Five minutes with… Jacques Greene
By, Feb 14 2012
Given what a big deal he currently seems, it’s odd to think that Jacques Greene only debuted in late 2010.
The Montreal producer and a firm affiliate of Glasgow’s LuckyMe collective started 2012 by announcing Vase, a new record label that he runs with Joe Coghill of Ballers’ Social (LuckyMe’s old clubnight) fame. Greene inaugurated the label himself with a new EP titled Concealer that contained some of his most realised work yet; in particular, a slow-burning r’n’b cut titled ‘Flatline’.
We quickly caught up with Greene to discuss his plans for the label, plus Tequila.
“I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s record being mishandled.”
It’s a slightly clichéd question, but we seem to be living at a time where every artist starts their own label. What was the reason for you starting one, when given how successful 2011 was for you, you presumably wouldn’t have a problem getting your tracks signed by labels who’d have a good reach, and would do the work for you?
“Putting out a record myself last summer, the GREENE01 10”, was a blast. Being kind of a control freak it was really rewarding to be involved in that side of things to the fullest. The idea for Vase has been in the works for ages – the “vase” stamp on the 10″ being an indication of that – and it’s been set in motion out of a desire to expand an aesthetic, as well as some design sensibilities and different ideas Joe Coghill, who co-runs the label with me, and I have in mind via whatever medium.”
What’s the significance of the label’s name, Vase?
“A vase could be seen as a luxurious item or something but it’s more a receptacle for flowers etc. It keeps them alive and fresh. It’s spelt the same way in French and English, which is kind of a reflection of my upbringing and the city I live in.”
‘Flatline’, the first track on Container, kind of feels like the point that all the past Jacques Greene stuff has been leading to: it’s slow and it’s got the ultra-lush synthwork that’s becoming your trademark, but you’ve got an actual singer on it rather than sampling Ciara or Brandy. How did the track come about?
“It’s always been ‘part of the plan’ to make tracks like this… Ango and I have made quite a few over the last year and it finally felt like the right time to release one of them. I’ve been doing beats like this one for years – it felt really good to finally have one out there like this.”
Was it important for you, with a lot of people sampling r’n’b right now, to make the step up and work directly with a vocalist?
“I guess it could be seen that way but that wasn’t the goal. The samples were mostly used cause I didn’t have access to real vocals, same way someone would chop up drum breaks into their sampler because they can’t afford a drum kit and the studio time to record it properly. What is born out of necessity ends up part of your process and your sound. I like it all though, this doesn’t mean I’m only going to be doing records like this now – which is why ‘These Days’ is on this EP.”
How long have you known Ango, and how did it reach the point where he wasn’t just playing live with you but was singing on your record? I didn’t even know he sung.
“Give or take three or four years. We met through a mutual friend, Robert Squire – ex-Sixtoo, Megasoid, now making music in Vancouver as Prison Garde – and all played music together along with Lunice. His involvement in my stuff happened all simultaneously where we started working on tracks together with him on vocals and I was coming up with ways to perform my material live and at that point with the amount of mutual trust, respect and comfort with one another it only made sense to have him play in my show… Like I said I’m quite a control freak so I wouldn’t be able to play my stuff live with anyone.”
On ‘Flatline’, does he say I’m on just on patrol, or on Patron?
“He says ‘patrol’, however maybe we should go back and change it, get Dan Aykroyd some royalties.”
What are your intentions for Vase right now? Is it primarily going to be to present your own material in a specific way, or will you be signing other artists’ work?
“I did the first release as some sort of trial run, as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s record being mishandled. In order to treat others’ music with the utmost respect I felt it was important to make sure Vase was set up and ready to go first. Now that VSE01 is out though we’re working on a few other projects simultaneously that will be forthcoming on Vase, not all of them records. The next few months are all booked up and we couldn’t be more excited about what we’re working on.”
Label aside, are there any other Jacques Greene-related updates you can tell us about, or has Vase been taking up all your time lately?
“I’ve been working closely with two Montreal-based fashion designers on what will likely be some Vase ‘releases’, we’re sourcing materials and they are building the prototypes. Now that the label is up and running though, it’s back to making a lot of music on the daily, hopefully scoring some commercials for Dan Ayrkroyd business ventures and Ghostbusters ‘reboot’ trailers.”