Originally posted at The Interns.
In each year of his career, New York’s Jai Wolf has taken another huge step forward with his music. In 2014, his bootleg remix of Skrillex’s Ease My Mind caught the EDM superstar’s attention and Wolf became one of the hottest remix artists in the business. The following year he released the stunning ‘Indian Summer’, an engrossing and rich song which turned the underground sensation into a rising star. With ‘Indian Summer’ cracking the Hottest 100 and publications like Rolling Stone labelling him an artist to watch, all eyes were on the next move of the Bangladeshi born producer.
Jai Wolf responded emphatically with the enigmatic Drive. Featuring the Chain Gang of 1974, the sleek downtempo track is a careful, slow-burning release that shimmers with the class and polish of an artist beyond the years of the 24-year-old Wolf.
Speaking to Jai Wolf ahead of his return to Australia for his Somewhere In A Forest tour, we chatted about the recording process of ‘Drive’ and the wealth of influences that have helped shape his unique sound.
Congratulations on the success of Drive, you must be happy with how it’s been received. This is one of your first collaborations as Jai Wolf – how does the recording process differ compared to your solo work?
It’s pretty different. With collaborations there’s a lot back and forths, especially because Chain Gang lived in LA and I live in New York City. So it’s just a lot of back and forths through e-mail. I sent him an idea and he sent back something on top of it with him singing, and then I rearranged the song to fit the vocals and then it just turned out really perfectly.
Did you have something down to begin with, or did you want to wait until you spoke with Chain Gang for the song to take shape?
I had an instrumental and we were just sending that around. I actually didn’t intend to have vocals on it at first but what he sent back just fit the vibe of it perfectly, and it just kind of went from there. It’s cool how someone can dig into a song and find elements that can strengthen the song even more.
Are more collaborations coming, or do you prefer working solo?
Definitely a mix of both. I’m excited to be working with other artists as well, and hopefully they’ll see the light of day in the next year or so. But I’d say a pretty even mix of both.
Indian Summer has a really strong Desi influence. What sources of inspiration have influenced the sound of ‘Drive’?
It’s a good question. I love a lot of indie music, I listen to a lot of bands and I definitely wanted to make something that sounded like that but with a more electronic feel. I would say the best compliment I got was from a friend, who played it for another friend, and he didn’t realise it was me and he asked my friend, “What band is this?”. I thought that was really cool. I just wanted to make something that moved away from a lot of the stuff you hear on Soundcloud. I wanted to make something a little more indie-rock influenced and Kam from Chain Gang really helped bring that out on the song.
Any bands in particular you had in mind when recording Drive?
I really like Two Door Cinema Club, Passion Pit, MGMT, the band HAIM. Basically anything like that which has rock elements and also electronic elements. Definitely Passion Pit, MGMT are a really good mix of those two styles. I used to listen to them a lot when I was in college, like four years ago when those songs were really popular. So I was very influenced by that type of music.
A lot of the guys you cite as inspirations – Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182 – come from worlds completely different to you. What do you draw from them?
Haha, that’s a good question because when people see that they might be confused because my music obviously doesn’t sound like a lot of that stuff. I would say specifically Kanye has a really cool grasp on the larger vision for his album. They’re really big and bold and have a very consistent flow between the songs. I like the way he approaches creating music. Because my music doesn’t necessarily sound like his, it doesn’t mean I’m not influenced by him, I’m definitely influenced by his creative process for sure. In terms of people like Fall Out Boy, Blink-182 and bands like that, I really like the melodies they write. I think the style of writing I do is very influenced by their melodies. So just because I don’t use drums or electric guitar, it doesn’t mean I’m not inspired by the way they write their guitar riffs or something like that.
Is there anything you’re listening to right now that’s influencing your music?
I really like the new Flume album. It’s really well produced and really out there. I’ve kind of been stuck on that one, I really like the new Kanye record for sure. I’m really bad listening to new music, I sometimes get stuck on stuff that’s outdated, I guess. But yeah, the Flume album is the current one I’ve been listening to.
Last year you said you’d only go full throttle with touring when there’s an EP of original music ready to go. With all the dates you’re doing at the moment, is something on its way?
I can’t say much, but I can tell you that I’m definitely working on a lot of music and I’m hoping that music will come out later in the year
Fair enough. Will we get the chance to hear some new music during your shows?
Oh definitely, that’s something I just started recently. Especially since we’re entering a new tour cycle, I want to tease some new music that’s coming out.
How’s the crowd reaction been to the new music so far?
Good, I think! I’ve only just debuted a new song at HARD Summer, which was just the other day. But I think it was good, I saw a couple of tweets about it. But obviously as the tour and the year goes on, I’ll be debuting more new stuff too, which is exciting. I will also be playing different versions of my own songs so when you come to the tour you’re going to have a new experience. It’s not going to be like you’re listening to my Soundcloud page, it’ll be like an evolved version of something you’ve heard before. It’s like remixing yourself, basically.
You were down in Australia late last year and we’re excited to have you back soon. Is there anything about the Australian crowds that stood out to you last time?
I had a great time last year, everyone in Australia is super nice. I thought it was really funny, I thought that you danced really funny, haha. I noticed that you guys danced in a very specific way that’s different from Americans. It’s like a goofy, lighthearted way of dancing. I loved it though, I was amused by it. I like it, it just means you’re having a good time, you don’t care what other people think.