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INTERVIEW: Joss Jaffe

Hi Joss, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Things are going great! Just got back from some really fun events in Asia and getting ready for the summer festival season here on the west coast.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Aloha”?

Absolutely. I love that one. The original song had a reggae sound inspired by listening to popular tracks in Hawaii.  It was one of my favorite songs from the last album. DJ Taz liked it too and sped up the tempo in the remix adding a big bass line and pop style hooks giving it a fun dance flavor.  I thought it sounded really strong so we placed it as the lead single on the album.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

I wrote the first bass line in the Kona Airport on the Big Island back in 2012! I had just played a wedding and a few local shows. It’s so idyllic there. I was driving around in the rental car listening to the reggae station. They love reggae in Hawaii. It was the perfect vibe. The song just sort of developed from there and I always played it when I had shows in the islands.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

The original song has a fabulous video! Live action surfing, skating and a love story. I guess the new song we could do something similar but I don’t have plans at the moment. Stay tuned.

The single comes off your new album Dub Mantra Sangha Remix – what made you want to release a remix album?

I’ve always loved well-produced remix albums. One of my all time favorites was “Mixed Up” by The Cure. I’m dating myself by claiming that! I used to listen to it in high school. I feel like electronic music is in a really good place right now, heavily influencing pop, hip-hop, indie, even rock. So I’ve just been waiting for the right time to work with some of my favorite electronica producers. I’m happy with how it turned out and the album has something for everyone from chill to heavy and a lot of nice spots in between.

How was the recording and re-writing process?

It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with the DJ’s. They approach music making very intuitively based on what they know works for them on the dance floor and in mixes. A lot of the collaboration was conceptual. We would talk about what kind of vibe we were going for. Then they would shoot mixes back to me and it became a dialogue. Ultimately I put a lot of trust in their vision. I wanted something that was different from what I would do alone. It was revealing to step back a bit and watch it unfold. I like to give artists I work with a lot of freedom and I think that’s when the best magic happens.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are remixing someone else rather than in your own?

Yes I think I do. When I’m working on my own stuff I have a certain thing I’m going for and I can visualize the end result in my mind’s eye. When it’s a true collaboration I like the fact that I have to put some of my pre-conceived ideas aside and go with the flow more. I still hold everything to a high-quality standard, but I have less of an expectation of what it’s going to sound like. I think it’s good to do both things.

Did you find inspiration for the songs and lyrics somewhere else this time around?

Yes. This reminds me of something I heard an old Jamaican dub producer say once: by remixing the song, cutting out and rearranging the vocals, you can create new messages from the original song. It’s additive and subtractive and by using silence and repetition you create new patterns. It was interesting to see it emerge in the context of electronic music. It really was the same approach even though the music ended up sounding different from the original reggae sound.

Any plans to hit the road?

It never stops! I’m especially looking forward to Beloved, Bhaktifest and OC Yoga Festival coming up in the next few months, plus local shows up and down the west coast. I’m grateful to have a full schedule.

What else is happening next in Joss Jaffe’s world?

Yes there’s a new album cooking. I need to find time to keep writing and tracking for the next album in between the shows. I am excited to continue working with DJ Taz, the talented Chicago based producer who contributed 2 standout tracks to this release. We are playing with a collection of songs in a “Dream Pop” style. The demos are sounding really nice. Looking forward to sharing it with you soon.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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