Interview: Jean Pierre [Play It, Say It]

Over the past two decades, the way artists release music in the digital age has changed dramatically. Where you once needed a lot of money to get records pressed and distributed, these days, there are countless ways to go about releasing music. Thanks to more and more low-cost resources, artists have been able to take full control of their careers, and as a result, we've seen the rise of many great brands. One resource is that of Bandcamp, arguably the number one resource for indie artists and labels. 

One artist who's taken full advantage of the platform is NYC-native Jean Pierre, who's been using the website to release music that otherwise would be stuck in the release queue of another label. We caught up with him to ask about his forthcoming mini-album set for release on May 14th, to learn more about it and what he's been up to during this lockdown.

Where are you? Are you in lockdown right now?

I am currently in Miami. We are still in lockdown. I do see people out and about every day. It’s really tough to stay indoors with the beautiful weather down here.

What’s the one thing you’ve learned from this whole experience so far?

Life can change in the blink of the eye. One second everything is moving and the next it can all stop. This has really taught me to be prepared for anything, no matter what.

Do you think music is more important than ever right now?

Definitely. Music has been a big part of staying sane during this lockdown. It’s forced me to really focus on my sound and hone in on my production. I’ve really spent the majority of my time making music.

Are you able to be creative when you’re at home or are you someone who needs to get to the studio?

When I was based in New York City, I had to commute to the studio. It would be a very different mindset when I went to the studio. I’d have something in mind to do, or a project I’d want to tackle. Now that I have my studio in my home down in Miami, it’s a very different vibe. I can wake up and play around with something I was working on with fresh eyes or when it comes to me. It’s a much better situation and allows much more time to focus on music-making.

You have releases on some brilliant labels but recently have been doing a lot via Bandcamp. How did you get into the platform yourself and can you tell us a bit about your setup there?

Bandcamp has been a platform I’ve used for searching for music and discovering new artists for some time. It’s really a great system for self-releasing music. Labels tend to get backlogged for months and months. Even if you do sign with a label, there is a lot of back and forth with track edits and other levels of approval. Bandcamp offers a unique opportunity to release whenever I’d like and get more music out there. It’s a really great platform.

Do you write differently for each label according to their sound or do you just do you?

I really just do me and evaluate the track once it’s finished. I’ll listen through it with my team and discuss where it’s best to send out to. The slowness of this process is a big reason I’ve ventured into self-releasing. But, there are still a number of labels I plan on releasing on in the future.

Tell us about the new release on Bandcamp then. What inspired it, was there a concept for the EP?

It’s a small compilation of old and new tracks that I have produced while staying in different parts of the world. It offers listeners some insight into my musical influences. From rolling driving techno into the more groovy tech-house and hypnotic minimal, it’s an eclectic mix. I chose these tracks because I wanted to offer something more personal to my fans. I am excited to share it with them and I hope they enjoy it.

What gear do you use to make music? Are you a hardware or software kind of person?

You can say I like both. I love creating drums with my analog gear. I then layer them with some digital sounds from Maschine or Roland Cloud VSTs. I also love the Arturia Virtual Instruments like Prophet and Jupiter.

How and when and where did you get into electronic music in the US? What parties and labels and DJs turned you on?

I first got into electronic music while living in Colombia for three years with my Dad. When I came back to New York City, it was Fridays at Arc/Vinyl to see Danny Tenaglia that really got me. My older brother and his friends were big Jonathan Peters fans when he held down his residency at Sound Factory and they brought me once. It turned out to be the final party there on Halloween called Sanctuary. I was inside the club for close to 18 hours. That experience completely changed my view on house music and taught me about constructing a story with my sets. In order to keep a crowd hooked for that amount of time, you need to take listeners on a journey. It really molded my process for track selection in longer sets.

What will be the first thing you do when the lockdown is over?

The first thing I am doing is walking down to the beach and just sitting on the sand.

What else are you working on?

I have a bunch of solo projects I am polishing up along with a bunch of big collaborations. I have projects with The Martinez Brothers, Jesse Calosso, K Alexii, Miguelle, Reme, and Taimur all on the horizon. Stay tuned, 2020 is going to be a big year for my music despite the shutdown.

Personally, what’s keeping you busy aside from music?

Honestly, my PS4. I’m a big Call of Duty and Final Fantasy fan and I just got the most recent release. I’ve been playing that whenever I need an escape.

What three pieces of music have been getting you through these times?

Wille Colon – Oh Que Sera?

George Benson – Valdez In The Country

Jacob Banks – Unholy War

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