I spoke to Jae Jin a little while back, during his last stint of NYC performances. Easily one of the most electrifying new voices of my generation, I think there’s a certain explosive potential in this kid. He’s put it all on the line and if you were one of the chosen few who helped him crowdfund (with a hefty chunk going to charity no less) his debut album, you have not been disappointed. For everyone who wasn’t smart enough to get in on that action, you can grab it here, which I highly recommend.
When It Finds You is one of the best vocal tracks I’ve heard in years. This has pop/rock anthem written all over it. It delivers with hints of gospel, a heaping dose of soul & just a dash of euphoria. The call & answer section is a wonderful throwback & the tune reels you in and doesn’t let you go. Expertly arranged, it busts the door down for the album.
Running pulls a little more in the indie direction, showcasing Jae’s range and ability. The mastering & additional elements added in to support his buttery vocals are the right choices, with the track gliding along. I’m surprised I haven’t already heard it on the radio. Ain’t About Love brings it back down to almost a blues vibe, but the ditty uses piano & snaps to emphasize just how good Jae Jin is at this.
Don’t Fall Too Late is a rambling, relaxed soulful meditation, but by this point, you should be expecting that. It harmonizes & blends well, giving Jae Jin another chance to knock it out of the park. Which he of course does. The guitar & piano are front and center, but neither dominates. Everything is necessary and it all works. Moon & Stars modernizes that soulful vibe, centering on some soaring chords. It has almost a country vibe, feeling like it could be played at an indie show or even a NASCAR race. It feels very American, if that means anything anymore.
Honestly, I could keep going on, listing each track and telling you how good they are, but that’s just taking time away from you listening to & buying the album. Each track is expertly arranged and continues to show new sides of Jae, ones I didn’t even know he had, and I knew the guy years ago.
I want to wrap this up by saying that this guy’s sound is screaming to get paired up with DJs & producers here in NYC. This guy’s vocal work is beyond compare and any producer or label that picks him up will be lucky. He’s pulling his weight in gold, to quote Gallant, and Ed Sheeran has nothing on this kid. Pick the album up here and enjoy!
Thrilled to bring you the debut album from a stupendously talented Brooklyn producer. This effort is a departure from his previous work, so I’m delighted he spoke to me first about his new project, that drops TODAY, Escher Beat.1. How did Escher Beat come about?Escher Beat has been this nebulous concept in my head for a long time now. It’s hard to define when it was born- It’s like how some cultures consider the birth of a child to be when they first had the thought of creating one, as opposed to copulation, or the release of it into the real world. A lot of the stuff on the album has been in my head for ages but only now have I had the skill to get it written down and expressed in a somewhat proper form.
The album (and thus project)’s “copulation” began in 2012, when I was shying away from “23” as a project. I made the intro of the opening track (“Inter-Universal Transmission No. 2”), trying to make music that I thought I truly should be making. It was a good start but I found I did not have the skills to keep going forward. I also had a busy life finishing school and starting my career in NYC. But in the 2-3 years since then, I’d practice sound design, practice alternate forms of music, small things to up my skill set.
About 9 months ago, I said “alright, it’s time to actually try this again”. Over the course of 8 months, I wrote the album in a concerted effort. The last thing I wrote was follow up to the intro in the first track, which I thought was a nice conceptual way of completing the circle/journey.
2. What is it like being a closet producer living in Brooklyn right now? Depends what you mean by closet producer! Technically I work in a DIY-level dedicated studio. The room isn’t huge but it is covered in a professional level of bass traps with a properly set up and calibrated monitoring system, instruments, synths, etc. But in the sense that I just sit down and woodshed production for hours on end alone without telling anyone, you could say I’m a closet producer. It’s hard not to talk about what you’re working on. But it’s for the better because the more you talk about it, the less likely you are to complete it, I think. Less talk, more do.
Brooklyn is great because of the sheer number of musicians and artists around. I hope to take advantage of that in future work!
3. You had some success a couple of years ago producing dubstep under the alias 23, why did you decide to switch projects? I’ll try to keep it concise. I think 23 blew up faster than I was ready for. I was a one trick pony, and I painted myself into this dubstep corner. I began to become disillusioned with the progress of dubstep, and came to hate it. What happens when the only music you can reliably make is music you hate? That’s where the track “Fuck You (If You Like This Song)” came from; it was a frustrated irony.
I still consider my name to be the person named 23, but the work associated with it, I no longer identify with. It was a natural progression to make a new project for a more evolved sound.
