Interviewed by CEO and Founder, Michael Beas
Jessa le Carre (pronounced “leh-CAR”) is an electronic dance music producer, performer and mashup DJ based out of Washington, D.C. With exotic beauty (including part Native American heritage) and an extraordinary sound, le Carre is much more than simply another female DJ/producer; she is also an established singer/songwriter who has caught the attention of major record labels including SONY Music. As a mashup DJ under her dJESSa alias, she painstakingly crafts intricate custom tunes, meticulously merging seemingly disparate songs into imaginative new creations.
As a mashup DJ in the years preceding the global pandemic, dJESSa held a DJ residency at Fur Nightclub in Washington D.C., performed at the MTV Video Music Awards afterparties in New York City and she was invited to perform as the headliner at The Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles for the semi-annual “Muscle Cars at the Mansion” event, an exclusive, invitation-only event with a pricey entrance fee.
In 2008, le Carre suffered serious head trauma as the result of being hit from behind by a racing cyclist traveling at speeds in excess of 40 mph. Miraculously, le Carre discovered she had acquired a newfound, prodigy-like ability to compose music far greater than her ability before the accident. When asked, le Carre stated that it felt as though she was channeling a creative force that was previously inaccessible to her. Though le Carre has played piano since age six, the clarinet and the xylophone since age 10, and DJ’d since age 15, the accident afforded le Carre creative skills she cannot explain.
The unique talent of creating brilliant mashups somehow evolved from her injury. As an example, le Carre first makes her initial mashups in Ableton Live, tediously crafting a one-hour mix – this process can take an entire month to perfect – and then splits the entire set into 15-minute sections. While DJing live, dJESSa mixes between the 15-minute segments, as the lion’s share of preparation is done in the studio beforehand. dJESSa also likes to incorporate live aspects into her DJ sets, such as her own vocals, and soon, live instrumentals. She also incorporates live effects on top of the original mashup mixes using her favorite DJ tool, the Pioneer RMX-1000.
Not all is well after the accident, however, as le Carre today lives with a physical disability known as Syncope. It is a condition that affects the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and can cause spontaneous blackouts without proper treatment. Unwilling to give-up her chosen career as a musician, le Carre devoted years of hard work to overcome her injuries and become physically strong enough to perform again.
Recent singles released by Jessa le Carre include “Break My Heart, “Eleven Phoenix” and the current release, “Nobody Knows.” A full-length artist album that will include le Carre’s own vocals is also in-the-works. Jessa le Carre is a modern entrepreneurial woman unafraid to seize life by the horns, no matter what dangers lie ahead. For her, fear is not an option.
Your latest single is “Nobody Knows.” We really like this song! It’s such a fluid, dreamy, future-house tune with such a danceable groove to it. What went into the composition and production of this song.
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): It naturally evolved as a concept for me because I absolutely love to contrast themes. There is a dialogue happening here with opposing viewpoints. I witness this often in everyday life when one person sees life in an optimistic way and another in a more pessimistic light. Especially in regard to break-ups. My use of sound highlights this with added energy in the opposite masculine and feminine viewpoints. She thinks there’s hope, while he’s crushed beyond repair. I took extra-long to complete this track because I wasn’t satisfied with my initial visions for it and I went back several times to work on the mix and add extra color and shape until it was deep enough to my liking.
What message or meaning are you trying to convey with “Nobody Knows”?
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): I’m a big believer in there being a place for all of us in this world. When I bring together opposite energy, I am attempting to prove this. Just because there are things out there that are different than what you’re used to doesn’t mean it’s necessarily incompatible with you. I have similar vibes when I do mashups but it’s much easier to accomplish and demonstrate with production. Essentially, we’re in this world to figure each other out in a way that helps us grow as a collective. Sticking to what you’re used to all the time doesn’t serve that effort.
We’ve also listened to your other recent releases, “Break My Heart” and “Eleven Phoenix,” both also very current-sounding. What’s your process like when writing a new song or track?
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): I always start with the chords and the ideas grow from there. I decide on vocal elements of a track much later than most other producers I know because I like to pair the vocal along with piano accompaniment first and this requires some degree of song development first. For me, catchiness is key so I will sit with melodies for several days and make sure it’s memorable enough to reproduce effortlessly. Depending on how much time I have, I might write a topline or use a ready-to-use vocal if I feel what I want to say has already been said before. The music-making process is very personal for me and there’s never a song I complete that doesn’t surprise me or help me grow in some way as an artist. I like to remain open to whatever happens in the studio and just roll with it, whether new territory or not.
Is there a specific method you have for writing melodies?
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): For vocal melodies, I use a combination of trial-and-error on the piano, along with an attempt to mimic everyday speech, for lyrics. I think the more common things are said, the more natural they sound when sung. I also do a unique technique where I record bird sounds on my nature walks and slow down the tempo and sometimes even reverse them to come-up with fresh ideas. You can do this with any sound, but birds are my favorite. For production, it’s much more instinctual for me, as I’m a natural around anything with keys. I grew-up playing the piano and xylophone from a very young age and I used to produce my own little songs on them. For me, art is all about experimentation. As William Blake once said, “The true method of knowledge is experiment.”
As the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available each week and cities begin opening back up again, what are your expectations for yourself as a performer and artist for the rest of 2021 and into 2022? How do you see venues (including outdoor festivals) operating in the new, post-pandemic world?
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): I know many people who are already performing somewhat normally, right now, but I personally don’t feel ready beyond socially-distanced events. I was in Miami recently and saw a serious lack of masks going on. I have a 98-year-old grandmother, so I am more on the cautious side of things with this. I hope to see more socially-distanced festivals in the future. I foresee things like more cabanas, fire pits, and separated areas. I’ve seen clubs do things like markers on the floor to socially distance and drive-in DJ shows. It’s definitely interesting and makes me wonder what the future holds for the scene as a whole. I’m excited by the prospect of more seating options since I’m a big fan of a lounge vibe.
There was an immense amount of suffering during 2020 due to the pandemic, but also a lot of positive developments in terms of people slowing-down their normal hectic pace and looking inwards. Have you experienced anything that you could describe as being positive, in your own life, during 2020?
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): I adopted a puppy and she brought great joy and inspiration to my life in 2020. I named her after the Mayan Jaguar god who is a symbol of the night sun and darkness. She’s perfectly white in color so I naturally loved the contrast in concept. I produced a song for her shortly after welcoming her into my home, called, “Feels.” I consider her one of my secret weapons.
What thoughts would you like to leave us with?
Jessa le Carre (dJESSa): Love one another!
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