Beyond the hype with DJ Seinfeld

In 2015 a new electronic musical subgenre was spawned onto this world. Springing to life through an online DJ and producer community, a new style of House music emerged, and unbeknownst to the protagonists of its origin, it would soon spread like wildfire through the music media. It was House that harked back to the earliest form of this music, embracing the DIY attitude of styles like Nu-Groove and Garage with modern technological approach to production.

A sample-based, dance floor focussed music like its forebears, it was hastily and somewhat inaccurately dubbed Lo-Fi House by the media looking for a catch-all term for music by artists like Mall Grab, Ross from Friends, DJ Boring and DJ Seinfeld, who were making House music with subtle references to the early 1990’s with distorted hats and a particularly melodic, accessible take on the genre while sporting humourous aliases. It was never their intention nor their desire to conflate the House music genre even further, merely pay homage to it, but bringing the music to whole new generation of partygoers and music enthusiasts they set in motion something not even they as its creators could curb or stifle.

 

It was an unstoppable force that quickly made it into everyday vocabulary as it became a unexplained and self-perpetuating Youtube curiosity. But even as the journalists and media moved on to the next thing and Lo-Fi House was embedded into the electronic music lexicon through everything  from Spotify playlists to hashtags, it quickly emerged that the artists and DJs that were tagged with the term were so much more than the aphorism they were affiliated with.

DJ Seinfeld (real name Armand Jakobsson) was one of these artists, and as the term Lo-Fi was usurped by a newer trends, he remained a formidable force within the greater realm of House music. As a producer his music combined the functionality of modern dance floors with the intimacy of early House music. Softening the edges of the gritty percussion with luxurious, harmonic pads, DJ Seinfeld broke out with “Season 1” for  and in the two years since, he’s made an LP for Lobster Theremin and Media Fury’s Lobster Fury imprint and four other EPs for a host of other labels, including E-Beamz and Endotherm.

At 26 Jakobsson is a precocious talent and a bottomless pit of creativity which shows no signs of dissipating. He also makes classic House as Rimbaudian and Drum n Bass as one half of Birds of Sweden, showing he is so much more than the lo-fi badge he’s been saddled with. Most recently he was inducted in the DJ Kicks hall of fame with a mix of all-exclusive material that has brought his talents as a DJ to the attention of the wider world, on equal footing with his production prowess.

He comes to Jæger as part of his DJ Kicks tour, only a little way away from his Malmö origins and we had the opportunity to call him up to ask about his roots, the Lo-Fi anomaly and what his mix might sound like as he makes his way to Jæger. We find him in a Polish hotel where he is getting ready or his set later that night.

*DJ Seinfeld plays Frædag x Svømmebasseng this Friday.

You’re two weeks into this tour, how’s it been so far?

It’s been great. So far the shows have been fun and it’s exceeded my expectations. Nothing but great times.

It comes off the back of your DJ-kicks release and it’s a tour based on that release. Why did you decide to tour this mix and not an album?

Most tours are not exactly like when rock stars go on tour, it’s more like you need something to frame or give a theme to a series of shows. Something major like the DJ kicks thing was quite appropriate way to follow as far as a tour goes.

I think you are the first DJ to tour a DJ kicks in my memory and it just makes complete sense to tour as a DJ off a mix rather than an LP.

Exactly. We wanted to do it, because it was such a big thing for me critically to do it, whatever we could do to go that extra step, and make it as big a deal as possible, we wanted to do that.

 

How does the mix reflect the sounds that you are playing in your sets?

There are a fair amount of breaks, breakbeat-based House and Techno in these sets. There’s an Australian wave of sound coming through right now, which I can hear coming through in Canada too. It’s a new take on the sound of House and breakbeat Techno, and I’m very often inclined to avoid four to floor House and Techno to keep it interesting for the crowd and myself. I really try not use the word eclectic, but it has some different flavours of House and Techno in there. That’s what I’m really about nowadays.

Would you say you stepped on from the DJ mix in terms of your DJ sets?

I’m always changing and for the last year I found myself getting bored with the music I was associated playing. When you do DJ quite often, you have to keep yourself interested.

Do you think DJing so much lately will have an affect on your music going forward, because a lot of your music is very album based and can be appreciated away form the dance floor?

It probably will. Part of the DJ job is trying to find new music, and I’m always looking and digging for new music so and I’ve come across stuff that I probably would not have heard of if it wasn’t for that drive to find some music to surprise people.