4. What would be the ideal setting for listening to your music? Any altered state is a good start. The album isn’t just sound. There’s multiple layers of head-fuckery going on. I’ve used psychological setups and traps to influence the effect of sections of music based on the previous sections. There are sounds that bend and morph, and some things are so subtle, you need that altered state to obtain the perspective necessary to perceive it. These are some of my favorite moments in music, realizing the album you’ve been listening to for years had some hidden aspect to it you hadn’t unlocked.
I think a good stereo setup with a sub, with a bed in the center is a nice way. The album has very danceable moments, but they’re never too intense, so I think they’re still relaxation-worthy if you’d like to do home listening.
For dance purposes, I really want to see how it does on a big sound system with people who are really into dancing. There’s some funky grooves and heavy syncopation that, at least from my perspective as a dancer, lends its self to some really fun times dancing.
Without a doubt though, the album is best listened to all the way through. When you take the songs out of context, you begin to lose some of the “magic” so to speak.
5. How do you produce these incredible tracks? Can you give us any peaks into the method to your madness? I constantly have general ideas in my head about stuff I want to try. For example, in the second track (“James Brown…”) there’s this build up to this complete breakdown of the sound all together that then filters up and becomes a completely unique element of a completely unrelated beat. THAT kind of stuff is the essence of an “Escher Beat”. I had that concept in my mind for a long time, and that wasn’t even my first attempt at it.
After a concept is decided on, if any (sometimes things begin with a sound test or a jam) the writing process its self can be very…. automatic. There are times where I feel more like the music is written through me, or that I’m merely writing down what was already supposed to come next. My best music just happens, it becomes obvious to me. Sometimes, especially with long studio sessions, I’ll come back in a week later and forgot I wrote entire sections of music.
I guess that’s expected when you stay up for 24-48 (on rare occasion, 72) hours in a room with no windows. Definitely gets weird by the end of a session.
6. Do you have any preferred medium for performing live or strong opinions on the whole vinyl/laptop/cdj wars? Right now I work off Traktor cause that’s what I’ve always done. For someone who produces music, it can be a bit limiting, but I’m so familiar with the limitations and how to get around them that it’s a good old standby.
In the future I’d like to do Ableton live stuff. But I’m busy as fuck so that learning curve has kept me at bay for now. I’d really love to be able to re-fuck, re-mix, and re-contextualize things on the fly.
As to opinions on live mediums, I don’t think the medium matters at this point. Does the music sound good? That’s all that matters to me. I don’t go to shows to watch guys idly spin knobs or pretend they’re busy looking through a record bag. If the music is good, it’s good.
7. Are there any cool things happening in electronic music that you’re really into at the moment that our readers may not be aware of? A sub-genre or a new party or thing the kids are doing under the cover of darkness that you’re into? Honestly I hear good, new music every damn day. I love some of the more down tempo neuro stuff going on like Aio – Steam Prism, and also a lot of chill wave, and other really trippy beats. People are constantly putting out cool shit and a lot of it gets little to no attention.
I’d like to see this more progressive music at events. You’d think in such a forward city (when it comes to things like art and fashion) you’d see more interesting music at big events, and it certainly exists, but not at a reasonable scale. Like anywhere else, it seems most people in BK and NYC want that familiarity. Few people REALLY get into dance (dance, not dance music) and I think that’s a big reason why. When you have a strong dance vocabulary, new kinds of music means more ways to express yourself, as opposed to non-dancers who want to jam to familiar tunes (typically).
8. If I could wave my magic wand and get you a headlining slot anywhere in the world, where would you like to spin? I’d want to spin somewhere that has both a dancefloor, and places to relax, with lots of interactive and immersive artwork. Maybe something like DJing to people wandering a technological hedge maze/hall of mirrors that leads to different dancefloors with different art installations. I’m not sure it exists, at least all in one event. What I’m trying to say is the idea of me headlining a big crowd isn’t what I’m after. I’m about unique experiences and immersion, which have functional limitations in regards to scalability. I hate the idea of exclusivity, elitism, etc, but practically speaking, immersion isn’t possible when you have too many people. Except immersion in a crowd, but that’s why Big Room House came out. No thanks.
9. Any favorite plug-in’s, programs, pieces of hardware, or other music creation tools that you couldn’t have created the album without? A lot of the edits are by hand, and just layers upon layers of sound, with pretty basic plugins most of the time. When it comes to synths, if I didn’t have one, it’d be another. Most common VST is probably just my EQ. It’s less about the tools and more about the vision.
