Often shrouded in the shadows of musical ingenuity, the secluded enigma that is John 00 Fleming has carefully established an empire of passion driven sounds that continuously fortifies the underground scene while subconsciously rebelling against the status quo. Throughout his 27 year career as a DJ, John has masterfully performed in world class venues such as Godskitchen, Digital Society and Ministry Of Sound, as well as headlined countless international festivals that include Exit, Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland. While maintaining his highly successful Global Trance Grooves radio show and his groundbreaking J00F Recordings label, he has compiled over 30 different mix compilations and acquired a combined total of 10 million album sales, which also include his personal artist albums, Nine Lives and One.Hundred.Ten WKO. Currently, he is producing TV and film scores for BBC, Universal, NBC and Warner and has graciously worked alongside the legendary Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. To this day, Fleming refuses to be pigeon holed into a specific genre or style, and plays an entire spectrum of various sounds such as Psy Trance, Techno, Breaks and Deep Progressive. His self proclaimed ‘J00F‘ sound can best be described as richly dark and complex Trance music that seeks to abandon all forms of conventionality to discover new, unforeseen paths of innovation.
In many interviews over the years, John has proudly proclaimed his passion as a DJ and his constant fascination of sophisticated aural stimuli results in highly expansive sets that showcase his dexterous abilities. By implementing a slow, smoldering groove throughout each hour, he awakens a hidden aura of power that induces fans to become one with the music. Inspired by the success of his breathtaking BBC Radio One Essential Mix in 2010, John decided to curate his love of DJing into an ambitious international tour entitled J00F Editions. Now in its eighth year, his enthralling event brand has featured some of the best, forward thinking artists of this generation, including Alex Di Stefano, Airwave and Christopher Lawrence. The success of his massive event series has now inspired him to create the first J00F Editions mix compilation for 2014, which stands as the largest compilation that iTunes has ever sold. John has keenly stated that this compilation, “[is the] deepest, darkest and most experimental album I’ve ever assembled and mixed.” By focusing on raw, organic music and acute directional skills, this pioneering compilation systematically deconstructs the currant dance scene and slowly reworks it into a metaphysical force of nature that artistically thrives on its intimate relationships between the music and the listener.
We got a rare chance to interview Mr. Fleming on his recent release and on the state of the currant Trance scene in America, as well as uncovered the unique philosophies on his own personal sound. Keep on reading afterwards for our review and official links to purchase.
John 00 Fleming’s J00F Editions Interview For Your EDM
1. I’ve been waiting a long time to get a chance to talk with you John. Please tell us a little more about yourself to those who may not know you.
I’m a super passionate DJ and musician that has a distinctive love for the more specialist side of the electronic scene.
2. In the past you’ve been very vocal about Trance’s identity and the future that it holds. While you’ve connected the genre with themes of money, classification and branding, you’ve also stated that Trance is making a comeback. Globally, where do you see things now for 2014?
You can’t hide the fact that it’s connected with money. It reminds me of a game of dare; how much cash does it take until you do something that you really don’t want to do, (like walk naked into a supermarket)? There comes a point in an artist’s career where that choice has to be made. Some will do it, but others won’t because they want to hold onto their personal integrity. A strange analogy I know, but I’ve seen so many producers/DJs sell out and leave a sound that they’ve built to chase the BIG pay checks in the commercial world. For me, no amount of money will make me leave my love for the specialist sound. Honestly, I would rather hang up my headphones then be a puppet who cashes in while feeling extremely unhappy in the process.
Trance is making a comeback for sure, but you need to look around and discover the plethora of wonderful music we’re surrounded with.
3. As many are starting to realize, the EDM phenomenon in America is starting to tail off as more people are branching into more specialized sounds. As a result, our underground scene is quickly expanding. How has America impacted your career in recent months?
I’ve been playing in the US since 1990, so I know that scene very, very well. The US roots are firmly planted into the underground scene and is arguably responsible for the electronic scene we know today. Natural musical cycles come and go, and when a commercial storm hits, this ultimately fuels the underground scene because the specialists start to distance themselves from conventionality. For years, the states used to call dance music ‘Techno’, but it’s now referred to as ‘EDM’; a term manufactured by corporate companies looking to market to the masses.
The underground scene is becoming very healthy again in the US; all off the back of people tiring of EDM and wanting something more serious.
4. Let’s switch gears now. Many of your ideologies and productions remind me of similar mindsets by Avant-Garde composers such as John Cage, Charles Ives and Krzysztof Penderecki, who all had an emphasis on personal expression. Have the Avant-Garde had any impact on your career and/or personal style?
Not at all, I just do my own thing. I stick to the ethos of what I believe in musically and have gained a lot of support over that time.
