You’ve said that you were in art school when you started to discover your singing power….was it a struggle for you to decide what path to continue on. Art school or music?
Well, actually I come from a very artistic family. My mom was a singer and in theater. I recorded my first song when I was like 14 and I always wanted to do music. It just was a big step to admit it and focus on that. When I heard my voice recorded on a song I had written I never thought I’d do anything else. It was really at that moment that I decided. I was in public schools in New York, and I then decided to go to a school that supported this. So it was a little bit backwards.
You’ve done a lot of producing and writing and recording with and for other artists, what inspired you to come out front and release a solo album?
I spent a good many years writing with other people and with other DJs and producers. I write a lot of stuff and I really wanted to. I came out into the dance world and I was in a pop/rock band. When you are writing you are really waiting on them. I had so many songs and I really just wanted people to hear them so badly. So I decided that I was going to make my first record, which was Disconnect. Just so I could get the people to know that I did more than dance music. I can play guitar and I sing ballads. I wanted to introduce them to different things that I’d done, and be on my own schedule. You are always on someone else’s schedule when you are working with a record label. This way I could have a little more control over what I was doing and what I wanted to release.
It seems like working in music studios would provide a lot of valuable experience to a new emerging artist. What did you gain from your work experience there?
I worked in a studio in LA, not only recording but I was employed as an assistant. I also learned how to wire and stuff. I just wanted to have a job when I had to have a job other than just doing music so I could always be around music. Also, it’s important to learn how people are recording. We all use pro-tools and logic and there are many different programs out there. Computers have taken over a lot of different ways of recording. Just to know that helps you when you are working with others. You know the lingo, you know what is going on, and you can be involved! Also you get to play with all the nice mics, you get to try them out when you could never really afford them on your own.
Your first solo album Disconnect blended a lot of different sounds, with varying vocal ranges, tempos and styles. Do you think it gave the world a good example of who you are as an artist and helped expose you to the mainstream?
Yes. I tried to. The majority of my fans are very dance oriented, and I love them. But, there is a lot of different types of music. I couldn’t just make a record that was just dance oriented or electronic oriented. I tried to bring a little bit of what I was doing before into what I’m doing now. I do love dance music. I grew up in New York going clubbing. It’s funny; sometimes I say I’ve come full circle because that’s really where I started even listening to different music. In NY when I was recording I did a lot of R&B, Soul, Rock, Blues then I went to L.A. and I did more alternative rock. I really am a song writer so I got back into it when the rave scene was pretty big and got back into dance music. I wanted to infuse the two worlds together and slow down the beat a little at times. But, it’s very much a dance electronica record as well.
You are working on a new album, can you give us any insight into how the album is coming along and when it might be released?
Well, “Into the Dawn” just came out now, and I’m actually working on the third album, called “High Glow”. On Into the Dawn I’d done a couple of new songs, I had some unreleased, really gorgeous versions of songs from Disconnect so I wanted to put it together some of the new songs. I also did a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, so I put a little bit of everything on there. It’s all chill out and slow tempo. This new one that I’ve just come back from working on is a little bit more organic sounding so far.
What is your writing process like? Do you start with lyrics, a sample? Take us through the process?
Well, there are no rules. When you are writing so much all the time you don’t want to repeat yourself. For me, it’s a very happy but torturous process. It is, because you want to write something new and say it in a different way. I write all the time, I have some tricks… I constantly have my ears open for lyrics and things that interest me… even things that people say. I keep a page open where I’m constantly writing things down. I have pages and pages of ideas. I play guitar, I play some piano… and I flip back and forth between instruments. Sometimes I get a beat up, sometimes I collaborate with people. I work with people in different countries over the internet. It’s amazing that’s possible. You send tracks back and forth. There are a lot of people that write me that want to collaborate and I always want to listen because you never know what is going to spark your inspiration. I’m always open to anyone who is writing. I always work on a lot of different things at one time. Every night I have my recorder and I just sort of “blah” a lot of stuff out. I go through my ideas and every once in a while you find a little gem in the rough and continue on from there. There isn’t any one specific way, I’m always just trying to find something that ignites my fire. It’s hard when you are always working at it to find those things that are so special. It’s funny because I was locked up with myself, and when you are working on things you don’t know what is good or not. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at it. I also, throw a lot of ideas into an iPod and walk for hours and meditate. Sometimes an idea will pop into your head over something you wrote a long time ago. It’s nice when those things come back to you and you can grab on, and then I’ll sit down and really hash it out. Then the real process begins where you are writing and writing and trying to make sense of what you are trying to say. Sometimes you are like “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” But you’ll get there! Sooner or later you are going to get to the end, just sometimes it takes a day, a week, a month… a year!
