Jessarae having time of his life with Sheffield shows

Jessarae on stage.
Jessarae on stage.

Rising singer-songwriter Jessarae is having the time of his life.

The 22-year-old is playing to some of the biggest crowds of his career as he supports Little Mix on the pop princesses’ UK arena tour – including shows at Sheffield’s Fly DSA Arena today and Saturday, October 27 and 28 – and has just announced his own UK headline tour next year, which includes a return to the Steel City.

“It’s really exciting,” says the Californian, real name Jesse Robitaille – he is the son of Canadian ice hockey legend Luc Robitaille – talking about his Little Mix shows.

“I am going up on stage, just me and my guitar.

“I am doing some loops on stage and looping with my vocals.

“The audience can expect, hopefully, to be entertained.”

As a teen, Jessarae spent the years locked in his bedroom practising, absorbing and obsessing over music he naturally gravitated toward.

He says: “Hendrix, Joplin, Dylan, The Stones, Tom Waits, The Ramones, Radiohead, Nick Drake, Bob Marley, Bon Iver, Damien Rice – anything and everything I felt was real.”

He has gone on to build a strong fanbase on social media.

His first YouTube post was uploaded in July 2013, shortly after his 18th birthday, and shows him playing a cover of Johnny Cash song Folsom Prison Blues.

In just 18 months, he had attracted nearly 15,000 Twitter followers, close to 5,000 YouTube subscribers, and more than 20,000 Facebook fans, earning a support slot with alternative rock band Saints of Valory.

Aged 20, he came to the UK to write, and ended up staying, settling in East London.

He says: “I went home to Los Angeles for two weeks, packed all my stuff, split up with girlfriend and got back on a plane again with my guitar. I didn’t think about it too much, it felt like where I was supposed to be.”

The younger half-brother of Vampire Diaries actor Steven R McQueen has gone on to support 5 Seconds Of Summer and Hey Violet – as well as Little Mix – and sell out two headline tours.

He admits earning the Little Mix slot – and the chance to perform to hundreds of thousands of fans – came about by chance.

“I was playing a show in London and the right people were in the crowd,” he says. “I was ecstatic.

“I want to take the music I am making to people and I’m hoping bring some fans away with me. What I hope they take away is that it’s different.”

His new single Fishbowl is out now, “blending a funk driven groove, contagious chorus and massive hooks”, and his spring tour includes a show at Sheffield’s The Leadmill on Saturday, February 17 – tickets are now on sale at leadmill.co.uk