Setting is always an important component of a performance piece but when it comes to JFM’s wildlife soundtrack à la kaleidoscopic house/new age composition “Greener Grass”, it is integral. JFM is an electronic producer who finds common ground between the ephemeral flow of nature and the rhythmic pulse of dance music. The St. Catherines-based artist is best known for his wonky lo-fi house jams but “Greener Grass” finds JFM in an ambient zone, culling material from manipulated and sampled 90’s new age CD’s, alongside field recordings. The premise of the piece is that it will act as a soundtrack to the plant life of Allan Gardens Conservatory, which is where JFM will perform on Monday, September 4th as part of Contact Contemporary Music’s annual Intersection Festival.
JFM has always been an intuitive artist that flourishes under environmental contingency, making him a perfect candidate for this unique naturalistic experience. Anyone who has seen JFM live before will know that his sets revolve around the energy of the room. He builds his tracks from the ground up, starting with a simple sampled vocal loop and sleek, deep house atmospherics. From there, he sets a tone and delays the ascendant beat-drop until the vibe is just right, sometimes stretching out samples unto oblivion. It will be interesting to see how JFM plays to the silent, mystical dance of plant life as his music, although mechanically constructed, feels very organic. Wherever JFM chooses to take us on this journey through flora and fauna, he is sure to lead us to ‘greener grass.’
We spoke to JFM in advance of his performance at Allan Gardens this Monday for Intersection Festival. See what he has to say about his original composition below.
Over the years, your production has become more sleek and polished in comparison to your early lo-fi releases, was this an intentional shift or merely a result of the development of your production prowess?
It has been a simple evolution of my sampler that has dictated the quality over the years; an SP-202, then a 404, now I use an Electribe. Always just out to a couple old FX boxes and a mixer. Recording tracks was originally by any means available; dictaphone, cell phones, answer machines, tape decks, portable reel-2-reel, in most of these cases the fidelity is predetermined by the machine itself and its characteristics. However I was gifted a ZoomH4N 2 years ago and that has influenced the quality of my sampling and recordings, though I still sample and treat broken technology as source material for tracks.
Your music often has a very organic feel, how does nature/wildlife inspire/influence your sound?
Playing the sampler more like an instrument (ie. triggering the sounds individually) means the music ends up having a looser more organic feel. Nature is inspiring for its equal value of life and death, grow and decay, the constant change and randomness eases my anxieties and certainly influences much of my attitude and my aesthetic.
What effect do you hope to have on someone seeing you live for the first time?
Honestly, if it’s even just one person out there while I’m playing and I can feel them receiving the music on another level by cutting loose physically, or perhaps it’s an internal resonance…either way that is all I hope for.
In your view, what does it mean to be subversive?
As an example, the piece (‘Greener Grass’) I will be performing at Allan Gardens on Monday is comprised of manipulated bits and pieces of new age CD’s from the local library, which felt obvious to reference given the botanical setting. I wanted to use that palette of sounds in a subversive, albeit sincere way. To give a different atmosphere and tint to those sounds that are most often associated with drug store meditation compilations. Ideally the piece feels familiar and calming yet clearly a constructed collage, which is perfect for perpetually lush atmosphere of a gorgeous indoor urban botanical garden.
Click here for more info on JFM’s performance for Intersection at Allan Gardens alongside Castle If, Nick Storring and Laura Swankey.