Jaytech is known for his uplifting and melodic progressive beats, and for his smooth trance releases. Long associated with Anjunabeats, Jaytech (James Cayzer) has been a long time favourite of Above & Beyond and many other trance acts that enjoy his beautiful melodic style. He hails from Australia but now has established himself firmly in Berlin as he is in the midst of setting up his studio there just in time for his upcoming album release which is due out in the Summer. EDM Canada has managed to catch up with Jaytech just ahead of his Friday event in Toronto as he co-headlines the Code Red Tour with Super 8 & Tab at Maison Mercer. Read on as James discusses his background, the upcoming album, his love for Star Trek and Star Wars, real "progressive house", and much more:
EDM Canada: Give me a brief history of Jaytech.
Jaytech: Well I started in sunny Australia, I grew up in Canberra, the capital city. I was always involved in music as my Aunt and Mother first got me involved in piano when I was at the age of 5. I had a very classical music upbringing as I used to play piano in competitions in Australia. I was always heading towards some kind of career in music. I was also a massive computer nerd at the same time so when I hit my teenage years I attended my first all ages rave with Ferry Corsten playing, who was the first DJ that I ever saw. So that's the first time I discovered this electronic trance music. I decided then and there that when I grew up that I would be doing that type of music, to travel the world, share music with people, and be based in Europe. (laughs) That sudden decision came to me when I was 14 years old. I've just been working at it ever since. My whole take about music is that I wanted to be the whole Star Trek of the music world. Star Trek always inspired me because it wasn't afraid to be intelligent and to have some depth to it. Dance music sometimes loses its way a little bit because dance music is a sort of commercially oriented and a mass appeal driven market. Most of the dance music I listen to or that I see is designed first and foremost to make people dance while I want to try to tell more of a story to it. For me the story is one of the most important elements in my electronic music over the last 10 years.
Describe your style.
Jaytech: It's always melodic because of my classic background. It's always been based around chord progressions and I think chord progressions and melodies sit at the centre of most of my musical ideas. It's a little bit geeky and I think my sound is a little bit DIY (Do It Yourself) because when I started I had no formal idea of what I was doing and when I started writing music with computers, nobody was taking it seriously and there were no resources on how to do it. A lot of the core aspects of my style come from learning how to do things in a very experimental and unorthodox way.
Do you start your tracks from a live instrumentation background or do you just start messing around with your computer?
Jaytech: I try to make the approach different for every type of track. In the past the sort of standout records that I've had had a different process of making the track every time. The software that I used was very different as I'm always back and forth between different programs. At the moment I'm leaning more towards Ableton Live but I also use Logic quite a bit. Some of the idea that I do have been floating around in my head for quite a long time. Musicall the tracks for my next album are just complete in my head before I'm even putting down my first notes. With the clubbier tracks I tend to start it with the kick drums and beats, and just go from there. I think it's good to mix it up as well because it lets people see different sides of your artistic imprint. I think it's good to have a very different approaches because it makes for more variety in the tracks.
You're working on a brand new artist album this year, what can you tell me about it?
Jaytech: It's getting pretty close as we're looking for a summer release. There's going to be a lot of electro-progressive stuff on there as well as some material that people will come to expect from me. It's going to be a very danceable album. I think the driving force behind this album is to have these tracks to play out at big events, festivals, and get a great response. There will be some recurring artists from previous albums as well as some new ones - there's a bunch of vocals already recorded. It's coming down to producing everything now in the studio which I'm doing now.
Can you name the collaborations that you will be having on your new album?
Jaytech: I'm pushing to get this collaboration I did with Boom Jinx as part of the tracklist on the album because I think it would be a really good fit. I never had a collaboration on an album before as I've only used other artists to perform things like guitar parts before. But the track I did with Boom Jinx a few years ago called “Milano” is one of the most identifiable tracks either one of us have had. I think this track I did with him is of the same callibre and it would be a shame not to put it on the tracklist. So I'm going to see where that goes. Either way that will be a cool new release from him and I.
What about vocals, any names you'd like to share at this time?
Jaytech: I definitely have some stuff with Steve Smith who I worked with on “Stranger”. There will be some new lead vocal tracks from Serenade as well. She featured in the last album as a more backing vocalist because they were recorded in less than ideal conditions and didn't use her to her full potential. For this album we recorded a few vocal numbers for 2 tracks in a studio in Melbourne that I was listening to via Skype. I was patched in for the whole setup while she was singing and I could everything that was going on during recording. The results from that have been really good.
What kind of story do you want to tell with your upcoming album?
