From their first encounter with one another at a weekly be-bop jam back in the mid 90s, Amsterdam-based duo Juju & Jordash swiftly drifted from the world of jazz and experimental music into electronic territory. In the last 10 years J&J have caught the tech bug and experimented with synthesizers, drum machines and dance music, releasing on numerous EPs, LPs and remixes on record labels such as Dekmantel, Golf Channel Recordings, and Workshop and Off Minor Recordings as Magic Mountain High together with Move D.
Ahead of their DJ set this weekend at party purveyors Friends Of Ours’ 1st birthday celebrations (Saturday 27th June), we got technical with the legendary Amsterdam-based duo. Full interview and drooling imagery below.
Tickets are still available for Juju & Jordash’s rare DJ set this weekend at Peckham’s infamous Canavan’s venue. Head to Resident Advisor for more info.
You met each other playing in jazz sessions during the 90’s, but what inspired you to produce electronic music and eventually invest in studio?
Jordan: I’ve been making synth/drum machine/tape music since I was a teen but when I was 18 I was introduced to Detroit techno and Chicago house and I guess I started making stuff that was closer to that.
Could you tell us a bit about the Volkskrantgebouw and who else works there?
Jordan: It’s a huge hip hotel built on top of about a dozen tiny, grimy music studios. We have some super cool guys as neighbours including Tom Trago and San Proper who often lend us gear and good vibes.
Does it help being surrounded by likeminded people there? Is there much exchange of ideas (and equipment!)?
Jordan: Yup! Those dudes are always fun to hang out with when we get a chance, and the gear… for sure! Our latest album would not have been the same without Tom Trago’s EMU SP1200, and San’s fretless bass is on a few records already.
Could you talk us through your studio set-up at the moment?
Jordan: At the moment, as ever, the studio is in transition. just got a mac mini and a big screen to replace the laptop that’s been wrecking my back every morning. regarding synths and fun stuff, recently I got a white 1972 fender rhodes. Basically we have a bunch of synths/keyboards, a few drum machines, a few fx. Non of these are constantly hooked up to our mixer cause it only has 16 inputs (A&H zed r16). I guess our studio is kind of a mess but I am hopeful things will sort themselves out soon. (I’m in the process of hanging the synths on the walls to make more space but I’ve been saying this to friends for about a year so it’s kind of a joke).
After a debut on Dekmantel, you decided to make “something surprising”. Were their any drastic changes in the studio setup to facilitate this?
Jordan: Hmmm… I’m not really sure which record you are referring to.. but in general it’s been a very slow and pretty steady process of accumulating gear.
Over three studio albums you must have added to the studio. Is there anything in particular that had a significant impact in the development and evolution of your music?
Jordan: I think the most significant enhancement on Clean-cut was the heavy usage of Tom Trago’s Sp1200.
Preferring a spontaneous approach and writing the music as you go along has made for some captivating music. Are you ever tempted to compromise that ethos during the editing process?
Gal: Open to whatever it takes. if the initial jam is full enough and interesting enough then it’s is awesome to keep close to that, other times – some overdubs or more drastic edits can really improve the track
Do you have a routine to get you in the zone before jam sessions?
Gal: Coffee and an assortment of sweets
Jordan: A lot of coffee and I guess I need an hour of sitting and looking at the gear before Im in any zone.
There are a distinct lack of screens in your studio. Does this freedom allow you to indulge your jazz roots more so than if you were sat in front of a computer?
Gal: We use a computer for the actual multitrack recording and editing of course , but yeah – instruments = more fun and freedom jamming
Your productions tend to fall quite nicely between the dancefloor and the bedroom, but do you ever have a particular context or destination in mind before starting a jam?
Gal: We did maybe when we working on a a project like the Golem Soundtrack and EPs but mostly – different days, different directions and destinations…
Does your live set-up differ much from your studio?
Gal: The basic workflow and studio jamming set up is more or less the same (aside from gear variety etc)
Jordan: Totally different set-up but same ethos just with the freedom to later edit, overdub and mix etc..
Having changed your live sets from partially planned to entirely improvised, do you find it harder to achieve something ‘club-ready’ without having already laid some foundations?
Gal: No, it’s actually way easier in a way! There is much more flexibility and the crowd usually reacts well to spontaneity
What’s so great about the Korg Poly800 II? Danny Wolfers (aka Legowelt) seems fond of the built-in delay.
Jordan: Light-weight, cheap, (usually) airline friendly, and packs a HUGE sound for it’s size/price. and yeah – Danny is correct. The Delay/Chorus inside it makes a huge difference. The chord memory and little sequencer are pretty cool as well.
Anyone familiar with your work will know you have a fondness for analogue synths, but not much has been said of the drum machines in your arsenal. Do you have any favourites?
Gal – TR606 for stage and SP1200 for studio (though i sadly don’t own the latter)
What is your most essential item in your set-up?
Jordan: For the live setup we really got used to having an SH101.. that little sequencer saves our ass every single live show. We trigger it with the 606, super easy on the fly and sounds great. In the studio its hard to say what is the most essential.. thats like choosing a favourite child. don’t make me do it.
Is there a bit of kit whose sentimental worth far outweighs its practical uses?
Gal: Casio pt30 from my grandmother
Jordan: Any Yamaha DX11. I got my first DX11 from my mentor and close friend Udi Kazmirski. He sadly passed away three years ago. I’m on my third DX11 right now but I still have the original one I got from him, totally smashed, (thanks Lufthansa) but I’ll never throw it out.
You’ve been vocal in your disdain for physical modelling synthesis and Virtual Analogue gear. Do you have any advice for aspiring producers that can’t afford the vintage instruments those technologies attempt to replicate?
Gal: On one hand, with enough time and care you can get great sounding results with all kinds of these tools. On the other hand – yes hardware gear (we do use a ton of digital gear as well…) does usually sound better to my ear (certainly in a much more immediate way), and also usually more fun to play with. A lot of really cool digital synths, drum machines as well as analog effects can actually cost less than fancy new replica’s
And finally, what have you guys got planned over the coming months? Any new releases or collaborations?
Gal: Just had a 4 tracks Juju & Jordash EP out on Dekmantel called Down to the Roach. We recently made a track for a new upcoming Vibes compilation on Future Times, a bunch of remixes, working on more stuff for Golf Channel and more stuff I’m forgetting atm… gonna be quite a lot of traveling with both J&J and MMH the coming months, starting to get in the zone for a mega Magic Mountain High (our band together with Move D) live jam over in Freerotation Festival!