'Platinum Hit' Interview: Jes Hudak's Laser-Beam of Soulful Edginess
Friday, July 29, 2011
Introduced as a normal, good girl falling for a fellow contestant, Jes Hudak rose to the Top
Four as a seriously competitive songwriter on Bravo's newest competition show Platinum Hit.
A fairly consistent second/third place winner of the Hook Challenges, Jes' songs are known
for its large-ranging vocals and piano bits. Quirky and sincere, she describes her experience
on Platinum Hit as helping her hone her craft. Here, Jes discusses the weirdness of seeing her
romantic life recorded, how her songwriting has developed, her opinions on breaking into the
industry, and her upcoming projects.
How did you become a contestant on Platinum Hit? What do you think made you stand out
among the songwriters?
The first time I read the audition listing for the show, I knew that I was made for this show, could
win this show, and was going to be on it. When I went up to audition, I was so confident and so
excited to be there, and I played my two strongest songs: "National Holiday" and "Dirty Filthy
Liar." Then I kindly informed them that this show was made for me and I for it and wouldn't you
know it, I just kept getting called back!
Cool. You cut your first album at 14 and sang backup to popular artists like Enrique
Inglesias. You have a long career in performing. Why choose songwriting for other artists as the
next way to break into the industry?
I definitely am a performing artist but I am also a songwriter. I write all of my songs. So, I didn't
choose songwriting to break into the industry--songwriting is in my soul. I write all of the
time and only so many of those songs work for me as an artist so writing for others just makes
sense. It makes it possible for me to find a home for music that would otherwise be homeless.
I see myself as an artist like Ryan Tedder or Bruno Mars--writing for other artists and in other
genres as well as recording and touring myself. Breaking into the industry is challenging,
especially since there is so much opportunity now for an artist that isn't represented by a record
or publishing company. So the playing field is huge. Opportunities like Platinum Hit make it
possible for me to get my music out to the world.
You were on American Idol's fifth season and Platinum Hit's first season. How do you view
reality TV's role in helping artists break into the music industry?
With reality TV, it's all about exposure. It is so hard to get your music heard by the world, and
now we have TV shows like these that millions of people who have never heard of you before
get to hear your music--that's huge! That kind of exposure is invaluable to an independent or
unknown artist, and can make someone a star overnight. Reality TV isn't right for every artist,
but it's definitely worth auditioning for in order to get that platform and get your music out to the
I loved working with Amber on the road trip challenge, she's my homegirl for life! Also, Jackie
Tohn happens to be one of my BFF's and we have a cover band together called Powerfox and
Ponymane. We have a youtube channel: http://youtube.com/powerfoxandponymane. The fact
that they picked 12 cast members out of almost 40,000 and we both made it is pretty crazy and
After Johnny was eliminated from the competition, the audience was introduced to
a different side of you--a girl absolutely determined to win. Without Johnny there, your
personality really seemed to shine and you fought to stay. What kicked up your competitive
Being in a competitive reality show is really quite stressful, exhausting, and can wear a girl
down! I think I just realized that the competition was getting super intense, and that the
songwriters remaining could all hold their own, and I had some ass-kicking to do. Also, getting
so close to the prize made me fight that much harder. All I wanted was to win so I focused all my
energy on writing the best songs of my life.
Also in the 'Kiss the Flame' challenge you disclosed to being a victim of assault and wrote
some of your best lyrics. Tell me about your decision to reveal this.
I always hoped that something positive could come of something so awful, so I decided to reveal
this if only to raise awareness and perhaps let someone out there know who is suffering silently
from being assaulted that they are not alone and that it does get better. When this incident
happened, everyone close to me knew about it and supported me and showed me so much love,
so I felt ok sharing it knowing that my family was behind me.
The description Bravo gives of your style is pop soul. Is that how you would describe your
songwriting or has it evolved over the course of the show?
My songwriting has changed completely because of the show. I got the best, most blunt
feedback from some of the biggest names in the industry, and it helped me hone my craft into a
laser-beam of soulful edginess. My lyrics are so much more interesting and conceptual now, and
my writing is much messier-- I'm not afraid to edit until every word means something. Yes, I
think as singer, it would be fair to say that my music has a pop-soul feel. But, what's cool about
being a songwriter is that I get to write for all different genres.
Unlike other reality shows, the success of contestants on Platinum Hit relies almost purely
on collaboration. Is there any collaboration that stands out as nearly perfect?
My favorite session of the season was probably writing "Free" with Amber and Melissa.Yes, we
were in a disgusting roach motel which may or may not be inhabited by murderers, but I loved
the lyrics that we came up with. We ended up getting one of the biggest compliments of our lives
when Natasha Bedingfield said she could hear herself singing our song.
What is in the works for you as a performer and songwriter?
I have been writing and collaborating non-stop since we shot the show, and I am working on
my new record. I'm also playing a bunch of shows, a few in LA including August 9th at Hotel
Cafe and August 21st at the Ford Amphitheatre, and I'm making it back home to NYC for a show
at Rockwood Music Hall on August 30th. I am really excited to get back on stage...and hope
everyone can make it out to the August 9th Hotel CafÃ© Show because some of my awesome
music friends will be joining me on stage including, WAX (www.waxdotcom.com) who recently
was signed to Def Jam and Quickie Mart (djquickiemart.com), renown New Orleans Hip Hop
producer. Jackie Tohn and Brian Judah will be joining me to sing "My Ridiculous." It's gonna be
great. I will always be singing and writing, no matter what.
Emily E. Steck
(Image courtesy of Jes Hudak)