We caught up with Jesse to discuss his tribute to Thomas Bangalter’s Roulé label and the benefits of Los Angeles life.
Attack: London, Berlin, LA – where’s next?! Or are you staying put in LA?
Jesse Rose: For now it feels good to be here, but you never know. When I get that feeling it’s time to move on and see something new, I normally act on it pretty quick.
How’s the scene in LA? Do you play out a lot there?
Until this year when New York has come back into the game with all the new clubs and parties going on there, I would say LA was the centre for dance music in the States for a while. There is a lot of space here, so you can have great warehouse parties downtown – like DJ Harvey doing his Sarcastic parties – and then there’s some really cool club nights like Rhonda and Do Over, and there are always house parties in the hills. Honestly there is something to do every night. I’ve played a lot of the parties here but for the most part I’m travelling. When I get the chance we’ll throw a mid-week Play It Down show, which are always crazy shenanigans.
Has it changed much in the time you’ve been there? Different people seem to have different takes on the impact of the EDM boom.
For me not really. I don’t really keep an eye on commercial dance music stuff but the underground is strong and it seems younger and younger kids are getting into it, so that’s great.
At the end of your RA Exchange you talked about always wanting to grow as a producer, branching out into other genres like hip-hop and pop. It seems like LA would be a great place to do that. Have you been working on any projects like this you can tell us about?
I’ve worked with some great artists and rappers since I got here – not in a planned way but just hanging out and meeting people. I’m working on some stuff now which I can’t talk about, but I’ve worked with Amanda Blank and Chuck Inglish and loads of different producers from Todd Edwards to Photek.
Your latest single, ‘Fly Tonight’ on Play It Down, has a lot of the Roulé Records about it – both in sound and look. What’s the story behind it?
I just made a track one day and realised it had a real French feel, so I sent it to Alex Gopher in Paris to mix it – he’s the guy that worked with Daft Punk a lot in the early days. When he sent the mix back it sounded properly French, so then I decided we should try to release it on Roulé but as the label is no longer running we decided we’d put it out on Play It Down with dedicated Roulé artwork as a nod to Thomas [Bangalter]. The video for the track also has a history of house feel. I’ve been in this scene over 20 years now so I felt like it was a great moment to do something like this. I also managed to get my friend Doc Allison to play strings and put an original vocal on it, so for me it’s a lot more than just a sampled house track.
How different was the process of writing this single compared with the time bound pressures of The Whole 12 Inches album?
I actually wrote it in the same time period but with a different producer head on. I was thinking more about festivals than the underground clubs I play like Fabric, Panoramabar, Watergate, etc.
I've been in this scene over 20 years now so I felt like it was a great moment to do something like this.
It’s well documented that you travel a lot and sleep very little. How do you balance that with making music and general creative flow?
I feel like I have a better workflow now I live in LA. I basically tour for two two three weeks, come home for a week or two and go to the studio, then tour again. When I lived in Berlin I toured every weekend of the year – it was so much fun, but it hurts and it’s often hard to get into the music mode the way I wanted.
In terms of writing tracks, is it a lot of laptop and headphones on planes or do you save ideas in your head for the studio?
I really have no set rules. I made my upcoming remix for Oliver $ and Jimi Jules’s ‘Pushing On’ on my laptop by the pool in Ibiza, but I wrote some other tracks in mega studios like Red Bull Studios in Los Angeles. Sometimes I have an idea and do a simple demo on my laptop but for now planes are my place to chill, watch movies – I’m a big movie fan – and take a bit of time off.
I feel like I have a better workflow now I live in LA. I basically tour for two two three weeks, come home for a week or two and go to the studio, then tour again.
What’s your studio setup like at the minute? Is it hardware-focused? Last I read you were collecting various classics like the LinnDrum…
At the moment I’m moving house, and I like to keep the studio in the house if possible. I’ve been really lucky to find houses with studio rooms built in already, so I’m touching wood I can find another one. Yeah, this year I’ve been doing a lot more analogue stuff so got loads of drum machines in like the TR-808, 909, 727, etc, but sampling is my true love.
Did you dig back into mid-90s production techniques and gear for Fly Tonight?
Nope! Apart from recording the strings and vocals it was all done in the computer.
How are things going with your various labels at the moment? It seems like Play It Down is the main focus right now?
Yeah, in terms of labels it’s my only focus. Along with Oliver $, we tried to build a really cool group of labelmates – people like
Ninetoes, Christian Nielsen, Playmode, Brillstein, S-Man, Dansson. It feels like everyone is on the same tip. We’re releasing our first comp of exclusive tracks this autumn and I’m looking forward to touring with the guys and showing people the great music we have. We’ve worked on this comp over a year to make sure it’s properly on point from our perspective.
What can we expect to see and hear from you and the crew for the rest of the year?
I’m dropping my new track ‘Touch N Tease’ in September, then I’ve got collabs with Oliver $, S-Man, Sante, Davide Squillace and Dansson coming soon. I’ve just remixed The Acid’s ‘Dame’, Brillstein’s ‘Meelo My Bro’ and Oliver $ and Jimi Jules’s ‘Pushing On’, all coming out this summer. We’re dropping singles on Play It Down every two weeks and about to launch a Drip FM subscription so you don’t miss anything going on. I’m also excited about a Zombie Disco Squad release we’ve got coming later this year.