Text Milly McMahon
Despite ordering a green tea, Nicolas Jaar devours a small jar of honey with a teaspoon, before leaving his hot beverage to turn cold. Wearing a black leather jacket, tight fitting black jeans and shirt, Nicolas laughs little and talks a lot. Initially stern, softening only when questioned about his previous evening’s activities, spent skyping a girl back home, this 21-year-old Wolf + Lamb signed artist/DJ has been deemed by many a genius. Jaar’s progressive, off kilter electronic constellations arouse the kind of overwhelming anticipation from crowds no climax could ever satisfy. This is not house music. Jaar’s builds don’t drop. First discovered at the age of seventeen, Nico is responsible for his own success. Submitting bedroom-produced track The Student to online community and imprint Wolf + Lamb over four years ago, the Rhodes student of Comparative Literature divides his time equally: managing A3, his side project with friend and fexllow musician Dave Harrington; scouting for signings to his conceptual imprint Clown and Sunset (founded on his nineteenth birthday); keeping up to date with schoolwork; and travelling the world playing parties and gigs from Brazil to Berghain. Opposed to the disposable nature of CDs, Nico has made it his personal mission to make everyone think twice about the mass production of hard-copy single releases. This March sees the release of his independently invented, portable MP3 device, the Prism, created to encourage people to share sounds together. Describing this project as “a piece of art”, he has condensed twelve unreleased songs from himself and other collaborators into a limited number of small silver plastic cubes which will be distributed in music outlets of Nico’s choosing the world over. Professing to only remix the imperfect tracks he wants to improve and citing Pink Floyd, who he now no longer likes listening to, as the most major influences upon his minimal, blue music, Nico is a complex character with intriguing taste.
Tell me about the Prism?
It’s a small little player that has two headphones leads. The whole idea behind this project is all about sharing, it’s about me reaching out to other people. It is a collection of lost memories.
What was the starting point when you first began creating the Prism?
There’s a personal reason and then there’s the fact that I got obsessed at some point, a year ago, with the idea of fusing music and format. I started thinking, ‘How can I put the music out there in some other way,’ so that when I give music to someone, some inherent quality of my music is carried in the object.
Your music comes from a very personal place, so do you feel vulnerable when you’re working with other people?
Not vulnerable, but if I have an idea and that idea comes from a very personal place, the best feeling in the world is when someone adds to that idea, an idea that is better. Collaborating is very much about having a relationship. It’s a very serious thing. Not that all relationships are that way, but a good collaboration needs a crazy amount of honesty and a little bit of magic and cosmicness.
What do you think your music expresses about you?
My current state of mind.