Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Jef Stott
Jef Stott's current address may be in California (LA/San Francisco), but his music is a global endeavor. Pulling from the instruments and sonic styles of the Middle East and North Africa, among other locales, Stott records and DJs with an international population in mind. He says there's no excuse to keep American blinders on when creating music. From our politics to our arts and ideas, we live in a global marketplace and Stott's output reflects that openness.
If you want to take in world music with a modern bent, check out Stott's night, Soniq, at Madrone next Saturday, Nov. 29. But first Stott explains his thoughtful philosophy on absorbing new tracks, experimenting with the oud, and tuning into radio stations from across the continents. (Just please don't ask the dude to spin Shakira).
Club night(s): Soniq @ Madrone (last Saturdays of the month)
Style(s) of music you spin: Globally-inspired beats and breaks, psy dub, minimal, ambient, roots
What's a memorable piece of advice/education you received from a musician in another country? Once, when I was studying oud with Hamza el Din, he came around behind me and gently pushed my shoulders down and gestured to relax my body as I played. I have really learned to chill and let things play out. I try to follow this in my productions and my sets, let things roll a while, let the dancers fill in the blanks with their bodies. Don't overproduce a track.
What artists have really impacted the way you DJ or create music? Well, all the fusion-istas out there -- Gaudi, Cheb I Sabbah, Zeb, Makyo, DK (Goonda), Janaka, Kush Arora, David Starfire etc... We are all friends and we inform each others process quite a bit.
How would you describe your approach to DJing? Stylistically, I, like most, try to read the crowd and provide energy for them to react to, but there is also a social or anthropological aspect to being a globally-oriented artist. I seek to bring out the best, most cosmopolitan elements of a diverse range of musics from around the world, and spin it into a mix that is both familiar and captivating while being urbane and sophisticated. Sometimes it actually works.
What's the concept behind your upcoming night at Madrone? The night is called SONIQ and it is a high energy mash up of beats and breaks from around the world. We drop all sorts of Balkan mash ups, Electro Arabic, Afro funk, Indian Breaks etc... I like to think it reflects the world we are living in now and not another retro 80's nite. The music is forward thinking, with very high production values, but the vibe is funky and fun.
I think that we are all growing more and more familiar with what is happening in other parts of the world through travel, the Web, arts, politics, whatever, and this night reflects that perspective, in a positive way.
Also, I like to feature guest artists who are working in the genre as producers and give them a chance to drop some dub plates and share their knowledge. Last month we had Yossi Fine and this month we have Dub Gabriel, both of whom are sort of huge in their own way.
What's the best way to stay current on interesting music cultures in other countries? Great question! Well, the best way is to travel and have primary experiences with these cultures and hear all the music pouring out of the taxi cabs, tuk tuks, and buses everywhere. That is where the flavor is.
Barring that, I would say, check in with online communities that are focused on this music. Tribe.net (long may it live) has very active world electronica forums. There are several online radio stations that feature really fresh tracks- Six Degrees Traveler, Radio Nova and Mondo Mix out of France are good sources.
Also it is good to check out other Six Degrees artists every once in a while.
National Geographic actually has a great site for music-Calabash.
And of course you can come out and hear the DJ side of things at nights like ours.
Name of a track you can’t get out of your head: "Yu" by Ishq (it is more in my body than in my head)
Favorite DJ experience: It is hard to choose just one! So far I would say my set at this year's Shambhala Festival, playing with Nickodemus, Cheb, and Adham Shaikh was pretty great. Also our night in Tokyo last year w/ Makyo and DrumSpyder was awesome; and the psy-chill set I did on the beach at the half moon party in Thailand this summer was pretty fine.
Worst request: Shakira (lol)
Most treasured instrument score: My latest oud, that I got in Istanbul after playing dozens and dozens of them all over the city, and also the crazy circuit bent Casio SK 1 sampler that I got recently.
Best thing that's come out of becoming a DJ or live musician: Well, it saved my life, actually. The impact that music has had on my life is huge. It is really who I am 24/7 now. It adds color and texture to everything.
The oud has really changed my whole perspective on things. It has helped me develop into a hopefully more interesting person and vastly broadened my perspective on the world and rooted me deeply in one of the oldest traditions on the planet.
Music, as we know, is one of the best ways to connect with people from around the world, and it has done that and more for me.
Now I have a thriving community around the globe of folks I work with and play for. It is awesome.
Musical mantra: Stay true to yourself and don't give up. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Other music-related projects you're currently hard at work on: Just finished a new track for Dakini Records in Japan, working with Gaudi on a new track. Released a couple of classical Arabic remixes for Caravan records in L.A. Just finished producing and mixing a traditional Mid East project from Eliyahu Sills that is just gorgeous.
And I am in grad school right now for a Masters in Multi Media. We are working with sensors and brian waves to control MIDI and interactive video. Crazy stuff.
Question we didn’t ask you but you often ask yourself: Where's the money?
Next time we can see you spin: SONIQ @ Madrone Lounge on Saturday, Nov. 29 w/ Dub Gabriel.