10. Are there any sonic influences that you couldn’t have arrived at this point without? Favorite producers, musical teachers, life-changing parties, etc? There have been a lot of nights at Burning Man where I heard music that I have never heard again that just blew my mind. I didn’t know how to classify it. But it was groovy. And when the DJs were done, they disappeared. Only recently have I been seeing music *similar* to this hitting the public sphere. Maybe it’s there and I just can’t find it. In a sense, this album is my version/interpretation of that hard to classify, but groovy vibe.
More often than not, people have been comparing the album to people I never listen to. A lot (not all) of my strong musical influences either have little to do with modern electronic music, or aren’t even music related at all. I’ll leave it at that because I want the album to be understood personally, not directed by me. I’ve done enough direction by writing the music its self.
I saw sweaters & darker colors at Uniqlo this week, which means only one thing. We’re hitting the back end of July & there aren’t many moist summer weekends left in NYC. Don’t let them go to waste folks, still lots of time to have experiences that you’ll remember forever. Here’s a soundtrack for while you’re having them, or even for while you’re just scheming/dreaming about em. KASBO kicks us off with a sun drenched future bass delight that needs to be on your beach playlist. A vibe that can only be described as triumphant melancholy, a rooftop bar feel that melds with almost sad vocals, twisted & stretched into sonic taffy. After this single, you’re going to definitely mob Kasum‘s socialmedia. The soundtrack of high school for the older millennials & I has been reworked by Kasum into a scintillating, shimmering day club tune. The syncopated bassline fused with the perfect 3EB vocals has been repped by the original band & you really need to bomp this with the windows open. The only thing you can say to yourself is TUNE! This is the gem of the week, so make sure to tell Kasum how dope it is. Switching gears entirely, I’m delighted to showcase a track that will be entirely too hard/fast for a great number of you. It’s from a genre called Freeform Trance. The hallmarks of this genre include exceptionally fast BPM, heavy low-end, trance-infused melodies, major chords and a throw back to happy hardcore, that goofy genre that exploded across the world during the Rave movement of the 90’s. This stuff is anything but dopey. This genre holds (in my opinion) the hardest & most powerful builds/breakdowns/drops. The build that crescendos at 2:50 and rises into the massive drop at 3:30 is indicative of a genre & scene that would blow past most of the brolectro & even the hardcore dubstep out there. This stuff is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re into it, there’s nothing else like it. Le Dos-On is what he goes by, but you may have also heard of him by the name of Hyphen. Freeform Trance from Japan Tell your friends you listen to it and they’ll think you gained a level in EDM hipster points 😉 TroyBoi is a shining star. The Future R&B wunderkind blends garage, global bass, chill & some distinctly UK sensibilities. Nefera provides stellar vocals that Troyboi drizzles perfect chords and bass over. This track is less than a week old & it’s already racked 127,000 hits. You may not have heard of TroyBoi, but you will. This dude is skyrocketing to the top of the production pyramid, as these precious 4 minutes demonstrate. Rounding out the pack this week is the always on time Armand Van Helden. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve got years of music to listen to. Helden essentially created the pop remix for everyone not playing the home game. He brings in a deep, but surprisingly round & technical feel to one of the new singles off Disclosure’s album CARACAL. It’s a fluid, signature 90’s flow with an impressive dual drop structure. This is one for the warehouses, the club, the tech house music dens all over the world. A DJ track start to finish, so EDM kids, you’re gonna be mad. Or you’re going to love it. Hit up the comments and tell me which.
This is everything good & right on the internet right here. Someone got the brilliant idea to take cattle auctioneers & drop hip hop beats under them. While this seems like one of the higher ideas to come out of a college basement, the two videos I’ve linked are some of the better examples. The video above is the high water mark for the genre, a fun little vid that came out in 2014. The one below is the original that really got the movement (lol) going. This kind of “hey, this is a wacky combination, I’m bored, here’s my offering” thing that’s part of the internet now makes for some truly dopey shit. Enjoy this one & shake Monday off. If you’re super into the track, you can get it on Bancamp here as well.
In January, one of my favorite chip artists, Saberpulse, dropped this hard, electro track on the interwebs. Put it in your face for a frame of reference for fantastic, nerdy remix package. The album associated with it was quality, but this single did stand out.
