It’s jacuzzi weather in Oslo. Relatively mild winter temperatures and uniform snowfall have draped the city in a white blanket that crunch under my feet as I make my way to Tøyen. There’s no actual jacuzzi waiting for me on the other side of this trip, but more like the abstract comfort of jets of warm water rushing up my spine. On my earbuds is Jawn Rice and Fredfades’ Jacuzzi Boyz, an album that hints at the lure of summer in the depths of winter. The funky bass of “Mutual Love” comes on and I hasten my step towards Fredfades’ Tøyen apartment to sit down for an interview with he and Jawn about this latest Mutual Intentions creation.
Fred’s apartment looks familiar. I recognize certain angles from album covers and press shots. It’s crealy a producer-DJ’s hovel with a few walls dedicated to synthesisers, turntables and a fair amount of records. On the record shelf which contains an eclectic array of records, the luminous green backs of Jacuzzi Boys is immediately visible. There’s about twenty of them sitting side by side on the shelf, the last of the first pressing of this record. “500 was definitely not enough records,” says Fred in a matter-of-factly tone. “We sold out before it was released in the first five days.“
On Spotify the single, “Show me how” has already raked up an impressive 164 000 listeners which Fred says is “really good” for Mutual Intentions. Although the Mutual intentions name has been around for a long time in Oslo and Norway, the label is fairly new and Jacuzzi Boyz in many ways marks a new era for the MI label. After featuring on labels like King Underground and Jakarta, Fred and co, are bringing the music back to the collective with a whole load of records primed for release in the near future, including more music from FredFades, Ivan Ave, Jawn Rice and Byron the Aquarius.
Fred plays me some clips from this last record; Byron’s vocals improvising their way through warm Rhodes keys and synthesised strings, while Fred continues to talk about the mutual intentions label: “I used to think we couldn’t do that stuff ourselves, but I’d rather earn less as long as I know that the 50%goes to mutual so we could use on something rather than it going to some dude paying his rent in another country.” A message chimes on Fred’s phone. It’s Jawn, he’s at Tøyen station, and should be with us in 20 minutes. I admire Fred’s synth collection as Jawn enters in from the cold, to join us.
Tell me a bit about the origins of the LP, what made you want to start working together?
Jawn: We’ve always kind of worked together, since I moved to Oslo.
Did you know each other as kids?
Fred: No, I was in Seattle and I got an email from him after he bought the SP1200 (Drum Machine). We decided we should meet up when I get back to Oslo, and we met up at my father’s place and just made some beats. We made some Hip Hop together for nearly six years, and Jawn started doing more electronic stuff and moved out of the city centre. Eventually he taught me Ableton. I decided to share some sketches with Jawn, and he opened the ones he liked and worked on them.
So that was the origins of the album too?
Fred: Yes, kind of.
Jawn: We’ve always been sharing sketches. I’ve been making sketches every day, for years, but I feel that these past years have been more productive in getting some of these sketches out as songs with Fredrik. It’s just a continuation of our friendship.
You guys have been friends longer than you’ve been working together?
Jawn: We’ve always been friends with a hobby.
Fredrik: Jawn is a super talented musician, but I don’t think he has the same need as other people. If we didn’t put out his stuff, nobody would probably hear it, but it’s really good, so we have to take care of it and get it out.
Jawn: The album was mostly Fred’s ideas and I tried to contribute with sounds.
Jawn, why did you stop making Hip Hop and turn to these electronic sounds?
Jawn: I’m still making Hip Hop. I think it changes every now and then. I can like Hip Hop for a year, and then spend two years listening to something else. Sometimes you just get tired of listening to that one style.
Judging from the output at Mutual Intentions and your record collection Fred, you are eclectic people.
Fred: Yeah, I get tired pretty fast, and usually I get tired of contemporary music a lot faster than stuff that’s aged a bit.
Fredrik, I know you’ve collaborated a lot in the past with other artists, especially through the MI network, but Jawn do you often collaborate with other artists?
Jawn: Not so much. I usually just work on my own. I try to make beats with other rappers, but I haven’t really finished anything.
Fred: It can be frustrating working with other vocalists.
So what made this relationship work so well?
Fred: I think it’s because we’ve known each other for a long time; we share a lot of favourite artists and inspirations, and we have a similar approach to music.
Jawn: I knew exactly what kind of music he was into when I first met him.
