Like a pied piper, Jeans is known to enigmatically lead crowds through a progressive labyrinth of noise
“Darkness and lightness is the red line of my life” Gino aka Jeans carefully explains to me as we sit in his garden in The Hague, the warmth of the sun beats down, the sky is a beautiful shade of blue and his playlist gleefully hums in the background, subtly rolling from track to track. Each sound represents a cornerstone of life, swiftly lacing between the passionate burst of digestible vocals, towards more niche, distorted rhythms, to perpetual raw noise, the DJ and producer leads me on his multi-faceted journey of music, soft and hard, easy and complex, dark and light.
“Starting with Michael Jackson” he announces as I roll a ciggie. The first track to blare out of the speaker is Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Michael Jackson, as jazzy, soulful, energetic notes fill the air he reminisces: “Yeah, my first musical memory. I thought it was a girl – it took me two years to find out… I was so into him, I was listening to him every day. His music has everything, groove, funk, it’s sexy but also melancholic, sensitive but cool at the same time.”
Sensitivity is a theme prevalent with the DJ, recalling the first time being touched by sound he laughs “I remember we went to the vet when I was five or six, they had new age music in the waiting room, I think Brian Eno – kinda ambient, and I had to cry. My mom was like it’s going to be alright with the dog, but I was like, I’m not crying because of the dog, the music makes me cry.” This element of sensitivity actively transpires in his sets, as like a pied piper, Jeans is known to enigmatically lead crowds through a progressive labyrinth of noise, exploring an eternal sphere of opposing dimensions, both spiritually and musically.
As he got older, his natural affinity with music began to sink in. As Charly – Trip Into Drum and Bass Version Remastered, The Progidy plays he tells me “In 1992 I was living in a flat in Leidschendam and my friend lived a couple of doors down with his brother. One day I went to his house and he was listening to The Prodigy, Outerspace. This is one of my clearest memories. I had the feeling – this was something I’m going to be involved with my whole life. For the first time I was resonating with something so deeply.”
Instantly inspired by this sound, Gino began to work multiple jobs to fuel his addiction to music, with a cheeky smile he tells me “I was then able to buy one turntable. I thought one was enough… I was like what.. How do you do this? Oh yeah, you need two… then I figured out about the mixer and at 15 I had my setup.”
A different branch of anarchic rave music prominent in the playlist is the genre of Gabber, as Pitch Hiker, and Pill Driver stirs, steady, harsh and heavy kicks bubble up to the surface of the speaker, pushing through and suffocating the airwaves. Tracing back his connection with the genre, Gino recalls “I was in the theatre watching Naar De Klote and I remember there was one scene in a club, it was the first time I heard Gabber on a loud system. As I couldn’t go to parties yet, I went back five times just so I could hear it for that one minute it featured.”
Later, the DJ started exploring the rave scene in The Hague, becoming infatuated with Gabber parties, particularly, with the element of surprise that came with the music played there, a technicality you can hear mirrored in his own sets and productions. As Teen Crush – JEANS plays, patterns of tender acid drops emerge, while kicks parallel to those of early Gabber begin to unravel, vivacious but soft, dark but light. “So this song I chose because it’s called Teen Crush, that’s because the sounds involved remind me of my teenage years, discovering techno and jungle for the first time – my teenage influences together.”
Amongst the element of hardness evident in the rave tracks, more introspective, melancholic and intelligent sounds are littered throughout the playlist. Reflecting the layered and multifaceted nature of the DJ who, in contrast to the hectic overstimulation of gigs, admits to finding sanctuary amongst nature. Talking about the setting featured in the shots, Gino explains “I can’t sit still, but I know I really need to do it. I have to tell myself you need to relax, go into nature, leave everything behind and drive to the Dunes. It’s good for me.”
Effortlessly diving from more surface-level topics to fundamental philosophies, it feels as though boundaries, whether spiritual, musical or ideological, that concept that ceases to exist in the producer’s life, as psychedelic exploration has been a significant pathway to forming his current outlook. #20, Aphex Twin clicks on as he tells me “I remember the first time doing mushrooms with a friend, we saw Window Licker on TV, it was so sick. Aphex Twin for me is like a Beethoven or something. Every song, whether it’s fast, noise, or more touchy ambient stuff, it has these crazy chords you cannot come up with.”
From the historic game-changer Aphex Twin to more contemporary icons such as James Holden and Nathan Fake, tracks with an undercurrent of emotion resonate with Gino, translating into his own style of working “I think it’s really hard for me to make something instrumental, just roll without any tonnage. There has to be something that creates melody, something with more emotion than just a drum kit.”
As Bawsey, Nathan Fake draws to a close and Dundas, Ontario, Caribou springs into action, an interesting track full of gentle, rhythmic twists and turns, the DJ dreamily looks to the sky as he remembers “In 2004 was listening to this when I got the call my brother was born. It just felt like.. If you also listen to the song it sounds like it is the start of something new? The beginning.”
From Memphis, rap to grunge, gabber to IDM, funk to drum and bass, the artist’s musical inspirations are open to endless possibilities. Parallel to when he performs, Jean operates entirely through a looping exchange of energy between himself and the dancers, resulting in an intense unifying and ritualistic odyssey, gliding through peaks and troughs, simplicity and intricacy, dark and light.
Click below to listen to the full Radical Tracks playlist on Spotify.