Jonas Fehr (aka Fehrplay) is a Norwegian artist turned Brooklyn native that has been rocking the scene for the last few years with his smooth progressive beats. First showcased by Eric Prydz's label, Jonas has been busy releasing new material at a breakneck speed under Mau5trap, Anjunabeats, Armada, and Ultra. He's recently opened up his style to include a darker vibe with recent releases like "Renegade" and "Pandora" that showcases his diversity as a producer.
Just in time for his upcoming gig in Toronto this Saturday at Nest, EDM Canada caught up with Fehrplay to discuss his music, the different labels he's been releasing with, his view on the current state of the scene, and much more. Enjoy:
How's the Canadian tour been going so far?
I love playing in Canada – I think it's great there. I just love playing gigs in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa. I was just in Vancouver on Saturday and I think that's the best gig I've ever had there. That was just amazing.
Can you tell me what took that Vancouver gig to the next level? I saw the love you gave it on Twitter.
Everytime I've played in Vancouver it's always been at Celebrities, which is a great great club. It has the best sound system. A lot of other clubs also have a Funktion-One sound system like Celebrities but its the way the club is set up that makes the sound amazing. Sometimes the room is more important than the actual sound system. It just sounds incredible in there. And the club looks really cool. On the back of that it's a great night. The crowd is just really great as I think the best gigs are the one that you feel completely free to play anything that you want to play while still getting a great reaction. They want to hear new stuff and be tested. That's what I like about Canada because I always get that feeling.
Vancouver proved again last night why I love playing in this city! Thanks all!— Fehrplay (@Fehrplay) May 11, 2015
And at Celebrities they have this really cool L.E.D. wall that goes from the DJ booth to the dancefloor.
Yeah that's really cool. Celebrities looks like a club out of Ibiza.
How would you describe your sound?
I always very intrigued with big breakdowns. I'm a big fan of movie soundtrack music like from Hans Zimmer. I get a lot of influence from that in an emotional sense. I don't exactly know how to describe my sound as I just do whatever I feel like. But its definitely progressive house but not the modern “progressive house”.
The Beatport definition of “progressive house”
Exactly. I kind of want to tell a story in a track as I like to make original arrangements. I'd call my style emotional progressive house with techno influences (laughs).
Tell me about evolution as an artist: you were first showcased by Eric Prydz, and you're now releasing tracks under Anjunabeats and Mau5trap.
These are all labels that I look up to. When you make a track, it's hard to tell what label it will fit into. Like with Mau5trap, they are known for their grungy, electro, evil sound. I've always been a huge fan of Deadmau5 and they've been asking me for tracks for a long time. I actually tried to sign with Anjunabeats when I was a bit younger but they kept on asking me to come back with more tracks as it wasn't right for them at the time. But they really liked “Lotus”, which is one of my newest tracks. I kind of go in every direction but there are a few labels that I'm kind of building relationships with and that's Ultra, Mau5trap, and Anjunabeats. They are all great labels and the people that I work with are all amazing. You know that they put in a lot of effort into every release. It's a great way to profile my sound in different directions without going crazy.
I'm building up to my own label that is a bigger process than I thought it was going to be. Hopefully I can put all of those different sounds together in my own label.
Do have a name for that label yet?
I have a few names in mind but I can't say anything now. Hopefully the label will be running very early in 2016. It's a long process.
How did you get involved with Mau5trap Records?
It started off like any record deal, and then Joel (Deadmau5) got involved. He previously heard me remix one of his tracks for Chris Lake's label and they both really liked it. Mau5trap got bought up by Astralwerks and I thought it would be great to be a part of that from the beginning. I thought their typical aggressive style would fit in really good with some of the stuff I make. Mau5trap is an amazing brand and Joel is the man. I remember 5 years ago in Manchester where I was raving to see Deadmau5 live. Now here I am having two records released under his label. It's pretty absurd to say the least. We're working really tight with them so I'm loving be a part of their team.
Sounds like Joel is pretty hands on.
He is but he also has a great team that takes care of the label for him.
“Renegade” is very dark as compared to your more chill progressive style, can we expect darker tracks from Fehrplay?
It isn't the first darker track made by me but it's the most aggressive one for sure. I'd consider “Pandora” the most evil track I've made. A lot of good melodies come around when I just jam on my piano. With “Renegade”, it's a great track to play in one of my sets, but I would never open with it obviously. Sometimes it's just perfect to play like in the last 30 minutes of my set where I've only played happy tracks and then people lose their shit when I drop it. I'm definitely exploring of this style and want to produce more tracks like that. I think they really work well in a club.
I don't want to sound biased but I will anyway – can you please make more tracks like “Renegade”?
I know that people have different monikers for different sounds but I decided to keep everything up tempo and progressive under Fehrplay and do a little bit deeper stuff under another name called “Moffe”. It's kind of hard to play something that is 120 BPM in a Fehrplay set, and I've tried. So now I have the name “Moffe” where I put out some free stuff.
What's your view on the current state of electronic dance music today?
It's very saturated. It's good in some ways but in bad in others. It's like a two sided knife. It's great that this kind of music gets out to this many people and if someone like Tiesto plays one of my tracks, then new fans start to find out who I am and start following me. That's great. But I also think for people like me that make real progressive house that I tend to disappear a bit, especially in places like Beatport. Beatport is still one of the main ways for people to find new music and I kind of wish they made the genre classifications different.
But you see how the whole scene is blowing up and it's pretty cool. I don't want to be seen in the same boat as a few big artists that will be left unnamed. Other than that I think it's pretty cool how house music has blown up, I would have never expected that 6-7 years ago. Now the biggest festivals are electronic ones and I think that's crazy. I think people who like Martin Garrix now may eventually listen to deeper stuff. Overall I think it's great but I wished they separated the genres a little bit more.
Do you think the mainstream is ready for the deeper sounds?
It looks like it with the Future House coming up. I just artists would take a little more chances in what they are producing. Martin Garrix is in a position that he can do some pretty cool stuff, and I know that he is creative. I just wish they could stick out from that formula that they created. But it's cool to hear young kids saying that they are checking out Guy Gerber – you would never hear somebody say that 5 years ago.
What can we expect from Fehrplay for the rest of 2015?
I have a lot of releases coming up. I did a collaboration with a Dutch duo called Disfuncktion in relation to an album they are releasing. Armada heard it, loved it, and wanted to release it as a single. I'd describe the track as classic piano house. So it's going to be exciting what people think about it. People might say it doesn't sound fresh but I just love that piano sound and we wanted to make a proper anthem.
Which sub-label of Armada will it be released on?
Any other releases in the pipeline?
I've got a new release coming out on Ultra in the summer which is kind of similar to “Everywhere”, which was released last year. That track had a 90s piano funky feel to it. I'm working towards my own label and will be touring a lot this year, especially in Europe. I'm doing my first gigs in Norway which is pretty exciting. I can finally bring my Mom and Dad to a concert (laughs).
Amazing it took that long!
It's been an organic growth, instead of forcing it, and I like it that way. So it's good to come back to Norway.
How about an album, ever thought of doing an LP?
It's a good question. If I ever were to make an album it wouldn't be house music. It would be something electronica wise. I don't ever feel that the club albums work. I'm very intrigued by stuff like M83 and Royksopp. I'm just too occupied with other stuff at the moment. Maybe in the future sometime. If I do make an album it would be whatever I feel like, and not forcing 12 club tracks into an album.
My thanks to Fehrplay for the interview.
Fehrplay will be playing on the opening weekend of Nest in Toronto this Saturday. For tickets - click here.