PRIDE sat down with the charming, openly gay singer-songwriter Jesse Saint John! For our weekly WerQ podcast, we chat about Saint John's career so far, what it was like to write for Britney Spears, why gay men are obsessed with powerful women, and his new single, "Move."
PRIDE: Over your short career, you've worked artists like Sia, Charlie XCX, Camila Cabello, and Britney Spears. What's that been like?
Jesse Saint John: When I look at my quote-unquote résumé, I'm like woah, that's like really lit. It's fun. I started writing about four years ago at this point, just doing sessions and getting in rooms and working with tons of different artists.
If you had told me four years ago that I would have this list of people, I would've never ever believed you. I'm just so grateful and shook.
P: Who was the first artist you worked with?
JSJ: The first artist that I wrote for that came out and was a thing was Brooke Candy. That was back in like the golden era of Tumblr, that amazing fun time when the internet felt like it was this untapped market of 'Oh, people can share their music and it can reach a wide range of people.'
I wrote this song called "Das Me" and made a video, put in on YouTube, and it went viral. From there, I met Sia and got to be in the studio with her which was the craziest thing ever.
From there, I kind of was like 'Oh, songwritings a real job.' It's been this fun little wild ride, but yeah it all started with the hoe anthems.
P: So you wrote "Love Me Down" on Britney Spears' latest album Glory. Did you actually get to work with her?
JSJ: I wish more than anything, my god no. It was a song that was written and she liked it so she was able to do it with us. I've never met her still to this day. Is that like the most tragic thing ever? I dream about it.
I'm close with her team and they're always like 'Oh, come down, we'll facilitate a meeting.' But then like, what would I even say?
P: Are you a huge Britney stan?
JSJ: Like it's psychotic. I've seen her nine times. I really stan her.
P: What is it about Britney Spears?
JSJ: It's everything! She was just the star of my life, like the superstar. I was maybe nine when I saw her for the first time on TV, and I was like 'What is this thing, how is that real?'
I loved comic books and Batman and all of that stuff and for me, she's like a real superhero. I was obsessed with her, she had the sparkle in her eye.
That was the height of fame culture, it'll never be like that again just because social media has diffused the way we look at famous people. They're way more accessible. Back then, the paparazzi had to follow her to figure out where she was, what she was doing, what she's all about. Now with social media, it's like you can see your favorite pop star pooping. It was the height of that surreal fascination.
And she had all the best songs. And she was the perfect blend of sexy and innocent. It was so intriguing, that surreal dichotomy. She was like, 'What, I'm just wearing a bra because it's like hot out.' She was just perfectly perfect in every way.
P: Why do you think gay men latch on to pop stars so obsessively?
JSJ: I think a lot of homophobia is rooted in misogyny. Looking at these women who express that divine feminine energy that we are supposed to be ashamed of, that's why we really latch onto them. That's that little piece of me that I'm supposed to be ashamed of and they're owning it brazenly.
I'll always love my queens. And now we have to stan the gays too. There are all these amazing gay pop stars now that when I was little, I would've loved to see. I still feel like there's so much more room for representation.
P: Random, what was the first album you ever got?
JSJ: So it's kind of a blur, but I know Aaliyah was one of my first ones.
P: Which one, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number?
JSJ: No girl, I'm not that old. It was the 2001 Aaliyah, self-titled. It was so good, still, all those songs are amazing.
Listen to the full interview here and listen to Jesse Saint John's new song, "Move" below.
(This interview has been condensed.)