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Feature: Jan Blomqvist [Interview]

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Hi Jan, thanks for joining us, how are you today? And what are your plans for this week?

Hello! I’m good, thanks. I just came home from Tulum where I spent most of January. This week is all about settling back in Berlin. It’s so nice to be back.

What music from your youth had the biggest effect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you?

Radiohead’s ‘Ok Computer’ and The Notwist’s ‘Shrink’ are definitely the most influential albums for me. I loved them for bridging from Britpop guitars to electronic sounds, which was pretty new at the end of the nineties. My dad’s old vinyl’s from Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan impressed and inspired me with the lyrics.

Looking back, was there ever a moment, perhaps in a club or festival, where you knew you wanted a career in electronic music?

Fusion Festival and Bar25 were the places that made me go into electronic music.

Living in Berlin, to what extent are you involved in the local subculture and its lifestyle? And would you say it’s the music capital of the world in a sense?

I’m actually not home a lot at the moment. I’m playing and travelling most of the time, especially on the weekends. When I’m in Berlin, I’m either at the studio or
at home playing with my son. But I vividly and fondly remember the countless weekends we spent in clubs like Bar25 and being part of what you call local subculture.

How has living there shaped your sound and career?

The way of living, the freedom to do whatever you want to, the very cheap living costs - in comparison to other European metropolis, the free spaces, the slow, stressless and harmonic addicts and the huge amount of artists who lived and still live in Berlin of course influenced me a lot. There was a massive exchange between musicians when I arrived in Berlin as a very young talent.

Your bio states you invented ‘concert techno’, tell us what that term means to you.

It doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. We changed the bio recently and I would not want this term in my bio today. I still love creating electronic music with live instruments on stage though.

You are one of the few electronic artists who play live and also sings during the performance, tell us about your live setup.

It’s very complicated. I use analogue pre-amps and compressors to have a strong ground signal for my vocals. This signal then goes through my digital effects, which I use with my UAD Apollo Twin sound card. From there it goes to another sound card per adat to mix it in the final mastering computer.

What do you consider your breakthrough moment or track? I assume it would be something on Stil Vor Talent?

Yes and no. My breakthrough moment was the video for ‘Something Says’. The song was released on SvT, but it was the video we spontaneously filmed on a Berlin rooftop terrace on a rainy day in late summer 2011 that went viral. For me, it feels like this was the moment it all began. I am still very thankful to Oliver Koletzki and Stil vor Talent for releasing my first EPs though.

Let’s talk about your creative process. Every piece of music must be a different journey in many respects but do they usually start with either a melodic idea or a vocal?

There’s no rule to this. Sometimes the vocals come to me first, sometimes it’s a melody. But usually, those songs that start out from the melody are the stronger ones.

Your productions always carry a great musical quality, not overt and yet very emotive, is this something you strive for in the studio and what do you want your music to convey to the listener?

Yes. :-)

How much live play (if any) is involved in helping refine a track before your content with it?

It’s a luxury if I have the time to play or test songs live before they have to be finished. More often, we have a deadline and I have to be content without ever having played a song in front of an audience.

I’ve read that you feel a lot of music which is released today feels unfinished. What does a finished track mean to you?

A finished track is a like a carefully written story. There’s an introduction, a plot, a climax and most important, it’s not rushed to an end, just because a certain length is en vogue.

Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks that still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why? And could you still play it?

‘Something Says’ still makes me smile and I still play it.

What are your feelings on pressing vinyl in this age of rapidly consumed music? And do you think it affects the perception of your music in any way?

On one hand, vinyl does not make any sense because the sound quality is not as good as the original digital master. On the other hand, it would feel weird to not have an album pressed on vinyl. It kind of makes it complete.

Your ‘Disconnected’ album has been a great success, what track from it sits closest to your heart and why?

‘Broken Mind Embassy’. Just because it’s so much fun to play it live.

There have been some incredible remixes from your album, most notably Rodriguez Jr. and Solee. How do you feel about your work being remixed in general?

Yes, the guys have done an amazing job! (Thanks so much btw if you read this.) I wanted to work with Rodriguez Jr. and Solee for a long time and that’s why it feels amazing to have my tracks remixed.

This week sees the release of yet another remix from your album, Tim Schaufert's excellent interpretation of 'A Bridge Over Novocaine', tell us about that one and why you chose Tim for this particular piece.

I wanted something different. Not the same story, something interesting, not necessarily a club sound and Tim definitely is one of those fresh talent’s that made me curious.

You seem to have found a comfortable home on Armada in recent years, tell us how that relationship came to be.

My management introduced us. Armada released my EP ‘Time Again’ internationally. After that, they made me the best offer for an album, 100% artistic freedom, which is still really important to me.

There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? and what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

You can’t not do it. Social Media, I mean. It’s like homework at school. You don’t like it but you still do it. It creates a world that is not really authentic. It shines but often there’s nothing behind that shiny exterior. In general, and for a moment in time, the new technological possibilities democratised the market. Everyone could make it without the power of the labels and the industry behind them but that moment might pass with the growing power of streaming services.

This may tie into the previous question in a way but what are the biggest challenges you face as an artist in the industry right now?

The pressure to release stuff is enormously high. Personally, the biggest challenge is to not get lost or get sick with all that pressure and the growing speed of the business. How do I make room and find the time to work creatively is the question I still have not fully answered. I bet I’m not the only musician feeling this way.

The US portion of your ‘Disconnected’ Tour is starting soon, tell us what we can expect from that. I’ve read you have a pretty incredible light show. Tell us about that as well.

At the moment we are trying to get the light show to the US as well but we are not sure this is going to happen because we might not be able to get US artists visa for every tour member. :-(

Do you have a favourite show from the tour thus far?

Tiflis, in Georgia.

What will you be doing once the US leg of the tour is complete? And what does the rest of the 2019 hold for you?

Ibiza and the massive European festival season and of course Burning Man. It never ends.

► Jan Blomqvist ♫

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