I’ve known Jordan for many years and since the first time I had the pleasure to meet him his energy felt unique. Then, through the years, Jordan have progressed artistically and personally to a path of maturity, self reflection and to give back to the community that saw him grow for many years.
We sat at the park on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon, drank some beers and talked about his music journey, artistic transitions, pandemic lifestyle and future projects. Enjoy!
Hey Jordan, so I know you for a long time now and have been able to see your evolution as a human, as an artist and also in between the multiple enterprises you have been putting yourself into musically and artistically in the past years.
About those transitions and evolution, did you ever expect that grown in your musical process and paths?
If I really think about it, the simple answer is not really. The thing is, when I first fell in love with music what threw me to pursue a career in music was that even before I was playing in bands I wanted to be a DJ and I was consuming a lot of music back then. You know, stuff like Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, Bush and whatever else but then got into Hip Hop and all that.
I feel that I’ve had this willingness throughout my whole life, in short the answer is no.
Transitions and the Evolution
You started playing bass in an indie pop rock band called The Love Machine and then transitioned to DJing, production, etc?
Yeah so in my past life that was my passion during high school. We released some records, did some touring and that taught me a lot about the music industry, the dynamics of being in a band and about chasing dreams or goals. It was really fun while it lasted.
And how did the transformation happen from playing in an indie pop band to DJing?
I feel that the transition was quite natural because I was already in club spaces watching DJs doing their thing so that made it easier for me. A lot of times I thought that I didn’t have the technical ability but I knew I could string some sounds together and do that so the more I saw, the more I realized that I could do it.
I made the jump in around 2009, about 10 years ago, when I made the decision to buy some gear and put myself out there as a DJ. I feel that it was a natural progression with a lot of learning within that process but I saw myself doing it.
At that moment, was there anyone that influenced you, like some sort of mentor at the time that pushed you in any way?
Yeah. So during that time, my friend Andrew wanted to pursue music but he was more focused on scratching turntables while I was more into the continuous play. I also had some friends that were doing that so I started looking at online tutorials, watching videos of DJs that I had a lot of respect for and so on.
I’ve always been collaborating with folks creatively and for us, everybody always bring something different to the table and that’s the beautiful thing about us.
As a DJ, which was the first piece of gear you got?
So before I got any gear I started practicing on a software called Virtual DJ and then after that bought an old version of CDJs, then turntables, a controller and then started buying and selling gear back and forth and all that.
Then you became a promoter and that was very natural. I’ve always seen that for artists, becoming a promoter is something that appears to be very organic. How was that transition from playing to organizing?
So the The Love Machine was a very DIY band and we used to throw our own parties and events. I started doing that pretty much since I was 13, at a very young age, so transitioned into booking shows where sometimes I wasn’t playing.
I remember that it was 2013 or 2014 when I decided to start adding more or bigger artists to the bills and all that.
The Music Art Ppl Project
And at some point later the Music Art Ppl project happened. I’m curious about how that all started?
It happened really quickly actually since we all knew each other from the same circles for a while already.
At first I think I went to an event that Peter Albert (Pithra) and Nick Hebb (DJ Nickoli) were doing at Mercury Lounge and we ended up connecting and talking about wanting to step up and throw more inclusive DJ events. I think it was around 2016 when we started meeting at our places for jamming and getting friends together.
That’s how the seed was basically planted and we started to talk about what we wanted at events and how we could have done for our friends to feel represented at those events, maybe through digital art or live painting and how to widen what they were doing.
Since Ottawa is a very small city with around 1 million people, did you guys have a specific idea on what you wanted to curate and was it hard to find those groups of people to curate for?
Well, when we first started making the project there was a really big push about doing things a bit differently about the actual experience in relation to other things that were happening in Ottawa and to create a home for different things that were not necessarily being experienced at events or parties here.
To be honest, It was just natural and that’s how we moved forward with Music Art Ppl, wanting to do something different but focusing on the core and all the elements that we wanted to have to make a good experience.
Maybe it wasn’t phenomenal but for Ottawa was something different and I’m sure there are other crews like us around the world that are passionate to create other mediums and doing something similar.
Well that’s how I’ve always felt about you guys. Have you actually ever linked with other crews around the world that are doing something similar?
We linked with tons of artists but terms of crews, not really. We have connected when we play at festivals so we link with the crews that organize them but it is something I would actually love to do. Maybe there is room for collaborations in the distance but we’ll see.
About those collaborations. You and the other members of the crew are very well known for always bringing people together, gathering people around you and creating those spaces for interactions in a very humble way. Is that something you guys talk about?
I’ve always been collaborating with folks creatively and for us, everybody always bring something different to the table and that’s the beautiful thing about us. Knowing that no event is the same as the next one and we get to learn, change or incorporate something new to future events and is always a different energy collaborating because gives you more perspective.
About Finding Inspiration
Coming back to you as an artist, where do you find inspiration? Is there something in particular that you seek or look for?
