The sound of House: Interview with Jesse Rose

When does one know they have left their mark on a scene? For dance music veterans, a place on Pete Tong’s ‘Hall of Fame’ is a solid indicator. Tong’s ‘Hall of fame’ includes a diverse range of artists who have contributed to dance music, whether it’s techno guru Richie Hawtin or the more commercial sounding Avicii. One of the more recent additions to Tong’s ‘Hall of Fame’ is Mr. Jesse Rose, a man who has been at the forefront of the UK House music scene since the early 1990’s.

Born in London, Jesse Rose made the move to Bristol in the early 1990’s where he quickly found his place in the emerging underground scene. After returning to London in 1997 he began to make a name for himself, culminating in the founding of his label ‘Front room recordings’ in 2001. More labels have followed since then, with highly regarded producers such as ‘John Tejada’ and ‘Riva Starr’ finding themselves on Jesse’s Roster. Business aside, Jesse has graced some of Europe’s finest clubs, including trips to Fabric and a residency in Panorama bar in Berlin. He’s not shy of the production table either, with his 2009 hit ‘A-Sided’ and 2013’s ‘Fatman’ being testament to his capabilities, as well as the release of a number of albums.

Today Jesse resides between Barcelona and Los Angela’s, but continues to bring his groove across the globe. Last Friday night he was in Dublin’s ‘Opium Rooms’, playing with sidekick Dj and producer ‘Oliver Dollar’. We at Babylon Radio caught up with Jesse before he took to the decks.

You were raised on Motown soul, Jazz, and eighties funk, but soon found a love for Chicago house and Detroit techno. What artists inspired you the most when growing up?

J:  Masters at work, Derrick Carter, and of course the man who invented house music – Mr.Larry Heard.

You first started banging out tunes in Bristol in the early 1990’s. What is it about Bristol that has made it so ripe for House, and more generally speaking, underground music?

J:  It’s just your typical urban yet boring city. I think urbanised cities just generally seem to attract the house and techno scene. If you think about places like Detroit, Manchester, etc, they all have a great music scene.  So I guess urbanisation and good music probably just go hand in hand.

Fabric has always been kind to you, as has Berlin’s Panaroma bar. Any other venues which stand out to you?

J:  Womb in Tokyo, Hardpop in Mexico, Razzmatazz in Barcelona.  There’s just so many I could be here all night.

A sub genre of ‘Balkan house music’ is what you have been described as in your past. Were you ever a fan of Balkan music per se, or was this just a random development?

J:  Basically my musical influences come from what I sample. The Balkan sound happened when Oliver (Dollar) went to buy me Cd’s, and one of the CD’s he came back with was Balkan music. I started experimenting with it, so I guess that’s where that came from. So If my style does happen to change at all then it’s due to what I’m listening to that’s not house music.

The commercialisation of house music or the so-called EDM movement has been the main talking point in dance music for a while now. Is there a temptation for young persons to just go down to the EDM route, due to the not so easy money making route in deep house/techno?

J:  I don’t think so, as it’s not really that easy to make an EDM record. There’s always been a massive commercial dance and trance movement… so in my opinion, it’s really just a follow up from that.

Saying that, is it time people just quit the complaining and allow there to be a separate sphere for both underground and commercial house music?

J:  Yeah, totally. There’s no point in complaining – , just do what uou do very well and don’t worry about others.

Your various labels have been quite successful, but what are the main challenges in running a label?

J:  Making money I guess is just the main challenge! Apart from that: Hiring a good label manager, constantly finding new talent and making sure your label sounds unique to all the others.

You play alongside Oliver Dollar tonight, who you have been working with for 10 years. How did this relationship come about and sustain itself?

J:  I heard Olly’s first ever record and I then got in contact with him, telling him he should produce for my label. At the time he didn’t even speak English, so we basically communicated with our hands. Since then he’s kept growing and growing, and it’s all been a very natural progression between the two of us.

You’re spending your time between LA and Barcelona at the moment. Any major differences between the two scenes which you have noticed or which stand out to you?

J:  Barca has way more clubs than LA for underground music. LA has a lot of great paty warehouses, and is obviously influenced by the likes of Dj Harvey. I think every city has the same scene really though, it’s just either smaller or larger depending on where it is.

You were recently included in Pete Tongs BBC radio 1 Hall of fame, an achievement I’m sure you’re proud of.  Any big goals for the next year?

J:  Is it an achievement? I think it means I’m now old! (laughs)

Well, first and foremost staying alive would be a milestone. But more to the point, I’m working on this project called midnight snacks’ with Julio sanchez, which is quite a big deal. I’m also releasing a mobile app soon, where the concept is to help independent labels. Possibly the last ever Jesse rose album is going to be released this year,  as well as the 100th Jesse Rose track.

The party is over but the hangover is coming. What’s the cure?

J:  I have my own cure, which is two charcoal pills.  Take two of them before bed, and boom – hangover gone!

Follow Jesse Rose on Twitter at or on facebook at

Brian Cunningham
Brian Cunningham

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