The lovely people at Cascine have asked us to premiere Jensen Sportag‘s Wet Mix, a companion to their phenomenal Pure Wet EP. The Wet Mix features the essential themes from Pure Wet, recast in detailed miniatures and varnished in high gloss for a sound and feel that’s ornately wet. I was given the opportunity to shoot Elvis and Austin a few questions while they were in the final stages of their mix.
Dipped in Dollars: How did Jensen Sportag come into being? Have you guys always been making music together?
Elvis: We started playing music together sometime in 1995. In High School. I skated with Austin’s brother and one day I noticed in their basement a folding table set up with a Boss drum machine, I think an Alesis fx processor, Korg Prophecy and the ole Tascam 4 track. Turns out he was making very overdriven AFX type stuff. I was making De La Soul beats with no rapper and some silly midi prog jazz. We started talking music…he had this rave tape, Thee-o Sunset On Venus. We must’ve done mushrooms that night we listened to it. It became the blueprint for the next several years of collaborating. There would be a flood of dance microgenres rise in the late 90s and we got into them ALL. We could trace everything back to something on that tape.
Austin: Yeah and we just made tracks for laughs for the longest. Simulating our favorites. Like since we were using PCs and samples it wasn’t real anyway so why not just make it weird or cheesy or obnoxious. Eventually we were getting back into more musical stuff and gradually we started needing to sing and play guitar and write more melodies to keep up the fun. That’s when the joke got kinda real.
DID: Have you thought about how you will play these songs live?
A: It is the subject of constant conversation. We have done these live and they worked great in a bedroom venue, very intimate and interactive but bringing them to a stage…? Our way of making music is more like gardening than performance so a live show would be a seperate persuit for us. We are both good at keys but we have to learn a new way to play all of our songs because they often end up transposed different from how they were recorded and it can get confusing. We plan to keep it tight, not adding more than 1 member but we know we couldn’t be happy sacrificing too much of the texture so we’ll be both be singing, playing, sweating, ladling water onto hot stones. All of that.
DID: You guys are clearly influenced by late 80′s/early 90′s r&b and synth pop, what are three of your favorite songs from that era?
JS: Ironically we got into a lot of this stuff eventually through the back way, through researching house samples. So here’s 3 of our favorite sampled tracks and the tracks that sampled them:
Pointer Sisters – Automatic / Banana Kru(Basement Jaxx) – Automatic
A-ha – Dream Myself Alive / Junior Sanchez – Dream Myself Alive
The Crusaders – Street Life / I:Cube – Disco Cubism
DID: How has signing with a NY/London-based label impacted your progression?
JS: Actually it’s been exactly as planned. They’ve commissioned the album we want to be making right now. They’ve been great ears and encourage us to embrace sincerity. They’ve also done a nice job with the introductions so now we’re about to throw the most sincerely whimsical jig of the year.
DID: What software/hardware are you using?
E: I’m always sketching in Live and Austin still uses his MPC2000. If one of us comes up with a jam the other likes we’ll bust out the all sounds onto separate tracks in Cubase which we use as a big strong cutting board. Then we start to work out a skeleton for the arrangement cutting and pasting and repeating and deleting and as it fleshes out the skeleton bends and rearranges itself. We accessorize heavily with repurposed original samples, old vocal bits played in Simpler, and layers of vSTi’s. We’ve created over our long collaboration a very large sound and loop library. We’re big self samplers. Self Cutters.
DID: How do you feel about remixes? Is there any particular artist that you’d love the opportunity to remix?
A: Writing new music against a finished vocal always yields interesting results for us and is a particular delight of Elvis’. Also it can be a good experiment in style. We like to just let the vocal remind us of something and go for it. Would be into remixing Trey Songz, El Guincho, Ford & Lopatin, Keyshia Cole – could make it rain honey with her voice.
DID: Was there a particular song from Pure Wet that you loved to remix?
E: Uh, we’re gonna intentionally misunderstand the question here and say we’d love a Breakbot remix of Jareux.
A: Yeah in the Wet Mix, the 4th theme is our “catalog shoppin” remix of Jareux. Very JC Penney.
DID: What are you guys planning to do next? Are there any live shows coming up this summer?
JS: We are in the midst of writing a new record now. A collection of willful naivetes and romantic tragedies. We will be debuting our live show in winter.
DID: Where do you think the musical climate be by this time next year?
JS: We’re callin for a cold year in New Jack City.
Jensen Sportag – The Wet Mix by CASCINE