Made in mainland Spain but very much forged in Ibiza, Jay Nortown and Jacobo Saavedra are two men with an undoubted dedication to underground music. Theirs is an interesting story too. Although they didn’t know one another before a chance encounter on the White Isle, they soon clicked, to the point where they became a musical duo and are now considered one of their country’s best such double acts. Slowly but surely building a name for themselves thanks to their intricately produced, quality-laden minimal house and techno sound, they’ve already pushed music via Funk records label and most recently, Jacobo’s SVDR imprint. Staunch vinyl obsessives and celebrants of electronic music’s true culture, we checked in with them recently as they gave us an insight into their fascinating world…
Great to chat to you, guys. Can you please start a bit by telling us a bit about your history with electronic music? What are your earliest memories of enjoying it?
Jacobo: They are very different stories, because Jay’s parents were electronic music lovers, so he grew up listening to electronic music, but in my house we listened to pop-rock music. My father is a musician, my childhood is surrounded by instruments and I studied music, so my contact with dance music didn’t come until I was a teenager, when I went to study in Madrid. It was there that I had my first big crush, in 2007 – 20008 in Fabrik, in a mythical GOA. Around that time Jay was at his first festival, in Monegros, which was when he also felt that great connection.
What parties, clubs and labels influenced you both back then? Was there one stage where you decided to take it seriously?
Jay: I lived in Asturias, I went to clubs like Albeniz, Sala Jardín 2 and festivals in the north of Spain… As for the labels, the mythical ones from 15 years ago like Cadenza, Ovum Records, Mosaik and others. As we have said Jacobo’s story is different, in those years he was just a party customer and didn’t stop to think about labels or influences, he just enjoyed the music. However, once he moved here to Ibiza, because of an opportunity he was offered, he took this world seriously and started to dedicate himself to it, around 2014. It’s been a more natural evolution for me, music has been taking over my life step by step.
At what stage did you begin to feel truly comfortable as a production duo?
Jacobo: It all started as a game, like almost all these things. We got together to play together in the studio, and without realising it we started working together. We felt comfortable from the first day, and that’s how we got here.
You both moved to Ibiza individually a while ago – how are you finding it as a place to live full-time? What’s been the biggest challenge for you both?
Jay: I think it’s a special place full of opportunities… but to take advantage of those opportunities you have to work hard. It’s a place where a lot of people come to make a living, so the biggest challenge is to make a place for yourself because everyone wants the same thing, and if we’re talking about music, even more so.
Jacobo: Yes, because here in Ibiza everyone is or wants to be a DJ, and I don’t say that as a bad thing, it’s wonderful. I don’t think there’s any place in the world with more Pioneer CDJs per person than here, hehe. That means that to really work here you have to be the one who puts the most effort into it.
In terms of running a label from Ibiza, is that something that’s actually quite difficult due to the postage service? Does it very much feel like home these days?
Jacobo: Well, the same as anywhere else because the world is globalised, everything is online, decentralised. We work with companies that distribute our music all over the world. The only problem that all the independent labels have now is the delivery delay, which is a very hackneyed subject, we know that now the time is 7-8 months instead of 4.
In terms of the label, SVDR, can you talk us through the label’s philosophy as well as your plans for it? The artwork is really consistent and awesome, for example…
Jay: SVDR is a project that Jacobo started to see what would happen with our music without the support of a recognised label or experienced artist behind it. The first reference went well and in the second one, already signed as JNJS, we took a leap with two remixes, which also worked very well. Now we have a new project, Velvet. The first reference is almost ready, it’s signed by Triptil and remixes by Silverlining and us, and the second reference is already planned. This will be our first big project. SVDR will continue to be our baby, we will make two more references and we will stop for a while to focus on other projects.
What does it take to get a record signed to the label? Is it important you have a personal relationship with the artists you sign?
Jacobo: If there is personal contact, cool, but it is not essential. We contact artists that we like, that what they do is good and we pay them for their music.
Can you tell us a bit about how you first met at Pikes, right? What was the party?
Jay: Typical closing party in Ibiza, we are all the familiar faces from all year, backstage, afters… haha. It was the closing of Keep on Dancing and we met there with some friends in common. It’s strange that we didn’t know each other since we liked the same parties and we had friends in common as I said, but our paths until here have been so different, that thinking about it, it’s not so strange that we didn’t cross each other before.
We started talking about music, we had tastes in common and we met up one day to play some records, then we met up at parties, then we met up one day for the studio… and in a very organic way we got here.
