2004 was the start of my journey into the EDMS. It was due to the song As the Rush Comes by Motorcyle, a collaboration between JES and Gabriel & Dresden. This track captured so much emotion through its rumbling basslines, high keys and intoxicating vocals that I played the video as much as I could on electronica – the national music video show I hosted on Canada’s bpm:tv.
JES won the coveted International Dance Music Award for As the Rush Comes. This is now my second interview with JES. The first was for my own magazine, Scenester Magazine. I wanted to interview her again because she is a strong and positive voice within the EDMS and her voice is one to be reckoned with. When I hear her voice it feels like silk draping over my body; smooth, soft, and delicate. I also believe her popularity is due to her genuine gentle kindness to others, and her care for our earth.
This chart-topping, award-winning New Yorker has packed four solo albums, two Billboard #1 singles, international touring and countless superstar DJ collaborations into a constantly evolving career. 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 DJs: Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Paul Oakenfold, Above & Beyond, ATB, Kaskade, BT, Richard Durand, Cosmic Gate and Roger Shah. JES has collected awards from the prestigious International Dance Music Awards at Miami’s WMC, The ISC (International Songwriting Competition ‘08’ 09 and ‘10) and topped Billboard’s “Most Played Dance Songs of the Decade” chart (2000-2010). Her tours have touched the shores of six continents – with landmark shows at international events such as the Beijing Summer Olympics – and she has received three Grammy nominations!
I had to opportunity to chat with JES and here is what she had to say about gracing her vocals on Delerium’s recent album “Mythologie”, Grammy nominations, and her journey to musical happiness.
How did your career begin? Is it correct you answered an ad in The Village Voice (New York)?
Yes, it is absolutely true! I answered an ad for a studio that was looking for new artists to record and I went to a session there. I was able to record one of the first songs I had ever written. It was very much a dream come true for me at the time and it was the start of my focusing on music and believing that just maybe I could actually do it. After that session I never really thought of doing anything else. It really was the kick-start for me to pursue music as a career. I started working on music as much as I could after that, writing songs and auditioning for bands.
When you were first getting into music you didn’t feel your groove until you moved to L.A. What do you feel was missing between New York (your hometown) and L.A.? Do you find there is a music difference between the two cities?
It wasn’t really that I wasn’t feeling my groove in N.Y.C. I had some amazing collaborators there and I was working on pop and soul music and I had achieved a lot. New York is a tough city to be an artist in and although I started very young I was setting deadlines for my own achievements and not always reaching them. I had a day job just to pay rent and I was recording and writing all night. It was becoming a long road and when a friend asked me to come visit them in LA I felt like maybe a weekend away was overdue. I had never been to LA and after a week I just decided to stay. I pretty much left everything I had in NYC including a very great love of mine so it was one of the hardest things I had ever done but the music called me and the change of scenery and style was like a breath of fresh air to me. I was into rock and pop music so I started a band and we played every venue in LA! It was a while before I found the dance music scene but it all seemed like a natural development for me.
Do you feel there is a difference in sound and vibe between Canada and the States within the EMDS?
The last show I played was with BT at the Flames Central Theatre in Calgary. It might be different for me because I’m a singer and a DJ and people really want me to sing at the shows! When I’m deep into the show I think it’s more about me doing my thing so I don’t tend to notice a huge difference between the audiences or the types of music they like. I try to mix up the shows a bit and play different remixes or versions of my songs depending on what has been popular in different regions. Social media is great for finding out what mixes people in certain cities are feeling so I try to stay in touch with them as much as I can. Also I play different versions in my radio show (www.unleashthebeat.com) which is great for gauging the fans response. I think of the shows as a journey so if you’re doing a good job they will let you know and that is pretty much the same rule for me everywhere!
Actually it’s now three nominations… so now I just have to win one! I was very excited to have my work considered in that realm so obviously it’s a big honour to be recognized. It was hugely exciting to be able to walk the red carpet at the Grammy’s with the Fatum guys. I just try to make the best music I can. It is not always easy with the fast pace that the music industry is changing at these days, but for your true fans the music will always be special to them. I also think it’s important when you are lucky enough to be recognized to really ride that wave and work off of that energy so in that way it can propel you forward.
How excited were you when you got asked to be on the long awaited new Delerium album?
I was very VERY excited to work with Delerium for so many reasons. I have been a fan of theirs for the longest time and I heard “Silence” non stop on the Tiesto tour which was my introduction to Delerium’s music. I knew it would be quite a different sort of project to be involved in and I always love to try and stretch my writing and creativity and do something special for their album.
Delerium’s new album, “Mythologie”, has you featured not on one, but two tracks Stage and Once In a Lifetime. This is a great opportunity and the fact Mark from Nettwerk suggested you is huge! You recorded your tracks in LA at your studio. Did you actually get work in-person with Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber or did you record in your studio and send your vocals online to them?
I came into the picture at the later part of the album. We had a few sessions together in LA at Rhys studio but at that point it was more about discussing the tracks and what kind of songs we wanted to do and listening to the songs they had already recorded. They had one track that I really liked which turned into Once in a Lifetime. I wrote the other ideas at my studio after we had the meetings and all the vocals were recorded at my studio with my long time collaborator and producer Richard Robson at the helm.