5. You’ve stated you only create music to represent yourself as an artist and not as a tool to market your career. Do you think that today’s producers are losing music’s original intention and if so, what could be done to help stem the tide? How important is musical integrity to you?
Some of these guys say they’re moving things forward, but I disagree. Mainstream radio stations and MTV only play vocal tracks with big hooks, so many artists are pandering to this style of writing and become completely restricted with radio friendly songs, (hence why all their tracks have vocals). It’s basically cut & paste music for the masses.
6. You have a new compilation entitled J00F Editions that’s out now on J00f Recordings. Tell us a little more about it from your own perspective in terms of influences and personal thoughts.
I’ve lost track of how many compilations I’ve compiled and mixed, but I’m always restricted to 80 minutes per CD. I decided to take things into my own hands and have full control on my own label and embrace technology to create a full, 4-hour mix. We’re all walking around with PDAs, iPads, wireless networks and Aux connections in our cars, so this is the perfect format. It’s sad to see CD’s go, but I honestly see no future for them.
7. Within the last couple of years, many artists have found themselves pressured by their fans to produce and perform one specific genre, which would naturally suffocate a musician’s creativity over time. Yet, you are not tethered to any labels. What is your perspective on this and how does this relate to your compilation?
I’m a traditional DJ that has an open pallet of music. I’m not restricted in today’s world where marketing machines are selling ‘their’ sound or to the label they are associated with. It’s always a surprise what my next single will be. Will it be breaks, Techno, Trance, Progressive, or more? Who knows?!
My mix compilation is testament to this and gives a true reflection of what music I cover when playing a set. I need these musical tools to keep the dance floor interesting.
8. Many have discovered that your biggest influences were Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dreams, whose futuristic Sci-fi music fascinated you as a child. With such unusual timbres in your productions, what are your philosophies on textures, colors and the search for sounds?
They still do today. These guys create their own sounds from scratch by synthesis; thus creating their own unique mark. Today we live in a world of presets, templates and copy cat mentality–everyone is starting to sound the same. I’d much rather be creative; this is what gives me a massive buzz in the studio and keeps me deeply in love with the creative process. I can spend hours upon hours making sounds; it’s addictive!
9. It seems that the entire concept of J00F Editions is a return to the classic culture of club life with an emphasis on long, expressive sets. What are your thoughts on a true musical journey? Is it a dying art or has the beginning of the decade seen a resurgence of passion driven DJ’s?
It pains me to say, but it’s starting to become a lost art. Producers who make a few hit records suddenly become ‘DJs’; a term that’s loosely used these days. It takes years to acquire the true art of being a DJ. There’s been very few truly skilled DJ’s that’s broken through in the last decade, but with the recent resurgence in the underground scene, I think things will soon change.
10. I’ll leave you with the last word. Say anything that comes to mind to our readers.
Many people always keep asking me for advice, it’s why I’ve always taken time to write many blogs and tutorials. These have now transpired into a massive, real world tutorial in the form of 140 seminars and tutorials from the world’s biggest players and manufacturers in the music industry. I’m a part of the team behind the UK’s first ever music conference next month and I encourage readers to attend.
The Brighton Music Conference: April 11th & 12th (http://www.brightonmusicconference.co.uk).
J00F Editions Review by Andrew Quigley (Tracklist and purchase links down below)
First time listeners to the J00F sound are going to be taken aback at the sheer number of creative liberties that John fearlessly implements. While many fans of EDM are accustomed to youthful vocals, euphoric anthems and gigantic drops, this compilation rejects all forms of conventionality and utilizes dark and dreamy sound thoughts that lead into the vast unknown of space. With four hours of music, John immerses you in an exotic journey that tests the will of your mental capabilities to further push the limits on traditional, dance floor driven music. The first hour is rich and expansive in design, as he slowly eases you into the cockpit with white washed sounds that seem to blissfully emanate from space. The series begins with the mystical Chill Out sounds of Airwave before slowly submerging our bodies into the ocean with some stellar Progno from the likes of Dark Soul Project, Kay-D and Markus Decay. Each track presents an unusually foreign personality and strange scales and textures are bled through each passing phrase. Smoke & Mirrors boasts a forcefully rough and grating bassline while Time Traveler experiments with free forming synth droplets and spider woven arpeggio webs. It finishes off with some dark and nasty Techno from Skober and Kalden Bess to set the stage up for the main show in hour two.
