“We were tired of people making dance music that’s only about the bass. No one was doing anything at the high frequencies.”
A lot of DJs are obsessed with bass and seem only interested in finding out “How low can you go?” But the British electronic trio known as Jaded went right on up the audio spectrum to instead ask, “How high can you get?” with their banging summer scorcher, 4000Hz (out now digitally via RCA/Black Butter). After a few bouts with jangling percussion, high-pitched bird squawks, and a few good uplifts, by the time Jaded sing, “That frequency’s got me numb,” you know exactly how it feels.
“Our aim is to keep experimenting and keep pushing the boundaries,” explained Jaded bandmember Nari to Digital Trends. “So we’re spending a lot of time in the studio experimenting and trying to find what we can achieve as a band, because each of us serves a different purpose within our unit. We want to see how we can take it further, challenge ourselves, and find our place within the music.”
Besides concocting their own original tracks, Jaded have also done remixes for Frances, Sam Sure, and Kwabs, and they also have co-signs from the likes of Diplo & Friends, Annie Mac, and Monki.
Two-thirds of Jaded — Nari and Teo — called Digital Trends from across the Pond to discuss the construction of 4000Hz, why their remixes feel more like originals, and what it was like to remix a track for Sir Paul McCartney.
Digital Trends: 4000Hz is a pretty high number on the audio spectrum. What made you go to that “numbing” frequency?
Nari: The whole idea behind 4000Hz is, we were tired of people making dance music that’s only about the bass. No one was actually doing anything at the high frequencies. And just from experience, I know that the groove is always in the hi-hat, and no one’s ever mentioned that. So we said, “Let’s just do something with the high frequencies.” It was a real simple idea, and then it kinda just took on its own life.
You know, that’s true. We have songs out there that are “all about that bass,” but then I think about Stewart Copeland’s classic hi-hat on Peter Gabriel’s Red Rain [the lead track on 1986’s So], which is as up there as anything you’ll hear in any mix.
Teo: And also, it’s funny, because after a while, we realized that 4000Hz is also a cue on the equalizer — it’s actually a very sweet spot where you don’t have to push out or wring out that kind of punch and clarity in your mixes. (pauses) We’re audio geeks as well. (all laugh)
I approve of that. What specific gear did you guys use on this song?
Teo: The majority of it is in the box. We used Logic to produce our music. We also love to sample loads of stuff.
Nari: It’s very sample-heavy. Our mix has six or seven different layers on it. I guess we could say they’re a mixture of Massive presets and the Arturia Moog [modulator] stuff.
Nari: I loaded up on bird samples and quirky percussion, and we recorded some live percussion on there as well, just to add our own flavor to it.
Will we be able to get 4000Hz in the physical form at some point? Will there be a vinyl release?
Nari: Hopefully. Hopefully, yeah.
Teo: Right now, it’s quite early days. The version you’ve heard is for radio, but we also have a club edit, and we’ve done four different remixes of that tune ourselves. We’ve done a techno version, a trap version, a dirty-earth-sounding house version, and a heavier club version.
I’m looking forward to hearing all of those mixes. In terms of how consumers will listen to this track, are you cool with people getting at it in the streaming universe?
Nari: Oh yeah, of course, of course. I think that’s the future, to be honest.
Teo: The vinyl is kind of a nice thing, but —
Nari: It’s a novelty item, the vinyl.
If 4000Hz became a hit on Spotify, we could actually earn money from it, instead of getting nothing from it.
Teo: It’s something that we’d hang on our walls, really. But it would be nice to get it, because it would show we’ve reached a certain level when it’s pressed on the wax, you know?
Nari: As a producer, it’s all about being in touch with technology, and all of the streaming websites. There’s a future in it. The CD format is basically gone. And new laptops don’t even have CD drives, so the only thing that remains is vinyl, as a sort of novelty or something special for the DJs who like to play on vinyl.
The majority of people stream. We literally subscribe to every streaming service there is. It’s like going through the crates at the old record shops out there, only we’re now doing it in here, you know? It’s exciting.
Teo: We spend sooo much money on streaming services.
Nari: Yeah, we spend about 10 pounds on every one of them.
I actually like hearing that you do that. I pay the premium on Spotify.
Nari: Even on Soundcloud, we pay. Spotify, we pay. And we pay for Tidal; we pay for all of them.
Teo: It’s also about having the freedom to access the artform, which is important to artists. If 4000Hz became a hit on Spotify, we could actually earn money from it, instead of getting nothing from it.
Nari: Whether we like it or not, the consumer has access to all this music, so why not do it, and be a part of the format that can be monetized?
Teo: Exactly, exactly. It’s also about quality as well, and having the quality not be compromised. And with the streaming sites, you know the tracks won’t lose any of their quality, the more you listen to them. Unlike with vinyl — the more you listen to vinyl, even like 100 times, the quality gets compromised. Some people are OK with that, but I’m not OK with that. (chuckles)
That’s a good point too — a lot of people forget vinyl is a deteriorating medium that has a diamond stylus cutting into a physical object every time you drop the needle, and that’s going to affect the sound.
