Saturday, September 13, 2008

B-Sides Features Jason Jollins Monday 9/15

** Download his mix **

Acute Recordings label head Jason Jollins is one of the most in demand dj's on the global touring circuit today. Known for highly technical and well programmed sets, Jason has a unique sound and style of dj'ing that has earned him the title as New York City's top Progressive House DJ.

While Jason has a current plays regularly for Made Event at Pacha New York, Jason is also a former resident for Godskitchen NYC and has held residencies at many of NYC´s top clubs including Crobar, Avalon, Centro-Fly, Filter 14 & Spirit (formerly Twilo).

It is through these residencies that Jason has played alongside world renowned DJs such as Sasha, Carl Cox, Paul Van Dyk, Steve Lawler, Lee Burridge, Juan Atkins, Armin Van Buuren, Marcus Schulz, Hernan Cattaneo, Above & Beyond, Gabriel & Dresden, Seb Fontaine, Oscar G, Anthony Pappa, Darren Emerson, Ferry Corsten, Max Graham, and many others.

B-Sides Inerviews Jason....

-What are the highlights of your DJ Career?

The DJ contests that I have won, Acute Recordings, My success in my home town of New York City and my success in being able to share my passion for music on an international level.

-How old were you when you first got into house music and how did it happen?

I started listening to house music when I was about 14 years old and I was introduced to it through some good friends of mine. In the early 1980's I was really into break dancing and rap music culture (hip hop). I was very young at the time but I worked for a dance studio and often traveled with them as a break dancer putting on shows. Through break dancing I was exposed to dj'ing and turntablism and it fascinated me how dj's would scratch and mix songs and sounds together. When I was introduced to house music I absolutely loved it. I bought my first pair of turntables in 1989 and the art of dj'ing has been a part of me ever since.

-How would you describe your sound?

I would classify myself as a progressive house dj, but not in the traditional form. I tend to play many different styles within my sets, but do so in a progressive way.
I think it is extremely important for a dj to be diverse when it comes to track selection. I play House, Progressive house, Tech house, Techno, Minimal, Tech Prog, Trance, Tech Trance, etc... But tend to concentrate more on what sounds good to myself and my fans rather than on what style it is. I prefer to play diverse genre bending danceable dj sets that last at least 5 hours.
A great dj in my opinion has the ability to weave in and out of many different sub genres in a way that creates a seamless soundscape. Sort of like telling a story and bringing the crowd for a ride.
I love bass lines, vocal dubs, great melodies, tracks that have a unique edge to them, tracks that move the soul, lots of teasing, feeling, and emotion...
I am very detail oriented when it comes to mixes & transitions. I come from a time when dj's would create a journey within there dj sets. I don't like to just play tracks, I like to tell a story with every set.

-The term progressive house has been seen by some as a "dirty word" within the industry. What are your thoughts on the term progressive house and some of the negative press it has received over the past few years?

There was an amazing track released in 2007 by Eric Prydz called Armed. It was the number 1 track on and was being played by dj's crossing along many genres throughout the world. In beatport the track was first being sold in the techno section and is currently being sold in the electro section. While Pryda - Armed does have some electro elements, it is essentially a progressive house track.
When I am music shopping I shop in the minimal, house, progressive house, electro, tribal, trance and techno section. One reason is because I like to play many different styles within my sets. However, it's also because there is so much mislabeling of tracks throughout the industry, especially in the past few years as new sub-genres are being created so often. You can find great house tracks in the progressive house section as well as great progressive house tracks in the minimal or techno section, etc...
The problem in my opinion is that there are so many crossover tracks that have different elements of different sub-genres that they are very hard to nail down to just one style. People do there best to label tracks in a proper way, but sometimes genre associations are not so cut and dry.
People for years have been saying progressive house is dead (just as they have said with trance, tech house, house, etc...) and they will soon be saying the same thing about minimal and electro (many already are).
If you go to a Sasha or a John Digweed show anywhere around the world you will see that progressive house is far from dead. Progressive house dj's draw some of the biggest crowds in the world.
Genre bashing is mainly done by certain media outlets who want to appear to be on top of the next big thing. The genre war keeps it interesting I guess, creates chatter and controversy. However... Great music is great music, each sub genre of house, trance, electro and techno have great tracks.
Progressive house is far from dead and never was. You can have two Progressive House Dj's playing back to back and have a completely different sound from one another.
I think that when a lot of people think of Progressive House they think of a sound that was around in 2001. One of the great things about this sub-genre is that it is always changing and evolving. Progressive House today is completely different on many levels from what Progressive House was in 2001. And it appeals to the educated music crowd while at the same time appeals to the commercial crowd.

