Intelligent, intuitive and totally in-tune with the kind of off-kilter sonic tones and tempos which, combined, create a near perfect noise, Nicolas Jaar is the minimal musician with the massive talent.
Plucked from obscurity at 17 after randomly submitting his first self-produced single ‘The Student’ to record label and online community Wolf + Lamb, the now 21-year-old Nicolas never set out to be successful. Making music which accommodates only his own tastes, intended to transcend genre, it is Mr Jaar’s diverse concepts that maketh his music. Experimenting with processes, equipment and instruments, the soundscapes woven by this remarkable New York-born, Browns student of Comparative Literature, examine progressive and disrupted rhythms.
Churning out warm waves of ambient chords and vocals, created using microphones and a pair of big genelecs, Nico delicately transports listeners to a state of trance-like euphoria. Filling space with noise and time with sound, his intentions lie beyond commercial prosperity. Whatever project he undertakes, be it an electronic score, dissertation for college or remix of a highly obscure or highly mainstream tune, each track he produces is a fresh take on where he’s at with understanding the world around him. Changing the face of modern music, Nico defies trend and embodies innovation.
Focused upon promoting his record label Clown and Sunset and his highly anticipated new material, i-D online tracked down the one-man-whirlwind and jumped on a train to take a journey into the dark territories of his creative headquarters.
Where are you right now and what have you spent the last 24 hours doing? I’m on a train going back to school, was in NY for the weekend doing some photoshoots.
What inspired and influenced you during your recent time spent writing and recording? DESIRE.
How long have you been working on the new material? Songs take me very little time to make – it’s the soul searching that requires work.
You play around with music – your techniques are original, how do you continually challenge yourself and does experimenting with your sound become harder the more successful you become? Not really. I love creating little challenges for myself, like the other day I made a dubstep track. I kinda like it.
What instruments and equipment do you work with? Microphones and a pair of big genelecs.
Do you remember the first gig you ever played, the reaction you got from the crowds and how it felt to play your music in front of an audience? The Marcy in Brooklyn. I was 18 and quite nervous. Realised after the show that I had no bass lines – when I dropped the bass I just dropped a kick. Quite funny.
What new talent have you been working with recently? I have a collaboration coming out soon, it’s called DARKSIDE. It’s my guitarist Dave Harrington and me. It’s the closest thing to rock & roll I’ve ever done.
If your music were a person what would they look like and how would they behave? Depends, my music has a lot of shades. Right now, I would say my music is a monk, who wears a black robe and leads a lonely but honest life.
If you weren’t making music today, what would you be making money doing? I would start an alien conspiracy theory blog that pairs 20th century art to star maps. I would most likely not be making money.
Are you in love? Sometimes.
What song has had the single greatest impact on you in your life? Maybe Yegelle Tezeta by Mulatu Astatke – my first definition of dance music.
Where are you off to now and what will you do to relax? I’m off to my studio in providence where I study. I probably will not do anything to relax- don’t like the feeling.