Actress Jessie Kilguss Turns to Music

“If I didn’t have to earn money, all I would be doing is music. It’s the thing I love the most, the thing that makes me feel most inspired and alive.”

Jessie Kilguss describes her passion for music in relatively few words considering her feelings on the subject. Previous actress turned musician, Kilguss seems to have finally stumbled into the realm of creativity she loves the most. Her self-proclaimed musical style; narrative, story-driven alt country-rock; combines her illustrative writing style with her strong, soulful voice to create a sound reminiscent of older, more classic female artists. 

Jessie Kilguss

Photo credit to Shervin Lainez

As an actress in New York City, Kilguss has made the conversion to musician with a rather seamless transition. Given the chance to perform a play with several musicians she admires combined with music scored by one of her cited inspirations, Tom Waits, Kilguss found herself moved by their talents and encouraged toward making a shift from acting to music.

“It was inspiring to work with them,” she remembers. “I had been an actor for a few years and was a bit bored. Working with them, I kind of wanted to switch gears.”

Soon after the play, Kilguss met record producer team Super Buddha, began working with them and “fell in love” with music. From co-writing and producing with Super Buddha, Kilguss has moved to working with her bandmates to write and record her own music. With this progression, Kilguss must now find her own motivation and inspiration for songs, a factor she mantains does not bring her much trouble.

“I just go with the flow,” she says. “Something that helps is making myself write every day. I find ideas from all different things. It could be personal, could be a story I’ve overheard about someone else, a movie, an expression I hear. Sometimes I write down an expression and write around it.”

Though she has been performing for most of her life and has no problem finding her musical muse, Kilguss notes that performing her own material has been somewhat of a challenge and new experience.

“It’s definietly a process in terms of confidence about my own music,” Kilguss admits. “It’s a lot different if it’s your own material, a lot scarier.”

Jessie Kilguss in Black

Photo credit to Grayson Dantzic

Fortunately, this stage fright does not show in her performance. Though she states that she performs differently for each show, Kilguss always manages to overcome any fears she has regarding unleashing her creativity onstage.

“I don’t do every performance the same,” Kilguss voices. “I like to experiment with different ways of performing. Sometimes closing my eyes helps me focus on my emotions and be more genuine. I definitely like to come from an emotionally genuine place.”

As she mentions, typical music performance isn’t her only gig. She also serves as Developmental Director of an amazing program called Art Start, where she started as a volunteer. Art Start is dedicated to giving children in shelters and alternative placements access to music, writing, art, and other creative outlets. In addition to helping kids in need jumpstart their creative careers, Kilguss is also hosting a contest via her blog, the prizes of which are a private house concert or an acoustic Skype concert. Either seems like an incredibly legitimate way to spend an evening.

Kilguss and her usual band, which she often terms The Radio Gold, have a few upcoming performances scheduled in various areas of New York, so if the ultimate house party isn’t in the cards, Kilguss is still within reach. And so is her music.

Originally published July 19, 2012 on NewYorkSocialStatus.com

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