This remix package appeared in late April but I wasn’t able to put it into my face until recently. So glad I did. The Trey Frey remix keeps the deep electro with amazing VGM frosting. This is what I remember electro sounding like before it was used to pad out crappy progressive sets. The chip breakdown 2:30 in is well executed & makes the genre look great. I think more chip producers should be looking to the technical levels that appear all over this remix EP. These peeps know what they’re doing, showing how far the genres involved can be pushed. Makeup and Vanity manages to rework Addicted 2 love into a 90’s NYC house tune, except made with synthy goodness instead of analog synths. I suprisingly don’t actually mind and would rock out to this if I heard it at a house music party in Brooklyn. Even though it strangely reminds me of Sonic 3. The Sushi Killer remix of Flux manages to be something I wasn’t sure was possible. Chip + Jersey Club seems like a really amazing concept in theory, but it’s breathtakingly difficult to execute in practice It gives me hope for the future. I feel like this kind of vibe would’ve found a home on Jet Set Radio or The World Ends With You. A kind of J-Club, it really works. Saskrotch is one of my favorite people on the internet. I don’t think there’s anyone that does chip breaks better. His insane speed, nerdcore vibe & fast/slow mastery is second to none. cTrix adds some color & a lush vibe with his remix, pushing out fun, 16bit indie bass. It’s atmospheric, and melds elements of jungle, future bass & chip. Definitely a sleeper hit on the album. Grimecraft shows up massively with his Future Con Club remix of Flux. It manages to be tropical, heavy & footwork’y at the same time. Which is why I’m so glad he knocked Fontana’s around in NYC recently, and I can’t wait for him to come back. Grimecraft, Get on the bandwagon early. The bonus remix of Horizons by Lockyn is a treat. It’s got a sunny disposition, keeping it bouncy and airy at times. Great way to end the remix EP and glad to see styles of electro besides Knife Party still exist. Electric Disco is fantastic and needs to see wider use on le dance floor. You agree? Get at the comments with your favorite or least favorite track 🙂 Pick up the EP too, it’s like under 5 pounds. I have no idea what that is in US dollars, but 4 of something isn’t that many.
If you need a break from the Coachella livestream & you had a Genesis, you’re going to like this stuff. I got the Sonic the Hedgehog theme music stuck in my head so I decided to dig around and throw down my 2 favorite remixes involving the Blue Blur himself. First up, PrototypeRaptor mixing a fun Electro remix of the Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic 2. Bumping, super high energy and authentic pad work really makes it come alive. This is one of the few video game remixes that I could see making it onto a legit dance floor. This was one of my favorite downloads at OC Remix. Apparently people liked it so much he dropped a VIP/extended remix of it, which is what you just listened to. Ben Briggs needs a huge amount of props about this. This kind of bouncey modern re-imagining of the Hydrocity Zone music in Sonic 3 is a prime example of what I think modern chip & VGM DJs need to sound like to remain relevant in the era where people are playing games on their phone as often as they are on their gaming consoles. The FX are totally authentic, the squelchy bass works great & the wait to pull you into the mega-sweet breakdown at 2:15 is executed masterfully. The drop pulls in synthy perfection that throws me back into playing the crap out of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles locked on (who even remembers lock on technology?!). The sample is from one of the Sonic cartoons and could not be more at home. Now if I could just find a chili dog somewhere.
It’s the little things that Mrs. Palmer focuses on, and as we all know, they make all the difference. A ukelele & cello are the only instruments in use here, besides Mrs. Fucking Palmer’s stunning voice. Amanda Palmer is able to get into the small little corners of your heart with the slightest word or the simplest chords. And nowhere is that on display better than here. The lyrics are not only perfect, but they’re also crucial. There are so many people suffering around the world, with many doing so in the pursuit of helping others. Depression, illness, existential stress, rape, child abuse, creativity, hope & resolve are all topics she flies through with the wink of an eye or a single shed tear. Listen to the track, support Amanda Fucking Palmer & Zoe Keating in this tremendous effort, and hug the people you love. We are all bigger on the inside.
“We are so much bigger on the inside,
You, me, everybody
Some day when you’re lying where I am
You’ll finally get it, beauty
We are so much bigger
Than another one can ever see
Trying is the point of life
So don’t stop trying
Flexstyle continues in his quest to make enough amazing music such that I can replace my entire soundscape with stuff that makes it sound like I’m in a game from the Mega Man X series. And I love him for it. This album was something I mentioned a while back, but I hadn’t had time to sit down and give it the nerdy listen it deserves. The entire album is freaking gorgeous, but my notes on my favorites from it The Chilloniq mix of Neck Deep is a sprawling, ambitious remix project that wildly succeeds. The future bass & breakbeat fusion not only works, but needs to be a new genre. But of course, if you’ve been playing the home game, you know I think Flexstyle’s created more than 1 new genre of music by now. Stand With Me has a great little synthy retro feel to it. The vocal work is definitely a highlight here, especially if it means he comes out of his shell & sings more.
