The Intro to Jai Wolf
About a month and a half ago I had the pleasure of conducting my first official interview with Jai Wolf before his Havoc Thursdays show at the Yost Theater in Orange County (Havoc Thursdays at the Yost Theater are incredible and if you have not checked it out I highly suggest it). I hate the sound of my own voice so it took me a while to get the courage to review the audio and finally write this article. I was extremely nervous, yet one big (and accidental) gulp of tequila in my friends car before the event took away any angst and provided me with some confidence. The interview happened as follows below.
The Interview with Jai Wolf
Me: First off, how was Coachella? I know you just performed there last month I am interested in how it was playing for a whole west coast Woodstock vibe.
Jai Wolf: It was great vibes the promoters were nice. I was really afraid because I was playing the same time as What So Not. Somebody actually tweeted out that day asking who they should watch and I said “me” and What So Not said “him” it was all really cool. I actually met him after at the artist dinner and it was cool. I ended up having a ton of people at my set at the Do Lab.
I then felt compelled to switch the flow of the conversation from Coachella to about how remixing music works for some reason, though completely irrelevant.
Me: How do these remixes work? I know you have done a bunch of remixes recently.
Jai Wolf: I just started doing unofficial remixes for a lot of songs and Record Labels heard, liked my style. They just kept hitting me up to do more remixes so each kind of just led to another. Odesza led to Alesso and Alesso led to Dirty South. That’s usually how it works. Labels usually reach out.
After this question I unleashed some very inappropriate Pokémon jokes. I knew Jai Wolf was into Pokémon (due to the fact that his Twitter bio and activity states such) so what better way to find common ground than making him wildly uncomfortable with dark Pokémon jokes? I asked my most evil and diabolical friends in a group chat to Make Up a few of these Pokémon jokes a couple of days before the event. We had a back and forth for a few days and now Jai Wolf Pokémon jokes are a sort of thing we do.
I then went into another completely inappropriate tangent and told him about a girl I met at Coachella. I informed him how I have been hooking up with her to some of his music/mixes and how now she is really into his music. Coincidentally, he thought it was funny and dope how he wing manned me through his music. (Thanks Jai Wolf, I am still seeing her and we will be front row at your set during Hard Summer)
Me: Have you ever played any underground shows or intimate venues? (Ironic how I asked about intimate venues after an anecdote about intimacy inspired by his music)
Jai Wolf: I have played intimate venues like the Pop Up out in Los Angeles (check their Facebook out here) it was a couple hundred people. My tour has been a mix of big shows and intimate venues. Sometimes I like the intimate shows it’s so in your face. I played in San Francisco at the Hawthorne and the space between the crowd and me was pretty much nothing.
Me: I know you’re playing in New York soon how cool is it going to be going back and playing a show there?
Jai Wolf: I haven’t played in New York since January. I played there all the time last year since I lived there. I wanted to be strategic about returning to New York because it is going to be my first headlining show. (Side Note: This show actually just happened at Rough Trade in New York City and it was absolutely incredible according to the social media posts I saw.)
Me: What is your set up like for Music Production?
Jai Wolf: I have a really basic set up actually. People tend to believe you need a really extensive set up, but you can get by with not that much. I have KRK rockets as monitors and I’m on logic X. Some people go pretty hamwich (lol) on plug-ins but you don’t need that to make good music. However, I definitely need Waves in terms of plug-ins.
Me: I know a lot of artists use pre set sounds and samples do you think that is an issue?
Jai Wolf: I don’t think pre sets are bad. Do you think people build their own violins? When you buy a guitar you are going to buy pedals and such. When it comes to all of that you aren’t really building anything. I think its good to tweak stuff. I think sound design is cool, but it is not necessarily a strength required to become a good musician. People rely on sound design to make their own signature sound and get popular like that. For example, Skrillex, Lido, Flume, or Porter Robinson all have distinct sounds and that’s how they got so big because it’s new. It works, but I don’t think it’s the number one thing to become a big artist. You can create really good musical ideas not relying on sound design. Even like Odesza’s new album was really cool, however nothing about it to me was really groundbreaking in terms of sound design. However the musicality was great.
Jai Wolf then proceeded to introduce me to Prince Fox to which I responded, “DUDE PRINCE FOX!?” I am the epitome of suave. He actually continued the tangent on Odesza’s music, which provided some great insight and analysis.
Prince Fox: I think what was revolutionary was approaching their music as a band. They kind of approached it like mixing it like a live act. It doesn’t sound super compressed and squashed. It really breathes in a natural manner and the vocalists they chose were right for their sounds. It suited their new electronic aesthetic that bridges the gap between how music was before Laptop music and how it is now in a laptop-dominated era.
Me: Actually I know a lot of people are switching focus to live sound and performance, do you think you guys could get into that?
Jai Wolf: Yeah that’s funny we were just talking about that. That is something I am so open to in the future. I can’t put a timeline on it, but sometime within the next two years. I am producing music geared more towards live performance. We both have backgrounds with live instruments so we want to get back into that.
Me: How do you guys choose a set? Do you just feel it, or is it something a little more premeditated.
Jai Wolf: There are so many different styles of DJ’s. I personally like to have something in mind. I am a producer first and a DJ second. But I definitely know what sounds good in order. I try to keep sets differently. I don’t want to bore my crowd with stuff I have played in the past since people are now seeing me for the third or fourth time out here in Los Angeles. The other thing is I like to play stuff I am really into, that forces me to play similar sets. People asked me to post my Coachella set, and as much as I would like to, I feel like it would ruin the surprise of my sets. I wouldn’t rule out posting sets in the future. I am thinking of posting my hard set later this year actually.
Me: What are you top three artists right now?
Jai Wolf: Yo Taylor swift not even gonna lie, not fronting at all. She has this whole 80’s synth sound. Max martin producers her stuff. He’s a genius. Louis the child is fucking dope and I am really excited for the new Kanye stuff as well.
Me: So do you think you would want to produce for other artists?
Jai Wolf: Yeah that’s the end goal. That’s what I think a lot of up and coming producers want to do. It’s all about collaborating and coming up with new things. I think a lot of producers like ourselves (Jai Wolf, Prince Fox, and AO Beats were all sitting in the room) enjoy pop music. As long as you inject your own style into it I think it’s great. It’s so cool to see how pop music evolves based on trends. The Martin Garrix & Usher is dope; the new Pitbull & Chris Brown is dope. The new Jason Derulo song is fucking amazing.
This was a really fun first interview experience. Thank you Jai Wolf, thank you Prince Fox, and thank you White Rabbit Group.
Jai Wolf is very active on social media and you should definitely follow him. He shares a lot of interesting music on his Facebook, Twitter, and, Soundcloud. He just released an awesome new remix of Passenger by Royal. This song is so full of soul and vibes I know you will enjoy it. Check it out below! Jai Wolf is an artist that is on the edge of becoming a full-blown superstar. His music and his live performances are incredible. He is really taking off right now so keep a look out for him at venues near you!