Jubilee Speaks on What Drives Her to Create, Her Love of Drum & Bass, and Putting Yourself in Danger for Dance Music

Image via Jubilee
Image via Jubilee

All of us love dance music, right? That’s an easy common ground to fall upon when speaking with DJs and producers these days. When I got to hear Jubilee‘s forthcoming single “Pull Ova” for Mixpak, it made sense to get her in for a chat. In going over her story, I realized that not only do we share a love of comic books (how else do you think she got her DJ name?), but remembered how into the drum & bass scene she was years back. There’s always a dope matriculation for many of these producer/DJs who were engrossed in the dnb scene, only to gain much more acclaim outside of it. It was high time I got a chance to speak with this Brooklyn (by way of South Florida) dancefloor destroyer. And while speaking on her forthcoming single is cool, it was the tidbits outside of the “now” that should really make you appreciate the wealth of knowledge and experience that Jubilee has brought (and will continue to bring) to the dance music scene. Let’s take it back, then move forward.

We’ve entered a new year, and are seeing a new progression of the dance music scene. What are some things you’re glad to see occurring in 2014, along with some things you hope stay put in 2013?
I am glad to see that “the kids” are starting to like harder sounds less and less. (Thanks, Disclosure) There’s only so many drops and riffs one can take these days. Also, people are going back to the club a little more. For a minute it was festie mania and promoters and artists were just so festival-focused in their bookings and their musical selections. Club is “cool” again. Even big artists like Skrillex and Disclosure are asking to play smaller night clubs. Kaskade played U-Hall last year, and THAT is crazy. When Kaskade plays Miami it takes over the entire city so that was a big surprise to me.

When we caught wind of your forthcoming Mixpak release, “Pull Ova,” we were instantly into it. “Pull Ova” is definitely a party-starter, while “I-95” dips heavy into that electro/Miami bass-ish vibe. With your style varying over the years, we have to ask: do you ever go into the studio like “I’m gonna make a banger of a house tune!,” or is it more just what moves you at the moment?
I can only actually finish a tune when a specific idea pops in my head. Otherwise I am just sitting there thinking “hmmmmmm what should I do?” and staring at the screen pressing keys. But the second I find that perfect sample or get that one idea it’s SO on. I hear it in my head immediately. It’s more like “what would go great in my DJ sets that doesn’t exist yet and I can make?” I guess it’s just how my brain works? I don’t care to make “a banger” or a “hit.” I know what I like and I am just gonna make it. I could care less whether anyone likes it or not, it’s for me. And if people think it’s a banging house tune, then that’s a bonus and lucky me. When I came out with my Pop It! EP, Brackles really liked the B-side (“Overtown”) and he played it on his Rinse FM show pretty often. I love that show. That was enough to make me happy to be honest. I am glad a few people I look up to enjoyed my music this year. I feel like people are finally starting to get me. FINALLY!

Speaking of the studio, what’s your current setup like? Are you working more with software on the go then transporting those drafts to a bigger spot?
I usually do most stuff at home, where I have a small set up. Then when I am ready to wrap up the final details I go to a bigger studio for a few days. I have been lucky enough to work out of Nick Hook’s studio a few times and now Mixpak has a studio of it’s own, which is great. I can’t work on the road – I need to have my head in a certain place. I wish I could, though.

The grind of a DJ/producer in these days is real. You are not only a regular DJ, but you knock out regular radio shows, and produce. Do you ever find it hard to juggle everything you’re balancing?
I can’t do one thing at a time… I get it from my momma. I DJ a lot, which is awesome. I am thankful that I can live off of playing dance music. I also have two radio shows (Mixpak Sound System live on Radio Lily, and the other is on Brooklyn Radio and it’s called Fireworks). We also work on a ton of stuff at Mixpak with the crew. Me, Dre Skull, Dubbel Dutch, The Large and some extended family throw some events and we work out of Mixpak Headquarters during the day and try to take over the world, or at least Brooklyn right now.

Dipping back into your history, you went from growing up in Florida to hitting New York with your family, and I knew of your name because you were a regular at the drum & bass parties in the NY scene. One thing I’ve noticed is the sheer number of dnb producers and DJs that have made it in the dance music scene outside of the dnb genre, everyone from Heroes x Villains to DJ Craze. Would it be fair to say that once you conquer drum & bass, given everything from the technical aspects of sound design to the tempo to the dubplate culture that surrounded it, it’s almost easier to master some of these other genres?
Once a raver, always a raver, right? Drum & Bass had a great run, but there was only so much you could do with it. You have to move on eventually and if you don’t you become one of those angry junglists that keep talking about how “it’s gonna come back this year.” Back when drum & bass was a lot bigger, most dance music DJs stuck to one genre, too. There was always a “jungle room” in the back of the rave. As time went on it became more acceptable to play more than one thing (Thank God). And, yes, the sound design was tricky so most former drum and bass people are pretty great producers. When they DJ they all still mix tunes like jungle DJs, too. It’s always so good to hear.