The Oasis remix is big, and reinforces the idea that this dude has the composition & remix chops to stand outside of the convention world. Solar Eclipse keeps that rambling vibe going with a plucky, uptempo melody that would probably be good for speed run practice. Revolution is a dope little jam that speaks to a developing sense of authentic signature sound, so again, more please! Perfect Getaway brings in some turnt up guitars and is totally the title track of the album for a reason.
Summer Silence pulls the energy down a bit and gives us a nice little ambient tune that makes me think of Kyoto. Which is weird as I’ve never been to Japan. Fluid Motion ends up being some fun liquid drum & bass, which y’all know I’m a fan of, so frankly, the 5min the track weighs in at isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Which is why he follows it up with some buzzsaw-infused D&B that sounds quite a bit harder than the previous track. Boh Boh indeed.
The rest of the album is a sweet little collection of originals, heavy guest featuring & a couple more remixes that are totally worth your time. Any time Flexstyle remixes Ben Briggs, sit up in your chair & pay attention please, as his Methods remix could get dropped at a side stage at Ultra today and I wouldn’t even blink. A super positive bompin electro track, plus a couple more for your trouble. AND A FREE BONUS PRIZE FOR YOU!
Bonus Mix! The more Flexstyle plays out live, the more I need to hear him. This is one of my favorite mixes of 2015 so far. Playful, bomping ridiculous vgm beats that I could dance to forever. At some point I’m going to be cool enough to throw my own convention party and if it gets him doing more vocal work, I’ll shout it from the rooftops. The build is no slouch either, and I can’t wait for him to team up with Rameses B or get a release signed to Monstercat.
Canadian stunner & wunderkind Tennyson has put together a stellar little EP for us all. Trust that this kid, can produce beyond his years. This kind of stuff has bedroom phenom written all over it. The flowing bass work lilts along with a soothing melodic sunrise synths. You’re Cute starts quietly, but pulls into some fun breakbeat & originally composed rambling bass. This shuffle & whine works and got me interested for where the rest of the EP was going. For You has a little bit of that indietronica vibe to it, but with an almost West Coast feel layered on top. The dreamscape breaks through and the tune saunters along with some clutch & well recorded vocals while Tennyson does work on the keys.
No Answer is a future funk chip extravavangza. Moody bass & keys work is unmatched by people 2 & 3x his age. Smoother reminds of some Homework era Daft Punk meshed with some Air, two of my favorite French artists by the way. And yes, I don’t make the comparison lightly. Aphasia Rewinding gets into a bit more of the experimental realm with the synth work and walks a fine line between funky & IDM. Violet Alturas finshes out the EP with some rounded sunny beats. They make me think I’ve just beaten a game for the Sega Genesis and am walking away on the beach at sunset as the credits roll. The tonality & the attitude is powerful, but he’s got so much damn potential. This is textbook potent composition, and what this kid needs is production assistance, and good mentorship. Does Monstercat give scholarships yet?
(So happy to be posting this! Flexstyle has been one of my favorite artists innovating in the dance music space for years now, and I’m honored he agreed to talk about his work & ridiculous new album, which I’ll be yammering about shortly.)
1. Tell us about your new album Perfect Getaway! What can your fans expect from the 15 track extravaganza? More than just 15 tracks, actually! There are 15 tracks officially on the digital album, but there are also a couple of bonus tracks included as well with some Oasis remix contest runners-up. Aside from that, this may be the most eclectic album I’ve ever released—certainly stays true to my name and mission of being flexible in the styles that I create! This album contains both original and remix work that I’ve completed over the last few years. It contains appearances by video game remix superstar and entertainer extraordinaire Ben Briggs, versatile EDM and VGM cohort Jamison Randall, my good friends Airdrift and dmGuillotine, and many more. In short, expect more of the same, but different! DnB, downtempo, trance, vocal synthpop, electro, progressive house, dubstep, trap, and breakbeats all make an appearance.
2. How did you join OCRemix and start doing VGM remixes?OverClocked ReMix is probably the main “home” I have as a musician, and I started participating over there in…I want to say about 2008? I got my first posted mix on the site in early 2010, I believe, after a couple of rejected mixes and a lot of participating in various competitions and events. That’s pretty much the best way to get posted over there, by the way, is to keep trying and keep participating in the community. I’ve always loved video game music, so it was only natural that I found the site and started participating. I think it was after seeing a writeup in a magazine that I actually first heard about it—might have been Computer Music or something like that. So, to properly answer your question, I don’t really remember exactly how it was I joined up, but it was definitely meant to be! Continue reading →