“Viola” by JFUN is a new addition to the #ottmusic weekly Spotify playlist, and is the third track from his newly released EP Be What You Wanna Be. #ottmusic weekly is like Spotify’s Release Radar for local tracks. Today, Apt613 chats with JFUN to learn the behind-the-scenes story of the artist’s first-ever solo EP.
Jordan David aka JFUN is an Ottawa-based producer, DJ, and curator. He is also one of the co-founders of Music.Art.Ppl, a music label and art collective.
Be What You Wanna Be is JFUN’s three-track debut EP and features vocals written and performed by Tara Maruf. The album was co-produced and mixed by Sam Harvey at Studio Big Blue. Christalla Buttle designed and created the cover art.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Congratulations on releasing your debut EP! What was the process like, especially with Omicron and the new restrictions?
2021 was a really difficult year in general. I thought we were releasing the EP back in 2020. Obviously, with the pandemic, everything took a backseat. It’s weird not being able to book shows and do stuff that you traditionally do when you release a body of work. But at the same time, I’m okay with putting it out there.
I feel like the pandemic forces us to slow down and we appreciate things like music and art more. In my experience, it’s been good and positive despite the fact that I can’t book parties and shows to really celebrate it.
It’s interesting that you brought up slowing down to be more appreciative. How has this notion affected you and your music?
Before the pandemic, I co-founded a group in Ottawa called Music.Art.Ppl. We throw events and that was a primary thing before 2020. I was really busy as a DJ; I was working a lot in the city and playing events. On the production side, I wasn’t as productive because I was busy doing other things.
With the pandemic, I was able to slow down and focus on what I wanted to do and be intentional about the work that I’m putting out there.
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Amazing. Now back to the EP. Could you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind it?
It opens with the title track, “Be What You Wanna Be.” When I was writing that song, I was thinking about UK vibes, like “Broken Beat” sounds. I wanted to take this sort of energetic sound but not so straightforward. I wanted to give the listener a bit of a trip; it’s kind of like a sonic journey in itself.
Who else is on this track?
I was able to work with a childhood friend, vocalist Tara Maruf. Her voice is featured on the first and the second track. We were chatting and one day I just asked her, “Hey, would you be interested in collaborating?”
We went to Roy Park, in Orleans, to record her part. That’s where we grew up and it’s been a really great feeling to return to that space. We only use a portion of what she recorded for that session, but it put me in a headspace of like, “This is different, but it’s okay.”
That’s a beautiful thing, being open to things that are different than what you’re used to. How different are these tracks from your previous works?
I grew up playing in bands—rock music, punk music and pop music as well. I played the bass guitar for many years, with a group called “The Love Machine.”
It was a really big departure because I’ve never really released anything quite like this. In 2020, I released the first remix project for a track called “Don’t worry” by an artist named JSP. But aside from that, this is my first actual solo electronic music production track. For me to do this is like saying “This is where I’m at in my creative journey,” and taking all the stuff I’ve learned from playing and bands and DJing and just believing in myself.
The title, Be What You Wanna Be, where did it come from?
It came from the session with Tara. She shared a bunch of spoken word. We recorded a bunch of stuff, like free flow, and then went through it afterwards. A lot of it was centred around believing in yourself and getting out of your own way. It really resonated with me because I feel that fear of putting yourself out there. When we’re living our truth and we’re being who we really are, that’s when the magic happens.
Agreed. That’s a good mindset to have. How do you hope your audience receives this new album?
I made this EP in hopes that it would uplift people. And also for me, I have a deep passion for dance music and its culture around the world. I want to be able to build upon that and share my love for it. But honestly, I have no expectations of how people receive it. I’m just thankful that people listen to it.
One last thing before we let you go. Why music?
It’s just something that I’ve been doing honestly since I was like 12 or 13. At this point, it’s a part of who I am. I do it because it gives me an outlet. I do it because it makes me feel good. I do it because of the community, the people that I get to meet.
And I think if we all could find one thing that makes us feel good, the world would be a better place.
Be What You Wanna Be is now available on all platforms via Music.Art.Ppl. A music video for the first track on the album, “Be What You Wanna Be,” will be released on Jan. 21.