In preparation for my interview with Armand Jakobsson, best known to the world as the sitcom and heartbreak inspired DJ Seinfeld, Clash found myself on the artist's Instagram page.
There’s a post on there is sure to warm the heart, even during the most ferocious of Swedish winters. “He’s the happiest and strongest man I know, never grumpy nor sad, and I’m so lucky and happy to finally be sharing a hot dog with him out in the sun,” it reads. “Hug your loved ones and enjoy ya summer dancing.”
The photo shows a smiling Jakobsson sitting with his father; a simple image, yet one that could so sadly have ceased to exist. As we begin to talk over Skype, sirens bellowing from the streets below the New York City hotel the artist finds himself in today, he tells me that he has relocated to his hometown of Malmo, Sweden, a move instigated by a traumatic turn of events.
“I’d been living abroad for about seven years and had plans on moving back home for a long time”, he tells me. “I moved home a little sooner than I expected... My dad had a stroke in January. It’s just one of those things where you feel more comfortable being at home. I like being able to be with my dad, helping him recover.”
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Now, back in Malmo, Jakobsson finds himself in the similar surroundings of his childhood. It’s where he recorded the next edition of !K7’s iconic DJ Kicks instalment, more specifically at the Inkonst club, in the absence of a home studio due to his time in Edinburgh and Barcelona.
The invite to conduct the mix comes off the back of one of the standout album releases of last year – 'Time Spent Away From U', released on collaborative label Lobster Fury. The record, inspired by heartbreak, channelled peak emotionality through warm and nostalgic grooves that not only kept our bodies moving, but simultaneously reminded us that it’s OK to cry. Clash is keen to learn of the artists melancholic influences, having also been more organically drawn to the sadder sound ourselves.
“Like most people in the industry I’m very into Burial”, he says. “His influence is always going to be there, I think. His music is so overwhelmingly melancholic. It’s very easy permuted, especially when you’re listening to it as a teenager and you’re dealing with a lot of teenage problems. I think getting an outlet for that is something that sticks with you to this day.”
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It’s just one of those things where you feel more comfortable being at home.
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We had planned to ask a question on the ‘lo-fi’ epidemic, but, after a quick scroll through previous interviews, we decided to leave it. It’s a question the artist is undoubtedly fed up answering, and one that you can find a conclusive answer to amongst a quick Google search.
It must have been annoying though; being forced into a box simply because of an ‘ironic’ alias and a raw aesthetic. What many people probably don’t know is that Jakobsson is in fact a classically trained artist, not just someone who lives life in the red and has their work posted by Slav. The artists work takes on a new identity in the form of two other monikers – Rimbaudian and Birds of Sweden, the latter providing a platform for jungle inspired sound.
U.K influence is rife. “The whole post dubstep thing that was happening with Hessle Audio... That was also part of the whole Burial vibe. That was definitely an influence”, he explains. “When I started getting into electronic music hardcore techno was my thing. Surgeon and those guys. That was what I was listening to for a long time.”
If you take a look at the list of artists and tracks listed in Jakobsson’s upcoming DJ Kicks instalment you will notice that there’s a track under his Rimbaudian alias featured amongst the Pepe’s, Fantastic Man’s and FaltyDL’s. Work under this moniker has been previously described, by the artist himself, as a walk in the park in Spring. That sounds like something we’d like to hear more of. He informs me there will be more music coming under both alternative aliases, but nothing is yet set in stone.
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When I started getting into electronic music hardcore techno was my thing....
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The DJ Kicks mix itself is a colourful journey, beautifully meandering its way through slippery electro grooves and nostalgic broken beats that wonderfully illustrate euphoric highs and isolated lows – an artistic statement of character and colour. “In my mind it’s like boiling water, in a way”, he says, as he begins to give a visual metaphor of the sequence. “You see the bubbles starting to burst up, sort of in between simmering. You see that something is happening, but not quite, and then eventually in some little corner of the pot you’ll see a bubble burst.”
“I think that sums it up. There are a lot of tracks on there that are very hypnotic and they’re building up tension. Every now and then there will be a burst of something unexpected.”
Amongst the well known names like Project Pablo, Sleep D and Shedbug, there is an intriguing selection of the other monikers on there, like the freshly emerging electro/techno hybrid of Mor Elain and the relatively unknown Chela Una.
“Yeah, so Mor Elain is this DJ from Israel but she’s been living in LA and Berlin”, he says. “She’s been doing a lot of electro recently which always catches my attention. When people go and see what she’s done I think they’ll be really blown away. It’s just a matter of time before she blows up.”
“Chela Una is Santiago Salazar together with his wife. I first came across this track that he had in this mix he recorded. I’m a huge Santiago fan, and I was listening to a mix that was just his tracks. The vocal in that track... There’s something about it that I love. It’s been quite a dividing point with people that I’ve shown it to. They see why I like it, but you either love it or hate it. I love it.”
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You see the bubbles starting to burst up...
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Our conversation reaches its final few minutes as our attention turns to the producers latest release on Or:la and Breakwave’s fantastic Deep Sea Frequency label. As I mentioned earlier, there are those that attempted to force Jakobsson into a box, categorising him as, whisper it, lo-fi. The 'Sakura' EP, despite maintaining a ‘rough round the edges’ aesthetic, is anything but.
“With the DSF release I wanted to do something that was more reflective of what I’d done since I started making music”, he tells me. “There’s only one track on there with a 4x4 rhythm. I’d been making electro for years. It was never my forte, but there was one track that I was quite proud of. It was still a little rough round the edge, but was a nice change from the sound that I’d become associated with.”
“I really admire them, not only as artists, but as people”, he says, speaking of the DSF label owners. “It was nice to be a part of something that was coming up in the scene at that time. It was a new thing, it’s a label run by two people that are going to go places. It’s nice to be a part of that from the beginning.”
With our questions exhausted we wish each other the best and part ways, but not before he informs us of the foundations that are currently being laid for a new record. Clash, for one, hopes this time it does not have to be inspired by the cruel sting of heartbreak, even if we do share a mutual fascination with all things melancholic.
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'DJ Kicks: DJ Seinfeld' will be released on July 13th.
Words: Andrew Moore
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