Jesse Boykins III Stars as Bartholomew on Def Jam Debut Album: A Q&A with the Singer

by Robyn Merrett

 Jesse Boykins III at The Peppermint Club on Dec. 4, 2017 | all images by Jose Cervantes

Jesse Boykins III at The Peppermint Club on Dec. 4, 2017 | all images by Jose Cervantes

“We love you Jesse,” cheered fans as singer Jesse Boykins III smized and cooed on stage at Los Angeles' Peppermint Club. It was an intimate affair allowing guests to vibe under romantic lighting and sip on specialty cocktails. It’s no wonder that he’s a ladies man. Boykins had all eyes on him, his flowing locs, seductive moves and powerful vocals.

Jesse even held hands with a few lucky women in the front row, I being one of the chosen. Throughout the night, he previewed tracks from his newest project Bartholomew, including "Earth Girls," "Everybody Shut Up" and "Vegetables" (which features Willow Smith and Syd on the album). Boykins also treated fans to covers of "Limit To Your Love" by James Blake and Kanye West's "Blame Game."

He wasn’t the only star of the night; his band--a drummer, pianist, and trumpet player--equally captivated the crowd, making the experience whole. In addition to attending the show, Flaunt caught up with Jesse and chatted about his alter ego, his hobbies and how he likes to “express his emotional intelligence via melody.” Check out our conversation below.

What inspired Bartholomew and how it came about?

Bartholomew is inspired by four main points that helped me write: Growing up in Neverland and being Peter Pan’s best friend. Bartholomew was born on the Nautilus, Captain Nemo's ship. He secretly works for NASA. And he's is okay with being in the friend zone.  The concept is based on not feeling desperate and not being the typical romantic. 

Who is Bartholomew?

He’s my alter ego. He’s the type of guy who wants to elevate women. He helps women accomplish their dreams. He wants to progress together. For example: instead of buying flowers, Bartholomew would buy his girl a domain to help achieve her goals. 

How would you classify your genre or sound and what does that say about you? 

If you put Tinker Bell's dust in a small glass of rose [champagne] and sip slow, that’s my music.

What is your songwriting process like?

Connection inspires my songwriting. I try to be as vulnerable as I can while inspiring. So that can come from my connection to people or my experiences. I just take from everywhere. Life experiences, my favorite movie, astrology, my favorite salmon. 


How is Bartholomew different from your previous projects? Is there anything in particular fans should expect? Have you grown since?

This album is different. I have a lot of features on the project with my friends. I have a lot of female energy: Willow, Syd, Bridget Kelly and Melanie Fiona. All women I respect and are super passionate about their art form. It was a very educational experience having these women in the studio with me and helping me become aware of other points of view.

Are there any artists you look forward to collaborating with in the future?

Kanye West, Rihanna, FKA Twigs, and Andre 3000. 

Who are your musical inspirations? 

Chris Martin, Thom Yorke, Andre 3000, Jimmy Hendrix, Michael Jackson. 

How does it feel to be signed with Def Jam? You were independent prior to this. How will that shape your music?

It won’t shape my music at all. I will continue to be the main contributor to my music. It feels good to have people support me and believe in me, though. I don’t like it to be in a box I just like to call it good music. I love the strong foundation Def Jam has provided me with. 


How would you describe your style?

Chic, vintage, bedroom attire. It can go from comfy to club. I can go to the gala then hit the diner and leave there and go bowling. 

Outside of music what are your hobbies? 

I also paint, write poetry and tend to my Chia Pet. 

As 2017 is coming to a close, what has been your biggest moment and what are you looking forward to most in 2018?

I didn’t smoke weed for a whole year. It’s actually a year today. That’s a big moment. I needed it and am proud that I’ve become discipled enough to cut out certain vices. But for 2018, I’m looking forward to smoking weed, painting and reading a little more books and getting into film. I’ve been writing scripts. I just want to create at the highest level I’ve ever done. No excuses.

Anything else?

I want everybody to live free, take risks, acknowledge all their blessings and pray up.

Written by Robyn Merrett
Photos by Jose Cervantes