Read the full interview at We Own The Nite.
It’s been three months since I came back from Euphoria Music Festival in Austin, Texas. It’s alright to admit that I was a little intimidated by Jesse Brede. It was the exact same reaction when I interviewed Armin van Buuren. My nerves got the best of me and I sounded a little rusty. After all, the two share the same trait–unstoppable. Sure, we all know Texans like Willie Nelson, Beyoncé, Erykah Badu and Usher, but what about the crop of on the rise DJs and producers? I can gladly assist in that oversight. I’d like to welcome you all to ARTIST SPOTLIGHT, a weekly feature that will introduce all of you to a DJ/producer who ought to be in your radar. Let’s turn our attention to Jesse Brede, who goes by the moniker Brede. Born and raised in Texas, the Austin native began DJing in 1998, but didn’t dive into music production until 2009. Since then, he has become a staple in the Austin music scene and in the electronic music community, as well.
Why is he important?
Brede is a self-taught entrepreneur; he’s the founder of his own record label GRAVITAS RECORDINGS and talent agency, PIVOTAL. He has graced the stage with heavyweights such as Deadmau5, PANTyRAiD, Skrillex, and Bonobo. Through his own record label, he has worked with Bassnectar, Gramatik, PANTyRAiD and other notable artists.
Anything else you should know?
Don’t be shy to get up close with Brede. Read on.
- You have a degree in computer science, when did the shift to producing occur? Or did music always come first?
I started playing music when I was 15 and started programming at 16 but really it was all about the same time. I live two very parallel lives. One in the tech, startup, agency world and one in the electronic music scene. I love them both for different reasons as they allow me to tap into different parts of myself.
- What was the catalyst for you?
Honestly, taking LSD at age 15 and listening to acts like Chemical Brothers, Plastikman, Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, Orbital, and later progressive house DJs like Sasha and Digweed turned me into a complete electronic music nut. I couldn’t get enough.
- How did the Gravitas crew come together?
I had been DJing and working in the Austin electronic music scene since 1998 and had gotten really burnt out on house music. I ended up going to burning man in 2007 and again in 2009 and seeing acts like Bassnectar, Adam Freeland and Ana Sia for the first time. Dubstep was also hitting Austin really hard and I, like many people, fell in love with bass.
I found the Glitch Hop Forum and started interacting with people like ill-esha, Samples, Vibesquad, and Psymbionic. This artist, Cryptex, posted some remixes he had done and I started playing them in my DJ sets. I ended up opening for Skrillex at the Austin Music Hall and played a couple of his tracks and later posted the mix back to the forum. It blew his mind and we started chatting through email and AIM. He ended up sending me a folder of close to 50 unreleased and some unfinished tracks. We started chatting about what it would be like to take the best tunes and put them out. That was really the start of the label. That became “Isolated Incidents” and was massive success.
At the same time, I was DJing a lot around Austin and watching a lot of my homies self promote. Nobody was really supporting each other and I wanted to create a collective of DJs and producers. We were also spending time on Turntable.fm and I was getting introduced to people like The Digital Connection, Spoken Bird, Afromonk and tons of other amazing producers.
It all hit a critical mass when Psymbionic moved to Austin and started helping me with the label.
- What is your approach to managing a label — in terms of music, selecting artists, managing the business, planning releases, etc.?
First, Psymbionic is the label manager and he does an amazing job. We would not be where we are today without him.
He and I have a checks and balance. We don’t release something unless we both really dig it. It helps us keep quality up and not let personal relationships cloud our “hearing”.
I handle the contracts, finances, taxes and a lot of the business stuff. John (Psymbionic) does most of the mastering, PR, and management of artists from artwork to release.
We use a project management software called Basecamp which helps us stay organized and be efficient with our communication. In that way, my life in the tech world has helped to bring structure to the label.
- Do you have a visualization of what 2016 looks like for Gravitas and for you as a creator?
As a label, we are continuing to focus on quality music above all else. We’re looking at artists that are innovating and unique. Acts like Bassline Drift, Govinda, CloZee, Cristina Soto, Psymbionic, ill-esha, Electrocado, and Zebbler Encanti Experience.
For me, I’m super happy running the label and my other businesses. I have a wife and two cats and a very full plate. I still love to DJ and am selective about what gigs I take.
- For the budding entrepreneurs out there, do you have a 101 on how to manage talent effectively?
Start small and build up. Put in the time to lay a solid foundation for whatever you are doing. Don’t rush to your goal and enjoy the process of learning and doing a job well done. Take pride in learning each piece of the equation.
Create a daily routine starting with your morning and evenings. Look for easy wins like making your bed, drinking a glass of water and eating a healthy breakfast. These will carry you through your day as you work on larger tasks.
It’s really about goal setting and structure. In some cases, very creative artists don’t have a ton of systems in place. I always look for ways to help them with that without fucking up their art. Setting goals and breaking projects down into smaller pieces.
Other than that, the number one thing that holds all people back is fear. I’m a big champion for people that I believe in and I’m there to tell them they can do it. I push them to be the best they can be and to conquer that fear.
- If your parents could describe you in one word, what would it be?
- How important is philanthropy?
That’s a big question. I think the thing with philanthropy is to see every situation in life as a place where everyone can win. I’m a huge believer in that.
Past that, Gravitas is founded on that idea. We want to help make the world a better place. So far, we’ve raised close to $30k for different causes.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I went streaking at the Eiffel Tower.
- Give us the lowdown on Austin. Favorite bar, restaurant and place to hear good music?
Empire Auto Garage is an amazing venue and bar. Gravitas has its monthly night, NXT LVL.
Food would be Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Taco Deli. Holy shit I’m gettin’ hungry just thinking about them.
And the outdoors is not to be missed. The Greenbelt and Barton Springs. A run around town lake and a walk down South Congress.
Austin is amazing (please don’t move here 😉 )
- What’s in store for Jesse Brede?
I love my life. I get to run two successful businesses (Gravitas and Lion’s Share Digital) and live in an amazing city with my awesome wife and cats. More of the same!
See for yourself why Brede should be on your radar by listening to his music and watching this video where he discusses the importance of creativity and business.