Jaw Jam

Following the release of his No Sleep EP on Symbols earlier this month, we caught up with Will DiMaggio a/k/a Jaw Jam, who not only gave us 10 questions, but so gracefully treated us to an exclusive new track “Change Tha Game” – a future garage/house track making good use of Lloyd’s babymaker “You.”

Jaw Jam’s definitely changin’ the game for us.  Stream “Change Tha Game” here, a free download on us, read the interview below and pick up his No Sleep EP now!

1.  First and foremost, why the name “Jaw Jam,” and what does it mean?

Sure, thanks for having me.  As far as the story behind Jaw Jam, the name mostly sounded sort of tight and I liked the looks of the words together visually. It’s also vaguely referencing any tune a DJ plays that really appeals to you, makes you cringe, tighten your jaw, or something like that.

2. How did you get into production?

I’ve been playing and collecting music since I was real young. As far as producing, I started making pretty soft Jay Dee rip offs during high school and ended up putting out a few short beat tapes of material. I also played in a few jazz groups on piano and had this short-lived noise project. It really took me until college to get serious, but once my early bootlegs got some recognition I was encouraged enough to keep working at it.

3. Who or what are your musical influences?

Really all the music I’ve absorbed at this point contributes to the way I listen and how I go about working out my tunes, mixing them down, writing melodies or whatever. As far as DJing, I listen to everything. I like a lot of bass and grime stuff and am real heavy into UKG. Since relocating to the midwest I’ve delved a bit deeper into the house and techno scene as well, both US and abroad. I have a real sweet spot for the older  NY / NJ garage house stuff too. It’s sorta hard to sum up all of my musical interests briefly, but hopefully you can get a sense of it once you see me play live.

4.  Your top 5 producers right now are…

Tough question, but i’ll list some artists I’m hyped on at the moment.

Kowton – mad basic choice, but he really is the sickest dude out there.
Strict Face – This guy is tight with the Tuff Wax crew and throws us new tunes like every week. It’s all super killer neo grime stuff, real glad he’s getting some props these days
Anthony Naples – no intro needed at this point
Kyle Hall – “Boat Party” is album of the year, plus Wild Oats is really my shit.
Laszlo Dancehall – dope collab, their Boiler Room set was phenomenal and all original material. In all honestly, any of the MMM guys could have found their way on this list.

5. Can you tell us about your process when it comes to making music?

I’ll generally work for a while on a real short phrase, maybe a couple bars or something. First I’ll work up the percussion, then chords and bass, then vocals. Once I feel really good about the clip, I’ll expand, rework, and start arranging something that looks more like a tune. Other times, I’ll start working on a tune with a vocal sample in mind. Either way, I rarely finish songs in one shot – usually I’ll stop halfway a dozen times, then figure out that two unfinished projects sound tight together and combine them.

6.  Okayfuture’s had the pleasure of featuring two of your music videos for “U Don’t Know” and “The Truth.”  Can you tell us what your involvement is with the making of those music videos?

Sure. The “U Don’t Know” video was produced way overseas by this group Trash Vision, who I hooked up with through Mike from LFTF. I wasn’t too involved with the production of that video honestly, but I think it came out beautifully. The Truth vid was a short filmed by my buddy Zach Lichstrahl out in NYC. I wasn’t around for filming but was involved a little more initially. I basically let both groups do their thing, which in both cases meant making real sick videos (shouts to Trash Vision and Zach for those).

7.  Same goes for the Tuff Wax 12″ release.  Did you have a hand in conceptualizing the artwork or packaging?

I had some art in mind and there was a bit of back and forth, but the guys at Try Industries really got it down fast. I thought the artwork for the vinyl really turned out great, albeit some issues during the pressing process. The guys at Tuff Wax were the first to mention anything about the etching on the b-side and I was obviously all for it. The wait really paid off, very proud of the 12” and honored to have an EP out there on wax this early in the game. At this point it’s basically sold out, which I’m real hyped on.

8.  Your No Sleep EP came out this month on Symbols.  Tell us how it came about, and what inspired the tracks.

Yeah,  No Sleep came together pretty slowly to be honest. I connected with Kiki a while back and really loved what came of the collab, but wasn’t sure what to do with the track because it wasn’t really club-ready or anything. Months later, I finished up “Can’t Recall,” which was a sort of re-imagining of an old UKG classic that I had been wanting to work on for some time. “Long Night” was a more typical Jaw Jam R&B type tune. By the time I made these other two, I came to terms with the fact that the EP wouldn’t be real heavy, was comfortable with the output, and especially stoked on the fact each tune was centered around fairly different feels. The three felt right together for me, and Barrett from Symbols dug them, so we pushed ahead with the EP.

9.  What’s Oberlin’s music scene like?  And, why did you choose to go to school there?

I don’t think I ever get tired of hyping Oberlin’s music scene, it really rules. We pull real sick artists all the time, have an incredible conservatory and an obscenely talented student body. I’d say practically everyone on campus has a real deep appreciation for music which makes for this incredible collaborative environment. I’ve learned so much from all the kids out there, particularly in the music & tech department, all of whom know much more about production than I do. As far as electronic music, we booked guys like Pearson Sound, Andres, Hieroglyphic Being, Mark Fell, Addison Groove, XXXY, Omar S, and some L.I.E.S dudes just in this past year. It’s still sort of unreal to me that a school can host such sick gigs.

Needless to say, I chose to go to school there for the music, but also for the college of arts & sciences, which was a strong match considering my academic interests.

10. Describe your dream gig.  Who’s on the bill with you, what’s happening and where?

So many options… I’d say a yacht party in the Caribbean with the Mr. Saturday Night guys for the day, except all the live bands we play cuts of show up to perform the tunes. Like Prince would roll up when someone dropped an “Erotic City” edit or Gary’s Gang for “Do It At The Disco.”

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