Jason Fernandes could be called a self taught producer, an outsider and somewhat more mundanely, a techno DJ and producer. Stepping away from the more familiar and exasperated titles, he prefers the simple term artist or yet more personally accurate, a being of this planet who manages to maintain a creative, expressive contribution to this world. As he very astutely muses “The constructed and fictitious reality around us rarely leaves a moment for a person to truly express themselves, and the most important thing which we all often forget to do, is to be ourselves.” Mick Finucan went to find out about the real Jason Fernandes..
Hi Jason, thank you for taking time out to speak with us here at Decoded. So as we come into the winter months and as the year comes to a close how has 2015 been for you?
Hi, thanks for having me. 2015 has had some real high points for me. Another great year. I managed to land two EPs on Carl Cox’s Intec label! Quite a humbling experience. Although the release output has been slightly less, the studio productions have been in full flow, so I have tonnes of new music that I am really excited about and some more nice releases com-ing up!
You have come up the scene from over the years through hard work and many hours in the studio can you tell us more about the early years for you growing up?
I really didn’t know anyone in the scene, at all. I loved electronic music, and of course primarily bass heavy, techno orientated sounds. My family are super creative types. After uni, and working the 9-5 office hours for a bit, I felt my soul needed to be placed into something that meant more, and into something I love. So I then went into full time music production, and years later the un-released catalog of projects extends into the 1000s.
It’s been a very productive and busy two years in the studio with some big releases can you tell us has it been producer come DJ journey or vice versa over the years?
I started out as a DJ with my first set of turntables at about the age of 14. Production was a natural progression shortly after that. I started collecting hardware & software and tinkering. I have basically been honing my production skills for years and just simply focusing on music, listening to, making and enjoying it. Now I can’t say which one I prefer. I love performing & I love getting lost in the studio for days & expressing myself through my music. I feel incomplete when I don’t do both.
Your back catalogue of releases, are of the techno variety. Was this the case from when you began your musical journey of has it evolved slowly to where you are now?
That techno feel hit me pretty early on. But I have always listened to all sorts of music. To do and listen to one thing over and over would lead to a very bland and close-minded artist. So yes, evolution is constant. A running river flows, a stagnant pond doesn’t.
The weekend just gone has seen you make your live debut as an act. Can you tell us more about the setup and what went down?
Yes, I am moving into the realms of performing 100% my own music. Another example of evolution. So I tested this out in Rotterdam last Saturday. I have some controllers with Ableton. The performance is basically made up of the stems, melodies, percussive elements beats and tracks I have made over the years. Some new, unknown, and some of the opposite. The feedback was amazing! So all in all I’m really happy about that. I’m looking forward to see how the set will evolve over time.
Is the live act something which you will be pursuing in the future as opposed to solely DJing?
I will definitely be offering these both as an option, and of course they will bring about entirely different feels. I love to create journeys in both ways with music I have found and connect as well as my own. I do feel I can express myself as an artist more through a live set. I absolutely love that aspect of it. I really cannot forget however how much I love creating a journey with new music I have come across.
And when DJing what would be your preferred setup?
As someone who is constantly producing new music I must maintain a digital set up in order to be able to drop in tracks that are fresh out of the studio and simply aren’t available yet. Also the technology just allows more possibilities. So I use my own controllers with Ableton or Traktor. I know them and can set things up in a way that is comfortable, and innovative at the same time.
You mention in your bio how you met Cisco (The Advent) & Hugo Paixao and as result Skyline Type Groove was born, but could you delve more into this and how the label and friendship came about?
Hugo and I go way back (Cisco too) but it was the music that brought us back together though. Hugo and I sent some stuff to Cisco who displayed an interest in what we were doing. We really began to connect and collaborate. Creating a platform for our own productions was a natural step. I think we really bring a different flavour to the scene as solo artists and combined.
Your latest EP on STG ‘Pillar of Support’ is been well received by the like of Adam Beyer but is the first for quite a while. Is this label making a comeback?
The label did go slightly quiet for a bit release wise, which in these days can happen in 5 minutes. But the studio never saw a quiet moment. I was sorting music for Carl Cox’s Intec which took up some time for me. Sometimes you are busy behind the scenes pushing things forward musically. But yes, STG is stirring once again.
