How Jubilee's Time in Miami's Underage Club Scene Sparked Her Adventurous Productions

From cutting her teeth in "The Magic City" with drum and bass to her early days in NYC, the Mixpak-affiliated producer looks back at the strange sounds that shaped her.

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Oct 20 2016, 1:29pm

All photos by Squid Stills.

There are few places like Miami's strange network of teen-friendly clubs. Jessica Gentile, AKA Jubilee, remembers this aspect of her twisted hometown with a conflicted fondness, expressing some combination of wonder, befuddlement, and regret that she came of age in the sort of debauched hinterland where 16-year-old girls were free to twerk in their bikinis for prizes while they were chin-deep in foam. "Completely inappropriate," Gentile says of those underage club days, of which there were many. "I would be going [to clubs] with my friends, but my mom and dad would definitely be dropping me off and picking me up. Honestly, when we were really young and you went to a bar mitzvah, it was just as bad. Or a school dance. It's just the way it was down there."

The DJ and producer moved to New York City in 2003, but her soul still radiates with South Beach's hazy, neon glow. Her brain beats to the tinny, space-age pulse of Miami Bass and freestyle classics. As she got older, her tastes evolved, and by the time she was old enough to attend normal 18+ clubs, she caught the itch to climb behind the decks. "I really liked the music," she remembers. "And I really didn't want to party and do drugs, but I wanted to be there." Florida's love for the lower-register set the perfect storm for a drum and bass scene—so she soon cut her teeth on whiplash breaks. That UK-born sound led her to grime and 2-step, and when she moved to New York, a friendship with Mixpak label head Dre Skull resulted in a Grade-A education in dancehall, as well as a friendship that helped kick off her career.

She'd soon release her first three EPs on Mixpak, starting with the vintage rave-hop sound of 2012's Pop It! and branching to the refined roller-rink electrofunk of Jealous. As Dre Skull's roommate, she was perfectly positioned to help with label parties around New York and bounce ideas off of him about her ever-evolving productions. All the strange and colorful influences of her youth and path thus far commingle gracefully on Jubilee's debut album After Hours, out October 21 via Mixpak. A final thesis of sorts, it's Jubilee's love letter to 80s and 90s Miami, from the bouncing beach ball rhythm of its 11 tracks, to the cyan and magenta palm tree art that graces its cover (something you'd see in your "mom's weird room that nobody goes in," she says). For this latest installment of our Crate Expectations series, we caught up with Gentile over the phone to chat shades of bass, inappropriate childhood anthems, and the strange mix of styles that made After Hours possible.

THUMP: What were the first records that resonated with you as you found your way into the club world?
Jubilee: My first big record I think in the club world was [from the artist] Planet Soul. It was a bigger, ravier hit on [local radio station] Power 96, but it was still really underground. There weren't many rave hits on the radio like that, and that was one of the biggest ones. They did a live show in Orlando and we all had to drive there to see them.

I was listening to a lot of Power 96 and 99 Jamz, and that was all Splack Pack, 2LiveCrew, Gucci Crew. You name it. Whatever was dominating the radio, I was listening to, and it was a lot of locals, like Uncle Al. There were underage clubs in Florida that I was going to a lot that had a booty contest, which is fucking crazy if you think about it. So I was also listening to a ton of that shit, [and going] wherever those radio DJs were playing underage shit. which was a lot.

It was ubiquitous in Miami at the time, but do you remember the record that introduced you to Miami bass?
It was just what you listened to all the time, but I do remember really loving Poison Clan's "Dance All Night," and making my dad buy me the record when I was super young. I can't believe they even bought that for me. I was literally playing it on that Fisher Price record player. My parents bought me the record player, and I had listened to a ton of stuff from their collection. I also remember picking up Michael Jackson from their collection and liking it, plus Madonna. But I know the first record I can remember not being from their collection that they bought me was [Poison Clan]. You know what it was that got me to like that song? These boys danced to it at the talent show at my school. I mean, it was like 90s In Living Color, fly girl shit.

