Jan Jelinek has been releasing records since 1998, but it was the release of his 2001 LP Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records that really catapulted him to the forefront of the minimal music community. His unique style combines dub, glitch and minimal techno with carefully chosen samples from the most obscure sources. Following a Stamp Mix with Midori Takada, who Jan plays in London with this month, we discuss his approach to sampling, changing production methods and future projects alongside a mix of “all time favourites”.
Jan, could you tell us a little about the mix you’ve made? What was the idea behind it?
The mix is not really framed by a certain idea. Perhaps I included pieces which just had been on my hard drive while starting to compile. Looking retrospectively at the tracklist I am tempted to describe it as a conglomeration of shameless self advertising (my pieces and the collaboration pieces), all time favourites, and music by people, which I met in the last 12 months and had a drink with (no, not Ennio Morricone).
You have often spoken about the importance of sampling to your work, both as a producer and when mixing, but what’s the major source of these samples you use, and why are they so integral to what you do?
Sampling is definitively an integral constant of my work. Working with, collaging and processing audio samples can be compared with an alchemistic process. It is a balance between coincidence and calculation, which means you never know 100% in advance how a certain audio file reacts once you combine it with further audio material. All can be transformed to anything. The strategy of sampling is about combinatorics and the total fixation on material. I don’t have one major source, the idea goes rather further. Every material is welcome, because it is about using prerecorded material in general and not about which sort of material. That’s the main aesthetic ideal, which still attracts me after such a long time. Only on a second stage I’m reducing or determining my sampling source if the project demands it.
The main idea – sampling/collaging – hasn’t changed at all, but naturally the resources of production changed dramatically. Starting with a computer with a 1,4MB floppy disk drive and temporarily ending with a sound computer module with more or less endless storage capacity: I guess that the development of technology has been engraved in my catalogue and influenced my production. Besides that there is music, which is slightly changing from project to project. I understand myself not as an artist, who wants to develop one certain production method further and further. There are actually many artist, who can do this much better and more consistent. In other words: I’m more interested in writing out an idea – once the idea has been materialized into an album I rather drop the method and go to the next station. But at the end I still hope, that my catalog embraces my signature …
Talk to us about some of the interesting projects you are working on currently.
I just have finished an album with the Japanese drone artist Asuna, who creates wonderful rich textures. When we started with Joint Recordings I wasn’t sure how to add myself on top of his dense sound work. It took a while – in fact more than three years – but finally we have worked out an album, which will be hopefully released on my label in 2019. Also I should mention two album releases for May 2018. The first one is a reissue – Improvisations and Edits, Tokyo 26.09.2001 – originally released back 2003. It is collective improvisation with the trio Computer Soup. The whole album was recored one afternoon on their living room floor. The second album is a new work of mine, based on a radio piece that I wrote for German public broadcaster SWR. The title is Zwischen and gathers sound poetry collages using interview answers by public figures. In fact it gathers the silent moments between spoken words: breaths and hesitations in which the interviewees search for the right word. On a second stage these voice collages control a synthesizer setup, creating abstract electronic sounds and merge with the voices. Perhaps the final result is rather sound than music.
Asuna & Jan Jelinek – Untitled (Unreleased)
Jonathan William Scherk – Catalogue Nr 11
Francis Lai – A man and a Woman
Children Of Alice – The liminal space
Harald Genzmer & Oskar Sala – Suite de danses pour instruments electroniques
Alien Radio – Die Wendt-Huelle
Daniel Majer – Tamam
Institut fuer Feinmotorik – 5-33
Jan Jelinek – Lady Gaga, you once said in an interview that you write music for the fashion industry. Is fashion as important to you as music?
Allesandro Alessandroni – Fuga d’Amore
Computer Soup & Jan Jelinek – The Post-Anthem