Jesse Bluu: The Pulse of Production
How did you first get into music?
JB: I really started when I was 12 with learning guitar, but I guess I was always into it. I also began writing songs around that age as well. In a lot of ways playing music was like therapy to me. It balanced me out. The more I did it, the more my love for it grew.
Were you mainly self taught or did you have a teacher?
JB: I had a teacher in the beginning for guitar, but with other instruments, songwriting and producing I kinda just did it a lot and mostly learned from my own mistakes.
When did you move from just writing on the guitar to more flushed out songs?
JB: That was probably my freshman year of college/ senior year of high school. I didn’t get into producing that early because it was so unknown to me. There was no one that I knew who did it and there was no one around me to show me what it was. A lot of the things I learned was just from youtube and eventually meeting people who knew a lot more than me.
Did you have friends in high school that also played music, or was it more of a solo activity?
JB: I knew a few people that could play instruments in high school and we would jam sometimes. There was no one that was as serious about it as I was, so it was really interesting moving from high school to college. I went from being one of the only serious musicians in my community to being surrounded by people who were ambitious, strong minded and just going for it.
Did your music change when you got to college, or was it just finer tuned?
JB: There were a few things that shifted. In the beginning I was really into guitar and did more artistry, singer-songwriter stuff. But when I got more into production I put down the guitar and went more headfirst into that. I really just enjoyed the creative process, and the idea of building a brand around myself and trying to gain fans didn’t really appeal to me anymore. So that’s when I started writing and producing as much as I could and working with other artists who were trying to build their own projects.
So would you call it being a ghost writer?
JB: I don’t really do so much ghostwriting. I mostly do collaboration. I would be the songwriter or producer on the song and then there would be the main artist. My name would still be on the credits so it often wouldn’t be a ghost writing situation.
When you write a song do you have someone in mind that you are trying to write for in particular, or find the artist after it is written?
JB: It all depends, all the situations and scenarios happen at one point or another. If I am writing with another songwriter or producer we will work on a song and then try to pitch it to another artist. If I’m working with an artist it’s more how can we build this song around this artist and how can we make it so that it best shows their image and personality.
I think to do that you have to know a multitude of styles in order to know which one will best fit the artist.
JB: Yeah definitely. That’s another reason why I transitioned into that field. Being an artist with one specific sound seemed limiting to me. Being able to explore other people’s sounds and trying to get that for myself is a challenge that I really enjoyed.
Do you think that sometimes for an artist you can get pigeonholed into one certain style and label?
JB: Yeah, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing 100%. If you are an artist that is associated with one style or one sound, that can be a really amazing because when anyone hears that sound, they know it's you. Because of that your image or brand can grow, which is definitely something to value in an artist. A songwriter should be versatile and be able to cross styles. An artist should be able to have at least some sort of style and central theme to their music and what they are putting out.
So your style as an artist has changed because your song “Belly of the Beast” is more rock and then your new single “Mint Chocolate Chip” has more of a pop influence.
JB: That’s just me figuring out my own thing. For me, the artist projects are the fun songs that I feel really passionate about that wouldn’t go forward with any other artist. That sort of explains the style shift. I’m definitely into a lot poppier stuff now, but my roots are more rock.
So would you rather just put out singles than an album because then you can more easily shift between genres.
JB: Yeah, but nowadays I think it's more marketable to release singles rather than just an album. Which is kinda weird because everyone’s mindset is that everything has to be bite sized. I think it's good and bad because it gives people more opportunity to explore different styles and themes. But you lose that sense of story and the beginning, middle and end that comes with an album or EP. For me personally, I would just continue to release singles or a very small EP because I am not as focused on my own personal artistry. I’d much rather see my work shown in other people’s songs and productions.
Do you have a couple of artists you work with regularly? How do you contact different artists you want to work with?
JB: That happens in all different kinds of ways. Instagram is a very powerful tool, I’ve met a lot of people just through instagram. But it’s really a mix, I don’t really collaborate with a lot of NYU kids. There’s a few that come to mind, but none of them currently go to NYU undergrad. It’s less about what school you go to and more who you vibe with. Do your ambitions align, do your styles align and that’s what I’ve been starting to do.
So does having friends that are out of college give you a little more perspective of what you want to do for yourself?
JB: I feel like there are certain tips and pointers people can give to help straighten the path towards your goals. But sometimes even the people that are extremely well known and respected don’t even know what they are doing. They fumble their way through it until they realize that they “made it” in a sense or reached their goals. There’s no certain path that can get you to where you want to be.
Does knowing theory help you write different genres?
JB: I think it’s definitely beneficial to a certain extent to know some theory, especially if you are a producer. If you are an artist it is not as important. There are some benefits to knowing the theory and mathematics to what you are playing.
What programs do you use the most?
JB: My go to is definitely Logic, but I have some experience with Ableton and Pro Tools as well.
Do you think that recording in studios is still important or is it better for people to use equipment that allows them to record at home?
JB: I think there’s an aesthetic benefit to recording in a studio. It makes things feel more legit and certain artists that are really picky will only record in studios because they think it will let them get their best takes and recordings. I think the way we record has really changed. It matters less about what type of mic and equipment and more about the software of the equipment and the room you record in. So obviously there’s a difference in recording in a studio than in a bedroom, but if you can turn your bedroom into a studio as much as possible there’s no need for a recording studio.
Do you have any particular producers or artists you admire?
JB: I’ve always been a huge Imagine Dragons fan. You can hear some hints of that in a lot of my music. Other artists I like are MKJ, Forrest, Still Woozy and Tom Misch.
I think Imagine Dragons kinda mirrors your own journey as they started more rock and ended more pop.
JB: Yeah, I really vibe with their stuff. Honestly, that is like an old love mostly. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jeremy Zucker, Destiny Rogers and a lot of pop people.
Do you think being in NYC is beneficial to your music career?
JB: Yes, definitely. I grew up in Westchester, NY and moving to the city made me realize the amount of resources the city has. The amount of people you meet in a week of going to shows and networking is so much more than spending months and months outside the city.
Yeah having relationships in the music and art industry is really key.
JB: It is really hard especially in the pandemic to make it seem natural. If you meet someone at a show or party you’ll talk and then have a session or write a song. Reaching out to someone on instagram and trying to work with them without meeting is definitely harder.
How has the pandemic changed how you write songs?
JB: I’ve mostly stuck with the collaborators I know and that I know I work well with. I’ve been doing a lot of facetime sessions and stuff like that. It’s really difficult, I’m still pretty early in my journey and I feel like now I have all these skills to share with people and there’s no one around to share it with.
When you are working in person there is a totally different energy.
JB: Yeah hands down, 100% it’s a different environment. Being able to hide behind a screen and a device while you are trying to create something is so much more impersonal. It’s rough.
Yeah I think that being a producer is a little under-appreciated in the music industry because you guys make the song as much as the artist in terms of the finished product and sound.
JB: It’s a weird industry. A Lot of people don’t really know the mechanics of how it all works and they’ll just assume that the artist makes the song. Often times that’s not usually the case.
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