JessB: taking New Zealand hip-hop to the world

JessB cements herself as a leader in New Zealand hip-hop with her new mixtape 3 Nights in Amsterdam. We spoke about the trailblazing release, bursting at the seams with confidence and beats ready to blast through club speakers.

Four years into her music career JessB is already more accomplished than most of us will ever be. She’s lived a whole other life as a professional netballer, set up FILTH, an Auckland club night and QPOC safe space, and has released three stellar bodies of work, gaining her fans throughout New Zealand as well as here in Australia and across the world. 

JessB isn’t content with her current success, though. She’s ready to take on the world and bring her favourite local musicians with her. Recently we caught up to chat about this latest release, 3 Nights in Amsterdam, as well as her club night and the New Zealand music scene.

JessB releases her new mixtape 3 Nights in Amsterdam

HAPPY: Can you tell us the story behind the mixtape’s name?

JESSB: The EP name ended up being exactly as it happened! I was in London last year on a half work, half holiday type situation and got the call for an opportunity to dip to Amsterdam for three days and three nights [to] work in a studio! I didn’t know too much about Amsterdam or the Dutch music scene in general, but when I got there it was such a good fit for me musically – it was crazy.

I wrote pretty much the entire mixtape (and a couple that didn’t make the cut) in the duration of the trip. 3 Nights in Amsterdam was indicative of the sound that the entire mixtape is reflecting, and I thought it also had a ring to it haha.

HAPPY: This mixtape feels like it draws from more dancehall and reggaeton production than your previous work, what drew you to these sounds?

JESSB: Dancehall and reggaeton have been in elements of what I do from the beginning. I listen to a lot of different genres and I guess I am inspired by all of them, including dancehall and reggaeton. It’s visible on previous releases of mine where I have touched into these spaces (tracks such as Take It Down on Bloom and POE on New Views) but 3 Nights in Amsterdam was my first opportunity to really work solidly with a producer whose passion and expertise lay in these areas.

The Dutch music scene, as I learned, is full of dancehall, reggaeton, afrobeat, and electronic influences and I felt like I had finally found a way to mashup all of these styles while still remaining true to my hip-hop roots and my sound as an artist.

HAPPY: On the mixtape you talk about bringing your local area to the world, do you think the world is catching on to the great music coming from NZ?

JESSB: I think so. I think we are in an age more than ever now where artists and fans from all over the world can connect and find community via social media. So many music linkups for me both in NZ and overseas have come from Instagram or other similar platforms. I also think this interconnectedness has pushed the sound of music (particularly hip-hop) coming out of NZ right now.

I personally think that the hip-hop scene in NZ is sounding the most diverse and culture-pushing that it ever has. I feel grateful to be a part in any way, and I really hope we see some of this new generation really start to make some ground overseas even more than the ways in which they already have.

HAPPY: You began playing live shows in Auckland’s nightclub district and you now run FILTH, a club night in Auckland, what makes the city’s nightlife unique?

JESSB: I think that Auckland is a small city with a nightlife that is still continuously growing and evolving. It probably sounds cliche but for me, music and people always make an event what it is! I have even found travelling overseas that finding communities/people who I could relate to on the other corners of the world were the best parts, rather than the city itself having something unique to offer. FILTH is unique to Auckland City for sure, but it is inspired by so many amazing parties that already exist around the world for people just like us!

HAPPY: You’ve also been announced on a music festival lineup in Gisborne happening over New Years Eve. How excited are you to get back on stage?

JESSB: I CANT WAAITTTT!!! I miss performing so much. This summer is going to be mad!


3 Nights in Amsterdam is out now via The Orchard. Stream or purchase your copy here.