Joey Khodanian, aka JayKode, has proven time after time a force to be reckoned with, and 2017 is sure to be no different. Between the announcement of his massive 2017 tour, including stops with Rezz, Valentino Khan, and Yellow Claw to lining up stellar release after release, it’s no surprise that JayKode is a must-watch in the New Year. As a classically trained pianist whose hustle is incomparable to many, JayKode has surpassed the dense and oversaturated dance music producer pool with no plans of slowing down. Coining the genre, “Classical Bass”, it’s captivating to see and hear each unique set, where his energy, history, and love for the music seeps through every note. EPIC had the opportunity to sit down with JayKode after his Audio on the Bay set to discuss all things music, and where he expects 2017 to take him. Take a read below:
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How was your set tonight?
It was really good, really fun. I've played in San Jose for Give Thanks with Nero and Knife Party and the Bay Area turns up more than anywhere I have ever played and tonight was no different. It’s always a lot of fun. It was early so I was a little worried but everyone was loving it.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you have any pre-show rituals to get you ready for your set?
Not really, I just yell at my manager to get out of my way. Just kidding, I don’t know what I would do without him, he helps me set up for every gig. I don’t really have any rituals, I just kind of get up there, and feel the crowd and do it.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: If someone had never heard of JayKode before, what are three words you would use to describe your sound?
Can I pick two? Classical bass. It’s a genre that i’m really trying to coin. It’s heavy bass music with a lot of classical elements. Piano fills, Violin fills, you know. I was classically trained growing up on the piano, and I’ve played for 6 years or so. It’s a big part of me and has always been in all the music I’ve played. I try to put piano in almost every song. I really want to keep things heavy but still always super musical.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Which Digital Audio Workspace do you use, and what plugin do you use, or how do you capture that piano essence?
I use Ableton, I was on Reason for about 6 years and just recently switched over. I use the Ableton Grand Piano. It’s beautiful, I try to process it a little bit, but it’s honestly beautiful alone. I put super mild reverb on it, but I try to make it sound as real as possible. I actually just moved my piano from my living room to my room. I want to start mic-ing it and recording it, because you can’t ever emulate a live piano ever. The warmth of a real instrument is unreal.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: How long ago did you start producing, and at what point did you believe you were making strong quality tracks?
I started producing in 2008, almost 10 years. Good tracks are pretty subjective, but I started with hip-hop and electro. We’d go to Control at Avalon all the time, and I got inspired with that. But, I guess things started making a little more sense musically probably 3-4 years ago. I did a Drunk in Love Remix by Beyonce. Then Skrillex played it in his Coachella set, and I have never been supported by a big artist like that. And I was actually in Palm Springs at the time, but not at Coachella. I never got any tweets back then, and someone tweeted, ‘Yo I think Skrillex just dropped your remix’. And my face jsut turned white, and it was insane. At that point, I realized I was doing something right and the past 3-4 years have been more structured.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What was your breakthrough moment of when you decided you can make music?
That was definitely it, that really made me reassured that I was doing something right. I was still working as an accountant back then, and I was juggling both back and forth and then I quit. I decided I would try to do music full time, and if it flops, it flops. I was still living at home and had a lot saved from working as an accountant and just gave it a try.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: This is kind of a selfish question, but I’m trying to get better at playing drums. Do you have any background at playing drums or how do you hone in on that skill?
I didn’t have a background, I can play them, but I didn’t grow up playing them. As far as actual drum samples, I’m sure you’ve heard of Simatics, they have literally the dopest sound packs, super crisp. Just experiment, I don’t even know how to explain it. I listened to a lot of metal growing up and in high school, and a lot of that transfers over. The sounds you hear in metal, you hear in bass music. So listen to metal I guess?
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What advice do you have to someone who just bought Ableton or started producing and decided that they wanted to do what everyone else is doing?
Definitely just experiment as much as you can. Just sit on the program for like 8-10 hours a day, and just make whatever you’re feeling. Back then, I was honestly producing more when I first started because I had no sound, and I just wanted to try everything. Try to work on original music, but if you do hear something on the radio or have a remix idea, try that. A lot of people pop off with remixes.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You came out with your original track, Know Better about a month ago, can you tell us about the inspiration behind that?
I went to Big Barrel last year and I don’t really snowboard, so I was in the cabin most of the time. I just started out with Ableton and I was messing around a lot and trying to experiment a lot. I was in the cabin for two days straight and was producing underneath the stairs, I actually set up my studio there. I was working on some drum loops, for the first time I did that before the music. Then I put some keys behind it, and everything else came after that. Then I knew it needed vocals, I kinda laid it out so it would have vocals. So I sent it out to Mister Blonde, she had jsut had a track with Jackal out, and we went back and forth and that’s what we came up with.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You have an amazing tour coming up with artists like Rezz, Valentino Khan and Yellow Claw, what can you tell us about it?
I’m super excited. I haven’t been to almost all the cities that I got dates to play at. So it’s going to be really cool to go to all of those cities. I’ve never been to the East Coast, so it’s going to be my first time. I’m going to Scranton Pennsylvania which is a dream because of The Office. I have a few dates with Rezz in Phoenix, and I’m excited to travel and get out of LA and find inspiration. Meeting new people and being in a new environment will really help that.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Besides your tour, what’s up next!?
I have a track coming out with Sullivan King, on Bassrush Records on February 8th, and I have an official remix for Lido we’re working on. Then I have a track called Roll Out coming out on Buygore in March. I’m working on a track with Ricky San right now, I can’t really talk about details yet. Then Ricky Remedy and I started a track about two years ago, but it should almost be done soon. I might be doing some stuff with Dirty AUdio, I just sent him some ideas. I might be doing another track with Party Thieves, Jared, he’s always a great guy to work with.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: If you could run your own festival, which three headliners would you pick?
Ugh don’t do this to me, this is hard. Flume and Lido would be really dope. They are two of my inspirations they always have been, as a third one. On the DJing side, I would definitely do A-trak. All of my hip hop I throw into my sets are all A-trak at Do Over in LA like 2007/2008.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: And last question, what is your favorite food?
Tacos and ramen!
Photo by Scotch Photos, courtesy of Insomniac.