AKU ORRACA-TETTEH: So what are you up to now? What are you working on?
JACQUES GREENE: Right now I’m on tour in Europe, kind of jumping around a bunch. I’m working on a lot of music, man. I try to not really approach things with a very decided approach because I think that allows me to explore and experiment a little more. I’ve got a ton of studio time here in Europe between shows. I DJ sometimes too. But DJing is a silly job.
DJing is the biggest lie of all. It requires knowledge, but the idea that a DJ is on a stage is ridiculous. It feels absolutely ridiculous. I’m here with USB sticks loaded with music on them, just standing there. It’s not a hoax that I’m actually playing music, but it does feel idiotic to believe that a DJ deserves to be on stage. When you go to a venue full of 500 people and they’re all looking straight ahead at a lanky guy just bobbing his head—what is that? Why are we looking at this guy? There is no reason to look at this guy. It gets even funnier when I play shows with guys who are into serious dance music, and these dudes play for three hours, just standing around and bobbing their heads. If you think about it, if you were alone in the guy’s living room with him and just staring at him picking songs on his stereo—that’s essentially what’s going on when someone’s DJing on stage; it just happens in a bigger room and the lights are bouncing off of him. There’s something kind of unnatural about that.
AOT: Ha, yeah. True. So, is your setup all in the studio now? Can you make these tracks in your bedroom?
JG: I have the essentials at home in my living room. My roommate is cool with me having drum machines out in the living room. I have pretty good studio monitors at home and I track a lot of things there, but then I always go finish my stuff at Nick Hook’s place. A lot of my bigger synths are actually there, so I can go there and record them.
AOT: That’s great. Where do you play when you’re here in New York?
JG: I don’t really play in New York often. It’s the city I want to live in, but it’s not the city I want to play and tour and DJ in. So I’ve played parties in Brooklyn, but to be honest I don’t really play anything regular there.
AOT: You’re bringing a very original style to the floor that I would say shines through in every track.
JG: I think that’s more worth my time than trying to conform to a fold and make a few more dollars.
AOT: Yeah, this is what we need, man. There was a time when this was supposed to be nonconformist music. That’s totally lost, except for a few artists such as yourself.
JG: I have some pretty romantic ideals about stuff like that. I’m an ambitious guy and I’m still working on it. I’m happy that I’m just trying to push for something weird, I guess. I’m definitely a cheerleader for weirdness or going against the grain. I love when people do things that go against. Like when I read about the guy who ran Silk Road. He got away with so much. I love the idea of getting away with something, especially when it is so flagrant.
AOT: Do you enjoy touring?
JG: I really do, actually. This time I’ve got a lot of work to do so I’m doing a lot of studio stuff, but it’s actually nice to get away from that. When you spend too much time in your own head in the studio you start hating your own music, and it feels good to play some shows and get some good reactions. It can be very inspiring. And I have friends around the world so I can meet up with people and exchange ideas, play music. There’s a great social aspect. The studio’s a solitary experience for me because I work exclusively by myself. I love that and I cherish that, but then I think it’s important for me to get out there and be a little sociable. The touring allows me to do that.
When I first started touring America to get an American visa, it cost a lot of money. You needed international press. You needed a planned tour of the United States, and you can’t have a planned tour without having played there before and amassing fans. So I used to come here and I kept coming up with different reasons as to why I was playing the United States—stretching the truth—and the stamps started adding up. I was coming once a month to a different place—San Francisco, Denver, New York—but I got away with it. I would say I was going to different family functions, weddings, or a friend was flying me out. Or once I started working in graphic design and advertising, I would say I was going for prospective work. I wasn’t actually working, because that you would need a visa for, but considering a client or a job. Obviously it was never to do that, though. It was just to play shows.
AOT: Yes, man. So you’ve worked with Radiohead and other bands. What’s your favorite collaboration thus far?
JG: I’ve listened to Radiohead since I was a kid, so hearing that they asked me to remix the single was pretty huge.
AOT: Right on. What do you have planned for the rest of your day?
JG: Well, some friends just showed up, so I’ll grab some lunch and just take the rest of the day easy. I had a pretty long weekend, and will have some studio time this week starting tomorrow, so I think after this I’m checking out for the rest of the day.
AOT: Sounds like a pretty good life, man.
Photography: Alessio Boni for NeueJournal
Fashion: David Casavant
Jacques wears vintage Helmut Lang jacket and T-shirt from David Casavant Archive