Delerium wanted you because you are a well-established artist, and your release with your band Motorcycle (Gabriel and Dresden) As the Rush Comes was always a very notable trance song, just like their Silence. How does it feel to be in the same high octane category to such a famous trance song that will stand the test time (and for me, As the Rush Comes is on my life soundtrack)?
Awww, you are too kind! That song always amazes me. It’s been a very big blessing in my life and it’s always incredible how it lives on and on! I don’t really think about it too much but music can be a humbling thing and I am very grateful to have been involved in something that has affected people in the way it has.
There’s a third track you record which isn’t featured on Delerium’s “Mythologie” but is said to be released later. Do you know when this will happen?
I’m hoping for this one to be released soon. It’s such a cool track and quite different to the other tracks on their album. Hopefully it will be released soon next year (2017). I will keep you posted!!
Delirium has historically done only two world tours. If they go on tour would you join them to sing your tracks if the offer was presented to you?
I would definitely go on tour with them if it were a possibility. We have spoken about it and there is definitely a big chance that it could happen… so stay tunedJ.
You released Anything Can Happen (Armada) with Fatum which was your first release after your Grammy Nomination for Hold On. Were you hesitant that you may not be able to upstage Anything Can Happen?
As a songwriter the most exciting thing is all the songs you haven’t written yet. I think if you have written one good song you can surely write another one! I try to make each song I write a little better and I write pretty much every day. It’s hard to judge exactly what makes one song better than another one, it’s really about how they make people feel and if they strike a chord with people or not. They each have their own story and I write songs in many different styles. I always feel as long as the inspiration is there you can make another great song.
Let’s talk about being happy. You have written on your website that many songs are written because of heartbreak and sadness. Yet, when you heard Austin and Roman’s Happy it was an instant inspiration. What do you feel we can adjust in our way of thinking to achieve happiness?
It can be hard to be happy all the time but I always find that being grateful for the things you have and seeing all the good in your life can shift your mood in the right way! The song speaks about how we are all a bit crazy with our yearnings and wanting things. It’s about turning on your HAPPY because life is short and we do have a choice. For many people it’s not always that easy to be happy but definitely taking each day at a time, being in the now and realizing how amazing it is that we are here, can help us ‘flip the switch’ to happy!
Tell us about how InToneNation Records is doing? Any special plans for 2017?
Launching the record label was a very exciting time and it’s been going amazingly well. It’s a lot of work and the music business changes very quickly but it’s interesting to be on the other side of the desk for once. I like being involved in business and I love where the label is going. I get very inspired working with other artists. I love to encourage talented artists and that is really the biggest reward. For 2017 we will be keeping a steady flow of great music coming your way.
Your single, Sky Stand Still was in the movie, The Principle. Would you like to see more of your music in the movies in the future?
I would love to have more music featured in movies! I actually just finished working on a friend’s short film. It’s a French film and I wrote the theme song and sang it in French and it came out really well. I have sung in Spanish and French before and I also composed and produced some instrumental music for the film so it’s definitely on my radar. Writing music to picture is so different to songwriting, it’s like a whole new challenge
Bobina’s release iBelieve has you “delivering moving vocals delivering emotional damage” on his “Speed Breaker” album. How did this opportunity come to be?
We have been running into each other for years so collaboration has been in the making for a while. We had talked about it, but making it happen is all in the timing. Bobina is a very funny and sweet person to work with so that makes it all the more special when you do get to work together. I’m really happy with the way the song came out; I think it was kind of a departure from the norm for both of us. We also got make a video together which you can check out!
You are now over 200 episodes of Unleash “The Beast” podcast. Is there a new goal to achieve with this podcast now that it’s gained great listenership?
I would love to get the show onto a satellite broadcast network like SIRIUS XM. We started running the show live on Facebook every Thursday at 1PM PST and I’m always on there live so I can talk to the listeners in the comments. It’s our little UTB party kicking off the weekend early. I think it’s so cool to see how people join in from all over the world and it’s always so much fun. Right now we’re focusing on UTB 300 and I also plan to continue the UTB compilation series in 2017 as well.
Where (venue) is your favourite stage?
There are so many great venues all over the world it’s very hard to pick just one. I love performing in NYC because it’s my home town and the last show with ATB at Roseland Ballroom was very special for me but I have so many favourites – how can you pick one! I do love Red Rocks in Denver because it is outside, has so much history and is naturally made inside a rock formation. It’s pretty crazy, but in every country there are very special places I have performed at.
You are a foodie. What is your favourite dish to make?
That’s is another hard question because if it was up to me I’d eat pizza, pasta and sushi all day and I can make it all. What I love to do is to make food that tastes great but that helps you to stay in shape and not feel unsatisfied. You can check out my food blog for a whole bunch of great healthy recipes at http://www.therockstardiet.com.
As we ease into 2017, what can we expect to hear from you? Can we expect a Toronto date?
I will definitely be in Toronto in 2017. I am long over due to see my friends in Canada! Sending you all so much love!
Thank you for your support and for listening and for staying with me on this wonderful journey. XO JES
Raquel Richards – EDM TOR