“By 17, I had a dozen original songs released.” This is Jessica Kaela. Chasing her dreams of being a pop star since she was a kid, Jessica was inspired by her father, who is also a musician, Barry Zeltzer. We caught up with Jessica for an inside look at her music and her latest single “Crying.”
Jessica shared with us that she has been singing for as long as she can remember, but it was attending a studio session with her dad that really got her started in the world of professional singing and songwriting. “I wanted to go and see what this cool thing was all about, and so I went with him to a session. During the session, the producer wanted female vocals on the track, and I remember feeling excited about hopping in the booth and giving it a try.” Turns out this spontaneous session was a hit. The song, a love song written by her dad, was reworked to include Jessica’s vocals and became a father/daughter duet. Jessica calls that song, “Soft as a Butterfly,” the “beginning of my journey.”
While her father is her biggest inspiration, it’s Jessica’s emotions and experiences that drive her music. “Music was always an outlet for me to express myself,” she shared. “Sometimes it’s scary to put your stories out there into the world, but through my voice as a young artist, I was able to learn about my own feelings and to be able to openly share them with others.”
This openness is a big part of Jessica’s most recent single “Crying.” A song inspired by a difficult breakup, “Crying” is inspired by a time when Jessica says she lost her sense of self. “I felt very empty, and sharing my most difficult moments through this song came with many mixed emotions, beautiful and scary.” She thinks this is captured best in the song’s chorus, “I don’t have the words, and you don’t have to promise. You don’t have a reason to try to be honest… ‘Cause you don’t have a conscience. Agree you never tried. I don’t know what getting even is, but I have stopped crying.”
Cowritten by Jessica and Chauncy Jackson, “Crying” is what’s left of pages of notes and lyrics that Jessica wrote post-breakup. After all that writing and brainstorming and actual crying (Jessica shared that she cried in the booth while recording the song), “Crying” is a track that Jessica calls “breathtaking.” “Having gone through such a heart-aching struggle and being able to put that into a piece of music that I get to share with the world is just one of the many reasons why I love what I do,” Jessica said. “Sharing this piece of music helped me process what I went through, empowering me to reflect on the positives, which motivated self-growth.”
“Crying” is out now, but Jessica is still hard at work. She’s currently working on “a lot of new music,” including an EP set to release this fall. Jessica is keeping the details about the project close to her chest. “It’s a surprise.” In the meantime, she hopes her music inspires people and helps them process similar emotions.
Jessica left us with some advice for aspiring artists. “Never give up. That is the saying that I live by. There will be many obstacles that you will cross in your career, but you have to know what you want and believe in yourself more than anybody else. Always look forward. Keep chasing your goals, and allow your creativity to constantly flow. There may be things that are going to knock you down, but at the end of the day, you are the only person who can pull yourself back up.”