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- Posted on Mar 12th 2010 12:36PM by David A. Cobb
Jazz One is an Austin-based DJ and MC who will make you wiggle. A self-proclaimed "Renaissance man," his main goal is to pack dance floors. Mixing modern music with the classics is his M.O., and he has become a popular DJ in the Austin area as a result. In his spare time, he works on his spoken word poetry, and after acting in a film a few years ago, he plans to continue working on his acting skills. Spinner recently interviewed Jazz One about his musical history and his thoughts on SXSW.
Describe your sound.
I'll play that song you heard at the skating rink when you were twelve. I'll play that remix that is actually better than the original. I'll do a live mash-up of tracks you would never think of together, and for some reason it works. I'll play that song you laughed at your parents for dancing to. I'll play that song you never heard before and now you have to hear again and again. Most of the time this is all done in one of my DJ sets.
How did you get into DJing?
When I first started clubbing, I was there to dance. But I began to notice the ride the DJ was taking us on and how the tone of the night was set by the DJ. Being a DJ is like being a painter. Some painters paint houses, other painters make art. Technically they are both painters. Some DJs are fleshy jukeboxes in the corner. That is not me. I realized the art of DJing, and it became my medium.
What do you consider to be your primary musical influences, and how do these play into the music you make?
Influences come from all over the place -- a little of this, a little of that. Take what you have and throw it in the gumbo. Then you spice it up.
How did you come up with your stage name?
My mother named me Jason. Different friends and family would shorten it to "Jace." I would sign "Jas" at the bottom of notes, letters and emails. I thought that was how you shorten "Jason," but most of my friends read "Jas" as "Jaz." Calling me "Jazz" started being a running joke. Jazz One is just a shade different than Jason. It was not only a nod to legendary DJs like Jazzy Jay and Jazzy Jeff who inspired me, but a nod to a group of friends I had during a certain period in my life and my Louisiana roots. Now Jazzie Wonder is my non-singing soul-singer alter-ego. He swagger jacks Barry White.
How has digital technology changed the way you create your music?
I am a DJ who plays pre-recorded music that recontextualizes and remixes on the fly. So the big digital jump for me was going from straight vinyl to vinyl simulation software/hardware. I was a vinyl purist for the longest. I shopped for records like women shop for shoes. I've never had the innate urge to go into the woods to hunt or out to the lake to fish, but for me record-digging was my manifestation of this primal instinct.
I remember when Serato came out. It is a magic little box you hooked to your laptop, mixer, and turntables. When you manipulated the record on the turntable, it did whatever you did to the mp3. So instead lugging crates of a few hundred records, a single laptop had replaced that. Once I saw DJ AM perform here in Austin. I watched him do things with the software/hardware (and turntable set-up) that I could barely wrap my mind around. I didn't think I was in a box. Then seeing what he did made me think outside of the box. RIP DJ AM. It still makes my heart swell when I see someone spin a set on vinyl.
What are you looking forward to most at this year's SXSW?
I'd get the same giddy feeling I have when I hit the Austin Record Convention. It was that same feeling you had when you were a kid on the way to Toys R Us. Something is going to blow your mind and/or rock your world. I really just look forward to the experience of SXSW. It has never disappointed.
Being from Austin, what's your take on SXSW and the invasion of bands and media each year?
I don't mind the invasion of bands and media. For almost a week almost every conversation you have is about music. If it wasn't for all the work involved, I'd say SXSW is like vacationing in my own town. Austin is still amazing the other 51 weeks of the year, but SXSW is like being on a different planet for a week. It's like having a really big party in the middle of March. "Come hang out in our backyard. Come play some music. Come see some music. Have a good time."
If you could play with any musician, who would it be and why?
Questlove from the Roots. Questlove is both a DJ and a drummer. I think that would give him an edge over jamming with even the best drummers.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
Cajun music. Sometimes you don't realize how much your culture is a part of you until you are away from it. You can take the boy out of the bayou, but you can't take the bayou out of the boy.
Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Stones. Hands down.
What's your favorite part about playing shows?
It is really easy to get comfortable in Austin. Austin incubates well. I could throw a Frisbee hard enough and hit enough music people to put together a great project. This town is oozing with talent. It's a little oversaturated when you add the semi-talented...
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