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Meet JES of Planet JES in Toluca Lake

Today we’d like to introduce you to JES.

JES, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
From an early age I was drawn to music. I was obsessed with the radio and learning every word to the songs I heard on it so I could sing along. I grew up in Manhattan amongst a musical family so we had a piano and a guitar in our apartment so I used to stay up late into the night recording my own songs on an old tape recorder. By the time I was a teenager I began to seek out auditions for anything to do with musical projects. I tried out for bands, jingles, shows, and musicals anything where I could be involved with performing and writing music. Finally, when I was fourteen I got the chance to record one of my own songs in a professional recording studio. Once I experienced the process of recording and heard my voice recorded and played back on the big speakers that was really it for me. I knew that it was the one thing that I really wanted to do with my life and made a decision that music would be my career.

I started working on building a career in New York and was mainly focused on pop and rock. I was writing songs every day and recording with other songwriters and producers. It led to a few different production and management deals but nothing really seemed to be quite the right fit for me. I took a break from the New York scene and sang standards in hotels in the Caribbean for a summer. On returning to New York the opportunity came up to visit Los Angeles. I had never been to California so I took a chance and on a whim relocated to LA and found a job working as an assistant engineer in Hollywood recording studio. I began to write music with new producers in the LA scene and would often work late into the night at the studio recording after the clients had left. Through my new musical collaborators, I was introduced to the developing dance music community in Southern California. It opened my ears to a new world of music I had never listed to before. I went to a few raves and fell in love with the emotional effect of EDM music. The melodies and vocals melded together so effortlessly and it inspired me to start writing some songs in the genre. It was a huge surprise when one of the first tracks I worked on became popular and was included on Paul Van Dyk’s acclaimed “Politics of Dancing” album. I also started to perform at shows with some of my DJ collaborators. The whole experience was a lot of fun for me, which is something that I had been missing during my time in New York. I continued working on new songs with different producers but the breakout track really came in 2004 with a song I wrote called “As The Rush Comes”. It was signed by a big Dutch label and then licensed onto EMI Positiva in the UK. I wasn’t really aware of how successful it was until I was invited to perform at a show in the UK with the worlds #1 at the time DJ Tiesto. There must have been ten thousand people in the audience and they sang every word with me. “As The Rush Comes” went on to become a worldwide hit in the dance world and opened a lot of doors for my career. Tiesto signed me to a unique four album deal with his own label which helped me to establish my own name separate from the DJ’s and collaborators that I had been working with and I began to build my own brand.

My debut album, “Disconnect” was released in 2007 and as a part of the promotion I was featured as the opening act on Tiesto’s “Elements Of Life” world tour which ran for over a year. The album produced three billboard hits including “Imagination” which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Airplay chart and stayed on the chart for over a year. I released a chill out album “Into The Dawn” the following year and was also invited to perform at the Beijing Summer Olympics as Coca Cola’s official artist. My next studio album “High Glow “followed in 2010 which also produced a number of big songs including “Awaken” which reached number #1 on the Sirius XM Satellite Radio network in 2011. It also inspired me to launch the Awaken campaign to bring some focus to my charitable endeavors and allow fans to easily find ways to contribute to local charities and causes.

