Straight from Vancouver, we have the privilege of hosting producer, MC and DJ Jesse Bru for our next Mixed By. Jesse has been a mainstay of the global house scene for the past decade, known for his ability to blend classic soul and disco samples with thumping jazzy deep house grooves.
With massive releases on revered labels such as Egoplanet, Inhale Exhale and Blaq Numbers; Jesse has chosen French label Happiness Therapy for his upcoming album “The Coast” out on December 11th. Courtesy of Jesse Bru, our latest Mixed By is an eclectic array of hard-hitting tracks perfectly suited to cure your rave-less quarantine blues and get you dancing. In addition to his mix, we were lucky enough to get to ask Jesse a few questions about his upcoming album, his musical process and much more!
Hey Jesse, thanks for the banging mix and taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us what inspired this mix, and what your process was for recording it?
Hey guys, My absolute pleasure ! we have had a nice history of working together and i really always appreciate you taking the time for my music. I always have time for you guys and always have time for some fellow Canadian’s and even more so ones based in Montreal as i lived there for a few years when i was starting off and it played a big part in my musical aspirations.
The inspiration behind this mix is an amalgamation of things .. a few parts nostalgia .. a couple parts a reflection of our current times, Having not stepped foot in a DJ booth and played for a crowd more then once in over a years times and and the rest is just the music that i really enjoy to listen to and miss hearing in a club setting but also shit i love to listen to at home. I guess it’s very likely not what people are used to hear me playing but it certainly the stuff that gets me moving the most these days.
When i first started collecting records and really getting into dance music a lot of it was Detroit based or inspired electro/techno but was also super into its jump up and jungle a lot of the early UK Rave stuff soo in a way this mix and my taste in music has sorta come full circle and i suppose this is reflection of that. Making a mix is always a bit of a thing for me cause I really value the concept of taking the time to curate the tracklist first and am super o.c.d about this aspect of it as i think its important to think about where u want to take people and what your trying to say.
Not so much into just pressing record and digging through my collection. I mean in a live setting obviously that’s a bit different, but had the time here. So I spent a couple weeks listening through music and figuring out whats I wanted to play .. I haven’t recorded a mix in like a couple years soo was excited to jump in on this one. It’s chocked full of stuff in the 130 -160 range. Lots of electro and breaks some footwork. . a couple new ones off the album and an unreleased one in there at the beginning and into some jungle/dnb stuff and some dub/techno and minimal stuff towards the end … I always love mixes that go all over the place in term’s of selection and genres and so this is in that vein. I recorded it at my friends place on their CDJ’s and a Pioneer mixer and used Rekordbox as well to pre program cue / loop points and recorded it into Ableton .
How did you get into music, specifically electronic? Can you tell us a bit about your musical upbringing?
I was interested in music since i was like 8 or 9 , One Christmas my sister got a guitar and i got a harmonica and i was pretty fucking chaffed lol soo the following year i started taking guitar lessons and became utterly obsessed with Jimi Hendrix.and Neil young.. that was the begining … and when i was around 13 a movie called ‘Hackers’ came out and the soundtrack was full of Prodigy, Underworld, Orbital soo that really peaked my interest and opened my eyes to electronic music and around the same time i also became quite obsessed with hip hop listening to lots of Tribe Called Quest/Gangstar/Pete Rock and CL Smooth/Orginized Konfusion also lots of Canadian content like Rascalz/ Mathematik/ Choclair which prompted me to start emceeing and entering in battles and competitions. When i was like 15 my sister was into the local rave scene and i started tagging along and going to raves through out the Okanogan with her and her friends and that sorta got me started.
Shortly there after i purchased a pair of Numkark’s and a 2 channel battle mixer and started to collect records and learn how to DJ.. played a few shows and started to fall in love. and when i was 18 i got the opportunity to move to Montreal which i jumped at. I had come over with the intent to continue and grow my musical identity emceeing and doing hip hop.. and also see what the night life was like there.. I got a chance to compete in a couple televised battles on music pluse and around the same time got the chance to work with a producer i had been looking up to for years. Ended up that paid out for a bunch of beats and long story short sorta got fucked over and it was at this time i was really starting to go out and experience the electronic music scene that Montreal had to offer and it self really took a hold of me and i ended up shifting gears from trying to make hip hop and towards club music .
