Q&A: Jesse Ruben

I chatted with Jesse Ruben about his love of music and his upcoming tour

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

About ten seconds after I picked up a guitar in High School.

What is your favorite song to perform and why? 

I really love “This Is Why I Need You.” It’s by far my most popular song. It’s become really special because it’s become a part of peoples lives. It’s the one people sing along to. I wrote it in my tiny New York five or six years ago and it’s been streamed millions of times. It’s amazing how you can create something out of silence and then it impacts others.

What is the We Can Project?

We Can Project is a service learning and growth mindset program for elementary and middle school students. It’s based off a song I wrote called “We Can.” I wrote that after running a marathon. I wanted to give people permission to do crazy stupid amazing things. Like run marathons or move across the country..whatever it may be. I’ve gotten to work with a half a million students, traveled to thirty seven states, and even went to Canada. 

How tough was running that marathon?

Which one? I’ve ran eight! That first one was really hard but I trained immensely. I do them for charity. The New York City Marathon is one of the biggest spectator sports in the world.

What was it like to be featured on the TODAY Show with Hoda and Kathie Lee? 

It’s funny because I got a random call from my mother. She said that her friend heard “We Can” on the radio. It was weird because I would’ve known about it. It turns out it was being played on the TODAY Show radio station. The next day she calls me freaking out because they were playing it ON the Today Show. I was like “no they’re not!” I logged on to my Twitter account and it was blowing up! 

Hoda heard the song during a spin class and she was in a time of her life where the song really resonated with her. The next day, someone from the show contacts me and invites me on to perform. She’s so supportive of up and coming artists but more importantly it gave the We Can Project credibility.

Be real with me for a second. Did Hoda have wine on set? 

They were definitely drinking something but I didn’t inspect anything ::laughs:: They film that so early in the morning, you need something strong. Sound check was at 4:30am. We started taping at six. It’s ungodly hours. 

What is your song “Future” about?

It’s the song I wrote for my wife when we decided to get married. We had known each other a long time. She was ready a lot earlier than I was. It’s different to just be boyfriend and girlfriend and then promise someone the rest of your life.

I really wanted to make sure the song was good so I would play it at all the shows she didn’t attend. I would ask folks to put their phones away and not record it. I didn’t want to play it at the wedding because that’s a day to celebrate us. So I played it for her at the rehearsal dinner. A nice little loophole. 

People say this all the time but this is true. When i first saw her, I just knew she was the one. I never experienced that before and it’s a pretty rare and special thing.

I read that you were sick a little while back. How did you get through it?

I was pretty much out of commission from 2013-2016. I have Lyme disease. It’s very misunderstood even to this day. It can take a really long time to get a diagnosis. When you’re sick and all of these doctors and tests are telling you you’re fine, it’s terrifying. I finally got diagnosed after nine months when I found a Lyme literate doctor in New York City.  I put my career on hold because I got to the point to where I would be onstage desperately wishing I wasn’t on stage. Lyme is a systematic virus so it can attack different systems and your symptoms can change randomly. It got to the point where I couldn’t remember how to play my songs. I’ve been in remission since 2016 and I do outreach to Lyme patients all over the world. It’s something that’s very important and something I take seriously. 

Some of your songs have been featured in shows such as “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “Switched At Birth.” What is it like being a part of those shows legacies?

As an artist it’s gratifying to see shows use my music because sometimes it’s not in the way I intended. It’s fun when people re-watch those shows and they reach out now and connect you to it. I believe it was “Degrassi” that put my album cover on the screen when the song was playing so they become a good place to discover new music. Of course that was when people were still buying CD’s a hundred million years ago.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done in life? 

Hmm…I haven’t done crazy illegal. And i don’t jump out of airplanes. Running my first marathon is up there. When i did it, I was really out of shape. People thought I was INSANE. I also played five shows in four different cities in 36 hours once. I’ve had some crazy travel stories as a musician. 

Are you excited about your show here in Annapolis?

Oh my gosh YES. Rams Head On Stage is one of the best venues in the country, full stop. The staff, the food, the vibe..everything. When I took a couple years off, which isn’t a good career move by the way. I reached out to them and Rams Head welcomed me back with open arms even though I hadn’t played there in a really long time. 

Jesse headlines Rams Head Annapolis 5/12! Buy tix

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