Even though he’s only 16 years old, it’s very possible you’ve seen or heard Jet Jurgensmeyer before.
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For starters, he’s an accomplished child actor—you might recognize him as Spanky from the 2014 Little Rascals movie, or as Boyd Baxter from Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing. Or, perhaps you’d recognize his voice—he’s been a guest on Special Agent Oso and since 2019, he’s been Pip the Penguin on Disney’s T.O.T.S. But for as busy as acting’s been making him recently, Jurgensmeyer is a true multi-talent. First coming to performing when he was 3 years old, he’s not only a well-versed actor, but a skillful comedian and a phenomenal musician as well.
And now, Jurgensmeyer is stepping into the “musician” part of his talents in a whole new way. In 2019, after he released his self-titled debut record, he decided that he wanted to pursue songwriting with even more passion and rigor. Now, on June 18, he’s unveiling his newest single, “Fast Forward,” which he wrote with Bridgette Tatum and Jessie G.
With a classic country vibe and down-to-Earth lyrics, “Fast Forward” is kind of an encapsulation of what Jurgensmeyer is all about. Hopping on the phone with American Songwriter last week, the teenager explained that he sees himself as a normal kid, just like any other. Yet, at the same time, it’s clear that his love for music and performing runs deep, and his commitment to his craft is paramount. Through it all, it makes sense why his songs have such an earnest, relatable vibe. Read our conversation below:
American Songwriter: You began performing at your parents’ honky tonk, The Nashville Palace, when you were 3 years old. What was that like? Are some of your earliest memories from performing?
Jet Jurgensmeyer: It’s definitely back there. I don’t remember everything, but I was very fortunate my parents owned the Palace. When you’re from Nashville, you’re going to be involved in music in the entertainment industry in some way, shape or form. So, I think I was fascinated with getting on stage and performing for people because that’s just who I am. I remember standing on stage, singing and telling jokes and just kinda being amazed, like, “Wow, these people are here and they’re listening to me—this is so cool.” It was so exciting. It’s kinda like a sugar rush when you’re on stage. It’s just so fun to be up there performing and having a good time. That’s really what it’s all about.
AS: So, you started as a pretty well-rounded entertainer. Obviously you stuck with the acting side of things, but you do music too—when did you start thinking of yourself as a “musician” proper?
JJ: Well, before I even knew how to sing words to songs, I would walk around with a broken microphone just pretending that I was singing. That’s what I mean—when you’re from Nashville, you’re going to be doing it in some way. I guess that I was drawn to being on stage because my mom’s a musician, so she has spent many years in Nashville being on stage singing, playing guitar. So, I think it was just a part of me ever since I was really, really little.
I released my first song when I was 12 or 13. It was really cool to see the reaction I got from people. After that, I was really drawn to making more original music. Then, especially once the album came out, I was like, “Wow, this is really cool—I like songwriting!” That’s one thing that’s been nice about the whole COVID-19 pandemic—I’ve been able to write a lot more. I’ve also been able to make new friends with songwriters. And I’ve been writing a lot of songs.
AS: Who are some of your inspirations?
JJ: Well, one influence I definitely have to thank is my mom. She’s always been there, helping me, but not pushing me. She’s definitely the reason I’m so talkative when I’m on stage.
But as far as the sound that I’m going for, I’m a massive fan of Chris Stapleton, Ed Sheeran and Florida Georgia Line. I also grew up listening to George Strait—I’ve been to so many George Strait concerts that I know his typical setlist. Good music is good music. I listen to everybody. Ed Sheeran—his songs are so different, each and every one of them. I also love OneRepublic—Ryan Tedder is such an amazing producer and vocalist. The list goes on and on. That’s another reason why I like songwriting. If you’re in a Charlie Puth mood, or if you’re in a Chris Stapleton mood, you can write a song that fits that.
AS: Yeah, so what does your writing process look like? Do you write on your own? Do you write often?
