Luce Unplugged: Five Questions (plus one) with Jules Hale

Amelia on October 28, 2015

Jules Hale, AKA Den-Mate, will perform at the next Luce Unplugged on November 5th. Photo by Michael Andrade.

If you missed our recent Luce Unplugged, you still have a chance to catch one this fall. Next Thursday, November 5th at 6 p.m. Den-Mate will play a Luce Unplugged set. There will also be a pre-show discussion of the artist's favorite Luce artwork. Den-Mate is the electronic/dance/pop act of Jules Hale, a D.C. music scene rising star, who recently signed with Babe City Records, a well-established local label that's also home to former Luce Unplugged performers The Sea Life and Young Rapids. We talked to Jules about the force females bring to music, her transition from touring to recording, and the energy you can expect to feel at her upcoming Luce show.

Eye Level: You've risen incredibly quickly in the D.C. scene. Tell us where you were three years ago.

Jules Hale: Three years ago I was figuring out what I wanted to create and what I wanted out of life. I spent a lot of time focusing on learning to be comfortable alone. When I started sharing songs on Tumblr and Soundcloud, I found this community of people from all over the world who had the same love and passion for music as I did. I still communicate with people who have been listening to my music since I put out my first recordings. This was way before I created Den-Mate. Den-Mate was my way to change from one mindset to another. It was a period in life where something kind of clicked and led me to focus on this energy force I had been trying to grasp for so long.

EL: Michael Andrade made an awesome video of your tour with previous Luce Unplugged band The Sea Life. How was your experience touring? Did you learn anything about your music?

JH: Michael Andrade is the best photographer in D.C. I'm so happy we have been able to collaborate with him and Jen Pape on so many projects. Tour was a whole otherworldly experience. I wouldn't know what day it was. Everyday being in the tour van, on our way to a different city, about to meet new people, looking at the scenery we passed, exploring new places, realizing how beautiful and different each city is and the people in them. I realized just how genuinely in love I am with my music and these songs I write. I sing these songs to strangers. I share my vulnerability with them, and I know they feel it. I've seen it. I've felt it. It's kind of cathartic having those tiny moments of human connection that are beyond a normal conversation with someone. Touring is a new world, and I feel a void now not being on the road. I am ready to live a lifestyle on the road.

EL: How has it been transitioning from touring to recording? Also, what can you tell us about your upcoming album?

JH: Since tour we have all been getting back into the real world. We are steadily recording and working to the best of our abilities to continue growing and perfecting the sound. The new album is currently being recorded. It's evolved. It focuses on a lot of feelings I've been collecting the past couple of years. There's a lot of girl power. I made an effort to really focus on my lyric writing. I'm very excited to have my live band come in and record on a few songs. They are all so incredibly talented, and I know that they will do justice to my vision. I've been working by myself on other recordings on the electronic side. We are working with Tommy Sherrod at Full Glass Recording and it's going very well. I'm planning for a release Spring 2016. The album will be called LOCEKE (low-sea-key).

EL: You mentioned in your recent DCist profile that you draw inspiration from the musician, Grimes. What elements of her have you incorporated and expanded upon in Den-Mate?

JH: Grimes was a very early inspiration for me. I've noticed my sound has evolved, and I've been listening to a lot of the bands that really inspired me when I was a young, impressionable teen. Alison Mosshart, Karen O, and Warpaint. Warpaint may be my driving inspiration for this album. I feel their music really made me realize the amount of patience and strength women bring to music. It's a force that is irreplaceable. We need way more of that female power in the music business.

EL: Having started as a bedroom project, was it difficult being up on stage for the first time stage performing your songs?

JH: When I first started performing it was a little nerve wrecking. I played shows by myself with my guitar and a sampler. I feel so alive and grateful having a whole band on stage now. You can bounce energy around from band member to band member. It makes performing a lot of fun. I love it. I'm a different person on stage. I can get in your face, roll on the floor, dance like a crazy person.... But starting a conversation with someone, now that's nerve wrecking! Hahaha.

EL: What do you share in common with the other bands on Babe City. How do you see yourself and music as different?

JH: When I was first introduced to Babe City I listened to The Sea Life and Go Cozy and was blown away. When we talked about Babe City helping Den-Mate, I thought it would be a really interesting addition. Although my music is different, I think its fits very well. It branches into new genres but I feel the attitude and passion of the label is there. When I was on tour and listened to The Sea Life every night, I realized their songs are so genuine and the lyrics are honest and relatable. It kind of reminded me of what I strive for in my own song writing. Every band on Babe City is incredibly talented and I know we have something very special and rare that is blossoming into something big.

Don't miss Den-Mate play Luce Unplugged, presented with D.C. Music Download, on Thursday, November 5th at 6 p.m. Come early to grab a drink at our cash bar and hear a staff-lead art talk on Jules' favorite work in the Luce Foundation Center.