“The England-born, Australia-raised artist-singer-songwriter, Jess Kent, is also a self-taught producer with a natural skill for crafting boldly nuanced electronic music, has already scored a breakout hit with the reggae-infused alt-dance-pop track “Get Down,” which has racked up more than 1.5 million plays on Spotify. “Get Down” emerged as the most frequently played song on national Australian radio station triple j and won the adoration of such superstars as will.i.am and Coldplay. With a brash energy born from Kent’s lifelong love of bands like Blondie and the Clash, “Get Down” shows the emotional complexity of Kent’s artistry. Born in Derby, England, Kent got her start in music thanks largely to her dad, a blues-rock guitarist. She has played guitar since age seven and spent her childhood busking with her brother. Now 22, Kent has mastered a potent approach to rapping that pairs her rapid-fire flow with lyrics both defiant and vulnerable. My Name is Jess Kent, which gracefully fuses hip-hop, alt-pop, and beat-heavy electronic music, also features new track “The Sweet Spot,” which matches reggae-inspired rhythms with Kent’s reflections on holding true to her dreams.
Had the pleasure of chatting of Jess Kent over the phone to talk about her newly released EP, tour, dream collaborations and more.
ME: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.
Jess Kent: Thank you!
ME: I got to photograph and see your live show in New York at Terminal 5 and you did an amazing job and I hadn’t seen a crowd dancing like they were in a long time.
Jess: Thank you! I mean, it was a great show and the crowd had an awesome energetic vibe. It was actually our first New York show so it was amazing!
ME: You’re creating awesome music and it’s reaching and touching many people at such a young age which is admirable and inspirational. What was the mindset that made you decide the time was right to go for your dreams?
Jess: Thank you for saying that. When I set out do this I wasn’t thinking it about it much in that way. I was living in a small town in Adeline in South Australia. I had always played music and always aspired to be a musician. And where I’m from, it’s not really something you vocalize it because people say you can’t learn it in a textbook and that it’s not a career choice. So I found myself busking and playing gigs around my area and trying to play music as much as I could. One day, I don’t know what it was but a light switched in me and I packed my suitcase, got in my car and moved to Sydney. From that moment on, everyday single, I surround myself with music and only that to really focus. I don’t know many people or have much so I was sort of isolated to just live and breathe music because it was my only option and that grow my passion to keep pushing and growing. It shaped my determination and work ethic now. And when things start to pick up, you just keep going. I’ve learned to live on the edge because that’s when the best things happen.
ME: Talk to me about the debut EP My Name is Jess Kent. How was the creative process?
Jess: The EP came out on Friday. We made the EP over the course of this year. It was all about the grinding and the working hard to put original music out. Get Down, the latest single, was written when I was fifteen or sixteen years old living in the suburbs and it’s about changing the perspective of what’s around you. Seeing potential in your surrounding that seem like nothing and making something out of it. To not give a shit and do what you want to do. I was also living in London when I was younger so traveling to different places and all experiences piled into one, I wanted the EP to be organic and the rawest material. My music comes from a combination of what I’m listening like contemporary artists and taking, people, personal experiences, and memories and combining them together. I’m always striving to learn constantly to shape my perspectives that are uniquely my own. Things such as thinking about my time growing up in London, spending time in America, people who broke my heart, etc. I try to channel all of that and place my emotions in my music.
ME: Favorite lyric on the EP?
Jess: “I tell you one thing, you never knew it / at the back of the bus there is so much to give so dream big.”
ME: How was opening for Troye Sivan and playing big venues?
Jess: It was incredible and so exciting. He’s an amazing person and conducts himself in such a confident and graceful manner. He’s so positivity and has amazing energy. I’ve actually have always been a fan of Troye’s; I love his music, the messages he speaks about, and what’s he is all about. Meeting him and connecting with his fans meant a lot to me and I learned a lot from him as well.
ME: Dream collaborations?
Jess: Frank Ocean and ASAP Rocky.
ME: When was the moment when you realized your music was going places?
Jess: When we uploaded Get Down for the first time, that was the first piece of original music I upload and all the moments leading up to that release and getting the response that it received was the moment I was seeing that it was going places. It didn’t sink in until a few months later but it’s an amazing feeling.
ME: You mention contemporary artists and your dream collaborators. Who are some artists you’re listening to at the moment that you love?
Jess: A Seat at the Table by Solange and Banks.
ME: Future plans?
Jess: We tour until the end of January, planning some trips to the States and then writing the album.