How should one describe a It is a multi-channel experience with an oscillating heartbeat pumping between enlightened meditation and dance floor fever?
Exactly – you can’t. Nevertheless, we give it a try: Juki P2 is the new audio-visual Project by Pamela Méndez in cooperation with Tim Walsh (known from the famous The Stepkids/ Stones Throw Rec), the artist and Graphic Designer Tobias Bolliger, DJ Kid Silly and Adrien Guerne.
Pamela Méndez made a name for herself in Switzerland as an extremely versatile singer and songwriter and music producer. She is also known for her activism in the fields of gender equality and equality in general organizing events, and workshops in her hometown, Bern Switzerland. We talked in the following interview about her release and explored the boundaries of House Music, Ghetto House and Chicago Footwork.
Connect with Juki P2 on Instagram | Facebook | Soundcloud
Hey Pamela, How is it going at all?
A little off-centred due to dealing with the future most of the time. But that’s a good thing for most parts. 🙂
For fans who don’t know much about you, could you tell us a bit about your music background?
Oh wow… so my dad is Mexican and an amazing singer. He used to throw parties and sing to people. Bringing people together and make music for them was something I intuitively always also wanted to do. And from a very early age on I started writing lyrics and sing them to my mom. However, at the age of 7 or 8 my best friends’ eldest sister introduced us to 2Pac, Laurin Hill, Mariah Carey and Armand van Helden.
Of course, we were the only kids listening to that sound at that age. Growing up in the suburbs of Zürich we felt super underground. So that footprint never left me. Hip-Hop, Soul, RnB and House Music. After Gymnasium, I would study Jazz as a vocalist but then decided to do my own thing as a songwriter and slowly also as a producer now.
After exploring the suburbs in your younger days – when did you start producing then– and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I always made my demos using a DAW and fiddled around with Ableton performing music for Dance and Theatre and stuff. But the upcoming EP of Juki P2 is the result of the first time, I would spend days on one track just trying to get the sounds right. So, the serious attempt to produce only started two years ago and I am 32 years old now. I still need help finalizing productions from others still and I can’t properly mix.
The vision to be a producer started quite early tho. I was 14 years old when I heard the album “What Sound” by the band Lamb and felt I should go into that direction (so I tried to join the beatmakers crew of our school but did not get accepted. I think subconsciously that traumatized me for quite a while.) However. The first moments I felt a vision for myself was with the release of Flying Lotus first EP “ Reset”, Bugz in the Attic “Back In The Dog House”, the album “ Le Fil” by the French artist Camille, Georgia Anne Muldrows album “Olesi” is to this day one of my biggest inspirations. Armand Van Helden never left me.
How would you describe JUKI P2’s sound?
I think aesthetically the two most important elements are old school Soul and Disco tunes as well as the first generation Chicago Footwork sound which in itself offers a blend of Hip Hop, House, Ghetto House/Juke, Techno and Soul music. Then writing music for other art forms cultivated a more psychedelic and abstract approach to sound and music within me. So that’s also in there for sure: One of my missions is to come back to old school values. Making tracks about societal issues and healing relationships that you can actually dance to. Translating what I get for example from Prince and Barry White and Gwen Mc Crae into a sound that lives in the present tense.
Can you tell us more about this connection to Chicago Footwork?
So this is the whole universe and it’s hard to make this short. The dance style Chicago Footwork has it’s own very specific music that roots in Getto House and Juke. It was created by dancers for dancers. The first Juke/Footwork track I ever heard was DJ Rashad “Juke it from behind”. I was a House dancer for some years and while searching for new music on SoundCloud I stumbled across that song. It was so overly sexual and fast, it made me laugh so hard. I was like: What is this??? And then as I researched about Rashad I soon found out about the whole Footwork Culture and all that.
Now if you want to know what all that is: It would really be worth a whole months focus of your magazine tbh. But yeah… I think in general I always understood music genres as pillars for social movements. While House music got detached from its societal context by the industry, Chicago kept on growing the movement into Ghetto House, Juke and the latest: Chicago Footwork. Making music to me is also a way of saying thank you to all those people creating the foundation for everything we have today. I don’t make Footwork. No way I can claim it. I’m not from Chicago. Using Footwork elements, aesthetics or even just energies in my tracks is my way of saying: I hear you, I thank you, I love you. To all styles.
But thanks to King Charles and his Crew Creation Global I finally get to learn to dance Chicago Footwork through online classes. A thing that only started with Corona. Therefore my Footwork connection becomes more and more profound each day.
Tell us a bit about your debut release, “Eternal Love”. How did this first single come together?
It’s in fact one of few tracks that lived on my laptop for a couple of years. It’s about concepts human beings use for escaping life’s complexity. So I wanted to make a track that reflected a certain ignorance and simplicity but still shimmers through some depth. Unfortunately, I did not have the skills and musical background to offer the perfect shape the song needed. And then finally it was Tim Walsh finishing the song.
When he asked me where to go with it I said:” I think cheap tricks like arpeggiators and shit is the way to go. Just do everything that would make you go like “ no, don’t do that!” when you would hear it…”. And he f***** nailed it! Haha! Now with Corona and all everything going on in the world, I felt a song about escapism is a gentle way of introducing Juki P2. 🙂
Where do you get your power and positive vibes from to develop such an energetic sound?
In my times as a songwriter with a guitar and sad songs- even if I really liked my songs- I would catch myself on stage thinking:” I would understand if people would just get up and leave. This is getting really depressing.” That’s why the task for my new music became, to make songs about societal issues that would empower people (and most of all myself) that I feel like dancing to. Since I’m a Footwork Lover anything below 130bpm is a slow jam in my ears.
And how did the studio collaboration with Tim Walsh come about at all?
One day there was this song “ Sweet Salvation” by The Stepkids in my Spotify mix of the week. As I mentioned, my understanding of genres is in the development of social movements. And I could hear that awareness and culture in the music of “The Stepkids”. They released two records on Stones Throw and I was simply blown away by both of them. I did my research on who produced the records and it was Tim Walsh, the band’s drummer and singer.
I just felt like there is no one on the planet I would rather work with at this time in my life so I did some detective work and contacted Tim. He liked my music. And he was on the same page about Footwork. Just in that timeframe, I won a prize from the City of Bern to go to New York for some months. Tim had just moved to New York. It took me some time to believe this was actually happening. But yeah. My intuition was completely right. The collaboration with Tim Walsh turned out to be the most inspiring and impressive collab in my life by far.
What’s in store for you as Juki P2, over the next few months?
Tim and I will finish mixing the tracks for the first EP planned to be released in April 2021 via Zoom. I also want to work on a new music video for that. Meanwhile, we take the time not being able to play shows working on a visual concept for the live shows.
I will also continue writing songs with my songwriting partners Adrien Guerne and Salim Bäumlin (DJ Kid Silly). Perhaps do some collabs with other artists. I dance Chicago Footwork almost every day and dig deep onto the culture as much as I can. Also musically.