Recently we had the opportunity to speak with JES. Read up on a lot of interesting things you may not have known about her.
Hello JES, nice to have you on MaxMuzik! As this is your first interview with us, let’s start off with a little background. How did you get into music?
I feel like I’ve always been somewhere in music. I was obsessed with the radio and music as a child. I would sit for hours on end and listen to songs and learn the lyrics. That lead me to writing songs at a very early age. We always had musical instruments in the house so I started on piano and guitar. Early in my teens I got the chance to record one of my songs in a professional studio. That was really the turning point when I decided that it was something I wanted to do with my life and I continued to peruse music as a career from that day forward. I did everything in my power to stay involved with music from working as an assistant engineer in a recording studio to singing in choirs and working as a stylist for bands.
I came to DJ’ing later on in my career as a way to expand my performances. I started doing a small monthly mix show which has very quickly grown into a popular weekly mix show [www.unleashthebeat.com]. That really helped me push my DJ’ing to a higher level. It’s also great fun to have more flexibility in my live shows being able to mix things up change my sets on the fly.
For our readers who’ve never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words.
Unique, melodic, edgy, captivating, emotional and unforgettable 🙂
Can you offer insight into some of your musical inspirations? And who is your favorite artist from Electronic music outside your own specific genre?
I’m always trying to reach a feeling that we all have when I’m writing a song. We are all so much alike and while we have infinitely varied lives and experiences our emotional responses still come down to a few simple motivations in life. There is so much inspiration around us all the time and the world can easily become an overwhelming place. I love to have some type of muse as a starting point when I’m songwriting. Sometimes I will go out to a café and watch people passing, and try to imagine their lives and their stories. I find I get some good ideas when I’m trying to clear my mind or meditate, in a yoga class for example. That process seems to be a great creativity catalyst for me. Traveling has offered me some great experiences and getting inside different cultures and lifestyles can be very liberating. One of the great things about working in dance music is that it’s really a place where different styles get mixed up to create something new. I love to listen to music from non electronic genres and use them as inspiration for new dance songs. I don’t really pigeon hole myself into a specific genre of dance. My artists albums are all quite varied and I think that is something that my fans value. I have used trance, prog, chill out, pop, hip hop, rock and even a little r and b / soul as the inspiration for tracks on my artist albums in the past.
You’ve recently released your new compilation “Unleash The Beat Vol. 2”, how was the experience working on this album like for you?
I love putting mix compilations together. I try to include some of the tracks that I feature on my radio show, as well as some brand new releases and a few of my own songs and remixes. I started off with over 100 possible tracks that slowly get refined down to the final 28 tracks. It’s a double album and I approached it as two separate mixes, a PM mix and an AM mix. The PM mix is lighter and more fun. It features more prog selections and upbeat and melodic tracks. It’s the perfect warm up for the AM mix which features darker and heavier tracks with more trance and prog trance influences. I tried to structure it like a great night out, but my friends tell me it works equally well at home and the gym!
JES – “Unleash The Beat Vol. 2” (Teaser)
What was the most challenging part of the production process of “Unleash The Beat Vol 2”?
The administration of 28 songs can be quite a handful. We had a lot of songs being included and then later replaced so keeping the tracklist up to date became a very important job. A couple of times towards the end of the selection process we realized that we had licensed the wrong track and had a mad last minute scramble to make sure everything was correct. It’s a lot of back and forth with the label and you can’t always get the tracks you want for every slot on the album. You really have to look at it as a chance to stretch your creativity and DJ skills to make a great mix album without just picking hit after hit.
How was your experience collaborating with other artists in this album? And who would you like to collaborate with in the near future?
I love collaborating, it’s one of the most fun parts of song writing and producing. Things have changed so much now and a lot of the collaborations are done entirely over the internet. Personally I prefer to be in the same room and to really get to know the artists you’re working with and see their reactions as the track begins to grow. It can be a lot of pressure but I think when it works it usually gives you a better result. There is so much great music out there at the moment so there’s a lot of people I would like to collaborate with right now, no one in particular but I really look towards artists that I click with and that can be surprising sometimes.
JES – “Unleash The Beat” Mixshow #41
You started your mix show “Unleash The Beat” early 2012, and you cover interesting track selection. How’s your experience so far and how do you pick your tracks for the show?
I do get a lot of promo’s so most mornings I’m checking out new tracks. I really try not to be influenced by who produced the track or the artist and just let the track speak for itself. The best thing is finding something amazing by an up and coming producer or artist, it’s like finding buried treasure! I also include some of my own tracks and I make exclusive mashups for the show most months so there’s plenty of varied content. Having a weekly deadline was a little daunting at first but it really tests your creativity and the discipline definitely helps you develop your skills. Mainly I try to make a show that I want to listen to, a dynamic mixture of appealing music for people interested in quality EDM.
Could you tell us about your music production process? Also your equipment and the setup you use in your live shows.
Production has changed so much since I started working in dance music. I use Ableton live and logic pro as well, although most of my vocal work gets done in Pro Tools these days. I also record ideas straight into my phone if I’m out of the studio and something pops into my head that I might not remember later. I have my studio set up with some soft synths, a Wurlitzer and some guitars and I usually start my songs with something organic, even if it gets taken out later on. When I’m performing I DJ mainly with ableton using a custom LIVID usb controller that is laid out very much like a DJ mixer. As I’m usually singing live while I’m DJ’ing I need to have a self contained rig so the monitoring can remain constant from venue to venue. My rig includes my own in ear monitor set up and I process my voice through ableton live as well which adds a lot of flexibility in the vocal sounds I get to work with every night.
Speaking of shows, what are your touring plans for the rest of 2013?
I have been working very hard on putting together a new artist album over the last couple of months so I have been concentrating on that as much as I can. I just returned from Canada and Seattle. This week is Los Angeles then I head to Calgary and New York City! When I’m recording I really miss the fan interaction when I’m not doing shows every weekend. It’s really the most important part of being an artist for me.
What artists would fans be surprised to find on your iPod?
Oh I have quite an array! From Broken Bells to Keane, Radiohead, Coldplay, Sade, Carol King, David Bowie, Stereophonics, Daft Punk Blondie, Underworld, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Regina Spector, MGMT, Neon Trees , Lumineers, Madeon, Massive Attack, Muse, Imagine Dragons, M83, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Justice, Kiss and of course AC / DC.
Any final thoughts or parting words?
Never Give up !! xo JES