Get To Know Jaro – The Hardest Working Producer Out Of Chicago (Exclusive Interview)

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I cannot even begin to tell you how geeked I was when Jaro was down to speak with me. As you’ll read in our interview below – he is my favorite producer in my native Chicago. He is extremely versatile not just in his instrumentals, but in the artists he chooses to work with.

Although I don’t have any plans to become a producer – I really look up to him for the way he puts on for the city and his penchant for organic collaborations. My readers out of the city man not be familiar with him, but you’ll find most of his work below. I am so excited to share this with you. Big shout out to Jaro, as he stayed humble and got back to me quickly.

Hey Jaro, thanks for speaking with us! For those who don’t know you, can you give us a brief introduction?

Thanks for having me! I’m Jaro, and I’m just a normal guy from Chicago, who likes to make music.

I’d first like to get my fandom out of the way. You are one of my favorite producers out of Chicago. Does anyone else tell you that?

Thank you so much, that’s actually really crazy to hear. I think one or two people have said that to me before, but I always figured that they were just trying to be nice.

I’d like to focus on your solo work, but I have 3 questions about the collective you are apart of, Beach Jesus. How did you become a member of the group? What is your role?

Beach Jesus just kind of came together naturally a few years ago. I was working with Chandler and Jesse each separately at the time, and figured it was time to all just work together. I produced and mixed the majority of the tracks that came out.

Your group’s debut, Two Weeks Vacation, stood as one of my favorite releases of 2015. What does that project mean to you?

Thank you! That project is definitely special. It was my first time really working on a cohesive project. Almost all of the songs on that project were recorded within two weeks. The chemistry and creative process throughout that project was incredible. To this day, you could ask anyone about the “Lovemore” session (Cae Jones, Elias Abid, Quinn Cochran of Iris Temple, Chandler, and Jommis), and they’ll tell you the energy in the studio that night was surreal.

And finally – you guys haven’t released new material in some time. What is the status on the group and new music?

Unfortunately, the group has gone on indefinite hiatus for now. There were some creative differences with our last EP, and since then everyone has gone to focus on their solo work. There’s no bad blood or anything, and I’ve got love for my doods, but that’s why we’ve just been cooling under the radar. Woodlands, released via 119chicago, might’ve been the last Beach Jesus track. There’s one super hot track in particular that makes me sad because it’ll never come out. Maybe I’ll just have to leak it sometime.

Lets start with the beginning of your solo work. Last year, you dropped two critically acclaimed projects; la rouge and la bleue. First off – why did you decide to put out solo work?

Putting out a solo project was important opportunity for me to experiment and find my sound. I’m still looking.

Why did you decide to work with featured artists such as Qari, Sean Deaux, Aura, and the others? I figure this was a pretty organic process.

They’re all just friends to me. Friends that happen to be incredible at what they do. And I’m really fortunate to be able to know good people like them. It really all did come together naturally. Each of those songs were actually made the first time I sat down with each of them to make music. Man, Aura might be the best rapper in Chicago, and he’s not even from around here.

What mind state where in you in la rouge vs. la bleue. Sonically they sound very different.

It was really a seasonal feeling for me. La rouge was mostly recorded during the deep winter months, while la bleue was done during the transition into spring. I think you could hear it in the production, but it’s really the lyrics that brings everything to life.

Getting into more recent work, you make two  amazing collaborate records last year. They are a part of a series called Weekdays with Ben + Jaro. Most Chicagoians know who Ben is, but for those that don’t know, who is he, and what is this series exactly?

Ben is a gentleman, a scholar, a librarian, a friend, and a roommate. He came up with this idea to curate large collaborative efforts within Chicago and those two songs were the product of that. It was awesome working with so many talented people (some for the first time).

Is there more coming? The last single was dropped 5 months ago. 

There are stems wondering around for a few sessions actually. I’m not sure when they’ll be finish but the project files definitely exist!

I want to make sure I cover the two instrumentals you’ve dropped in the last 2 months. Say ya (sleep) and for her are two very different pieces of work. I assume you have a lot in the vault – why did you decide to pick those two to release?

I have a lot in the vault, but I wouldn’t say any of it is good. There’s a reason why they’re in the vault haha. If you don’t finish a song within the first week, it just becomes another lost project and I’ll probably think it’s bad by then. Both of these records, however, were actually made for release, so they were pretty fresh ideas.

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The cover art for your singles and albums are very detailed. Is that an important part of your music?

Artwork for songs and projects is definitely important to me. It’s just another outlet to express yourself. We have 5 senses for perception, why should we only limit ourselves to audio? Ideally, my next project comes with a 5-course meal, specially catered to enhance the listening experience.

The titles of your songs are very unique. How do you approach naming them?

Coming up with a song title is pretty difficult sometimes. You want something that’s unique, but also something that will stay with someone after they hear the song. I try not to overthink it. Usually it’ll be related to a certain line that resonates with how the song makes me feel.

How do you approach your instrumentals? Is there a process that you go through for each one?

I’ll usually always start with chords. I can sit for hours, just trying to come up with the right series of chord progressions. From there, I’ll add drums, leads and bass lines. And finally, probably the hardest part for me is sound design.

You don’t just stick to one genre in your production. Is there a producer or artist that inspires you? Do you have a favorite genre of music?

Shout out to the GOATs medasin and josh pan. As far as producer/artists that are pushing the boundaries of production and sound, these two are my favorite right now. I really enjoy a wide range of genre, but usually I’m listening to a  youtube jazz pianist on a rhodes keyboard @jazzijazzful. He is so sick.

When did you decide to commit yourself to music? Did you always know you wanted to get into production?

I’ve played music most of my life. I took piano lessons when I was younger, and played in the church growing up. I didn’t really get into production until about 2013.

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When did you make your first beat?

I made my first beat in college on garageband. It was soooooo terrible hahaha. 

How did you get into the music culture of Chicago? You work with a lot of diverse artists out of the city.

I really just work with friends and people that I know. If you go to local shows or if you play shows, you’ll just naturally start meeting people within that realm.

Are there any collaborations you can speak on?

So much always gets made, but you’re never sure what’s actually going to come out. Either way, shout outs to my dawgs Banks the Genius, Iris Temple, Boathouse, Cory Grindberg, San Soma, Elias Abid, and Lasko. I got at least one with each of them.

Any last thoughts?

Thanks for having me!