Jason Vasilas has been mixing it up on the decks under the alias JV for almost a decade and a half. With over 20 releases, all on vinyl, JV is another local vet with a significant body of work, but who is known and played mostly far outside of the city limits. Extremely prolific despite dealing with hearing loss in the form of tinnitus, JV is just as comfortable as a seasoned house DJ as he is as a producer, a fact that's on display in this week's mixtape. In the Q&A, JV goes into detail about his journey from music fan to full-fledged music artist and some of the obstacles he overcame to get there.
DC9 at Night: How did you get started DJing?
JV: It all began when I was a kid playing video games. Captivated by the heavily-syncopated 8-bit music, I took "nerd" to a new level and actually made my own mixtapes. The fascination continued into the early '90s when I discovered electronic music and became totally obsessed. After seeing Moby perform in 1995, I woke up the next day and knew I had to get my hands in the mix, no pun intended. I purchased my first synth, got an internship in a recording studio, and started teaching myself how to write and produce.
How did you make the jump from there to DJing?
After several years of experimenting, I realized my music needed to be more DJ friendly if it was going to have a chance of really getting heard. So, I picked up a turntable and started buying wax with the intention of simply studying what other producers where doing. Of course, before I knew it, I was fully addicted to vinyl and started DJing in 2000.
Do you have a preference between DJing and producing?
I'm a music maker at heart. There are few joys as great as producing your own original music. Creation is a gift, not only for yourself but also for others that enjoy your art. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to write music that gets played by DJ's around the globe. But on the flip side, there are few moments as exhilarating as performing to a packed dance floor that fully gets what you are all about as a DJ, especially when it's a gig overseas. Music really does transcend all.
How many releases do you have out there?
To date, I have released 20 records on mainly tech house and progressive labels like Dorigen, Fade, So Sound, Sensei, Tangent Beats and Harmonious Discord -- all of which have been released under either JV or Jason Vasilas. Some of my earlier collaborations included work with many of Texas' finest talent including Maetrik, Brett Johnson, Spettro (Extended Play) and Red Eye. Because many of my releases came out between 2002 and 2010, I've been lucky to have nearly all of them pressed on wax. After a bit of a hiatus, I'm excited to be back in the studio creating some of my best works yet.
Out of your catalogue of tracks, do you have a particular favorite?
One of my most visible releases has been "Grand Theft Vinyl," which was featured on Hernan Cattaneo's Renaissance Masters Vol. 2 compilation. Ironically, when I finished that tune, I thought it would be too deep to garner much attention, but that track really helped propel me into additional record contracts as well as gigs in Bulgaria, the U.K., Brazil, and Greece.In reality though, I think most producers would agree that your latest track is your favorite track.
Do you have current recordings in the works right now?
I just finished 4 new tracks that, right now, are definitely my favorites! My most recent track features great vocals from the very talented Quinton Xavier. There's also an Echo C (aka Molecule) remix in the works that I'm very excited about.
What are you into at the moment? Who are some of your favorite producers and labels?
There's more cross-pollination going on now than ever before and it's exciting to see everyone embracing an "everything goes" attitude. Parquet Recordings, Andjunadeep and Lost & Found are all turning out some melodically rich and spacey tunes that I'm really digging. Swedish producer Minilogue is making sonic masterpieces. John Tejada has been reliably producing top quality tracks for years. Maceo Plex/Maetrik is (and always was) in a league of his own. Shall Ocin, on Maceo's Ellum imprint is turning out some dance floor destroyers. JustBe (Bushwacka) is also producing very dynamic, top quality work. Too much... too much good music!
You've said before that you have a passion for hearing conservation. Can you tell us more about that?
Being someone that developed tinnitus (the constant ringing in the ears), I've been an advocate of hearing loss prevention for years now. In addition to running a custom earplug business called Sound Advice, I'm also the founder of Frequency Effect, a charity organization with three core goals: A) promote earplug use in the DJ community, B) support a cure for hearing loss through fundraising events, and C) share a love for deep electronic music with the world.
And how has that developed?
Our most recent success includes a Red Bull Music Academy sponsored tour through three U.S. cities in 2013, which featured double and triple headliners at each event and generated over $10,000 for research. The story of Frequency Effect is one that I'm extremely proud of. What started as an idea in my head, the possibility of making a difference, eventually grew to encompass countless individuals from the Dallas underground, all of whom poured their hearts and souls into it in the name of community. Stay tuned for another Frequency Effect in Dallas in Spring 2015.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
I made this mix in my home studio using Traktor. This mix embodies my personal philosophy on DJing. While I generally play house, I've never been one to conform to any genre or sub-genre. I believe the best DJ sets are those that seamlessly weave together various styles and progress through phases. I gravitate toward atmospheric textures that spark the imagination, as well as percussion-heavy grooves that possess just the right amount of low-end bounce that make you move. You'll hear both in this mix.
What gigs do you have in the near future?
With all of my endeavors, especially my renewed focus on production work, I've been keeping the gigs to a minimum this year, but you can catch me playing alongside Myles Francis (as Sub City Inn) from time to time if you're in the know of the underground. Follow me via my social media for more information on gigs, record releases, and the upcoming Frequency Effect event.
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