Nari: Loads of different things affect it. With vinyl, it’s also affected by the way you maintain it and take care of it. Whereas with streaming, all you’ve got to do is click, and that’s it — done. It’s always taken care of.
But I’m not writing off vinyl. That’s where we started, ourselves — with the vinyl. That’s what we first ended up DJing with.
How do you DJ these days? What gear do you use live?
Nari: We DJ with USBs, to be honest. We feel that if the technology is there and the advancements have been made, why don’t we use it? It’s like, I don’t want to use an iPhone anymore if the Nokia is better and the SIM card lasts longer, so we see no problem using CDJs.
Teo: In terms of the artform, keeping tunes in time is more difficult, but if you’re a DJ, you can keep it in time in other ways. But that’s not the artform. No one in the crowd is going, “Oh, that DJ is really good at keeping things in time.”
Nari: It’s all about creating.
Teo: I don’t think the crowd really cares about it being in time; they just want to hear good music. For DJs, the artform now is more in the tune selection and what songs you choose, and when you drop them.
You guys have also done some pretty cool remixes too.
Nari: Yeah, though it’s not really remixing with us. With us, it’s more like creating a new tune, and reimagining the song as if we’d produced it ourselves. We’ve never really tried to remix anything.
The Beatles created the whole sampling culture.
Teo: We also DJ with a lot of stuff that we’ve made. For example, if a new tune comes out today and it’s a banging tune and everyone loves it, then we feel it’s cool if we add a little bit of Jaded flavor to it. So we’ll do something to the file — even an hour before our set — and then we’ll go to the club and play it. You can’t do that with vinyl or anything else, really.
Maybe for what you guys do, we have to change the word “remix” to something like “neo-mix.”
Teo: We don’t even call the tracks remixes anymore. For 4000Hz, each track is going to have a twist on a bird name. One of them is probably going to be called The Pelican Mix.
I love that. Tell me about the remix you did for Paul McCartney’s Hope for the Future.
Nari: Yeah, yeah, we’ve been blessed. (chuckles) It’s crazy, to be honest. That literally came out of nowhere. It got put on our desk and we were like, “OK, are we doing this? We are? OK.”
Teo: We were just spinning around to make it as mental as possible, and just pitch up his vocal and turn him into a robot, and whatnot. In the end, it’s absolute bonkers.
It’s a pretty wild track, yeah. Did Paul give you any feedback on it?
Nari: His manager got back to us and said he had heard it, and he loved it.
Teo: They were like, “Could we have more of that crazy vocal?” We weren’t sure Paul would like what we did with his vocals, but that was really humbling.
After hearing what he’s done as The Fireman and his work with the producer Flood, he seems to be pretty open to taking chances with his new material.
Nari: There’s so much to learn from legends like that. Even at this stage, he’s done everything there is to be done, but for him to still have his ear to the ground and know what’s good and what’s kind of the next thing, and then to keep it edgy, and still be able to hear new music, digest it, and give feedback on it — I don’t know if I’d be able to do that when I’m 70 years old, to have enough intellect within the music.
The Beatles have been so ingrained into our culture over the past 50 years that sometimes you forget just how innovative they were. When you think of all the sounds in a song like Strawberry Fields Forever (1967) — no one had ever done anything like that before.
Nari: Those guys were crazy! They were pushing the boundaries to a point where no one else has been able to achieve that level — especially with the limitations they had back then.
Right, like putting two 4-track machines together and bouncing tracks back and forth between them, essentially creating the 8-track mix.
Teo: They kind of started sampling. They were sampling themselves. It’s a weird thing, but those were the guys who kind of started the whole sampling culture.
Do you have a dream “neo-mix” — something you’d love to get your hands on and give it the “Jaded touch”?
Teo: I’d say it definitely has to be something from Prince, like When Doves Cry [from 1984’s Purple Rain].
Nari: Yeah, definitely. Prince is a big influence on us in general. If we could get the stamp of approval to do a neo-mix of anything by him — that would be a dream come true. The Prince Neo-Mix, yeah.
And there’s no bass at all on When Doves Cry, so you can go the full opposite of that and do something on the high end.
Teo: We’ve gone through what’s already out there on the ‘net; it’s a very shift-down track, but it would be really nice to have all the parts to work with.
Nari: If they ever did a Prince remix compilation, we would love to be a part of it. We’re up for that.
Well, now the idea’s out there, so maybe the Prince estate will see this and call you. So the next new thing you do will be called what — 10,000Hz? I’d like to hear that! (all laugh heartily)
Nari: I think that might be too high! (all laugh again) Well, it might be the next frequency — but it might not be.