New York native JES has created a spotlight for herself in the industry in just five short years. Collaborating with big names in EDM such as Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Paul Oakenfold, Kaskade, Cosmic Gate, BT and more have set her on the map as one of the most recognized vocalists; catapulting her career as a DJ into full speed.
MAGNETIC RECOMMENDS:Our Best Of 2013
Female DJ's are on the rise, making their presence known and their beats heard. Recently, one of the most well-known names in EDM Culture sat down with us to speak on her career as a female DJ, vocalist and songwriter. Blonde bombshell and all around sweetheart, JES fills us in on her career, her aspirations, and what gives her butterflies-
First, I would like to congratulate you! 2013 has been a beautifully successful year for your career; it must feel absolutely empowering to you, reaching such a respected level of accomplishment. Tell me, what was your personal motivation this year? What ultimately drove you to your winning moments?
I have always had a high level of natural determination which I think is very important in the music business. I can be harsh in my criticism for my own work but it's necessary to make sure you continue to make your best work. I still have big dreams for where I would like to see my music go. Everyday I am pushing for more opportunities to make the most of everything I do. I have a lot of energy and ideas and I try to ensure that I give 110% to any project I work on.
I can't help but admire your impressive resume of collaborations. I imagine that each holds something unique and different. Any particular collabs that gave you butterflies?
One of the first songs that I ever wrote in this genre was Like A Waterfall with UK trance gurus Solarstone. It was given to me as a 10 minute chill out track and gave me major butterflies when I had finished. After drawing a blank at the start I eventually recorded vocals through out the entire track and I knew it was something special. As The Rush Comes was also a track that had an intense feeling when we wrote and recorded it. It had a brave new feel and I thought it was something that would stand out. I still love singing Imagination and Ghost always gives me butterflies when I perform it live. I have a rule that if the song doesnít give me butterflies then it isnít worth releasing so I try to make sure that everything passes that test.
I frequently look to the past for inspiration, how things have been done and who did them. If there was any person, era or trend in history that helped define your creativity, who would it be?
I'm always looking backwards for inspiration. I love music that is simple and from the heart and so much of that can be found in the past. I really love the writing of the Beatles, Blondie, David Bowie, Van Morrison and Carol King. Their songs are timeless and I'm always striving to write songs that stand the test of time. Each era has its own definable qualities and many of them appeal to me. I enjoy the flamboyant freedom of the 60s and the detail and radical styles of the 80s. It's amazing to see elements of those eras returning to fashion and music at the moment. I hope that my songs too can transport my fans right back to the place in their lives that they were when they started listening to them.
What was it about this industry that captivated you? Why do you continually choose this career?
That's a good question. I was always drawn to the music first and foremost and so the industry itself is a secondary thing for me. What captivates me is the interaction of the business. I love the traveling and the fans. Performing for them is really my favorite part of it as well as getting to meet people that live the music the same way that I do. The industry is like a maze that you have to find a way through. It can be quite satisfying to create and help administer the strategies that get your music out to your fans, but my first love has always been creating and performing the music itself. It's definitely not a business that is suitable for everyone and if someone had told me what the reality of working in the business would be I probably would have thought about it a little more before I started. My passion for music has been the main inspiration throughout my career and it still keeps me going today. I guess it's true to say that the heart wants what the heart wants.
The triple-threat females of EDM have really stepped up and made themselves known throughout the last year. It's amazing to see so much passion and raw talent come from the women who are the singers, songwriters, & DJ/Producers. Recently, you even landed a spot on Vibe Magazine's Top Female DJ's of the year- a prestigious spot. What was your reaction to this achievement?
I was very happy and excited to recognized with that award. I have been pushing consistently for the last 2 years with my radio show and DJing so it is great that itís starting to create real awareness. Being a female DJ has its own set of challenges but as I was already known as a singer in the EDM world it can be confusing for the fans. It takes a while to restructure your brand and you have to be willing to prove yourself in your new field. Having a weekly mix show unleashthbeat.com has been a wonderful way to force myself to grow as a DJ because you have to create a new one hour set each week. Broadening my musical role has also been inspiring in new ways and it's very rewarding to see the fans and the industry supporting my new ventures.
Keeping in-tow with the whole "female poweress" positions in today's culture-- Why do you suppose it took so long for women to take hold of the coveted positions behind the decks and come out of underground and onto main stage?
It has been a great year for many female DJs but I do think we still have a long way to go. As DJs we girls are clearly outnumbered by the guys. The most famous DJs have traditionally been guys so there is bound to be an adjustment period while the fans and industry get accustomed to the idea. It's very important that we have some strong female role models at the forefront with the same package of skills as the guys and thatís definitely happening now. It's amazing to see the festival lineups that used to be exclusively male slowly changing as more and more female DJs and producers impact the scene. We have to keep making great music and slowly but surely the industry will come around. It hasn't been quick to change so far but itís improving and we just have to keep pushing and growing in strength and numbers.
Besides being invited to preform at Miami's famous New Years MOOV festival, do you have any further plans before closing the chapter on 2013? Personal goals you would like to finalize?
I'm working on my "Unleash The Beat" end of year radio shows right now. It's so much fun to look back on all the great music thatís been released in 2013. The songs take you back to where you went during the year so I love putting that show together. It's like a musical scrapbook! My 'Unleash The Beat' mix album series has another release due in January 2014 so I'm compiling that track list together right now as well. I'm putting the finishing touches to 3 new songs that will be released early in 2014 and getting ready for my MOOV festival performance in Miami on new years day. Other than that I'm ready for 2014 ñ so bring it on !
What's next for you? Albums? Tours? Details please!
That's a long list, but one I'm happy to share! I have been working on a new album with my longtime collaborator Richard Robson. I have been building a new studio in Los Angeles to use as a base for my production, promotion and touring company. I currently have three songs on ATB's new album (to be released in January 2014) and there is a new collaboration with Code Blue and Dennis Shepherd being completed at the moment. One of my own songs is being produced by Super8 & Tab for release on Black Hole Recordings and I'm also working on something new with some amazing producers from Lebanon called Dirty Chips. It's been a busy holiday period so far!
Last question- What does your bucket list look like? What are some things you want to accomplish before your hourglass runs out of sand?
I think my bucket list is too long to mention here but let me give you some of the highlights: Climb Machu Picchu, visit Tibet, perform my own concert at Madison Square Garden, raise a child & family, teach or work to support a community in the developing world, win a Grammy, and own a ranch with horses. Not necessarily in that order!
Impressive list- we share some goals in common! Thank you so much for taking time out for our interview. I am looking forward to hearing and seeing what you bring this year! Congrats on an amazing year, and many more to come!