From his firm footing in jazz and classical as a young brass musician to achieving a Masters in mixing and production, Jimi Jules has earned his incomparable abilities as a transcendental DJ. He’s had a residency at Hive club in Zurich and played at the infamous Watergate club in Berlin we anticipate dancing euphoria at his set for Mondo, Madrid this Thursday 21st April.
Jimi Jules long unbound from any academic cuffs, creates jazz threads and electronic reverberations that continuously redefine Swiss house music in this future-facing album +. Revel in the anarchic undertones as the track Macarena opens, “the only good system is a sound system”.
Jimi Jules. You are a Swiss native, ‘descendant from a tribe of Caribbean voodoo sorcerers’. How did childhood nurture your sound today?
I had the chance to grow up in a family of creatives and orchestra musicians which definitely formed the way I live and work today. I started quite early playing the trumpet and attending competitions, of which I won one or two. That formed my way of learning, creating, and developing ideas, besides the classical compositions I was playing during that time. It was definitely a chance to see and learn how to create a sound, learn notes and develop a way to transform my thoughts and feelings into a musical expression. So, if we talk about how it influenced my sound today, it’s more on the creation side less the sound itself, or at least, not at first sight, it’s an unconscious part of myself.
Jazz is a genre that you are heavily influenced by. Could you explain the evolution of this genre within your personal and professional identity?
Well, I would say both jazz and classical music - since my grandpa and uncles played in classical settings and compositions. When I’m looking for a line that spans through my life it’s more on the experimental and improvisational side of jazz vs the sound of brass bands. How to create a colour or rhythm pattern out of thoughts, using chaos and experimentation as a starting point of my creative process. I still try to work as freely as possible on ideas when I’m in the studio, using an instrument, things laying around to get as close to the inspiration I have in mind. This ensures me a sound that’s a kind of me, organic and warm with a personal message that influenced me in life.
Is musicology as integrated into your personal life as it was for you growing up?
My children like to listen to music and here and there they listen to music from their dad, in the car or at home. There are songs they really dig and always wants to listen to and other ones they don't like (which probably won’t get released) but all three of my children always have really different reactions. The oldest and the youngest are into more Pop-y stuff with proper melodies and the middle one loves noise and hip-hop. They are free in the decision to learn an instrument or to produce music, at the moment, however, this is rather a minor matter, and things like skating and enjoying the moment go before. Let's see what time will bring.
Together with Innervisions, the electronic music label you are signed with, you are presented with quite some creative freedom. What does this freedom and musical intimacy mean to you?
I’m actually not signed to them in a music business way. We agreed on a relationship and process of releasing my album titled + collaboratively in a very natural and relaxed way. I have to admit I’m not a businesses-driven artist (The Innervisions team will confirm to you, I can be a bit chaotic) for this, it is very important for me that I can trust the people or labels that I work with. How they think about music, how they deal with it, and how we work together on topics around the album. If I can trust them in such a way, the goal for me is to be and stay creative, work on new music, projects and enjoys time with my family. Of course, it was a lot of work for the last 12 months, but it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to the things to come.
Now that things are opening up. We are lured out from behind the digital sphere hopping back into the public dance floor again. What has this transition meant for your music and way of presenting your melodies?
The album was made during the pandemic and so some songs are inspired by that time: the way we treated each other during that time, the time with my family and kids, also the uncertainty and isolation. That's why I think now, with the possibility to meet again in person, to hug each other, spend time together will have an influence on how artists shape their music. In the field of improvised jazz, the melody can be used as a starting point for musical exchange, an image, a harmony to which people meet again after individual excursions. Taking this as an idea, I am curious to hear what influence the present excursions will have on the melodies of the future.
What does the symbol + signify?
Better Together Forever.
You mention British novelist George Orwell, and his dystopian novel 1984 has influenced the essence of some tracks on the album +. The book explores how government (can) monitor every aspect of human life. How did you channel these emotions into your tracks?
Yes, that's right, I listed the book as inspiration for the album. I had already read it in my youth and then it fell into my hands again a few years ago. However, it is less about a certain passage or the actual content of the book. Rather, it's about a feeling that has served me as inspiration, alongside other books by authors like Paulo Coelho or Remo Largo, or life situations that I process as inspiration in my music.
What mediums of social ostracism exist even in the music scene and club culture?
Of course, there is a long road ahead, even if we are on our way. Therefore, it is important for me personally to exchange with as many people and artists as possible. As I already briefly mentioned, I have chosen the core statement Better Together Forever, as a principle for new projects on the one hand and the opportunity to communicate views on various topics on the other. We started the first single in November last year and I have already been able to meet so many different people from all over the world through the project that I probably would never have come into contact with. A chance for me to communicate this principle further.
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