JakoJako – Groove Podcast 401

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Photo: Alvin Collantes (JakoJako)

JakoJako has become a household name only recently, but it already feels as if the story of Koçer has been told countless times. Originally a care nurse, her autodidactic studies in modular synthesis soon landed her a job at SchneidersLaden, and before she knew it, she had secured a Berghain residency for her and released and trusted institutions such as Leisure System, BPitch Berlin, and Daniel Miller’s Mute. While that reads like a relatively straight narrative on paper, it doesn’t at all mean that the sound of JakoJako has ever been predictable. Her solo album Metamorphose as well as her collaborations with Rødhåd or Mareena, remixes for New Order and Martin Gore plus a dub techno-inspired EP earlier this year each showcase the breadth of her interests and skills. Koçer’s contribution to our Groove Podcast condenses the energy of her closing sets into a compact hour: this is what it sounds like when you’re front left, facing the speaker, tired but willing to give it another 150 % before the lights go on.

One of the major starting points for your work as a producer was your interest in the technology, and you started your journey into modular synthesis by doing a lot of research into the subject. What kind of literature was especially helpful for you, which books would you recommend to people interested in the subject who do not know where to start?

I think I started with researching equipment that other artists I liked were using. I checked the manuals, the way of synthesis, researched other synths in that category and read forum threads, etc. At one point, I was done with that and understood that I needed a modular synth. I bought the book Synthesizer by Florian Anwander. He just explains the A-100 System by Dieter Doepfer—the father of the Eurorack format. At the same time, I was always watching Raul’s World of Synths on YouTube when I went to bed. His voice is so monotone and chill that it just makes you fall asleep. It was great because I could hear about the things that I was reading about in Anwander’s book. If you’re German, I can recommend the Reclam book by André Ruschkowski, Elektronische Klänge und musikalische Entdeckungen. Later on, I was and still am fascinated by the book Composing Electronic Music by Curtis Roads. I think this book is great if you already make music. In my bookshelf you’ll also find some literature around the topics of mixing technique and sound design as well as books such as ABC Musik, Das Tonstudio Handbuch or Elektrotechnik einfach erklärt.

These days, you also host workshops. What do you focus on in these workshops and what do you try to convey to the participants?

Sometimes it’s about technology and sometimes it’s about creativity. I like it, because I also learned a lot from other artists from all disciplines and it’s a good way of giving something back to the artistic community.

You followed up last year’s solo debut album Metamorphose with an EP for Mute, Verve. Both are quite different from one another. Does the choice of format have an impact on how you approach writing the music ?

Metamorphose was written during the pandemic. There were no shows to play, hence my modular system was unpatched. I had the time and freedom to record the music I just felt like at that time. I was just playing peacefully with my synths without any pressure to deliver something specific. It came fluidly and naturally. I was quite surprised when the label [Frank Wiedemann’s Bigamo, ed.] said “let’s make an album instead of an EP out of all the tracks you’ve sent.” Verve was initially intended to be released through the sublabel NovaMute and I knew that it was a dance-oriented label. However, at one point Daniel Miller said that we are going to release this via Mute instead. I get great guidance and support from Mute, but also the freedom to do what I feel like. I don’t function under pressure anyway. And I do like good criticism.

In recent years, you have also remixed songs by New Order and Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore. How do you approach remix work when the material is more song-oriented and vocal-heavy than the club or even ambient music you have also remixed?

I loved doing those remixes. The stems of Martin Gore were the best sounding ones I ever had in my DAW! (laughs) I can struggle with vocals sometimes. I can manipulate sounds in any way, but with vocals I want to be a bit more careful, because they can be very crucial to the track. I actually made three different versions of the New Order remix, and had a little emotional breakdown. (laughs) I had made a version that I loved a lot, but then afterwards realised that a couple of stems I were using were actually from another person’s remix! Somehow those stems ended up in the same folder as the original ones … So I created another version, which I also loved—that one ended up being released.

This year also saw the reissue of Atlas der Gedanken, originally released in 2021 on Muzan Editions, through Edition DUR. You produced this album together with Mareena, a regular collaborator of yours. How would you characterise your creative relationship with each other and what does your working process look like?

We are mainly laughing and eating, really! (laughs) It’s very helpful that we have a similar taste in music. Mareen has some fine, mature ears. She’s really good at decision making, much quicker than me, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we work so efficiently together. When making music with someone such as Mareena, I also sometimes catch myself making certain sounds only to impress them. I make something that I know they will like, something that I maybe would never do by myself. (laughs) A collaboration makes you think out of the box, work outside your comfort zone—you need to be able to work in a team and your ego is not a thing in this sort of situation. It’s all about the creation and the fun.

You have also collaborated with others across disciplines, incorporating dance into your sets with the help of people such as Alvin Collantes. Why is that important to you?

Doing projects with Alvin Collantes and motion sensors is nourishment for my soul. There are so many things in our performance that can go wrong—and have gone wrong in the past—but we love that kind of thrill. This particular project trains me in improvisation. The music and the dance are different with every performance that we do, it’s a continuously growing piece. Alvin is a super creative artist and can express a lot of emotions with his dancing skills. We learn a lot from each other and it just feels right. There’s another project I have with four dancers that is called Infinitum. It’s a bigger production and we had shows at for example Kraftwerk for Tresor’s 31st anniversary. I’m super passionate about that project. It feels great to be part of something and not to be alone on stage. Music as one part of a show, paired with beautiful choreography and talented dancers, light and stage design—taken together, all of that creates an electric energy in the room. Music and dance belong together and I want to keep exploring that.

You have been touring rather heavily this year, often playing live sets while also continuing to play DJ sets at clubs such as Berghain. What role does DJing play in your work right now?

Depending how heavy the weekend was, I can be quite useless during the week. I forget to reply to emails and stretch deadlines … I love playing shows, but also want to be able to enjoy them instead of going in and out. I’m still learning to find my balance, especially when it comes to music making. I need to rest my ears after loud weekends in clubs, etc., so that means I can’t make loud music during the week as well, even though thats the main thing that I want to do … Luxury problems, huh? (laughs) In the end, it’s time management that I’m not good at. (laughs) I have no clue how other people manage to do it. But I’m sure—or hope—that there’s a way …

What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?

I was playing quite a lot of closing sets this year and usually like to go a bit deeper during those. I took inspiration from some of my rekordbox history and tried to squeeze that vibe into an hour.

Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

There will be a new EP released via Mute soon and I will work on an album for them in the coming months. I’m also working on a compilation together with Air Texture which focuses on musicians who mainly produce with hardware. It will be called Hardwired. Apart from that, I made a couple of compilation tracks and remixes, for example for Ket Robinson. There are also some new exciting collabs incoming!

Stream: JakoJako – Groove Podcast 401

01. Selm – Esche
02. Altinbas – Biosfera
03. Duncan Macdonald – Consciousness (JohannesK Remix)
04. NOETIK – Bad Intentions
05. Vedik – Surge
06. Alarico – Asma
07. Asskin – Wild Thing
08. Alex Schultz – The Story
09. DJ Blush – I Want You
10. David Löhlein – Unreleased
11. Cleric x Azrael – Revival
12. Altinbas – Zephyr
13. KUSS – Unreleased
14. Kamen – The Last Press
15. RUIS OSC1 – Unreleased
16. DJ Ogi – OMMP
17. Sorcery – Deliquesce
18. Alarico – Unreleased
19. Dejan – Crvotocina

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