Brite Winter Festival is an annual outdoor 1-day festival held in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Brite Winter 2015 will be held on February 21, 2015 and boasts over 60 musicians and bands from around Cleveland and other regions who will be playing on nine stages throughout Ohio City and the W. 25th Street area. Over the next five days, Midwest Action will be presenting an artist/band a day who we think you should definitely check out, should you want to brave the elements and rock out to this truly unique music festival.

Joshua Jesty is a music Renaissance Man; Singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist, stand-up comedian, salsa dancer, just to name a few. In 2014, he was hard at work churning out 3 EPs with the most recent one being released in October. 2015 will be no different as he busies himself playing shows around Cleveland and preparing for his 4th EP of the series in 2015. Those who see him live are in for a treat with his honest lyrics paired up with pop-riffic guitar riffs. He will be playing a set at Brite Winter Festival with his band, the Need for Hot Chocolate. Read on to learn a little bit more about this multi-talented musician making waves and bunnies in the Cleveland music scene.

You can catch Joshua Jesty and the Need for Hot Chocolate live on February 21, 2015 in the Great Lakes Brewing Company Tasting Room at Great Lakes Brewing Co.  from 7:25 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

1. Describe your music in 5 words. 

loss is gain as music

2.  How do you approach your songwriting? From where do you draw inspiration? 

Songwriting is a craft I have been working at and playing with for years and years. There is a craft to it, there is a science to it, and there is also a very big chunk of it that is just random and without any technique. A big part, and my favorite part of the songwriting, is when the ideas just smash into you like the waves upon the rocks. I’m a fairly autobiographical songwriter, in that I write things from my perspective or the perspective I think I would have if placed in situation X.

3. You have been quoted as saying that you’re releasing your double album into 4 EPs because you want people to know who you are. What is the most challenging thing about building a presence in Cleveland? 

I used to think it was a general indifference that Clevelanders had, but that’s not true. The more I’ve toured and traveled, the more I’ve realized that Cleveland just has way more going on for it than most places. Even if all you do is listen to bands, you’ve got 60 at Brite Winter alone… and I know most of them and know that they’re all great for different reasons. The fact is, this town has great everything: Stand-up comedy, salsa dancing, rec sports leagues, unique bars with crazy food, video games, terrible karaoke. And we have a ton of great music venues bringing in national and regional bands, too. There’s no point where there isn’t at least a dozen great things to do or see every weekend in this city.

The most challenging thing is rising to the occasion and putting out an incredible “product.” Meaning: do you have great songs and do they sound great on record? Do you have a great live show that is engaging? The short answer is, creating a presence in Cleveland, or anywhere requires a certain level of professionalism and exceptional execution. That’s something I’m working on all the time; I’ll never claim to be at that level, but I’m constantly striving and working towards it.

4. “Now is the Time of Our Awkwardness” was released in October. When is #4 coming out?

I was aiming for May, but there’s a few local bands that I respect and admire a lot who are putting out records that month and I just don’t want to compete in any way shape or form, and not just ’cause I’d lose miserably…so I’ve got my eye on June. Plus, putting out four EPs in two years is a lot harder in reality that it looks on paper. Especially when I wear 90% of the hats when it comes to putting the whole product together. There’s a lot to orchestrate, so I’ll give myself the extra month. It’s not like I’ll be the first musician who’s late getting something done.

5. What can Cleveland expect and look forward to from you at Brite Winter? (New songs, old songs, special guests, pizza parties, pajama parties, etc.)

They can look forward to a brisk but powerful set of songs from the first three EPs Wasn’t the World Supposed to End?, I Love You Question Mark and Now is the Time of Our Awkwardness, as well as a new tune from the mysterious fourth EP. I was gonna have us play in a fish tank with some sharks, but we just can’t risk freezing sharks and bass players with this weather. My band (which changes its name every show) “Joshua Jesty and the Need for Hot Chocolate” has been working as a trio and we’ve been having a lot of fun stripping back my larger studio arrangements to really accommodate the rock trio sound as well as finding unique ways to fill it out.

Bonus: What’s with the cute bunnies? Seriously.

The bunny thing started because I got deeply into the movie Donnie Darko and for me, Frank was the representation of how terrible things can get, but how it’s alright and in order regardless of how it appears. I found that the movie had a deleted scene where the English class was reading “Watership Down” and I immediately grabbed a copy and it was one of the last books I read that I just couldn’t put down. I ended up impulse-buying a pet rabbit of whom I named Hazel. I liked all the different instances of rabbits that showed up in literature and mythology: viewed as highly sexual, cute as all get out, silent and pensive looking, follow down the rabbit hole… all that. I could relate to it.

Even though I use rabbits on stickers and shirts as a tribute to Hazel, the main reason I moved to using rabbits for these past three EPs and this upcoming final and fourth EP of the series is because I got to dark place where I didn’t believe in myself and I felt of no value to anyone or anything. Suicide crossed my mind one day and I laid down on this couch and didn’t move for a day.  My rabbit Hazel, who, in her later years, had started to become a little distant and anti-social, seemed to notice a change in me. She spent two weeks by my side, day and night. She would sit by me on a foot stool next to the couch and let me pet her and she’d dance around my hand, when I fell asleep she stayed next to me, when I woke up, no matter what time it was, no matter where she was, she would stop what she was doing and run to my side and just sit there. It was all she could do, but in that moment where I felt of no worth, and felt so low, there was this little bunny who was just doing everything she could to show her love and support of me.

After this two week funk, I picked myself up and started to get my life together.  I started writing and recording for the first time in almost a year and that’s what eventually started this four EP process. So all these EPs are dedicated to my rabbit Hazel for being there when I needed someone the most.

So, that’s why rabbits.

If you like what you’ve read, you can buy Joshua’s EPs for $2 through April 2015. Don’t forget to check out Joshua Jesty and the Need for Hot Chocolate Saturday, February 21 starting at 7:25p.m. at the Great Lakes Brewing Tasting Room.