S1-E7: JESS

One voice and vision that has forged a career path that is often imitated, but rarely equaled. JES’ extraordinary voice and passionate songwriting has won her the respect and adoration of both the music fans and industry across the globe, releasing songs with the very cream of the international EDM crop. This chart topping, award winning New Yorker has packed four solo albums, two Billboard #1 singles, international touring and countless superstar DJ collaborations into five short years as a solo artist. Since her legendary release“As The Rush Comes” with Motorcycle redefined the landscape of EDM, JES has propelled an unending stream of solo hit songs and collaborations with a who’s who of the worlds most prominent DJ’s including TIesto, Armin Van Buuren, Paul Oakenfold, Above & Beyond, Kaskade, BT, Richard Durand, Cosmic Gate and Roger Shah.

Dylan:
All right. So we’re on the phone with JES. I mean, all around everything. Singer, songwriter, performer, dancer. The key to life is dancing your way through it.

JES:
Yes, isn’t it? I love quotes and I’m always looking for ones that are describing my day and what I need, but definitely I love that one.

Luis 2 Live:
You’re not only inspiring everybody with your music, but with those quotes. That’s a little extra. A little sugar on top, right?

JES:
Yeah, I do that. And even in my radio show Unleash The Beat, I always like to give a little sendoff of hope and strength for the week for everyone. And they give that to me, I want to give that back to them.

Dylan:
Let’s talk about Unleash The Beat. That Mixshow’s coming up on 200 episodes.

JES:
Yes. Oh my God. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do.

Dylan:
But we just started our podcast this year… I don’t know, what has it been like growing that? And like you said, what do you feel like it’s going to become as you hit 200 and beyond?

JES:
Well, it’s exciting to start it. And I got such a positive response when I started it. We started as a monthly show, but quickly I had to sort of change it to every week. It’s been a learning experience that’s really fun for me because I get so much music from every place. And so, every Monday I’m doing it and I sit down and just listen to a lot of stuff. So it gives you a lot of idea of what’s out there and how the tide is turning, where things are going. It’s a little different from what even the live shows would be, but it’s a lot of work and you constantly want to grow it. So you have to keep reaching out. It’s a weekly and daily thing to try to find new people to come on board.

Dylan:
I got to say listening to your voice though, JES. Oh my God. What a little radio announcer. I mean, the soothing delivery that you have.

JES:
When I got you on the phone, I’m like, “Your voice.” I’m like, “I need some ideas, baby,” because…

Dylan:
Right.

Dylan:
Done. Drops there in the [inaudible 00:02:34].

JES:
You have the perfect voice for it too, both of you. I mean, I actually started before even the radio show, I was doing a lot of voiceovers. I did Tiësto Club Life and all of these. I did a lot of voices for different stations and I was really pushed to do voiceovers and IDs and things for people. So everyone was asking me and that was a little bit of how I got into the radio show. Put on that radio voice. It helps.

Luis 2 Live:
Definitely. So let’s talk about another brainchild of yours, Intonation Records. how did that come up?

JES:
Well, I’ve been trying to do my own label for many years and I have a big plan that was a big boost for the record company, was sort of an outlet to be able to do other things and dance because I actually do a lot of different types of music. So I wanted to not be limited to only dance music and to release what I want and sort of A&R.

Luis 2 Live:
Was there something missing that you just wanted to add to the music industry? Record label industry?

JES:
I remember when I got my first record deal. You think, “Oh God, I got that deal. Here we go.” And it’s an ever-changing market and business. And I look forward to signing artists as well and sort of giving them maybe things I didn’t get as much as I wanted to. Support. And it’s a much different kind of climate now with the record labels. And so I’m looking forward to giving support to certain artists that I sign in tracks and try to give it my all.

Dylan:
What do you do different? What’s the secret that you do now with the new record when you’re trying to break a song, this day and age?

JES:
Well, I mean, you’re so much a part of it, so you really can’t sit back and just let the label do it. It’s really about all the extra stuff you’re going to do. There’s a lot of extra promo and press releases. Your fan base is very important. Your email list to your fans to make sure they know it’s out. Videos. All the connections, people you know, make sure the DJs have it before it’s out so that you can get some early support with it.

JES:
I find that music comes out… So much music every week and it takes a long time for music to sort of rise to the top. It’s not always like… Red Company will put it out and then in a month you think, “Oh, it’s old. It’s been out already.” But sometimes it takes a year for it to pop or it takes a certain remix to make it more popular. So I would never give up on something that you believe in. Do you believe it’s a great song? It probably is, as an artist believing in their own music. So, it’s a long time that you can push a track for, until you want to give up on it. It really is and I always tell everybody that and I learned that very quickly.

Dylan:
Can we flashback for a minute, maybe to a simpler time. Now my all time JES song is Imagination and Tiësto remix. Talk about you and Tiësto. What’s going on there? I mean, when it started. You know what I mean. Your relationship, how it began, you and Tiësto.

JES:
I mean, God, it seems like such a long time ago, I had a song called Like a Waterfall.

Luis 2 Live:
You and the water. There’s a connection there.

JES:
Yeah, true. It’s a funny story, because I had a song called Like a Waterfall out on In Search of Sunrise 4 and I was at Winter Music Conference and I was… My first Winter Music Conference, walking around the streets and you know how these flyers are just littered all over the place. I saw a flyer, “In Search of Sunrise party, Heineken Hall, Amsterdam, coming up,” and I dusted off his dirty flyer. And I said, “Oh my God.” And I said, “I think I’m going to email him and see if I can come and sing this song.” And I emailed him, through the record label, and they said, “Yes, come. We want you.” And so that was the very first time I went over and I sang at the Heineken Hall, Like a Waterfall with Tiësto. And I had been touring as a [verse comes 00:06:36] and I met him in the UK. And it was that sort of meeting that we met, at this huge show in Birmingham where we said, “Let’s do something together.”

