Spanish artists Jay Nortown and Jacobo Saavedra have, since a chance meeting at Pikes in Ibiza they formed a tight studio alliance. This collaboration has and continues to produce top releases on many highly respected labels with their first JNJS track on Heisenberg aptly named ‘Started On Pikes’. This partnership is beginning to bear some serious tasty fruit so we thought we would find out more about this duo by sitting down with the pair themselves.
With Ibiza’s minimal leaning community being a small knit entity at times it may seem incredible that they hadn’t met before but Jay explains their meeting, “It’s funny that we didn’t coincide before, as the local Ibizan ”minimal house” scene is not very big, and we both live in Ibiza for about 10 years. Keep on Dancing does two-night season closures at Pikes, where to attend you have to stay in one of their rooms. At the 2018 closing we coincided in one of these rooms, among friends. We started talking about music and quickly realized that we had very similar tastes, same reference artists, albums in common.” He continues to paint the picture of their progression, “From there we started to visit each other to our solo gigs and started playing for the same promoter, Seriously, without which our whole relationship is not understood, because the day we met there was also Chusin, the owner of the promoter and agency Seriously.”
With their friendship beginning to grow and with it their own solo careers it is interesting to learn from Jacobo more about their musical backgrounds, “Our musical path until today is very different. Jay Nortown comes from urban music, Skate and Hip Hop culture, from parents who love dance music. He has been playing for 13 years, so he has gone through several electronic music fashions, and little by little he has become a minimal house artist, because of his love for vinyl, for club culture.” Jacobo continues to explain his own background, “I come from a family where electronic music has never been heard, I studied music at the conservatory for 10 years, I play instruments… I fell in love with electronic music in my student years in Madrid and especially when I arrived in Ibiza. I’ve been DJing for only 6 years, and I fell in love with minimal house one night at Underground Ibiza.
Many of his friends were already lovers of this style and were followers of Marco Carola’s Music On in its early years and little by little they were specializing in a more minimal sounds, “Also artists like Tania Vulcano, Tini, 2Vilas or Luca Cazal are big influences in the local scene.” This mutual love of electronic music and the influence of Ibiza’s minimal house scene that initial discussion had a good starting point, “I remember when Jay and I started talking for the first time, I asked him for a label and an artist, to know what his tastes were. He told me Berg Audio and iO (Mulen), so it was very easy for our paths to meet, despite having very different backgrounds.”
Moving forward into the recent past Jacobo traces their dual lineage in music that would soon meet, “We played and produced separately, which we still do today. Besides playing and producing as JNJS we still play as Jay Nortown and Jacobo Saavedra separately. By the time we met we both had already made our way. We already had some references on vinyl, a lot of gigs behind us…. Besides we both had a radio show on Pure Ibiza Radio, we were clients of MTM… A lot of things in common and very similar gigs, having played for many of the same local promoters.”
“As I mentioned before, Jay Nortown’s career is longer, he has been playing all over Spain since 2007, starting in Asturias, his homeland, and has played in almost all the clubs in Ibiza, Underground, Amnesia… besides having played in other parts of the world such as USA, France, England and Dominican Republic. However, I’ve always been more of a resident DJ, I’ve been doing this in Ibiza since I started playing. Smaller venues, a different kind of audience and sound. I used to work with MATE, Zoo Project and other promoters in Ibiza, but as I said, only local scene. These very different paths generate richness, because we have different experiences.”
With both artists already playing around Spain and further afield as Jay explains it was only a matter of time before discussions turned to the studio, “In a very natural way. As I was saying, we quickly found each other musically and we started playing at the same events, with Seriously and also with other promoters. Between friends, you always exchange music, show the latest stuff you’ve done, ask for feedback… and one of those times we said, why don’t we do something together to try it out?” That first track would turn out to be “Bending Machine” and would fomr part of the first release on Jacobo’s SVDR imprint. “That track we tried it at a lot of parties and it worked great, we had great feedbacks… So if that was the first connection, how could we not continue?”
Jay explains that while their journey to this point was quite different this gave them a unique pair of skill sets to utilise, “As we were talking about, our path here is very different, so our training and knowledge is also very different. Jacobo Saavedra has harmonic and musical knowledge from his years at the conservatory and also technical knowledge, he is very studious and constant. I have more experience in the electronic music sector and I understand music as something more instinctive. So in the studio the roles are exactly the same, Jacobo reasons everything out, he tries to make everything fit together and my aim is to make everything flow, so we reach a middle ground that we think works very well.” While results are key when in the studio the main aim is to have fun and enjoy the process, “…above all the key is that we have fun, most of our tracks are a jam that we then make sense of and turn into a song. In fact I don’t think anyone would follow our social networks without those jams!”
