Kill The Noise is an iconic artist in modern day electronic music. He is often defined by his sensational bass sound and complexity in production. His performances and skills on deck are not to be missed and this summer I had the chance to encounter Jake at Montreal's IleSoniq festival. He shared his thoughts and personal past, describing how he came to be Kill The Noise and where he sees himself going.
EARMILK: You have a collaboration coming up with Feed Me, which is really exciting to hear. What can you tell us about that?
Jake: We're working on the release date right now and the details of how we're going to put it out. We started working on this a long time ago and it's just been a big process because we came up with a really cool idea for the song. Usually when I tour in Europe I spend some time with Feed Me.
J: This started as an idea we were screwing around with that we thought had potential. We wanted to try something that no one else has done, just to stand out. We both realized that we needed a vocal but we wanted to do something weird. We got a bunch of kids from this school who were maybe eight or nine years old. It's basically a children's choir for the vocals; no one I know of has done that before.
EM: So what is the name of the track?
J: The song is called "Far Away". He's been playing it in his live sets and so have I, but we've been holding off because we have a big video that's just got made. It should be out within the next month or two. It'll be another thing that hopefully people will be excited about when I'm on my tour.
EM: Great segway. You have the Majestic As Fak Tour approaching with a series of other talented artists. Are there any tour stops in particular that you're really looking forward to?
J: I've made quite a few friends in a lot of the different cities across the US so I'm most excited to see everyone again. There are a couple of cities that I've never played before because it doesn't really make sense to play smaller cities when I'm just doing weekend gigs, flying in and out. Yet because we're on a bus, I can go and play these smaller markets like mid-West or close to the Pacific area.
Photos by Stephen Kazumi Hughes from Bunkinthetrunk.com
EM: With over 40 stops and a nonstop schedule, being on a bus and constantly on the road, how do you keep your sanity in check and what are some of the biggest payoffs from a tour like that?
J: Well in terms of staying sane, no matter what it's going to be hard work. Even if you weren't playing shows and were just travelling around like that, it's a complete strain. Away from home for two months on a bus, jesus christ. But what keeps sanity is the fact that you're with a lot of cool people.
J: For part of the tour we have Botnek who are from Montreal. Those guys are awesome and are really smart dudes about music and life in general. A lot of these guys on this tour are people that I genuinely enjoy being around.
J: I also bring in my small pair of production monitors, sound card, etc. on to the bus. So at the back we have a make shift studio situation going on.
EM: You've reached a role where you can now vouch your name for other artists, anyone who you suggest to keep an eye on?
J: Yes, the artists who come with me on tour are musicians who I think are talented. Milo & Otis and Botnek already have a little bit of a profile, but in the scheme of things are newer artists. I'm just hoping my audience can recognize that I've tried to create a tour that covers a spectrum of sound.
EM: I think people need to be more open minded when they go to any live show.
J: Totally man. Particularly this last year, when I've gone to a lot of festivals it feels like the same couple of artists are always headlining and playing more or less the same music. I remember just a couple of years ago a lot of the stages had more diverse music. Even if it's all electronic music, there was a wider range of genres.
J: Electronic music is starting to become more commercial oriented. There are more producers writing pop music that have come from originally writing underground dance music. Everything is starting to feel a little watered down and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. It is now more than ever that we need to do things that are different and create the excitement that got me into all this.
J: Part of the reason I got into electronic music is because I didn't like pop music. I did not idolize pop icons, I idolized people who thought differently and had weird ideas. People's sensibility at the moment is all about being as popular as you can be. I am all about making exciting music, but not just for the sake of being popular.
EM: The first release you had with OWSLA was in 2011. How has your commitment grown with the crew on the label?
J: I've always worked with OWSLA and I probably always will. My studio is literally in the same building where all those guys work so we see each other regularly. We're working on this new record very closely. I'll always stop by and sit around to listen to new demos. I have a close relationship with OWSLA, The Nest, Skrillex; they are probably the people I see the most in my life.
EM: You've had two official albums released; Kill Kill Kill and Black Magic. What do you think is significantly unique overall with each release?
J: The Kill Kill Kill record was reflective of me being excited about bass music coming back to the forefront of electronic music. I remember when I was writing that record I was really excited about trying to impress all my peers who were doing really inspiring stuff that was very new at the time.
