s anything but. The 28-year-old singer has been relentlessly pursuing a career in music for 10 years. After developmental and production deals, he finally signed on with Wax Records last June. Now, Labelle is set to go on tour with Faber Drive in April, which will coincide with the release of his full album that will bear the same name as his first single. The album will feature both heavily-produced songs and intimate recordings of just Labelle and an acoustic guitar.

Labelle, whose only link to music growing up was his jazz performer grandmother, was raised around Bathurst and Eglinton, a prominent Jewish neighbourhood in Toronto. He attended Hebrew school until his bar mitzvah, which he celebrated in Israel. Since then, he hasn’t been in touch as much with his Jewish background. He last visited Israel when he was 25 years old and plans to go back within a year or two. For now, Labelle is much busier conquering the North American road.

He has previously toured with Hannah Montana star Emily Osment and stopped over in other parts of Canada during the Winter Olympics. He shares that being on the road is his favourite part of being in the limelight. “Live is what it’s all about,” he said. “Touring is so important because how else do I get out there and meet the people?” And the results have been rewarding for Labelle. Since the release of "Perfect Accident," he has garnered a huge following of female fans. Judging from the audience members seen at his live performances and appearances on MuchMusic, it seems Labelle’s music and good looks have charmed the 13-25 year old demographic.

Don’t be fooled, however, by the dimples. Sure, Labelle's looks can pass for those of a boy band member. But his knowledge of music goes well beyond top 40 songs. He cites Collective Soul, James Taylor and, of course, The Beatles as his musical influences. But when asked about the one song he wishes he wrote, he doesn’t name typical Beatles hits like "Yesterday" or "Hey Jude." Instead, he answers with "I Will." “Not a lot of people know it. It’s a two-minute song,” he said. “It’s really quick. It’s to the point. It’s simple, but it’s beautiful.”

He has a long way to reach the the Beatles’ calibre, but in a way, "I Will" represents Labelle’s own music: effortless and understated.

Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People TrendingKim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million TrendingHarrison Ford Breaks the Internet Thanks to 'Star Wars' and 'Blade Runner 2' [VIDEO] Harrison Ford Breaks the Internet Thanks to 'Star Wars' and 'Blade Runner 2' [VIDEO] Trending
 

Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Diane von Furstenberg, Kevin Hart, Lorne Michaels, and many more make the 12th annual list

Read More

Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

Elbit Systems developed the new tunnel-detection system together with the Israeli Defense Ministry and other partners in Israel

Read More

Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

Conference to be held in Israel this Sunday will bring Orthodox rabbinical community, and the therapeutic community, together in support of LGBT teens

Read More

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

Mind you, they were only there for a couple days

Read More

Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

"Our men, our women, our children [should] always think of kidnapping your soldiers and settlers, wherever they may be"

Read More

You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

The company is need of a new chief beer tester, and is turning to the Israeli public for help

Read More

The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

Marketed as a way to keep kosher during the Shabbat, many rabbinical sources fear the Kosher Switch may rely on a Jewish loophole to keep "kosher"

Read More

David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

April 17, 2015 | By Bob Jacob/Cleveland Jewish News/JNS.org
David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

"It's a great time to be in the city of Cleveland," says the Israeli Head Coach, whose team squares off against the Celtics on Sunday

Read More

More Headlines