-In your opinion, what is the current state of house music and in what direction do you see it going?

House music was really big in the united states in the late 1980's especially with the subgenre called Freestyle. EDM exploded again in the late 1990's but I think that it was also very misunderstood. There was a big anti EDM movement in the United States and I think that we are just starting to recover from that today.
I'm touring different countries all the time and in a lot of these countries you hear EDM wherever you go (taxi's, mcdonalds, the radio, tv, tv commercials, etc...).
I think the biggest problem with Edm in the United States is that the mainstream audience doesn't understand it. The reason for this is because there are not enough outlets for people in the mainstream to hear it.
A lot of producers now adays are focusing on the more commercial aspect of house music which has vocals and a somewhat pop element. Once the mainstream understands the more commercial aspect of house music, it's then that they start to dig deeper and are more open to the underground sound (brilliant music).
Internet radio is also very popular now which supplies people with a choice to listen to whatever they want, whenever they want to. This will of course create a lot of exposure for different types of music, including house music.
People in general love music, dance, entertainment, and they love to have fun. There will always be dance clubs and dance music. The future of house music looks very bright. I think it will only continue to evolve and become more popular over time.

-You have played regularly at many of NYC's top venues such as Crobar, Filter 14, Love, Avalon, Centro-Fly, Webster Hall, Godskitchen @ Ikon, Pacha, etc... Which of these clubs did you like the best and why?

Each venue for separate reasons has had something unique about them that have made them special. I cherish my times at each of the venues listed above and will always have a place in my heart for all of them.

Out of all the Dance Clubs you have played internationally, which is your favorite?
There have been so many great venues but my three favorite venues I have played are Dance Club Mania in Bulgaria, Pacha Buenos Aires & Pacha New York.

-Made Event is considered to be one of the top EDM event organizers in New York City (and many would say in the USA). How long have you been playing for them and what do you like most about playing for them?

Made Event is run by Mike Bindra & Laura de Palma, Mike Bindra being the former General Manager of the legendary Twilo. While I wouldn't consider myself a Made Event resident, I have been playing for Made Event for over 3 years now and I have nothing but great things to say about them. Mike and Laura are great people and they are very detail oriented when it comes to all aspects of throwing quality events. They treat there artists very well and I know that every time I play for them it will be a great experience. Playing for them is like being a part of history in the making and it's always a pleasure.
They are committed to excellence in the promotion, production, and execution of electronic dance music events. I always know that when I play a Made Event I will be playing on a perfect DJ set up and on the very best sound system available (usually an Integral Sound System). And I have been taught so much from the Made Event sound engineers in regards to how to make these sound systems sound as good as they possibly can during my DJ performances.

-What is the best part about your job?

I love traveling, seeing new places and cultures, meeting new people.
But the best part of my job is the art of dj'ing. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I am able to share my love and passion with others on a global level. There is no greater feeling for me than when I am performing and my fans are enjoying themselves. The adrenaline and emotional rush is amazing.

-What are you working on right now?

Right now I have a lot of gigs lined up that I am getting ready for. I have gigs coming up in Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Bulgaria and Slovenia. Aside from the gigs… my record label, marketing, production and everything else that goes along with being a DJ take up a lot of my time.

-What do you like to do when you are not touring, working with your label, and working on production?

When I'm not working with music I love to spend time with family and friends, play soccer, play video games, go mountain biking, snow boarding, catch up on my favorite tv shows, spend time on the internet, I love mixed martial arts, and I love to watch movies.

-Do you have any advice for DJ's who are trying to learn how to DJ?

