Klasey Jones makes music fit to soundtrack the most neon-lit dreamscapes. Teeming melodies, heartfelt vocal samples, heavyweight breakdowns and sharp dynamics all come together, creating something that pulls from wave, R&B, grime, and dubstep yet feels like a sound palette markedly his own.
“Hostile Takeover” is Klasey Jones’ latest EP, and with the trademark melodies and stirring sounds comes a new influence: jungle and breakbeat. It’s all in the rhythms, imbuing his signature style with a club-ready sheen and feeling as though it could be the backdrop to an intense chase scene, where rain crashes on the pavement as the protagonist attempts to make way on their mortal enemy.
Ever since 2020s ‘On The Run’, I’ve been taken in by this blend of sounds, enamoured by the mixture of melody and attention to detail in the background of the tracks. I was keen to find out the process behind Klasey Jones’ music, and in this interview which has been edited for clarity, we spoke about influences, artwork, the wave scene and more.
Artwork by Mizucat
Film scores and anime soundtracks are things that you like. What about those things do you like?
If it comes to soundtracks from films, I always think they’re highly intricate and detailed. I always wanted to have that influence in my music. I don’t really know too much about music theory, and I didn’t take any courses, so I tried by trial and error to get that cinematic influence into [my music].
It’s interesting that you’re talking about the detail. I can hear the detail that you’re inspired by. On “Hostile Takeover” for example, tracks like ‘Majority Shareholder’ and ‘Worst Way’; they’ve got the vocal samples, the peaks, troughs, background melodies alongside the main riffs. How do you bring those various ideas into one coherent song?
‘Majority Shareholder’ changed ten times. Originally it was a different tempo, and it had a different melody. It was basically trial and error with that tune. I did wanna make it a cinematic experience for the intro – because it’s a long intro, like a minute long – if you’ve got a small attention span, that song won’t be great for people [laughs].
That tune correlates quite well to the artwork because it’s got an ongoing story. Now, the music I’m making is trying to link with the story I’m doing, because I’ve got a manga coming out soon.
What’s the journey from the start of an idea to a finished track?
I start with melodies first. I never start with drums. I start with a cool soundscape, drone or pad, and then I get a cool bass riff and then, I build the drums on top. Then I go back and forth. I do like vocals a lot. My previous stuff never had vocals, but now they’re starting to become more prominent. It’s half and half: instrumental and vocal. I didn’t want to do full vocals because I know a lot of people prefer the music to be instrumentals. I spent hours and hours on one track as most people do, it’s just basically trying to get a finished product ready, and that’s so hard because usually when I’m finished with a song, I’m like, ahh I don’t really like this anymore. [laughs]
I know that feeling, it’s similar with the writing. I’ll write something and then maybe for a week I’ll be like oh that’s really sick, I smashed it! Then the week after I’ll be like, I can’t read that again.
I think a lot of creative people are like that. Artistic wise, I think [with] your own work, you eventually want to move on to the next and then try to progress forward. Which is a good thing and a bad thing, I think. I think people are never really happy, but I guess it pushes you on to do better things.
Well, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s finding that balance. The middle point of being happy but also having that side of: I need to push it a bit further. Which leads me in quite well, because I think with your stuff you always add a new influence, but it still sounds like Klasey Jones. On “Hostile Takeover” I can hear the jungle and breakbeat influences, and it does feel darker. I think this one feels a lot clubbier than the stuff you’ve brought out before.
That’s definitely what I was trying to do with this EP, for sure.
Are the jungle and the breakbeats a new influence for you, or is it something you’ve liked for a while?
Yeah! Plastician, funnily enough, got me into that. I don’t really know too much about it, but I was influenced by the drums. The structuring is really cool. I went to see Six Figure Gang once, so they played all jungle, and I’m like, what!? I’ve never heard this in a club, so I’m like, what is this!? [laughs]
So, I got influenced by that without even knowing, if that makes sense.
Yeah. It’s subconscious, isn’t it? You’re going out and seeing Six Figure Gang and it’s bleeding into your process.
