Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Sometimes it feels like I am alone in thinking that house music should be sexy, sultry, and appeal to the heart and head as much as the feet. Recently I have become bored of clubs where you get accosted by drunken assholes, the dance floor is too jammed to permit the concept of personal space, while the night’s soundtrack is a limited palette of frantic, functional techno beats. Now, maybe it’s because I am getting a little older, but when I go out I want to hear music which doesn’t need to be played at ear-screeching volume to make a clued-up crowd move. By JOHN BITTLES
While most ‚dance music‘ these days seems to be created with the singular purpose of appeasing those with low attention spans, great house songs should do more than this, they should enrich your very soul. This is why artists such as Jazzuelle have become so revered. With a rich history of creating slow, sensuous deep house, Thando Tshoma is one of the new breed of South African artists pushing the boundaries of what great dance music can be.
His new album Rebirth is out now on Berlin imprint Get Physical Music, and finds the producer in sparkling form. Building on the atmospheric deep house grooves of its predecessor Circles, the new record seems more personal and intimate than what has come before. Brimming with soulful melodies, evocative synth flourishes and the crispest of beats, the record is arguably the best thing Get Physical have released in years. With guests such as FKA Mash, Dwson, Lars Behrenroth, Jonny Miller and Shimza helping out, Rebirth is an album which could make the sun sing on even the most rotten of days.
The record opens with the soft synth swell of For Maneo. Named after his daughter, the track is full of moments of wide-eyed wonder and loosely plucked bass. It also contains a hint of nostalgia and an awful lot of heart. Next up, Jazzuelle is joined by FKA Mash for the Balearic deep house purr of Glitch 3D. In an album of fresh sounding melodies and soul stirring beats picking highlights can be something of a fool’s game. Yet, special mention must also go to the Derrick May style strings and bouncy house groove of The Jinn, Proxima’s lush deep, spacious groove, the gentle keys and percussion led Supernova, Undercurrents‚ optimistic sounding deep house jam and the melody led mid-paced trance loveliness of the title track.
With Rebirth on constant rotation at home I decided to find out more about its creator. In the following interview Jazzuelle discusses the new LP, family, new musical directions, working with Get Physical, the future, and lots more.
So, have a listen to the album here, and let us begin…
For anyone new to your music, can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
Hello, thanks for having me. My name is Thando Tshoma, born and raised in South Africa, currently based in Johannesburg and my electronic music outfit is Jazzuelle. I’ve been a DJ for about 13 years and have been making music for around 10. I released my first ever release in 2010 under a different guise called Kyllow Monte, and I think it was around 2012 that I first released my music as Jazzuelle going forward until now.
Your new album Rebirth came out on the 24th of August. What was the idea behind the LP?
To be honest there was no solid idea for the album, I was given a deadline and I had time to write new music and I challenged myself to write the LP in a week. So every day I wrote a new song, started early in the morning and finished late, sometimes not so late, depending on the structure of the song. But yeah, most of it was spontaneous and I just wrote it and challenged myself to finish the music.
What part of the record are you most proud of, and why?
The beginning of the LP, the title track, For Maneo. I’ve been blessed with a daughter, she’s 11 months today and the song was named after her name, Maneo, which means a gift in Setswana, one of the official languages in South Africa. The song also features a snippet of my daughter playing with her Mom at the end so I was really happy to capture that moment as it will last forever and I was happy to share it with everyone around the world.
Is there any special significance behind the title of the LP?
No, not really to be honest, Rebirth was taken from the song I did with Shimza, Rebirth, there is no special concept around this. I’d maybe a hint of what’s to come in the future as I am slowly rebranding and changing my sound, but in the context of a direct link to the album, no.
If someone only had time to listen to one song from the album, which should it be and why?
For Maneo, because that was the hardest song for me on the album, I wasn’t really playing to any tempo. I just started playing and layered the strings, bass and pad parts almost immediately as well, and, you know, I’d probably want everyone to hear the part of my daughter playing with her Mom too.
I can’t wait to hear songs such as Glitch 3D, the Jinn, Objectivity and Rebirth in a club. What are the key ingredients to creating a track which works well on dance floors?
Personally, I like to visualise music on a floor, but it’s not a prerequisite for making music for me. Most of my music is intentionally made to be thought provoking, though sometimes it’s unintentional, and it’s just the way I was thinking in the studio, but I don’t really focus on dance floors, especially as I have been focusing so much on electronica and deep house for so many years. When it does happen, it happens by accident you know, and I have an ‚aha!‘ moment and focus on it more when I realise it could have dance floor impact.
The album was released on Berlin label Get Physical. How did you first hook up with the lovely people there?
Oh, I can’t remember to be honest. I think I first spoke to the team a few years ago, when they first signed one of my tracks, and then I did a remix, and another remix, and another, and then an EP featuring the Lazarusman, and then I carried on and released an album. I met the team in Berlin when I was booked to play Sonar Festival and Glastonbury at one point, and I played at City Hall on the Off Sonar weekend with them which was amazing. They are really amazing people and such a beautiful team to be part of. Since then, I’ve released my first album, Circles with them, and of course this one. Both house and electronica albums needless to say; I am looking at exploring the broader elements of electronica and techno on the third one for them.
How well do you think Rebirth fits in with what people perceive as the traditional Get Physical sound?
Ah, good question. I don’t think my sound was really the usual thing at Get Physical, I think that’s what got their attention. I’ve always been focused with house and deep house, and the label has traditionally been more of a tech house and techno label you know, deep house too but more of the techy good things. The South African deep house sound is slower and warmer I’d say when comparing it to most of what I hear termed as deep house in Europe or abroad in general. So, in the beginning, yes I was worried, but I eased up after a while. Also, I’ve grown musically, travelling the world and being exposed to new sounds and music, hence my mention about exploring more electronica and techno in the future as this is a challenge to me, and that defines me as an artist, to constantly challenge myself in the studio. I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing over and over, you know.
You have also brought out records on labels such as Atjazz Records and Lazy Days. When you look back over your previous releases can you think of a thread, idea, or a sound that unites them?
Love and feeling! Everything I have done in the past has been inspired by love and warmth, the Rebirth album is exactly that, you know. Only recently I’ve started to focus more on the darker, mechanical sound, and that’s growth to me, you know. It’s new to me, a whole new world and everyone will hear that next year, or even later this year.
Are you planning on touring the album at all?
I have been trying to get on board a good booking agency or management agency for some time now in Europe, but it’s not easy. So no… no tour planned for Rebirth that I know of, and it’s okay, I am patient. I know it will happen soon when it’s the right time you know, you cannot force these things, sometimes you have to wait for them to happen.
What five records should everyone hear at least once in their life?
- Enzo – Message In A Bottle
- Aphex Twin – Flim
- George Fitzgerald And Bonobo – Outgrown
- Jon Hopkins – Recovery
- Brian Eno – World Without Wind
What does the future hold for yourself?
To be honest, I don’t know, but I can only hope for greatness. I know the universe has amazing things in store for me, I have a lot to give to the world and have a lot of music that I want to share with the world. Only time will tell and everything will happen in its own time when it’s supposed to, I guess. I’m also excited to focus on music other than deep house or the signature style that I’ve been known for. I really love ambient music, techno and electronica, so expect a lot of these styles from me in the near future. 2018 will be the last year I release a deep house album. So the future looks amazing, filled with new ideas and a brave new world.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
Live, love and prosper :)
Rebirth is available now from the Get Physical bandcamp page and all good record and download stores. Give your ears a treat and get a copy today.