Fred: What’s funny now is that we don’t listen to the same artists and styles, but we still work well together.
Was there any seminal influence you were considering when you started working on Jacuzzi Boyz?
Jawn: Not really.
Fred: I would send Jawn some references, but there was never anything that we were aiming to sound like. It was all technical stuff. He is really good in the mixing process and he can recreate anything you show him.
I thought I could hear a lot of your individual character in the records, like I could hear a bit of Warmth and a bit of Highlights in there, and of course a bit of that Hip Hop too.
Jawn: I think there is a lot of Hip Hop in that record, and some House and a lot of fusion.
Yes, and you can put on in a club situation and people will go off, especially the single.
Fred: Yes, people are playing it. I used to play the single, but now I play the instrumentals more and it’s always weird playing your own music.
Jawn: Yeah I’m totally finished for the album.
I imagine that since you’ve been working on it so long, that it will get a bit tiresome listening to it after well.
Jawn: Yes, I always know the record is ready when I’m just tired of it.
Jawn, you strike me as the type of person that’s a perfectionist, and will brood over some minute detail.
Jawn: Yes, I tend to do that every day, but only if I’m entertained by the sounds. That’s usually what I’m thinking about before I go to sleep; I’m opening up projects in my head, while lying in bed and editing it in my head.
Fred: I have a very different approach. I make loads of sketches, save stuff and then bounce the first versions. I’ll keep it in iTunes and after a while, I’ll make a playlist that will tie different tracks together in a red-line. And we did the same with our record.
You worked with some collaborators on this LP like Tom Noble and Lucid Paradise. These are people outside of the Mutual Intentions family. How did you hook up with these people and what were your thoughts on these collaborations?
Fred: I’m not afraid to reach out to people, I do it all the time. Usually I do it, because they have a song that I really like at that point where I’m finishing up a record, and I think it could work well with a song I’m working on.
Lucid Paradise happened because my friend put out a modern soul record from the artist, which is also called “tonight”, actually. We just wanted some really good vocals so it made sense to contact those guys.
Did you find that working together, brought something else to the surface that you won’t necessarily find in your solo work?
Fred: Yes, I don’t think I would have made a record that sounds exactly like that on my own.
Jawn: I’m not sure I would have put any records out at all if it wasn’t for the collaboration with Fred. (laughs)
Fred: I made a lot of sketches which were probably more fusion Disco, than your electronic demos.
Jawn: I’m getting more and more inspired by other people’s original music lately. If Fred tells me about a good song, I will listen to the song and think, we can make this song. I also liked the rare stuff he was playing and I didn’t hear anybody else playing those tunes.
Fred: I have friends that are good musicians, but don’t have that many references, so they will always make stuff that sounds like you would expect it to sound like, but I think if you’re constantly searching for music all the time, you get tired, and you start looking for small things, small mistakes, stuff that hit a nerve. There’s no point in making the perfect song, it already exists and there’s no reason to duplicate it.
Those mistakes or “quirks” are often the thing that gives a record that sense of identity.
Fred: That’s something I learnt when Jawn taught me how to use Ableton. I’m kind of inspired by all the possibilities and all the limitations I had. I really liked all the crazy stuff you could do in Ableton, but after a long time working in the software, I figured out there was something I was missing. I spoke to a friend about it and he said it was those coincidences in that primitive gear, those small glitches that would make unintended art.
Where did the name Jacuzzi Boyz come from?
Fred: Jawn invited me to Lillehammer, where he’s from and we hijacked these snowboarders’ jacuzzi, and the name got stuck. It was a really stupid name, and we just wanted something that really popped, and luckily it worked.
And it relays the feeling of summer perfectly that you capture in the sound.
Jawn: I also think it sounds like summer record somehow, even though it was made in winter.
Fred: I played it to my friend, Hugo (LX) and he was like: “you need to put this out before the beginning of summer!”
Jawn: And we are working on an EP with some remixes from this record that should come out in March.
Will you continue to work together after this?
Are there already thoughts about the next album perhaps?
Fred: Right now, I think we’ll be releasing another record from Jawn, because he has so many unreleased demos.
Jawn: I really want to make something else.
Fred: It’s really different from the other stuff, even more electronic.
Jawn: After every three or four months, I’m usually done with what I’m digging and moving on to the next thing. Like now, I really enjoy mixing aggressive rap music with House music and dance music and I think that’s something I haven’t heard that much, so it’s fresh to me.