You're releasing After Hours on Mixpak. Who are some other artists that've released on that label whom you admire?
I was associated with Mixpak from day one. I never really dug deep into dancehall, because it was just around in Miami. I think [label head] Dre [Skull]'s first record was with Sizzla, and that was super cool. When he started doing stuff with Vybz Kartel, [dancehall] became super interesting to me. I listened to all the classics on the radio, but it was never something that I dug that deep into. A lot of that I discovered just through working with Mixpak. Dre was always good at finding the-up-and-coming person without knowing it, just having good taste and figuring out. Whoever he would choose for a remix would later get big. I first heard of L-Vis 1990 through Dre, plus New Orleans bounce. He was always ahead of the curve. We knew each other from dance music, and the internet, and Brooklyn, and we were actually roommates when he started Mixpak. But I was on another label. He put my first EP out on Mixpak, and I would always go to him for advice. He always knew how to deal with everything, and he always has the right answers. When I finished After Hours and asked for feedback, he asked to put it out on Mixpak.

What were the records that defined your earliest days in New York City?
I was listening to a lot of drum and bass. I just started listening to grime because [Dizzee Rascal's] Boy in Da Corner had come out right around the same time as [UK garage and grime rap group] The Streets. I was really digging to get into grime and two step and more UK music straight up. I was trying to find as much as I could from the UK.

When I first started to buy records (as a DJ), I was buying a lot of Ed Rush, and Optical. Dom and Roland. I really liked jungle. It was a time where Miss Kitten was just starting to surface here, so I was buying a lot of weird electro clash also—Miss Kitten and the Hacker, Photek. Stuff that was very hard to practice and mix into.

What were some records that served as reference points for you when creating After Hours?
The Super Mario brothers soundtrack, or Mario Kart really. A lot of video games. I was listening to old mixtapes from DJ Icey and some local Miami artists. I was listening to Latin Freestyle, and a couple mixes that I've ripped to mp3. Also Addison Groove, DJ Dion, ghetto tech like DJ Assault. Weird trance-y shit, too—this DJ Huda Hudia out of Florida. Dynamix II. A lot of Jackal and Hyde. And Daft Punk, because that's the album mecca of dance music.

A lot of newer stuff like Brodinski's album, too. Louisahhh has a really cool electro label called Raar. It's a lot harder than what I'm used to, but I listen to I'm very inspired by the stuff she puts out. Also a lot of dance hall and a lot of car tapes, weird Miami bass tapes that you would play to test out your car. And a lot of stuff by DJ Laz and 2LiveCrew and all those people that were more on the instrumental. I remember one of the first cassettes I ever bought when I was really young was that song "Mami El Negro." I remember asking my parents to buy me that tape. It was pink. Remember how some of the singles were pink and had little green shapes on it? It was like that.

You team up with fellow Miamian Otto Von Schirach on a track.
I wasn't going to have a Miami-themed record without having Otto on it. Otto is the GOAT. I think that Otto is every sound of Miami. He was doing IDM stuff when that was a thing. He was in that Schematic world, and also does stuff with Modeselektor. He did some Latin moombahton stuff too. It's always been true to his heart, and never been about following trends. He's just got a lot of musical influences and he's very Miami at the same time, but he's weird enough to where he can play all these weird festivals in Europe. There's nobody like him.

I feel like him and HoodCelebrityy were both so awesome to work with, because they're such performers, and they know how to write a perfect song. I'm not really used to working with vocalists. I'm more of a club kid, so working with them was a blessing. They're naturals. She has one called "Fuck You" right now that's really good.

Miami has a famous party culture, which leads to infamous hangovers. You pay homage to that with titles like "Over It," "Snooze Button," and "Spa Day." What are records you throw on to reinvigorate after a hard night at the after hour spot?
I would usually listen to R&B or something pretty chill. I always love getting really stoned and chilling. Usually just its either trance-y kind of jungle, or 90s R&B—or Drake. The new Rihanna album is really good for being home and done. When I listen to the 90s stuff, I listen to the Romeo Must Die soundtrack from Aaliyah or anything from Timbaland, any old Missy. Even Janet Jackson or older Madonna.

There are a few records that I still play all the way through, and one of them is Kelis' Tasty. I fucking love that album so much. When she first came out, it was just so different. It was hip-hop, but it wasn't. I listened to it over and over again, and I revisited it recently. Her and Nas were such a thing. There's a song called "In Public," and that was way before Beyonce and Jay-Z. I just think she was really cool and kind of ahead of the game.