equality factor: self-producing, self-managing queen of instinctive self-expression
last album: Glitch Trigger
our favourite song: The Rebel
music heroins: M.I.A.
based in: Switzerland
Jessiquoi is a self-producing, self-managing singer-songwriter, rapper, and performer from Switzerland. As our artist of the week, this colorful queen does not only intrigue us with her intoxicating blend of danceable electronic music and cocky-confident rap but also with her vision of equality empowerment and border-crossing empathy, as expressed through her music.
“I think what I’d like to express with my music is a future world where the cultures on our planet are more united and understanding of each other, a more positively globalized world.”
Raised in Australia and Switzerland, the culturally diverse Jessiquoi has that certain “je ne sais quoi” that goes beyond her quirky play-on-words stage name. Jess grew up in a family of musicians, fathered by a jazz musician. At a young age, her family moved from Switzerland to Australia, where she planned to pursue a dance career. Later on, when she was fifteen, they moved back to Switzerland. It was around the same time that she began expressing herself through music. However, it was a family tragedy experienced at the age of 23 that caused music to take on its full meaning for her. “I think on the first day that I found out my brother passed away, there were just lyrics popping in my head and ideas for music. I think it was my body and my psychology, kind of like, helping me, deciding how to survive the situation”, she reflects on the igniting moment of her musical path. Today, music has become a kind of survival instinct, beyond fun and self-expression. Instinctively creating music that is a creative relief for herself and her most inner struggles, she aims to provide others relief and moments of joy and physical expression through dance, too. Her energetic shows and captivatingly choreographed music videos are proof of that.
“In a way, it feels sometimes like it’s a willingness of my mind and body to get through things. When I listen to the tracks I made later on, I feel happy. Because it kinda feels like it’s me, overcoming something. It feels like a celebration of myself, and the person that I am.”
At the beginning of her journey of musical expression, Jessiquoi mainly focused on making music for herself. She first got introduced to the art of producing through a male friend, while working on her first record. Her friend had a home studio and helped her produce tunes with the program Logic Pro X. “It kind of turned out in a way that I was sitting next to him in a session, and I was telling him exactly what I needed him to do on the computer, while I was observing him. In the end, I kind of just told him: ‘Look, I’ll do it – Like, I know exactly in my head what direction the music should be going, and I know the program now. So I’ll start doing it!’", Jess remembers the beginning of her path as a producer. Until that day, it had never occurred to her that she could have been producing herself all along.
“It’s crazy how long it took me to realize that. I had this really strong vision in my mind where you’re in a studio with a producer who’s obviously a man, who’s making your sound. I was just living by that idea that I had, and it hadn’t occurred to me that I could just do it myself!"
Not having anyone be the boss of her, but being able to control every part of the musical process is something that for Jess, increases the feeling of accomplishment after successfully finishing a track immensely. “It feels like more of an accomplishment because I did all this shit myself! It adds that cherry on the top”, she explains. It was not until a few years into her producing career - throughout which she instinctively taught herself all the tricks of Logic and worked excessively on the side to be able to set up her own studio - that Jessiquoi discovered the gift of sharing her music with others on stage. A friend of hers asked her to perform at one of their band’s gigs, and she rehearsed excessively for this first stage appearance: for weeks, she spent up to seven hours a day preparing the concert. When the day finally came, a new dimension was added to her music: the gift of sharing her work and providing joy to others.
“That first show, there were about 20 people in the room, but the response was so euphoric and positive. I thought 'Holy Shit!', and for me it was a sign that I was on the right path. I’d never in my life made that many people in one room happy at a time.”
It is this idea of uniting people, be it twenty or thousands at once, that makes Jessiquoi tick as an artist today. With the futuristically flamboyant and empowered Kunstfigur of Jessiquoi, the artist dreams up a culturally diverse and colorful future. “I’m living in my mind in a more positively globalized future and I would like to bring that closer with my music”, as Jess describes her artistic vision. Many of her songs show culturally diverse influences, for instance from her journeys to China and her interest in Asian culture and life. Inspired by her musical idol, she takes her responsibility as an artist seriously and does not hesitate to speak her mind: “One of my idols is M.I.A., and that was kind of her mantra throughout her entire career: ‘If you have a mic, then you use it.’”
In addition to her world vision for the future, Jessiquoi also stands for equality empowerment in the present. Coming from a rather solitary artistic education as a producer, Jess aims to create a more connected network of women producers to share one’s experiences and help elevate each other. She teaches production classes to women in music at the School of Sound in Switzerland and works closely together with Helvetiarockt, a Swiss initiative that creates opportunities for women and girls in music.
“I teach at the School of Sound in Switzerland, especially for women who don’t wanna go to mixed classes. Women want to be taught by women, with women!”
As an outspoken female artist and producer, Jessiquoi knows the importance of empowering other like-minded artists. Her artistic expression is almost like a political statement in itself. She is familiar with uncomfortable situations backstage: stereotypical male sound engineers explaining her own set up to her, or being the only woman artist at a gig. In situations like these, she often asks herself, “where my ladies at?”. With her work, Jess actively tries to bring more of them on the stage, behind the stage, and into the production process.
“I think with things like that, the responsibility comes whether you like it or not.”
We love Jessiquoi for unapologetically pursuing her world vision and standing up for equality empowerment, within her music and beyond, through her work with women producers and non-profit organizations such as Helvetiarockt. This Swiss artist is a rare find, not just for her eclectic stage presence, fierce lyrics, and futuristic sound – but also for using her voice and position to fight for empowerment and empathy for all.