Jaytech: One Geeky Dude on the Road to the Future

In August Australian DJ/producer Jaytech issued his second full-length album, Multiverse, an album that was three years in the making. In a candid interview, our Kathy Vitkus talked to Jaytech about his latest endeavor featuring collaborations with Nathan Grainger and Dirty Vegas’ Steve Smith.

You’ve been quite busy since Big Shot spoke with you at Ultra Music Week in March 2011. Your new album, Multiverse, has just been released. What do you plan to do with your spare time or breathing room that you’re experiencing these days after this latest major project?
Jaytech: Absolutely! I just finished up a ten-day holiday with my sister and two friends in Japan. I had two gigs while I was there, in Tokyo and Fukuoka, respectively. As the two cities are at opposite ends of the main island, we decided to make our way across the country on the bullet trains and check out Kyoto and Hiroshima along the way. I’ve been to Japan four times but every trip has been squeezed into the space of two or three days at the most, so I wanted to actually soak it up a bit this time. My new album came out around the same time, so it was also a way to kind of take a step back from all the promo and marketing we’ve been doing lately.

Multiverse definitely echos that traditional, Above & Beyond/Anjunadeep euphoria. As a member of the prestigious Above & Beyond Anjunadeep label what is the guidance, approval, influence or scrutiny that comes from James Grant or the Anjuna team that effects your latest production or its track selection process?
For this particular album the main man running the A&R process was Allan McGrath, who joined as the manager of Anjunabeats in 2010. There was never any particular influence to do the album in a certain way. It was more about taking what we thought was the best of the material I’d written and arranging it in a way that would have the best impact. I’d say there were probably about 30 or 40 contenders for album tracks, 13 of which made the final cut, so it was definitely a huge undertaking for everyone involved.

“In a weird way, I think writing music helps sharpen your definition of the world around you, as it kind of explains things in a way you can’t necessarily do in words.”

“Stranger” appears to be the instant dance floor hit. Cosmic Gate tested it on the dance floor (with a glowing success) when they recently toured through DC, and Kyau & Albert wasted no time creating a valiant remix. It was your first single release from Multiverse. Other than its obvious and infectious lovability and groove, what is it that personally impressed you about “Stranger” that influenced your selection as the first single release from your latest album?
Ultimately, I feel it’s Steve Smith’s vocal work that has taken the track’s appeal to the next level. It’s a nice lyrical sentiment, not too much for listeners to swallow, but with some extra layers of musical complexity for those who want it. We recorded it in Above & Beyond’s studio in London, which is a much nicer recording environment than I’m used to in terms of setup and acoustic treatment. I think that reflects in the record – as a vocal track it came together quite easily.

How was it that you convinced Steve Smith of Dirty Vegas fame to lend his incomparable, sensual and sultry vocals on this track?
After Dirty Vegas’ single “Tonight” was selected as the official anthem for the Ibiza Music Summit in 2009, Above & Beyond were enlisted to do a club mix, which was partly produced in front of a live audience during the summit. After that, the track became quite popular among Anjunabeats fans, and later on we got in touch with Steve to see if he’d be interested in doing some vocal work for my album. We had the rough draft for “Stranger” in the works for a while but eventually decided to get together in London, to expand on the lyrics and give it the recording treatment it deserved.

Your label mate, Above & Beyond’s Tony McGuinness, often uses his songwriting as a sort of catharsis and has therefore managed an undaunted series of poignant, candid manifestos over the years. Your “Labour Of Love” in title alone offers insinuation to the trials and tribulations in relationships. Are the lyrics on “Stranger” and “Labour Of Love” some of your own and do they have a story to tell drawn on personal experience?
In the words of producer Nile Rodgers, whose autobiography I read just recently, it’s always good to give your lyrics a secret hidden meaning — something that everyone will relate to but that also means something hidden to you personally. While “Stranger” is largely Steve’s interpretation, the lyrics on “Labour of Love” do have a double meaning. For me it’s also about the trials and tribulations of writing a second artist album, and relating to an ever-changing audience. The story of the track is basically about pushing on for the sake of what you love, even if the path is not as clear and simple as it used to be. To me, this is true in both music and relationships.

Was the release of your latest album in conjunction with your 27th birthday pure coincidence or was this a calculated birthday present to yourself and a gift to the rest of the world?
To be quite honest we were originally looking at getting it out a little earlier, as it’s been four years since my last artist album. In the end, I think it was the right choice to give it a bit longer in order to get the track list and artwork properly wrapped up, and to time it in the release schedule in a way that would have the best effect. I guess it is a gift to the world, although to me the reward is the process of writing it. In a weird way, I think writing music helps sharpen your definition of the world around you, as it kind of explains things in a way you can’t necessarily do in words.

