From nomad to settler

Interview with Fairmont

From nomad to settler

24-10-2014 | 07.28

An on-going stereotype about Canadians is that they are extremely friendly and nice people. We feel that we haven't met quite enough Canadians to fully confirm this imagery, but if we had to go by the likeness of Jake Fairley aka Fairmont, we wouldn't think twice about making the trip over the big pond. Fairmont grew up in Toronto and has led a somewhat nomadic existence for quite a few years in a long list of European cities before finally settling down in Barcelona. Since Fairmont will be playing a live set during Black Magic this Saturday, we decided to contact Jake to ask him a few questions about his Canadian roots, the move to Europe and his ever-changing sound.

Hi Jake, nice to meet you. As Fairmont, you’ve been around for a few years now with your first releases dating back to the year 2001. We can still clearly remember your Gazebo release on BC made quite an impact on us. In recent times, you’ve released some stellar work on labels like Beachcoma and My Favorite Robot. How do you feel that you have changed as an artist in those couple of years?
"Obviously the sound is always changed, always evolving. I'm always trying to move forward and do something different from what I've already done. Sometimes this happens in little baby-steps and sometimes it happens more dramatically. I try to just do what I want and not worry about what makes sense from a business point of view. When I put out my last album Automaton, I thought all my old fans would abandon me and I'd have to start from scratch, because It had a very different style than what I had done before. But I did it anyways and was pleasantly surprised that it was a total success with (most of) the people who were already following what I do and whole new audiences as well."

Talking about Beachcoma, it’s a label you’ve founded with your friends Sid Le Rock and Metope in 2009. In the past few years, we’ve seen a growing trend of artists founding and managing their own label. Why do you think this is and what was the driving factor for you to start a label for yourself?

"We started the label mainly as a way to release our own music more easily. We still wanted to release with the various partners we each had, but also wanted a platform that would be quicker and easier. I think this is often what pushes artists to start labels, giving them more control and less complications. What's changed now is that our focus has shifted from ourselves to the artists that we sign. We take our role as label bosses really seriously now and try to help the artists deliver the best music they can and hopefully get noticed in the process. I'm really enjoying it and have a lot of pride in the label."

I can imagine it can be quite stressful owning a label and playing multiple gigs in a week as a performer. How do you maintain a healthy balance between those two jobs?
"I like being busy, so I don't mind having a lot to do. Besides my own music and running the label, I also own and manage a property in Toronto, but I don't find it hard to find time for everything. I'd say putting effort into time management and not giving into stress would be the two things that I have improved in and have made the most difference. Knowing when to take breaks is also crucial, not just from work in general, but even just shifting from one thing to another can be effective. When I'm in Toronto and I'm busy working on my house I let everyone from the music bizz know that I'm off the grid for a week or two. I also never bring my laptop with me to gigs. Weekends are for gigs and nothing else."

I’ve read that you moved from Toronto (your hometown in Canada) to Cologne, Berlin, Barcelona, Rotterdam and now back in Barcelona. Do you think that it’s safe to say that your city-hopping has changed to way you make music and is reflected in the releases you’ve brought out the last couple of years?
"Moving around that much was good for me I think and good for my music, but now that I am truly settled in Barcelona, I'm much happier. Packing everything up every few months and moving was kind of exciting, but I wasn't nearly as productive and I was way more stressed all the time. I lost a lot of time living this way, planning, organizing, moving, setting up a studio and then tearing it down. That all being said my music definitely benefited. I was exposed to a wider range of influences, especially when I moved back to Toronto for a while and went months without hearing or thinking about electronic music. I found that liberating and inspiring for when it was time to come back to Europe and get back on the techno train."

What do you like to do in your free time?
"I try to skateboard as much as possible, at least a couple times a week. My knees are fucked and so my back, so it's not always possible. Skateboarding the thing that I enjoy the most and when I feel the most relaxed and focussed. I have no ambitions related to it, so it's pure fun. My body is the only thing that frustrates me. I quit skating for about 15 years and didn't do any sports in that time. I didn't take care of myself for a long time and I regret that a lot. I mean if you are going to spend a large percentage of your time partying and getting wasted, you have to balance that with some healthy shit. I'm not sure if throwing myself against the concrete is the best choice, but it's better than nothing."

What’s the best thing about playing live sets?
"The feeling when everything comes together and the audience reacts to that. When all the machines get a bit wild, but I manage to keep them in my control and something special happens, that's the best. Knowing that the thing I'm trying to do, the moment I am trying to get to, might fall apart, but then it doesn't. It's not unlike the rush of landing a skateboarding trick. You practice something all the time and always challenge yourself. You are always pushing yourself to be better and some days things fall apart and some days everything you try just works perfectly. If you don't fail you are not taking risks and if you're not taking risks then you're a poser."

In your eyes, what defines a Fairmont track as a Fairmont track?
"Hopefully something special, relevant and hard to describe? If not, I need to get better at describing things or get a new job haha!"

Final question: what are you expecting from your performance here on Saturday?
"Noting beats playing in a great club, than playing in a great club beside artists that you love and respect. Playing with Patrice and Ivan at Trouw is going to be very special for sure. I'm really, really excited."