05 Oct Spotlight: DJ Seinfeld
DJ Seinfeld is an artist who’s hard to pinpoint. He owes his DJ alias to the most popular TV show of the ’90s but behind the DJ Seinfeld moniker you’ll find Armand Jakobsson, a producer whose inspirations stretch far beyond a simple go-to pop culture reference, and someone who’s placing themselves at the forefront of electronic music in the process.
Jakobsson was raised on the Swedish coast in the city of Malmö, formed of 300,000 people and found in the south of the Scandinavian nation. As Jakobsson pondered over what to make of his life throughout his teenage years music wasn’t exactly high up on the agenda, instead choosing to move to Edinburgh at 18 to spend four years in the Scottish capital studying economics. “I’m not entirely sure why I did it, but it seemed like quite a safe choice,” he tells me of his former career path over a crackling phone connection. “But it was way too intense, and I could tell that it wasn’t me. But completing it was like ripping off a band aid, I just had to do it. I thought that after I finished, I could always have it as a back up kinda thing.”
“That’s where I started making music, or at least that’s where I began to take music seriously,” he goes on to say. Surrounded by “people with PHDs in mathematics” and a crowd who were not totally in-tune with his way of thinking, and with a 20th birthday on the horizon at the time, Jakobsson began to question why exactly he was there at all. “That was when I was in my late-teens and in the midst of a massive identity crisis, something that admittedly a lot of people go through at that age,” he says. “I wasn’t really sure where I was going at that time, and from that I figured out that music could be an interesting route to explore.”
It was during this time of existential dread that making music became something of a “therapeutic session” to Jakobsson. Moving to Barcelona two years ago to begin his masters, again in economics, Jakobsson’s time spent tinkering with music software served a greater purpose when the ending of a relationship forced him to occupy his mind. “I went through a break-up when I first moved to Barcelona but afterwards, while I was still completely gutted by it all, something clicked in me,” he explains. “I thought, ‘OK, I need to have some fun with this, otherwise I’m going to lose my mind’. So DJ Seinfeld came as a release from all of that in a way, and from there it took off in a way that I never expected it to. It’s weird to think how something like that has warped into something like this.”
His affinity, or almost borderline obsession with the lives of Costanza, Benez, Kramer & co. are obvious, but there are many facets to the DJ Seinfeld persona that lie beneath his name. On one hand, records named ‘Feel Da Bum Slap’ and ‘Chat Shit Get Luved’ litter his discography. Yet on the other, he expresses a logic in his musical thinking that may sometimes be lost on those who perhaps understand him as just a comedic name. Under the Birds Of Sweden moniker Jakobsson explores the sound of Scandinavian jungle and ‘90s hardcore. And as Rimbaudian, the side-project that brought us the spectacular ‘Letters’ EP in early 2017, Jakobsson takes inspiration from the French surrealist poet Arthur Rimbaud. Does Jakobsson find unlikely influence in these two seemingly opposing sources of divine wisdom, I ask. Does the slap bass theme tune that introduces each episode of Seinfeld offer a deeper, more philosophical teaching that can only be unlocked after spending countless hours in-front of the TV screen? “Not really,” he replies. “I was just binge watching Seinfeld after the break-up and thought ‘DJ Seinfeld’ was a pretty funny way to cheer myself up.”
If DJ Seinfeld was Jakobsson’s way of ‘cheering himself up’, then his music has done the same for listeners across the globe in ways he never imagined. His 2016 single ‘U’ has resonated far beyond a six-minute long SoundCloud clip or an anthemic final track of the night. Scrolling through the comments section on YouTube is a heartwarming experience, something wholly rare on an internet forum where trading insults is par for the course. “Thanks for getting me through hard times,” reads one comment. “This is so beautiful and moving, made with pure emotion at its heart,” tells another, and some are just surprised it came from a producer named DJ Seinfeld. “It honestly makes me so happy that people can listen to my music and have those sort of reactions to it, feel that attachment, and even feel comfortable enough to share their lives with the world,” he says, describing how 500,000+ plays isn’t necessarily the greatest gift to come from the record. “That’s especially true on ‘U’, a song I wrote for people who may have experienced some sort of loss in their lives. I had lots of messages from people telling me how it had affected them, and at times it was a little overwhelming for me to hear, but it was so moving too. Knowing I had created something that had made people feel that way, it was incredible to hear.”
With such an emotion attached to his music, it’s almost lazy to place his music within the umbrella term that’s come to be known as lo-fi. Alongside names like Mall Grab, Ross From Friends and DJ Boring, ‘lo-fi’ has become something of a diversive term between techno purists and newcomers who’re just wanting to bring something different to the table. But as column inches continue to fuel the debate, for DJ Seinfeld the lo-fi sound he’s become associated with is something that came accidentally, but one he’s ready to leave behind. “When I first started producing I wasn’t thinking about what type of music I wanted to make, I needed to put my attention into something productive, and what came from that was this raw, dusty sound that people gave a ‘lo-fi’ tag to,” explains Jakobsson. “But whether it’s music, or art, or literature it’s always easier to create when you feel that there’s a reason to it. Now though, after that period, or even phase, right now I’m not sad. I’m not heartbroken anymore, and I’m not consumed by whatever I was consumed by at that time, so for me I only ever want my music to be happy.”
While his musical output may be changing, DJ Seinfeld is aiming to draw a line under his past life with the imminent release of his debut LP ‘Time Spent Away From U’ on 3rd November. Set to be released on Lobster Fury, the collaborative sub-label between Lobster Theremin and Meda Fury, ‘Time Spent Away From U’ is a culmination of tracks created during his self-described sad phase. An end to that former chapter of his life, or his break-up album, if you will. “A break-up affects you in a lot of different ways, and you ask yourself ‘who am I after this break-up?’” he explains. “So this album is about addressing those questions that arise after such a thing, and this album is something I wanted to be thoughtful about. It’s not a ‘concept’ album, but I wanted there to be something more meaningful behind it…” he pauses. “I want it be an extract from a certain time in my life.” Thankfully, this is a time from Jakobsson’s life that he’s willing to share with us, one that’s sounding spectacular.
DJ Seinfeld performs alongside Andrés, DJ Boring, Adryiano, LK and KGW for Shall Not Fade’s In:Motion takeover on 13th October. Tickets can be found at: https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/996611