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Che Jose [Interview]

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Hailing from Sydney Australia, Che Jose has showcased his music via Armada, Flashover Recordings, Enormous Chills, Sirup, Juicy Music, F.T.F.T Records and more. With support from artists such as Ferry Corsten, Nicky Romero, Solarstone, David Guetta, Armin Van Burren, EDX, Korolova and more. This week sees his debut on Miss Monique's Siona Records with the much anticipated 'Andromeda'. We had a chance to catch up with Jose for an interview leading up to the release. Enjoy.

Hello Jose, thanks for joining us. How’s your year so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

Hi Good morning, i’m good been pretty hectic actually, just came out of hospital for sinus surgery, and now i’m in the middle of packing my house and studio as I’m moving so it’s been hectic.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and more, please.

Well at this stage i’m still working full time, unfortunately music isn’t paying the entire bills just yet, so usual day involves dropping the wide at work, grabbing a cup of coffee, coming back and dialing into my morning meetings with my team.

Around 3pm or so, i start to reply to emails from producers, and labels and try and work on some music. I try to lay down at least 1 - 2 ideas in a week, and then leave them and come back the following week to see if i can turn them into a full fledged song. I would say that 1 out of 10 make the cut.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

Not really, i’ve learned everything for better or worse by myself, lots of reading youtube tutorials and running ideas past other producers. I would say practice, practice and practice some more, the only thing that will get you to the next level is repetition. Its always a good idea to surround yourself with other people who know more then you, to also get some critical feedback, you might think something sounds amazing, however to someone else it may sound awful, that's why it's important to also have a good support network to bounce ideas with and get feedback on. Nowadays there are tons of online music schools, production schools ect, and even producers like me who run a patreon program to help other producers.

Tell us about your Patreon, what do you offer there and how can producers benefit from it.

I have three Tiers, the first is for mainly sound patches that i create or famous tracks, the second tier who get the same but also complete projects where possible, the third Tier is probably for the person who really wants to fast track their production journey. I work one on one with them and give critical feedback on their projects and suggestions on how to improve it. I also post most of the tutorials on my Youtube chanel if anyone just wants to follow along.

You have a new release out now on Miss Monique’s Siona Records, tell us about the release and how it showcases your current sound.

Oh goodness, this track came out totally by accident, the song started as a trance top line that had been in my HDD for over a year. However I could never find the correct sound to give it the emotion it deserved, then one day I was working on sound design and accidentally dragged the midi clip into the DAW, and the way it sounded really resonated with me. The track really is a hybrid, trance, progressive house and melodic techno. I’ve tried to incorporate parts of artist and songs I like from Anyma, Eric Pryds, Armin etc.. One I had the breakdown ready the rest of the track was put together in around an hour or so. The overall mood is a bit different to the stuff i had been releasing, but I'm going back more to my trace/progressive house roots, rather then trying to write more radio friendly stuff. I tend to find that for me this genre just comes more naturally to produce.

Looking closer at your Siona EP, walk us through the production process on one of the tracks, whichever you prefer, and if applicable was there anything in particular which inspired that track or the EP?

Funny you mention that, I’ve just finished doing a tutorial breakdown on the SIDE A of the EP (Andromeda) which is now up on my Youtube. I breakdown how the track came about, the sound design, the progression, arrangement, mixing and mastering. You can watch it from here if anyone is interested.

Let’s now talk about production a bit more in depth for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

Honestly it's random, every single day I find something that may inspire creativity, it could be from listening to an existing song I like and coming up with a different top melody, or while creating new sound banks, or even when I go for a walk or the gym and a melody pops in my head. I guess for me inspiration comes from everywhere in my life. For me at the end of the day once i finish a song and taken it from the inception of an idea to a full song, i always listen back to it and try to think, would i dance to this track? Could i listen to it more then once? If the answer is yes then probably its a track I'll release. However for every track I've released I have 20 that didn’t make the cut.

For you to get started on a track do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called ‘visualizations’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

Sometimes a bit of both, sometimes as mentioned before i get inspiration from lots of different mediums, sometimes i may load into my DAW, three different tracks with different parts of each that i really like, example the drop on one, the break on the other, the rhythm and groove of another, and use them as inspiration to create something. Sometimes however i can write a song in single session, just depends how I'm feeling on the day.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents or exercise play in the process?

