Jeffrey Jerusalem is easily one of the hardest working men in the game. DJ, drummer for YACHT, and now touring member of RAC, it is safe to say that the guy certainly has his hands full–not to mention a productive solo project that delves into the strange cross waters between techno, house and disco with wondrous results. He was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us and we couldn’t be happier. Check the interview below and make sure to keep an eye peeled for his upcoming single due out on Public Release.
What does 2014 hold for you in terms of projects/songs/horroscopes/new musical expeditions?
I’m working on a shit ton of new stuff this year that I’m excited about. I’m putting out a 12″ single with the Public Release label in San Francisco, and, working on a whole diversity of weird and groovy music that I’ll be trickling out as the year goes on. I’m also doing a bunch of DJing and touring with RAC and YACHT. Just endlessly grinding and pushing forward.
What’s your musical background and how did you find yourself making dance music? How does DJig come into play for you?
I’ve been playing drums in bands since middle school. It’s kind of cliché for a DJ or producer to say “I started out playing in punk bands” but it’s true for me too. I also, played in the jazz band in my high school and played in all sorts of nerdy prog-rock and math rock bands. I’ve also always been noodling and composing with computers and started focusing more on that kind of stuff in college. For me DJing is simply an opportunity to share, in a stylistically coherent and creative manner, songs and genres that I love and would hope other people might appreciate too.
“Decay” is one of my favorite tracks of last year. Can you describe how that song come about?
Glad you dig that tune! That was born out of my love of noisy, melodic, polyrhythmic techno. I wanted to make a song that was super simple and only used, like, 3 synth sounds and maybe 5 tracks total. This was the end result.
What’s your writing process like? Do you approach the songs with any particular mindset or goal before you sit down with them?
For me, the process of composing and producing is very freeform and on the fly. If I hear a melody or stumble across a synth sound or sample or drum machine patch I really like, I try get something out–a loop or verse or chorus–as quickly as possible. I find that I can get 2/3rds of a song done in about an hour and then it takes me about 6 months to finish the other 1/3rd.
How do you balance work between your solo work and YACHT? It sounds like a lot of your sounds are generated by outboard gear, so is that ever an issue being on the road?
Touring with YACHT takes up a lot of my time but I’m lucky enough to have a good amount of downtime between tours and shows. When I’m home, I spend a lot of my time working on music in my apartment. Honestly, I use almost no outboard gear. There are some really beautiful sounding and powerful software synths out there, and if you know how to mix and manipulate them you can get some really rich sounds. I’m bored by analog fetishism. I think a Jupiter-8 could sound like a dinky iphone app if mixed poorly or used in the wrong context. Conversely, some iPhone apps sound great and I’ve recorded with a number of different ones that I love and sound great in a mix. I mean, I think outboard gear is great, but I spend all of my disposable income on eating out and almost never allocate resources to buying new gear.
Do you approach your remixes differently than your original tracks?
I almost prefer doing remixes to working on original tracks. With a remix, the initial spark of inspiration is already there, and as a remixer I love working with a finished a cappella track or chord structure for a song and rebuilding a track around that. I want to do more remixes, honestly.
Do you play live drums on any of the tracks? A lot of them seem to have a live percussion element to them similar to sort of DFA sound.
I don’t play much live drums on my tracks. I’ve always worked in a small bedroom studio and just never have the space to set up drums or anything. One time I recorded with my friend who does the band Midnight Magic at his studio. We got some good drum takes then and I’ve been using a lot of those tracks ever since. I feel like I have a knack for sequencing and programming acoustic percussion. Also a good african loop, soul break, or field recording of cuban drumming is going to sound better than anything you record at home or in a studio.