Jet Jaguar :: Interview Session

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Igloo: At what point in the process of recording music and then releasing it do you gain the most satisfaction ? [ eg. making sounds / hearing that someone bought it for their mother’s birthday / reading reviews/ playing live etc. ]

Michael Upton: It’s hard to say when I get the most. One thing I love is when I come back to something that I’ve finally declared finished, and realising I’m really happy with it. Just putting it on in the background while I’m doing the dishes or whatever, treating it like any other music rather than something I’ve slaved over, and having a strong impression that it actually does sound good after all.

I also really enjoy playing live, having some interaction with other people in that context – making music I haven’t heard yet in front of other people. Not that I don’t go into a live situation with some whole tracks structured, but I’ll invariably start attacking something, or getting in someone else to play something. I loved playing with Jeremy at his Mandrake
release party.

I do feel chuffed reading nice reviews too, or getting unsolicited emails about my stuff from complete strangers. But that’s more about lacking confidence than music, I’d say!

Igloo: Do you think that the practice of MP3 bootlegging in the electronica genre has an impact on smaller labels? Have you experienced this with any of your releases ?

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MU: I haven’t experienced it first hand, no. I haven’t felt any great impact at all, but particularly when my CD was only a run of 500 it’s not so hard to sell that many anyway.

Igloo: Do you prefer writing your own material, or does the interplay between 2 people whilst writing [ as with Patio ] mean more to you ?

MU: Probably my own stuff means more to me, but that’s probably straight up egotism. “This is MINE and I did EVERYTHING!!” type stuff. That said, I really enjoy collaborations as well. I’ve got 4 on the go, maybe 5
depending on how “on the go” Patio can be considered, with the two of us now in different countries.

I was playing a gig with a reggae band I’m involved with a week or so back and absolutely loved it. All but one of the guys who actually play are from a jazz background, so as a band they all improvise really well, and I love witnessing that and contributing in whatever way I can. That was mainly
pre-constructed beats and harmonic elements, that I’d mix in and out live, and ye olde delay effects on the live mix. It’s so satisfying when something comes together on the fly, probably much more so than carefully planning something. The satisfaction there is more like “yay, the effort was worth it” rather than “Jesus, how did we come up with this!?!? Alright!!”

Igloo: Do you think that melody is slowly becoming a more prominent and acceptable ingredient in electronic music today ?

MU: Um, not really. I think there’s such a variety of electronic stuff going on, it’s hard to say something like that. My impression is that it’s got a kind of covert acceptance – lots of listeners love it, but won’t admit it for fear of being considered cheesy or backwards or something. But speaking
of backwards, even among those doing melodic things, there doesn’t seem to be much going on that’s not simple tonal stuff like the lead line from an 80s pop song. People like Autechre get slammed for no longer having melodies because they do really atonal things that aren’t accessible.

Sometimes I think melody gets equated with “nice sounding”, so even something that’s just got a short repeating riff and some lush chords gets called “melodic” despite there being no real melody to speak of. Like lots of Boards of Canada or deFocus releases.

Igloo: If Jet Jaguar’s music was used as the score to a Hollywood movie, what would the plot be ?

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MU: Rubbish, at a guess, if it’s done in Hollywood. I can only imagine some ‘Reality Bites’ style jerk-off, maybe with some oh so zany flashback sequences or a surreal trip scene where they play some of my more spacey stuff while you’re seeing something psychadelic and expensive on screen. At some point the cold light of reality would hit the embittered but strangely well dressed heroes. In would come one of my more earthy, beaty tunes while they sit on a roof top, looking across the city lights and wondering how they’ll make it through another day in the cruel and heartless world of false promises that is America. Luckily, things seem much better in the light of morning. As they enjoy a leading brand of soft-drink, a gentle, tinkly track of mine starts to build up, and one of them is struck by the realisation that they can all be whatever they want, particularly if it involves getting a job, plastic surgery or piercings. Happy in the knowledge they are no longer hiding behind the feeble excuse that there was
something wrong with the system that raised them, they all start dancing and laughing to a housey number. Since this is a seriously hip movie, at that moment the film suddenly judders and slides away, as if the reel had just fallen off the projector, leaving a white screen. The fancy computer edited credits role as my Big Hit plays, and the audience leaves feeling really empowered and keen to buy the soundtrack and a Coke.

Michael Upton has a series of mp3’s available at mp3.com. Click here!

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