When it comes to genuinely thrilling underground sounds, Jean Pierre is one of the most famous personalities to emerge from the US for some time. A native of New York, he now resides in Miami, a city that feels at ease with his own eclectic sound palette. A regular in the city’s best clubs, his reputation is nonetheless now more a global than a local one, so it’s only fitting that he’s recently kicked off his label, Pakate, which aims to showcase his sounds to a wider audience. Ahead of the label’s debut release – FLETCH’s awesome Actin Up EP which comes with brilliant remixes via Jean Pierre himself and Franco Cinelli, we decided to put some questions to a man who’s very much on the rise…
How are you? How have you managed to stay positive over the past while?
I’m good. Things are starting to pick up and it looks like we all can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Markets are opening up slowly but surely and it seems that people are more than ready to get back to it. I’ve stayed positive by just diving into my music and working on the label (Pakate). Despite the downside of COVID, it has been very rewarding to be able to focus on my craft 100% for the past year. The results are clear in my work.
Did you view the past year as a chance to reset things a bit? Was it hard to turn a negative into a positive?
Absolutely. I really took the time to focus on some things I really didn’t have the time to do while regularly touring. I opened up my studio to a number of producers who had either visited or moved to Miami during the last few months and the results have been very interesting to say the least. My team and I have been resourceful in finding new avenues to explore with touring off the table and it has created some very unique opportunities. At first, COVID felt very crippling, but in the end I see the time off as a blessing. It allowed me to really work with the blinders on.
A lot of parties have been going on regardless during the pandemic in Miami. What’s been your thoughts on that?
It’s really hard to say either way. I know for many promoters and DJs like myself, this is our full time occupation. So, I am not going to negatively comment on anyone trying to put food on the table. That said, I have seen many promoters go out of their way to offer events to patrons that are within the guidelines set by the state. I have seen many events that are responsibly done and enforce social distancing. If a clubber wants to go out and take that risk it’s a personal decision and as long as the promoter is doing their job thoroughly and enforcing the various guidelines, I have no problem with it.
Talk to us a bit about Pakate; why was now the right time to launch a label? Is it something that had been on your mind for some time?
As a DJ/producer, you start out trying to align yourself with a number of bigger artists and their imprints because it offers you a certain level of exposure. For me, I’ve been releasing on a number of respected labels for some time and not that I have an issue with some processes these labels use, I just felt that the waiting and scheduling became very difficult for my releases to be up to date with my current sound. As a producer, I am always evolving. I’ve always wanted to start a label and with all this time, I was able to put my head together with my team and come up with a concept that really encompasses all the things I would want in a label. Everything came together at the right time.
You chose Fletch to kick things off. Why Fletch? And how did you get in touch with him in the first place?
I was introduced to FLETCH while visiting Ibiza in 2019 by a mutual friend named Reme. He had shared a track called ‘Lookin’ with me that FLETCH had produced and I asked him for the file right away. I began playing it out regularly. I played it during Music On while opening for Carl Cox and again at a Cuttin’ Headz event in London at the Tobacco Docks and the record really went off. FLETCH then reached out to me to thank me for my support and we hit it off. We began sharing music more often and I began to include his music in my sets more and more. As time went on I identified these two records as good fits for Pakate. The timing was perfect as my team and I were putting the finishing touches on the label concept. It’s exciting to see FLETCH grow as a producer and I’ve been supporting his work for some time. I am very happy to be releasing these records. I am sure you will see his name quite a bit more as time goes on with Pakate and some big name labels.
Franco Cinelli is a real minimal master who did another remix. What’s your relationship like with Franco and what was your take on his remix?
I have the utmost respect for Franco Cinelli. I have been a fan of his music for a long time and felt that he would really nail this remix. I reached out to him with the pieces for the original record and the rest came together pretty easily. We talk quite frequently, especially throughout COVID. He has kept me up to speed with the difficult situation in Argentina. He has been dealing with quite a bit down there. Franco is set to play back to back with Ricardo Villalobos at the forthcoming Unum Festival and I’m excited that he has the opportunity to travel and play again. He is a really cool dude and everything musically has flowed pretty easily considering we have yet to meet in person yet.
With a remix like that, are you ever worried the artist won’t deliver? As label owner, do you steer people a certain way? Or give them free reign to remix as they please?
If I request a remix from an artist, there is a specific reason why I did so. Truth of the matter is, this label is really an opportunity for me to go out there and feature artists that I really admire and the work they are doing. I think that if I were to meddle with what they send into the label by steering musical direction that would be contradictory to why I was signing them in the first place. Every artist I work with is chosen for a specific reason. I trust that they will deliver. If I felt they could not, I wouldn’t ask for a remix.
How much has the pandemic and lockdown affected the style of the sounds on the label? Or has it?
COVID hasn’t affected the Pakate sound since the majority of these tracks were made for the dance floor and were tested during many different events before the pandemic hit.
In terms of your aims with the label, what are you thinking? I want to release my own productions as well as new up and coming talent. Mixed in with established veterans that I respect and admire. This is my vision.
My goal with the label is to feature a very mature grooving sound. Something that works in the more intimate rooms but can also be played on the larger stages. I would say that a lot of my inspiration comes from many of the more well known imprints out of Germany and Romania but also will feature attributes from labels I’ve worked with in the past. I hope that this label can become a refuge for industry leaders and up and comers to produce something different and unique from their regular output.
And how much does Miami influence the music you make, the vibe of the place, the atmosphere, the culture?
Waking up in Miami every day definitely offers boundless inspiration. I would say especially now is a very interesting time for Miami. A lot of people have been visiting or moving into the area with it being completely open. So, many artists have been coming to play and the scene is really busy. I would say the mixture of normalcy, the sunshine and the beach definitely influences my work. It’s much easier to wake up inspired to work with the warmth and vibe of this city.
What gear did you use, do you care about the tools you use for your remix?
During the pandemic I invested a lot of money in new equipment such as a new 32 channel mixing board that now allows me to record multiple instruments at the same time. This has been very useful because now I can jam with numerous people and record everybody individually. You can easily capture special moments during a performance and edit them in Ableton. I really love the Elektron Digitone, the Analog Rytm II as well as my Native Instruments Maschine that I use daily. I recently started getting into the modular world as well with the Squid Sample by Busy Circuits which is now my go to in every session. I love analog gear and working outside the box. Moments of inspiration come and go but the machines help guide you in the process, at least in my world!
Will you do albums, parties, vinyl, eventually around the album? And can you tell us a bit more about what we can expect from it over the next while?
Our short term plan is to release two more records this year. The imprint will remain vinyl only for now. Eventually, we will roll out a digital component of the imprint, but I am not looking to rush anything. Pakate is really centered around the quality not quantity model. The label is not going to be bound to a traditional label model that calls for releases each month. If I feel that we are at a place where we can sustain that frequency while still upholding quality, then we may do that. But for now, we are taking a one step at a time approach. We want to treat each release with care. We have plans to eventually produce some events featuring our artists and have some preliminary ideas brewing currently. But for now, our full focus is PAKATE001. We have some really great names lined up for future releases, some of which include: The Martinez Brothers, Argenis Brito, Miguelle, Jesse Calosso, and David Gtronic along with myself. We also have some surprises that I cannot mention yet, but it will be big.
Fletch’s Actin’ Up EP (ft. Remixes by Franco Cinelli & Jean Pierre) is out 18th June via Jean Pierre’s Pakate label. Buy/listen to the release here
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