Jes, known as the incredible voice behind tracks like Motorcycle’s chart-topper, “As The Rush Comes” celebrates her newly established number-one position on the Billboard dance charts with “Imagination”. Jes and I had a chance to catch up via telephone on the airwaves, as she was preparing for her gig at this year’s South by South West in Texas. Catch her performing live at Element in Hollywood on June 21!
[Audio interview: Download]
AG: Hey everybody, this is Jes. She is calling in from Austin, Texas. How’s it goin’ out there?
JES: It’s really cool, I just came back from the main strip—South by South West (SXSW), and it’s crazy out there. So much music in every venue, the streets are crowded, it’s really cool!
AG: Is it a special night tonight or is it just a typical day out there?
JES: South by South West is on right now and I believe that tonight is the first night, so there’s so many bands playing. I’m playing tomorrow night at the Red Gorilla event, so it’s very exciting. Because, you know, electronic music is sort of seeping into this more of an indie sort of rock [scene]… that’s gone on for years. I’ve been trying to get out here for a long time, so I’m really excited to be here.
AG: Is it your first time playing out there?
JES: At South by South West, yeah.
AG: So how would you say the crowd is different out there from what you’re used to out here in LA or some of the major cities?
JES: Well, this is more of a rock/indie [scene], although it’s changing from year to year. And they’re including different things, still it’s a little bit more rock-oriented. It’s a pretty hard thing to get into. It’s a lot of showcases and stuff so it’s not electronic music-oriented, really. Although there are a bunch of different venues catering to it this year, and so I’m just happy to be here.
I know that Sharam’s there tomorrow night, too. Kaskade is on Saturday. Pete Tong was there last night. There was a huge Red Bull concert, and so it’s just great to be part of these things. There’s so much energy out there on the street and so much music, and you can’t help but smile. I filmed a little bit of it, I’m gonna try and make a little video! [laughs]
AG: It’d be nice to see what’s goin’ on out there! I was telling listeners about how a lot of the stuff that you’ve been doing is along the lines of “rocktronica”—it’s a blend of rock, some electronic music, so it sounds like it would be perfectly fitting for the crowd out there.
JES: Well, when I was working on Disconnect, some of the songs that I was working on didn’t get on Disconnect, so I decided to put them on another album. Also, I play guitar, and I love to sing all types of music, and it gave me a chance to sort of showcase a little bit of that. I did a cover, “Wish You Were Here”, and a song called “Breakin’ Me” and… a little bit more stripped down. You know, I love all different types of tempos.
AG: And it shows how versatile your music is, ’cause on the Imagination release, you have the piano vocal ballad and then you have some dance remixes on there, so you’re capturing a wide variety of audiences.
JES: Yeah, you know, it’s funny ’cause Imagination was written on a guitar, so it’s a song that was just written sort of simply. And it really lent itself to a four-on-the-floor, being more of a dance song, so it’s going good.
AG: So how does it feel to have crossed barriers? You’re celebrating your number one position on the Billboard charts. How does that feel?
JES: Wow, it took a long time to get back there, so it’s very exciting! Just so happy to still be able to do it and keep on going. I mean, it meant a lot to me and a lot of people pushed for that and we worked very hard promoting; I’ve been doing a lot of shows—a lot of promo shows, a lot of radio shows. So I’m very excited ’cause I’m going to be performing at the IDMA awards in Miami, and I’m actually going to do it a la “rocktronica”—band style! So kind of took that a little bit more into the places where I can showcase that, so it’ll be cool. It sounds really, really good that way.
AG: Which night are you going to be performing over at the WMC?
JES: Well, I’m going to be doing a couple of things. I’m going to be performing at the IDMA awards… nominated for the Tiesto remix of Imagination… and they asked me to perform, so I’ll be performing there. Then that night, I’m going to do a special little show for Dance4Life. I was part of a charity album for the Dance4Life organization and I did a song called “Lost in the Sound”, which if you don’t have, I will send it to you. So, I will be singing that that night. Then Friday, I’m going to make a little appearance at Ultra, as well with BT at the Bayfront Stage.
AG: I’m actually going to be out there at the WMC, too, so I’m going to try and come down and catch you one of those nights!
JES: Yes! Definitely, let me know, and call me.
AG: Now, speaking of your performances, tell us a little bit about you as an artist. What’s the overall message that you try and give to the world through your music; ’cause your music has a lot of depth, and I can tell that there’s a huge spiritual dimension to your music. What’s the overall message that you have, and that you try to convey?