The scene was soo vastly different then what i was used too in terms of the provincial governments support behind arts and music and also just the quality of bookings /venues and the size of the scene in general .. Also being based in the east coast where the connection to the EU and all the major dance hubs in the states like Detroit and NewYork and Chicago were fare more assessable then what i was used to on the west coast. There was just such a different vibe in terms of the acts being books. the scale of the events and the size of the crowds, production value etc. Attending shows at Picnic in Parc Jean-Drapeau and at Station C and Salon Daome and attending Mutek for the first time really blew my mind and set me on a path
seeing this network of musicians producing music on computers and playing records in a live setting creating really special moments on dances floors whilst also trying to earn there way by releasing records and touring made me very curious to learn more about what was being used what the process was and just wanting to learn more about this life in general
After a few years of soaking it up i moved back to Vancouver and became good friends with a group of people i met at Mutek that were from BC/Alberta.. Bryan (BRON) and shortly there after Ryan (Secret Lover).. both Ryan and Bryan were running a label called DankSoul at the time and they were all producing music in Ableton . I ended up getting Ableton and started to mess around .
Me and Ryan started to write micro house jams together as ‘Hot Keys’ and put out a 12” on Paris based label ‘Karat’ Called “Full Moon EP” as well a digital album on my own called Mid City on now no longer digital label ‘Audio Parallax’ Some time after that Bryan Started a label Called Heart2Heart which ended up releasing my first bit of solo music “Changing for you EP” on to physical format and the first out put on the label ..and really the track ‘Psychedelic Brain Paint ‘ended up sorta putting my name out there. i decided to reinforce my music knowledge and took a course in Sound Design and Audio engineering and have been hard at it ever since .
When in the studio, what are your go-to instruments, software, hardware, and what is your recording and producing process?
Well my studio set up is probably pretty underwelming as its primarily just software and i produce mostly in the box . midi key board/ couple guitars/ simple dynamic mic with no stand lol some old tannoy actives monitor and some gen 1 Rocket 5s for reference and a 2012 macbook pro running Ableton 9.. i use quite a lot of VST’s . big fan of all the Roland /Arturia VST’s. there legacy collection is really really great and i use both those very frequently as well as a lot of the slate audio and waves plug ins for mix down and another one i use quite often and have for ever is Audio Acoustics Lounge Lizard. which is a really good Rhodes/Whurlitzer plug in.
My recording and producing process is varied i suppose before i was realllllllly all about just building drums/ taking drum breaks and splicing them up and re arranging the drum hits or just looping drum breaks and then i would dig through records or youtube or my own digital library of music and try and find bits that work either through looping or playing it as midi notes over top or manipulating it in a way that would fit but always a very sample based approach,
But over the last few years my process has changed a bit and I’ve become more interested in writing every element of the music I’m producing as oppose to just chopping up samples.
Still sampling but more self sampling my voice or guitar riffs or field recordings and found sound stuff .obviously vocals are a major part of what i still like to sample and movie dialog … When i get into the studio i usually start off with sequencing some drums and go from there . pull up VST’s and start digging through synth sounds and start playing keys for a bit over the drums for how ever long ti takes me to find some melody’s/grooves/loops that could work.. then go back through and sift for parts that work and loop them.i usually use the Korg M1 cause soo much good house music has come from the M1 and its probably one of my favourite synths. that or the Jupiter or the Loung Lizard Plug in i mentioned up above Drums are usually sequenced on Roland TR909 and then laird with breaks and or loops I’ve made.
Once I’ve got drums and keys sorted and I’m confident there is enough variation of elements that work together. ill assign hot keys to a controller and take several passes of just arranging everything on the fly so to speak and try and jam out the arrangement in one pass as oppose to just looping sections and building from therein arrangement mode. after that i go through and listen a bunch of times and figure out what needs to be added or changed to the arrangement and once I’m happy with it ill mix it down and thats pretty much it .
Until now you’ve had several releases, all on different labels. What made you decide to go with Happiness Therapy for your last EP and now your upcoming album?
Yeah! Good point.. there hasn’t been much constant out put on one singular label until this point.. honestly never been by design to constantly be releasing on different labels over the years and yet I’m so so soo grateful and thankful to have been given the opportunity to release on the labels i have. Working with Simon/ Happiness Therapy has been nothing short of an absolute treat he’s a total professional with a deep love and passion for music as i have and our working relationship has been the best I’ve encountered which says a lot because every one I’ve worked with has been fucking amazing!
