Jonathan Dagan, Brooklyn-based electronica producer and collaborator J.Viewz, is not a man to let industry norms stand in the way of producing his music.
J.Viewz first started getting attention as a producer in 2005, after a compilation album released in Spain featuring the works of Massive Attack and Paul Oakenfold opened with one of his tracks.
On the cusp of becoming a commercial success with his band Violet Vision (big in Japan), but feeling stifled by the studio he was producing for, Dagan set about experimenting in his flat at home in Tel Aviv. What was born was the bones of a concept album led by his fans. ‘Citizen music’ for the social age.
The new album Rivers and Homes started out in 2010 as Work in Progress; an online project which followed the making of the album live, as the tracks were created. “As a producer I found that my method of work is to produce single tracks and not ‘albums’ in the traditional sense”, Dagan told OhDearism.
“I found myself with finished tracks that I wanted to release straight away. They felt fresh, current. I couldn’t see a reason to release them to my listeners a year later for the sake of a ‘marketable wrap’. I’d do the same if I had a pizzeria with a killer oven and super fresh ingredients. I’d rather sell fresh slices to guys that walk into my place, rather than having it frozen, wrapped and put aside for the sake of being sold in supermarkets.”
Dagan made the album, nameless at that stage, available for pre-order, and then began to record and release tracks gradually over the course of a year to fans that had subscribed to the process. Fans were allowed to be present from conception to birth.
Despite the open nature of the production, Dagan was careful not to create an interactive project. “I didn’t want it to be like, ‘I just recorded these guitar lines, which one is cooler?’”, he says. “Creating music is still an intimate process.” He did get fans to record themselves talking about an emotive subject, though, for a looped sample on Prelude. “I was curious to hear how would all sound sampled together. It ended up like pixels that create a photo.”
Fitting then, that Dagan works so closely with visual artists in his production. “In [the video for] Salty Air, the image processing was so spot on that it actually amplified something in the music.” For the CD package, Dagan sent every song on the album to a different visual artist for their visual interpretation. “I think it definitely brings another level to the music.”
Rivers and Homes is available from http://www.jviewz.com
Album image courtesy of Jonathan Dagan