Interview: Jam El Mar, about his Touched by fire Ep on Truesoul
Once so often we get a real opportunity. An opportunity that scares us a bit. The request to have an interview with one of the former members of teh legendary Jam & Spoon was one we needed some time to think over it. It’s amazing how a person, can be so down to earth, even when he is around in the music industry for so long. So we are really honoured to have had this short chat with Jam El Mar. Would love to spend more time with this great artists and chat about music & life.
Jam El Mar recently released a techno EP on Adam Beyer’s Truesoul label. A release he never thought of having a chance on that label. To be honest, we had a listen and loved it! His two-track ‘Touched by fire’ is amazing. These are not tracks to be played at 2 am. No, these are tracks for early mornings. Tracks that will shake the hell out of you.
So before you continue reading have a listen for yourself.
For starters, you are one of the famous duo Jam & Spoon. Amazing times in the late 90’s and early 2000’s! How do you look back at those times?
Of course, I am very, very happy to have been part of this wonderful time back in the days. I sometimes compare this with like having discovered a new planet. Everything was new, unheard and the music was very very experimental. Maybe I should say: “The music was new black, polished, chrome and came over the summer like liquid night.” Haha…it was much much easier to get releases and to make remarkable tracks because there simply weren’t so many. Today you have this whole universe of tracks and styles and this is sometimes quite confusing and it takes a lot of time to keep track of all releases that’s happening at the moment.
As you go way back – don’t get us wrong, we see you as an older youngster – what are the biggest changes in the industry you’ve got to experience over time?
No offense here – I know, I am and the eternal 16! Hahaha!
TGMS: Love that thought. 16 is a bit young though, we’d like to say 28 forever.
The club music that is now, mostly is more like a tool, it’s a tool for the DJ. In the early 90’s we always tried to bring in a lot of music itself into the tracks and this is why some of them are really kinda emotional. Actually, in Techno this is about to come back a little bit! There are a lot of tracks that have emotional and musical elements in it. This is why it might be a good time for me to come back. Frankly, I never expected really to be a DJ. But one day a friend was bringing me into this business and I never realized how much fun it can be to mix two tracks into each other and create a magic night in a club with just music and a couple of records. Now I am completely infected by this DJ virus – I am sure I will DJ until my final breath, haha….
TGMS: Know we know why you said 16. You are prolonging your life here!
You grew up in the flower power era. What effect did that time have on the way you look at music?
I really love the flower power era. To me, it was like discovering colours for the first time in my life! Life was easy all of a sudden and the fashion, the music and everything around you, it seemed to really transform. Club music in the early 90’s until now is still very much influenced by the ideas of this spirit. Imagine for example the Love Parade, this wonderful event established by Dr.Motte is the best example of this spirit. Imagine over 1 million people from all over the planet dancing to the same bass drum and having a feeling of love and peace for each other. I can’t imagine anything else happening in this vastness without any aggression or violence. So, this is why I feel so much like “coming home” when I DJ in front of people. On music festivals, there are still a lot of leftovers from the Woodstock-feeling. Or that’s how I see it from my point of view.
What impact did technology have on your life as a producer?
Technology was my rescue, haha! I am such a bad pianist and I never would have made it into the pro-studio music scene. But with the rise of quantization and programming and sequencers, a whole new world of possibilities was offered to me. I am kind of a perfectionist, so to me, it is wonderful to edit something like a melody line until it’s absolutely perfect to my ears. As long as you use technology to express yourself, it is absolutely fine with me. When technology rules your mind, thoughts and creativity it’s time to go ….
The past decade it’s been a bit quiet around you. What have you been up to in those years?
I left electronic music for some reasons. I wanted to look around and make a new orientation as an artist, so I was producing singers-songwriters and bands. But eventually, I fond out that my home is the electronic music scene. Sometimes you have to leave completely to find out what ‘home’ is and really means. 😉 Also after the loss of my good friend and good fellow artist Mark Spoon I got a bit lost and it was hard for me to get back on the track.
But now you are back with a sublime release on Adam Beyer’s Truesoul imprint. We think it’s awesome. Want to tell us a bit about your 2-track EP ‘Touched by Fire’?
I am very, very honoured that my first real techno release is on one of the best techno labels in the scene. For all of my musical career in electronic dance music I wanted to release a pure techno EP. But first things turned out a bit different for me. I moved on with my partners and ended up into more pop-orientated music, which was ok. It was very much fun to work with great singers like Plavka and I still love the songs. But still this wish and longing for Techno was still vivid but dormant inside of me. One morning, in the car, I was listening to a podcast of Audio Injection and it completely blew me away. This was the moment!! This was teh spark that set my initial plan in motion to produce techno music. However, it still took a couple of years until I really had the chance and the time to produce those two tracks which are now released on my “Touched by Fire EP”. The title to me feels realistic! I was really “touched by fire” when I heard this amazing podcast of Audio Injection!
‘Stab’, the opening track is very hypnotizing, yet refreshing. Play this early in the morning and you get the crowd wide awake and jumping. Where does all the energy come from?
Stab has a lot of old 90’s samples mangled through samplers and all kinds of plug-ins. This is exactly the kind of ecstatic energy that I love in techno. I hope my next releases will be even more close to this state of energy!
‘Freak out’ is more pumping and playful. What did you want to accomplisch with this track. You really set the mood with this one.
At the moment there are a lot of tracks released which have a real funky component but still feel like Techno music! I really really love these tracks! With ‘Freak out’ I tried to be in sequence with this style that I love so much! I hope everyone will see it will see and hear this in this track.
How did you end up on Adam Beyer’s Truesoul? Is he a good friend?
I never met Adam in person but his labels Drumcode and Truesoul have been the most desirable labels for a release. So, obviously, he was the first one that I sent my tracks to and I tell you, I was more than happy when I got his answer that he wanted to release it on Truesoul! I am in good compagnion there. Adam himself, as well releases on Truesoul and there are the others like Reset Robot, DJ T, Nicole Moudaber and all this great DJ-Producers on Adam’s label!
This situation reminded me a little bit after of one of my first tracks that I produced with Mark Spoon for R&S Records “Tales From A Dance – o Graphic Ocean”…
TGMS: Amazing to see you got to work with Renaat Vandepaepeliere in his early days with the label. Renaat is hot these days. His label, for us, is like one of the best in the world. And Renaat is killing it behind the decks.
The EP is out on March 13. What do you expect from the release?
The release was actually on 9 February and it got quite a good amount of respect. I really think the tracks really did the job but the success is also because of the people at Truesoul – they did a fantastic job!
What’s you’ve got planned for the year ahead? Any new music or collaborations we should know about?
I still have to finish some projects that are in another domain than techno. But after finishing those I will completely focus on the next techno tracks and release also more work as retro DJ. I really will move on to establish myself as a serious DJ in the Techno domain.
Any advise for the younger generation out there trying to make it in the music industry?
To me the most important advice I could give is that, if you are planning a career as a producer and DJ, go one-hundred percent for it with no excuses, not looking left and right, just being focused with all of your heart, love and joy!
If not music, what would the alternate chosen career be for you?
I would have loved to be a pilot. However I made it to get a private pilot license – welcome on board, haha!
Thanks so much. It’s been an honour.