Jasha Tull, a Brooklyn-based producer, is undoubtedly a man of many talents. Most people know him by his moniker, Space Jesus, but few truly understand the genius behind his creative process. Whether or not you approve of the term “EDM,” you must agree that there is at least a slight tendency to follow strict guidelines of percussion patterns and synth melodies that neatly fit into a classified genre. To paraphrase bluntly, Jasha says f*ck that.
The point of art is to express yourself as an individual, so why would you follow tedious patterns that are set by hundreds of producers before you? You think that would be an easy mindset to live by, yet the world of computer music is consistently over-saturated by copy-and-paste synths and recurring drum lines. That’s where my personal idol Space Jesus comes in – a virtuoso of true unique expression. I’ve tried describing his style to several friends of mine, but nothing can truly depict the feel of his tracks. Their timbres range from chill to heavy, but also from groovy to filthy. The synths range from pure and euphoric to distorted and disgusting. I could go on and on about the one-of-a-kind experience that is a Space Jesus tune, but nothing will truly convey their induced feelings unless you listen to them for yourself.
As you can see, Jasha is truly an inspiration to me, as well as many aspiring artists that are trying to break the mold. That’s why it was such a pleasure to sit down with him and find out what it truly takes to express yourself through music.
How does a Brooklyn native like yourself become so dedicated to breaking away from the mainstream hive, and continue to make such unique beats?
I mean this is the stuff that I’ve always been into. Everything that I’ve been doing, and every time I’ve sat down to write a track, has always been an expression of myself. It does come out different, but that’s just because I’m expressing myself. There are certain guidelines that I loosely follow in music; like ‘OK I want to make something like this genre or that one.’ From there, I just sort of make whatever comes to mind. It’s weird because it leads into very different songs that I’ve made. If you listen to Close Encounters, there aren’t any tracks that you’d put into the same ‘genre,’ and it has a lot of tracks. So I start a new track, and I have to do something else to sort of exercise my brain, you know? I just try to do something different every time.
Was there any artist in particular that inspired you to do that?
Shpongle was super inspiring to me. They’re awesome, and for me – at the time – they really broke me out of a ton of mental constraints. It was like: ‘This can be music, or this could be a main melody of a song.’ It showed me this exploration of world music, which is a big thing for me. I really enjoy music from around the world, and that was a super big influence for me. I learned that it didn’t have to be one pre-determined thing, and you didn’t have to define it.
What were your musical influences growing up?
Honestly, I listened to a lot of Bob Marley, and I listened to a lot of hip-hop. Starting in middle school, I basically just listened to hip-hop. My dad listened to Indian and African music all the time, so I started to vibe with that as well.
Which artists have been your favorite to collaborate with? Was there anything significant or memorable that you learned from working with them?
I really love collabing with Mr. Bill, and every moment of working with him. We’ve been trying to make tracks that have the energy of what a dubstep ‘wobble’ effect has, but also something that’s different and trippy. I get to another level whilst working with him because I can collaborate, or just watch him work, and every moment I’m learning something. He’s a machine. To anybody that wants to learn Ableton, get more familiar with it – or whatever level you’re at – go watch his tutorials and you will get better. I’ll hang out with him, and then the next day still go to watch the tutorials and it helps me immensely. He’s just really good at creating new methods in something that’s so definitive and confined.
You can choose one producer and one vocalist. What’s your dream collaboration?
I definitely want to make a beat for Cam’ron. There are so many producers I want to work with, and I could just name somebody based on where they’re at and what kind of exposure they’d get. I’m going to say Bleep Bloop for this one based on how much I think I could vibe with him. When I do a collab, I do it because I think I can really vibe with someone, so I’d definitely choose Bleep Bloop.
Close Encounters (Jasha’s most recent album) is an undeniable masterwork. What was the creative process like, and how long did it take you to finish it?
Actually, that album was written over the span of two years – for the writing process at least. When I was in New York, there was a two-year period where I said, ‘I’m going to write these tracks here, and then pick the ones that flow towards a bigger album.’ I probably wrote over a hundred tunes in those two years, at least, and chose the ones I thought fit it the best. I actually really wanted to write an album from the beginning. To be honest, that was the first album I was actually proud of. I was happy with the other ones I’ve released, but they weren’t originally written to be part of an album. It was more of, ‘Here’s this song; here’s that song’ and they didn’t really flow together. With Close Encounters, I approached it with the mindset ‘How is this going to fit together at the end?’
EDM has a tendency to bandwagon one genre for a limited period of time, such as the big room, bass house, and jungle twerk fads that have sparked and fizzled over the past couple years. Do you have any advice for producers in order to stay unique and individual?
I think that the idea of a genre should be inspiring to you, giving you a framework for what you want to make. For example, I like footwork a lot. But I’ve gone to see a bunch of footwork sets, and I realized I couldn’t handle more than two hours of this straight, or an hour and a half. It showed me that I could only take it in certain doses, so you should amalgamate different interests and ideas that you have because that’s what is going to define you. Then you’re not just playing into a machine, you’re creating your own method.
Who are some up-and-coming artists we should be looking out for in the future?
I’m going to say PROKO right off the bat. He’s fucking crazy; that dude is nuts *laughs*. We have a collab coming out – that Saturn’s Moon joint. Conrank is really awesome. Esseks is one of my favorites, always, and he makes tracks so quickly. Everything he makes is fucking awesome. Of the Trees is another one, along with Jade Cicada.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2016?
I curated this compilation for Wakaan that’s coming out next week, which has a lot of those up-and-coming artists in there. I spent around six months making this thing happen, so I’m really really proud of it. There were a couple of people who I worked with for it, and I was like ‘OK I like this song, but you need to do this and this to it, and we’ll make it there.’ But there were some people who made it perfectly on their own. It was cool because Liquid Stranger gave me a platform to do it, so I could reach out to people that I didn’t even know. Really it was just what was based off of what I liked, and the artists that I fucked with, so that was awesome.
Check out some more of Space Jesus’ music below, and look out for the Wakaan compilation coming out soon!