Hi Jam, thanks for talking to Trancefix this afternoon! How are you and whereabouts are you!?
Jam: All good here. I am in my studio in Frankfurt actually and after this interview I will continue to find new sounds and new music!
Nice, and that’s good to hear! Now we’ve obviously been seeing a lot more of you again over the last 12 to 18 months (hence the reason we dropped you a line!). What’s been the primary factor in this resurgence?
Jam: One of the main ones was that Markus Schulz and Adina Butar invited me to join their Coldharbour family. This offer came at the right time, when I wanted intensify my release plans and Markus is a great guy to work with. 100% on fire and a machine in the best possible sense! It was a great pleasure to work with him. He is one of the DJs who is also a as-great producer. He is so quick and knows everything about his gear and. Most important, he seems to have a thousand ideas! Not only musical also lyrically or indeed anything that goes to make a great track!
How did you first connect with Markus and when was ‘Hymn of the Replicant’ recorded?
Jam: It was recorded by the beginning of this year in my Frankfurt studio. Markus was in Europe anyway for touring so Adina and he came by for a two-day session…
It’s a killer title too! Who came up with that?
Jam: That was Markus 😉
You’ve also remodeled your Jam & Spoon smash ‘Right In The Night’ with Adina on vocals too. How was it to return to that record after so many years?
Jam: I tell you: It was a tough one. Nothing is more critical than putting your hands on your own records, especially when it´s such an iconic track. But also here I had the support from Markus and the great vocal performance by Adina.
Having remixed Oakie on his ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’ Virus releases on Perfecto in the mid-nineties, you’ve also just paired with him for the first time on ‘Lost In The Moment’. Who placed the call to who on that one!?
Jam: I was asking Arny Bink, owner of Back Hole Recordings about this idea for a collaboration with Paul and he was excited and told him about that. Paul gave the “go” and we started developing the track. I am very happy about this collaboration since Paul always supported my/our work back in the day and also he has been a top iconic DJ ever since. I remember him playing “Dance 2 Trance records in Paris before the U2 show. I will never forget when the whole arena started dancing to ‘Power Of American Natives’ and ‘Odyssey To Anyoona’.
Do you have any further plans for collabs with other known faces on the trance scene?
Jam: Not at the moment but sure I am open for any collab that looks adventurous.
To our ears both ‘Lost’ and ‘Hymn’ have the most classic of production mentalities, where masses is done, albeit with relatively few parts and elements. Is this where you think the greatest skill lies in making trance in 2018?
Jam: This is the greatest skill of all. Not only in Trance though. It’s in every kind of music production. Leaving all the unnecessary fillers and extra sounds behind means usually a clear and superb sound. You can only do that when the idea of the track is strong enough to stand out without any add ons.
Your revival really started last year though with releases on trance-ish, but not explicitly trance labels like Tronic and Truesoul. What was the reasoning behind that?
Jam: If you ask me what is the preferred style of your DJ sets I would probably answer: somewhere in the interspace between Techno & Trance. You know, where I came from a time when Techno & Trance was very close style-wise. There was no clear line between styles like we use to divide music today. I guess I am a wanderer between the two worlds. I love the roughness, power and the darkness of Techno. But also the powerful atmospheres in Trance. So, I had to begin somewhere and started sending the tracks to the labels that I respected most. When Mark Spoon and myself began releasing our music, we contacted a true Techno label back in the days: R&S Records. Still now ‘Tales From A Danceographic Ocean’ – our first EP including tracks like ‘Stella’ finds the respect of Techno lovers as well as the Trance Family. Age Of Love is still played by Techno and Trance DJs up to these days. Me personally, I don’t like to follow stubbornly styles. I think I am too curious. As long as music appeals to me I can enjoy it. If other music doesn’t touch me, it’s no big deal. There is no border in music. Don’t make a philosophy out of style and music. We have this trouble of being put into certain boxes and borders in our everyday life. Don’t apply this to music!
We caught a sneak listen to your forthcoming ‘Spectral Semblance’, which is wonderful, and again very much on that tip. The piano in the break is especially evocative. Bit of an intimate question we know but what do you see in your mind when you hear this part?
Jam: Actually, when I compose, I have no pictures in mind. It’s just sounds that I feel and perceive. This is wonderful because – at least for some moments – my mind steps back and I just go for the music. It can though I know be helpful to have a picture or an idea before starting. But usually it’s not my way of composing. This piano is kind of a contrast to the pounding beats in the other parts. And I like contrasts in music. They bring in the necessary spice to the composition. The piano is of course very romantic and appears from the background and becomes dominant – like a sunrise maybe, a ‘Spectral Semblance’…
When is ‘Spectral Semblance’ coming out?
Jam: It came out last Friday 🙂
Mark was always the DJ in the Jam & Spoon partnership. You though have really only just started DJing yourself. What have been your highpoints in that thus far?
Jam: I had the opportunity to play on wonderful festivals so far. Highlights where of course my Tomorrowland gigs, Mayday, Nature One, Ten Years of Age Of Love in Antwerp and my appearance a Loveparade in Berlin 2006 for the honour of Mark Spoon in front of 1,4 million people. Sad and overwhelming at the same time. (It was a life set not a DJ set though) When I performed, the sun was setting – super emotional – I will never forget…
And what are the three tunes at the moment that we’re absolutely guaranteed to hear if we’re experiencing a Jam El Mar set!?
Jam: Definitely my remix of ‘Titty Twister’ by Viper: a classic from the Nineties and ‘Spectral Semblance’ surely enough. But I also like the recent releases from Spectre ‘Carnival Of Souls’ and ‘The Dreamer’. A perfect mélange of rough beats and atmospheric sounds – 100% for me. The recent Drumcode releases too. I am 100% in love with Adam Beyer’s sounds. Not to be forgotten too: I am a fan of Alex di Stefano’s records. I love his rough trance sounds. Also I can’t stop playing Orkidea’s ‘Nana, in the Jerome Isma-Ae Remix version. I always will be in love with that record! But I of course, will always adjust my repertoire to the crowd in front of me.
Couple of random questions to finish up! Why did you pick the artist name Jam El Mar?
Jam: Maybe some of you know my real name: Rolf Ellmer. Transform Ellmer into El Mar and take the jam off my mind and put it upfront and you have “Jam El Mar” 😉
And Trancy Spacer!?
Jam: That was a funny idea of Mark Spoons girlfriend Stella. She once came up with the funny idea to move Spencer Tracy into Spacer Trancy and his brother in crime is of course Trancy Spacer!
Finally, point of trance order! As you were there at the very beginning, who do you think recorded the first definitively trance record?
Jam: Hmmm, no idea …. 😉
Elegant! Many thanks for talking to us Jam and I’m sure all TranceFix’s readers wish all the best for the rest of your year!