INTERVIEW: JES (2013)
Most of us were introduced to Jes as the singer of Motorcycle’s “As the Rush Comes.” In the past few years, she has worked with some of electronica’s finest – Tiesto, BT, Paul Oakenfold, Ferry Corsten, Robbie Rivera – and with her distinctive voice, incredible songwriting, and emotionally powerful performances she has managed to set herself apart as a true artist. In addition to singing and writing, she also DJs live and does a weekly radio show (complete with special TaxiGirl mashups). Watch out for a new artist album from her later this year, along with several big time collaborations.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: You work with so many great producers, how do you meet everyone?
Jes: I think that when you have a bit of a track record you meet a lot of people and it is just about connecting with the ones that you have a spark with. I have been very lucky; I go to a lot of conventions and do a lot of shows. I just came back from Taiwan and I was in India for the first time, I do a lot of amazing shows with all the people that you would want to meet; you just need go right for them and meet them while you’re there.
RS: How do you keep everything straight with a different track coming out every month with a different person?
Jes: That is a very good question, because it has taken me a while to get that right. Now I schedule everything in specifically, I try to get as much information out of everybody because I have had a lot of people hold tracks for a while and then put them out at the same time. You don’t want that to happen, you want to focus on the ones that are out. I have to be sure that I know the plans of everybody that I am working with.
RS: One of your big songs right now is the one on Armada with Paul Oakenfold and Christian Burns. When you work on a collaboration like that, do you write the vocals with Christian Burns and go to the studio with Paul Oakenfold- how does that work?
Jes: Well, that is such a great story. We were all on the Tiesto Tour together in 2008 and I went to Christian’s studio in England and we wrote “As We Collide.” We have actually had that song for a long time, and when Paul heard it he loved it and gave such a different spin to it. I love what he has done with it; he changed a lot of the chords and things. Its a wonderful collaboration.
RS: Do you ever go out to a club or a show and hear your own voice and not recognize it?
Jes: Sometimes, if they speed it up. It’s funny because I know my voice pretty well and I can hear it through all the noise in the background.
RS: How has DJing affected your performance?
Jes: I have a lot more to do now but it has been great because it has changed up my show a lot. I have a lot of different things going on now, I do mash-ups and I also have a radio show called “Unleash the Beat” that I do weekly and it has helped my other show as well. I recently did my second show where I didn’t sing, I just DJed. It lets me change my show on the fly if I want to and I get to play what I want. If people want more I have it all there as opposed to just being stuck with what is on the CD and the show you made.
RS: When you DJ do you preplan your sets or are they live?
Jes: It depends on what kind of show it is. A lot of times I will load it up with a lot of different things specifically for each show. It depends though, because sometimes I rehearse it because I know what goes well together and what I like.
RS: Are you using Serato or Traktor?
Jes: I am using Ableton
RS: Wow, really?
Jes: Yeah I only work on Ableton with the tracks and I have a Livid controller that I programmed to be like a mixer. It has been a challenge to program it and make it how I want it, but there is a lot of flexibility and you can do a lot of interesting things with it.
RS: When you DJ live how much of your own music do you play?
Jes: Sometimes I DJ my whole set but it depends on the time. If it is an 1 ½ – 2 hour show, I’ll do a little bit of both which is great. If it in an hour show and people are coming to see me sing then I mostly just do my stuff. I put little pieces in between things though to give it a little more time and ups and down, it really depends on the show though.
RS: Now that you are DJing you are hearing all the tracks out there, what track have you heard that you wish you could do the topline for?
Jes: It’s funny because I do a lot of mash-ups and if you go to my soundcloud.com/jes page you’ll see all my Taxigirl mash-ups. I did “Do You Love Griefers” with Deadmau5 “Professional Griefers”: and me singing “Do You Love Me” which went together so well and I also did Ferry Corsten’s “Weekend” album Track with “Can’t Stop” so I called it “Can’t Stop the Weekend.” A long time ago when Avicii first had “Levels” out, I put “Imagination” over it and actually sang it at the C89.5 Party. It is really fun do to that and I do it with every single one.
