This is not about Anouk, the Eurovisie Songfestival or one of Hitchcock’s greatest. This is about another ‘Birds’. A fantastic début single produced and created by Jay Hats (out since June 10th). A talented producer. A new ‘kid’ on the block. And it’s time to get to know the man a little better.
Introduce yourself (name, age, city, day-job, religion)!
I’m Jay Hats – I make beats. My real name is Joris, I live in Eindhoven, and I’ve bin into the music business for a long time. Mostly behind the scenes in a studio or on stage working for other people, now it’s time to step out and share my music with the world. The music I make sounds like a mix of contemporary club music driven by the energy of frantic percussion.
Your 2-track single is called Birds; what’s it about?
It’s about my love for nature and the sounds it generates. The track Birds is like wandering in a damp jungle and stumbling into a native tribe-initiation-ritual and hearing this hypnotic music being played…The track Rise is like a day’s cycle. From sunrise to opening your laptop and making your way into a concrete jungle, with all the survival you have to do to stay in control of everything that’s bin thrown at you constantly.
The music you make sounds pretty complex; how did the process of creation evolve and what type of equipment do you use?
Well it’s just me and a MacBook pro basically. I do have a pretty cool studio that I run with two friends, and I use that for recording things. Most of the sounds are real recordings being put into a blender (Logic 9).
Every sound I use in ‘ BIRDS’ has been recorded in the studio first. I think there is not a single VST in it except the bass. I use a poisonous-dart frog on the snare drum.
Most of the times a tune turns out completely different from what I had planned. RISE for instance had a Drum & Bass feel going. I didn’t like it one bit, so I selected all of the snares and put them 1/16 note to the right. The new rhythm was way better. I’m a real freak when it comes to arrangements. I’m never satisfied. I need a deadline for it to really work.
For example with the BIRDS single we used a shared Dropbox folder for the final mixdowns, so the mastering engineer had easy access… After putting the songs in there, I wanted to do some teasers of the songs to give people a glimpse of what’s to come.
When I cut ‘RISE’ up I added some vocal effects over the teaser to give it some psychadelic effect that drives you in. When I listened back to the full song, I began missing that effect, so I uploaded a new mixdown to Dropbox with those vocal effects in it, just 2 days before the deadline for the whole project. So when I heard the masters I was really glad he had used the latest version of the song, haha. I never stop, it’s horrible…
You’ve been making music for a long time, but never had an official release of your own – how come?
I don’t know really… I’m hardly ever satisfied with what I make, so most of it never left the studio and I think bad luck has something to do with it too I guess. I did some remixes here and there, and I did a song for La Melodia’s debut album Vibing High (Fell In Love) with a good friend as Treeclimbers. After that we made a full length hip-hop/nu-soul album (As ‘Treeclimbers feat. Frank Nitty’).
This was t(h)ree guys wanting to do this baaad! In the end, when we finished the album, I wasn’t really happy with the result. All the initial inspiration had been flattened out of it. Frank, who did all the vocals decided to move to Tokyo shortly after the release. When he moved I started getting some offerings to do shows. We could have played supporting N*E*R*D at some point…
In the meantime I was making more percussive instrumental tracks on my own in the nighttime, just to get my thing out there. I won a leader contest for the Future Vintage online radio show and got attention from MOOVMNT who helped me get in touch with CIRCULATIONS records from Tokyo Japan. They heard my lil’ demo and wanted to release the finished project, but there was only this snippet-mix I did with 10 songs. Each song was like a snippet of a finished song, but the snippets was all I had at that point… I was not ready man.
Last year I visited Dai from CIRCULATIONS, but he wasn’t focussing on running the label at that point. Right now I guess I figured things out a little better and I’m hungry as ever to get some projects released as well as performing.
You consider yourself to be a DJ, recording artist or engineer first?
I think like a DJ thinks. I know how to read a crowd. I can change their state of mind with sound. But I see myself as an artist first.
Could you describe how your music has evolved these past few years?
I started as a drum & bass DJ back in the days together with Martyn (3024), but I went back to more organic hip-hop when drum & bass went square and too mechanical. This evolved into being heavily into Bilal & jazz from folks like Robert Glasper, but it wasn’t me… I can’t sing or play any instrument well enough to perform on stage the way they do. I have always loved UK music to death and felt that this ‘European sound’ of production was something that fitted me more. It’s has a more direct and upfront sound to it. It’s more energetic… The combination of that sound combined with South American and/or African percussion evolved into what people like Kode 9 and Pearson Sound are doing, and that felt like me all over again.
So lately I see myself more as a DJ/producer than as a musician/producer you know what I mean? That transition happened right in the middle of doing the BIRDS release, and I think you can hear that.
Who inspires you to make music? Or what? Can you name some of your biggest influences on music and/or daily life?
The biggest influence in this crazy thing called SIGNS OF THE TIMES… I’ve studied Arts and Cultural history at the academy of fine arts, and it’s about visual arts/music/architecture/technical inventions and political situations and how everything evolves and inspires eveything else. That is the most inspiring thing ever. If you look at our times right now, it’s so inspiring. You can see it around you everywhere. Our attention-span right now is really REALLY cut-up all the time, and todays music sounds exactly like that. Plus we come to realise that we need to go back to nature in some way to balance things, don’t you think? I sound like a hippie don’t I…
Musically I’m really into Kode 9, Martyn, Pearson Sound, and the experimental phase that they’re in. It’s fantastic! I’m also a big fan of my good friend Jameszoo’s music. I like his organic sound in everything he does. It might sound like trap music sometimes with synth basses and 808’s, but I can visualize a crazy parade of silly animals all making their own noise simultaniously. He’s great man!!
Are you already performing as Jay Hats?
No, but I’ll be there this summer. Kat and I are preparing a show as we speak. It’ll be like a studio on stage, with me playing and recording / looping it to organically grow the song. It will be Ableton based though, but you won’t see me staring at a screen unmuting sounds.
You work with a singer called ‘Kat Sofi’? Who is she? How did you meet?
Kat is a talented person and good friend from Eindhoven. We just ran into each other one night I guess. Kat feels like a part of me… She’s all out and free all the time. She opens me up when I’m thinking too much and I give her some structure to go nuts. It all happens so fast all the time.
When we did BIRDS, I sent her a demo and told her: “This song needs bird-sounds, go crazy!” An hour later she sent me a demo with 20 layers of vocal tracks with just the craziest animal sounds I could have imagined… That demo is way more inspiring than the finished song, but it’s TOO ill and crazy. But wait for the new things we are doing, I want to share those things no matter what.
You did some co-production on Julian Edwardes’ record Paragon; you plan to do some more work with him?
You call it a co-production and I’m honored, but all I really did was record and mix the drums haha. I love music and I know what I want to hear in a song, so maybe you could call that co-production if you will.
The cool thing about being involved in a label is doing collaborations like this. He’s an awesome dude, and his music is really out there (…to the left I mean ;-), so yeah man. Anytime! And let’s hook up Coco Bryce while we’re at it too!
Any artist you want to work with in the (near) future?
Yes I have a wishlist. I’d like to do a remix project with Yosi Horikawa from Tokyo. His new song called Wandering is amazing. The drum sound in that record is what I’m all about. Circulations hooked us up, so that might be cool.
I did a song with Jameszoo that is absolutely crazy. He was on my list as well. The rest of the people on there are all superstars on their own, so give me some time and I’ll get there 😉
Yes! Listen to Rinse FM on a daily basis!