Exclusive Interview with DJ/Producer Jessa le Carre
The fearless Phoenix of trance
A woman of peace and an infectious musical passion, Jessa le Carre (pronounced “leh-Car”) is an electronic dance music producer, performer, and mash-up DJ (as dJESSa) based out of Washington D.C. With exotic beauty (including part Mayan heritage) and an extraordinary physique, le Carre is much more than simply another female mash-up DJ/Producer; she is also an established singer/songwriter who has caught the attention of major record labels including SONY Music.
In this interview, le Carre shares her experimental style and driven personality that makes her a unicorn within the dance music industry. Discover how le Carre took serious head trauma that changed her health and turned it into a tool for her artistic craft.
OneEDM: You’ve got a great new pop-dance track titled, “Break My Heart”. It’s apart of your whole new sound separate from trance and Mash-ups. What do you hope to achieve in your career in this new direction?
Jessa le Carre: I just want to reach people. As an artist, I feel it’s my duty to get the music to as many people as possible. “Break My Heart” incorporates multiple vocals in one track. I did this intentionally to give a vibe of a mashup, which is my signature sound. It’s a house track but I definitely threw in some trance elements too. My mashups are always a combination of house and trance music. All of my new music will have a similar upbeat vibe. I’m American, so pop music is the norm here, so I’m not surprised it has so much of that flavor as well. This track was very much an experiment for me, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I cherish every fan who feels inspired by my sound.
OneEDM: DJ/Producing is a craft and almost scientific profession. A scientist has a lab and their preferred methods of experimentation. Do you have a favorite brand of turntables you love to work with? And a particular style of creation that feels like science?
Jessa le Carre: I just scored my new Pioneer CDJ-3000s a few months ago and they are simply incredible. I have always used Pioneer decks but they really outdid themselves this time. The jog is so smooth and helps me tweak the pitch to the perfect degree when DJing between all my mashups. I feel mashups in-and-of themselves are a type of musical science. I don’t use those apps that help find the key to the track. My ears are classically trained using the Suzuki method, so finding the pitch on my own comes very naturally to me. I would love for medical science to actually study my brain while doing my craft sometime so I can see more of what’s going on inside my head. That would be awesome!
OneEDM: Your workflow is cool and unique when it comes to producing 15-minute sections from a one hour mix, to then mix in between the sections when performing live. Do you see yourself ever giving a masterclass on mixing? Explain your process as a mashup DJ? Hows is that different from being a run of the mill DJ?
Jessa le Carre: I would love to offer a masterclass one day. I’m very specific about how and why I do things. I use an older version of Ableton Live for my mashups because some of the upgrades have caused system crashes over time. I use three to four different laptops to keep different versions active in case I need to go back and work on things later on. I’m a big fan of my Behringer Wing lately because it makes the mastering process of my mashups much more straightforward and simple. It’s a beast and can handle so many sounds at once. My mashups are different than regular DJing because the bulk of the work is happening in the studio. I balance two or even three songs at once that play continuously throughout the track. It gives the sound a more danceable air because there aren’t as many break downs.
When life hands you a lemon make lemonade
OneEDM: Do you think your accident gifted you new skills or unlocked dormant talents that you weren’t aware of? Can you explain a little bit about your accident, when did it happen?
Jessa le Carre: It feels more like my gifts were enhanced somehow. I have always been into music since I was a child. For instance, playing the xylophone in a drum line that went on to win a state championship. I was trained classically on the piano using the Suzuki method, as I mentioned before. It’s a unique philosophy that believes in learning music by ear over simply reading. I began my training when I was six years old and I am able to playback music that I hear, rather than needing written music to do so. To my belief, my accident helped enhance this ability. I never tried to make mashups before my accident, so its; hard to tell for sure. My DJing style definitely took a different direction after the accident. It began when I would hear two songs I liked and decided they would be perfect together. It unfolded naturally with time and became a sort of obsession for me. When I make my mashups, I basically lock myself away from the world and throw myself into the mix for hours and days at a time.
My accident happened in 2008 and was unique in and of itself. I was hit from behind while walking on a path by a racing bicyclist. The path was narrow and the bicyclist was trying to speed around me before an oncoming bike passed. He must have miscalculated because I was hit from behind and flew at least 10 feet forward landing directly on my head. I don’t remember any of this at all as I was knocked unconscious instantly. The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital and having people explain to me what happened. I had a soft-ball sized knot on my forehead for a few weeks after the accident. It was pretty serious stuff. Imlicky to be alive. I remember I was listening to Tiesto’s “Elements of Life: Remixed” before I was struck. To this day it is one of my favorite albums of all time. After the accident, I realized how fragile life is and how none of us are guaranteed our time on this earth.
