Q&A with ethereal beatmaker, Jesse Kendal

We sat down with Jesse Kendal, a versatile musician and producer who dropped his latest single ‘Little Bloom/ Northern Light’ on March 20th via [BIOS]. Praised by CLASH Magazine and BBC Radio 6, the track blends electronic and acoustic elements, evoking comparisons to artists like Tourist, Bonobo, and Tycho. Previously known as Kendal since 2017, his work has amassed over 16 million streams across different platforms. From his home studio in Melbourne, Australia, Kendal aspires to create an emotional resonance within his music that fosters a sense of connection and healing. Influenced by the likes of Nils Frahm, George FitzGerald and Stimming, his sound will be enjoyed by fans of PALLADIAN, KOSCO and Mellowdine.

‘Little Bloom/Northern Light’ is an exquisitely ethereal song, transporting the listener to faraway dreamscapes that feel warm and vast. Listen to the track and read our interview with Jesse below. 


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

A career in music never really felt like a decision for me; as I reflect on my life and journey so far, I believe I was always heading in this direction. My relationship with music and everything that comprises what music is (tone, timbre, rhythm, melody, story, etc.) is what helped me connect with a side of myself that got me through a rough childhood. It has become an essential medium of self-expression for me. I can’t imagine a life where I am not creating music.


Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Either one, actually. Sometimes I develop an idea through exploring sounds and rhythms when I don’t already have an idea, and sometimes the idea might come first. I don’t always have a concrete idea, but I have a lot of feelings and stories behind those feelings that I can reel in through the right practices. Non-judgmental free play in the studio and exploring creativity outside of the box allows my ideas to come to the surface.


Additionally, I keep several notepads in the studio, and I write down my trains of thought, ideas that come to mind, and anything else that may spark something when I read it next. Everything takes on new meaning and spurs different feelings day by day.


Does your material feature any collaborations? 

I have worked with artists in the past such as Melbourne based singer songwriter Feelds, NYC-based singer songwriter Tiger Darrow and good mate and fellow producer Edapollo. However, my new split-single has been a solo effort of mine. 


What’s on your current playlist?

Khruangbin, Isaiah Rashad, niquo, Bonobo, Vince Staples, Nia Archives, Little Simz,  Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Dojo Cuts, 6LACK, SZA, and James Blake.


Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I feel the most freedom to be myself when I perform. Reflecting on the last time I performed, which was Piano Day 2022, the connection I felt with my audience was very special; it almost felt sacred, and it’s not something I take for granted. With that being said, I can’t wait to perform more.


What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I’ll try anything. I think it’s not so much about the instruments and plugins you own but more so how you use them and using them in an unconventional way. I do a lot of resampling of delayed rhythms, reverb tails, my upright piano etc. so long as the tone and vibe meet at the intersection of my idea/emotional pulse then I’m onto something. 


Sometimes I tend to resample a recording to the point where there is so much information in the audio it starts to loose clarity. I resample as a means to get closer to what my emotional core is calling for. The recording will either be a rich, vibrant, textured arp or background pad that sets the tonal foundation or it will be something that needs to be re-recorded once I’ve found what I’m looking for.


Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

As I touched on before, this journey didn’t so much come from a decision at a certain moment. It’s something that I have always felt this pulling force from.  Like needing to breathe oxygen, I’ve always felt the need to create. I do remember quitting my full-time job as a carpenter twice to pursue a career in music. It’s not an easy gig but I’m in it for the long haul.


What gets your creative juices flowing?

Being out of the city and amongst nature always fills my cup. I keep small vases with flowers and tree cuttings around the studio to keep nature close to me amongst all of the electronics. My acoustic upright piano is also something that I am spellbound by. If I don’t have a musical idea in mind, sitting at the piano and improvising almost always stirs my emotions enough to trigger something.


Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Well, my upright piano is my pain instrument where most of my music starts. I have a matched pair of Beyerdynamic condenser microphones that are permanently set up to record. Also a few poly synths, a Korg Prologue 8 which is my main one, an Analogue Four which I mainly use for percussion and a JU-06A. I have a few modules such as a Morphagene sampler and Strymon Magneto delay that can do wonderful things sonically and a few other bits and pieces. I don’t own a whole lot compared to some tech heads. In terms of plugins – FabFilter, Sound Toys, PSP Audioware and Arturia plugins are my main go-to’s.


Any side projects you’re working on?

I don’t have a musical side project but it’s a possibility in the future. I have a bunch of  music that may not be fitting for my main project. So they may end up on a side project but we’ll see.


How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I’ve found that over the years, the less I compare myself to others and the more I follow my gut, the more refined my art becomes. I think these things can be massive blockers to our unique creative output. I’d also say the most important aspect that has helped refine and define my craft has been discovering my difference and what makes my music uniquely me and being more intentional with expressing that. 


I just pulled up one of my journal entries from 2019, it goes – “The sooner you start embracing your background and struggles, you’ll be able to better communicate them in your work. Your ability to embrace your personal identity, background and experiences will enable you to produce your most powerful work” –  I believe this reflects what I was just touching on and is something I am still working on.


Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

More music, more often. One of my main goals this year is to release more music than I have any other year. I have some great works in the pipeline that I’m eager to wrap up! Hopefully some shows and collaborations too. Keep it locked fam!


Famous last words?

I’m not here to entertain you, I just have something to say. <3



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