You’ve paired with Serenade on both “Everglade” and “Through The Maze.” What can you tell us about this amiable songstress and the history of your collaboration with her?
We’ve known each other for a very long time and she’s actually responsible for a lot of the vocal “snippets” from some of my earlier work, such as “Genesis” and “Manipulator.” I’ve always considered her to have an amazing voice, and I think the best from her is yet to come. The two tracks she features in on the album are still largely instrumental affairs, but when I get the chance to record her under really great circumstances I think we should definitely do a more fully fledged vocal track, like I did with Steve Smith.

What is your working relationship and your meeting of the minds with Nathan Grainger who sings on “Labour Of Love” and “Innovation?”
Nathan is basically a living legend amongst our crew back in Australia and heavily involved in the world of electronic music. We’ve been rocking out to prog anthems and partying together for as long as I can remember, and we’ve actually written three whole albums together just for fun. Usually the music we’ve written has been of a pretty silly nature, but having done so much recording together it just kind of made sense to actually try and do something more seriously.

“Innovation” in name is a forward-thinking term although this smooth, unique track has a retro ’90s feel like a subtle version of Depeche Mode “Rush” meets God Lives Under Water “Your Mouth.” What was the inspiration and framework behind the making of this particular track?
It’s more indicative of the kind of music my friends are listening to back in Australia. Although a lot of them started with progressive house and trance, nowadays when I go back there people are listening to all kinds of stuff, such as glitch, dubstep, midtempo and a whole bunch of other styles I never knew existed. “Innovation” was influenced by that kind of slower tempo sound.

Fans missed you at the Group Therapy show in Miami this past March. Your unfortunate absence from the scheduled line-up was due to unforeseen circumstances but your absence, especially from this particular show, was an unprecedented void. The annual, Miami in March, Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep shows are not quite the same without the Jaytech franchise. What are you plans to take your DJ show on the road promoting Multiverse to a world of Anjuna fans?
The plan is to really tour the hell out of the album over the next six or eight months. At the moment we’ve got gigs lined up for North and South America, Australia and Asia, and there’s more stuff in the pipeline. Should be a pretty busy year of travel I think! As for Miami, I will definitely be there in 2013.

Scattered throughout the 13-track collection you host a few melodic, downtempo compositions and wrap with “Blue Ocean” feat. Melody Gough and “Coda” which are 96bpm and 93bpm respectively. As Above & Beyond did with Group Therapy this allows the opportunity and endless possibilities for a transition into club remixes. Do you see that in the future for any or all of these tracks?
Possibly, although I think I’m more inclined to create clubbier mixes of the progressive and trance tracks from the album. It’s always a bit of a pain making a club mix out of a 93bpm track because the tempo is way off what it needs to be, so you either need to speed up/slow down the vocal a lot or do some creative chopping, and often you end up pretty far removed from the original musical idea.

As part of the Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep label you’re aware of their reputation for working with quite the prolific artists. If given the choice, which artist could you see assimilating quite well into the Anjunadeep family and why, or one who might present another collaboration opportunity for you?

To be honest I’d love to see an Eric Prydz record on Anjunadeep, although he’s got such a good thing going with his own imprint that it maybe wouldn’t make much sense to do that. As for assimilation into the Anjunadeep family, it’s great to see Jody Wisternoff featuring more on the label as I’ve always been a big fan of his sound.

The partial list of the approval ratings from fans regarding your latest release reads like the following, “… Jimbo, you did everything right..,” “… Already had it for 2 days and haven’t stopped listening to it!!!…” and “SWEET JESUS…. THIS ALBUM!” With all modesty aside, in 30 words or less, how would you describe Multiverse.

One geeky dude on the road to the future, painting a picture of the colorful things he sees along the way.

Live image via Facebook

Mat Zo’s Past Influences His Future

British progressive house DJ/producer Mat Zo has music in his blood. Literally. His mother is an accomplished violinist and at an early age began soaking up music like a sponge. Fast forward to the present and Zo is regarded as one of the most up-and-coming jocks on the global scene, thanks to a slew of smoking hot remixes and productions. After his tracks found themselves in heavy rotation in the sets of renowned DJs from all over the world, he began a successful relationship with Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats. In this exclsuive interview conducted in Miami, Zo opens up about his interesting past, his ongoing work with Arty and hints at new projects we can expect from him. Spoiler alert: he’s working on an artist album!

I understand your mother is a professional violinist and raised you with more than just a sense of an appreciation for music. What are some of your fondest memories of that upbringing and her influence that you carry with you today?
Mat Zo:  I remember the first time she taught me how to play piano. I remember getting completely excited about making music, and I think it all stemmed from there really.

How old were you?
I was two.

Some kids fight it a bit. Well, maybe not at that age but when they get older and when they want to go outside and just play with their friends.
I kind of did fight it when I was a little older but deep down I couldn’t escape from being a musical person.

