Denver Kush Club and Compose Yourself Magazine are proud to present our first official Artist of the Month, ProJect Aspect! Once a month, we’ll be inviting a talented local artist to take a tour of the DKC grow and sit down for an interview to talk about their past, present, and future in the music industry.
A veteran to Denver’s electronic music scene, Jay Jaramillo, aka ProJect Aspect, has been paving his own sonic path for over 10 years. A founder of the Mile High Sound Movement, along with cofounder and MC/producer Kruza Kid, Jaramillo’s collective of artists includes recognizable names in the scene such as Lucid Vision, Homemade Spaceship, and Funkstatik. Jaramillo’s diverse production style combines elements of hip-hop, experimental bass, classical music, and everything in-between. His recent single “Recognize Real” showcases his range of abilities and includes rap samples, glitchy bass sections, wavy melodies, and his signature eerie, melancholy chord progressions.
As the first official DKC x Compose Yourself Artist of the Month, we invited Jaramillo to tour the grow and have a conversation with us about where his project started and where he sees it going. Check out our interview with Jaramillo below and spin his latest single “Recognize Real.”
So, starting at the beginning. What was your first introduction to producing music?
Jay: I started playing guitar when I was ten years old. My dad bought me one; I never even asked for it. He was just like ‘here, take this.’ He had been playing his whole life, so he figured I would like it. I started really enjoying it and taught myself how to play; I never really took lessons. I was in and out of bands since I was twelve years old, and at the end of high school, I started hanging out with my homie Zack. He had an iMac with Garage Band and this program Reason – we were roommates right after high school, and I would always get on his computer and just make beats. I don’t know what initially got me into actually producing; I think getting into hip-hop and hearing those kinds of beats that were made on a computer really intrigued me. So, I started making beats on his computer which led to us starting a band where he rapped and I would play guitar. In 2008, I bought Ableton Live which is the program that I (currently) create music on. It was all history from there; I already knew what I wanted. I was never a DJ, I never really played other people’s music. I always created my own stuff. Ever since then, I’ve been building on this whole live set that you see today, and it’s the same live set that I started over ten years ago. Just building, building, building. It’s all original music, and I create all the tracks and export them into pieces so that I can manipulate them all separately. And it’s just like a really unique live experience that I don’t think a lot of people are doing.
Initially, I saw the band STS9; that was my first electronic music experience. Like I said, I’ve never been a DJ. I was never into techno, or electronic music, never went to raves when I was a kid. But I heard of Sound Tribe because I was starting to get really into jam bands like String Cheese and Umphreys. This was in high school, and as soon as I saw Sound Tribe, I was blown away. I was like, ‘Wow, these guys are really killing it.’ It’s like a fusion of electronic and instrumental jam – this is right up my alley. They started touring more, and they would start bringing in support acts like The Glitch Mob and Bassnectar – all these acts that that I still love and follow today. And that really clicked in my mind when I discovered them, so I started following all of them on Myspace. That stuff really inspired me to to make dubstep and bass music, just like weird electronic music that I had never even thought that I would be into. I didn’t even know it existed. I discovered it, and it was like ‘Wow, this is hybrid hip-hop on steroids.’ I was really intrigued by this electronic scene. That’s really what got me into it. Ever since then, I’ve just been grinding away, trying to make the next best thing.
Very cool. So going back to when you first picked up Ableton in 2008 – can you talk a little bit about how your live setup has changed over the years?
Jay: So the first set that I ever that I ever performed in Ableton – I had my guitar, keyboard and I was doing some live looping. After that show, I realized that it was too much to put on my plate at that time because I was just starting. I wanted to get the production aspect down. No pun intended. I wanted to really learn Ableton and get my beats as tight as I possibly could before I started bringing in other stuff. Initially, I wanted to do the one man band thing. Keller Williams was a big inspiration for me back in the day. He always had all these instruments that he would live loop on stage, and I loved it. And then Eoto came out. Keller Williams was actually a big inspiration for Eoto. I wanted to be the solo Eoto. That was like my initial idea. But then, like I said, I just really wanted to dive into the production, and I wanted to get better at making beats. So I started producing more, just like cranking out tunes, and I had a lot of help from friends who gave me virtual instruments and things that would like help the production quality. As soon as I felt comfortable with the sound quality of the beats that I was making, I started to put out albums and started bringing back the guitar. I started using two computers; I sink them together via ethernet. They’re both on Ableton, one of them runs all my beats and all the sounds, and the other one is strictly for the guitar. The main reason that I have to use two computers is there’s mad lag and latency if I just use one because I have thousands upon thousands of clips in the live set. I bring in this other computer and that enables me to use a whole separate Ableton template to use my guitar and affect my guitar with a touch of a knob. That’s been really fun to bring back in the mix. It just makes the live experience that much more in your face. I really want people to notice that I’m not just pressing play up there. Not just with the guitar, but with the whole live set up. Everything is done on the fly; any track that I play live is never going to sound the same again twice. It’s always going to be different.
Tell me a little about the birth of Mile High Sound Movement and how it’s grown over the years.
