|Montreal native’s basks in brazen isolation
Devon Antonetti - July 11, 2012
JBM, the moniker of solo artist Jesse Bryan Marchant, underscores each
song with a howl of the isolation and yearning of a much older soul.
Originally from Montreal, Canada, Marchant is now based in Brooklyn and
Los Angeles, and has released a follow-up to his “only in July” debut
called “Stray Ashes.” The singer has already drawn favorable
comparisons to that of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Jim James of My
Morning Jacket, due in large part to haunting reverb on songs like
“Only Now” and “Winter Ghosts.” JMB records most of his work in a cabin
in a rainy northern New York town, giving his music an undertone of
isolation as he searches within himself. Though JBM may not initially
strike an immediate chord with all listeners, it’s in his music’s
subtleties that channel his emotionally wrought spirit and draws in
Why did you choose to release music
under your initials instead of your full name?
It wasn't something that I thought about too much. My name was out
there publicly, associated with some acting that I had done, and I
wanted this to not be associated with that in the beginning. I also
liked that the initials were somewhat ambiguous and that they could
become a band name, when the thing turned into that. Using one's name
somewhat pigeonholes artists into a certain genre nowadays, which is
why I think that everyone is giving their solo project a band name.
That didn't feel right to me for this though, so I went with the
initials. For better or for worse. A lot of people seem to have a hard
time with it.
You started playing music at such a
young age. Do you come from a musical family, or was it something you
got into on your own?
My family was musical, but they did not play. My grandfather was a
musician but I was not around him much. I began showing an interest in
playing instruments at an early age and my parents were very supportive
in helping me along with that.
You’ve said that you initially moved
to NYC to pursue acting (IMDB.com lists a Jesse Marchant as appearing
on "Ugly Betty," "Law and Order: SVU"). How did you first get involved
It was one of those old stories. A manager from New York walked into a
restaurant in Montreal where I worked through college and talked about
making me a star. I wasn't interested in that, but I was unhappy in my
life, so when I broke up with my girlfriend a few weeks later, I
dropped out of college and fled to New York, and when I got there I
gave him a jingle. I was a “fuck it” kind of time in my life and I
needed that change.
Before I knew it I had a good agent and I was enrolled in classes and
auditioning and living that life. It all fell into my lap. Then it took
me a little while figuring that it wasn't quite for me, but I guess
that is the nature of a thing that chooses you and not you it. It's
hard to ever know if it is really right. I am grateful for that step in
my life, as it led me to me to my current existence, which is one that
I have whole-heatedly chosen for myself.
Where did you record “Stray Ashes,”
and how did that experience differ creatively from recording “Not Even
in July” in an old church?
I recorded “Stray Ashes” in an old log home in North Argyle, New York.
It was in the spring of 2011, and I could swear that it rained every
single day. I was there alone and I worked on it daily over the span of
a few months.
It was different from the last record in that there was no time
constraint and no other people were around or involved in the
You’ve said that you feel like a
tourist in your native Montreal. With history in California and
Brooklyn, and mountain life seeming to suite you well, where do you
find the most inspiration for your music?
It's hard to say. I can feel comfortable in very different settings. I
think that inspiration comes from experiences, ones that are rich, and
those, for me, can occur anywhere. I tend to feel more agitated in the
city and more grounded in the wilderness, but I haven't quite figured
out where I am more inspired or happier. I haven't figured any of that
"I think that inspiration comes from experiences, ones that are rich, and those, for me, can occur anywhere."
Has the somber yearning of isolation in the late night hours.
For those who like: Bon Iver, Jim James, Iron & Wine.