Justin Jay has been a mainstay of Los Angeles' dance scene since he catapulted to underground fame during his time as a USC student. He's since put a part of his focus into songwriting and live work, and the resulting shift in his musical style has brought a whole new level of intricacy to his work.
Sam Van Horn is a slightly newer name, although his debut EP has proven that he's a stellar standout even within Jay's Fantastic Voyage label.
Van Horn and Jay also went to high school together, and reconnected during a party Jay was throwing. Given their lengthy history, the two agreed to sit down and interview each other about their music past!
Justin Asks Sam:
Justin Jay: Who has inspired you as a writer/producer?
Sam Van Horn: Well, obviously you, Justin! Can’t thank you enough for giving me the kick I needed to start sharing my music this year. Also, Aphex Twin coming out of his deep cavern to unleash music upon the world has been incredibly inspiring lately.
J: What’s been inspiring you outside of music?
S: I’ve been replaying Ocarina of Time for probably the 10th time. Always inspiring to save Hyrule from Ganondorf. Except the water temple, never forget.
J: What was your favorite track to drop in high school?
S: I really loved playing Rose Rouge by St. Germain. It felt like a huge success if I could manage to weave it into a mix and have people still dancing out there. Not that it isn’t danceable, but the timing definitely needs to be right. Also, his new record is phenomenal.
J: Best / worst high school DJ moment?
S: Worst: That time those dudes from Malibu were not digging our vibes and threw an open jug of orange juice at us and the decks before breaking a bottle and trying to punch people in the face.
Best: That time we played a prohibition party and got to dress up in suits and find a way to bring jazz to the dance floor. Even got compliments from some adults in attendance. Also got to play Rose Rouge :)
J: If you could go to any time and place to experience music, when/where would you go?
S: Wow that’s a tough one – I’d probably like to be around for the analog synth explosion in the late 60s / early 70s. Imagine being there the moment so many incredible jazz musicians discovered they could make any sound they wanted. Or maybe to prehistoric times, the dawn of civilization around a campfire with some drums and singing would be pretty cool.
J: If you could have one super power, what would you choose?
S: Instant transmission, DBZ style
Sam asks Justin:
S: When was the first time you felt like, “oh shit, these people are here to see me”? what was that like?
J: The beginning of my Sophomore year of college, almost a year after I'd put out my first song on dirtybird, I got booked to play this small little bar downtown. The place was completely empty, but this one dude came out wearing a dirtybird shirt. I ended up becoming friends with him! hahah
S: I hear you’ve been working on some new original tunes that lean more towards live music and songwriting, how’d that come about?
J: Kickin it and making music with Josh Taylor, Benny Bridges and Henry Was (from Thumpasaurus) has been hugely influential for me. My collaborators really inspired me and pushed me to try things I was itching to do, even when I was intimidated or insecure. When I was in 8th grade, I remember walking into Mr. Goddhu's rhythm section class and a band was playing a cover of Reptillia by the Strokes. I thought it was the dopest thing ever and really wanted to start a band. But I didn't know how to make my classical piano skillz translate hahah. The following year, I took that electronic music class and learned about logic. All of a sudden I could play any instrument with the keys. This past year, I finally played in my first band and have been showing my inner 8th grader lots of love hahah.
S: You’ve always loved house parties, what makes that situation better / worse than a festival stage?
J: The intimacy. I think it's what allows a DJ to take risks. The more connected with the crowd, the easier it is to push them outside of their comfort zone. I love it when I can hi-five the kid at the front of the dance floor. The risk is spilled drinks on the turntables, it happens tho ;)
S: favorite album of 2016 (top 5 also acceptable)?
J: The albums I've been listening to most this year would have to be The Beatles - Abbey Road, D'angelo - Voodoo, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye. I never gave any of those albums a chance until this year, which maybe is kinda sad, but better late than never. They've all been hugely inspiring obviously. In terms of new stuff, Anderson Paak - Malibu was my go to soundtrack while driving around this summer. Listened to the Chance the Rapper Album a good amount as well. So much good music tho...
S: does your power come from the luscious locks? are you like samson?
J: Nah, comes from my facial hair. Haven't been without a mustache or beard for like 2 years hahah
S: music goals for 2017?
J: get better at singing/playing the piano. Sam give me some piano lessons dude.