The second hour expands his initial flow and bravely analyzes different genres to show off John‘s aggressive risk evaluations. While flirting with Trance and Progressive Trance, the mix calmly transitions into a brilliant Progressive Breaks section with Airwave once again seizing the reins. These Breaks have a dense, yet flowing nature to them and each track seeks to stand out with an assortment of unusual instrumentation and wild orchestration designs. However, this brief interlude is quickly shoved aside as he bears no hesitation into slamming us again with some relentless Techno, (courtesy of Alex Di Stefano). Within the thick of Techno’s industrial design lies the first rumblings of Psy Trance, with Stimpack‘s Dreams Of Victory providing some serious complexities in genre synthesis. The third hour is where we begin to see evidence of a shift in style, as the tempo slowly increases within the intensifying flow of the mix. Here, we explore another fascinating sub-movement with 130BPM Psy Trance, where the crumbling barriers between Tech, Psy and Techno are subversively merged together for a refreshing and zesty blend of post modern sounds to confidently lead the helm. While we are further teased with heavily rhythmic Psy tracks like Human Blue‘s Accessoire and the Born Sleepy remix of Light Mutations, we are finally subjected to the full might of peak time prowess with the psychological forces of heavyweight leaders Lyctum and Hypnocoustics.
The last hour is filled with full, relentless energy as the relentless onslaught of Psy Trance continues. Along with classics such as Galactic Mantra by Ovnimoon & Via Axis and Black Light by Mickey Noise, there still is a distinct effort placed towards track diversification, as Metamusic and Fleming‘s own production, Dharker, provides fantastic differences in timbral textures. Finally, the end of the final hour concludes with an interesting Pure Trance cut from Solarstone with the Love Theme From Blade Runner, (which was a heavy favorite within the Trance scene during its lifespan), before lowering the curtain with Fleming‘s brilliant Chill Out masterpiece, Time Lapse NGC-2264; (off of his One.Hundred.Ten WKO album). The ending in particular was absolutely spellbinding to experience, as its brilliant combination of somber, expressive Classical strings is paired with a rich, sweeping atmosphere that vastly expands towards the universe in childlike wonder. The sheer sense of bewilderment, astonishment and emotional impact triggers a life changing realization that reminds us that amidst all the problems and pitfalls of music and humanity, the infinite void will forever drift along in eternal silence.
1. Airwave- While Elly Sleeps
2. Marcus Decay- Shadows & Mirrors (Original Mix)
3. Moshic- Eyiakuz
4. Kay D- My Dreams (Dark Soul Project Remix)
5. Neftali Blasko- Time Traveller (Dark Soul Project in Love Interpretation)
6. Ethereal Mist- Thanks God (George Yammine Remix)
7. Kalden Bess- Stoned
8. Matt Lange- Bad Year Blimp
9. John 00 Fleming- 5000 Light Years From Earth
10. Matt Minimal – Krank 13 (Skober Remix)
11. Alex Di Stefano- Phoneutria
12. John 00 Fleming- WKO
13. Sin Sin- Tunnel (Kalden Bess Remix)
14. Hybrid – Break My Soul (Hybrid’s Kill City Sounds Mix 01)
15. Anton Chernikov & Digital Blonde- Omega
16. Ivan Nikusev & Wav-E- Aurora (Airwave Remix)
17. Moshic- False emotion (Airwave’s New School Breaks Remix)
18. Airwave- Chiricahua
19. John 00 Fleming- Clouds of Karma
20. Drumcomplex & Roel Salemink- The Box (Alex Di Stefano Remix)
21. Shaun Mauren- My Dream (Eric Sneo Remix)
22. Stimpack- Dreams Of Victory
23. Alex Di Stefano- Back Again
24. Airwave- The Wrath of Tambora (Simon Templar Remix)
25. The Digital Blonde- Noc2one (Midnight Mix)
26. Trilucid & Philthy Chit- Syntax (Gai Barone Remix)
27. Airwave- Moment of Truth
28. Human Blue- Accessoire
29. Lyctum- Fearless Mind
30. Zentura- Light Mutations (Born Sleepy Remix)
31. Hypnocoustics & Chameleon- Boomslang
32. Micky Noise- Firegate
33. E-Clip- Crow
34. Amygdala- MetaMusic (Reified Mix)
35. Dan Ascherl- Maza Chante 6.0
36. Ovnimoon and Via Axis and Itom Lab- Galactic Mantra
37. Micky Noise & Hopeku- Black Light
38. John 00 Fleming & The Digital Blonde- Dharker
39. 1200 Micrograms- The Apocalypse
40. Deedrah- Half of Me (Micky Noise Remix)
41. Solarstone- Love Theme from Blade Runner (Pure Mix)
42. John 00 Fleming- Time Lapse NGC-2264
John 00 Fleming‘s magnificent J00F Editions is out now on J00F Recordings via Beatport and iTunes, so go check them out and support this groundbreaking master today.
Keep the music alive. -Q