A chat with Canadian DJ/producer, Jay Tripwire...
Jay Tripwire is the kind of DJ/producer our more discerning and musically-educated readers are sure to be familiar with. A highly skilled DJ, he began during the era when vinyl was the only medium for parties and has continued to embrace the traditional ethos of DJing. His sets are known for their deviation from the norm and encompass a wide range of underground music, thanks to his decades of experience in digging for music. Known for his work as a prolific producer and remixer, Jay’s latest work sees him turn in two equally excellent remixes Nepotek on the Plus Future label. We caught up with Jay recently, as he gave us the lowdown on the contemporary Canadian scene, his approach to remixing and much more besides…
Let’s start off on an informal note - what’s keeping you busy outside of music right now?
Between my 11 year old and my lady I don’t have time for much else other than music!
As a much-respected veteran of the house and techno scene, after all this time, are you as enthusiastic about it as ever. What do you think is good about the modern-day scene? What’s bad?
If I didn’t love this I wouldn’t devote my life to it. The music is soo exciting, it's always evolving and changing and new studio gear makes it so interesting. The parties are the same as they always have been with the exception of cell phones lol. I love Djing, it's been my love for 30 years now.
I think the impact of social media is a bit of a detriment, it's harder for artists to make their way without being in the social media spotlight and that’s not right to me. Back in the day if you made cool records, you got gigs and things were a lot easier.
With over 25 years’ experience behind you, do you find that too much music is being released nowadays by producers who aren’t suitably qualified? Does this dilute the music in a way?
In my 30 years never would I think I would see a sync button, premade loops, DAWs that do all the keys for you, plugins that tell you how your mixdown is or any of this shit. The thing is I am a hardware studio guy, so I work my ass off to do things that people just get Ableton to do for them. That is why I really shifted my focus back to putting out vinyl again, seems like that’s where the good shit is.
How are things in Vancouver right now? Are you still as involved in the local scene?
I’m not that involved, people here don’t like the kinda music I do so much. I get some solid gigs here but not too often. A lot of the scene post Covid here is more mainstream. I guess I didn’t do enough Twitch sets during covid to make the cut here lol. I do most of my gigs in America right now. They seem to still be doing raves and keeping it real. Canada I have no idea what's going on in this country anymore haha.
Let's also chat a bit about your remix for Nepotek on Plus Future. Well, the two of them! Did you purposely set out to do two remixes? Or how did that come about?
I did one last year, and one recently. The first one was a remix of my remix, I found I wasn’t playing the original remix. I did out much so I wanted to give it a facelift, if that makes sense. The second remix I really like, it's got a nice breaky stripped down vibe and it slays at parties.
How do you approach remixes? Did you swap parts online, or how did the process work?
I get the stems, and yes I out the bits I like into my Blackbox 1010 hardware sampler and deal with audio that way, and make all the tweaks to the sounds live when I record them, I use the drums and stuff off my drum machines, the Norand Mono for my basslines and I just jam out.
Do you generally have to love the original? And does it help if you’ve a personal relationship with the producer?
Sometimes I don’t love it but there are a few sounds I want to work with. If I feel I can get my idea of it across it just roll with it.
What makes a great remix do you think? Outside of your own work, what are some of your favourites?
A great remix is when an artist I like takes the parts and makes it their own, like a new song almost. One of my faves in the last while is Ricardo Villalobos remix of Der Dritte Raum - Hale Bop, and anything Barac touches.
Is there a remix of yours you’re most proud of? And why?
It’s always something recent to me, I did a remix of Iain Howie that I still haven't signed, I wrote a new track around his vocals, the original was around 100 bpm, but since he's my neighbour he sent them to me at 126. Priku played the hell out of it for a while.
You’ve also been collaborating a lot recently, with artists such as Cristi Cons. Are you ever wary of working with other producers? Is it ever a case that you’re not satisfied with the final result? And what happens in this case?
I love it, its like a gear convention and a meeting of ideas. I have worked on loads of collabs since covid and its fucking awesome!! I just go with the flow and have a good time.
On that note I have a project with COSMJN we still haven't finished, he's a busy kid, and it needs some work!
Is there an element of give and take with it? Are you ever sacrificing your ideas for the greater good?
Never, I love other people's ideas and I work with people whose music and sound I vibe with, so I walk in excitedly!!
As a Romanian site, we wanted to ask: did you find it strange at first that the more minimal aesthetic has been so embraced in Romania of all places? Have you played over there yet and if so, how’d you find it?
A. I first went to Romania in like 2003 I think, it's so different now. Last time I came to GuestHouse and another spot in Cluj, during the week I went and lurked around parties and checked out a lot of producer DJs I liked. I think it's one of the coolest scenes with the most patient crowd who are there for the music. I'm jealous of the scene there; I wish it was like that here!
What other countries and scenes that really inspire you right now?
A. Ones I haven't been to in a long time in Europe. I’ve been working my ass off putting out records that are being embraced by the right Djs, so Im sure ill be popping over again.
Speaking of touring, how did you find the pandemic? How does your mood dictate the music you made and was this record made then?
The pandemic was dire; as a pro DJ I had to become a mixdown engineer for a lot of new producers who wanted to get their first tracks out. My mood is dictated by what comes out of the gear really, the gear and the sounds I make set the tone. It all just flows. And weed helps.
What’s next for you that’s keeping you excited?
So much! I have so many records coming out that i'm hyped about, and seeing a resurgence in people playing music, young people discovering my old music like its new and making a whole lotta cool new friends along the way,
Lastly, can you tell us something that our audience wouldn’t necessarily know about Jay Tripwire?
I was a small part actor and a stuntman for film and TV in the 90s.
Keep up with the Plus Future label on Beatport here