Jesse & Joy are a brother-sister duo who have made giant strides in a short period of time. From writing lyrics when most kids their age were playing around, they found themselves signed by Warner Music at a young age. They got help from Sin Bandera at a major concert in which they played their signature mellow pop/folk tunes. They soon found their songs being played on popular Mexican telenovelas. Nearly three years later they captured the 2008 Latin Grammys for “Best New Artist” and have not looked back since. Though the period of innocence has been replaced with the realization of producing results, Jesse & Joy still retain the essence of what made them attractive in the first place. Influenced by their parents and a varied set of musical legends, Jesse & Joy have established themselves, leaving many salivating for their latest album, Electricidad. NocheLatina had the pleasure of speaking with Jesse, who reveals how he made it big with the help of his little sister, being inspired by American greats Johnny Cash and Neil Young, as well as what it’s really like to win a Latin Grammy.
nocheLatina: You have a new album coming out. Tell us what we should expect from this sophomore effort.
Jesse: It’s been three years since our debut album and this time, we are working under pressure. We recorded it part of the time on tour, when heading home, or during luggage changes at airports. Any free time we had was used to write this album. We experimented with different sounds and textures.
nocheLatina: How does it differ from your first album?
Jesse: The first album we had all the time in the world. There were no record labels, no tour. Now everything is at stake. We are going to be judged on the final results of this project.
nocheLatina: I understand you and your sister are of Mexican heritage, but were born in Wisconsin. Elaborate on that.
Jesse: We were raised in Mexico City. Our mom is from Wisconsin while our father is from Mexico City. It was from our mom that we listened to Johnny Cash, Neil Young, or any contemporary artist in America at the time. We grew to appreciate and love it. My father favored more the traditional Mexican style.
nocheLatina: The name of the album is called Electricidad. Why did you call it that?
Jesse: We are very excited about the album. However, it was not our intention to name it that. We just let things flow. It gave the whole album sense even though it was not the first one we wrote. We are very happy with the results.
nocheLatina: I understand that you were not seeking a music career, that you kind of fell into it. Tell us how that came to be.
Jesse: We never had in our heads what we wanted to do. It never came to our minds. I was playing basketball. Dad and mom are musical. Not instrumental, but good singers.
nocheLatina: How much of an impact did that have on your musical path?
Jesse: A lot, from the time we were growing up our mom listened to vinyl and the radio. She is from the states so her music produced a distinct environment. I think it was a reminder of where she came from. It got stored in the little disk drive in our heads.
nocheLatina: I understand you and your sister play different instruments. How did you learn?
Jesse: It started with just us pretending to play instruments. My sister used the tennis racket as a guitar and a belt as a guitar strap. I used buckets for drums and spoons as my sticks. Joy had a phobia of singing in front of people. Eventually she got over that.
nocheLatina: What are some of the musical genres that influenced you?
Jesse: Rock and jazz. We love Johnny Cash and Neil Young as I mentioned earlier. All those influences made Jesse & Joy. Everyday when we came home, whether it was five minutes or an hour, we played and fooled around with instruments. We both played the guitar and I arranged the songs. Joy was the vocals.
nocheLatina: During a concert in 2005, you were introduced by Sin Bandera. What was the experience like?
Jesse: We debuted in 2005 during the Teleton-Mexico. We performed in front of 130,000 in downtown Mexico. We could not believe it. It also marked the first time that Joy sang in front of a large crowd. She broke the ice there as far as any singing phobias. Sin Bandera were super cool. They led off and then we were introduced and played.
nocheLatina: Lets go back to the making of your first album. How did you get in the industry door?
Jesse: We did our research. Our album was 100% homemade. We found that before you can even approach a label, you have to send a demo. We sent it for the fun of it. The demo went from hand to hand until one day our phone rang. I said ‘Hello, this is the wrong church.’ I thought it was a joke. We went and played two songs for fifteen minutes and spent the rest of the 13 hours jamming for the executives. In December we were signed.
nocheLatina: What are your favorite parts of the music business?
Jesse: A career is what we see in it. The music finds its own way. We live that everyday. Music is our fuel. We don‘t take it for granted. We have not started the journey yet.
nocheLatina: You were nominated as ‘Promising Artist’ at the MTV Video Music Awards Latin America. How was that event?
Jesse: It was our first time being nominated. We were backstage and saw artists we idolized walking by and talking with us. That was super cool.
nocheLatina: You won ‘Best New Artist’ at the 2008 Latin Grammys. Was that the pinnacle?
Jesse: It was so intimate, so naked, it was awesome, a highlight for sure. We performed on the show then went backstage and worked our way to our seats and sat down. Then right after, they announced the winner of ‘Best New Artist.’ It is one of those moments before you die where you feel your life flashing in front of you in two seconds. We went there to perform and enjoyed the whole process.
nocheLatina: What did you feel while receiving that award?
Jesse: It was like outer space. It was great. I felt Superman love. It was like Superman and a bowl of cereal.
To learn more about Jesse & Joy, click here.