I usually produce at night, I don't know why but if I try and produce music during the day, I feel like I'm wasting the daylight. Hence most of my best work comes when everyone at home is asleep and I have uninterrupted time to myself to work on music. Lots of coffee if I'm exhausting for the day and I’m trying not to loose my groove as I produce, as I find sometimes if I'm working on something and I stop, I loose momentum on it, so I try and push until I have most of the structure ready. You will find most of my IG feed involves half finished tracks during late night studio sessions, some of these end up into songs like Andromeda.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite, I think. What marks the end of the process for you? How do you know when a track is done?

For me i tend to find that a track is finished, once I’m creatively exhausted. I will also listen to the new song and compare it to other material that is out there in the same genre, to see if its commercially ready, eg has it got enough ear candy, is the arrangement and structure to complex, is the hook memorable enough, all these things play into it.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you’re satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?

Very important, once finish, I will give it a day or two before I listen to it again, sometimes it still sounds good to me, sometimes it sounds like garbage and I wont continue on the project. Music if very susceptible to personal taste, so I have to like something enough, to be able to stand behind it and release it, if I don't believe in it, why should I expect another label or dj to do so? Hence I try to be really critical of my work where possible. My wife is also a very good judge of music, she doesn’t know about music production, but she will tell me if she likes somethings or she thinks its shit lol.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

I would say the initial building of the idea into the arrangement, because at this point I feel like half the battle is done at this point.

Let’s talk about DJing, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

For me its all about the music selection and reading the crowd, most people don't know that I started to DJ on turn tables back in 96 or so, and I used to play hip hop and R&B, so lots of scratching, beat juggling etc.. However the one thing that I learned was about the skill of reading the crowds, playing to your set time, e.g if your an opener don't play the hits etc.. Nothing that change in that effect, only difference is that I would play more of my own stuff now in my sets.

What were your main creative challenges when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time?

It was definitely learning how to beatmix on vinyl, none of this auto cue stuff back then. Once I learned the skill it was about doing tricks and doing seamless transitions between tracks. I would say now technology helps a lot more, you have DJ’s such as James Hype who put on a performance during their sets, so technology has really allowed us to take those skills to the next level.

How would you describe the relationship between your choices and vision as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of your crowd? Is there a sense of collaboration between you and the club-goers?

I think you can tell really quickly if the crowd is enjoying your set, if you see people not dancing or looking at their phones etc. you know you need to bring them back real quick. Like anything else in music, practise practise practise, the more exposure you get the better you will get at reading a crowd.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

Whenever I make a track, i always think to myself, if i was playing this out, how can i maximize the energy and emotion of this track so the punters enjoy it. By keeping this at the back of my mind, I find that my arrangements in my songs will always have this mantra. YOu will probably find that most of my songs only have a single breakdown, i tend to find this is the best way to keep the energy going in the songs. But of course there is always exceptions to the rule.

Tell us a bit about your label FTFT Records, it’s been running about two years now, what is your vision for it and how has it changed since its inception?

I’m basically using it as a platform to push music that i like but may not fit some of the labels out there, its really a creative outlet for me to do whatever i want. I’ve also started to work with some amazing singers on the label, and hoping to start introducing more artist to the roster. So if anyone out there has a melodic house/melodic techno or progressive house track send it through, ftftrecords@gmail.com

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?
Wow, so many people I admire, lets see Ben Bohmer or Tinlicker to open, Miss Monique middle sets, Anyma, Artbat to do closing spots would be a dream line up.

Looking back over your discography, what release or track holds the best memories for you and is there a correlation between that track and how successful you are today?

Umm, my favourite so far is No Air, i love the way Luke’s vocal performance is on this track, it was also written during the lockdowns so the lyrics have a lot of meaning behind them.

I also love the track Freedom with Jodie knight, this was really inspired by Christian Loffler and Rohne.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Synths and more synths, at the moment i need to move to my new house and can finally set up my studio the way i want it. The next step would be to get a Moog and Prophet Rev 2 to the line up

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I’m really into self help books, been reading one by a guy called Corey Wayne called 1% man, which really speaks to male masculinity, how we relate to females in our life, and how to be the best versions of ourselves.

What does 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Hopefully more music on bigger labels, i hope to start touring this year also, at least a little.

'Andromeda' is out now via Siona Records: https://bit.ly/3DKQJ7Y

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