Jessie Marcella returned this month to Anjunadeep’s sister label Reflections, with her latest EP ‘Luminescence’. Jessie has always been drawn to deep, emotive soundscapes; cleverly weaving her loves of neo-classical, dance, electronic and breakbeat music, creating a tapestry of work that is so uniquely Jessie. She has seen an incredible trajectory since her first release in 2019, pulling in over 3 million streams across her releases. She has also garnered support from the leading likes of Sian Eleri and Jaguar on BBC Radio 1 and can boast Bicep as one of her fans.
We sat down with her to talk about the EP, her influences and more. Enjoy!
WWD: Hey Jessie, we’d love to learn more about your recent EP ‘Luminescence’ on Reflections. Could you share the inspiration behind it and shed some light on your creative process?
Hello! So, each track in ‘Luminescence’ represents a different environment, and how that environment has had to change over time because of human activity. In the accompanying music videos and visuals, you’ll see this beautiful delicate bubble, which represents the soul of Mother Earth. She floats through different environments, trying to preserve her pure essence and keep herself intact, but ultimately she can only bear witness to the relentless pace at which her surroundings are changing.
The concept actually came quite late in the process. This EP has very much been a collaborative project, between myself and my friend Sara who is an incredible 3D VFX artist. I knew from the start that I wanted the project to be audio / visual, so I sent the demos to Sara. We were both buzzing with ideas of how we could pull this all together, and as things fell into place we gradually refined the concept and the message of the EP.
With my creative process – I’m a really sensitive person. I think my creativity and the start of each track comes from a space that I land in when I sit deep within a feeling, then I channel that into the session. Most of my tracks start tempoless, I like to be totally free when starting an idea, I then tidy up things later once I’ve created something I like. Happy accidents are also a huge part of my process, the making of each track is always full of surprises.
WWD: We heard that you won the Youth Music Award in 2022 and had the opportunity to work with Bicep in the studio. Can you share your experience and what it was like collaborating with them?
I was so, so grateful to spend time with Bicep in their studio – they are such lovely guys! I’m hugely influenced by their music, so it was very special to spend time learning and collaborating with them. Their music makes you want to both dance and cry at the same time, which is my absolute favourite feeling. We had a jam using some of their amazing synths, worked on a few new track ideas and recorded parts. They were very open about their process and workflow so I was absorbing as much as possible. I had so much fun and felt so inspired by them.
WWD: Your music beautifully blends elements of electronic and neo-classical genres. Could you give us a bit of insight into how you approach this mix and describe your musical style in more detail?
Thank you! I call it ‘Neo-classical Dance’ music’. The blend comes very naturally to me because these are two of my favourite things – whether the energy is higher or lower depends on how I feel when making it. I find both elements so emotive, powerful and moving so to me, they aren’t really that different. I think my sound is definitely a result of the classical music I listened to growing up combined with a long-standing love for electronic dance music.
WWD: Can you tell us about your favourite gig this year and what made it so special?
I loved playing my show at The Great Escape in Brighton. It was the first time I was joined onstage with my friend and amazing pianist, Gwenno Morgan. It really changes the entire experience when you share the stage and energy with a friend. I also had the best time playing in Albania at Anjunadeep’s Explorations earlier this summer; I played The Cove stage which was literally at the top of this beautiful cove and looked over out this stunning crystal clear water. The most stunning venue!
WWD: What do you like to do to relax and unwind when you’re not making music?
The place I feel most relaxed and happy (although I don’t live super near to it) is the sea. If I’m near the sea or even better, swimming in the sea, I feel content. It’s very freeing and puts everything back into perspective. I also love animals and just being in nature in general. I walk dogs each morning which is a little part-time job that I adore. Living in Leeds, I’m lucky that I can drive 10 minutes out to the countryside and get out into wide open spaces.
WWD: Could you describe your studio setup and let us in on the main pieces of equipment you use for your music production?
I have a very modest set-up really, consisting of a Moog Mother-32, a Yamaha Reface CS (which was a very kind gift from Bicep), a Launchkey keyboard, Ableton Push 2 and my laptop. I rely on my laptop a huge amount so that’s the main piece of equipment for sure. I use my Launchkey all the time when writing, as well as in my live show because you can map whatever you want to the faders and pads. I’ve loved playing the new Reface – especially when it comes to starting new ideas, it is super versatile and can make so many different sounds. Recently Roland very kindly sent me the amazing new Aerophone model which has been so much fun to learn. It’s opened up so many new ways of creating and jamming ideas.
WWD: During your formative years, what artists influenced you the most? And are there any contemporary artists who are currently inspiring you?
Growing up I was always exposed to a lot of different music at home. I was naturally drawn to the more melancholy tracks even when I was a lot younger. I remember finding John Tavener’s Funeral Canticle and The Lark Ascending by Vaughn Williams on my iPod, which I must have dragged on from iTunes from someone else’s collection, but I couldn’t stop listening to them. I used to also listen to a lot of Sigur Ros and Björk. Then as a young teen I fell in love with electronic music mainly due to my older sister Elen’s amazing taste! She opened a whole new world to me – artists like Burial, Crystal Castles, Jamie XX, really moody dark yet euphoric tracks that hugely inspire me still today.
Currently I’m listening to a lot of different stuff including Brendan Eder ensemble, O’flynn, Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Bicep, Hatis Noit, Max Cooper, Flume, Floating Points, Jon Hopkins to name a few.
WWD: As we look ahead to 2024, what can we expect from Jessie Marcella in the coming year?
More music! I’m super excited about next year. I am currently working on more music and am starting to collaborate with other artists. There are some A / V live shows and DJ sets already in the diary, starting with a show in Dubai shortly followed by the Roundhouse early 2024.