Studies In Young Ethics: DJ Seinfeld Interviewed
What’s in a name? If you’re DJ Seinfeld, very little, it would seem.
Ever the musical chameleon, if there’s one thing you could never accuse Armand Jakobsson, of it’s standing still. Originally intended as a mere side project for the Swedish musician, as DJ Seinfeld the last few years have seen Jakobsson carving out his own brand of raw, perfectly imperfect house jams.
But while his early work was often pigeonholed within the so-called ‘lo-fi’ house movement, the past two years have seen his work take a unique form of its own. Following a slate of EPs across the likes of Lobster Theremin and Natural Sciences, the release of Time Spent Away From U in 2017 marked Jakobsson’s first full LP – a stark, reflective slice of house, which stood out as one of the year’s most exciting dance offerings. T
he launch of Young Ethics, his newly minted label, earlier this year was accompanied by the release of Galazy, his first EP in over a year, which marked a shift to a more electronic-oriented sounds. The label is set to serve as a springboard for more Seinfeld projects, and with a further wave of EPs planned in the coming months, it looks like 2019 is shaping up to be Jakobsson’s year.
Following a barnstorming set at Love Saves The Day last month, Paul Weedon sat down for a chat with the man himself.
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Last year was a massive year for you, with the release of your DJ Kicks compilation and a hectic touring schedule. Do you find much time to work on new material while you’re on the road?
Not really, no, but it is something that can also work to my benefit. If I have too much time, I’ll end up starting a hundred projects and never finishing them. Nowadays instead, I'll get a stern phone call saying I need to finish this and that and a few hours later it’ll be done.
Obviously, I'd prefer to have more time to sit, think and write but we’ve carved out more time for that in the future so hopefully there will be a good balance to reach.
You lived in Barcelona for a few years before moving back to Malmo recently. What was it that attracted you to Barcelona initially?
That’s correct. I had two to three different options for Masters degrees in the UK, but seeing as I had already spent four years in Edinburgh, I figured it would be a nice change of environment.
Seeing the sun on a regular basis is a pretty nice thing, and the degree there was very good, so I thought I could have the best of both worlds - academically and socially.
The tone of your work has become notably more reflective over the past few EPs. A lot was made of the track ‘U’ from Time Spent Away From U and its sample of Bob Geldof talking about grief. It’s an incredibly emotive full stop on that album, but equally it wouldn’t feel out of place in a club. What was it that drew you towards that sample?
I had that sample in my library for a good while before I actually used it. I remember typing something like “break up monologues” into YouTube and that interview with Bob Geldof came up. It was just something that was relevant to what I was going through at that time, and I didn’t have any desire to make it more subtle than I perhaps would have done now.
You’ve spoken before about how you were told that you’d need to change your name because no one would take your work seriously. A lot of musicians have followed your lead since, taking up absurd monikers of their own and many of them are making great music too. Are you paying much attention to what else is happening in the scene?
I’m aware of what people that I know are doing, but not much more than that. I try and stay in my own lane more than ever and I suspect most of the people from that “scene” are doing that too. The name controversy has become increasingly irrelevant, at least for myself and what I want to do and it was never really a huge problem to start with.
It became a problem initially, because certain people would like to think that there’s some implicit guidelines you need to follow for you music to be taken seriously, but in actuality it was a recipe for how an artist profile should look like or come across, I believe. I reject that completely.
I like the confusion that sometimes arises: a silly moniker with earnest music - what’s the deal with that?
It’s not rocket science and there isn’t a grand scheme behind it. I’m trying to have fun with it all and not take myself too seriously. I’ve found that to be a healthy route for me personally.
With imitators following in your wake, do you feel that there’s an innate lack of creativity in the house scene now? Is there still some value in people making music that’s kind of riffing on the groundwork you guys have laid already?
Well, the music I made was heavily inspired by the producers that came before me. All I hoped for - and that I can hope for - is to bring some of my own personality and aesthetic to it. That’s all anyone can do if you’re attempting to make house/techno music.
There’s definitely a lot of value in the music that is still coming out now. I’m super impressed every time I sit down and scythe through promos. It’s a great time for music, I think.
A lot has been made of the reflective tone of Time Spent Away From U. You mentioned previously that, to some extent, you never really intended for those tunes to be heard originally. Are you more aware that the music you’re producing is going to be heard by a wider audience? How does that affect your work?
Well, the principal thing I gathered from that time was that honesty can be extremely captivating. It is essentially the main thing I ask myself before putting music out - is this me? Can I hear myself in this music? It’s worked well thus far and knowing that has just encouraged me to continue following that guideline, regardless of how many people are going to listen to it.
Who are you listening to right now that you find particularly inspiring?
I’m listening to a lot of Lee Gamble, Madlib, Skee Mask and Swedish pop. Swedish pop isn’t that great in my opinion, but there’s something about it that I can’t really distance myself from at the moment.
You’ve recently launched Young Ethics. Tell me a little about how the label came to be and what prompted you to go it alone, as it were.
Firstly, I just wanted to have complete ownership of the music, the aesthetics and everything else around it. I had the name in my head for a while - not thinking it would be a suitable for anything, more than a term to loosely describe what’s happening in the industry sometimes. But I’d say there were small things that all coalesced and told me I need to do this sooner rather than later, and I’m extremely excited for what’s to come.
'Galazy' very much feels like it was tailored for the dance floor, perhaps more so than your previous EP, 'Sakura'. Do you think of your releases in those terms at all, or is that oversimplifying what you do to an extent?
Not really, but sometimes I do. Galazy was definitely more dance floor targeted than most of my stuff, because it would sound a bit like what I love to play when I have a couple of hours in a club to do what iIwant to do. It’s not a “hands-in-the-air”-kind of track, but I’m not a hands-in-the-air-kind of DJ anyway.
Following on from the new EP, what else can we expect from the label this year?
Two to three more EPs from myself, time permitting.
The press release for the label stated that Young Ethics will be exclusively for your own output “for the time being". I take it that you’re eyeing up other artists to work with in the future too then?
Yes indeed, I have a lot of talented friends around me and I think for the future there will be some amazing talent featuring on the Young Ethics label.
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Words: Paul Weedon // @Twotafkap
'Galazy' is available on Young Ethics now. Love Saves The Day returns in 2020.
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