It’s the accumulation of 5 years, the visions of 3 masterminds and a whole lot of passion and love for music. ‘Give Me A Sound’, the debut album of US trio Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren, has finally been released. We named this remarkable league of musicians our Artists of the Week, and ask them all about the journey that creating this wonderful piece of music has taken them on.
Hello guys and lady! Congrats on the release of your debut album! What’s going on in your minds right now, now that it’s out?
Matt:”Thanks so much! I am happy and relieved! At times, I didn’t think we could do it, but we did. It’s a great feeling!”
Shawn:”Thanks a lot, honestly it’s all a bit surreal right now. It’s hard to believe that after 5 years of work our album is finally out there, but I’m very excited for what’s to come!”
Jaren:”Yeah, I’m with Matt and Shawn on this. Surreal!”
How has the musical journey of ‘Give Me A Sound’ been? Was it a hard one to tackle, or did the process of creating an album come natural?
Matt:”As you may have heard, it took a total of 5 years to put it together, so it wasn’t an easy job. It was a very long and steep journey, but very knowledgeable. Coming up with the concepts of each song was quite easy, but finishing them the way we wanted was not! I am a perfectionist, so it needed to be done right. These days, a lot of albums have only a few good singles on it, and the rest are ‘filler’ songs; in this case, I needed each song to be the best, each one to have the potential of being a single.”
Shawn:”I think it was definitely a bit harder than we expected, through the years we all three had different experiences in our lives and just pushing through those moments while trying to focus on music was a bit tough. In the end I really think the hardships made the music even stronger!”
Jaren:”We had our ups and downs. Like Shawn said, we went through a lot of transitions over that period of time with health issues, losing family members, gaining family members, etc. Matt and Shawn are perfectionists so we all needed to agree on the level of quality.”
Five years after ‘the song that goes like’ (‘Light The Skies’), the debut album is a fact. What’s the biggest difference between the Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren of back then, and the group of today?
Matt:”I think we’ve all changed. In my case, I feel like I was an irresponsible boy back then, and I am a man now (haha!)– I have a child with Jaren now, I don’t live in LA, but in Montreal, and I feel that I am wiser, on a lot of different levels in my life, socially, musically, and more.”
Shawn:”I think we’re all a lot more mature and savvy about the industry now, not only that the experience I gained as a producer working on this album has definitely raised the standard in my music and ours.”
Jaren: “Yeah, I’d say maturity as artists.”
It’s no big surprise, given the previous releases, but it’s still incredibly diverse. Does the album reflect the full spectrum of what Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren are about?
Matt:”It does to some exempt. I love all kinds of music, so we make all kinds. I am planning on making even more diverse music in the future.”
Shawn:”I think it definitely shows that we’re fans of music in general, when trance fans especially listen to this album I hope they can put aside the genres and take the music for what it is. I think the only style that wasn’t show-cased on the album that I’m actually really into is hip-hop production!”
Jaren:”Hahaha! Yeah - and maybe opera. Although I did sing opera on a dance track a couple years back. It’s not really CMJ’s style, though.”
One of the really different tracks on there, is ‘Our Neighborhood’, a track that fuses pop and rock. Are you guys trying to widen the horizon of EDM lovers, or is it mostly a showcase of what CM&J has in stores?
Matt:”This was an idea based on one of Jaren’s topline. We didn’t plan it this way, but we all agreed it would be nice not to have any electronic elements in it. Hopefully our fans appreciate it for what it is, but we are also expecting some dance remixes of it, so the ones who don’t like it might, eventually!”
Jaren:”I think part of being an artist is evolving and being bold enough to try something new. At the end of the day we sort of realize life’s too short not to express yourself the way you want to. Also we don’t want to underestimate the open-mindedness of our audience.”
‘Give Me A Sound’ features collabs with the likes of Audien, Rank 1, Dash Berlin and more. With 2 producers and a songwriter at the helm, isn’t that more than enough? More opinions make it more difficult, or not?
Matt:”Some producers are harder to work with than others. We actually had to cancel a collab on the album because we couldn’t agree with the producer. Other times we worked really harmoniously with some, and everyone was pleased with the results really quickly.”
Shawn:”Just like anyone that listens to EDM we’re all huge fans of the artists on our album. More than anything it was about working with artists that we not only respected and listened to but generally got along together with as friends. Working with the artists we did was just a natural progression from our friendships and similar styles! Honestly, the more opinions the better…I think the more ideas and directions you have the easier it is to choose the best!”
Jaren:”Plus, it’s nice to bring in another collaborator so you don’t get stuck in the same style. It’s a great way to learn and grow as a songwriter.”
So, as for the classic division of work on the album, who of you three did what? Or is everything, apart from the vocals, team effort?
Matt:”The work was divided differently over the years. I came up with quite a few musical ideas, some production, did a lot of vocal editing and effects, Jaren kept writing and singing, but Shawn really did a really big push in the production on numerous songs at the end.”
Shawn:”As for my part in the album I mostly did production / sound design and some of the melodic content.”
Jaren:”I have one role. Singer/songwriter. I am not to be trusted with anything related to production, hahaha!”
The latest single from the album, is the beautiful ‘Witness’, which was released with a very mysterious music video. Is there a particular story behind that one?
Matt:”I guess I came up with the concept of the witch/wizard, and the producer wrote the story board based on that idea. Shawn and I also wanted to be present in the video, but it wasn’t part of the budget, so we had to find way to be in it, like the posters (Have you seen them?)”
Jaren, you’ve had a bit of a break from EDM in these past few years. Mainly to become a mom, but also to release your solo album, ‘Fixin’ it Upright’. Is it Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren all the way again, or will you still be working as a songwriter/vocalist for other projects?
Jaren: “Well, for a while there was a debate as to whether I would participate on Armin’s last album, so I remained exclusive for a time and focused only on writing. About that time I found out I was pregnant and then decided to do venture into other territory as a vocalist, and that’s how Fenja was born. Fenja is my housier alter ego. I have been told by just about everyone in the industry to stick to one genre of music and for the life of me I cannot, hahaha. I love it all! So yes, I spent some time trying to place my folk album. I’m working on a follow up to that, though a little more bluesy/bluegrassy, and I’m also working on an indie-dance/pop record. When I’m not doing that I’m co-writing with Seb LeFebvre from Simple Plan for other artists. Fun stuff!”
How about you, Matt and Shawn? Any plans that involve other projects or solo stuff going on?
Matt: I am currently working on solo stuff, and collabs with other people.
Shawn:”I’m most definitely working on new material for my solo career. I’ve already released a couple solo remixes just here recently and also have been working on some collabs with a couple up-and coming producers you may just know.”
Right now, it’s all about ‘Give Me A Sound’! Got any shows planned with special live performances in these upcoming weeks?
Matt:”We a gig coming up in Vancouver in June, and a few other ones planned!”
Shawn:”Yes! We actually have a show June 23rd in Vancouver @ BLVD 22…other than that we’re hoping to set up some mini tours all over the world!”
What about the next single? Which one have you picked?
Shawn:”The next single we chose was actually the duet with the ever talented Chris Jones called ‘Starting Right Now’. We felt like this was a great choice because it’s just a very uplifting, positive song and I think people need that in this world. We’re all very excited to be shooting the music video very soon and with the preview of the Ost & Meyer Remix on ASOT I think this is going to be a huge release!”
Get the Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren album on iTunes now!