interview JORGE PEREZCHICA
Esjay Jones has partnered up with the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs to present THE ACOUSTIC & GLOBAL LOUNGE SESSIONS every Friday and Saturday in the atmospheric Hotel Lobby Lounge. Bands and Artist are curated from around California and the world to perform as a complimentary experience to the Hard Rock Palm Springs’ guests and Palm Springs visitors.
Coachella Magazine: Can you tell us about your personal and musical background?
ESJAY JONES: I am a South African born, singer/songwriter, I grew up in Durban, South Africa. My band had seven number one hits in South Africa and then I came out to America for the American dream. I’m now writing and producing music for Top 40 artists. I’ve been in the states since 2008 — I just became an American citizen. I think it’s amazing, I’m so excited, America is really the land of opportunity. It was a little bit of a tumultuous time with the election and everything but you know, I’m excited to be an American.
CM: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
ESJAY I grew up in the Church, so I had a very religious family. I listen to a lot of Christian Rock stuff like Skillet or the kind of Church stuff like Lifehouse. All of that kind of Rock stuff, and as I progressed from that, I got a little bit more into Alternative and Metal and Deftones and Incubus became the grounding for the music that I love.
CM: What instruments do you play?
ESJAY: I play guitar, most times I’m on guitar, but I play the drums, and a little bit of keys. So, as a producer you have to kind of be able to play everything. Slap the bass every now and again.
CM: Did you always want to do music?
Esjay: You know before I got into music, I wanted to be a chef. Food and music are my two favorite things. And still now when I’m not doing music, I’m cooking.
CM: When did music start to take over your life?
ESJAY: I actually went straight out of school into a record deal. So, I’ve actually been in the music industry my whole life. I haven’t had a job outside the music industry, ever. I’ve been in touring bands my whole life and now I am on the other side producing music for other artists.
CM: When did you arrive to Palm Springs?
ESJAY: I’m between LA and Palm Springs. You know, LA is such a rat race and I started coming out here on the weekends for some DJ gigs. Then I realized that life is such a different pace out here, it’s so creative, it really is such a great energy out here in the desert. I just commute to LA now. I have a little production room out here, which I do all of my work from in Palm Springs. I do all of my records from my studio here.
CM: Can you tell us about your new shows at the Hard Rock Palm Springs?
ESJAY: Growing up in South Africa, I watched VH1 Storytellers, which is possibly one of the coolest shows from the 90s. I had a vision to create something like VH1 Storytellers in the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. We have this lounge, this intimate setting with candles and a Persian rug and just a cool sound system. That was when I approached the hotel with this idea, this was the concept. The lounge is just perfect downstairs. It’s cozy and comfortable and intimate and vibe-y.
CM: Which artists have you invited to perform at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs?
ESJAY: On the Friday evenings at the Acoustic sessions, we’ve had almost all of the up-and-coming artists from Palm Springs and from Coachella Valley out to perform. The Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs is offering the space for bands to come and showcase their talent. The property and their team is incredible. They’re just pushing it, they love music, they support local music and it’s just such a great setup for 2017.
CM: Is there any dream artist you would love to have perform at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs?
ESJAY: Chino from Deftones. If I could have Chino from Deftones out here doing an Acoustic set, I would literally just die. That would be amazing.
CM: Is there any local up-and-coming artist in the Coachella Valley that you would like to produce?
ESJAY: I’m a huge fan of the band Caxton. I think that they probably have the biggest potential out of any band that I’ve seen in the desert to be something. If produced correctly they could be something really huge. I mean Christina Reyes’ voice is just ridiculous.
CM: Your thoughts on the current music scene.
ESJAY: Music just isn’t what it used to be and I don’t think it’ll ever be what it used to be again. Even though it’s really given artists marketing power, it’s taken away a lot of the revenue that would come to artists from album sales. You know everyone just pirates music now, nobody goes and buys a single, they just rip it off YouTube. I think that that’s really taken away from the income but I think that it’s added to the value of marketing. More bands are known out there because of social media and all that good stuff.
CM: What does Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs provide to the local music community?
ESJAY: The Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs and myself, as Esjay Jones Productions, want to offer Coachella Valley and the music scene a place that is the musician’s home. That people can come and they don’t have to bring anything, it’s plug in and play. That they can develop themselves, that they can see a level of different touring artists that are coming in. They can come in and watch other artists and better themselves. Once they get to that level, they can perform on the Hard Rock stage here themselves. We definitely are community-orientated.