OneEDM: When people experience trauma it can change their lives. With your Syncope, how do you relate it to your purpose?
Jessa le Carre: My disability has definitely improved in ways over the years. I have three dogs and they all are trained to help me in different ways with my disorder. I’m lucky that my body gives me a type of “warning” before I have an episode. I get tunnel vision and feel the blood leave my face. I know that is when I need to sit down ( wherever I might be). If my dogs are with me, they quickly run over to me and start licking my face and neck to keep me from passing out. My dogs mean everything to me and I truly see them as my tine little angels in this world. I have a love/hate relationship with my disability because I know my accident changed my life for the better in so many ways. Dealing with Syncope is just my small burden in this life. We all have our own issues! I don’t let it hold me back or get me down.
OneEDM: You once mentioned, “Any true artist knows that art does not belong to any one person alone. We are merely a vessel for creating a greater spark in others. The music belongs to us ALL”. You then proceeded to offer free music downloads. Do you think it’s a sign of disrespect to monetize and capitalize on talent and art?
Jessa le Carre: I think it’s up to each individual artist to decide what they do with their own music. I would never tell someone else what to do with their art and I certainly do not judge people who sell music. I have Mayan in my blood and it’s part of our culture to not ask for money when you are offering healing services. The idea is that money should never get in the way of something that is spiritually necessary. I see my art much like this. I think music is the most uniting and helpful aspect of getting us collectively through this world. We are meant to come together as one and money should never be a reason for why someone can’t access energy. I don’t promise to never sell my music, as sometimes I work with vocalists who see things differently. I do intend to always have at least free streaming everywhere and lots of opportunities for free downloads as I go.
OneEDM: As a female artist, do you feel you have to work harder to gain recognition and respect, or are we past that point as a society?
Jessa le Carre: Yes and no. There are so many more female DJs nowadays, it’s truly a relief. I’ve always felt like an outsider when growing up as a female DJ. I definitely remember having to prove my talent in various ways to earn respect. It has changed in recent years. I will say that I’ve had some weird advice from industry insiders to downplay my femininity. For example; I was once told to outright “dress like a boy” if I wanted to be taken seriously. I notice a lot of the successful female DJs I see, dress in more baggy clothing sometimes and it makes me wonder if they received that same “advice” at some point or if it’s just who they are naturally. Personally, I don’t like clothes very much. When I’m home alone I don’t wear any at all. I’m sort of a nudist in that way, I guess. I think that’s why I show more skin than most female DJs I encounter. But I don’t intend to change this about myself anytime soon. I think it’s important to stay true to who you are as an artist, whatever that might look like.
OneEDM: You work on your music, your body, health, and all other areas of your life 24/7. When do you know to stop? Do you ever catch yourself over-giving? How do you make time to give to yourself?
Jessa le Carre: I used to burn out but I’ve become better at it over time. When I make mashups, it is hardest on me because I’m completely zoned in and days can go by in a snap without my even really noticing. I have found that “hot yoga” and meditation have been really helpful in keeping me grounded. That’s how I usually spend the morning. My dogs are truly a healing aspect of my life. Just holding them and dancing around with them lifts my soul. I am definitely a giver and also an empath with a sort of scary accurate intuition sometimes and it helps guide me through life in many ways. I am very in touch with my own body because of yoga and make sure to listen to it when it has had enough. Rest is so important.
OneEDM: Trance is such a male-dominated genre, yet some of your trance tracks can compete with the best of them. When you are producing, what is the goal? To prove something or to express something?
Jessa le Carre: Wow! Thank you for such a great compliment. every song I create has a deep meaning to me. I haven’t experimented with using trance vocals very much yet but I plan to in the future. I might even attempt singing more in this genre, but it’s truly a niche for vocals. To me, trance music is a journey of sound. I always seem to gravitate towards trance music that has little to no vocal involved, but there are definitely several trance vocalists I wouldn’t be able to resist working with if ever given the opportunity. I see my music as a reflection of myself and my inner thoughts and desires. When I compose music, I usually have a “muse” in mind. I find my best inspiration happens when I’m either falling in love or having my heartbroken. I use music to express the things I have a hard time saying in real life.
OneEDM: The world could really use something to distract them from worldly affairs right now. What does your art have to offer the world that could just stop people in their tracks and make them smile?
Jessa le Carre: I seek to be a unique wave of sound touching people where they least expect it. I always try my best to stand out from the crowd and make my music as different as possible. In the past, I have often got compliments from my fans that my music helped change their mood after listening to it. I can’t imagine a better way to live my life than to serve up good vibes to others! These are very trying times for us all right now and I genuinely believe that music can save us. Music is truly a universal language. It’s important we find similarities with one another in order to heal this world. It’s like the saying goes, “Where words fail, music speaks”.