My inspiration has always been based on what happened in the past and I’m a firm believer that all the experiences or movements that happened in the past inspire me a lot, even at a spiritual level, not to sound too witchy (laughs). For example, watching old footage from disco clubs in the 70s reminds me of the feeling of being there and experiencing it.
I find that inspiration can come from anything, like watching videos on youtube and then a song with a sample that was used on a track or anything like that. I’m always very aware when those moments happen and try to write that idea or that song that made me feel something and when I’m putting together a set I get reminded of those feelings.
When you have a very supportive community and you have other friends doing similar things it gets easier to do those things and get yourself out there, out of your comfort zone and I’ve always found that.
Yeah I agree. I’ve seen you play like 5 million times already and every time I see you playing you always transition to this nostalgic groove, often mixed with RnB and I find it very spiritual. Are you often aware of what you are creating while playing?
I’m not sure I fully realize it and it may be me in a flow state. Often when I’m truly grooved it can be easy to have people feel something because it is genuine and it comes from a pure place.
Now I don’t try to plan too much if I’m gonna be playing a live set for example, just rather go with the flow because after you played a lot and you plan it too much it can end up being stressful.
Is not something I realize but now that you mentioned it, I think it is because I was exposed to a lot of music and different genres at a very young age. It happens sometimes that I would think to add some vocals that would sound good on top of acid house as an inspiration to put out there for folks to experience it.
The Live Hardware Exploration
So around 3 years ago you started a project called The Fire Queen with a talented local artist and our mutual friend Aymara Alvarado. In this project, you jumped on playing live sets using only hardware gear which I see as a huge creative step forward as an artist.
How did that progression happen and let’s nerd a bit about what gear you have?
It was interesting because technically speaking already I come from a hardware background from playing in bands, having pedals, or playing with bass guitars or synths.
It really felt more natural to get into drum machines and synths to feel more free and expressive rather than just play someone else’s track without being able to change much of it.
I kind of took a step into the unknown but I thought about these moments from a very young age just because I was exposed to these artists that were using hardware. It was actually always in the back of my mind and at some point I thought “I have nothing to lose, I love music, I love learning, I love technology so how can we dive into it?”
A lot was of me learning the gear while we were making songs or playing live and in the context of that project in particular, it was very experimental. Aymara is a wonderful artist, probably one of the most expressive artists I’ve had the privilege to work with and out process together was very different from what I was used to.
Every show and every practice was me pushing myself out of my comfort zone because everything I have had done before from a live perspective was more structured and planned.
Was it like jumping for the first time to a lake after the winter time and you don’t know you are going to freeze?
Totally but when you have a very supportive community and you have other friends doing similar things it gets easier to do those things and get yourself out there, out of your comfort zone and I’ve always found that. Is easier to express those weird sides of you with people that you trust and from there I feel you can inspire other people to do the same, it’s like give and take.
Music Art Ppl and The Fire Queen happened basically at the same time and I think it was because I was looking to do something different and being open to the possibility, to see what my musical career will be if I jumped into the unknown and faced the fear of failing. Not that failing is a bad thing because sometimes you have to fail to learn and keep going and going and going.
Honestly, there were times when I was playing with The Fire Queen when I felt so defeated afterwards, but even then, you are always your worst critic right?. What I came to realize was that often I noticed things that people didn’t notice and even if they did, people care about you and your well being.
So how do you feel more comfortable or fulfilled, playing bass, DJing or doing live hardware?
It is a hard question to answer because each one of them represent different points in my life but I would love to incorporate them all…
… but you do sometimes, I’ve seen you doing DJ sets and incorporating the TR8 or other synths…
Yeah I do that for sure, but another step would be to bring a bass guitar and do it in that kind of way as well. The thing is I can’t tell you what would be more fulfilling because the journey is to spice my sets with a piece of hardware and have different sounds. The thing is that creating the process and the journey is always fulfilling.
So tell me about your current hardware setup…
At the end of the day, that is what we all want, as a promoter, as a DJ and as a participant, you want to be surrounded by people who want to be there, have good intentions and share a good vibe.
The Production and the Journey
I know that you are currently doing recordings and producing a lot which is very time consuming and also different from just playing live. How is that journey going for you?
Yeah, production is something that has been doing for the past couple of years. I’ve dove into Ableton and started creating that way and before that I was going to studios and recording songs.
I’d say the biggest challenge is to see production as a science and learning all those things like how frequencies work together which I have a lot of fun. It is definitely a challenge and keep me hungry to learn more so I can express myself more.
Are you doing your own mixing and mastering? How does that production process work for you?
Well, if I’m making a track I do all by myself and in a very simplistic way. For example, if I can get a sound to sound the way I want then it makes the rest of the job easier and if I follow that workflow about getting things sounding right at the beginning then it is just a matter of balancing levels.
I don’t like being on the computer too much because that’s when I lose my steam so I rather set my gear, jam things out, record everything and take parts and build it from there. I find that approach often to be more expressive for me rather than create midi clips and all that.