One of the best methods for learning how to dj is to download some live cd's from your favorite dj's, buy the tracks that are on the live mix, and try to recreate the dj mix exactly how the dj did it. This is a great way to learn how to mix tracks and program a set.

-Do you have any advice for local dj's who want to spread there wings?

On a local level, a bedroom dj can gain a lot of exposure by throwing there own events. The best way to be a part of the scene is to be involved with it and to contribute to it. Rather than a Dj running around handing out hundreds of cd's, a bedroom dj is better off trying to find a venue to throw a weekly or monthly party where they invite other local dj's to play as guests. By doing so, they will not only be able to meet other local djs, but they will also be in a position where other people will hear them perform in a live environment. They will also be contributing to the local scene by providing a place for other dj's who are in a similar situation to display there talents and share there passion.
On a global level, production is key (Deadmau5 for example). If you look at a lot of the artists who are touring internationally, many of these artists are doing so because of the tracks that they are making or have at one time made. Especially in today's market, it's very hard for a dj to make it on dj'ing alone. There are thousands and thousands of DJ's in the world and it is much easier for someone to listen to a 7 minute track than it is for someone to listen to an 80 minute dj mix from a dj they have never heard of before. A great dj can put out 5000 amazing dj mixes in one month and no one will know that dj exists. A great producer can put out a few great tracks in a short period of time (or just one great track in his life) and be known almost instantly throughout the world. Production also creates a lot of free marketing due to other dj's charting and tracklisting your music.

-How long have you been running Acute Recordings?

Acute Recordings celebrated its 6th year anniversary in May of 2008. It's amazing really, the years since I have started the label have gone by so fast and it has been very exciting.

-What gave you the idea to start the label and how did you go about getting it started?

It all started when I received a couple tracks from a San Francisco based producer named Nacca (a.k.a. John Wayyne). I absolutely loved the tracks that he sent me. I asked him to send me some more of his productions and each track he sent me was better than the previous. We eventually starting talking and he told me that he had never previously released any material before. I loved the tracks so much that I looked into starting a label.

-Was it hard getting the label off the ground or was it an easy process?

Starting a label today is a lot easier than it was 6 years ago due to the fact that everything is digital now and tracks are sold online. Six years ago the concept of digital was for the most part unheard of, everything was sold in the vinyl format in specialty stores throughout the world. It was a lot of work getting Acute up and running but it was fun work. I also had a lot of help from Chris Fortier (Fade Records), Hector Romero (Saw Recordings), and Agent Orange (Gotham Grooves), as well as many others.
Once the legal aspects of the label were taken care of, I showed the first few promo's to Intergroove US (a.k.a. Rhythmic NYC). I was very fortunate as my label was welcomed with open arms by one of the worlds strongest EDM record label groups of that time.
Once accepted into Rhythmic, I promo'd the first Acute release which charted in the top of the prestigious Balance Record Pool charts and was played and charted by a lot of the worlds top dj's (Jimmy Van M, Sandra Collins, etc…). This of course gave Acute Recordings a great start and a lot of exposure on a global level.

-So now that 6 years have passed, what can we expect from Acute Recordings?

Acute recordings was started on the foundation of helping unknown but extremely talented producers who have never had a release before. In turn, I give these artists there first release which serves as a platform to build from while also giving these artists global exposure. This format has been very successful as well as very fulfilling on a personal level. I currently have over 65 artists with tracks released on Acute and many of these artists have moved on to become well established producers within the industry. Every once in a while I will release something from a well established producer but the label will always serve the purpose of its initial intention.

-What are the pros and cons of Digital vs. Vinyl in your eyes and how do you feel about this change that has taken place?

