Jack Latham chats about art with his visual collaborator ahead of the release of 'Classical Curves', his extraordinary debut album.
Jam City is one of the moment’s most extraordinary producers. Centered in ideas from high-tech club music from Detroit to London, his hyper-intelligent, sculptural music is some of the most interesting and absorbing in the world. The British producer is finally releasing his debut album, ‘Classical Curves’ on Night Slugs, and we asked him to provide us with a piece to explain it. Jack submitted this, a conversation between himself and his visual collaborator, Ms Muzik Channel.
I met Ms. Muzik (she prefers not to disclose her real name or marital status) at a strange time in my life when, to earn money, I snuck around office lobbies, gave false names and listened to people speaking at hotel conferences about abstractions like “Brand Cultivation” and “Lifestyle Reconnaissance”.
We found out we had some things in common and, although those days are over now, we’ve maintained a working relationship and friendship ever since. I’d been a fan of her project, a series of short video still lifes called The Muzik Channel, long before it reached Youtube. After hearing the LP she very kindly agreed to join forces with me in translating it into an online presence for some of the ideas and experiences on Classical Curves before people heard it. She also orchestrated a large part of the Glide giveaway. It’s a pleasure to talk to her for Dummy.
Jam City: People got pretty frustrated with the whole Glide project – why is it so tempting, and so fun to wind people up on the internet now by not giving them something?
The Glide project was flirtatious. I think people need to play more with the speed of the virtual world. The internet rushes people to create things and share them before they are ready. It’s natural for the people to become addicted to the praise and immediate exposure promised by such a system. The internet is a network, but its also a universe and I think technology does change the very fibre of our beings. The impact of this on art is far too delicate a topic to get into here but it is something everyone creating in 2012 has to come to terms with.
Jam City: When I look at your videos all I see is marble and plants…what is it about marble?
What is appealing about the medium of marble, or any sculptural stone for that matter (my favorite is Bardiglio, similar to black marble but with veins of silver running through it), is the controlled sensuality of it. A certain aesthetic relationship between the frigid clarity of marble and the natural world, leaves, trees, and tendrils has existed since the classical era in Greece when statues began to move away from their specifically divine function toward the decorative. There must be something appealing on a deeply human level about combination of marble and the botanical as, throughout history they seem to have gone hand in hand. I think that together, marble and plants signify freedom, a freedom related to the strange, alien mystery of the classical world. This is also why it became a motif for certain R&B singers in the 1980s to summon that same aesthetic in their music videos. The image of marble with plants is simple, beautiful and human. I could talk about marble all evening, but I’ll stop here!
“I think that together, marble and plants signify freedom, a freedom related to the strange, alien mystery of the classical world. This is also why it became a motif for certain R&B singers in the 1980s to summon that same aesthetic in their music videos. I could talk about marble all evening, but I’ll stop here!” – Ms Muzik Channel
Jam City: Controlled sensuality…I think this was always a goal with Classical Curves…actually anything I’ve made for the dancefloor. But I get carried away sometimes thinking exactly where that dancefloor should be, what the perfect listening/dancing environment would be like…a lot of the record was made when I was thinking about music without kicks that you could still move to…Kerri Chandler, Tony Humphries…
Those amazing old Kiss 98.7 sets…
Jam City: Yeah, those ones, but instead of driving and pulsating and thudding they just hang there, suspended, paused. I guess Club Thanz is the place where you hear this music.
The perfect club space.
Jam City: Yeah exactly. Do you have one of those?
Well to me what I enjoy about The Club is more about sensation than space, although space can be a part of that sensation. There are lots of fantasy interiors I could dream up to have a party in but I could never describe the quintessential one. I just know it would be dark and loud and I would be wearing something beautiful that caught what little light hit the dancefloor.
Jam City: Would it resemble the space in your Muzik Channel videos?
No, I think that space has just become a meeting place for all my ideas. It’s the point at the end of the road, where you build something new with all those other experiences.
“I like that place, wherever it is, because it looks so glossy and pristine and structured, there is no movement there, no bodies there, but somehow it’s inviting something to happen there to interrupt that?” – Jam City
Jam City: I like that place, wherever it is, because it looks so glossy and pristine and structured, there is no movement there, no bodies there, but somehow it’s inviting something to happen there to interrupt that? I really wanted to write music that gave you a similar feeling. Like you’d establish a base, a place, a space, the classic 90’s House shuffling hi-hats, the warm pad…then something breaks that peace…smashing glass…motorcycle engines…
But it exists somewhere in between all that, that’s what the videos do. They are the moment before, after and in between. That’s what Gliding is. Listening back now to the record, it feels like everything on there is a contradiction, which can be frustrating. But I like that confusion.
Jam City: I remember you said to me that you couldn’t work out whether How We Relate to the Body was a question, or an observation, or a statement…
To me, How We Relate to the Body is an exploration rather than a conclusion. I always thought it was how we, as subjects, relate to our bodies as objects. The mind/body split is nothing new, but in the age of internet it is interesting to consider how our virtual selves interpolate our physical selves, our mortality, our sounds, our organs, our blood, our fluids. Sex is something that forces, if only for a second, the mind and the body into the same space, although traditionally, eroticism has been associated with the body alone. Dancing is similar.
I think the age of internet forces us into a constant state of hyper-self-awareness that can be entirely superfluous in art or sex or dancing. I guess then yes, maybe people do need to be told, or perhaps just reminded, how to relate to their bodies.
Jam City: I like that, I think that’s what it means!
They need to remember they have bodies. And to remember that it is OK to prioritize the body and release the content of their cluttered, information-saturated minds!
Jam City: I’ve always thought that if this record did nothing else, it helped me process all that information that’s stored up.
I think that’s true for a lot of people that make art.
Jam City: And it’s funny, because a couple of friends said they could hear all that information in the record, they could hear those references but they were just slightly “off”. I like that though, it becomes a continuation of those influences, another link in the chain, not just a nostalgia or a repetition… I’d rather that over this idea of “the future” right?
Nostalgia is very different to influence and emulation. Nostalgia is like an infectious disease passed down from one generation to the next, mutating as it infects its next batch of victims. Influence and emulation are 100% necessary to the creative process and I think no one should be so invested in the phantasmagoric notion of “the future” that they forget that.
I know that the spirit behind the majority of the music and art I enjoy is pure and inspired, even when it originates, as it most often does, from some kind of struggle or sadness. When it comes down to it though I think there are no mandates for how one manages and refashions their points of reference. That is the beauty and power of art.