Jess Penson is an undeniably pivotal artist currently based in Tamaki Makaurau. Jess has explored many different facets of her musicality throughout the years, starting off in Rnb girl group Techniclr and later finding her way into electronic music as one half of producer, DJ, and live electronic performance duo Kédu Carlö. Influenced by her eclectic taste, Jess Penson’s sound draws on genres such as Jazz and RnB as well as her love for Chicago/acid house, Left-field, Jersey Club and Breaks.
What or who inspired you to start playing and making music?
Music has always been a part of my life ever since I was little. My mum used to be a singer and artist in Nigeria and she made sure that we were always surrounded by great music. But if I’m thinking about who it was that first inspired me I’d probably have to say, Lisa Simpson. I remember watching her on TV and begging my parents to get me Saxophone lessons! Instead, I was given piano lessons (much to my disappointment at the time) but I’d still say it all started with Lisa.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Synths are my ride-or-die. Whether I am making Electronic or RnB music I can’t help but add 20 layers of synths. I’d describe the music I make for my Artist Project Kédu Carlö as very playful. We love to experiment with unique sonic textures as well as include strong references to 90’s rave culture so you’ll also hear a lot of vintage sounds like 303’s, 909’s and Linn drum samples as well as tongue-in-cheek lyricism.
What did you enjoy most about your time at SAE?
Before studying Music Production at SAE music was something that I had to do in the small pockets of free time I had. What I enjoyed most about SAE was being able to step into an environment where I could comfortably hone in on my skills surrounded by people that were doing the same thing. I’d say the peer sharing and feedback was one of the most valuable things as I was able to gauge how people were responding to what I was making and feel encouraged and empowered through that.
What have the highlights of your career been so far?
Oh man, I’ve had some really cool opportunities already that I am extremely grateful for. Getting to perform at the Town Hall was a very special moment, it’s my favourite venue in Auckland so being able to see people dance and enjoy the music that I produced and was performing was amazing. As well as performing alongside greats such as Nathan Haines and friends at the Wellington Opera House! I was also involved in a 3 part series for Attack Magazine and Ableton through Kédu Carlö in which we got to talk through our production processes as well as how we adapt our productions for live performance.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Kimbra for sure. I really admire everything that she does. She is such a fantastic songwriter with immense creativity and the fact that she produces her music herself has always been so inspiring to me! She is also just one of those artists you can tell will never stop evolving and that is the kind of career I aspire to have.
What are your future career goals?
Currently, I am working on my own solo RnB project that I will be starting to release soon, so a big goal of mine is to have that become another avenue of expression for myself. I am also at the point now where I am producing for other artists so I am really excited to keep developing as a producer and working with more diverse and genre-bending artists. I’d love to collaborate and work with other creatives all over the world.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into a career in music?
I am always weary of giving advice haha I think the worsts thing I have done at times takes people’s advice on how I should be making or creating. But I will say that if music is something you want to pursue as a career it’s so important to figure out what it is that you have to offer that is unique. Whether that’s your sound, your live performances or your technical skillset if you work hard to create something authentic and unique to yourself it will make you sort of indispensable!
@jesspenson / @keducarlo