Race the Tide, also known as Jesse Macht, realizes that good music is all about an intimate, shared experience. Rather than hiding behind a stage and lights, Macht thinks that there is importance in the experience of the house show, a small, intimate gathering that brings people together to hear music, talk with friends and build community. This is why he has committed to a van tour, making stops at tiny venues. Macht likes taking the time to speak with his fans and getting to look everyone in the eyes when he performs. CULTURE asked him about his affinity for the world of small stages, his musical stylings and his support of cannabis.
How did you start
While I always sang and played instruments on my own, the first time I delved into playing any music was with two buddies of mine in high school. We were all drummers (at 15 mind you) and we drew straws to see who would play other instruments, and I got guitar. Honestly, it was a relief to get a different instrument because I always had a hard time playing drums and singing at the same time, so it freed me up to engage in songwriting, which I didn’t even realize was an option at such a young age. From there I started a band in college called The Hatch which eventually transitioned into a band called Burn Down the Mission. After 10 years of making music with those guys, we went separate ways and I began a solo career and made two records. This year, I put out this new project, called Race The Tide, to embark on a different sound and vibe than anything else I’d ever done.
Do you have anything exciting in the works that you want to announce?
This new record, Race the Tide, is super exciting and I can’t wait for it to release. We put out the first single, “The Enemy,” and the music video for it just finished. I dipped my toes into directing a music video for the first time and I’m really excited to put it out and see how people respond to it. In this whole process, I took a leadership role that I never had the confidence to do in the past; I co-produced the record and directed the music video for the first single, and I anticipate doing more of it.
D you feel that intimate, home concerts contribute to the arts? Why is it important to still perform this way in 2017?
After playing over 100 home concerts around the world, I am fully integrated into this type of concert. There is no replacement for the intimacy of these kinds of shows for both the artists and for the audiences. The conversation that innately happens because of the close quarters creates an unforgettable experience. It allows artists and audiences to talk about the songs, what they mean, make jokes and conversations that happen in the moment and create an event that really can’t be replicated in any other venue. The fourth wall disappears at a home concert, and that fact creates a true sharing of emotion and story of all the people present. I believe that these types of concerts are on the verge of getting very, very popular as we all begin to push back against the size of enormous, expensive concerts that aren’t helping the working class musicians, and as people start realizing that being a patron of the arts is vital in keeping a vibrant and diverse music environment alive.
How has cannabis affected your life and/or creative process?
Cannabis, while not something I rely on by any means, no question can open “doors of perception” and allow me to relax and open up and at the same time enhance my desire to create and work. Some people get very lazy when they engage with cannabis, but for me, in general, it helps stimulate my creative mind, and I can get into a work mode that is very focused and concentrated on translating an emotional idea. I will say, I have my bouts with paranoia and anxiety with cannabis, and finding the right strain is something that is a lifelong journey for me. Jack Herer, in the past, has been a great source of creation for me, and I tend to stick with that strain when creating. I think a menu and video or text resource with clearer descriptions of general cultural and behavioral habits when consumed relative to a strain would be beneficial. I think as cannabis makes its way into pop culture more and more, that resource will become more readily available. In the same way that we joke that “tequila gets me hyped up; whiskey brings me down; vodka feels like a clearer and relaxed drunkenness,” cannabis will begin to clarify its personality benefits more and more.
How do you advocate for cannabis?
I honestly don’t advocate for cannabis except by voting and conversation. We almost performed at an edible THC factory in Boulder, Colorado a week ago and I was super bummed we didn’t get to do that. I encourage our audiences to feel comfortable enough to partake in cannabis in the privacy of their own homes when they invite me over for a concert because the intention of these concerts is for radical intimacy, inclusion and comfort. I love when each audience member has a comfortable seat, a blanket, some food in their lap, a drink, and perhaps a joint to pass. When people feel truly, physically comfortable, it makes for their minds to quiet and really listen to what a presenter is offering. Environment is everything for art. You can see or hear great art in an appropriate venue and it’s the best thing you’ll ever see, and you can see that same offering in a loud, obnoxious, uncomfortable space, and that art then seems mediocre or not worth your time, and it has nothing to do with the art, and everything to do with the environmental influence.