Jess Hieser


Jess Hieser is captivating audiences with her talent, fiery vocals and lyrical depth. We wanted to find out what drives this classically-trained Australian singer-songwriter to push the limits of her field.

Any aspiring singer-songwriter should probably take time to watch Jess Hieser perform her latest single. The obvious talent and utter lack of cheap theatrics as Jess belts out heartfelt lyrics while expertly slamming her guitar are highly instructive. If there has ever been a formula for creating enduring music, this would probably be it. Take an exceptionally talented musician with mastery of multiple instruments, give her a strong literary background and endow her with a willingness to experiment and break the rules. Classically trained from age 12, Jess won scholarship admission into the prestigious Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School where she attended from grade 7 to grade 12. She went on to study blues, jazz and contemporary music at Box Hill Institute alongside fellow musician Chris Cheney (The Living End), and later graduated from Melbourne University with a Double Bachelor in Music and Teaching. Her interest in songwriting began at age 18 where she learned simple songs by artists such as Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan. Since then she has performed her own original songs across Melbourne and Victoria, booking each show herself and helping to support other like-minded singer songwriters. This experience culminated in her organizing the Songwriters Collective which, since 2008, has held all-day stages at St. Kilda Festival and High Vibes Festival and has organized dozens of gigs in the Melbourne music community. Jess is, above all, passionate about creative expression and has taught and guided many other songwriters along the way. She is now focused primarily on developing her own professional recording career, while forming her own rock band. Reporter Brandon Scott recently caught up with Jess to learn more about this talented and determined artist, the source of her musical inspiration and her plans for the coming months.

BRANDON: When did you first discover your love of music?
JESS:  My first memory of music was when I was 3 years old and first played the dulcimer. I remember clearly how much I liked hearing the notes go up and down. I started learning voice, recorder and flute in primary school and have consistently played several instruments performing both as a classical musician and singer-songwriter. My love for music is innate and ongoing.
BRANDON: Your song 'Good To Me' is receiving a positive listener response on radio.  What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
JESS: It was so exciting to hear my song on radio! I was especially chuffed to hear it playing first on KHSX Radio in Houston, Texas. As I am currently living in Melbourne, Australia, it was an added delight to hear it playing in the U.S.
BRANDON: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
JESS: My debut radio single ‘Good To Me’ is a love song about the need for trust in relationships, and the fears and hopes that can ensue when you love someone that you may not have the best communication with!

BRANDON: Would you say that the mood of your other songs is in the same vein as your debut radio single?
JESS: ‘Good To Me’ is quite different to my other songs, as it is a personal love song. My songs in general have a positive mood expressing ideas about the process of self-development and working through difficulties, appreciation of life and learning, and the importance of having a social conscience.

BRANDON: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician?
JESS: As an artist I am passionate, expressive, soulful, honest, and hopeful.


BRANDON: Did you come from a musical background?  Are there other musicians in your family?
JESS: My father is an excellent original blues musician and my mother is an excellent piano player, so I’ve grown up with music. I admire both my parents who are in their 60s who still play music regularly. I myself received a prestigious scholarship at age 12 to the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School where I completed my high school studying.

BRANDON: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist?  What do you find most challenging? 
JESS: Music actually helps me work through personal challenges. My greatest reward is being able to express my feelings, and work through internal issues. Music gives me an avenue to express my inner world, and through performance, I am able to share my feelings with others. I do find it challenging to be a self-managed artist, and finding the right support to expand my career in this way. The Akademia Music Awards has been very helpful in widening my fan base internationally.

BRANDON: Who are your role models in music?
JESS: My original role models as a teenager were Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. I loved the passion in their musical expression and felt strongly connected to their music. Since age 25 I shifted my focus and was more drawn to role models that are currently excelling in their music careers, Chris Cheney from The Living End, Katie Noonan and Ash Grunwald. I played some gigs with Ash very early in my career and studied music with Chris Cheney before he formed The Living End band. I also love Michael Franti and Pearl Jam. Each of these musicians have influenced and inspired me profoundly.

Describe your best or most memorable performance.
JESS: One of the most memorable performances was at a charity event named ‘Sisters For Sisters’, to raise funds for programs that provide support to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking. I performed my song ‘Never Give Up’ to an audience of around 200. The song moved the crowd and it was an honor for me to perform.

BRANDON: Do you have a music video for your hit single? If so, what can you tell us about it?
JESS: I do not currently have a music video for my radio single but I am working on making several music videos in the next six months.

BRANDON: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
JESS: I run an organization called the Songwriters Collective which provides performance opportunities to newly emerging artists. I’m also a qualified songwriting coach and music teacher. I advise to all young artists to find their own unique creative expression, and to be courageous in pursuing live performance opportunities. I believe we each have a special and important message to share and you never know how your music could help or inspire people. Take heart in knowing even if you feel nervous or unsure, the very act of your own creative expression is of great value on a personal level, so it’s super important to follow your creative ideas regardless of the response you receive from others.

BRANDON: What's next for you as an artist?  Is there a new single in the works?  If so, what can you tell us about it?
JESS: I have just released my debut EP ‘Meaning Of Life’ and the title track won Best Song by The Akademia Music Awards in January 2015. I am greatly encouraged by this recognition and will be touring my EP in Australia in the next few months. I am currently forming a rock and roll band and hope to be touring in the U.S. and other countries in the latter half of 2015.

BRANDON: Sounds like you have an exciting year ahead! Thank you, Jess, for your time. I wish you much continued success.

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