By Kyeongjoo Michelle Min
Spliff Jacksun is a Montreal-based beatmaker and illustrator specializing in lo-fi sounds. His music is inspired by everyday things and his passions that range from photography and film to skateboarding.
Rare Candy: What inspires the titles of your albums?
Spliff Jacksun: Stuff that’s going on around me. The name Sad Summer is because a few friends passed away. Antiquarianism, one of my albums, is about looking back on the past and appreciate it. I like old records.
RC: What kind of old records do you like?
Spliff Jacksun: George Benson, Can, they’re German, psychedelic. A lot of western music stems from the same roots, from blues or jazz, and I enjoy all that.
RC: You released three albums in succession in 2014—Scrolls, Antiquarianism, Re:rolld—yet you took a break in 2015. Any reasons behind this break?
Spliff Jacksun: For my first three albums, I worked on my computer, but I made the change to sp-404 after that, which is why I have that gap. I had to learn stuff like EQ, and it was different because on a computer everything is just laid out there for you, but for sp-404 there’s only a pretty basic sampler. I definitely learned a lot more through sp-404, with levels and kick..
RC: What’s the biggest difference between making music on a computer versus through sp-404? Do you feel like your music has changed since the transition?
Spliff Jacksun: My sound is still the same vibe. Sp-404 is just a lot more raw and authentic because you’re not clicking around on a computer, and after you get the hang of it, it’s much more natural to use, like you’re using an instrument.
RC: What prompted the change?
Spliff Jacksun: I started listening to more lo-fi beatmakers, looking for beats, and I noticed that a lot of them—like Samiyam, from Brainfeeder Records—would use sp-404 and have a different sound. It’s more raw and dirty—like drums won’t sound as clean.
RC: I noticed that you did the illustrations for one of your albums, Memory Display, and you have a separate page for your illustrations—Zigue Zague Cinema. How does your visual art relate to your music?
Spliff Jacksun: It’s a way of expressing myself. I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, and it’d be cool to make T-shirts or something in the future too. Some of my illustrations have mics and arrows in them, which sort of show hip-hop. Drawing is like the written element of my music.
RC: What would you say comes first for you, art of music?
Spliff Jacksun: Well, when I’m creating art and music, the music definitely comes first, and then I do illustrations based on that. But I have the image in my head, and it’s about putting that into real life. I’ve been making a lot more music than art these days, it just happened that way, but they both hold the same importance in my life. I do graphic design stuff on the side too, and I recently got a scanner so hopefully I can start working on more art.
RC: What about the artwork for your album Sad Summer?
Spliff Jacksun: Well, it’s the work of Deathspan, who’s a friend of the guy who does Day Old Records. I guess it relates to my music because it’s of dancing people, which is a moment in life—and that’s what music is.
RC: You mentioned you were a skateboarder—is that aspect of you linked closely with your music?
Spliff Jacksun: Definitely. I’ve been skateboarding for around 10 years, and I’ve been doing it so long that it can’t help but be a part of my music. I started playing the guitar when I was 13, 14, so that started about the same time as skateboarding. Just listening to a piece while I’m practicing moves, or looking for a spot to skateboard in, it all inspires me.
RC: What other parts of yourself would you say is reflected in your music?
Spliff Jacksun: Well, I like taking photos. I like film too—watching film, that is, like Jim Jarmusch. Films have nice visuals that influence things, and one of my favorites is Mystery Train, which was all filmed in Memphis. And photography for me is a way to remember stuff. I like the idea of a cool composition, and I just take pictures of things I come across walking around.
Rare Candy: What’s the music scene like in Quebec?
Spliff Jacksun: It’s definitely not a big scene, more of an indie pop scene—like my friend Mira, an artist, will put on shows, but it’s not like Brooklyn or anything where people will have nights where they gather and just play music. There is an art beat scene, and the older generation have something going on. I’ve been helping out with shows here and there, and I play every month or two in shows. I’m sometimes on university or online radios, too. I mean, there definitely is a great music scene here, it’s just small and not like LA or Brooklyn, and the whole beatmaker lo-fi scene is more of an internet scene to begin with.
Rare Candy: Last question of the day—what’s your go-to track? What will you be listening to when you’re working or commuting?
Spliff Jacksun: Patrice Rushen’s Remind Me. Any music I like influences me, so this has too. I first heard the track through sampling, but I won’t say who, just in case, you know.