JES:
So we just kept in touch and he actually ended up signing me to his record, but I had to pull Magic Music at that time. He’s now moved on, but… So I always credit him as sort of someone who really gave me a chance when I was so excited for the record. And he also had me open up on his Elements of Life tour. And that’s really a big thing for a big DJ like him to let me do. He wasn’t opening it up with a DJ, he was opening up with an artist that had a song… A record, Disconnect, that came out on his label. And he gave me… I would do 25 to 45 minute opening slots all over to 20,000 people. He always holds a special place in my heart for that. He took a chance on me. And so that really helped me in so many ways. I do email him from time to time now and he’s rocking and rolling all over the place, but it was great times, great touring, so many memories and great opportunities that he gave me.

Luis 2 Live:
And you’ve also done collaborations with BT, ATB. You’re still working with Cosmic Gate, just did a show with them recently.

JES:
Oh my God, they’re on fire, those guys. Actually, [Brian BT 00:07:59] was just in my studio yesterday. We were working on some new things. Cosmic Gate, they’re amazing. They did an incredible show at Space [inaudible 00:08:11] conference that was a little different from their main show. And that was just so good. And then we did the Playdium last week and it was pretty wild. It was great. So I’m working with them on some new stuff. ATB, I love him. I’m working with him. I consider them all my friends and really when I do something with somebody it’s because I have such a good rapport with them. They look at you as an equal, which is sometimes hard with some people. And they really brought me along all over the place. I did an amazing tour with ATB with a huge band. That was so exciting and I hope he does that again.

Dylan:
JES, when you’re performing… You just did a show on the OC and you were in Miami. I mean, when you’re out on stage, what is it for you? What is the pinch me moment? And when you’re looking around… What happens when you’re out on stage that you just have an amazing, “Ah ha,” moment?

JES:
I do think it’s the people. It’s the fans. It really is. I mean, I sort of DJ and sing when I do my own shows and then with Cosmic Gate I sang with them. But it’s just really the connection you have with people. The Playdium show was 5,000 people, so when you’re on a big stage like that, I’m really looking into the crowd, into the faces, trying to find people, because there’s so many people. They’re singing with you. And next time I’m going to be like, “What do you want me to sing?” Because I always miss one for everybody. But it’s incredible.

Luis 2 Live:
So, JES, let’s talk about your top three favorite songs. You sent me a list here. As The Rush Comes, more on a deeper level, I suppose, why is that one of your favorites?

JES:
I think it’s very an interesting written song. It’s not your typical structure and just on how it’s touched so many people, and that’s why it’s a special song. And I never get tired of singing it, even though you’d think. I’ve sung it thousands of times. I always try to find something new in it every time.

Luis 2 Live:
You also have the new mix of Happy, which is…

JES:
Yes. I love Happy. And it’s definitely gaining a lot of support. It’s definitely a different type of song as well. And I try, really do try, to think out of the box. So this one’s kind of poetic and yet really hooky. And so that’s my new one on Intonation that’s coming out. There’s a lot of new mixes. I think I gave you the [Della Red 00:10:49] one because that definitely makes me very happy.

Luis 2 Live:
So what is it about the Super8 & Tab mix of Yai (Here We Go Again)?

JES:
Well, pretty much because they made the chorus go around twice and they put the beat underneath the chorus for me. So I really liked that. And Super8 & Tab are great producers. I love all their stuff so that’s one of my favorites as well. And that’s a real emotional song. That really gets people. And it’s funny because I told Cosmic Gate when I gave it to them… By the time I was done with it, I didn’t even know if it was any good. And then the way that people have loved it so much, I was like… Because when you work on things, you have to take a step back sometimes. We get so into them.

Dylan:
We got to talk about Chicago though real quick. I got to tell you, I’m in this little hole in the wall bar, this is just a couple of weeks ago. I’m at the jukebox and I’m scrolling through their most played songs in this bar. And I swear you come up, JES, It’s Too Late, was one of the most played songs in this little bar in Chicago. I thought that was awesome.

JES:
That’s amazing. I love that song. I can’t believe that.

Dylan:
What do you remember about Chicago? I mean, we met you several times when you were here. Chicago is kind of famous in a way for the EDM world. Is there any Chicago memories or connection you had?

JES:
Well, actually my mother’s from Chicago, so I grew up going to Chicago and fighting with my cousins who had the taller building and who had the better city. So I kind of know Chicago from just going there a lot and yes, definitely rediscovering it through the scene. And yeah, crazy crowds in Chicago. Hardcore. That’s what I remember. We party hard in Chicago and we’d go out after hard too. That’s what I remember.

Luis 2 Live:
The after-party.

JES:
We were prepared. Yeah, but I love [crosstalk 00:13:09].

Dylan:
Yeah, we have after, after parties here. After, after’s.

JES:
You sure do. Yeah, you put New York to shame and also the Green River. I’ll never forget the Green River for St. Patrick’s day.

Dylan:
Yep.

Luis 2 Live:
Yep.

Dylan:
The Green River. That’s a big attraction.

JES:
And Mr. Beef.

Dylan:
Yes.

Dylan:
There you go.

Luis 2 Live:
That’s the after party after the after…

JES:
After, after, after party. And I’m a vegetarian and they make me a nice vegetarian sandwich. And I’m also so proud of you guys and I love your site and I wish you-

Dylan:
Aw, thanks.

Luis 2 Live:
Aw, thank you.

JES:
… good luck on that. It’s great.

Advertisement
Scroll to top