Up-and-coming artists sacrifice a lot: leaving family behind to travel the world, facing unruly, uninterested crowds and finding the right environment for their art to be heard. The latter dilemma rings true for Jesse Lafser, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who knows the torture of the bar crowd not even attempting to decipher her honest lyrical content.
Lafser, who will perform Monday at Mojo’s, is a growing artist with songs that hold within a melodic, folky sound and lyrics of conviction, loss and personal triumph. Born and raised in St. Louis, Lafser thrived in learning musicianship through the deep blues roots that surrounded her.
For the past eight years, she’s groomed her musical craft and cut her teeth alongside the countless other artists in Nashville striving for the same success. In anticipation of her Mojo’s performance, MOVE talked with Lafser about growing up in St. Louis, playing bars across the U.S. and why she loves music:
[MOVE]: How did growing up in St. Louis shape your musical personality?
[Jesse Lafser]: I grew up listening to a lot of blues music. I’ve loved the genre my entire life, and it’s actually been a huge influence on my next record.
[M]: What were your biggest musical influences growing up?
[JL]: Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Roger Miller — a ton of folksy stuff.
[M]: When did you realize you wanted to pursue music professionally?
[JL]: I was 15 and decided to start playing the guitar. That led to classical guitar lessons, and almost right away I started writing music. I guess it just stuck with me from there.
[M]: What’s it like to be an up-and-coming artist in Nashville?
[JL]: It’s crazy — in a lot of good ways and some challenging ways. Everywhere you look, there are people trying to do the same thing as me, and only a small percentage of us will really make it and do what we want to do. It feels like you’re fighting for your life in a lot of ways here. But it’s always inspiring to be alongside so many artists and a community of people all striving for the same thing.
[M]: How has the way you write your music progressed since your debut LP?
[JL]: There’s been a lot of change over the years for me. I’ve been trying to write songs that are a little simpler, more gritty and raw than in the past. I think my writing has also been evolving.
[M]: What’s your favorite part of life on the road?
[JL]: It’s exhilarating. I’m definitely a sucker for adventure. I did a tour out west last summer and got to see things and meet people I would never really cross paths with in another profession. Experiencing the culture and scenery of all the different places I’ve been is a highlight.