For one week only, Track of the Week is Album of the Week!
BIMM Berlin Third year Music Production student/electronic producer and composer J.D. Eliot dropped his debut album Gxldsmith last week. We caught up with him to find out more about his creative process, and the differences he’s experienced between the music scenes in his native Sweden and new home Berlin.
You were born in Sweden, but moved to Berlin to study music production. How did you find the transition from one music scene to another, and do you think there are any notable differences?
Where I come from there is no music scene – there aren’t even any venues. If there was a gig you wanted to see, you had to take the train over to Copenhagen. So with that in mind the transition was huge! Here I’m in an environment where all of my friends are musicians, and we’re constantly showing each other crazy music, sharing our knowledge and learning together. Aside from that, I love that the record store – and club culture – is alive here and that if I wanted to, I could see good live music seven days a week.
Talk us through your latest record – when did you start writing it, and how did you find the production stage?
I’ve been working on the songs for this record for a little over a year now, although it is only since about half a year ago I had my mind set on releasing it as an album. I really enjoyed the production process of this album and I feel like I’ve developed as a musician over the course of this project.
What are the influences behind the artwork for your new album Gxldsmith?
For the artwork, I initially had the face melt idea and I knew roughly how I wanted it to look, but that was it. I then found out about this artist called Mason London through the recent work he did for Kiefer and Stones Throw Records, and decided to contact him. He does some of the most amazing illustrations and animations I’ve ever seen, and I’m super happy that we ended up working together on this – and with how the artwork turned out in the end!
Talk us through your creative process – what’s the first thing you do when you get an idea for a track?
Most tracks start out through experimenting – be it through manipulating samples, through a new instrument, or some wild synth patch. For every good idea that I get, there are fifteen terrible ones, but when that one idea comes through I get so inspired that I get completely consumed by it until I have a finished track. Then the whole process just repeats, really.
Is there a story behind Gxldsmith which you’d like to share?
The reason I went with that name is because I come from a family of goldsmiths. Essentially the whole family on my mother’s side, starting from my grandfather’s generation, are goldsmiths. My grandfather moved down to Germany in the 60s as a teenager to learn the profession, a journey that would eventually result in him meeting my grandmother. Later on, in the 90s, my mother shared this same journey when she too moved down here for an apprenticeship as a goldsmith. Now, roughly twenty years later, I’ve done the same thing – following in their footsteps, but instead of becoming a goldsmith, I chose music.
Which pieces of gear do you prefer to use when making new music – or do you prefer to experiment with different equipment?
Except for Ableton being the centrepiece, I prefer mixing my equipment around. Two years ago I was heavily into the Octatrack, last year it was Korg’s monologue, a mellotron and dabbling in live drums. This year I’ve been really into old electric pianos like the Fender Rhodes and the Clavinet – both of which saw heavy use on the album.
Are there any musicians with whom you would particularly like to collaborate?
I’d love to work with some of the people in the UK jazz scene, as I’ve been really into that sound this past year. Apart from that there are tons of rappers that I’d like to work with, like Mick Jenkins – that’d be a dream!
What does the future look like for you? Is there anything you’re particularly excited about?
The plan for the summer is to set up a small studio, and just work on tons of new music. I have some collaborations coming up that I’m excited about. Graduating from university will clear up a lot of time and I’m excited to be able to work with some new people and work more on music in general. I’m excited to see where this album goes, and if it will open up some new opportunities.