I was in the process of finishing the first iteration of this album and he asked to hear it and was instantly engaged and believed in this album and that meant alot as this is something i pored my heart into the last 2 years .
basically since iv been back in Canada since my few years in Berlin.. there was some music love lost in-between these times mixed with some writers block and Simons belief and eagerness and commitment to me and this music was super validating and very apparent that moving forward happiness therapy would be the home for my album and also be my home base label :) .
“The Coast” is your debut album, after years of singles and EP’s. Why did you choose to finally release a full length album? What are some of the inspirations/intentions behind the album?
Well funnily enough the first release i had on my own was actually a digital album called ‘Mid City’ and was released on a label called ‘Audio Parallax’ so technically a follow up .. BUUUUUUT to be fair i dunno if we need to count that as it was super early days and also having this be something I’ve spent 9 years since then working towards and being lucky enough to have some one invest time energy and resources into making my dream of having a 2×12” double LP album pressed to vinyl come true.. so perhaps debut album has a better ring to it and more deserving as this feels more like an album that i have intention put together and less like a collection of al the music I’ve been making thrown all in to one place…
I chose to do a full length because long play has ALWAYS been my favorite way to consume music. and since Mid City and all the releases in-between it has been something i have thought about wanting to do since..
Albums give u a chance to take listeners on a a journey and show more of yourself in a more honest way.and to do something special that just can’t be done on the extended play format. A big example of this or inspiration was Daft Punks album Homework .. it will always stick out in my mind as likely one of the best dance albums of all time and i guess thats a template for when a dance album works and doesn’t just feel like 4 EP’s put together .
This album is a collection of music that was primarily all written in the tale end of me living in Germany but mostly its everything I’ve written in the two years I’ve been back in Vancouver. when i moved back i decided that i wasn’t happy with just turning out EP’s as quickly as possible just for the sake of relevancy and i was missing music being about just making music and not trying to be something I’m not …. so i stopped excepting requests for release’s so i could focus all of my efforts and music time into writing an album that reflected my desire to get back to music being fun and not a job but also something that i would take every moment of time i had to make it as perfect as possible as oppose to rushing through it just to be finished with it. I also wanted to do something that was truly reflective of the music I’m interested in and not just pigeon holed into . as much as i love low slung sample based house lofi stuff.. my musical taste is far less singular then just that in a club /at home listening environment.
I really like electro and breaks and techno/ jungle and super emotive music and wanted to take the opportunity to break away from having to do the same thing I’ feel like I’ve been doing for a while whilst still trying to stay true to the music i like to make a lot of inspiration from this came from the sounds of the 90s.. Detroit.Chicago.New York UK Rave/House/Jungle/Breaks sounds are a lot of inspiration behind this album.
And i guess the intent of the album was to showcase my growth as a musician I’ve had over the years and as an expression of the music i relate most to whilst doing my best to take the listener on a journey through wider range of my music taste influenced by music that has been important to me through my years. and also to offer something that that feels more different and perhaps more personal then the eps I’ve released in past. and to put something out into the world that Ill be super proud of when i revisit it in the years to come :)
Other than the album, what’s coming up in the next little while for you? Do you have any big post COVID plans?
Now that the album is done I’ve taken a bit of a break just cause i spent a lot of time on the album . but slowly starting to finish things up again and EP requests are starting to come in again soo I’ve got a few things that I’ve gotta work on… my good homie Carlos just started a new label soo gotta finish up some stuff for him and a few other labels and asides from that just rolling with the punch’s interm’s of the global pandemic we find our self’s in the midst of… lucky to not have to worry about to to much other then what my career and life will be like moving foreword haha ….
Before Covid hit i had plans to tour AUS for the first time and the EU again so if there is semi ‘normality’ reached with a vaccine or what ever then will be trying to re plan some touring in the EU and AUS next year …but at this current point in time just being thankful for where I’m at and taking advantage of this time to be as creative as possible…and planing on going back to do some schooling and try and branch out musically to doing something in film/tv or gaming as both those industries are pretty big here in vancouver.
But for the time being looking like it will be a bit of a long winter here so planning on riding it out and being busy in the studio and trying to get back to a more steady stream of releasing content again now that my time with the album is finished and also got a few more things to do with Simon/Happiness Therapy penciled in for the coming months!
How have you managed during quarantine, and has it affected your productivity or the way you create in any capacity?