What were some of your favorite drum & bass cuts from back in the day? Do you still follow the genre these days?
I have to say I don’t really follow it too much anymore even though I should. I still pay attention to Digital Soundboy, and I will always love LTJ Bukem and go see him if he plays in NYC. And there are a few shows on Rinse FM that I will tune into for sure. Luckily I live with DJ Star Eyes, who has a pretty ridiculous record collection in our apartment in case I am feeling nostalgic. Some of my absolute favorites (besides the obvious classics) are High Contrast’s “The Basement Track,” Alex Reece’s “Pulp Fiction,” Dillinja’s “Thugged Out Bitch,” Dillinja’s “The Angels Fell,” Ram Trilogy’s remix of “Pacman” by Ed Rush & Optical – oh God I have club flashbacks every time I hear that one. Also, I will always love AK1200′s “Drowning” (laughs).

OK so you’re kicking off 2014 with the “Pull Ova” single. It’s still probably early, but what’s on the horizon for Jubilee, the producer, in 2014?
I am just working on stuff and playing everything by ear. I have a few more records out soon in addition to some songs coming out with my friend Burt Fox. We have known each other since we were really young and went to all these raves together back in the day, and we both love Miami bass. We made a record together called “Keys Wallet Phone” that came out on Trouble & Bass late last year and we have a few more things coming out. I love working with him because we took the same journey to where we are now musically. I have a lot planned with Mixpak, too. This is a big year for us!

Not only do we share a love of dnb, but I’m also into comics. I figure you got your name from Jubilee, the X Men character. Do you still fuck with comics these days? If so, which one(s) do you read?
DJ Ayres just gave me the most ridiculous stack of comic books that I am trying to make somewhat of a dent in. I haven’t kept up with X Men although I am pretty sure that Jubilee is a vampire now, which is fitting. Also she might be pregnant? Not fitting! Someone will leave a comment and correct me I am sure [Ed. Note: Jubilee didn't get pregnant, but she did recently adopt a baby]. I read the entire series of Transmetropolitan straight through and I was so pissed that it ended. I haven’t been able to find anything better, and now I lurk Warren Ellis so hard. I will take any suggestions!

Before we get out of here, let’s get silly: give us a story about the weirdest night out you had during your early rave days.
Oh god! I have a good one. One night when I was in high school, I went to see DJ Icey on a weeknight. My parents were super cool and had this rule that I could do whatever I want on a school night as long as I was in that homeroom desk at 8AM. The party was in Miami, but for some weird reason I lied to my parents and told them I was going to West Palm Beach. I lived smack in the middle of both cities. West Palm Beach was an hour north and Miami was an hour south. After the party I had to put gas in my car, I stopped at some gas station in the HOOD in Miami at 4AM because you know when you are a 17-year-old girl wearing JNCOS and a Nautica hoodie you are invincible and nothing bad can ever happen to you. Long story short, the gas station attendant was a crazy drunk idiot and locked me in the gas station and said he wouldn’t let me out until I gave him $$$, which was so dumb because my wallet and Keroppi backpack were in my car outside the gas station. He was screaming at me in Spanish and in my head I was just thinking “wow so this is how I am going to die?

Eventually I looked around and grabbed this hammer on the wall and started screaming at him that I was gonna smash the window and his head in and he called 911, and then the cops came and rescued me. They saw the stamp on my hand and were like “where were YOU tonight?” as I was basically crying and trying to go the eff home. I got to my house about the time school started and my parents were like “WTF happened to you?” I didn’t want to tell them I went to a gas station in the hood by myself an hour away from where I told them I was so I told them the story, but lied about the location and told them I was with a friend. Unfortunately that backfired when my lawyer father was like “I’M GONNA SUE THE FUCK OUT OF THAT PLACE” and I had to eventually break down and give him the address. The only thing I ever got in trouble for was lying. KIDS DON’T LIE, IT’S BAD.

The funny thing about stories like that is there was actually a time where ravers had to lie to their parents to hear dance music. AC Slater and I were laughing one day about how we would literally climb fences and go to places you could easily die in because it was the only place to hear this stuff. Most people now just learn about rave music from the Internet. A lot of people never had that experience of hearing a song for the first time while on a dancefloor and trying to figure out what on Earth it was by listening to that DJ’s mixtapes and hoping that was in there. There was no “TRACK ID?” We need to bring that shit back. People need to go out more, get into it, and risk their life for the rave.

Amen to that… all of it. Finally, do androids dance?
They only dance to reggae and calypso.

Jubilee’s “Pull Ova” single is out on January 28 on Mixpak. If you’re in Brooklyn on January 31, they’re having a release party at the Call Box Lounge.