Performing with passion

Jess Casinelli builds up her career with covers

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Pasadena singer-songwriter Jess Casinelli is all about keeping things fresh. 

The Stamford, Connecticut, native recently wrapped up a set of covers with the 1968 hit by The Foundations, “Build Me Up Buttercup.” 

“When I was little, I had a Barbie cassette player,” Casinelli says. “My dad would play the cassettes with me at night so I would fall asleep. That was my favorite song on the cassette. 

“Once I started gigging around a couple years ago, I started covering it. I made it my own. A picture of my dad is the cover art. He’s playing guitar.”

“Build Me Up Buttercup” is the third in a three-part cover project that included “Panic” by The Smiths and “She” by Green Day. Original music is coming in the winter of 2022. 

“The three songs are very different and my versions sound nothing like the originals,” says Casinelli, who is joined by violinist Katie-Jacoby of The Who on “Panic.” 

“I definitely think that being a songwriter helps me cover songs and make them my own, rather than sounding like the artist’s originals.”

Casinelli’s father influenced her career choice, as he worked in A&R for Atlantic Records, Sony/Columbia and independent labels. When Casinelli was 10, he left the industry. 

“He’s the reason I thought music was a career that is achievable,” she says. “It was only until I grew up that I realized it’s much harder than it seems.”

At age 16, Casinelli gave guitar and piano another try and taught herself both instruments. She became “obsessed” with writing and practicing two years later. 

“I packed up and moved to Pasadena (in October 2015) to attend Los Angeles College of Music. LACM is where I met some of my lifelong friends and fellow musicians I am still seeing and working with today.

“I’m always looking for musicians to play with, too. I don’t feel I’m the best at the instruments. I use them to accompany my writing and my vocals.”

Casinelli says the most difficult part of living in California is being away from her family. 

“Pasadena is a nice place to live. Going from LA to Pasadena every day, it feels like something homey to come back to every day.”

Jess Casinelli

Instagram and Facebook: @yungweirdo.97


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