An artist with a cultured past. Let us introduce you to Jon Ojeda aka alias_j. This master has existed throughout key eras of electronic music that have contributed to the artist has become today.
Over decades, Jon’s unique and melodically-charged sound has seen him frequent club spaces across the globe including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Amsterdam, London, Warsaw, Moscow & St. Petersburg, which have allowed him to play alongside some of the biggest names in the industry.
His debut release on Pig & Dan’s ELEVATE imprint achieved two individual genre top 5’s and an overall top 20 on Beatport within a week of their release, receiving support from Joseph Capriati, Joris Voorn, Maceo Plex, DJ T, Nick Warren, Sama’ Abdulhadi among others.
His penultimate remix of 2021 on Looq Records also went Top 10 and he’s currently armed with a growing pipeline of releases and gigs as he heads into the new year. He also hosts a regular monthly mix series called ‘Lock & Key’, which is growing in popularity and serves as a platform to showcase his work and promote other artists/labels.
He is with us today for an in-depth interview. Enjoy
Connect with alias_j on Soundcloud | Instagram
Hello Jon, thx for chatting with us. First of all, can you introduce yourself to our readers? And what is the story behind your recent new moniker “alias_j”?
Thanks for having me! I’m Jon Ojeda, a DJ and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “alias_j” is my first solo effort. I’ve worked in studios with various mates for years but it was time to stretch and see if I could push a vision that was all my own.
How would you describe your sound and style?
Melodic House, Melodic Techno, and Melodic Breaks seem to be where I sit (I think there’s a theme there 😉).
Songs that drive, evoke some kind of emotional trigger that helps you let go.
Right now, I’m focused on club tracks… songs that can help you get away, release, and forget about your worries. Songs that drive, evoke some kind of emotional trigger that helps you let go. I guess it’s more of my musical philosophy than anything else.
Congratulations on your new release on Chrom Recordings! Please talk to us about it and the inspiration behind it, and how you came in contact with Chrom Recordings.
Ah, thanks! I’m really happy the EP found a home on Chrom. I wrote the tracks during covid so they are pretty personal. In particular, “the fight” was the first time I ever sang on a record or wrote lyrics. It’s about my struggles during the lockdown. I met Pedro Mercado, the label manager of Chrom, at an A&R session in an accelerator program I joined. He shared some feedback and so I addressed the changes and sent them back to him. He was happy with the way they turned out… and here we are!
How are these tracks on your Chrom EP special compared to other tracks you’ve released throughout your career? And can you tell us a bit about the process behind them?
I learned a lot about my approach, what works for me in the studio, and a lot about melody and bass relationships. The creative process with every track is always unique. I recall that getting past mental blocks was a big challenge this round.
What’s your creative process when writing music? What’s your typical starting point: do you have an idea in mind or do you somehow experiment and see what’s coming?
Sometimes it’s exploring an arp. Sometimes it’s starting with a kick and bass or just percussion. Sometimes it’s a melody line, or even just exploring new synth functions. I find I’m most productive though when I’m influenced by something… a track I’ve heard or a vibe of someone’s set. Those experiences can really provide direction.
Can you tell us something about the gear you use to produce: what DAW do you use and what are your favourite plug-ins?
I’m in Ableton. I have a fair amount of outboard gear…. my Sub37, Dominion I, Prophet 6, and my PolySix all get used pretty regularly. For plugins, it depends on what I’m doing but some regulars in circulation are Pro-Q3 EQ, Vallhalla Verb, Replika Delay, Octavox, REDDI, UAD Vertigo Compressor, and UAD Culture Vulture. They all have their moments 🙂
Do you have any advice for young aspiring producers?
Trust your gut. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers… you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for you. When frustration and low confidence are high, go for a walk, step away… There aren’t any walls unless you build them.
You’ve been so many years in electronic dance music, what’s your secret to such amazing longevity? And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
There’s no secret really. I do it because I have a deep love and passion for music. Why stop doing what I love? I’ve learned to submit to the journey and not worry about where it takes me. When I get concerned about reaching some sort of status, it cripples me, especially during my creative process. Getting clarity on who I am, what I love, and why I’m here has helped. I still don’t know what I’m doing though… 🙂
Could you take us through a day in your life: do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other: do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I try to be on as fixed of a schedule as possible but stay flexible. Life is a thing and it happens so I try to just ride the wave. I do mingle my family and music together for sure though. My son in particular LOVES techno and he likes to listen to the mixes and tracks I’ve made while he plays games… that’s my boy!
Our scene changed so much over the years, what do you see as the biggest challenges ahead? If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would you choose and why?
For example, how do you feel about streaming services like Spotify?
Well, social media is a thing. I wish it wasn’t so important to careers but hey, who doesn’t like funny animal reels?… am I right? 😉 As far as Spotify… well, that’s a loaded question. I’d better not go there… 💣💥
How much do you use social media to stay in contact with your fans? Is this and the internet in general important for you?
I’m absolutely horrible when it comes down to updating my socials. It’s not something I enjoy doing. It’s important, but I think its importance is inflated in my case. I’ve been doing this so long that I’m not really in it for the money anymore. I try not to let it get in the way of me enjoying myself, but as far as its value, it’s undeniably helpful at building a presence. I’m trying to get better (well, sort of…).
Where are you based now? What’s the local scene like there and what do you find inspirational about where you’re living?
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area which is a stunning place to live. I’m 30 minutes from the beach and mountains, a few hours from snow… and the weather is tempered. I think I’m most inspired by the northern California coastlines. I’m always more centred after a coastal trip, which really helps in the studio. 🙂
There is a thriving scene but it’s changed dramatically over the years. It’s definitely functional and it’s a city that DJs always come to on their US or North American tours so the crowds and venues are cultured (and lucky).
Please tell us something that we can’t find in your biography.
I almost became a firefighter but I went to a rave… go figure…
And finally, what we can expect from alias_j in the (near) future?
I’m focused on this release on Chrom at the moment with PR, Social Campaigns and media outlet stints. I’ve got an arsenal of tracks finished and ready to shop which I’m excited about. I think they are some of my best work yet so I’m really looking forward to playing them out and finding them a home 🙂