J: Black Magic was me trying to write more song orientated material. I was aiming to make music that anyone could appreciate from a song writing and musical perspective. I worked a little harder to showcase that I can create cool melodies and more than just electronic bass music.
J: Moving forward onto this next record, It's a mix between the two. I really like the idea of writing versatile music for any occasion, stuff anyone could listen to and value for the quality. It's how I would describe Feed Me's music for how clever it is. First thing first is making songs that I want to make; secondary to that is whether or not the EDM crowd will appreciate it.
EM: A hundred percent. You're spot on here. Do you think you're past musical phrases of making DnB affect the way you produce music today?
J: Yeah man, I still love DnB. This genre has been around for so long and will fracture into subgenres from time to time. Overall there is a lot of solidarity from people who want to keep this music around. It's really similar to hip hop in a lot of ways, where people in the culture want to preserve that state of mind. That's not the same for dubstep or electro at all. But there is times where this can be really frustrating, especially as an artist.
J: I love drum and bass because that is where I came from. That is the first kind of music I started DJ'ing when I was fifteen, the first records I owned, and the first genre of music I started producing. It's definitely in my DNA as a producer to refer to drum and bass. Even in times of uncertainty, it feels like a foundation to come back to.
EM: I wanted to bring this interview back to your albums. For Black Magic you decided to create it's own remix EP, while in Kill Kill Kill you just included a few remixes at the end. Why the change?
J: If I remember correctly, with Kill Kill Kill it was just friends that I wanted to remix my work, which made the way very organic. Alvin Risk and Dillon Francis were on tour together and we were all putting our records out on OWLSA at the time, so it fell naturally. For Black Magic I wanted to try and find people to make alternative versions of the record.
EM: What challenges do you find when remixing an artist?
J: I was just talking about this the other night with Valentino Khan. We always agree to do remixes thinking it will be easy. You'll hear a song you like and you'll already have an idea of what your remix will sound like. But once you start messing around with the song it never comes out exactly as you imagined. More than half the time when I agree to do a remix, it's always a lot more work than I thought it would be.
J: At some point in every artist's career they have to learn to say no to things. Early on you want to say yes to everything because it feels nice, especially when bigger artists come along asking you to remix their work. The biggest challenge is learning how to say no, no matter how good anyone becomes.
EM: When you first sit down to start making a new song, what is your initial process?
J: It's different every time man. What I try not to do is the same thing twice. I still think the best way to write a song is to try and think of a song in your head. If the inspiration comes from there, those songs mean the most. But shit man, I remember when I did that "Jump Ya Body" track, that was me simply finding a sample on my hard drive.
Ok. Series of quick questions. One to two sentence replies.
EM: What are you most proud of in your career?
J: That I haven't given up.
EM: Favourite collaboration that you've been involved with?
J: I would honestly say this new song with Feed Me. Partially because of how much work we put into it, the experience involved, and all the effort that we've put into it.
EM: What's the weirdest place you've ever been recognized?
J: Recently I was with my girl and a group of our friends at this weird little theme park, totally obscure and random place. One of the kids that worked there came up and asked to take a picture, he caught me completely off guard.
EM: Favourite festival from this summer?
J: Mysterland was quite good this year in up state New York.
EM: What's the last show you went to that you didn't play at?
J: Just last night I went to a drum and bass show here in LA. Fred V & Grafix were playing and Matt Zo showed up to do a surprise drum and bass set at a Hospitality night for Hospitality Records.
EM: What's the longest set you've ever played?
J: There have been times where we do a show and then an after party. I've played for quite some time, but hardly ever one sitting.
EM: Weapon of choice in post-apocalyptic world?
J: A fucking brain! The most dangerous weapon of all.
EM: [laughs] That was an amazing answer! The best I've ever heard. Last question here. What kind of milk do you usually drink?
J: I try not to man, but I'll tell you what I have in my refrigerator [...] I have almond milk and skim milk.
EM: Awesome man, thanks for speaking with me today.
Kill The Noise has a creative mind that seems to consciously grow with each new record. Having released an impressive roaster already, Jake has taken to the road all across America. Tickets to the 'Majestic As Fuk' Tour can be purchased here and all tour dates are listed below.