Staying on the theme of labels, you have your own personal one in Subfigure. What is you vision for this and what does the future hold for it?
Subfigure has always been a way of expressing myself. I feel these moments in my life where I delve into different emotions or moods. Subfigure is really, my own sub-figure or, my sub-persona and the music created from that. The label is an extension of myself. I can be absolute on Subfigure, I can be myself. I don’t have to worry about pleasing others. The future for Subfigure will be more of my evolution musically and perhaps work from some other artists that I really connect with.
Predominantly it’s just you that has released on the label. Is this by choice and will it continue this way?
Yea this has been entirely by choice. I have received some good demos from artists, but nothing has really taken yet for me. I am always willing to listen and am very open minded. When the right stuff comes, unique, emotive and so importantly, truly expressive, sure I’d be happy to work with music like that.
Being a self-taught producer what do you feel has been your biggest frustrations over the years and have you ever wanted to pack it all in?
I have never got as far as actually wanting to pack it in. The journey can feel long at times. Life can be tough for artists who wants to at least make enough to pay the bills and live a life outside of the studio. You make a lot of sacrifices. But the positives drown out these issues massively. I am simply thankful for having music in my life. I am on a personal quest to try to only be myself and express myself and that means making music regardless.
Can you remember a specific point of where you thought you could make it in this industry?
People who are constantly trying to ‘make it’ will find the hole is never filled. It means you are not living in the present. This can lead to a great deal of unhappiness. For me I think it suddenly clicked that if you are expressing yourself by making music you love, being yourself and are grateful for the things you do have, then you have ‘made it’ already.
For the studio nerds out there can you give us a quick run through your studio?
I’m using Ableton, really nice Onyx sound card with the Perkins EQs. Some analog synths feeding into that like a Voyager which just has the best sound I have ever experienced, a Phatty which is just phat-end-of, an Ms20 which is a patchable semi modular beast, then also a Ms2000b and microKORG which I actually use a fair bit too. Sometimes I’ll compress with a basic 3630, but most of the time I do it digitally. I use some soft synths like Massive and Sylenth too.
As a producer are there any particular acts or artists that you want to work with and would lay claim to being a big influence for you and your style?
No not really. I try not to think in terms of styles. I am only trying to be myself and express myself through music. Of course there are tonnes of artists I like and things I have heard throughout my life good or bad will have had an affect on who I am.
You are a connoisseur in the genre of techno but outside of this what do you like to listen when you want to decompress and clear the mind?
Anything soulful, deep, emotive, thought provoking. There tends to be at least a bit of this in every genre I have ever come across. But because I’m making so much music at the moment, I really try to just rest the ears and do other relaxing things to balance out or if I need some input I’ll go to a show, an exhibition or do outdoorsy stuff.
As mentioned you have been busy year for you so what is in store release wise for the winter and 2016?
We are always intrigued to hear the top five tracks that are doing it for you right now.
These days, way too much music to name specific tracks, so I’ll name artists and keep it techno. Gabriel D’or & Bordoy, Loco & Jam, Skober, Harvey Mckay & The Yellowheads seem to pop up in my playlists a lot. All relatively new and fresh sounding producers in the scene with really wicked grooves and energy.
Jason it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. From all of us here at Decoded magazine we wish you continued success in the future.
Thanks guys, likewise!
01// Bryan Chapman – Rhetoric [Amazone]
02// Jason Fernandes – Tunnel Vision [Skyline Type Grooves]
03// Truncate – B2 Untitled [Truncate]
04// Jason Fernandes – Get Closer [Intec]
05// Relapso – Invasion [Relapso]
06// Jason Fernandes – Anger Leads To Shame [Subfigure]
07// The Advent & Industrialyzer – Black Box [Codeworks]
08// Jason Fernandes – Recurring Thought [Skyline Type Grooves]
09// Jason Fernandes – Feel In Control [H-Productions]
10// The Advent & Jason Fernandes – Dissonating [Sleaze]
11// Jason Fernandes – Stand Up [Intec]
12// Kardinal – Dirty Tiger [Alleanza]
13// Jason Fernandes – Illusions [Skyline Type Grooves]
14// Jason Fernandes – Pillar Of Support [Skyline Type Grooves]
15// The Yellowheads – Mutation [!Organism]
16// Jason Fernandes – Love & Trust [Subfigure]