Q+A: 5 Minutes with jackLNDN
There are few in the UK house scene who wouldn’t recognise the name jackLNDN with his progressively mellow tones and vibrant beats. The producer has just released his latest single, ‘Return’ which is steadily rising in popularity. While the producer originally hails from London, he found himself embracing the international world one slick beat at a time before establishing a new home base in Lafayette, Colorado where he has crafted remixes for legendary artists such as Emancipator, Lettuce and The Polish Ambassador. With over 31 million plays across platforms, jackLNDN has marked himself as one to watch.
The artist has been open about the musical impact of both countries: with an opportunity to learn about the more formal side of the industry during his younger years in England as well as the more emotionally freeing side from the US. Naturally, we were curious about the process of reconciling these two different worlds and what the next step would be for the producer. Find it all in the link below.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
It could never be anything else.
What is your aim while creating music?
I aim to create music that is capable of connecting with a broad audience while still pleasing the music heads and tastemakers. I feel like the best writers and musicians can do both simultaneously without compromising the art itself, and that is my goal. Beyond that, there is no aim when I sit down to write. Every time I go into the studio with a predetermined plan to create a specific sound it never works, what comes out comes out and forcing that in a different direction feels very unnatural to me. If I sit down to write a club banger I’ll likely end up with a melodic love song and vice versa.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
The idea usually although sometimes the sound, and sometimes the rhythm.
How has your production style & creativity changed over the past few years?
I’m always trying to push myself forward technically as a musician and as a human being. The past few years forced me to go deeper than ever before into my creative process re-learning and re-discovering everything from the ground up. I have put more emphasis on developing my playing skills, especially on piano, guitar & percussion which has translated into more organic feeling & sounding records. The majority of what you now hear in my music is played by me and recorded rather than programmed. In addition, beyond singing the vocals I continue to use my voice in as many ways as possible just like a synth. There’s so much you can do with your voice and it is uniquely yours, and no amount of meticulous sound design can imitate it.
You transitioned from the world of classical, jazz and choir singing into house and electronic music. What were some of the challenges you faced during this change?
When I first began transitioning from the classical world into the electronic space, I had a difficult time scaling back my ideas. I think I had this perception that the more complex and grand the composition, the more worthy it became. In modern music, it almost feels like the opposite can be true. I started out with my ideas being overly complex and hard to grasp, thinking this was desirable when in reality it was turning people off. It turns out less is more, leaving space is a crucial part of the writing. Simplicity doesn’t mean simple, it just means it’s been distilled down to its essential raw essence. Being a reductionist takes practice and discipline.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve found the USA to be far more freeing – emotionally and artistically. How has living there helped you grow as a musician?
I feel like the emphasis on the community in music is really strong in the US, especially in Denver. So many great musicians who tour the country and world live here and are always sitting in on sets with local acts & musicians helping everyone to grow together. We have a really strong music scene here and so many great venues, it can be really inspiring to see your friends on stage and a good reminder of why we go through the craziness of being a musician. In the Colorado scene, there’s also a greater focus on live-electronic music, with people being drawn to acts that can display their production and instrumental chops on stage at the same time. This was a huge factor in making me want to develop my live show and perform my vocals, keyboards & baselines live on stage. I feel like we’re are ahead of that curve in Denver as I continue to see more and more electronic acts across the country develop live shows to better connect with their audiences. DJ sets are cool but were originally meant for dark, sweaty clubs where the DJ isn’t the focus of attention (think Fabric). When you transplant that same performance to a larger stage I think the audience loses out a little and concertgoers are rightfully beginning to expect a little more.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
I love it, it’s a very unique situation. To be up there receiving such focused and positive energy can be very healing. I’ve been revelling in every second of it since touring returned. Impossible not to feel grateful just to be playing music at all. It’s when I feel most alive.
Tell us about the new era of music that you are working towards.
I’m trying to be as authentic as possible. I continue to produce, mix & master all of my own work, which I guess is the musical equivalent of farm to table. Every part of the process is exactly as I want it, meaning there is no compromise between what’s in my head and what ends up on the record. With that said, lyrically I’ve been diving deeper within myself to pull from the rawest, most honest places. I’ve never been so moved during the process of creating, tapping into themes and experiences that provoked uncontrollable outpourings of emotion from places deep within my psyche. It takes so much energy to visit certain places and somehow come out the other side with an uplifting song about a difficult time. I want to lift people up, while also acknowledging that life is difficult and full of pain, which are two contrasting things. There’s both pain and happiness in every song, just like in life. Writing about my experiences and emotions is still one of the greatest ways of unpacking and processing the more impactful events of my life.
The music industry is constantly evolving – what do you think is the next step in the evolution.
Despite the obvious immediate new frontiers like NFTs, Web3 and Social Tokens, I still haven’t seen a pathway to present my art in a genuine way using these new technologies. My visual artist friends who have been waiting patiently for years for a way to be able to sell their art are all now getting rich and they deserve it. Music however has had monetized streaming for almost a decade now and to deliberately limit its reach to a small number of enthusiasts with deep wallets via artificially imposed scarcity doesn’t seem like it’s serving the music or the fans. It’s smart capitalism sure, after all scarcity drives everything including the price, but I’m not sure it’s the future of music. I’d say it’s more the future of collectables and one-off rare creations for super-fans. I see a bigger opportunity in VR and digital ticket sales, some of my friends have played to a million people at once in the digital world. I bought tickets to see a Lettuce live stream during the pandemic and it was a brilliant experience. The sound was direct from the mixing desk and it was so well produced that we felt like we were getting an enhanced experience from the real thing. VR can put you on stage with your favorite bands, an experience that fans would gladly pay extra for just like paying extra for the front row. Seeing as all in money seems to be in touring, it’s a huge opportunity to help make tours profitable if you can sell twice the number of tickets both IRL and in VR. It’s impossible to replace the energy of being in a live audience, but if it becomes commonplace to digitally attend concerts you couldn’t make, then artists will surely benefit. Buying a ticket is one of the most powerful and direct ways to support a musician you love.
Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
The full works, singles, album & tour. I’ll be dropping a live album performance too.
Famous last words?
Big year, Big VIBE!
Image credit: Jane Greer
By Sarah Britton