Jupiter Rising picked a near-perfect band name. Like our solar system's biggest planet, where gravity is much stronger, this Los Angeles act exerts a powerful pull. And the duo of Spencer Nezey and Jessie Payo are definitely on the ascent, as indicated by the title of their new album, The Quiet Hype. Besides, as a moniker, Jupiter Rising sounds damn catchy - and so do their songs.
Jupiter Rising create state of the art pop with clever twists. "I have no boundaries as a producer," says Spencer. Listen to how he and Jessie swap verses atop crisp beats and enveloping atmospherics on "Falling Away." This is what Top 40 radio should always sound like. Originals like "L.A. Girls" a cheeky look at consumer culture in their hometown, and the percolating "Tres Cool," bristle with a mix of sass and sonic innovation reminiscent of the edgy fare favored by international icons like Girls Aloud. Spencer's sonic tweaks put the "sick" in classic, while Jessie sings with panache and precision on par with big-name divas.
The Quiet Hype refuses to stick to a single style; its grooves are contemporary, never trendy. "Our goal is to make music people can relate to, yet that is also new, fresh, and different," emphasizes Jessie. "Something that is going to last, that has a little more depth."
"We both like to touch on subjects that are very real," she adds. So for every flash of uninhibited, crowd-pleasing exuberance here - like the lusty "Flip My Switch" - there is another cut that throws a curveball, from the propulsive rock riffs of "Over Again," to "Quicksand," a cautionary tale of a wide-eyed Hollywood aspirant spiraling out of control.
To achieve this level of consistency and innovation, most artists rely the services of multiple producers, songwriters, and guest performers. Not Jupiter Rising. They may occasionally enlist friends and colleagues (check out the cameo by Lady Tigra on the throbbing, bass-heavy "This Is What It Sounds Like"), but the creative dynamic between Spencer and Jessie ensures that plenty of surprises arise without outside interference. "The cool thing is that we come from completely different backgrounds and approaches to music," concurs Jessie. "That complements and balances us. We're very good ears for each other."
Long before he started making beats and writing songs, Spencer Nezey was immersed in music. Growing up in Sacramento, he started out on saxophone at age 9. "I've been playing my whole life: Concert band, marching band, jazz combos." But he didn't march in strict formation; Spencer also took up beat-boxing, and loved underground hip-hop and club grooves. "I bought my first A Tribe Called Quest record when I was in sixth grade."
By the time he got to college, he'd shared stages with Busta Rhymes and The Clipse. Thinking he'd struggle to pay the bills as a professional musician, Spencer started out studying International Business. But when he saw what Pharrell Williams had achieved with the boundary-pushing productions of the Neptunes, he decided to go for it. "I identified with him right away," Spencer recalls. "His mind set is perfect: Work hard, don't get caught up in bullshit, stay true to yourself - and the music will speak for itself." Today, he continues to hold his work up against the highest standards: The business savvy of Black Eyed Peas; the songwriting acumen of Coldplay and Kanye West.
Jessie Payo ran around the house singing show tunes and classic rock as a little girl in the Los Angeles area. But by the time she was 13, her natural talent was so pronounced she was fronting a band that went on to play the blues circuit for the next decade. "I come from a roots, rock, and blues background, a very organic setting," she says. Jupiter Rising allows her to show off all the facets of her ability, from flowing rhymes to full-on wailing.
"Her voice just cuts through, and connects right away," enthuses Spencer. "As an artist, she is completely unafraid." Jessie's disparate reference points - from the Beatles to Erykah Badu - enrich Jupiter Rising's aesthetic even more. She may have started out singing the blues, but she also expresses love for European electronic acts like Daft Punk and The Knife.
Momentum has been building around Jupiter Rising even since the group's inception. The 2006 single "Go!" was a Billboard dance hit, and featured prominently in multiple movies and commercials, while their hit song "Electropop" received over 2.5 million play on MySpace. They have opened for The Black Eyed Peas and Lupe Fiasco, and their music has also popped up everywhere from sporting events to MTV's Making the Band. And Jessie knew she'd arrived when her Mom's friends' teenage daughters started "Electropop" as their ringtone. So brace yourself: The Quiet Hype is about to generate a lot of noise.