May 20, 2022
1001Tracklists Spotlight: JNSN Live From Amalie Arena
Picture this, you’re at center ice of Amalie Arena, home of the two-time defending NHL champions Tampa Bay Lightning, and you’re about to start a DJ set. What would your first track be? This was the exact setup for Florida based DJ/producer JNSN, who brings us a one-of-a-kind Spotlight Mix from an empty 20,000 person arena. Turn it up to hear tunes from the likes of CamelPhat, Cristoph, Gorgon City, Kasablanca, Nicky Romero, and Vintage Culture, while you enjoy the beautiful scenery of Tampa Bay at night. Don’t miss our interview to learn more about the incredible recording, JNSN’s start in the music industry, releasing on MOTi’s imprint Zero Cool, and much more!
CJ, thanks so much for bringing us your incredible live set! What was the concept that you envisioned for this Spotlight Mix?
Thank you for having me! For this mix, I really wanted to bring out my darker/melodic side, and I think the empty NHL arena was the perfect location to do that. Shooting late at night downtown also helped tremendously, as our city looks great at night.
Take us through the process of turning the idea into reality and some of the challenges of getting set up.
Luckily I have a very supportive group of friends who also work for the arena! So I was very fortunate and didn’t run into many issues. The only problem I noticed was dealing with the master volume bouncing in an empty 20,000 person arena. Definitely caught me off guard haha.
We know ice hockey holds a special place in your heart. Can you tell us some more about that?
I grew up playing and it was pretty much my main priority until I got involved in music. Luckily I have a really cool job with the Tampa Bay Lightning in their community hockey department, where we help teach youth hockey around the Tampa area. So for this mix, I really wanted to combine my two loves and create something really special.
How did you approach creating a flow musically with your set? How did the atmosphere inside the arena impact your track selection and how might this set compare to a JNSN live show in a club at the moment?
I actually went in a completely different direction from my club sets, as I’m usually pretty tech house focused. For this set, I really wanted to reflect on how an empty arena at midnight can be eerie, but also really cool with the right music. I really think that any other genre wouldn’t have fit as well as this darker electronic one did. I had to open up my mind and explore a totally different genre of music and it actually worked out super well. I could even go as far as to say that it's one of my favorite genres now.
Can you highlight two tracks or artists included and why they stand out?
I really like my “Oxygen” x “In Your Eyes” edit. I'm a massive Gorgon City fan, so really happy I could incorporate them into a darker tune, plus I really like the deeper production side that Nicky Romero has. I'd like to do the same in the future.
I also love the music by Kasablanca. I really like the intense synths and pumping drums that they have. It makes their tracks emotional and helps them stand out.
Take us back in time. Was there ever a show that you attended as a fan, where afterwards you knew that you wanted to pursue a career in electronic music?
I can actually tell you the exact moment. I was helping out at Sunset Music Festival in Tampa a few years back in exchange for an all-access pass for a friend who runs the sound there. He needed help getting the main stage pulled out for the headliner, Dog Blood, and I was on the edge of the stage with the crowd behind me, locking in the stage wheels. As I waited for everyone else to finish with the stage, I turned around and was just mesmerized by all of the people cheering and having a good time over music, and realized I had never had that feeling of happiness before. After that I decided I wanted to chase that feeling for the rest of my life, making people happy and emotional over the tunes that I create and get to play for them.
How did you get involved with music production? How do you balance your time between producing and DJing, and do you have a preference?
If I'm being honest, I really love DJing more than producing. Just because of the excitement of playing in front of a crowd and getting to test out new tracks that no one has heard before. I also started off DJing events for the Tampa Bay Lightning, which was always in front of massive crowds, so I had to make learning how to DJ a huge priority, which I think gives me a step up on the experience side of things. I try to work on music every day, though. Whether it's on the production side of things or behind the decks. I really enjoy doing it, so to me, it's moreso fun as opposed to thinking “ugh, I have to work on this today, and I'm really not looking forward to it.” As for starting out, I first got into it a week or so after that Sunset Music Festival experience, just had to do my research on gear and what exactly I wanted to make music-wise. After that it was just a lot of YouTube videos and late nights.
On the production front, what direction do you see yourself heading musically? Can you share any news about upcoming tracks?
I'm definitely still working hard on developing my sound and figuring out exactly what I want to make music wise. I see myself taking a break from the more vocal tracks and working on more club weapons! In terms of tracks, I have some really cool stuff coming out with some really cool vocalists and producers, which I'm super keen on getting released and out into the scene. I should have some release dates on those soon!
Looking ahead, what are a few short and long-term goals that you have for yourself with the JNSN project?
I’d really like to play more shows around the world! I enjoy playing music for people and I’d love to show the rest of the world my creative side. For me, it's not even about the money or getting to travel or even making a living. I just think that seeing people happy from the songs I'm playing is an incredible feeling, and I’d like to share that with as many people as possible. I’d also really like to keep making live sets in cool places. I have some family and friends in different countries that have offered up their spots for filming, so I think I'd like to pursue that as well.
And in the short term, what keeps you excited and motivated on a daily basis? Do you have any other plans for spring and summer that you’d like to share?
Just knowing that you’re making a song that people can have feelings to and emotionally connect with is a great feeling, and the thought of getting to see that live keeps fueling the fire for me! As for upcoming stuff, just some more tracks for now, hopefully with some bigger labels that can help me reach my goals!
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