“When I started out, people didn’t really know what you meant when you mentioned house music, and now it’s everywhere,” JP Soul says, recalling his earlier days as a DJ. A fixture of San Francisco’s dance community, house and techno artist, JP Soul has evolved with the industry since beginning his DJ and production career in the 1990s. While the mainstream popularity of dance music has fluctuated over the past two decades, JP Soul always found his place in the scene, whether in the forefront or underground.
Between running his independent label Roam Recordings, which he revived in 2012 after a five year hiatus to focus on other creative projects, touring, and consistently releasing new music like his Bacchanal EP released in January, JP Soul has entered the year with renewed confidence and energy.
“We’ve just been getting back up and running — and last year, 2017, was the biggest year for us at Roam.”
Not only was 2017 a watershed year for Roam Recordings, but also forced the label to reconsider new release strategies for their music.
“We started doing a release at the beginning of the year every three weeks, and eventually every two weeks,” he says. “A lot of artists we respect, like Curses and Shiny Objects, started contacting us with music, and that’s actually why we sped up with releases.”
The decision to release new music more frequently ended up being a wise decision on Roam’s part, which earned the label unprecedented acclaim.
“Everyone of our releases was featured on the front of Beatport’s indie-dance page, we got on a lot of top 10 lists, and one of our releases got Mixmag’s ‘Tune of the Month.’ Last year was kind of the year people started asking, ‘Wait, who are these guys?’ ”
Neither JP Soul or his label are interested into catering for mainstream tastes, as Roam’s official website claims they are, “A little left of center and always for the dance floor.” Being his own boss allows him the freedom to produce and release music that aligns with his production method. “I like a production to be more compositional,” he says. “Rather than a guitar or piano solo, you take a couple notes from it and make it more rhythmic.”
JP Soul’s expertise is in crafting upbeat acid and industrial-tinged techno, but he has shown no reservations about taking an experimental approach in his music.
“I’ve learned to play live instruments,” he says. “But what I like to do is play them and them break them apart in production. It’s almost like I’m playing a sample.”
One of the key ingredients to Roam’s success is not only JP Soul’s legitimate love for the music he chooses to release under the label’s name, but his tuned ear that allows him to carefully hand select which artists fit the label’s ethos. JP Soul praises fellow producer Curses, who similarly specializes in acid-bathed post-techno, explaining, “He’s really bringing that rock feel to electronic, which I love. I would have him remix everything if I could.”
From the pace things are going now, JP Soul anticipates 2018 being an even bigger year for himself and the label.
“I just did an EP, Bacchanal, on my label that came out recently. I’m just finishing up another remix, so for this year that’ll be eight remixes for me so far.”
Apart from balancing the time needed to run a label and producing music, JP Soul’s busy tour schedule for the year includes stops in Berlin, Vancouver, and San Diego’s biannual dance festival CRSSD, which takes place this weekend. “It was really nice with CRSSD, because they reached out to me to come play. And I don’t even know anyone from the team. So that was really nice of them.”
When speaking of his highly anticipated CRSSD set, JP Soul mentions, “I’m probably going to play a lot of stuff that’s coming out on Roam, because that’s what I love! There’s some stuff that I can’t release yet, but there’s a lot of upcoming stuff that I can’t wait to share.”