As the music industry began to shift away from the album format it became more important once again to release singles and collaborate with other artists. I began to shift my focus onto songwriting with other producers and artists and releasing a steady stream of singles. I worked with some of the biggest names in the EDM world releasing songs and remixes with Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, ATB, Cosmic Gate, Ferry Corsten, BT, Roger Shah, Above & Beyond, Markus Shulz and many more as well as continuing to strengthen my own brand with solo songs. I toured extensively and began DJ’ing myself at my shows with a unique hybrid combination of live vocals and DJ’ing. I also launched my own weekly one hour radio mix-show featuring the best new releases in dance music called “Unleash The Beat”. The show was quickly picked up for syndication and now reaches a worldwide audience of over one million listeners via radio and online broadcasting. My continued songwriting and production schedule required me to have a permanent studio set up and in 2014 I moved into Lola Music Studios in Studio City, Los Angeles. It’s a three-studio facility which is perfect for songwriting, music production and mixing. Being based in LA we also cater for a wide range of post-production work like Dialogue recording and editing and sound mixing and production. My catalogue of songs had grown to become quite extensive so I began to look for a partner to help me administer it. I signed a worldwide co-publishing agreement with NETTWERK ONE music to help me reach further into the growing sync market. As I learned more about the business side of music I also started my own record label. I launched Intonenation Records in 2015 to have more artistic control over my output and my first release “Hold On” earned me a third Grammy Award nomination, receiving a nomination in the “Best Remixed Recording” category in the same year. I continue to write and collaborate in the dance scene and I has also recently made inroads back into the contemporary genre’s where I started in New York City. My next artist project will be launching towards the end of this year so look out for me on your favourite hot A.C station soon! In the meantime, you can hear my recent dance songs featured on Cosmic Gate’s “Materia Part One & Two” albums released this year or check out my artist profile on Spotify here … Spotify: artist: 6UAyCjS0OPMd1Ham8bvs9g

Has it been a smooth road?
In some ways I’m quite happy that I didn’t have a clue about the music business before I decided to get into it! I was very naive and full of determination, passion and inspiration for music. I have learned along the way that the music business can be a very demanding environment. It’s hard to take something that you love and have to attach a price tag to it and negotiate with other business people over it but you quickly learn how to make that transition. Being a woman in the middle of this industry also comes with its own challenges. The business is largely dominated by men and in particular the dance music world has very few women leaders. It has been an interesting path and at times very tricky, but I always strive to be my own person and lead by example. I have pushed for my career in EDM everyday no matter what the business or cultural climate has been. Music is always a changing landscape with new styles and genres coming and going all the time. You have to keep developing yourself and your artistry whether you’re Male or Female and find your place in it. For me authenticity is the key to making great music so I always try to make something that I can be at peace with and that speaks to me.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Planet JES story. Tell us more about the business.
My business has grown as my understanding of the industry developed. I started out as a singer and songwriter and that is still the mainstay of my business today but I have learned how the business operates and how to collect the money that my music is generating around the world.

Music is still a very competitive business and so you have to be maximizing the return on everything that you do to maintain your situation. Each new part of my business has developed as a response to something that I was already doing. The studio grew out of my need for a regular creative recording location. Realizing how hard it is to find one presented me with the opportunity to make the studio a part of my business as well. That in turn developed, as we needed to accommodate the different types of studio work being requested in Los Angeles. After working on the release and promotion of my own music with other labels I realized that I had created most of the infrastructure necessary to start my own label. So it became a natural progression. I am very proud of my achievements and I think that the secret of my success is putting in 100 percent on a project and making sure that it’s always something that you believe in yourself. I try to make timeless music that fans will still be listening to for years to come.

Every part of my business has grown from that philosophy of quality, honesty and integrity. We currently have an electronic music label, a publishing company, a recording studio, a booking agency, a promotional agency and management services all working together under one corporate structure.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business?
Music is a team sport. There is no way anyone can survive in this business alone. At each step of the way I have been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people that have taught me so much. Tiesto was a huge influence in my early career and really taught me a lot about how to make things successful and how valuable a good work ethic is. Tony McGuiness of Above & Beyond also helped me to establish myself as a solo artist and gave me lots of encouragement and advice through that time. My business partner and general manager Tom Fritze has been with me since I relocated to Los Angeles. He has been fundamental in helping my set up my business and has also travelled with me all over the world handling show production, sound, tour managing and everything in between. Tom also designed and rebuilt Lola Studios when we moved in and is responsible for the amazing studio that I get to write and record in every day. Richard Robson has been my creative director, label head and music producer / therapist since my first solo album. Katherine “KTEE” Thomas has been the director of marketing and social media for my personal career and also for my label for many years as well as directing and producing many of my music videos. Most importantly my family and friends who have been a hugely supportive since the start and continue to help out where ever they can. I have the best fans in the world and the energy and enthusiasm I feel every day from them through social media is very uplifting and keeps me pushing forwards even when times get tough. It has all been one long learning experience for which I am very grateful.

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Image Credit:
planetjes inc.

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