Interview: Jaw Jam
Posted in Interviews
Everybody meet mr. me too
A couple weeks ago, we posted an absurdly good Keyshia Cole bootleg from a dude by the name of JAW JAM, who at the time, was still an anonymous Soundclouder to us with a love for bass music and R&B songstresses. Featuring chopped up/screwed down vocals and synths so unsettling they'd make even James Blake shiver in fear, the bootleg was instantly gratifying, and had us wondering why the name JAW JAM hadn't hit our radar sooner. Well after emailing the man himself, our question was answered: JAW JAM, the moniker of 19-year-old New Jersey native Will DiMaggio, is not even three months old. When we asked him about it, his words specifically were: "Jaw Jam really only started as a small project during this past winter break." Oh, for sure dude. I guess if you consider creating some of the most forward thinking bass music this side of planet mars a "small project," then yeah, we're right there with you.
One thing's for certain though--there's definitely nothing "small" about JAW JAM's productions. Again, in less than three months, he has (publicly) let out five tracks--four bootlegs and one original. Out of those five tracks, there isn't one that doesn't impress. You see, the style JAW JAM is going for is nothing new--broken down melodies, eclectic vocal samples, heavy 808's--it's all been done before. But what's truly interesting about JAW JAM's material is the apparent lack of mediocrity. From every vocal sample he selects to work with, to every bleep and blip sound byte that he infuses within--it all screams professional, and for a 19-year-old kid from the U.S. who's only been around since December, that's saying something.
Below, JAW JAM has bestowed upon us his latest creation to premiere to the world: a wonked-out, future bass flip on the Clipse & Pharrell classic "Mr. Me Too". Download it now, and hit the jump for our exclusive interview with the dude, as well as links to every piece of music JAW JAM has released thus far.
What's up man, how old are you and where are you from?
I'm 19 years old and originally from Princeton, New Jersey. I'm currently at school at Oberlin College out in Ohio.
Really? that's interesting. With the kind of music you're making, I'd expect you to be from the UK or something.
Haha for sure, I've been listening to UK stuff for a while now. Definitely a major influence the tunes Im making for JAW JAM.
So how long have you been producing or making music in general?
I've played piano for most of my life, first classical and then jazz since I was about 13. I started producing when I was about 15, mostly shitty hip-hop beats on Ableton. I only started making music that I was actually interested in listening to within the last year or so. I still get to play live with kids out at Oberlin though, real great jazz community.
How did you get interested in making kind of music you make now then? I'm interested in how the progression from piano, to shitty hip-hop beats, to sophisticated experimental music went.
Haha yeah, it wasn't a direct transition by any means. I started to stray away from hip-hop around the same time I got really into dub and garage during high school. Most of the (electronic) music I was listening to / seeing at the time wasn't especially exciting though, so I never really made especially inspired tunes. Past that I got into all the whole post-dub / r&b / scene--Blake, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ifan Dafydd and stuff. The first couple mixes I did under JAW JAM were basically harmonimix bootlegs. I was pretty excited to be able to play stuff I'd jam to on the piano in the context of a JAW JAM tune.
Was there ever just that one song that just exploded in your brain and shifted your whole mindset toward more post-dubstep/future garage outfits? Or maybe a particular artist that just grabbed you by the throat?
Yeah for sure, I was really into that track "Over" off Fantastic Mr. Fox's Evelyn EP. Also all the Harmonimix tracks blew my mind (that mix of "Trim" is beautiful). Beyond that, I'm a pretty serious garage / bassline enthusiast, so I've always been into the chopped r&b vox type of vibe. I think I got introduced to it all via one of the first Mad Decent Podcasts mixes that Bok Bok did called What is a Niche?. Sort of weird to admit but i guess bassline really introduced me to most of the music I'm listening to now.
So far, you've sampled a lot of big name r&b soul sisters, and quite frankly the same group of r&b singers that many people who are making similar type of music as you have sampled in the past. But you somehow seem to do it way better. First of all what is it you look for in a vocal sample, and how do you go about getting what you want from it?
Thanks man. I'll generally just listen to the acapella until I find a "sweet spot," and play with that for a while. It's generally just experimentation, but I like to keep it really short and simple until I have a solid foundation and fill in the gaps from there. It also has to do with what samples can be reharmonized in a way that complements the chords and doesn't sound too whiny or deep.
You've done a lot of bootleg work so far, do you plan on releasing an official project of all original material anytime soon?
As far as new material goes, I'm working on a 2 or 3 song EP of purely original stuff. I'm also in the process of working on some collabs with some pretty great dudes, hopefully that will pan out.
Yeah we heard you are working with Hazy Hood. Those are good homies of LFTF.
Yeah, I talked to them about that a while ago - working with some of their stems currently. As far as I know, it's also featuring Bondax, XXYYXX, Sibian & Faun, and a couple others.
Also chatted with 123mrk - shout out to that homie, definitely has been putting out some huge huge tunes.
How cool is it getting recognition for music you actually enjoy making and enjoy listening to?
Feels pretty good man. Never expected to get this much positive feedback - JAW JAM really only started as a small project during this past winter break. Definitely props to you guys at LFTF and over at MTHRFNKR, to name a few, for spreading the word. But yeah, feels great to finally accept a style of production that im comfortable with and really enjoy exploring.