Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.
Can you first introduce yourself and give us some background to how you began making music?
Hey! I’m Jeff II an electro rock music producer and guitar player. I’ve been doing music for more than 10 years. I’ve been playing in bands since forever as a guitar player. I’m doing some session gigs and some live shows. This is really cool but at some point, I wanted to have my own project to play my own music. It all came up naturally, I had a lot of pre-written material, but I needed some time to bring everything to life and to find my sound as a solo artist.
How have the experiences of being in other bands previously impacted and guided what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?
Yeah I’ve been in bands since I started playing the guitar. Mostly rock and pop bands. I had a lot of fun but I started to gain an interest for music production and especially electronic music. I like working with bands but I enjoy being alone in my studio writing and producing new music. My style hasn’t changed that much, it’s still hard rock music but with an electronic production.
What inspired the band name?
My friends in France are into rap music a lot. I’m the only ‘rock dude’ around, so they started calling me ‘JE2F’ to make my name sounds more ‘Hip Hop’ *laughs* I just adjusted it to ‘Jeff II’ eventually. It all started with a private joke.
Was there any specific idea behind your solo venture, in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?
I wanted to do my own solo project for a long time. My idea was to make some music that sounds good live on stage, in a club or at home with the headphones on. It’s not always easy to find the right balance but eventually I worked hard on my sound and ideas to figure it all out.
Do the same thoughts still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they and your sound evolved over time?
I’m still driven by the same passion and desire to produce quality music. My mind-set hasn’t changed. The sound changed a little bit but it’s still in the same electro/rock vein. I’ve been in many bands before and it’s sometimes difficult to deal with 3, 4 or more different individuals. As it is a solo project, it’s much easier to manage and to know where I’m heading.
My sound has become more and more ‘produced’. I don’t see it as a bad thing; it’s a natural evolution for me. The more I’m practicing my skills in the studio, the more I want to apply my knowledge to my tracks. When I started I was just a guitar player I didn’t know anything about production, so it was mainly riffs, bass and drums. Now there’s more effects and synths.
Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more you deliberately wanting to try new things?
Totally an organic movement, I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t go like ‘ I have to change my sound’. It just evolved naturally until now.
Presumably you have a wide range of inspirations and artists you admire; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on your music but your personal approach and ideas to creating it?
As a guitar player I’ve always been a fan of Hendrix, SRV, Satriani, Jimmy Page….I like classic rock in general. But when I started producing I was more into electronic bands such as The Prodigy or The Glitch Mob. At the end of the day my music sounds like both worlds. There’s a few punk and pop elements here and there but it’s not dominant.
Is there a particular process to your songwriting?
I usually start with a guitar riff or a melody. I’m recording a loop of it and eventually I build my track around it. Then I set the structure so I have a whole track. Then comes the production part, I add all the effects, the layers, the samples…. I’m trying to mix while I’m producing so my song sounds good right from the start.
…And any lyrical side to your songs?
My music is mostly instrumental, there’s no real lyrics. I use voice samples here and there but I’m not too concerned about the words, I’m all about the sound and the vibe. If I have a voice sample that fits right for a certain track, I’ll use it no matter what’s the lyrics in it.
Give us some background to your latest release.
My latest single ‘Laying low’ is a bit different than what I’m use to do. It has less guitar but more synths and drums. I was focused on the beat and the atmosphere of the song rather than the riff. The mood is a bit darker and less euphoric than songs like ‘Sleepless’. It’s an ‘introvert’ song kind of.
Could you give us an insight to the themes and premise behind the single and other songs?
Recently my songs are getting a bit more ‘serious’. My first tracks were really straight forward EDM/Rock. It’s the kind of music that entertains and makes you move. It’s all about that really, hedonism and escapism. But I wanted to add a little more subtlety in the new release. It’s cliché but I’ve through tough moments recently and I wasn’t feeling like doing ‘hard rocking party music’ kind of songs. So the latest tracks are more ‘laid back’.
Do you go into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?
I change my tracks all the time. When I’m in the studio I have no idea where the song is gonna go. That’s the cool part about recording everything at home, you don’t have a deadline or you don’t have to worry about time, you can change any parameter at any moment.
Tell us about the live side to Jeff II?
Being on stage is the main reason why I’m doing music. Even though I spend more and more time in the studio, the final goal is to play all that in front of people. My stage set up is a bit special; I’m DJ-ing and playing guitar at the same time. There’s a drummer and a bass player backing me up. It’s like a hybrid of a DJ set and a hard rock band. I wanted to keep the ‘rock n’ roll’ vibe by having a real band with me but it’s impossible to play all the different layers of sounds that my music contains without some electronic gear.
It is not easy for any new artist or band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it so far?
Well these days with the internet it’s much easier. You can reach so many people from different places with platforms like YouTube. Also my music being instrumental I’m not too concerned about the languages and the identity of the listeners. My sound isn’t ‘American’ or ‘European’ it can appeal to everybody. I’m based out of Los Angeles but my goal is to ultimately play worldwide.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success?
It’s a game changer. I won’t go into the debate whether or not it has ‘killed’ the sales income for musicians. But what I do know is that internet is the number one space for promotion. Maybe people won’t buy your albums but if they like your music they’ll still go to your shows. As a music producer who does everything by myself, social medias are a fantastic tool to use. These days you see 17 year old kids making hit songs on a laptop in their bedroom. And they’re able to eventually book big tours all around the globe. Thanks to the internet. On a negative note I will say that artists should get much more income from the streaming platforms.
Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?
Thank you for your time and attention. Check me out on YouTube and Instagram (jeff2music). You can also learn a bit more about me and my background on my website (jeff2music.com).
Pete RingMaster 11/01/2019
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