Written By Jordan Reisman
Photo Courtesy of Jubilee.
As far as stage nicknames go, one taken from the X-Men comics is as good as you can get. DJ Jubilee from Miami was given this name as a teenager. She says, “Jubilee was a younger teenage mall rat that always wore yellow and had short hair… basically me when I received that nick name.”
Yet Jubilee is known as many things to many people. To her family, she is Jessica Gentile of Miami, Florida; while to the wide world of EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Jubilee has earned the robust title of “Brooklyn’s bass sweetheart.” It was in the never ending spring break party of her home city that Gentile was introduced to the world of bass – an introduction, she says, that was entirely unintentional.
“I am from Miami so bass was big down there whether it was via car system tapes, 2 Live crew, or Maggotron,” Jubilee tells BTR of her humble beginnings. “It was mainstream radio when I was younger and at the time radio was way more influential than it is now. Always playing things like Splack Pack, 2 Live Crew, Young and Restless… or just straight up electro or freestyle. So I kind of grew up with it and never really thought about the fact that I ‘got into it’. It’s really all I knew for a very long time.”
Given a name like Jubilee in her early days, it’s easy for a monicker to evolve into a self-sufficient stage persona like a Lady Gaga, Prince, or Iggy Pop. Is Jubilee a different soul entirely than from the Jessica Gentile lying underneath? Put simply: no, but the reason why says a little more about what Jubilee stands for.
“I don’t have time to stage a personality really and never really thought of doing that. I am just a big mess of things in general. What you read and see is me 100 percent,” says Jubilee. “Sometimes I dress more girly in pictures. That’s about it.”
Which means Jubilee won’t be releasing any half-baked attempts at an alter ego anytime soon. Since music is Jubilee’s full-time passion, she doesn’t see it feasible to spend any more time fashioning a persona for the DJ booth. Once she’s there, what you see is what you get.
Talking to a DJ is a bit different than a band, songwriter, or even a rapper because there’s not always a singular “release” that the DJ is promoting. The work ethic is still there though, but just in a different capacity.
Jubilee had some words to say about her creative process and how prolific she can be as a musician.
“It depends on whether I am inspired or not. I don’t sit in the studio all day until I have an idea and then I don’t leave it until it’s finished. I was touring a lot for a long time so yes I had to take a ton of studio time off here and there and it was hard to stay consistent. But playing in different cities all around the world was inspiring for my DJ sets. I was a DJ before a producer. Sometimes I go weeks without having ideas.”
For Jubilee, any creative “flow” happens all at once and if it doesn’t, she doesn’t want to settle with less-than-inspired output. And since Jubilee does much more than just being a DJ (given the nature of the economy and its “unforgiving” nature to musicians) the waiting game of inspiration becomes less tedious.
“I also do a lot besides write music. I have two radio shows, throw parties with Mixpak and other artists in NYC, Write for a few online magazines and I am starting to curate music for certain ‘businesses,’” says Jubilee of her other ventures.
Though unclear of what those “businesses” specialize in, it is certainly clear that Jubilee has solidified herself as a whole-sale musical enterprise, as these extra duties help bring her name out into the public as much as her original music would.
With her start in underground bass parties, Jubilee’s attitude towards productivity lends itself to a DIY ethos normally found in musicians with instruments, even something vaguely punk rock. For Jubilee, though, that’s where any comparisons between the two genres end.
“Punk Rock shows are way shorter! An hour or two tops,” she exclaims. “Some underground dance music shows go for over 12 hours in NYC. You need more stamina. Similarities are people with their own fashion and attitude all excited to see the act they bought tickets for. I would think there are more drugs at an underground bass party too. I haven’t been to a punk rock show since the early 2000s so it’s hard to say. Pretty sure punk rock shows don’t have strobe lights.”
However, like punk rock in the ’90s, bass music and EDM have gone the way of mainstream entertainment in the current decade, enabling the path to stardom for some and disappointing others. But our bass sweetheart doesn’t think much on big-time success or failure, she just keeps her head about the work at hand and just does what she does best — throwing parties and spinning.
“I don’t really strive to appeal to anyone,” says Jubilee of potentially reaching a wider audience. “I make what I want to dance to personally, and if other people like it then awesome. I am not going to sit here and try to please anyone because that isn’t why I do this. I do it because I love certain sounds and music and have certain influences. I feel a lot of ways about the popularization. It’s great that this stuff is finally popular. This is what we have been waiting for, for a long time.”
The artist leading this whole EDM wave is undoubtedly Skrillex (aka Sonny Moore), the former vocalist of From First to Last. He tends to polarize audiences, either you love him or you hate him. Jubilee, however, isn’t feeling the “big room” EDM music, but she gives respect where respect is due.
“With Skrillex it’s different and that’s why he is so important. He has awesome taste in music. And he knows he’s fucking Skrillex so he plays [and] does whatever he wants,” says Gentile. “He doesn’t have to please anyone. I love that he is out there on stage playing Blawan and Night Slugs songs and exposing kids to new music that they aren’t going to ever hear if it weren’t for listening to him. A lot of people that are ‘hating’ on him should be sending him a check and a thank you note.”
Though she feels the popularization of this underground music is generally a good thing, Jubilee has some feelings on where the money is going. It’s eerie how similar her argument is to aforementioned smaller punk rock bands, but Jubilee just understands the underdog.
“One thing I don’t like about the popularization is there isn’t a lot of money anymore for smaller parties. A little while back it was a lot easier for medium acts to tour. Now it seems if you aren’t on some giant EDM line up it’s way harder,” Gentile tells BTR. “We need those medium acts to keep underground music a live because if we don’t book them they are going to either quit or start making sell out crowd pleasers and then dance music will just be 100 percent shit.”
Jess Jubilee regularly throws parties with Dre Skull and Dubbel Dutch called Mixpak Extended Play. You can catch her DJ sets from those parties on her radio show airing Tuesdays from 6-8 pm on Radio Lily .