Jaytech: Funny you said that because I wanted to use the album as a platform to tell a story. The story of the first album was telling the world about Jaytech and what I'm all about. The second one “Multiverse” was more about showing the world the different kind of styles that make up the sound that I'm known for. So the third one will be less about myself and instead use it to tell a story. At the centre of the album concept is the idea of a kind of space opera. I'm inspired by things like Star Wars and Star Trek, or any kind of space opera like the Fifth Element, some anime, and even Daft Punk's earlier albums and the stuff they've done with that. The idea of a futuristic sci-fi opera has always been big to me. The story of this album is to tell of an ideal future that we could possibly have coming for us if we can get our act together. Painting the picture of a bright future that we could have through technology and coming together as one human race.
Will this album be geared more towards the dance floor than the last one?
Jaytech: Yes. I think it will be. The last album was more about having more clubbier remixes made from the lead tracks in order to be played out in really big events. This time I want to find a bit of balance that allows me to sort of have that musical story, mixing in that home listening element with tracks that are ready to be played out at big festivals and get a good response.
You're going to be touring North America with Super8 & Tab on the Code Red tour, is this the first time you're touring with them?
Jaytech: Yeah. I've done one-off gigs with them around the world a bunch of times but this is the first time that we decided to pair it up and do the tour together. We got a collaboration track called “Code Red” where the tour name actually comes from, and it also symbolizes us joining forces for this tour. Creating “Code Red” was a load of fun as we sent back the project back and forth between our studios about 20-30 times and just kept on chipping away at it. It turned a bit into a trance monster and in fact it's probably trancier than the tunes I've done in the past. (laughs) I'm really impressed with those guys did with the track as the real production value came from them as I came up with the melodies and chords – things like that. They took those ideas and turned it into an epic track with big lead synths, and stuff like that. It's a really cool fusion of our styles I think. They played it out for the first time at a gig that we were playing at the Ministry of Sound in London a couple of weeks ago and the response was really really good. Definitely looking forward to playing it out some more on this tour.
Will fans get the opportunity to hear you test out your brand new tracks set for the album on the tour?
Jaytech: Yep, they will. I'm going to try to do it in a discrete kind of way. With new unreleased stuff we have certain guidelines that we have to follow like making sure we're playing those tracks that aren't being recorded or streamed online. Anywhere I can I will be sure to be testing out new stuff.
Besides the artist album and the Code Red tour, do you have anything else planned for 2014 that you'd like to share?
Jaytech: I will probably be spending a lot more time in the States this year. I just moved to a new studio in Berlin and I want to get it to a place where I can consider it being a professional mixing and mastering studio that is capable and reliable. So that's very exciting and important thing for me. Apart from that I will be travelling and possibly doing my own imprint as well. To create my own imprint for progressive house because it is a very underrepresented style of dance music at the moment. There is definitely room for a new imprint that pools the progressive house talent out there because there are some people doing some awesome stuff in that genre that don't have any guidance on how to move the sound forward. I'm always trying to find music with depth and intelligence to it so I think this year will be the year that I will be putting something up myself.
Are you still doing A&R for Anjunabeats?
Jaytech: Not really anymore because Anjunadeep has moved into a more deep house direction and Anjunabeats themselves have a very comprehensive A&R team working on trance music in general. Nowadays if I hear something cool then I make sure to send it their way.
Does it ever bother you that Beatport labels so many tracks under the “progressive house” genre label? Would you prefer that they change the definition to highlight the stuff that you are doing?
Jaytech: I'm not really bothered by the classification of it. It is one of those things that I think there wasn't any malice or intent for that kind of music to invade progressive house. It does confuse things a bit when you search for a progressive house blog and you'll get tracks that are complete opposites of each other. The only thing that I really don't understand is the fact there was a pretty big petition to Beatport to do something about this fact and do something about incorrectly classifying progressive house. Beatport did respond and said “yes, we agree”, and that we'll do something about it but then they never did. It got to a point where they agreed but they didn't really do anything about it. (laughs)
How long ago did that petition occur?
Jaytech: About a year or two ago. All it really comes down to is that the lines between all of the different styles constantly fluctuate. Even trance records nowadays probably resemble what was progressive house 5-10 years ago. The only important thing is that the music is getting out there and people are listening to it.
Are you still going to create more trance music in the future?
Jaytech: As much as I've always been centered around progressive house and melodic kind of house music, I think the world that I'm operating in has always been the trance world and it's a world that I love. I didn't necessarily set myself to conquer the world of trance but it has become the platform of a lot of what I do. I think that all of these new styles of complextro, dubstep, trap, and all of this stuff has come about – it has brought awesome new ways of writing music into electronic music. The trance scene has remained largely the same as it's always been about coming together and dance, to let go of everything that they are worrying about in their life for a while. The trance scene has been the same this whole time and I think it's going to get better from here on out.
My thanks to Jaytech for taking the time to talk to EDM Canada.
If you live in Toronto you can catch Jaytech and Super 8 & Tab on the Code Red Tour this Friday (Feb 28th) at Maison Mercer - click here for more ticket information.