JJ: I am writing a lot. I have one or two sessions booked every week, probably. The process differs depending on who I’m writing with. I prefer to be in co-writes because then if I don’t have a great idea for this one particular part of the song, I can have somebody else there to feed off of, and vice versa. It just gets the juices flowing.
It also depends on the song. I may have an idea that’s just lines, no melody—or, I may have just three lines, or even just a title. I bring it to my collaborators like, “Hey, you guys have a melody for this?” They might have a really cool melody—or it could unfold the other way around. So, it really just depends on the state of mind you’re in.
AS: Tell us about your new single “Fast Forward.” When did you write this? What does this song mean to you?
JJ: One thing I love about songwriting is: I might not necessarily be singing about a personal experience or myself, I might be singing a story that I’ve heard or a story that I’m imagining—then, somebody might relate to that story. So, I might be able to touch those people’s hearts.
For “Fast Forward,” I sat down to write with Bridget and Jesse and they were like, “Jet, we want to write a song for you.” I was like, “Okay!” We just started talking about things teenagers go through, because at the time, I didn’t have my permit, I couldn’t go driving around. So, the whole idea was talking about things that you wish you could do at that age. Like, if you kinda fall head over heels for a person, at the same time, you’re a kid, you’re a teenager, you can’t go and get married, you can’t buy a house and raise a family. So, that’s the whole idea behind “Fast Forward.” You got all these things that I want to do, but I can’t right now. So, I really wish that I could just fast forward to that place.
AS: You mention that you love making stuff people can relate to—now, with social media artists can see the reach and impact of their work in unprecedented ways. What’s it like to interact with your fans and navigate the online side of things?
JJ: The coolest part about having social media is being able to reach people from all over the world. I have some of the best fans because they’re from all over the world. I’m constantly trying to interact with them, replying to comments and DMs and things like that. The thing that really hits me is when I get people from Venezuela, Japan, China, Europe and all of those places. I mean… I get people from all over the world commenting on my stuff or saying how much they love my music or a show or movie I was in. When you just kinda think about it, it’s like, “Holy cow, I have people from all over the world that know who I am.” It’s weird. It’s weird to think about. It’s crazy.
AS: Yeah, you work on so many projects—how do you balance your job with school and your personal life?
JJ: I do stay pretty busy. That’s why I’m very fortunate to have the family and friends that I do. They support me and I know that they’ll always be in my corner. Whenever I see them, whenever I come home or whenever I go out to California to see my friends I haven’t seen in a while, I’m just a normal kid. And I’m glad that they see me like that because that’s what I am. I really am just a normal kid, I just happen to have a job. I mean, I’ve always been homeschooled—not just over this last year. So, I’ve always been used to that kind of on-the-go life.
AS: “Fast Forward” is out on June 18—how do you feel? What’s next for you?
JJ: When I first heard the rough of “Fast Forward,” I was grinning from ear to ear. After my last album came out in 2019, I told myself and all the people around me that from then on out, I wanted to be a writer or producer. I wanted to be more involved. Now that I’m older, I have more experience, so I’ve become more involved. I’m a writer on all of these songs, and I’m proud of each and every one of them.
But it also comes with a little bit of stress. You’re gonna have haters, you’re gonna have people who try to knock you down. It’s a little stressful, like “Man, that person said they’re not a fan of this song.” But, you know what? I’m doing this because I love it. I love what I’m able to do every day. I’m blessed that I can do this.
So, I’m really excited for people to hear this song because it’s about me, it’s about all of us. When you’re a kid, there are things that you want to do, but you can’t. You want to be able to fast forward to that place in time when you do have that job, you’re with that person, you’re traveling the world and you’re doing whatever it is that you want to do. Everyone’s got that one thing that they wish that they could do, and I hope that when they hear this song, they can think of that and relate to it.
Jet Jurgensmeyer’s new single “Fast Forward” is out everywhere on June 18—listen to it below: