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11 Questions with JP SAXE, Toronto’s Rising Star

JP Saxe is the man who sang If The World Was Ending just months before it shut down completely. The Toronto-born singer/songwriter’s career, and personal life, blew up with that track, too. He and Julia Michaels, the song’s feature, have been dating since meeting to record it.

But the rest is not history for Saxe, who is now releasing his debut album, Dangerous Levels of Introspection, a body of work that is 4 years in the making. The album features Saxe’s idol John Mayer, and lists FINNEAS, Billie Eilish’s brother, as one of 9 producers.

Saxe has been on tour since late 2021, and is coming to Montreal on February 6th. He’s also making stops in his hometown of Toronto on February 9th and 10th.

We sat down with the rising star to discuss his journey to music, his favourite things about touring, and to dive deep into his new album.

You were born in Toronto. What are your favourite memories of your childhood?

I think going to open mics around the city. I feel grateful to grow up in a community that prioritized art. Just being able to find a different jam session or open mic in Toronto most nights was a huge part of my upbringing.

Your grandfather was a decorated musician. Was music always a big part of your childhood? When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I would say at around 19 I decided that music brought me the most joy, and if I could somehow make it my job, then I would have a happy life.

Some of your first singles include Changed and Anybody Else. What is the biggest difference between you as an artist on those songs, compared to your work on Dangerous Levels of Introspection?

I honestly think they are more similar than they are different. I’m trying to be sincere in what it’s like to be me. Changed is what it felt like to be me at 22/23, and the songs on the album are me between the age of 24/27.

Speaking of this album, 4 years in the making, how does it feel to finally release this body of work?

It feels amazing to finally assert the kind of artist I want to be for the rest of my life with a debut album that I spent a lot of time working on. I really believe in the way it represents me and my art and the kind of art I’ve always wanted to make. Sincerity first and nuanced in having a conversation about what it feels like to be the only human I have any authority to speak on, which is me.

In your interviews, it’s very clear that you are a chronic introspectionist. Do you like this about yourself?

I mean, I’m not sure if I can confidently say I love that about myself. It’s just who I am. I don’t have an option, so I just make the most of it.

Your journey to fame was not as linear as most. If the World Was Ending, released in 2019, was a huge success for you, long before your debut album. When you look back on the experience of releasing that song, listening to it on radio stations across the world, and being nominated for a Grammy, how would you describe it?

I am grateful that the first release of my success came with this song, because it is exactly the kind of music I’d like to spend the rest of my life making. If it had happened with a song that I didn’t really love, it would be confusing to continue to have the success that I want while trying to make the music I want. But it’s really encouraging to know that an overemotional, pensive, longing, and sincere record like If the World Was Ending is the thing that started my career because it is the type of music I’d like to continue making.

You’ve said that the day you met and recorded with Julia Michaels, your now girlfriend, was the most meaningful day of your life. Was it love at first sight? What’s your favorite thing about her?

Was it love at first sight? I’m going to go with yes. My favorite thing about her is a tie between her seemingly endless compassion and her apple pies.

Moving back to your new album, what’s your favorite song to perform live, and why?

Probably “For Emilee” because we just get to yell about how much we love our friends.

You’ve been on tour across Canada, and will be in Montreal on February 6th. What can fans expect?

They can expect this dork of a Canadian telling them too much about himself for about 90-minutes.

Do you have any pre-show rituals? Things you do before you perform?

I tell all my friends I love them, then I go on stage.

What was it like to work with John Mayer?

It was a dream come true. He has influenced my songwriting more than anyone in the world and to have him be a part of my first album is surreal.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a phenomenal bowler.

Lastly, what’s your best piece of advice for any aspiring artists looking to follow in your footsteps?

I think the 3 most important steps in becoming an artist are knowing who you are, knowing how to be okay with it, and knowing how to put it in a song. They are really hard steps, but if you can do those things, then you will be fine.