Did you have any idea at that stage that you’d become a duo? Or was that more an organic thing?
Jacobo: Not at all, we’re like that girl you meet who you like and after 3 years you realise you live with her and you’re eating with the in-laws, hahaha. There hasn’t been a real plan until recently, at first it just flowed.
How does the production process work between you both – who does what?
Jay: There are no roles. Maybe Jacobo is more technical and I’m more emotional, and that’s where synergies arise. Sometimes we start and finish tracks together, sometimes we exchange projects that we’ve started separately… There is no modus operandi, we simply have ideas in our heads and we put them into the DAW.
Do you generally agree on most ways of working? Is there a level of compromise involved in working as a duo?
Jacobo: Yes, we agree because we trust each other, and we spend many hours talking about where we want to go, what we want from our music. We are committed as a duo but that doesn’t mean that we don’t do our own things separately as well. It’s so simple that if we can’t get together for a month because of work and in that time Jay has made a whole track and wants to release it, I have nothing to say. We sign as JNJS the tracks we are both involved in, if one of us wants to do something solo, go ahead, it’s good for both of us.
At this stage, are you equally as comfortable DJing as a duo as you are individually?
Jay: Yeah, because there’s communication. We talk beforehand about what we want from that gig and we play music together, so it’s like you’re playing by yourself, because you know what the other one is going to do all the time after all this time. We know each other and we know what the other likes to do.
Do you plan your sets together now? Or is it spontaneous in terms of track selection?
Jacobo: In the beginning, when it was a simple B2B it was pure improvisation. Now that we’re a duo we talk a bit beforehand to know what kind of music we’re going to play. We don’t make a playlist or tell each other which records we’re going to bring (in fact it’s very common for both of us to show up at the venue with twin suitcases hehe). But we do agree on what style matches the party of the day so that we both have the same energy in the booth at that gig, and from there, we improvise together.
On an increasingly commercial island, how difficult is it to find parties that still retain an ‘underground’ ethos? What parties would you recommend for visitors who want something a bit more discerning away from the super clubs?
Jay: This is the same old topic, we spend a lot of our lives talking about it in Ibiza, haha. Ibiza is the icon of world tourism, so the underground here is just that, underground. Only for people who know it exists. And it’s understandable that, with the prices here, you come and visit one of the biggest clubs in the world, both in terms of size and quality of course, because Amnesia or DC10 are real cathedrals. Small clubs are everywhere in the world.
However, in Underground Ibiza, in Pyramid Amnesia, in Nui which is about to reopen, in Pikes… there are more than interesting things. And big club brands like Circoloco and Solid Grooves are backing a handful of underground artists this year.
What’s next for you guys that you’re really excited about? Can you tell us about your latest release a bit and what was the vibe you were going for with it?
Jacobo: We are now focused on Velvet, a brand with which we will do label only vinyl and events. A lot of things will happen around this, we are going to do a series of edits for example. It’s a project on a bigger scale than the previous ones.
The last EP I honestly don’t even remember what it is, hehe. As we were talking about the Delay before, I can’t tell you how many tracks we have pending vinyl releases… between 10 and 12 maybe, also on big labels and projects.
Jay: But what we’re looking for with every release is dance. We make music for people to dance to and have fun.
If you were to introduce us to JNJS in three tracks, what would those tracks be and why?
Jacobo: Let’s talk about the ones that are already on sale, because there are some that we think will always be on these lists in the future, because I think they will be important for our career, but since they are not published, it’s as if they didn’t exist, hehe.
1- Bending Machine (SVDR 1) – It’s the first track we did together and look where it got to, sold out 300 copies in less than a week. And an awesome feedback from the local industry, which encouraged us to start moving our music with international artists.
2- Unvelope (Funk records) – We uploaded many jams to instagram, and in one of these, the minute we uploaded it to the net, Alexis Cabrera wrote us that he wanted that track for the Fun Records sublabel. We were very impressed that an artist of that stature asked us for music in such a direct way. And even more so when this track was later played by Arapu, Gescu, Nu Zau…
3- How do it Fell (Dealer 2 zik) – This is a sublabel of H24, and we have put it in the list, apart from the great support of international artists that he has, because we have also worked with H24 for his other sublabel, H7, with a remix for Aykiki that has also worked great and with a great support, and because soon we are going to release on the parent label only vinyl, H24, in a VA another track with an incredible support, which is one of those that we were talking about before that are going to be one of the important tracks of our career.
[One, 1]’s ‘Es Culleram’ EP is out now via Mate Ltd. Buy/listen to the release on Decks.de here