Singer/Songwriter/Producer/Composer/DJ Jes Brieden, aka JES, stops through Denver tomorrow, Friday March 6th, for a highly-anticipated performance at The Church Nightclub. JES (NYC) began laying the foundation for what would become a very successful career back in the early 2000s, and today is one of the most diverse talents in the scene. She’s even collaborated with the likes of Tiesto, but unlike many current successful acts, JES hasn’t gotten to the top strictly by good looks and charm; she’s also intelligent, hard-working, and passionate, as you will find below. Give this insightful interview a browse, and get your tickets to what promises to be a fun-filled Global Friday at The Church.
Interview conducted by Dale Shipley
ELCO: You’re known as JES primarily, but also Taxigirl. How’d you come by that handle and what’s the latest with her?
JES: Taxigirl is alive and well! She’s a big part of my weekly mix show (www.unleashthebeat.com) contributing all the mashups for the show which you can check out on my SoundCloud page as well (www.soundcloud/jes). Taxigirl is also the name of my publishing company. When I first moved from New York to Los Angeles I was really missing my home and something about that name reminded of New York so I used it for a few things! It was around that time that I wrote “High Glow” which was the song I released with Tiesto under the name “Taxigirl”. Everyone liked that name so I suspect she will be releasing more things in the future!
ELCO: We look forward to it! So who are some of your favorite artists that have influenced your music?
JES: Artists who write their own songs are my main influences. There are so many great ones out there but some of my favorites that have influenced over the years are Nirvana, Madonna, David Bowie, Radiohead, Kate Bush, The Cars, U2, Tears for Fears, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Blondie, Cyndi Lauper, Peter Gabriel, Sia, Bjork, Van Morrison. Great songs always transcend their genres so that is something that I try to aspire to every time I write. I try not to worry about the genre or style and just focus on making the song great and touching on things we all feel.
ELCO: Sounds like a great formula! I’d like to hear how the content of your vocals has changed over the years…through your own personal expression, and who you’re trying to reach, from Guardians of the Earth, Motorcycle, and all of your collaborations, to your own solo career.
JES: I think one of the major things that has changed since the start of my career is the sound of my voice. I feel like it has a lot more character now. I’m more invested in the craft of songwriting now so I feel like my songs are getting better. Working on a song for me is like figuring out a complex puzzle so now I tend to give myself more freedom to look at it from all angles. I never try to focus on the style of the song or worry about the genre. My fans are a very wide ranging demographic so I try to write songs that connect on a human level and deal with the things that we all go through. I try to have a little more fun with my writing these days, but the core things that are universal in human experience: hope, love, and looking for your place in the world, are often a part of my inspiration.
ELCO: As a writer and singer, you’ve been a pioneer with original vocal content, setting yourself apart from more generic sampled styles of EDM, especially as a part of live performances. Can you touch on how you feel about your contribution to the scene?
JES: Performing dance music has been a challenging journey. When I started performing singers were only doing PA’s. You would sing three songs between DJ sets and it felt like you were the sideshow! I came from playing in bands, and so I wasn’t very comfortable with that situation. I wanted to give the fans a real performance that would really leave them feeling something. I started working on developing a bigger show and started to develop my DJ’ing so I could work a longer set and sing more of my own songs for the fans. I have a version of the show that I do with a full band (live drums, guitar and keyboards). I love to do it but it’s very expensive for the promoters, so it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it rocks! The singers in EDM have had to fight to be accepted into the live world. We’ve adapted and found ways to be involved, but it’s still a challenge. Take a look at the summer festivals and see how many women or singers you can find on the lineups. I think that speaks volumes, so I strive to break those barriers for myself and for all the amazing singer/songwriters in the EDM world.
ELCO: Very admirable. You’ve got a lot going on, from your new solo “Two Souls” to your own radio show, and even a cookbook! What else can we expect from you this year?
JES: That’s a great question. I also have just had a big song out with Cosmic Gate called “Yai (Here We Go Again)”, which is being very well received at the moment. WMC is coming up soon and I have some top-secret plans for some exciting events there. “Letting Go” my song with BT was nominated for best Trance song at the IDMA’s, so it will be exciting to see how it does. I am launching my own label called Intonenation Records in the next few months. I wanted to be able to control my musical output a little better so having my own label will give me some more flexibility with that. The first release will be in April so I’m very excited about that. I’m also working on a couple of new album projects that I want to release this year as well. It’s pretty busy at my studio right now!
ELCO: Sounds exciting! We’re looking forward to seeing all that you accomplish. Thanks for your time.