RS: Where did the name Taxigirl come from?
Jes: I have been back in New York from LA for the 5 months now. I am such a city girl, it is my publishing company and I wanted something to keep me in the city even though I was wearing pastels and living in California.
RS: You are beautiful and you are always in good shape and full of energy, what is your secret?
Jes: I try to be healthy but I think that I could be even healthier. I exercise and the biggest change is that I don’t eat wheat, or sugar and many other things. I used to get so many headaches from being on the computer, so eating well and drinking a lot of water has helped. I wish I could get more sleep though.
RS: I have also seen you in all kinds of wild outfits, you are dressed like a rock star today and you look hot, where do you get your outfit ideas from? Do you have a stylist that you work with?
Jes: I work with a couple of different people, but I love to design my own outfits. I work with Maggie Berry in California who helps me do a lot, and my sister who is a photographer and knows a lot of people in New York. The fun part about it is dressing up and I like to do that.
RS: Out of the 365 days of the year how many of those are you on tour?
Jes: It depends; I took a little bit of time off over the last couple of months because I am working on a new album. Last year I was touring for at least 100 days, I wish that I could do more. This year I am focusing a little more on getting new material out and the radio show is whooping my butt, it is a lot of work.
RS: I have always wondered, guys are always willing to give you your track to write to when it is Tiesto ft. Jes or someone ft. Jes, do you have a challenge finding people to produce tracks under your name, for your own album and not their album.
Jes: That’s a good question, it depends. I have a lot of people working with me now, but when I did the album called Unleash The Beat it was difficult. I had a lot of things out but it was a bit of a double-edged sword there, it has become kind of like a tradeoff, I do something for them and they do something for me. I am a little more business-oriented when I start things now, I learned a lot along the way.
RS: When you sang “As The Rush Comes” did you have any idea that it would become as massive as it did?
Jes: I didn’t think that it would become as massive as it did but I had a feeling that it was a really cool song. I gauge every song by how I feel and react to it, a lot of times I am confused though because I write so many things that it gets hard to be objective with what I do. There are ones that just hit me though and I know; it is always a wonderful thing.
RS: What is the inspiration behind the album that you are working on now?
Jes: I have been writing songs for the last two years and I haven’t been able to finish any of them. I think that my last album was in 2010 so I am really due for a new one. People change so much, but my inspiration is always to make good music and to grow. I am doing a little bit more mainstream-sounding stuff and going back to the edgy sound again. Each record has to be a little better than the last.
RS: Now that you are a DJ and you have your radio show you probably get a lot of promos, sift through them and now think like a DJ. Has thinking like a DJ affected how you put a song together?
Jes: Yes, definitely. The process of listening to new stuff is pretty quick, I flip through them and some get me and some don’t. I think that structure-wise and analyzing a lot of the songs has definitely had a big effect of me.
RS: What has been the most surprisingly good place to visit that you didn’t expect would be?
Jes: I would say someplace like Jordan. We played at a big festival in the middle of the desert and everyone came out, it would be a hard place to live though.
RS: When you play in Middle East and other culturally different places do you find it challenging to adapt to local customs?
Jes: Not really, we have had some interesting trips and we love to go out and explore. In India we went out and met the people, it is very different than our country. I am always looking and observing what is different but I haven’t really been thrown into it.
RS: Are there any up and coming producers that you have found that you want to work with or are working with?
Jes: I have worked with Richard Robson who is also Twisted Disko and Coco Channel; he has been working with me for a long time. We have added a couple new unknown, but aspiring talented people. I have a lot of collaborations that are coming out, I can’t say who yet but they are on the schedule.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Jes: Thank you all so much, I get the best Tweets and the best support every day. I always find that my fans are there at the times that I really need it. Thank you so much for supporting my radio show www.unleashthebeat.com. Be on the lookout for new stuff coming.
Interview conducted during Winter Music Conference 2013.