Following the release of his latest album Sellout, creative producer and artist BlackJacketBoys kindly stopped by for an interview.
We talk all about the inspiration behind the project, his methods of production, choosing other artists to work with, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hey – great to catch up, and huge congrats for the release of Sellout. For those new to your work, how would you define the BlackJacketBoys creative approach?
Thank you! I really just start with a theme and let that guide the music I make. Sellout had a story, and I was following that through the music, and so every track I made had to have a piece to fit in that story. I have a lot of tracks I made that ended up getting cut or sent to other projects simply because I couldn’t feel the connection between the whole story.
What does the title Sellout refer to, and why did you choose to set the intense mood with the SOS introduction?
I love making music, and I love even more when people care and listen to my music. Sellout was an idea I had about making an album that sounded like I “sold out” in the beginning, and then slowly went back to my roots in the dubstep/dnb scene.
Sellout is a picture of my unhealthy vision that I had to make popular music to make good music, when I should rather be making music I like and enjoy making. Sellout is a perfect blend of my older and newer styles, and I’ve never been more proud of any other release this far!
Rappers HY22 and CFLOW feature on the project – how do you choose artists to work with, what are your prerequisites, and what qualities are an immediate turn off for a producer?
I met first CFLOW through a mutual friend who was also a producer, and he has been really helpful and awesome with promotion and collaboration. I told this friend, Lost Heroes, that I was looking for a rapper to do vocals on a new project, and he pointed me to CFLOW. Rearrange wasn’t even supposed to be on Sellout at first, but I loved it so much and it just fit perfectly, and it also inspired me to seek out HY22 to do another rap collab.
I found HY22 randomly on Bandlab and I listened to his tracks and was honestly blown away from his quality and overall mastery of his music, despite having a very small follower count at the time. I messaged him and asked if he’d want to feature on a track called Wendigo, and he said yes. One of the best connections I’ve made in my music career as a whole.
Do you ever attempt lyrics or vocals yourself?
I love singing, but I am far too self-conscious to put out any original vocals at the moment. Sometimes if I need a pre-drop and I can’t find anything on splice, I’ll use my own voice, but other than that I’m usually too scared to put my own voice out there. Hopefully some day though.
With the brilliant Starboard things get decidedly unique in instrumental choices, melodies and overall vibe. What was the intention behind this piece, and how did that leading riff come to you?
Pirate Afterparty by Teminite is what inspired this track. I made it pirate themed because the overall message of the song was taking fame and seizing, or plundering, its riches, hence the name Starboard (also a boat pun).
I really was hesitant to put this track on the album, and honestly it was a last minute decision because I felt it didn’t fit in the flow of the album. Now I see that it is a perfect transition between the rap/trap and the more dance oriented music that followed.
Things then get distinctly heavy and distorted for Leap Of Faith, one of the main singles from the album. This one leans towards euphoric dance with a hint of electronic rock. Then there’s the retro delicacy of Shattered Glass, vastly different again. How do you hone your craft in such a way that no genre is out of reach, and how do you choose which direction to take a track – is it just a feeling or a preconception you wish to explore?
My earlier sound was a lot more sporadic and all over the place, and so I was trying to get away from the clutter while still keeping the heavier aspects. I initially started BJB wanting to make dubstep like Skrillex, and that is still something I love to do now. Leap Of Faith was the perfect example and sign to me that I could keep the “rawness” of my older sound, but really polish and hone in on it in a way that I couldn’t have five years ago.
Shattered Glass is the same, and the track draws a lot of influence from Sharks, Chime, and Ace Aura. Shattered Glass was my first attempt at a somewhat color bass sound, and I believe it turned out amazing, and it is one of my favorites off the album as a whole. Knowing I am able to achieve this sound, I will definitely be implementing this in the future.
You feature organic keys on A Boy Who Cried Wolf – are you an unplugged musician as well as a producer, and do you ever sit down for an acoustic composing session?
Yes I am! I play the bass, uke, and a little bit of piano. Bass is my number one instrument and I mainly play a lot of metal and rock with it, but there are sometimes I will work out baselines for my songs on an actual physical bass. I personally like the piano roll a lot more for producing ’cause it eliminates a lot of human error in playing. However, sometimes I’m not able to translate the idea from my head to the DAW without actually feeling something, whether that be keys or strings. I’ll use my midi keyboard to write chord progressions and drum loops sometimes if I’m having trouble drawing them out, and I always like to have a way to record “real” instruments to my DAW for collabs and/or future projects.
Do you have plans to perform live in the coming months, and if so, what would be your dream venue, and what kind of set-up would you bring – minimal / laptop or multi-instrumental?
I really would love to perform soon! Literally the only thing setting me back is myself. I have a laptop, midi keyboard, and a Pioneer DDJ all sitting on my desk, I guess I am just too nervous to open myself to a live audience. It is a goal of mine to do at least one live show before the year ends, and if I can get the hang of it, it’s something I’d like to do on a semi-regular basis.
I’d like to start small, like a local club or diner, but my dream festival to play would be Lost Lands. I’d also love to do something like Avicii did, where he brought up actual musicians to play his songs sometimes, instead of having it all rely on him and the DAW. I think that was a very neat and innovative concept.
Galaxies is a personal favourite, hypnotic and again euphoric at its peak – Supernova seems popular for similar reasons. What was your head-space like when creating these other-worldly tracks?
I don’t know where the space influence came from if I’m being honest. I just hear these tracks and picture space and a sort of Dead Space looking environment. I made the chord progressions for Galaxies by total accident, just messing around, and so I carefully backtracked and picked apart what I just did and then I learned how to really make the euphoric and stadium choruses that I had been really struggling with for the last few years.
Total accident changed my entire workflow for the better, Galaxies, Supernova, or any of the non trap tracks wouldn’t exist without me figuring this out.
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