You spent a significant amount of your childhood in Cleveland, OH, and, as they say, “Cleveland Rocks.” Your father presented you with a guitar when you were eight. Who were your influences back then and what were you playing?
I was big into grunge and Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. At the same time I’d just discovered Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim so my musical tastes back then were even more varied than they are now.

“My mom’s very supportive. She listens to all my music and follows me on Twitter and all that.”

So you were interested in grunge and rock and then you found electronic dance music. How did that transition happen? When and how did you find out about all that?
There’s this Canadian TV channel called MuchMusic. Back in 1998 when I was a little kid in my basement listening to that station they had this club show every Saturday I think it was. They would bring on DJs and that was my introduction to dance music.

It was a little more underground back then and it was a little harder to find.
I’ve got to thank illegal, free cable.

How do your parents feel about your successful music endeavors and paths you’ve taken so far?
First they were a bit unsure about it before I made something out of it. Now that I’m touring the world and doing something with music I think they’re proud of me, understandably I guess.

Is your father doing something in music as well; I know he bought you your guitar.
He loves music but he’s a painter by profession.

You’re from an artistic family all around. Do they understand the music you listen to? Do you play it for them? Do they understand what it’s all about?
My mom understands it a lot more than my dad. My mom’s very supportive. She listens to all my music and follows me on Twitter and all that.

It’s almost obvious because of the availability of electronic dance music in London, but do you recall some of the first moments that you heard and fell in love with EDM while living there?
I definitely liked drum ‘n’ bass and garage. I was introduced to that when I moved over there. It’s massive in London.

Which drum ‘n’ bass artist or artists?
High Contrast, Logistics, Noisia.

Who were you emulating and what means did you use to explore your craft?
At first I wasn’t even using production software. I was making MIDI’s which are just computer generated but a little hard to explain. Basically I got into it just making melodies without really producing. Back then I was just trying to be Daft Punk which isn’t too far off from what I’m doing now.

Were you already writing some of your own material?
I think I started making my own music when I was about eight. I’ve been pretty much doing it my whole life.

That’s impressive. They’re starting you guys out younger and younger like Arty and Erik Arbores and you.
They’re only going to get younger and younger until most of the DJs won’t be allowed in the clubs.

Do you recall your first gig and your track selection?
My first professional gig was in Utrecht in Holland for Trance Energy in 2008. It was a very small pre-party. The company was called Luminosity. Since then they’ve grown a lot. My first ever gig was at my friend’s birthday party and I was in the booth with about five other friends and they were playing with the pitch faders. I was playing stuff like Steve Angello and a lot of house music.

When and how did your relationship with Above & Beyond happen?
They asked me to do a remix for them in 2008. They liked it and then afterwards they asked me if I had any original stuff and if I wouldn’t mind signing with them. I immediately took a shine to the label.

How did they find out about you?
It was a remix I did of Tiesto.

What was song that Above & Beyond asked you to remix?
It was a song called “Fallen Tides” by Mark Pledger and Matt Hardwick.

What can you tell about your relationship with Arty?
We work really well together. Every time we make a track together it turns out really well. I guess our two styles go really well.

How did you two meet?
It was through Anjunabeats. I was playing a lot of his stuff and he said at the time I was one of his biggest inspirations and vice versa and it just happened.

What’s the thought process involved, the production involved, and how to you come to the conclusion that it’s complete when you produce an amazing track like “Rebound” or “Mozart?
If I knew where the inspiration came from I’d be making a lot more music. Sometimes you just have one of those days when you wake up and an idea comes.

And then there is your single effort “Yoyo Ma” which is a lovely track. What was your inspiration for this one?
I played around with the synthesizer trying to make a dirty bassline but ended up with a cello instead.

Are you currently collaborating with anyone that you’d care to share?
I’m doing another collab with Arty. Other than that pretty much just working on my album and trying to get that finished first.

Is there someone you’re interested in working with?
There are loads of people. Madeon from France. He sounds really promising. One of my all-time favorite bands, Radiohead. If I would ever get to work with them I think my life would be complete.

What is a current hot track for you? What might we hear from you at the Group Therapy show?
Every gig now I’ve been playing this track by Dada Life called “Kick Out The Epic Mother Fucker,” and I’ve mashed that up with Avicii’s “Levels” and it’s been going off really well but more or less on the commercial side I’ve been loving tracks by Alex Kenji and Phunk Investigation and Da Fresh. I really like the more techy, groovy sound of them.

Once Miami Week is over and done what do you have planned?
My girlfriend’s coming over from LA for a week and we’re going to spend some time together. I’ll have a gig in India and Helsinki, and I’ll still be working on all of my album tracks. So yeah, it’s going to be a busy summer.