If you were to ask someone about the electronic music scene in Miami, they might mention "Miami Music Week," the EDM-centric adventure that culminates with the Ultra Music Festival where artists like Avicii and Martin Garrix highlight the biggest sounds in electro house. No diss to them, but if you were really trying to get to the nitty gritty of the Miami music scene, you need to link up with someone like Jubilee, who spent her formative years deep in the rave scene, consuming everything from Latin freestyle to the breaks scene. Jubilee's journey has taken her to New York City, aligning herself with the Mixpak crew and taking the world by storm, which includes a massive win at this year's Red Bull Culture Clash at the O2 Arena in London.
As many artists do, Jubilee poured her influences and love for the Miami scene into her debut album, After Hours, which is out now on Mixpak. Low on features and high on bass, Jubilee's crafted a project that not only speaks to the dancehall and electro vibes that make her her, but she's effectively written a love letter depicting a night out in one of America's most vibrant cities.
Jubilee took some time out of her hectic schedule to not only break down the Miami sounds that truly inspired her, but to explain her mindset in creating After Hours, the high of winning the Culture Clash that she's still feeling, and what heads can expect from her upcoming DJ set at ComplexCon. Click play on After Hours below and take in the sights and sounds of the Miami nightlife.
Word is that you've been working on the project off and on for about two years? Was it a situation where you had your mind set, I'm gonna do this album, or was it just making tracks and they turned into...
No, it was a full on project. I started it as a full thing, which I don't think a lot of people do, but for me, I'm not really a studio rat. I only start a project when I have an idea. I do so many other things that I don't really sit in the studio a lot. I’m on and off. Usually I'll find a sample or I'll find an idea, then I'll be in the studio fixating on that idea, so for After Hours, there were obviously a lot of tracks that didn't make the album, but I made it all one vibe at the same time.
When did you really start to formulate the idea that these tracks were really fitting together?
I had done a bunch of EPs. I'm one of those people that's never satisfied with the work I do, even if it does well. So, Dre Skull [founder of Mixpak Records] was like, "you should do an album," and I was like, "ha, that's funny." But then I really started thinking about it; everybody always asks me the same questions over and over again on all this stuff, I might as well just put it all out there and work on this project. I was also doing the Magic City Compilation at the same time. And then I realized, through both [Magic City] compilations and albums, I've made this whole sound for myself, and can incorporate other people's tracks that I'm a very big fan of as well into that sound. It kind of like accidentally happened, I think.
You talk about never being satisfied with your work. Did you have a different mentality when you were making the album as opposed to working on your EPs and stuff?
Yeah, because when you do an album you're telling a story and doing things a little bit differently. I'm such a raver that when I make an EP, it's like, "OK, dancefloor, this is what I wanna hear," so I'm gonna make it because this is what I wanna hear. I always made shit so I can hear it.
They're all tools for me that turn into records. With this, I can make this weird "Spring Break" song with seagulls, and it didn't take up space on the record because it's a whole project, and the next song could be "Sawgrass Expressway," you know? The beginning [of the album] is kind of weird, then you walk through the tropical area, then you drive down the highway; it can tell a little story about your night out.
It comes across, I think. I hate electronic albums that are strictly just bangers or bangers with a number of features. When I saw that there was only Hoodcelebrityy and Otto on the album, I'm like, they truly went there.
I did a couple songs with features that will probably come out later. But there was one of them that it was great, I loved it, but it was just not me. The song was me, the vocals were amazing and I'm a huge fan of the group that did it, but I was just like, "I can't put this out because Jubilee would not put this out." This sounds like a desperate pop song, and I don't really do that. You know when you hear those DJs with whatever feature they could find and you're like, "I don't fucking care who it is?" I'm not that kind of person. I love Hoodcelebrityy, I needed a woman on that track.
That track is so you. Your sound, especially as it's evolved over the last couple of years.
Also, I've been destined to work with Otto [Von Schirach] for the past 10 years, so.
You mentioned Miami booty; with After Hours being an homage to Miami, the idea of electronic music in Miami these days is the Ultra Music Festival. For people that don't know, can you break down what you would consider to be Jubilee's Miami influence?