Jay: That’s a long story, but I’ll try to condense it. My homie Zack, Kruza Kid, we went to high school together and were roommates right out of high school. We’re super passionate about music, he’s an MC, he’s one the most talented MCs I know and his vocals are just unmatchable. He is crushing it right now. So we were roommates after high school, and we were having trouble getting shows because we were just starting out and it was hard to make connections. We just kind of came up with this idea – let’s throw our own shows. We started the Mile High Sound Movement, and that was the name from the beginning. We started doing shows at these hole-in-the-wall venues in Denver just to try to get a step up. And eventually we got in touch with Scott from Cervantes. He hooked us up with our first show there, and it was It was pretty successful. We’re really passionate about being able to bring numbers out. We were trying to prove that to the venues. We wanted to prove that we have the friends that that would support us whenever we threw the shows. They kept letting us throw shows, and we started adding more people to make our collective. It was us wanting to throw shows and showcase everybody’s artistic talents. We would bring live painters, that was back when we could have fire spinning at Cervantes, people sold jewelry, we would always have vendors and whatever artistic medium that you could bring to the table, we wanted you to be included. That was always the idea of mine, including everybody’s art and making it into one big showcase. We did that for a while and we’re still doing that today, but we really wanted to turn it into a record label because we not only wanted to start throwing our own shows, but we wanted to start releasing our own music. Eventually, we brought in our friend Chris Bachman who is now managing the label and the entire MHSM. He’s the head honcho right now. He keeps everything organized, puts everything together. He has really stepped it up; he made it into an LLC and has really taken it and made it into a brand. It’s the step up that we needed. He took it by the horns, I’m really happy about that and really grateful. So we turned into a record label and now we’ve done something like sixty releases up to this point. We’re just trying to keep it going with the record label and trying to put out quality music from our homies. We want to let this family grow and keep it like organic. Keep it local. We really want it to be this this collective that is recognized throughout the world. Something that everyone can kind of pitch in and be a part of.
So tell me a little bit about your latest single.
The song’s called “Recognize Real”. I just released an EP called Dragons not too long ago. It’s a little bit on the heavier side. Before that, I released an LP called SYNC ABOUT IT. That was more on the melodic side. So after putting out two albums, I want to push singles for now, at least for a little bit, just to keep it consistent and you keep the music fresh. I’m definitely gonna work on a new album eventually. But this single has a little bit of everything. I feel like after ten years, I’m still coming into my own sound. Trying to be myself as much as possible. You know, obviously I’m always gonna have influences that influenced the music I make, but I feel like this track is really the culmination of everything that I’ve worked on in the past ten years. It all binds together to create this journey of the track. I’m really happy about where this one ended up because it’s going to be a platform for the music that I’m gonna keep making. It definitely has that classic Project Aspect vibe. I think you have to check it out for yourself to analyze it. But I’m really excited. I’ve played it live a couple of times and people really enjoy it.
Very cool. Tell me about what shows you have coming up.
Jay: I’ve got a handful of things going on that I’m really excited about. I’m playing at One Vibration festival which is close to Durango. I think it’s their third year doing this festival. We played there last year and it’s really cool, there’s a real family vibe. They’ve got a great sound system. So that’s one that I’m really stoked about. That’s actually coming a couple weeks, and it’s my only Colorado show so far that I’ve booked this year. So I’m gonna make that a really special show, probably gonna bring the guitar and play some heartfelt tens. We also got booked for Electric Forest this year, which is a huge milestone for all of us. I think five or six of us got booked for it from MHSM. We’re doing a silent disco showcase out there and really excited for that. Ronny and I played a renegade set at the Grassroots tent, two nights I think. It was really awesome because it was right outside of the festival entrance and people would literally just stop and rage. I honestly got so much feedback just from playing those renegade sets; people hit me up on Facebook like ‘when you coming to Electric Forest again?’ It was really cool to gain new interest just through that. So I’m really excited to see what happens when we’re actually booked. We’ve got a few shows leading up to that, playing in Minneapolis and in Sioux Falls and Fargo. We haven’t been to those areas a couple years. So it will be good to go back there and make some noise before Electric Forest. I think that’s pretty much it right now. I’m planning my next Denver show. We’ve been planning it for past six months or so. Whether it’s like a smaller venue headline show or a bigger type of direct support show, we’re just really strategizing making the next Denver show very special. We want to make a statement; I want to show the Denver scene particularly like the venues and promoters that I’m still making noise out here killing it, and I’m just getting started. So this is still just the beginning. You know, even though we’ve been at it for so long, I’m still figuring out what I’m comfortable with, and it’s going to be a fun next couple of years; I’m excited to break out the new flavor.
Is there anything kind of like off the top of your head that like you’d want to add?
Jay: Shoutout Unlimited Gravity, shoutout Kruza Kid, shoutout Sliv Life, Chris Bachman, Mile High Sound Movement, everybody on the MHSM – Homemade Spaceship, Lucid Vision, Funkstatic, all the homies that are crushing it right now. I just want to tell everyone to keep at it. And we’re all supporting each other in this, and never forget where you came from. Shout out to Denver Kush Club and Compose Yourself too. Hope that we can keep collabing like this and keep this relationship going tough, and keep an eye out for ProJect Aspect.