Do you think you have additional challenges being a woman in the music industry or do you see it as an advantage?
I could write a book on that! I know, I’m careful with that question. I do. When I’m traveling with other girls we should have a group circle. Yeah, it’s hard. I have a lot of things to say, I’m strong willed, and I have my opinions. I really want to be seen as an equal when I’m contributing to something. I make sure now that when I work with people that they see me that way. I do feel it. I don’t want to say it stops us or anything, but I do feel it is a very male driven world, but we’ve got some great women out there. Great, strong, really talented women! You just have to keep on pushing and sometimes you have to push a little harder.
You filmed a video for you song Heaven that captures a lot of the visual essence of New York City from a New Yorker perspective rather than from a tourist perspective, is that what you were going for?
Oh yeah. I’m from NYC, born and raised here. I was really excited to be able to film NY the way I see it. You know you are constantly having roof parties, and just hanging out on roofs and just wandering around. So we got to go to a lot of places that I love for it. We were so lucky because that week that we filmed it was one of the most gorgeous weeks in NY. We definitely tried to give it a little bit of a moody sense and take people to places that I go.
JES – Into The Dawn Order Here
You were awarded 2007 Diva of the Year by a dance magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about that, was it voted on by fans or awarded by the magazine and what did it mean to you?
YES! When Disconnect came out it was great and I had so much support from people. “Diva Divo” is one magazine that supports dance music artists and they gave me such a great review. When they did this competition, I wanted to be involved, but I really didn’t expect to win. It’s really because of the fans, the people and my friends. It was funny when he called me; he said “Everybody wrote a little note about you. Your fans are so there for you.” It was such a lovely thing, I was really surprised. It’s nice to win things everyone once in a while.
With Motorcycle, you scored a Billboard #1 Dance Hit with “As the Rush Comes”, does this kind of success with a band give you any added pressure to succeed as a solo artist or are you able to separate the two?
It’s always fun to be in a band, it’s sometimes harder to be on your own. It’s nice to win things with people you worked with. I really enjoyed that. That whole song and everything that has happened to me since, that really did add a lot of pressure. Once you have a big song, everyone compares you to that song, so you have to always do your best. I had written a lot of songs before that, so this brought a lot of those to the limelight as well.
In 2007 you played a lot of arena crowds. A lot of artists aren’t exposed to crowds that large until later on in their careers, it must be a pretty big high to play to that many people but it also sounds like it could be a little scary, do you ever get stage fright?
Not so much anymore. I do get anxiety sometimes. Especially when I was opening for Tiesto! The crowd is there, they know me… but I know that I’m there to get the crowd going for him. So there were times, sometimes more than others. I get these spots; I look like a leopard, that’s when you know I’m nervous. I’ve done so many that it’s not as bad as it used to be. Sometimes playing for a smaller crowd is harder because they are right there.
If you had the opportunity, who are some musicians you’d like to collaborate with?
Musicians, singers… I love Thom York, I’d love to write a song with him. I also love Bjork. I’d love to be in a room with her for a while! I love the Cocteau Twins and Elizabeth Frasier a lot! Guitar players, I love The Edge, I’d love to play some songs with him! Maybe Elton John. I love Bono. I work with a lot of great musicians now… I meet a lot while I’m out and traveling.
What are your thoughts on the impact of modern technology on music as far as file sharing and communities such as MySpace?
It’s an incredible tool to be able to meet people and get your music out there. I think what they say about music being free pretty soon, is probably true, it probably will be very soon. I personally subscribe to things and I can say that I’ve never actually taken something for nothing. So I try to support artists that way. I think it’s incredible that it’s in our hands now. You can control your career, you can control how hard you work and you can reach out. I don’t think it can hurt an artist at all.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Nope, just check out my new album “Into the Dawn”!