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Talking Ethics: Interview with DJ Seinfeld

DJ Seinfeld is the pseudonym of Swedish DJ and producer Armand Jakobsson. He emerged several years ago and was instrumental in the lo-fi house scene which blew up towards the earlier part of this decade. In 2017 he released his debut album, Time Spent Away From U, a record which is as heartbreaking and introspective as it is groovy. He is also one of the youngest artists ever to curate an entry into the DJ-KiCKS series, for which he has received widespread acclaim. In addition to all of this, he has remixed tracks from the likes of George FItzgerald, Prospa, and Honey Dijon.

He currently finds himself on the US leg of his worldwide Young Ethics tour, which coincides with the announcement of his new record label of the same name. DJ Seinfeld has released three EPs this year on Young Ethics, the most recent of which came out just last Friday (Oct 11th).

Tell us a bit about why you wanted to start your own label and begin releasing music on your own terms.

It was really an accumulation of a lot of different factors. Labels that I’ve worked with in the past have all been great and I’ve enjoyed working with the people that I have. But sometimes when you work so many people you often have to compromise certain things about your music. It could be the general vision, the aesthetics, or even the songs themselves. Having people work with you on your music can be really valuable but it feels nice to have a bit more freedom with it.

To date you've had three releases on Young Ethics and if we start with the first two (Galazy EP and Lilium EP). Tell us a bit about the creative process during the making of those and what it felt like to be finally working on some music to kick off the new label.

Well, sometimes I can find myself not knowing where I am artistically, my music library is so varied and it really is quite a mess, but while working on this new material I knew that I wanted my output to be something cohesive. In some sense, working on these new EPs felt almost like a departure from everything I’ve done previously. As I progress through my life it’s really satisfying to have finally made some tracks which I can listen to and say “that’s definitely me”.

And we saw recently that your track ‘Electrician’ was used at a Burberry event. How did that come about?

Yeah this was quite a surreal experience. We got a message on the Seinfeld facebook page from a representative of Burberry, it was labelled as something urgent. They were asking if they could licence the track for one of their events. It’s not a track I tend to play out that much but it was amazing to get that sort of recognition.

And now we arrive at the Parallax EP released just last Friday. How did these four very diverse tracks come about?

Well the opening track from Parallax, ‘Please Slow Down’ is a particularly interesting one because there’s been a lot of people saying it sounds like a Burial track. I’m a huge fan of Burial and I wasn’t trying to sound like his music at all. I guess you could see it as an ode to him if anything.

Vocal sampling is something which you have deployed in your work in the past; we were treated to the Bob Geldof sample from the track ‘U’. Tracks from your latest releases such as the aforementioned ‘Electrician’ and ‘Please Slow Down’ take a similar style. How do you work vocal sampling into your music and what’s the process with that?

I actually try to avoid using vocals too much in my production. Now and again though, I do reach a point where I’m working on a track and I get the sense that a vocal can convey a feeling that nothing else can - it can really enhance an idea and bring it alive. I try to avoid using specific words most of the time and there’s so many ways to manipulate vocals these days. You can take any vocal and turn it into something completely different. I often play around with some of the samples I’ve got and just see what I end up with.

You’re currently in the middle of a huge worldwide tour spanning the US, Europe, and even a night at Wire here in Leeds. How’s the tour been going so far?

It’s been a lot of fun. Although I have kind of been struggling recently as I actually got food poisoning while I was in Mexico. I was considering cancelling the rest of the US leg of the tour but I thought about it for a while and I couldn’t do that to the people who want to come see me. I still get surprised by how many people want to see my play, so I’m always thankful to the people who turn out.

What sort of work goes into the planning prior to your DJ sets, or do you take more of an impulsive approach?

I don’t really plan my sets unless I’ve got a really short slot of around an hour. But the club nights that I’ve been enjoying playing so much recently are a lot more spontaneous. There will be general ideas in my head about good ways to warm up, for example I try not to play too much techno in the beginning of my sets. But other than that I think it’s really good to test yourself without having much of an idea of where it might go. When you act on impulse and take a risk during a set, it feels so much more rewarding if it pays off.

Can people expect to hear any of these new releases getting a spin during your upcoming sets?

I try not to play my own stuff to be honest, especially the new releases as I’ve heard all those songs a thousand times over. I like to throw lots of new and varying sounds into my sets.

And finally, in terms of the future of Young Ethics, are there plans to expand and take on new artists or release any more music yourself?

I will definitely be opening up the label for new artists next year, I have a few names in mind of really exciting artists who I’d like to get on board. In terms of my music I’m actually going to be working on an album for another label soon, so I might take a little hiatus from releasing music on Young Ethics. But there are definitely plans to bring some new talent to the label.

Tickets for the event can be found HERE

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