Honestly, for my entire life i have been extremely recluse and very happy spending time on my own and getting stoned making music in the studio or playing video games and watching movies/ shows I’m a big cinephile and also a huge nerd and soo quarantine has been like a government mandate for me to do what makes me happiest lol also i have some auto immune stuff to worry about soo obviously some concern about whats happening in the world.
right now and both the industry’s I’ve relied on for income have been decimated but it could be worse for myself and it is what it is ! Its affected my productivity for sure but in a very positive way as before Covid i was working as an assistant director of catering in a private corporate setting which was monday to friday and soo i wasn’t making much music but since. I’ve been locked in and spending most my down time at home in the studio I’ve got off social media and just been writing music and it gave me the time to finish my album and also has given me time to start learning and studying music stuff from home and trying to better my skills at making and mixing music .
Can you tell us a little about the music scene in Vancouver? What are some of your favorite musical (& non-musical) spots in the city?
Vancouver has a very rich music scene . although its tuff here for venues and at the moment it seems like the city is loosing a lot of its long time cultural hot spots .
There was a lot of venus that have closed down over the last few years to make way for real-estate development which is a big problem in this city.. not much of an importance from the provincial government to preserve art/cultural music spaces because i guess there dosent seem to be as much importance placed on that as there is on creating more unaffordable housing in our city but thats another issue all together
Its been this way for a long time and i honestly believe its the reason why so much good music comes from this city .. a lack of space and room makes every one more hungry and intent on spending there time creating music and i think the mixture of this and the fact that we live in a temperate rainforest gives the music that come’s out of vancouver a specific sorta moody sound that i find i can be trace to a lot of the music that comes out of here.
But we are also so far away from the rest of the world being on the west coast that people have a tendency to incubate here then move and thrive in more suitable surroundings where the prospect of trying to make a living with music and touring are more doable. Not to say that we don’t have a big club scene here but a majority of it is main stream spaces and its become harder and harder for the underground spaces that give back to there community to exist which is a bit of a bummer.
Long time venue Open Studio has closed which for like a decade plus has been the go to space for underground events that don’t close at 2 am . sad to see it go . After a long run of serving its community as a hub that frankly with out would have lost .. but with that.. when something like that closes time dictates that it just makes room for other newer spaces (hopefully) to to come into the fold and when ever we do get back to filling dance floors safely its going to be something really really special.
A collective of friends called Public Disco are also doing REALLY wonderful things in this city. the last few summers they have been doing seasonal non profit outdoor pop up party’s in unique outdoor/indoor spaces through out all of vancouver and its realllllly refreshing to see people working so fucking hard to build something for the community by the community. and also they at the moment have transitioned during these times to do doing a series of super top notch video recorded sets of some of Vancouver’s best performing in some really cool spaces!
My absolute favourite music place/event here on the west coast is Bass Coast Festival which is hands down my favourite festival in the world. technically its not in Vancouver its in Merrit which is like 2 hours out side of vancouver but its a yearly 3 day festival tucked along Coldwater River in the Nicola Valley and its really something special. its run by a bunch truly amazing people and the vibe and dedication/curation has fostered something truly unique and special that i haven’t found any where else like it and i couldn’t recommend checking it out any more highly .
Non music spots in Vancover are aplenty .. lots to do outside Stanly Park is a massive national park that is at the tip of the city and is littered with walking trails and a sea wall and beaches and there is a range of mountains across from down town called the north shore mountains and it is also full of really nice nature spots and old growth forest.
Lynn Valley in particular is super nice. Also blessed to have lots of realllllly good Japanese food here soo my favourite food spots definitely Izakaya and getting some good sushi. theres an Izakaya chain here called Guu and there location in Gastown in particular is like my favourite spot to eat .highly recommended .
In terms of music ….My friend Nick Wisdom is part of a collective with another really amazing producer (Astrological) and they just put out an album together as Potato Head People on Brooklyn based label Bastard Jazz and its really something special and all of there music should be dug through if your unfamiliar.
My buddy Dylan who’s probably one of my favourite local producers (Edmonton transplant) Khotin just released a really wonderful album on Seattle based imprint Ghostly International which is also supper super good. Another Vancouver pal ESB who’s an all hardware gear head genius just released a really dope record called Earth and Heaven EP on Wex which i HIGHLY suggest you check out.
Max Ullis also just put out a really wonderful record with Robie Slade (Humans) as Soboata on there new imprint aptly named Sobota ..and max also did a record with Leo Pol on Leo’s Iile Imprint that is really glorious!
Thanks so much for having a chat and sorry if these answers are super long winded and all over the place ! and also thanks for allowing me some space to humbly brag about some of good things happening here and some of the music coming from this corner of the world.
BIG big love to you guys !
Regards Jesse,Jairus M.