The Canadian singer went to L.A. to make it. Disappointed, he returned home to haul furniture for a living. It was the smartest thing we could have done.
Tobias Jesso Jr. has a friend back home in Vancouver, Canada, called Fraser. He’s a true friend. When Jesso, dejected and embarrassed, moved back home after a failed attempt at success in Hollywood, it was Fraser who was first round his house. Four years had passed and Fraser was no longer the man he’d left behind. He’d started his own removal and box company, which, if anything, exemplified how little Jesso had changed. He’d gone to LA to become a songwriter and take his piece of The Big Orange. But he was back, and no one was going to believe he was a musician nowadays, because, clearly, he wasn’t.
“When I went back to Vancouver I was no longer an artist,” he tells me. “Y’know, you can’t go back home. ‘I’m a songwriter now!’ ‘Really? Then why are you back?’ ‘Because!’” He folds back into the sofa and laughs his high pitched, friendly laugh – something that follows each of his tales of misfortune, and statements of self-deprecation.
Fraser employed Jesso on the spot, and the following day the two of them were hauling furniture. “It was depressing, for sure.” Jesso felt like Bill Withers, a man who, in the late ’60s, resigned himself to being a musician for his own pleasure, having struggled for years to be noticed, again in a new home of Los Angeles. (Famously, Withers refused to quit his job assembling toilets for an airline company even after the release of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, reasoning that the music industry is a fickle one, and soon enough he’d be out on his ear).
“Do you still play music,” Fraser asked Jesso as they loaded an upright piano into the company van.
“Errr, I don’t know, not really.”