JES: Well, especially with Disconnect—you know, there’s a lot of songs… I was going through a real period in my life when [things were] changing… trying to do new things. I definitely am very spiritual in songs like “In Ohm”. I mean, I think we’re all so similar. We all are the same. We all feel the same things. And it’s trying to tap into that in a song; that you can kind of reach out and make someone feel the same thing. And it’s so wonderful when I get these letters and I meet people that say, “I know what you’re feeling, you got me through this.” You know it’s just trying to tap into things that we all feel. You know, we all change, we all grow. Life is hard. It’s not easy. It’s also a beautiful and fun thing as well! Although I’m trying to find that in songs too! [laughs]
AG: Trying to go all across the board in your music.
JES: Yeah, I mean there was a little bit of some relationship things in there as well—as we all go through—and it’s a big topic in songs. But, you know, especially like in some songs… how we’re all in this together. I try to give a message like that.
AG: What would you say your core philosophies are, your beliefs that give you strength and keep pushing you forward? What are some of your key beliefs and philosophies?
JES: Well, definitely, there’s a lot of strength in family and friends, and I think that that gets me through a lot. Just knowing you have those people in your life. And that we all are going to go through it together—at different times, life moves on and life changes. But, we all sort of go through the same things. I think [it’s] knowing that you are an individual, but you are part of a great whole.
AG: You’ve traveled all over the world and you’ve seen how music plays a part in people’s lives. You’ve been able to connect to people through your music on stage. How would you say electronic music has changed—just here in the US—over the past 10 years; and how do US dance music fans compare to people from different parts of the world?
JES: Well, you know, they say that—and it’s true—dance music is much more popular in Europe. I mean, it’s kind of normal, there are radio stations all over. But it’s funny because I play some interesting places in America, and I was actually in Europe a lot last year, and I’ve been trying to concentrate to do a lot of places here that I haven’t been. And you still have the passion and the love for electronic music here the same way, I have to say. I don’t think our mass society has embraced it the way that we would like to. But I always think that we are going in that direction, especially, like even being here where I am—you know, at this sort of rock convention, and they are including electronic music more. So I think as the time goes on, it’s gonna become more mainstream, because it is a modern type of music and within the newer generation it’s huge—electronic music. And, it’s amazing how it has taken me all over the world, into these little places so far away—little towns on the other side of the world, how it’s just in every crevice of the world. So, I mean, I think it’s more prevalent in Europe, there are more mass concerts, a lot more festivals going on. But, I would say that the fan is still as wonderful and as passionate and as driven by electronic music here as it is there.
AG: What can we expect to see from you in the future? Do you have anything in the works? What’s Jes planning in the coming months, coming years?
JES: Well, so many things. I try to keep moving at a fast pace, ’cause it is sort of a fast-paced genre of music. I’m in the middle of touring, as always. But I’m working on a new album called “High Glow”, which again is gonna be a very rocktronica-vibe, a little bit more mainstream vibe, and I’m gonna leave a little bit more of an electronic vibe to a lot of the remixes. But, still my style! That should be coming out in the summer. I have a new song called “My Love”, a couple of collaborations with Airscape. That just came out recently. And I have two songs coming out with BT, “Every Other Way” and “The Light in Me”. So I’ll be promoting those, we have a lot of dates in Asia, and we’re going to Australia, and I’m really trying to bring the band with me everywhere I go!
AG: Wow, that sounds like a lot to look forward to—for you and for everybody that’s listening right now!
JES: Oh, I’m so grateful for all your listeners, and I’m grateful for you playing both of the records. That’s so wonderful!
AG: And I’m grateful for having you call in! Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
JES: You too! I hope we hang out in Orange County too. I’m planning some shows out there.
AG: When are you gonna do that?
JES: Well, I’ll definitely let you know. Maybe we can do something together to promote? I’ve been talking about doing something out there for a while. I mean I’m only in Los Angeles, it’s not that far away!
AG: Yeah, that would be really great. I think OC would really appreciate having you down here.
JES: I would love to come! So I’ll be in touch and definitely let you know when.
AG: Jes, thank you so much once again for calling in. I hope you have a great time tomorrow at your gig.
JES: Thank you! And I hope to see you at Winter Music Conference.
AG: OK, I’ll see you there!
JES: OK, thank you everyone!