DJ Jaspa: Music, Life and Inspiration
When a DJ opens his liner notes with a shout out of thanks to his mom and dad, you know he's on some different trip. In a music genre that is all about the DJ-as-God, that is about excess of sex, clubs, drugs, and power, it's unusual to find someone who seeks to uplift and feed the soul. Well, DJ Jaspa is onto some different shit.
This comes as no surprise since, hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, he comes out of the traditionally, culturally adventurous northwest and in that refined country sometimes referred to as "America, but cooler and more European." This city is racially and culturally diverse and the closest city North American city to Asia. In a place with all of these different forces bouncing off each other, it follows that rules can be broken or bent - but in a refined way, minus all the chest thumping and look-at-me-ism that plagues the ego-driven scenes of New York, London and other places.
DJ Jaspa's record, A Long Time Coming, is a mix of ambient, trance, and jazzy house grooves, with dollops of hip hop and rock. The opening track, "A Long Time Coming," is like the opening dream sequence of a French film, replete with subliminal voices, thick droning synthesizer, and breathy, French-spoken words. This is ambient music at it's best.
The next cut, "Get Into The Groove", evokes trance music, but the groove is heavier and has more swing than usual, and has a warmth more evocative of late eighties, early ninety's electronica, especially with the drum machine hand claps, and the jagged wash of Ian Moar's guitar. This is the beginning of the action of his imaginary film of which this CD is the soundtrack. While most electronica worships the machine, DJ Jaspa comes from the heart, the ghost in the machine.
[Mark Kirby] How and when did you first start getting into music, both as a passionate listener and as a performer?
DJ Jaspa Music has always been such a big part of my life. Even as a child I would be the first to get up and shake my booty on the dance floor, in a shopping mall or wherever music was playing. I got my start in music many years ago as a hip hop dancer for a rapper named Craig Crush. That's where I met Jheric and my now best friend, Tony. We formed the hip hop group Plaiskool.
We performed all over the place and had a total blast but, as happens to a lot of artists, we got caught up in the hype, the dream, and forgot that music is a business. Even though we just did it for the props, we still had fun and the experience and friendships with the guys, especially Tony (now a lawyer), really laid the foundation for me today.
That foundation lead to his reinvention as an eclectic artist who has made a name for himself as a progressive house DJ, and has played in some of the premier clubs on the continent. In this CD, however, he flies in the face of expectations based on his recent past and takes a personal approach that varies from cut to cut, yet comprises a whole narrative.
The song "Home Alone" takes a trance-like beat and adds hip hop scratching and transformer-vocals to the musical melange. "Love Me" is the love scene in DJ Jaspa's movie, with urgent, romantic (in the emotional and classical sense) music and vocals by singer Tracy Thomas. This piece reminds one of Enya, though not as cheesy and overwrought. Hip hop pokes through again on the track "Wonderful World" with Jaspa's mack daddy rap flowing against the ambient atmospherics and electronica hip hop beat.
[Mark Kirby] What led you to move from hip hop to progressive house and it's various off shoots?
DJ Jaspa After Plaiskool came to an end, I was seeking something else. I actually gave up music for a couple of years, then ended up getting back to it but in a different way. I messed around on the computer producing some stuff here and there. I then met up with Zorastra, a trance DJ. He introduced me to the world of trance and electronic music. I had always wanted to be a DJ, so he lent me his Technics and a bunch of records and away I went. As I got more into DJ-ing and electronic music, I started producing more.
As my studio and knowledge of trance grew and the nights became longer and the insomnia started to kick in, that's when the real creativity began. Zorastra really opened my eyes and ears and without his support and constant "Dude, do it again, add a crash, that bass line needs to be fatter," I would not have gotten to this point. Thanks, bro. I also would like to say a special thank you to Matthew 1626, who pushed me and taught me to be a better person, DJ and producer.
It becomes clear that DJ Jaspa is an artist who is inspired. I mean in the original sense of the word meaning "with spirit," infused with the spirit. This is what makes his music warm and devoid of the detached cool of so much music today. It's also why his reaches beyond musical ghettos and is generous with the props he gives others.
[Mark Kirby] Who are some of your favorite artists? What is it about them that inspires and influences you?
DJ Jaspa Well I would have to start of with one of the most influential artists who has had the biggest impact and that would be Andy Hunter. He is a Christian DJ and electronica producer out of the UK and from the moment I first heard his music, my life changed. He is an inspiration and a very talented artist, but not only that, he is a really nice guy.
I also have such an appreciation for Paul Van Dyk. The guy is amazing and his music moves me. I have not had the chance to meet him yet, but hope to one day and maybe even work with him at some point. I could go on for days. I have a huge respect for DJ's and electronic producers world wide for following their hearts and dreams and for laying the foundation for today's electronic artists.
[Mark Kirby] What are the other artists you are currently collaborating with or projects you are involved in?
DJ Jaspa I recently licensed out a number of tracks to a New X-Box game (Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball), developed by the folks over at WXP3D. I look forward to seeing where this will lead. It would be nice to see the gaming industry give independent artists an opportunity that the record companies seem to be capitalizing on.
I am also presently co-writing a CD with Tracy Moar, a very talented singer in Vancouver, who I had the pleasure to work with on my CD. I am very excited about this project as Tracy is a great artist. I have had the fortune to be involved with a number of different people and projects over the years that I have enjoyed immensely and thank god for allowing me to do what I love.
I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do in a way that is positive, inspirational, and thought provoking. No matter what I do, I always try to do the right thing and with the right people. I get emotionally attached to the music and people I work with. My love and passion for music and keeping it clean, safe and fun for everyone involved really gives me that edge. So whether I'm droppin beats at a club or a party, producing music, or working with a charity, I just want to make people happy and inspire myself and others.
Get inspired, y'all. Run, don't walk, to his web site and get the music and the 411, pronto: www.djjaspa.com.
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