Sometimes songs tug at you. Toronto singer-songwriter Jesse David Weeks is glad Somewhere In The Distance did. The sunny pop song, started years ago and shelved, ended up winning the Grand Prize in The 2010 Radiostar National Songwriting Competition, beating out thousands of submissions. The track will now appear on his self-titled debut EP, due out in late March 2010.
Co-written by Paul Burns and produced by Ron Lopata (Tomi Swick, Matt Dusk, Lindi Ortega),Somewhere In The Distance is a light, Caribbean-tinged song with a positive message. “It’s got a spiritual vibe,” says Jesse. “It talks about a voice calling out, a light shining down, a hand reaching out. It touches on the idea of a higher power looking out for you”.
Jesse has good karma. Perhaps that has something to do with his job as a police officer, protecting Toronto citizens, and that karma spills out into his music career. It’s not the first time he has entered or placed in a song competition. In 2007, his Bloodshed In The Streets won 91.5’s The Beat’s Rhythm of the Future talent contest, and was top 5 in the Mazda Rock In Roll Call contest. The same song was also top 5 at the contest he just won in 2007.
“I’m entering these contests because it’s one of the only ways I can make sure I’m on the right path before formally releasing product. It’s a great way to start building relationships with industry professionals” Jesse explains.
The Toronto-born artist moved to Ireland at age four with his family for seven years, after his dad left his job as an airline pilot to become a missionary. Before that, Gary Weeks was a successful musician with the group Gary & Dave, whose 1973 hit, "Could You Ever Love Me Again” is still played around the world.
In grade 10, Jesse discovered his own love of music — hip hop. At school, when he was having trouble with poetry assignments, his teacher suggested he think of it like rap. Shortly after, he joined a hip hop group in high school called The Arkiteks. He soon realized rap “wasn’t me” and started capturing melodies and lyrics on a digital voice recorder. Through his father, who had toured with the Stampeders, he worked with Rich Dodson on his first single, 2005’s reggae-pop ditty Trini Girl, which received local airplay.
Shortly after, while singing in a worship band at Unionville Alliance, he met producer Douglas Romanow (Ann Vriend, The Satallites). They did a handful of songs together, including Bloodshed In Our Streets, a dark, reggae-pop song. That not only won the aforementioned 2007 Rhythm of the Future contest, whose prize was the opportunity to work with rapper/producer Saukrates and Colin Munroe, but was used in a Crimestoppers video seeking information on a homicide (an arrest was made).
In 2008, noting a new artist on the radio named Tomi Swick and finding out he was Canadian, Jesse bought the album and tracked down the producer, Ron Lopata. Ron happened to have a studio up the street from Jesse’s home. The two began working together and their musical chemistry has proven to be exceptional. One of the songs Jesse showed him was incomplete, “but it kept coming to mind as something that needed to be recorded,” he says. Ron changed the arrangement, but the lyrics remained — positive, about someone looking out for you. Now Somewhere In The Distance has been serviced to radio stations across the country.
“My goal is to have a song on the radio that everybody in Canada, at least, can recognize and say, ‘Oh I know that song,’” says Jesse. Just like his dad.