DJ Jesabel’s star is rising fast in the Australian electronic music scene. In the last twelve months she’s signed to Ministry of Sound, and secured a residency at the lavish Pacha Sydney. It’s not bad for someone who hadn’t touched a deck three years ago.
Off-stage she’s Jessica Heap, and the Sydney-based artist credits a lot of her successes to savvy business skills.
“Initially this was a hobby,” says Jessica. “It was when I was approached by Ministry of Sound to sign with them that I thought maybe this is something bigger than a hobby.”
She’s being demure, of course—MOS is one of the largest independent dance music labels in Australia.
I’m absolutely running my own small business. I’m CEO now: that’s how I have to think about it. I did a Bachelor of Commerce with Marketing and Management majors, so that’s given me a base to work from.
It’s a good base—dance music is an image-conscious industry, and the club scene thrives on grandiose spectacle as much as music. In short: glamour matters, so it pays to know what it takes to build and maintain an image.
“Social media is such a massive part of my strategy now, and I’m drawing on what I know about maintaining brands every day. We’re doing a lot of publicity at the moment, and planning work around that."
“A lot of DJs don’t necessarily understand this side of the business. If I hadn’t studied commerce I wouldn’t have the grasp of it that I do,” she admits.
“If you want to advance in this industry you have to treat it like a business. Tigerlily is definitely doing it,” she says, referring to fellow Sydney DJ Dara Hayes, better known around the world as DJ Tigerlily. “She’s an extraordinary businesswoman, and she’s always working with her team to move forward.”
Jessica’s planning for more than a future in DJing.
“It’s not something I can do forever—at some point I’ll be too old for this,” she says, and it’s not hard to figure out what she’s talking about: her work includes a demanding mix of odd hours and draining travel. It may seem glamorous from the outside, but that’s part of the show business, concealing the hard work.
“There’s so much that can go into this career. At the moment it’s first and foremost DJing, I’m working on original music production, and I also sing—that’s a big part of what I want to do in the future.”
“That’s what I see on the horizon,” she says. “But I’ve always been about opportunity and timing, and my first release is definitely in the plan for next year.”
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