Brian Stewart converses with Jesse Montana about his rise to stardom as an artist.
After arriving in Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, Jesse Montana found himself on both sides of the Hollywood’s red carpet–first as a celebrity stylist and then a reality TV star himself. If there was any indication that he was destined to be successful, it’s his work ethic–coupled with his passion and creativity–that fuels him as a stylist, actor, and singer.
Before Jesse began working as a celebrity stylist in Beverly Hills Meche Salon–styling clients like Paris Hilton, girl band GRL, Katie Stevens, Jessica Alba, Julia Lewis Dreyfus, Chrissy Teigen, and Scheana Maria Shay from BRAVO’s hit reality series Vanderpump Rules–he was chasing a music career. After recognizing music was his passion at the age of 15–after learning how to play the guitar and writing his first song “Love Me Back”–Jesse was hooked“…I was scouted by a manager in high school and came out to California for a summer to be in a boyband called Diverse. After the group disbanded, I turned to social media [which] was an amazing launching point for me.”
Staying true to his gift, he covered songs that landed him in the company of various influential people helped him book his first gig and write his first song off of his EP, “Drunk On You” which was produced by Grammy award-winning producer, Infinity. As they say, the rest is history, or as Jesse’s says “That was kind where everything started to blow up.”
Brian Stewart: What brought you to LA?
Jesse Montana: When I was younger, I always dreamed of living in dreamy California so that I could pursue music in Los Angeles. Along the way, I ended up going to school and getting a cosmetology license to become a stylist because I was thrown into a very high-end styling world when I was in Seattle that showed me the many ways I could make a life for myself if music never worked out. Thankfully enough, I landed the best job possible as a celebrity stylist at the world-renowned Meche Salon in Beverly Hills. I worked there a couple of days a week which gave me time throughout the week to tour and make music. I wouldn’t’ had it any other way. I felt so blessed.
BS: What’s the story behind your name “Jesse Montana”? is it that your real name?
JM: Currently I am California living, but I will forever be Montana born and raised. I got so lucky growing up in such a beautiful city like Missoula. It was small enough where you knew everybody, yet big, progressive and special enough to give me the humble and broad beginnings that paved the way for who I am today. I love the big sky country state so much. My name is an homage to my hometown love.
BS: You’re currently working at SUR, how did that happen?
JM: I do work at Sexy Unique Restaurant. LOL. My friends like to say I “wear many hats”. I actually started off doing Scheana Marie and Ariana Madix’s hair for the show Vanderpump Rules around Season 2 and became such close friends with them I ended up at all the filmings. Eventually, as I became closer with the whole cast hanging out all the time, the show approached me before the start of Season 4. I got cast, and the rest is history.
BS: From producing and starring in your web series #JESSEWOOD, which followed your everyday life adventures to photoshoots, recording studio sessions, live shows, and life in LA to starring on BRAVO’s hit TV show Vanderpump Rules, tell me about that journey?
JM: Honestly it’s all been a little bit of a whirlwind, but I will say if you don’t wake up in the morning and kick yourself in the ass to do it unless you have a manager, no one is going to do the work for you but yourself. Keeping myself busy with new projects on a continuous basis is something I love because it keeps me inspired.
When I first moved to LA, I was apprenticing for the biggest celebrity stylists in the city for almost five years. I had no time for myself, for music, sometimes barely to even eat throughout the day. When I finally graduated to being my own stylist, my mentor gave me two days on the salon floor. I went from working seven days a week straight to having five days to myself to finally work on things like #JESSEWOOD, and I finally got time to write and make music again. It took me a year, but I finished my first self-written EP JESSE MONTANA which was released on all digital platforms in March of this year. It’s been hard and tough at times to keep going, but I’m finally doing everything that I love, and I’m surrounded by the most creative and inspiring friends, family and colleagues.
BS: You’ve done a lot during your time here in LA, from celebrity styling and performing at LA Pride, to producing your first EP album and starring on a hit television show, if you could recount your most memorable experience in LA thus far, what would it be?
JM: I think performing on the main stage at LA Pride has to be the most amazing memory thus far. I shared the same stage with icons like Brandy, Erika Jayne, my boy Spencer Ludwig from Capital Cities, Aaron Carter and new breakout stars like Leon Else. It was such a blessing and honor for me to have my debut EP be heard on a stage in front of thousands of people celebrating the beautiful LGBTQ community. I hope I can continue to travel the world and share my music with people for as long as I’m able to.
BS: If you could describe yourself–as in your style–what would say it is?
JM: American Kissed California Vice
BS: What is your favorite clothing items to wear? Shoes? Accessories?
JM: I love statement rings like my turquoise ring, or my gold vintage French bulldog pinky ring my friend Lala gave me. A good patterned silk shirt is the way to my heart these days as is a pair of classic Adidas Stan Smith’s, Van’s or suede Chelsea boots.
BS: Where is your favorite place to visit?
JM: Sometimes when I need to get away and meditate, I hike The Wisdom Tree trail alone and sit at the top by the Buddha for hours watching the sky as the sun sets in the sky. It’s one of the most incredible and powerful places in LA for me.
BS: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go, and why?
JM: Honestly get me on a plane, and I’m game to go anywhere. I love to travel and love adventure so whether I’ve been there or not, I’ll Google my way into an itinerary for a day full of fun and discovery in new places. Still haven’t been to Italy, Greece or London yet–trying to make that happen ASAP.
BS: Aside from tequila, buffalo wings, and good music, what do you love?
JM: I tend to have a weak spot for puppies, Jameson, video games and Sour Patch Kids as well.
BS: You recently had a birthday, what did you do to celebrate?
JM: We drank like kings & queens and ate like kids. One of the best birthdays in ages. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by the people I have in my life right now; it was really just a celebration for us all. We spent the day under the sun in a cabana at the Highlight Room at The Dream Hotel in Hollywood, had my favorite Berry Cake from Sweet Lady Jane, went to dinner at TAO and finished off at Skybar’s Wicked Paradise for a little disco before heading to Nightingale for a big birthday surprise. Thank you to every beautiful face that was there–YGMSB.
BS: Can you describe a day in the life of Jesse Montana?
JM: [I] wake up and head to the gym for fast cardio and a workout; eat breakfast; post/edit and interact on social media; write or edit my music; send some emails; eat lunch; style or cut some hair; head to SUR for a night shift and finish off with a nightcap in the neighborhood with my friends and lover before bed. If it’s a lucky day, I get to perform on stage somewhere in the day.
BS: What advice would you give aspiring artist/entrepreneurs?
JM: For artists, never give up, never stop writing, never stop trying, never stop making music, never stop believing, and take rejections and negativity as fuel to push harder.
If you are trying to run your own business or creative empire, [and] don’t have a manager, you are your own boss. GTFU, drink your coffee, make a plan and stick to it as best as you can. You have to do the work to see the success. Reward yourself with those much needed days of celebration or rest because it makes it all worth it in the end. You have to enjoy the ride above all.
Photography • Malcolm Bacani at LUVGEN STUDIO