The club itself has never been a focus in my productions. I’ve made House and Techno tracks that maybe stay on the dance floor, but in my mind I’ll be dancing a room and not really thinking about dancing in a club. At some point it would be an interesting experiment to make something that I know will go down well in a club. For whatever reason I really haven’t consciously made those tracks.

Do you think that’s generational thing?

I’m not entirely sure. I did go out a lot when I was 17 to my early twenties, and I feel like that phase was interesting and really inspiring. After that for about two years I didn’t feel any need or desire to go to a club. And it was during those two years that I matured a lot as a producer.    

The music you were associated with was quickly coined as Lo-Fi. Do you feel it was an accurate representation of the music you were making?

It didn’t really set out to make it. When I first came across the word lo-fi I was kind of drawn into it, because it was an internet community of people drawn to music that was made in the eighties and nineties, which in my mind doesn’t have the same connotations as it does today, where lo-fi has become a catch-all term for a silly DJ name and a disco edit with some distorted hi hats.

There’s still some good music coming out of it, but it’s not something I actively pursued or tried to make. I was making “lo-fi” music for quite some time, but the coincidental nature of me calling it DJ seinfeld for bit, gave journalists some ideas to put this together and try and make sense of it.

 

There was an interesting article that came out a while back on Thump that talked about the significance of Lo Fi on the Youtube algorithm. Is this something that you were aware of?

I read the article at the time, and I was so tired of reading articles on it. As far as I remember, I agreed to what the article said. It’s difficult for me to argue any differently, because it went in detail about how the Youtube algorithm was set up and it made a good case for it.

It was something that was very external to what I was doing though; I had very little control over who posted what on Youtube. People downloaded my tracks and ripped them from soundcloud and put it up on You Tube themselves, so I had no control over that, apart from the rare occasion where I would send my music to friends to make videos. But none of those tracks became part of a larger Youtube algorithm.

You’ve also got a couple other projects, Rimaudian and Birds of Sweden, which is a classic House project and a drum n bass group respectively. Are you still involved with those projects?

In my mind I am, but I’ve not been able to make any music for the last couple of months. It’s just been to hectic to make something cohesive, which is a common theme among DJs. I’m not entirely sure what way I will take those aliases, I’m not entirely sure what their sound will be, but hopefully at some point I will have a better idea.

There was a Rimbaudian track on the DJ Kicks compilation. Is it correct that most of those tracks were exclusive for the DJ Kicks mix?

Yes.

That’s pretty unique.

It was a conscious decision, partly because I feel like DJ Kicks is usually big stars asking other quite famous people for music. I wanted to take the opportunity to ask people who were up and coming and who have a lot of potential, and giving them that platform to show their music on was quite good.

I wanted to ask  you about Malmö and from what I know is that there is quite a big digging community down there, especially centered around Disco. Did you ever experience any of that that when you were growing up there?

Part of it maybe. I was more into Techno and House than Disco. There were a couple of clubs in the city when I was still living there, but the city was still developing a scene. There was a big Techno scene in Malmö and it was run by Kontra-Musik, and they would be bring the most interesting acts that would come to Malmö. There was a slightly older generation of ravers that would introduce the younger generation to that kind of music. I really enjoyed that time a lot, because it was bohemian and a very inclusive atmosphere.

You moved around a lot. Where are you now?

I’ve just moved back to Malmö, but I was Edinburgh for three years and in Barcelona for two.

Do you feel yourself being inspired differently back home than in Barcelona?

I think every city offers a different inspiration and I think your experiences are going to be different in every city. In Malmö it’s more about this comfort mixed with a lot of nostalgia and memories of what it was like living there before. It’s a very small city, and there’s not a lot of things happening there, but I don’t feel myself getting bored by it. There’s some inspiration to be found at some point.

You said that you are currently finding very little time for production. When this tour is over, do you see yourself getting stuck into a new album or EP?

I’m working on an EP, but it’s just going slower. After this tour the travelling is still going to be continuing. My next break is hopefully something I will be taking next April.

Wow that’s still some time away.

Yeah it is, but I figured while I’m still young and healthy and I do enjoy doing it, it’s not just pure exhaustion all the time. It is a huge privilege to do it, and knowing that motivates me all the time to keep doing it. Of course everyone has a limit, and for now I’m not at that limit. Trying to balance it with a healthy lifestyle, that would be the most important  thing for me right now. If I manage to do that till March I’ll be ok.

 

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