The thing about the influence that I have is [that] when I was young, people were really into their cars. This little boyfriend I had, his older brother would pick him up in this stupid lowered Cadillac with neon and mad bass in the car, and there was all this electro that sometimes was on the radio late night, but it was mostly a lot of people playing to blast out of the car. Those sounds mixed in with Latin freestyle that was always on the radio, and then there was DJ Laz that was on the radio, also making his own sounds. If you listen to his stuff, a lot of it is weird bass instrumentals on his albums, but then he has "Mami El Negro" and all the more faster, 2 Live Crew-influenced stuff. That, to me, were radio hits. I never thought about it, so that electro kind of sound was... it's not that I liked it, it was just there.
And then when raves got big, the sideroom DJs, like Michna and Craze, those breaks were influenced through that. There was a lot of Kraftwerk samples, they would play DJ Laz's "Red Alert" and it evolved to this weird sound on records that aren't necessarily all from Miami but there were a lot from Germany, like Anthony Rother records and this weird electro stuff that I didn't really know because I would only buy mixtapes that had no tracklisting and you had to just play the fucking mix. There was a lot of German influence and probably some other stuff, but to me, I was more into DJ Icey who was also more Orlando but when he plays in Miami, [he has] to play heavier. There were also a lot of actual breaks that people breakdance to. That's kind of like what I was around, and then through that, because of siderooms and not wanting to be in the giant trance room all the time, because Miami, I also got into drum & bass but didn't really do that until I moved to Orlando to go to UCF.
This summer you guys killed Red Bull's Culture Clash. When I saw the lineup, I already knew, "Mixpak's gonna win." Can you talk about that experience?
There's a documentary that Annie Mac recently released, Summer of Dance. You see me like right afterwards and I'm like delusional, I hug Annie and then I hug her again, I'm gonna cry basically. I think that first of all I went to the New York one a couple of years ago and it was one of the best events I'd ever been to. Trouble & Bass murdered it. Everybody did, but really it was just so intense, there's not a dull moment in one of these things. I'd watched the London ones, which are nothing like being at them.
I think that every second our preparation changed. They were in the office getting dubplates. We were basically in constant contact for a month, like WhatsApp, text, email, phone, Snapchat, whatever. With the reggae people and the dancehall people it was fine, or some UK people that know what a dubplate is, but for different people that we wanted, because we're from New York and it's kind of like, "Hey will you change your song for us and make it about me?" They were like, "What do you mean?" And it's like, "Oh, watch this three-hour video and then you'll understand." It's really hard to explain to people and some people were into it and some people weren't, and I really hope they're regretting not doing it...
What would you say was one of the hardest dubs that you actually got?
Well, obviously the Drake one was. We literally got it on the taxi on the way there, like actual tethering taxi to O2 arena, just to get a file. We didn't know we were gonna get that. We had an entirely different ending plan; thank God the Drake thing happened. That and we didn't find out that J Hus got out of jail the day before. That was a big thing for us, too. He literally got out of jail and went to the O2 Arena.
We've talked about the album, we've talked about Mixpak's success. Do you have any plans for Magic City III?
Of course. I haven't started working on it yet, but I try to mix it up with people that have always wanted to make a Miami bass song, or people like Black Noi$e who I was like, oh, you're mad Detroit, you can smash this. I actually really carefully put it together. I'm running out of some people, but [people] like Happy Colors that have come along kind of made it work out. It's very hard to choose the perfect team, and then get them to say yes. So far, everybody that's done it has just nailed it so hard. I have a few people in mind but I need, like, 10. It makes me happy that I can get someone from Australia to make a song based on Miami and they're down.
You're set to hit ComplexCon this November. What can heads expect from you and your set on the Pigeons and Planes stage?
I actually don't know. I love everyone on that lineup. Usually, it's kind of the same lineup with festivals, and with this one, I didn't even know the lineup until I got tagged in a photo on Instagram, and I was like "Oh shit!" I'm really excited. I think it's just going to be a party. It's going to be my own party.
Want to experience Complex IRL? Check out ComplexCon, a festival and exhibition on Nov. 5-6, 2016 in Long Beach, Calif., featuring performances, panels, and more. For ticket info, click here.