Artist of the Week: Blake JarrellSeptember 18th, 2008
One of the youngest, fastest rising talents of the scene today is, without a doubt, American producer/DJ Blake Jarrell. His well balanced blend of house, progressive and a hint of trance have brought him further than he ever could’ve imagined. One day he was handing out flyers on the streets, next day he’s a respectable, world travelling top DJ. Blake Jarrell has the proof: club fairytales really can come true.
A range of summer gigs in Ibiza, New York and Amsterdam, playing alongside Armin and Markus. A 2 cd compilation with his own personal favorites mixed and brought out worldwide. His own radioshow ‘Concentrate’ on DI.fm. New track releases and remixes being played by all the big names in the scene. These are only just a couple of the things Blake has to deal with on a daily base. It sounds like every bedroom dj’s dream come true. And it doesn’t just sound like it, it as a dream come true. Blake Jarrell is one of Armada’s finest new talents that in the past couple of years has developed himself to reach a top class level. But luck doesn’t just happen. Like in every fairytale, first something bad has to happen before the girl gets the boy, the cute animals survive or, in this case, the flyerboy grows out to be a professional DJ.
The best and the worst
Blake was stroke by disaster in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina rushed over his city, New Orleans, leaving nothing but havoc behind. Packing his car with whatever he could, Blake wound up in Chicago, where he fell in love with the booming house, techno and trance scene, which further helped shaping his sound. Blake describes it as ‘the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me’, on one side losing his beloved home town and on the other side finding such a nurturing city as Chicago. It also brought Blake the chance to meet Armin van Buuren, who he passed along a CD of his productions and remixes made so far. And there the story we know so far, began. Armin was impressed by Blake’s sound and soon contacted him. Blake became part of the Armada group and felt more than welcome there. Blake: ‘More than anything, it’s brought a real sense of family and community to my music career. Everyone at the office and all of the producers of Armada are just great people to work with. It’s a very positive vibe here. I used to think that I wanted to start my own label, but I can’t imagine now doing this on my own without this team. It’s really an honor to be a part of Armada.’
Flying high, staying low
Blake was invited to play as the opener for Armin van Buuren’s tour and filled numerous international clubs with his indefinable but contagious proggy tech-house sound. Along the way, Blake gained a steady fan base of not just clubbers, but also names like Tiësto, John Digweed, Paul Oakenfold and Markus Schulz, who are supporting him and his records up until this day. Being so young and successful at the same time might change a person, but Blake manages to keep both feet on the ground. ‘I don’t feel like I’ve changed. When I’m home, I still go out clubbing in Chicago with all of my friends. People don’t really treat me any differently and I think that’s because I haven’t let it go to my head. Of course I get the occasional “How’s Ibiza treating you, you lucky motherf**ker?” or “Is your passport full yet?” . But I still feel like the same Blake that plays video games, posts on message boards, writes dance music for fun, and goes out clubbing…I just do it for a living now. If I lost everything again tomorrow, I would be right back out on the streets of Chicago in the snow at 4:00 in the morning handing out flyers.’ That’s the spirit. The music scene is a hardworking business that needs this type of people.
In the past couple of years, Blake has released several banging remixes and productions. His amazing remixes of ‘Anna Nalick – Breathe’ and ‘Marscruiser – Alone Tonight’ have been rocking the crowds worldwide with a refined touch to the already mind-blowing vocal tracks. But Blake is back with another smasher on our Electronic Elements imprint: ‘The Drugs’. This track is the total opposite of what we’re used to. No more sweet and innocent lyrics, but a shocking, confronting: ‘Don’t like the drugs, but the drugs like me.’ Now, we all know drugs is part of the EDM scene, but we would like to know why Blake chose this theme for his new track. Blake, what’s going on? Blake: ‘I don’t use illegal drugs at all and never felt like I needed them to enhance the music, but I can definitely see how EDM is highly influenced by it. I was watching a documentary on the history of house music the other night and the pioneers were talking about how in the early days of EDM no one was really using illegal drugs, it was about the music, having a good time, and a good party. Over time drugs like acid and ecstasy have definitely shaped the music to be more repetitive, euphoric, weird, etc. I also see, especially today, that drugs are separating listeners down the genre lines and I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I definitely do think EDM would still exist today without drug influence, but I don’t think it would have evolved the same way.’ Every fairytale has its magic dust, is what we can conclude.
We surely can’t wait to hear ‘The Drugs’ on a good club system. Make sure to watch out for ‘The Thrasher’, ‘Punta Del Este’ and many other beauty beats and ragging sounds of Blake as well.
A happy end
Within only a couple of years Blake Jarrell managed to upgrade his life and gain a demanded position in dance industry. But this modest and hardworking youngster won’t ever forget his roots. And he sure doesn’t need villa’s full of sound equipment to produce proper stuff. Up until a couple of months ago, all the equipment he used, was a laptop and a pair of headphones. Blake: ‘That laptop finally died on me a few months ago. I recently bought a Mac Pro desktop to replace it and it’s pretty much changed my studio life. I still use Ableton but now rewire it into Logic. It’s a match made in heaven. I’m still using the same old broken worn out pair of Sony headphones I’ve used since I started dj’ing 9 years ago. I was actually joking with Armin about my studio the other day. He was getting rid of some studio furniture and I told him: ‘I would love to get some of it, but I can’t fit anything else in this coat closet!’ ‘. As you can see, it only takes a coat closet, a laptop and a big dose of talent to make a club fairytale come true.
In the mix
This week, Blake is hitting back at you with a fresh mix of his personal favorites. Among them some new tracks of Glenn Morrison, Arnej, Blake’s smashing remix of ‘Royal Sapien – Everyone’ and several other finger licking, body shocking club tracks.
Listen to it here:
Exclusive Mix (September 2008)
“Concentrate” on DI.fm every 3rd Thursday of the month 4pm EST time
Sep 25: Republica de Madras Porto Alegre
Sep 26: Parque Planeta Florianapolis
Sep 27: Skolbeats Sao Paolo
Sep 28: Brahma Beats Assuncion
Sep 30: Metropolis Cleveland
Oct 01: Spin Minneapolis
Oct 03: Harryo’s Salt Lake City
Oct 04: Ibiza Washington DC
Oct 22: Armada Night ADE @ Paradiso Amsterdam
Oct 24: G+ Hangzhou
Oct 25: G+ Shanghai
Blake Jarrell presents Thrasher – The Thrasher EP [Electronic Elements] OUT NOW
Blake Jarrell – The Drugs [Electronic Elements] OUT NOW
Blake Jarrell – Punta Del Este (featured on ASOT 2008) [Armada]
Boytronic – You (Blake Jarrell Remixes) [Coldharbour Red]
Moussa Clarke – She Wants Him (Blake Jarrell Remix) [Armada]
Royal Sapien – Everyone (Blake Jarrell Remix) [Olaris]
Christopher Manik – 2 Pianos (Blake Jarrell Remix) [Audiologic]
Blake’s top 5 for September 2008
1. Hammer & Herbick feat. Boytronic – You (Blake Jarrell Instrumental Mix)
2. Andy Moor – Fake Awake (Original Mix)
3. Simon & Shaker – Plastic Upgrades
4. Arnej – The Ones That Get Away
5. Armin van Buuren feat. Sharon den Adel – In and Out of Love (Push Trancedental Remix)