I remember about 4 years ago the whole scene was up in arms. Vinyl shops and distributors were closing left and right. To those in the industry, it was as if it was the end of world. Vinyl was dying and there was no solution.
When Digital stores such as EdmDigital and Beatport came along it was like a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately most of the vinyl pressing plants, label groups, distributors, and stores had to close shop. But on the bright side of things, many of the companies and people who were working in the vinyl market embraced the new digital era and were able to make a somewhat easy transition.
From the perspective of a dj, I absolutely love the digital era. A few years ago it would cost $10 for one piece of vinyl that usually had 2 tracks on it (and usually only one of those tracks being something that you would play).
Aside from the cost, if you wanted to go music shopping you would have to leave your house and go to your favorite vinyl store. Once at the vinyl store, there was a good chance that the store didn't order all of the new releases, and even if they did, the chances are that the really good ones would be sold out.
Vinyl was also very heavy. You would have to carry a very heavy crate or record bag that would usually only hold 50 vinyls and would give you one heck of a sore shoulder by the time you got to where you were going.
Digital is amazing and I fully embrace it in every aspect.
Now dj's can buy single tracks rather than being forced to pay for the B-Side. Individual digital tracks only cost about $1.99 (a little more if you want to buy the high quality wav version).
With digital you don't have to leave your home. You can just log into any online digital store from anywhere in the world and shop at any hour, for as long as you like.
Tracks never sell out! And once downloaded, you can fit hundreds of tracks in 1 cd book and thousands on your computer if you are a laptop dj.
But another great thing about digital is that once you have the tracks, you can make your own personal edits of the tracks to fit your needs within your dj set.

-Now that digital is so dominant, what do you feel is the next step in the evolution of dj'ing?

Well most dj's are now digital and are using cd's during there sets. This is great as it opens up a lot of options in regards to adding effects to tracks and mixing in ways that just weren't possible with Vinyl.
As time goes on, I see the future dj being a laptop dj. Programs such as Ableton live are absolutely amazing. It's just a very easy way to dj and opens endless possibilities during a set when it comes to making edits on the fly, creating mashups of tracks, precision in technique, using audio effects, etc...
However, while this technology is a huge breakthrough, I feel that it is continuing to hurt those who focus primarily on the art of dj'ing and don't want to move into production.

-How so?

It's almost impossible (especially in today's age) to break through as a dj alone. Unless one of the top dj's take you under there wing and bring you up, the only real option to become globally known is through producing (making) great tracks. In turn, what you have are the worlds best producers touring the world as dj's, while the worlds best dj's are playing in there bedroom or in there local pub.
Of course in some cases an artist comes along who is a great Dj as well as a great producer, or is at least a great dj with a great production partner / engineer. Either way, it's much easier and much more accessible for someone to listen to a 7 minute track than it is for someone to listen to an 80 minute dj mix from a dj they never heard of before.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion amongst EDM music fans worldwide who think that dj'ing and production is one in the same. And there is a very big difference between a person who produces music and one who actually dj's.
If you look at many of the top dj's in the world, you will see that they "initially" became known not because of dj'ing, but through there production work.
Before Ableton live came out, producers would get known through there productions but many of them would remain in the studio producing music rather than touring the world as a dj. The reason for this was because they were professional producers and aside from just playing tracks, they didn't have the experience or skills to be a professional Dj.
Now with programs like Ableton live, you see a lot of great producers who have never toured as dj's before now touring. This of course could be looked at as a good thing and in some ways it is.
However, Ableton allows artists to put together a pre-programmed set (if they choose to). Because of this, you have "some" producers showing up to there shows with a laptop and a preprogrammed set where they just press the play button in ableton and pretend that they are actually doing something.
Abelton live is an excellent program. I use it for making some of my mixes for my radio shows when I am traveling and I also use it for production work. When used properly by an artist in a live environment (such as Dj Sasha) it is truly amazing and I see this type of dj'ing as the future of the art.
But it is also very discouraging when an artist shows up to a show and is jumping around pretending they are doing something when they are in fact just playing a pre-mixed set in ableton live. Everyone is being cheated in my opinion. It's equivalent to a singer who lip-syncs at a concert.

-It was great talking to you and having you for this interview. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the readers?

I would like to take this time to thank you for the interview as well as everyone who has taken the time to read this. Also I have been friends with DJ Chloe for years and it's a pleasure to be on her Proton Radio show. J

** Download his mix **

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hobnox Audiotool

Check out this kick ass toy!

"Here it is, it’ll supply you with an emulator of some famous little machines, used by DJs, producers and bands all over the planet. Right now, we can equip you with a rebuilt Roland TR-808, TR-909, TB-303 and some floorboards. Interested? Give it a try! "