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Archive for November, 2011

Interview with Jenova 7

Photo courtesy of Jenova 7 Last.fm bio

I sat down during lunch break from my “real job” to have a phone call with Michael Sirois, aka “Jenova 7” to discuss his music.  Jenova 7 is (among many other things) a trip-hop artist originally from Boston area, but recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career in film and music.  I came into contact with him on the social music website Turntable.fm in one of the chillout rooms.  I really enjoyed the trip-hop tracks he played and wondered just who this artist Jenova 7 was when the artist name came up.  When he told me they were his own, I just had to talk to him and find out more.

One of the questions I usually start off with is “What influences your music?” Sirois said he was heavily influenced by DJ Shadow and also liked Jimi Hendrix and DJ Cam.  I definitely heard the influence of DJ Shadow and DJ Cam as well as some Smoke City in his music.

Since he is a filmmaker and has a heavy interest in film, he said draws a lot of inspiration for his music from films.  He mentioned his favorite one is “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” because the soundtrack was very avant-garde or experimental for its time. He also (along with me) loves film noir and jazz.  He says film noir is great because it did/does a great job of showing violent themes without actually showing the violence on camera (mentioned the word diegesis specifically), making it more of a psychological intensity.

Later I asked what he was listening to right now.  He said he was so busy working on other things that he did not have much time to listen to anything else at the moment.  He did say that he had checked out DJ Shadow’s latest effort “The Less You Know, The Better.”

I asked him what he was currently working on and he first mentioned a full length album was in the works.  It is tentatively titled- “The Sounds of Sector 7″ and is scheduled for release in a few months.  It should have “around eighteen tracks” and he actually started working on it before his latest EP “Dusted Jazz Volume 1″ was released.  ”Dusted Jazz…” is up as a free download on his Bandcamp site.  It is really a great chillout album in that he has some great downtempo beats.  He also uses some great jazz instrumentation.  Audiophiles will also enjoy it as he uses a lot of samples and integrates them well with the beats.  You can also pre-order the upcoming album on the same Bandcamp site here and with your order you can download five tracks immediately.  Finall

He also had just received an email the morning we talked about a record label interested in having him do an EP for them, so he was excited about that. Finally, he said he was working with a rapper he had met through Turntable.fm and they had been putting some music together as well.  So when I asked what he was listening to, he really wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t have much time to listen to other things.  He has a lot of irons in the fire!

It really amazes me how one website (Turntable.fm) could end up actually producing some great new acts just through social networking and the love of music.  I think there’s a good chance it stays around for a while, or at least until someone else comes up with a better format for DJ’ing to a virtual “crowd.”  I feel fortunate to have bumped into Michael on Turntable and look forward to exploring for more awesome new music and finding more people to connect with.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Naoki Kenji- Shiokaze

You may know Naoki Kenji from his work with chillout acts The Sushi Club or JP  Juice (previously reviewed here at the Chillout Scene).  However you may know him or even if you don’t, he is a certainly is a purveyor of finely chilled beats.  Since I had reviewed JP Juice before, I wanted to make sure I let everyone know about Naoki’s next project.

I spoke with Naoki a bit over Facebook chat to ask him a couple of questions about the new release and he told me the meaning of “Shiokaze” is “salt breeze.”  That title is definitely fitting since he mentioned the album was produced entirely in Porto Petro which is “a little cozy town” located off the coast of Spain in the Balearic Islands.  He said he was raised near the Pacific Ocean and it had been a long time since he had been near the sea, so he wanted to produce the album there.

Shiokaze is a very well mixed album, balancing laid back beats with more uptempo dance beats.  None of it felt disjointed.  ”Umi No Oto” was a great “chill” track featuring the beautiful vocals of Japanese vocalist SHIZU which has a bit of a trip hop intro and then glides along a gentle groove with flowing string sounds in the background.  VERY relaxing.  A perfect track for a chillin’ after a long night out is the darker “Hoshi” which also had “SHIZU’s” whispering vocals and were accompanied by a sultry saxophone part, a great upright bass sound, and just the right amount of scratches to keep the trip-hop feel going.

On the more uptempo dance side, “Stratos 57″ has some gentle synth waves which keep the track relaxing and almost hypnotic, but there is a great beat to it with some interesting muted trumpet and bluesy keyboard throughout.  I also really liked the opener called “Ki Ite Mite” which is a nice dance track, but still had a hint of the beautiful mellowness that is to follow on some of the other tracks.  The bass beat is the hardest hitting on the album though, so it really gets you going.

Many thanks go out to Naoki for his time answering a few questions about himself and the music.  I am already highly anticipating his next project! Shiokaze is out today on 4MPO Records with the digital version to follow in December.

Keep chillin’

-Chris