Yeah, definitely. I tried to incorporate it a little bit, but not too much. Just little hints of it, I guess.
It was Sooski that did the vocals for ‘Against Myself’. I know you’ve worked with a couple of vocalists before on “Arrival” was it?
Yeah, that was the first time I’d worked with vocals. That was more me learning. I’m a producer, but working with artists is definitely tricky for me, but I’m getting the hang of it.
So Sooski, the good thing about her, she had the vocals recorded already, so she just sent it to me, and I was like, oh great, I can work on this. It’s just an acapella, that’s what I prefer.
What do you think vocals add to your work as a whole?
I guess they add another layer to the track, and I really like female R&B vocals. I can chop them up. So ‘Guiseppe’s Girl’, that’s like a vocal chopped up. That’s what I like on songs.
Moving on to artwork, you mentioned the graphic novel…
I can’t say too much about that. But it’s traditional manga, black and white, and it’s going to follow the life of the character you see in the artwork. It’s going to link with the music as well. The character with the red eyes and glasses, him, that’s Klasey Jones.
So say you’re making a tune like ‘Worst Way’ for example. Do you have an idea of what the artwork would look like for that tune, or would that soundtrack a scene?
No. The artwork, that was before the music. That was just a vision of a cool little scene in my head for a future art. So [“Hostile Takeover” artwork] isn’t part of the story yet. It would be a couple of issues in. It would be if I started to build it more with the comic.
I definitely use my imagination. The music does not help with the art. When I speak to Mizucat, I’m like, can you do this scene? And then she brings it to life. Then the music: I can sort of look at the [artwork] and make the music to that. It sort of goes both ways.
Like a midpoint between having a tune and a brief for Mizucat, she brings the image to life and you’ve got that artwork to go from in future.
Yeah. Then I can build the EP from there.
So when you’re building the rest of the EP you’re taking inspiration from that first artwork?
Yeah. It definitely helps. Without it, I can make the ideas but they’re not fully fledged. It’s good to get the artwork, then I can have it on the wallpaper when I’m making tunes.
You were talking about Plastician before with the jungle influence. Obviously, he signed “Foreign Buyers Club” to Terrorhythm. What things has Plastician passed on to you while you’ve known him as an artist?
He’s helped a lot. Without him, there would probably not be such an artistic vision. I had the idea I wanted anime’s for my artwork, but he said that’s a great way to brand your sound. He found an artist, and then he said, you’ve gotta keep this continuous. He basically brought my idea to life, and he’s told me so many things that have helped me. Even musically, he definitely helped me learn structuring for the DJ world.
Previous music of mine was not DJ friendly at all. But now, they are a little bit more structured in a sense. He’s a legend. I’d say If anyone wanted to work with him or try to get tips, he’s the guy.
Your music is contextualised as wave. How do you feel about that? It seems like an online scene.
‘Cement’ on “Foreign Buyers Club”, everyone was like, this is a wave track. I was like, what the hell is wave? I didn’t know what it was! [laughs]
I didn’t really associate too well at the start. I wasn’t trying to be in my own lane. I didn’t get the sound. I started to grow onto it, and I was like, this is a really cool community. It was the only community that appreciated my sound.
[Wave] is starting to blow up now, across seas. America. Cause America loves that harder sound, and there’s a new thing called hard wave. It’s like a trancey, sort of trap element, and it’s blowing up in America.
To round up and finish off, what would you like people to take from “Hostile Takeover”?
There’s more to come. There’s a story and a universe I’m building, and [Hostile Takeover] will start to give an idea of what’s to come in the future. And sound-wise, as well. I always change and diversify, but I still keep to my traditional roots. I hope people aren’t too annoyed when every EP sounds different [laughs]. I’ve got two singles out, and they’re so different to this EP! But I’m happy with them, and they fit into the retro-futurism and 80s synthwave [vibe].
So “Hostile Takeover” is a new beginning?
Yeah! A new beginning, for sure.
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