Totally, feels more tactile. So what are you working on now?
So I’m doing a regular mix series called Division which is a bi-weekly podcast where essentially I play tracks that have made me feel in certain ways. Is funny because after having a career as a musician I still feel very shy about sharing things so that is a great way to add my own music or edits, it just feels like less pressure because if you play in a band, is not that you suck, the whole band suck you know what I mean? (laughs)
Absolutely, so then you are the only one that sucks…
(laughs) Totally, and I do realize the importance of sharing and how that can help me as an artist. That’s why this mix series is so helpful so I can use my own productions.
And have you done any mixes playing just hardware?
Yeah I think I had something on my souncloud some years ago but probably deleted it.
What? You actually deleted it? (laughs)
Yeah. With Music Art Ppl we had a mix series called “One Take Sessions” with the whole idea of sharing productions that were not overthinked and let them play the way they were created.
Things like that are just a reminder to keep doing it and keep putting things out there until it feels more natural because I am a bit of a perfectionist. I’ve been trying to work within a range of 2 weeks so I can have something to share.
The Future Projects and Dreams
Are you working on any future projects aside from what you are currently doing?
Yeah, right now I’m in the process of starting a boutique label / imprint with the idea of helping other artists out and also supporting events. I just want to take the skills I’ve learnt over the years and put it into an identity. More news is about to come but I’m planning on releasing the news very soon.
Oh that’s nice, are you planning on releasing any physical merch like vinyl or something like that?
Well, eventually I would love to have my first EP as a producer on vinyl so if I can secure some funding or grants to help out, for sure, but if not I’m totally fine with keeping it digital. At the end of the day, I don’t want to get stuck with a bunch of gear or merch I won’t sell.
We both played in bands, you know what is like to have a closet full of records, t-shirts or sweaters…
Yup I sure do…
Yeah, I’m past that point in my life and I love collaborating with other artists so if we can make something cool together, why not.
The Pandemic, Travelling and more
So with the whole pandemic bullshit it feels that the whole music industry kind of went to hell. Many clubs and DIY spaces are closing, DJs and musicians aren’t able to make any income based on touring or even selling merch at shows. On the other hand, as humans, we are finding other ways to make things happen, getting together and gathering at online parties and all that.
How are you feeling this new phenomenon and do you think that at the bylaw or government policy level it will be easy for letting clubs and DIY spaces operate with less regulations in the future?
Well it is hard to speculate because it feels that we are living just day by day but people are also consuming a lot of art and music at this time. Hopefully, and this is my vision, when we are able to start parties and events again, I have the feeling that people will be more open to understand the idea on how artists have to live and how they get financial support so my hope is that after all this, people will really see the true value on how things are created.
Hopefully they will want to support them to cultivate more experiences like that but it is hard to say what will happen at the government level but I do think that nobody can argue the pros of having artistic expression on having events for people to go to. It enriches life and we can’t forget about that life is hard we need to escape with whatever it is.
I have my fingers crossed for the whole music industry and it may never be what it was in the past. I think that the people who want to support will always be there and at the end of the day, that is what we all want, as a promoter, as a DJ and as a participant, you want to be surrounded by people who want to be there, have good intentions and share a good vibe.
Totally, and in terms of travelling. Have you done much of that doing music?
Well nah, not really. Back in the day with The Love Machine we did some touring around Canada but as a DJ I haven’t done much of that. I played a Festival in Kingston Called Electric Circuits, Toronto or Montreal but never played in the US for example.
Maybe one day, we’ll see but there is so much to do in Canada and Ontario…
… and being around you guys for so long, that is something that always intrigued me and I respect. You always focus on the local because at your level, you could be totally touring the US, Europe or wherever else, but, you decided to stay in Ottawa …
Well I’ve always felt that and at the artist level, Ottawa, has been a city that always inspired me and is a place I want to grow. Ottawa has a rich and deep history in the house music and Electronic music scene and I know a lot of people that travel the world and or play in Europe during the weekends. I’m not against it but I’m very happy and comfortable with the path I’m in at this moment.
I’m a homebody, I love to be at home with my wife and my dog or walk to my studio and make some music and all that. I think that when you have done touring and slept in a van, you realize that is a life but is not the life I want to live, you know? (laughs)
(Laughs) oh yeah you already did, I did it too…
Is a nice idea but the truth is that is a lot of hard work and not for everybody. I hope anyone can chase their dreams but I live aspects of it, enough to know that is not what I want entirely but to play, create music and experiences to help grow my city.
Ok one more, are there any artists or projects in the city that are catching your attention lately?
Not really, I’m just inspired by anyone that wants to get out there or to make moves. That encourages me to do the same.
I know you are a good cook ( I tried myself). What’s your food staple? (laughs)
I can ask your wife if you want… (laughs)
… is hard to pick one, but I like Mexican cuisine. I like citrus and I drink lime water because it tastes better. Not sure I have a favourite.