The young New Jersey Based producer Jaw Jam is the cream of the crop when it comes to sexy-swag. Nothin’ like the shore…. We promise. Remixing artists by the likes of Pharell, Keisha Cole, R. Kelly and others (all of them ballin’), Mr. Jam creates “jawnz” unlike any other. His swelling synths, peculiar percussion, and sampling mastery has brought him swiftly to the forefront of the future-bass scene. His collection of aural stimuli will definitely bring you into an orgy of Erykah Badu, Shlohmo, Three-Six Mafia and James Blake set in the year 3000. We recently got to sit down the NJ producer and get into his thoughts. Come check it out.
TD: Tell us a little about yourself and where you come form?
JJ: Thanks for the interview. I’m 20 years old from New Jersey, now out in school at Oberlin College in Ohio.
TD: Getting right into it, what are a few musical influences of yours; where do you draw the most musical inspiration?
JJ: I find inspiration in a lot of old r&b influenced UKG, hip hop, and late 70s and 80s rhodes type soul / r&b stuff. I’m also a fairly big house nerd, which surprisingly influences a lot of the music I put out, especially as of recently. Beyond that, I try to keep up pretty closely with the bass scene.
TD: As a person who truly makes a sound that is “their own,” where do you think music fits in with the future-bass/future-garage categories?
JJ: I’m not really sure to be honest, haha. I usually describe my first handful of singles as weird r&b flavored bass tunes, but that description more or less covers the whole scene currently. My untitled EP and some of the newer stuff I’m working on definitely fits into the garage side of things.
TD: Your tracks often have some aspects which are “off time” like the slap bass sounds in your Keisha Cole remix “Love,” as well as (my personal favorite) “Chop and Screw it Like.” Where do you draw the line on what is “too weird” or is that even a factor in your production?
JJ: I don’t really try to write in midi out of time purposefully, I generally just play the separate tracks over one another live until it feels right to me. It does take a while for things to click, to feel like I’m “in the pocket.” If you lag your chord hits, throw your bass drum hits a little before the beat, and then sorta aimlessly play bass here and there, it doesn’t really works out. It really depends on how you frame the hits around the beat and what sort of movement you want to convey around the standard time frame.
TD: What about your studio setup? What’s that like being at school and all?
JJ: My studio setup is basically non-existent. To be completely honest, the keys for about half of my releases were played the standard Ableton keyboard layout on my laptop (sort of embarrassing). I do generally work out chord progressions on piano first, so it’s not too big of a deal. There are a number of really sick studios at my school, so I try to get in there as much as possible, also some spots around NYC and NJ.
TD: How about when you perform live, have you had to opportunity to do that much?
JJ: I DJ on tables and Serato when I play live. This is basically just a matter of preference – I’ve been into DJing for a while and really have fallen in love with the art. Sometimes I feel like it is limiting, especially because most of my tunes are sort of challenging to mix in, but all in all it’s a lot more rewarding for me. I’m in the middle of working out some live set stuff as well, potentially with a singer, but I probably won’t be playing out live any time soon.
I have been lucky enough to gig a fair amount over the summers and at school a bit. Got to play with guys like Sliink and Tony Quattro recently and opened up for xxxy and Addison Groove last year at my school, which was real sick. I’m playing with some Symbols homies Kastle and Druid Cloak later this month, so that will be sick. Hope to play out more this year.
TD: You’ve been getting a lot of buzz from artists in the same realm as you pretty rapidly. Any surprises yet from some big artists that wound up getting ahold of your tunes?
JJ: For sure, a number of awesome encounters with other artists – Guys like Disclosure, Bwana, and 123mrk come to mind. A-Trak gave me props on my new EP, that was pretty wild.
TD: Many of your samples are R&B based; what kind of role do you think R&B plays in electronic music these days?
JJ: The bass scene has really collided with the hip hop scene over the past few years, so in that sense sort of contemporary R&B stuff and bass music are almost one in the same. I think it rules though – while there are a lot of lame dudes throwing Aaliyah over whatever and calling it a day, there are real amazing re-interpretations of classic 90’s r&b vibes as well as real nice bass-influenced hip hop tracks (Jeremih – Fuck U All The Time comes to mind). I think also because popular hip hop has sorta caught on to the minimal bassy production style, a lot of kids find the slightly more obscure bass stuff accessible now.
TD: You’re a master of the “pregnant pause.” In using it, you seem to show that less can be more in many cases. Do you feel maybe some artists try too hard and don’t embrace minimalistic qualities in their music enough?
JJ: I can’t really generalize – I think that there are a lot of producers who really use silence or pauses to add tension in their tunes, but many don’t seem to even take it into consideration when making a song. I think once you get too sucked in to the whole blaring bass jams vibe you sort of loose sight of conventions that are really crucial to composing or playing other sorts of live music. Anyone who has taken an improv class at school or plays jazz could tell you that, in a lot of cases, less is more when it comes to soloing or arranging or whatever.
TD: We haven’t seen any collabs from you yet; can we look to see some of those coming down the pipes?
JJ: For sure, I’m in the process of working with a couple US and UK rappers so watch out for that. I’ve also been tossing around ideas with some Colorado-based future hip hop heroes, but can’t say much besides that. Definitely a lot in the works as of now, endless remixes and other opportunities lined up.
TD: Aside from making tunes do you have any other hobbies that occupy a good lot of your time?
JJ: School occupies most of my time beyond my music making – I’m studying economics and environmental studies out at Oberlin. I skateboard sometimes for fun.
Last show you attended:
JJ: Party at Dope Jams record store in Bedstuy. Either that or Floating Points at Mr. Saturday Night. One of the greatest sets I’ve ever witnessed.
Last long night you had:
JJ: Couple nights ago, standard party antics.
Last big surprise you had:
JJ: Homie caught my tunes played out by a big act at a Cleveland festival a couple days ago. Real sick.
Last CD/Vinyl you bought:
Blaze – Wishing You Were Here Remixes LP (Joey Negro mix is a great cut)
Last time in the studio:
JJ: Earlier today
Last good movie you saw:
JJ: “Rooftops” Raw 80s drug lord forces local dance crew kids out of seedy Brooklyn neighborhood. Mad sick