Moving on to their sound and it clear by referencing their back catalogue that they have quite a defined style that they look to include in their releases and Jacobo explains how they arrive there, “I analyse the scene a lot, where the styles are going, the trends, what other artists are playing and producing… And he is more impulsive, he enjoys more a concrete song or a concrete sound… so we are not able to make 3 songs in the same line, we get bored before! So our style is constantly evolving, we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves in any genre, but we try to always have some patterns in common, so that when you listen to JNJS you know that this is it.” He continues to delve into the explore their mixing style, “We achieve that also with the mix, with the production more than the composition itself. We have a very curious way of selecting certain important sounds in our music and above all of mixing them later, as I was saying. Kick&Bass, percussive busses, certain FX for the melodies… it makes our music always sound like us.”
With this clear symbiosis in the studio this makes it easier to complete projects and iJay explains that there is some very exciting projects nearing release, “We have tracks coming out in the next few months that have just been supported by big artists on Sunwaves, Circoloco, El Row Town. We are featured on a Morethanmusic VA, the sublabel of MTM (2Vilas). We are especially excited about this release because working with friend’s labels is always a pleasure, and even more when it’s a worldwide reference label.” Their plans are set to increase further with more big support, “We also have a track on a VA from H24, the French label, as well as a remix for Jyoel on MATELTD that is already being played in big events, as I said, Arapu and Tania Vulcano have played it.” It is clear that the pair have been very busy int he studio lately as they have even more tracks ready to drop, “We have an EP on El Row Limited, with tracks that already have tremendous support, we will also release an EP on the Moovin’ label and another track will be on the third reference of TCR, the white label of Mario Liberti (Deep in Dis). All this is Only Vinyl, so it’s difficult to give you a release date, especially now with the manufacturing delay. In digital we have music coming out on Dreams on Wax, Pirka, H24’s sublabel… Lots of music and great labels, which makes us very happy.”
A lot of time and effort has been spent in crafting these releases and while it is important to feature on a range of labels the pair have their own respective labels as Jacobo explains, “SVDR is an Only Vinyl label that was created as a “test”. The only objective was to see how our music works without the support of a functioning label, another artist or manager behind it. The first two releases have been a success, 300 copies of each release have been sold in less than two weeks, so this project, for the moment, is going ahead.”
Jacobo continues to explain their future plans, “We are also creating a second label, it will be called Velvet. We want to release music by other artists, but with our own vision of the scene. We, as DJS and as producers, are very eclectic, in the same set we mix Minimal, House, Garage, Electro, Microhouse, Rominimal and any subgenre you can think of. So we want to bring together in our new project Minimal House artists with others who remix it with a more 90’s sound, or a house EP with a break remix and a dub remix. We want that label to be at the centre of all the styles we use to play.” Jay also explains further that Velvet will be more than just a label, “…also as a platform for a lot of things to happen. We’ll do events, podcasts, sublabels will be born, we’ll do collaborations with other brands.”
With clubs being open in Ibiza properly for the first time in several years Jay is confident in their next steps, “Now everything is coming back into place, gigs are starting to happen again and you start to know if you’re successful or not. We are happy because in this return to reality the brands that trusted us continue to do so and we have many new ones that we are starting to work with. I also think that as producers we are doing well, many labels, both national and international, good feedbacks and support from great artists all over the world, which makes us very happy.”
Ever the optimist and extremely humble Jay gives credit to his friends and family and their support, “We are lucky to be friends with many artists and managers who are a reference in the national scene, which makes us a very strong community, and sooner or later we all work together. 2Vilas, Felipe Bravo, Alffie, Alvaro Medina, Isbel, Enzo Leep, Paul Rudder… We all know each other on the Ibiza Underground terrace!” Through these conenctions and sheer hard work and raw talent it is clear that they are on the right path and as Jacobo intimates they are going to have a busy summer and beyond, “We are very lucky and proud to work with these brands as well as Zero, Seriously, Rotary, Selva, Mate, Supervibe and many others. The plan is to continue working with them and remain open to new proposals. Both here in Ibiza and in the rest of Spain and the world.”
For the occasion JNJS has recorded a mix comprised of only their own productions. Enjoy.