Speaking to Speedy J aka Jochem Paap is quite a refreshing experience. He has a practical theory behind his work but, unlike a lot of artists with theories, he is neither conceited nor arrogant about it. His work is varied and accessible, industrial yet containing human warmth often missing from this type of music. It’s apparent from just simply visiting his website that he has a different way of looking at the world than other dance music producers, and that this is reflected in his music.
I asked him about his website, as I found out he was interested in design, being an illustrator from a young age, and enquired as to why he constructed it in such a unique fashion. “It’s funny that such a young medium has such strict conventions”, he explains. “All websites have been laid out according to those rules, but there are many other possibilities that allow you to navigate through a chunk of data. I’m not saying that this is better way to do websites; just that this is another way. People just follow rules or mimic what’s already there without really reflecting on them. This also reflects the way I look at music, if something is not challenging it’s not really worth getting into. I think the website is challenging, but it’s not difficult”. This is also a prefect description of Paaps theory of music, both in the listening and producing of that music.
I asked Paap how, over a decade of producing and playing live, things had changed. “In the early days I really had to compromise with taking my equipment on tour, but these days you can get equipment that’s really small and quite technical and powerful. The dance music production tool market has really exploded over the last few years; there are dedicated “live” mixers and DJ effect tools that suit me well. Having all the possibilities in the world is not always the key to a great result”, he adds. “Having that limitation was a constant factor in making electronic music and no matter how much you can do you always want to do more, or something different, or you want to do it in a different way” he laughs. “The possibilities of the new technology inspire me, but on the other hand it can become a frustrating technical battle. The main thing is you have to get your head around something really logical to create something very emotional. You want to make music which is a really emotional thing and comes from the heart, and you have to overcome all these technical difficulties.”
With the music coming from his heart, I had to ask if the reason his latest release being a more dancefloor based and more “accessible” than releases like PUBLIC ENERGY NO 1 and A SHOCKING HOBBY, was because of any changes in is life. His response was a laughing No. “I’ve been making records for well over a decade now, and have been making all styles throughout that time, and with each new release I just focus one style” he says. “Even while making the darker, more industrial releases, I was making dance music at the same time, I just wasn’t including it on those albums because it simply didn’t fit. What you hear as an audience doesn’t necessarily give the whole picture, just a small segment of my work at that time.”
“Of course I’m influenced what’s around me,” he continues, now talking about his music in general. “All an artist does is give his opinion on ‘something’. My tool is music and sound, and what you hear in my shows and on my record is really my take on reality. I haven’t invented anything “new”, but rather been inspired by what’s already there. But all music is like that – somebody doing their own take on what is already around.”
I asked Paap what we could expect from him when his live show hits Adelaide in March. “What I do is DJ with my samplers.” he explains. “I don’t have a fixed set, but rather I have a huge amount of material to be played, and I choose my material on the fly. Some of the stuff people will know, but there will be stuff that is new and improvised. But whatever I play you can expect an hour or two of banging techno”.