I first discovered Chicago quartet Beach Jesus when they teamed-up with fellow Windy City artists Hurt Everybody and Noah Sims for “Hawaii.” I quickly found myself listening to their first tape, Two Week Vacation, hooked on their wavy sound. Since their debut, the group has released a slew of tracks, as well as their latest collaborative project, This Time Last Year. From the moment you press play, it’s easy to pick-up how the group’s vocalists, Chandy and Jommis, and producers, Jaro and SEER, emit a natural chemistry and synergy on each track.
Today marks the release of Jaro’s solo project, La Rouge. The five-track EP features a stacked line-up of talent with guest appearances from Sean Deaux of THEMpeople, Cae Jones, Beach Jesus, Aura, and Elias Abid. Jaro also draws inspiration from a few throwbacks, sampling Ciara on “unlike you,” as well as Justin Timberlake and Sisqo on “be my love.” His echoing production permeates throughout, seamlessly blending elegant piano melodies with bursts of high-energy synths and percussion. Each arrangement delivers a refreshing, often cinematic experience, adding another set of beautifully-crafted productions to his portfolio.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jaro on his musical background and new EP:
Thanks for taking the time for this interview! For those unfamiliar, please introduce yourself.
Thank you so much for having me… I’m Jaro, a producer from Chicago.
When did you start making music? Did you always want to be a producer?
I guess I’ve been playing music most of my life. I grew up learning the piano and guitar in the church, but I didn’t really get into producing music until a few years ago. I was always interested, but the idea of producing on a computer really intimidated me. I was going through a break-up at the time and it took me to a dark place for awhile. That was when I decided to focus my time and energy on music. It became an escape for me. It became my drug.
You’re also part of Beach Jesus. How did you guys link up?
Once I started making music, Jommis was really the first guy to rock with my sound. A little while later, I met Chandler separately at a show. A few days after, he hits me up saying how much he liked my SoundCloud at the time. He came through the studio one day, right after Jommis and I were finishing up a session. It’s really not that interesting of a story, but we all ended up making one song together and one thing led to another and we somehow ended up with an album worth of material before the name “Beach Jesus” even existed. SEER happened to be working at the same studio as me, so he was around a lot of our sessions and eventually we all just started working together.
How would you describe your sound?
I have no idea. I was hoping you could tell me. I feel like I’m influenced by a lot of different sounds, especially when it comes to music that I listen to. I’d like to imagine that I draw bits and pieces from all those avenues of inspiration, whether consciously or not, and somehow throw it together on a canvas. A little electronic, a little hip hop, a little indie, a little future, a little jazz, a little trap. I think somewhere between all those things.
Congrats on your new EP! Tell us about how the project came together.
I think love is a crazy thing. When you’re falling in love for the first time, it changes you as a rational person. When you find yourself steady in love, it changes you as an independent person. And of course, when you lose that love, it changes you as a sane person. I found myself lost for a long time, constantly wrestling with these demons. I refer to it as the red phase. Eventually, time passes but it never truly leaves you. It becomes a part of your existence and you just learn how to keep them at bay. I guess I just wanted to encapsulate that entire experience with this EP.
How is your creative process different when you’re working on your solo tracks as opposed to collaborations/working with Beach Jesus?
Mainly creative control and direction. With any band or group, there will always be different perspectives and opinions on thing. Having full creative control is nice, but also limiting. It’s nice to have ideas to bounce off of people sometimes. Which is why the project features a lot of my talented friends, including Beach Jesus. Major shout outs to Neon Pajamas, Sean Deaux, Aura (of Iris Temple), Cae Jones and Elias Abid for their contributions to the project. I’m super honored and humbled to be working with such incredibly talented people. I definitely would not have been able to get across the same message without their help.
Do you have any advice for the aspiring artists out there?
Man, I’m an aspiring artist that needs advice. Don’t ever undervalue your self worth.
Kanye, Drake, Sufjan Stevens. Probably in that order.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
If I’m still happy with making music by the end of the year, then that’s all I need.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t ever lose your light.