Not many people can boast as exciting a story as legendary funk artist, video pioneer turned political candidate, Jesse Rae. Renowned for his highland battle dress and a string of hits in the 80s, we caught up with the ‘godfather of Scots-Funk’ after the 2015 UK general election.
TS. “Disgusted with the political system” is a sentiment echoed by many Scots, especially in the wake of the Independence referendum. How far are we, as Scots, finally growing a pair of balls and eschewing the “black hole” of Westminster?
JR. Scotland, she disnae need balls, just tae produce mair bairns that love her.
TS.The idea of a politician using practical knowledge to help anyone apart from himself or herself is pretty novel. We really like the idea of using music and radio to help local communities. How would it work exactly?
JR. It’s a 30 year plan. Education. All schools in the Scottish Borders having 24 hr Community TV and Radio. Produces self belief. Self confidence and excellence in education. Nae body wants tae start again. Politicians are too scared. When banks are bust, they’re bust.
TS. How do you see the Borders as part of a potentially independent Scotland?
JR. Build a small Independent Borders Economy withoot oot side help. Grow and show. Scotland will follow.
TS. Do you think that the Scots language should be taught in schools alongside English?
JR. Local dialect must be taught. Create a Tartan language. Across Scotland
TS. Your music was fairly unique but despite success in America, you couldn’t get a recording deal here. What are the differences in attitude to music on either side of the pond?
JR. Simple. Music across the water. Big minds there, sma’ minds here.
TS. When you first went to the USA in search of funk did you have the Highland Warrior look, or did it come later?
JR. Always wore the kilt but prejudice followed. When I wore a helmet they didnae notice I was wear’n a kilt. Job done.
TS. You were one of the pioneers of online music but do you think things have gone to far in the age of iTunes, Spotify, Grooveshark etc?
JR. The ISDN technology was wonderful in the hand so’ creative musicians. Corporations killed the royalties.
TS. I personally think the Scottish Borders has one of the strongest music traditions in the
world. What is being done to keep Borders and indeed Scottish musical tradition alive?
JR. I dinnae ken aboot onnie one else, I just put the Borders tae Funk.
TS. What are you planning to do next? Has the election coverage opened renewed interest in your music or are you planning more for the Borders?
JR. Personally none o’ this was really planned…except political life. I just want tae help save The Borders. There should be nae boundaries for Music and Art.
TS. You lived the proverbial American dream in the late seventies and eighties, do you think it is still possible for young musicians to follow this path, or has America changed too much?
JR. Of course not, live the dream!
TS. It’s hard to imagine members of P-Funk on the Green at St. Boswells.
JR. Well they were here.
TS. Not much is made about your time working in the stock exchange. How did that come about? It seems the polar opposite of being a funk musician.
JR. Hunt Taylor was a cotton trader on the floor o’ New York Stock Exchange. A talented man, both as a trader and as a musician. He needed my help tae put a band thegither. I needed work that paid a lot. Tae finance my music videos. That’s NYC for ye ….live the dream.
Jesse’s a true original. A huge talent and an absolute pleasure to work with.