Known for her chunky house sound infused with a fresh old school twist, Jess Bays has undoubtedly caught the attention of dance music heavyweights in the last few years. Whether it’s her work with Sam Divine’s DVINE Sounds imprint or her robust selection of classic and contemporary house cuts spun behind the decks, a combination of hard graft, unrelenting drive and charming charisma has propelled Bays into the limelight of the UK dance music scene. Returning to Egg LDN on April 20th, we caught up with Bays as she knuckles into music production alongside a heaving DJing schedule ahead for 2018 to find out how she balances work, play and which record has made a lasting dent in her sonic library since day one…
Interview by Niamh O’Connor
Tell us what you’re up to at the moment? Last time we spoke you were on your way to the studio, what are you working on? Or maybe you can’t tell us…?
Right now I’m currently in my home studio working on a few new solo projects! The world of music production is kinda blowing my mind right now in more ways than one! I’m really focusing on learning the ropes and finding my sound!
Last year we saw your name crop up on a lengthy list of shows around the UK, playing alongside Hannah Wants, Sam Divine, Devstar and lots more. What’s been the highlight over the last few months as your profile has continued to grow considerably?
Last year was pretty epic, especially the second half! The highlight for the last few months has to be playing peak time at Ministry of Sound on New Years Eve for Defected Records and also joining Hannah Wants on her PLAY Tour at Motion in Bristol! I got to make my Main Room debut which was seriously fun given that it was at capacity only an hour into the night!
As A&R for DVINE Sounds, how do you balance touring and production work with your A&R role for the label?
It’s pretty hectic but I wouldn’t change it for the world! I’ve taken more of a back seat on the A&R work now that my shows are ramping up. Me, Sam & Kamilla all tackle the A&R now as three heads are way better than one!
It’s a fairly full time position considering the amount of quality DVINE talent that’s been churned out over the last few years?
It sure is – it’s been so rewarding watching our artists grow over the last couple of years. In particular CASSIMM who is now signed to Riva Starr’s Snatch! Records and Casey Spillman who is absolutely championing his own minimal sound! We are very lucky to work with such sick artists including new members of the family; Josh Parkinson, Deeper Purpose, Di Charia Bros, Leandro Di & more.
What are you looking out for in the demos that are sent to D-Vine Sounds? Do you take into account who the artist is as a person as well as their talent? Feel free to share some advice for aspiring artists looking to be signed…
Real solid house music that will be played for years to come! We have three sub labels underneath the DVINE brand which consist of DVINE Sounds (House/Tech House), Soul DVINE (Soulful House/Disco) & Deeper DVINE (Deep House/Garage) which we have some seriously sick releases forthcoming on. Try to be different from everybody else making music at the moment! When signing a record we don’t take into account who the artist is – if it’s a banger, then we will sign it regardless of your profile! For example, we have signed tracks from the likes of legends Todd Terry and Roger Sanchez but also discovered new talent in the form of Italian based Drop2Jump!
You’ve played in Egg multiple times and as a space which has continued to evolve over the last 15 years, what’s your most significant memory from playing at club?
I’ve been lucky enough to play all of the rooms at EGG but I would definitely say that the Middle Floor upstairs is my favourite. I closed after Finnebassen about two years ago and it is a memory that has stayed with me ever since! I got to pull out records that were darker and harder than I would usually play which was so much fun and the crowd were SO not ready to go home when the lights came on at 7:45am!
Leave us with a record that’s resonated with you since starting your career in dance music and tell us why?
Cajmere – Satisfy (Tiger Stripes & Pleasurekraft Remix)
I love everything about this track! I first heard it in the summer of 2014 and wasn’t sure how I could fit it into my sets as I wasn’t really playing much tech house back then. I guess this is one of the tracks that made me fall in love with the sub-genre so much! I could now happily bang this out in any of my sets without being worried that it didn’t fit as my sound has become more intelligent! I’ll definitely be dropping it on 20th on this month!
Jess Bays joins Illyus & Barrientos and Will Taylor at Fridays at Egg on 20th April and all info at www.egglondon.co.uk