Jake Fairley, aka Fairmont, hails from Toronto, but has spent the better part of the past few years moving between Barcelona, Berlin and various other enviable European locales, bringing his signature, genre-defying sound to eager ears overseas. He was back in town for a few days before heading back to Berlin, so we snagged a couple of minutes of his time before his set at Toika last Friday to find out what he's been up to lately.
THUMP: You've always tried to avoid having your music labeled as one particular genre. Do you think genres restrict an artists' ability to diversify their output?
Fairmont: I often find that the music changes as you develop it, and the style or genre it might have been at the beginning of the process no longer fits. I don't see the need to give myself those restrictions, and I hope that others don't either. It's just not necessary to identify or be identified by a genre. Granted, there are some artists whose work is very much identifiable as belonging to one genre, they have a very particular sound, and they work within the borders of that. But in the big scheme, I don't think I need to be defined like that.
You were producing a lot last year, is the plan to do the same this year or take it a bit easy?
I was really busy producing last year, and this year my plan is to take some time off, and have some fun. I have a remix release coming out soon though, a remix of my last CD for My Favorite Robot called Lie To Me—we have remixes from John Digweed, Insurrection, Chloe, so that's going to be a big package of people reworking that EP. I've already gotten some of them back and they sound amazing, so that's going to be really cool. I'm also playing this festival called the Traena Music Festival, in the Arctic in Norway. I think it's going to take me like fourteen hours in each direction to get to, including a six-hour boat ride. But I think they have twenty-four hour sunlight, as it's going to be in July, which will be quite the experience. It's on this remote island North of the Arctic Circle. Pretty extreme, but it will be neat for sure.
Tell us a little about working with the guys from My Favorite Robot on your album, Automaton. Did you know them before working together?
I really just met them through that process, which is funny because I'm from Toronto, and they're based here, and somehow I had never met them before. My friend introduced me to them, and very quickly we felt comfortable working together and became friends. Usually I do stuff on my own, for the most part. I really do my own thing—I've tried to collaborate a few times before, but it's never really taken off. But this was a great dynamic because we have a solid working relationship and we're still friends.
You started off here in Toronto—what was happening at the time that got you into producing music?
It's funny, I was more interested in the equipment originally than what the equipment produced. Way before I even started making music I was playing around with tape decks, I was always fascinated by the equipment and the technology. I was into synthesizers before I was into synthesizer music. I always wanted to make music but I wasn't very good at making music, I couldn't play any instruments, and I wasn't very traditionally musical. The technology behind the music was what led me into creating my own. Eventually I started playing around with it and seeing what I could do with it.
So what was your big break? What pushed you from playing around with the equipment to deciding that this is what you want to do with your life?
The first couple of years I didn't know many people in the scene, but there was this guy from Toronto, Jeremy Caulfield, and he was the first person to hear me. I was playing in a pub with maybe ten people there, and he had been asked to DJ the same event—this was back in 1999, so I had been making music for three years at this point—and he saw what I did. He really got me started properly. That was definitely the one thing that really gave me the confidence, that made me feel like this was something I could do and take seriously.
There's a constant conversation about whether or not it's better, as an electronic music artist, to head over to Europe or to stay in Canada and produce music. What drew you overseas?
There was a lot less happening here, there were fewer clubs, not too many places to play. I mean people are still moving to Europe, simply because there are so many more places to play in a much smaller area. When you stay here you end up losing money, on flights and travel. And as I grew, and my business has grown, I've had the chance to spend more time here. It wasn't until the last four, five years that I've felt I can come back for the summer and spend a generous amount of time here again. I get to spend two thirds of the year in Europe and one third here.
What Canadian artist has really caught your ear recently?
There's a lot of great stuff happening in all kinds of genres, so it's hard to narrow it down to one I guess. I run a record label called Beachcoma and we've just signed Arthur Oskan. He gave us an amazing EP and we're really excited to continue that working relationship. It's myself, a German friend and another Canadian friend who runs the label, and Arthur is the first Canadian artist that we've signed besides ourselves. I'm looking forward to seeing where that goes.
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