Interview: Jarvis’ Toronto Debut Brought Down the House

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London’s bass beast Cris Jarvis, best known mononymously as Jarvis, made his debut appearance in Canada alongside Synoid, PsychoticMinds, SnwKnz, and Big D, to support PhaseOne for his North America Tour. Presented by Dead Royalty Productions, the unforgettable night inside One Loft was full of unrelenting bass, huge smiles all around, and some of the wildest headbanging this city has seen in a long time.

Prior to the madness, I had the absolute pleasure to chill with Jarvis on a nearby patio, and he went on – in great detail – to tell me about his EP, Rise of the Phoenix, as well as a bit about himself. (Edited for clarity)

We came up with the Phoenix, because [of]everything that it symbolizes – it was like a new stage for me.

What kicked off the concept for ‘Rise of the Phoenix’?

I didn’t really have an identity or a brand, and it was becoming obvious – I was actually quite late to the party. It’s quite necessary to have a proper brand/identity. So, my girlfriend and I sat down with her friend in PR. We gave her some food, and we all drank some wine, and were like “right – let’s come up with a fucking brand!”

We came up with the Phoenix, because [of]everything that it symbolizes – it was like a new stage for me. It was almost like being reduced to ash, and rising again. And I’m like, “new” now. *laughs* This EP definitely felt like a step up from my last 3 EPs, in terms of quality. Maybe it’s just me saying that, but that’s how it felt to me.

How did Born I Music come to be the vocals for your title track?

He is a fucking DUDE. I worked with him before on ‘Hit the Deck‘, which was on my first Firepower EP. How did I actually get in touch with him…? I can’t remember, actually. It was online – I’ve never met him or anything, I only speak to him online. I was looking for a rapper for ‘Hit the Deck’ back then, and someone on my Facebook was like “Oh, you should check this guy out!” So I messaged him, and he was sick! That happened ages ago.

For ‘Rise of the Phoenix’, I actually had a few other rappers in mind – a couple of [them]didn’t want to do it. I was thinking more and more about it, and I just really loved [Born’s] style. He’s always on Facebook, talking about positivity, and all his lyrics are all about positive stuff.

A lot of rappers these days rap about being rich, and having this and that – “I’ve got more ‘this’ than you, I’ve got more ‘that’ than you”- but Born’s always got a positive message behind his lyrics which I just love, things that are really… good. And I just knew that he’d nail that track, so I had to ask him. He’s a legend.

My girlfriend heard it, and she was like, “You sound really… white, like really posh. You need to ‘street’ it up a bit.”

Of all the tracks on the EP, are there any that stood out to you as you were working on it?

I really like ‘Rowdy’. That’s actually me on ‘Rowdy’, doing the little… “rap”. I was like, “Do I get a rapper?” Although I knew what I wanted the words to be. I knew I wanted it to be something about [being]rowdy, and I built it around that. I am by no means a rapper, or a lyricist at all, but I pulled that one out of the bag somehow. It’s the first time I’ve actually got my voice on a track, really – it was a new experience.

I thought you killed it, personally.

Aw, thanks! *laughs* My girlfriend heard it, and she was like, “You sound really… white, like really posh. You need to ‘street’ it up a bit.” I was like, “What!? I’m not posh!” She’s actually quite posh, and I’m from an area which is not. So she’s calling me a bit too posh, and I’m like “what the fuck!”

So I did actually re-do it – I can’t really tell how I changed it, maybe it was subconsciously. “Don’t sound too posh”. […] I showed it to a few friends – and I didn’t tell them. “What do you think of the vocals?” They were like, “Yeah, they’re cool.” […] It went under the radar, so I was like “That’s cool – that’s what I wanted to hear.” Nailed it!

I recently saw a post on Facebook stating that “dubstep/bass producers shouldn’t come out with EPs” – what’s your response to such a statement?

Are they saying that they should release singles?

I believe that’s more along the lines of what they’re saying, yeah.

I dunno – I used to do just singles, but I would say that [by]releasing only singles, it made them feel like they were kind of disposable, a bit “throwaway”. You release a single and it’s like, “Oh, this is great!” for a couple of weeks, and then you forget that it ever existed, as a listener. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what it sort of felt like to me.

But when you release an EP with more tracks, I feel like people listen to it again and again and again. I do that with albums – I’ll go back, and listen to a whole album (just ‘cuz I love it) again and again and again for years, whereas with a single, I might just forget about it because…  It makes them feel a little more disposable if they’re on their own and really frequent. That’s what I think about it. I suppose there really isn’t a right answer.

Outside of dubstep, are there any other genres/sub-genres that you like to dabble in?

I love listening to heavy metal. I made an (unreleased) heavy metal track with no real instruments, and it actually sounded really realistic. After I made it, I was like, “…What have I done??” I didn’t use any real instruments or people- I can play guitar, I can play drums, but there’s just awesome plugins.

There’s a ‘guitar’ plugin, which just sounds so realistic; there’s also an ‘amp’ plugin, that sounds like real amps. And you can combine the two and it sounds just like real metal guitars. There’s also a ‘drums’ one as well. But yeah, I don’t know what I’m going to do with that [track].

What’s a ‘day in the life of Jarvis’ like?

A day in the life of me? Well, I still got a day job, so I’ll be workin’ at my day job. Luckily, it’s really good – I work from home. I work from my laptop, doing design stuff; it’s really cool, and really flexible. I guess doing that, or- I’m in London, so I’ll be… what do we do in London? Walking around, drinking gin I guess. *laughs* I’ve been drinking a lot of gin lately. I like it, but it gives me a fucking headache! I’ve never known a headache like it. When you’ve been drinking gin, the next day, your head is like “Oh my God!”

…Well, mine is, at least.

BONUS ROUND: Do you FUX with:

Riddim: Uh….. *laughs* Fuckin’ hell! That’s a complicated one… I’m gonna say yeah. I FUX with riddim. Sometimes! Certain kinds, certain songs of riddim.
Game of Thrones: Oh, FUX yes!
Mosh pits: Yes, mosh pits! *Thumbs up* SAFELY.
Broccoli: Broccoli? uh… yeah! I’m all about the broccoli.
Casinos: …Sure, in CAREFUL moderation. Yeah, they can be tough if you get carried away.
Shoes: Shoes? No. I mean, I feel like dudes lately have really gotten into shoes, when perhaps they weren’t before – especially where I come from. Like, girls loved shoes. That’s a very sexist thing to say, yet it feels like lately, dudes are really into shoes, and I’ve sort of been left behind by this [trend]… I don’t get it! They protect my feet from the ground, and that’s about it.

I’m not really into the fashion of it, or anything. A lot of my friends have got huge collections of shoes. I’m like, “What the fuck, man?” These are my only trainers, this is all I’ve got – when am I ever gonna be like, “Aw, I wish I had two pairs”? I do get it though, but it’s just not in my interest.

Check out some shots of Jarvis, PhaseOne and the bass gang from that night! All photos are courtesy of Paul Palacios and Ivan Dudarev.

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An electro-hippie: whimsical, always about good vibes and spreading the love. Life's too short not to smile - should that not suffice, there's always music. 🎵

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