Exclusive Q&A with musician, Jesse Kendal

We had the pleasure of chatting with Jesse Kendal, a multi-talented musician and producer. The Melbourne native’s latest release, ‘Little Bloom/ Northern Light’ dropped on March 20th through [BIOS]. Garnering praise from esteemed outlets like CLASH Magazine and BBC Radio 6, the ethereal split single seamlessly merges electronic and acoustic elements, drawing comparisons to esteemed artists such as Tourist, Bonobo, and Tycho. Formerly known as Kendal since 2017, Jesse’s body of work has collectively garnered over 16 million streams across various platforms. From his home studio, Jesse aims to imbue his music with emotional depth, fostering connections and promoting healing through sound. Inspired by the musical stylings of Nils Frahm, George FitzGerald, and Stimming, Jesse’s distinctive sound is sure to resonate with fans of PALLADIAN, KOSCO, and Mellowdine alike.

Read our interview with Jesse Kendal below:

Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music?

I’ve been making music for about 11 years and professionally releasing music for 7 of those years. I am mostly self taught with everything I know from playing instruments to the production side of things. When I was quite young I found that creating and playing musical instruments became a form of self expression that didn’t just feel natural to me but also fulfilling. As life went on and the years went by my relationship with creating music deepened as the constant changes in my life always brought me back to needing to make sense of who I am and the world around me. Creating music eventually became somewhat of a necessity or at least, that is something that I ended up realising later on.

What inspired you to start?

My mother, a musician who specialises in woodwinds, played a significant role in shaping my musical journey. During my primary school years, she often hosted students at our home for lessons. I have memories of listening in on these sessions, occasionally peering through the balustrades while sitting on the staircase. The sounds and the playing truly sparked something within me.

I see my musical journey as starting right here, in those childhood moments spent immersed in music at home. I believe this was always going to be my direction in life. I then went on to be the lead drummer in my school Jazz band, then onto DJ’ing, which led me to creating my own music.

The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music?

Absolutely, there have been numerous occasions where I’ve questioned, “What are you doing…”. My work in music is my livelihood; the thought of quitting it is more debilitating to me than any industry competition. My relationship with creating and sharing music has often been a “love-hate” dynamic. I won’t deny it—there are still times when I find it quite challenging. For me, sharing my music has been the toughest aspect. I suppose I’ve struggled with commercialising something that is deeply personal to me. However, it’s a struggle worth enduring if my work can positively impact someone else’s life and in turn, my own.

How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want?

I often reflect, if my music can impact someone else’s life as profoundly as it has mine, then it’s crucial for me to step up. If I fail to share my work, what good does it serve? The process of creating art and putting it out into the world feels like riding a rollercoaster, filled with highs of excitement, lows of anxiety, many moments of self-doubt, but also opportunities for healing, growth, and acceptance. If I keep the end result of that to myself, which is the art that comes from the process, what’s the point? Reminding myself of its purpose and why I pursue it is enough to drive me forward. In essence, it’s about caring deeply while also letting go, all at the same time.

How would you describe your creative processes?

I see my creative process as akin to that of a collage artist’s. Much like gathering cuttings from diverse sources with varying tones, colours, and textures, then assembling them on a canvas to form a fully realised piece of art, I approach making music in a similar manner. I find that viewing my practice and creative processes through a different lens like this often provides an alternative perspective, shedding light on new creative avenues to explore.

Being surrounded by nature and away from the city always fills my cup. I keep pot plants and vases filled with flowers and tree cuttings in the studio to maintain a connection with nature amidst the electronics – it’s all part of the process! My acoustic upright piano is an instrument that I’m quite spellbound by. Even without a specific musical idea in mind, sitting at the piano and improvising almost always stirs my emotions enough to spark an idea.

Once I’ve created something I like, I let it marinate for a while, revisiting it periodically. I find that taking breaks from a piece of music and returning to it later allows both the essential and superfluous elements to become evident. Eventually, it reaches a point where there’s nothing more to add, only things to remove, leaving behind something wonderful and impactful :). Sometimes a track takes only two weeks to finish, while others may take years.

Where did the inspiration for Little Bloom/ Northern Light’ come from?

These two tracks emerged during a period when I was striving to bring more connection and positivity into my life. Writing from that mindset brought what I feel is a warm and open embrace to these two tracks. My desire is to produce electronic music that feels more human than electronic and to emanate a propulsive positive energy.

‘Northern Light’ refers to our inner compass – North being what ignites and inspires us, our values, our beliefs and everything that enables us to be and live our authentic selves. I believe that knowing what faces North for us as individuals gives us a direction, like a guiding star.

‘Little Bloom’ refers to the bloom of the present moment and the ineffable energy in moments we experience unconditional love and kindness from others.

What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?

The two tracks have an equal place in my heart. I do love the ethereal nature and shine of Little Bloom’ and the propulsive energy of Northern Light’, it’s such a belter!

Lately I’ve been listening to Khruangbin, Isaiah Rashad, Vince Staples, Nia Archives, Little Simz, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Dojo Cuts, 6LACK, SZA and James Blake.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently wrapping up more music for release this year. These days, I feel more in tune with what I’m doing than ever before, which is incredibly liberating and exciting for me. Hopefully, there will be some shows or the possibility of a tour on the horizon. While there’s a lot I want to accomplish in music, my primary focus right now is completing a significant amount of music for release this year and showing up as much as I can.