Up until now, Jacques Greene has been predominantly known for his singles; stand-out big-hitters with hugely memorable vocals and melodies. This month, however, Greene dropped his debut album, Feel Infinite, via Glasgow's LuckyMe. By his own admission, switching up his own process has been a task. Producing standalone singles allowed him to explore certain avenues, to try things out and feel himself out as a producer. Producing a full album, however, forced him to be economical with decisions like that. One-off experiments would have to wait in the name of creating a more cohesive collection of tracks.
Equally, Feel Infinite gave Jacques the chance to build on what went before and progress beyond it. Early singles like "Another Girl" and "The Look" were huge successes and quickly became signature tunes for the Montreal producer. The new LP, we all hope, will be his chance to add yet more material to the list of unforgettable Jacques Greene productions. To mark the album's release, we sat down with Jacques to discuss the inclusive, celebratory quality of dance music and how he's channeled that into Feel Infinite.
What can people expect from the new album, Feel Infinite?
I think the overarching goal and kind of the mission statement was doing a slightly more honed-in and slightly more refined, slightly more self-assured thing than what I get from releasing a bunch of EPs. For years and years I was doing records where I was trying out different ideas, trying out different sounds, doing little explorations of this thing or that thing over the course of three or four songs. As a fan of music, I'm always a little disappointed when the first album from a producer is a complete departure from previous singles or just the music they used to make but with features on every song. I wanted to go out of my way to ensure that I recorded a manifesto or a block of time that is the best representation of that.
I assume you're including "Another Girl" when you're talking about those singles. Was it a bit more daunting to commit to one avenue?
I don't think there's necessarily just one thing across the whole record, but definitely committing to the idea of a whole record is daunting. When anyone is doing just singles or EPs, there's an element of experimentation and you can do that over three or four songs. When you're doing an album, you're slapping your balls on the table like "This is me." It's much more of a definitive statement. Singles are shorter records. You can hide behind this guise of just trying things out. There's slightly less commitment. There's a bit of fear. There's been more press around this record than any EP or single I've done. So that's kind of daunting. I was able to make the record because I let go of those preconceptions; I made it two years ago over a couple months and it was just me going to the studio, trying not to think about those things. So while I was writing, it actually felt pretty easy. Which is why it felt right to make an album, because it didn't actually feel like the scariest thing in the world.
So you didn't decide to sit down and make an album?
No, I try to divide my writing periods into more concentrated periods. I'm not the fastest guy in the world. I'm not one of those people with hundreds of unreleased tracks and demos lying around. I have some, maybe a dozen or two. You know how you always hear stories of rap producers producers showing up to the studio to show a guy 25 beats? Yeah, I'm not that guy. So I had some time in the studio and I definitely wanted to have some concentrated time in the studio but it was only a few weeks into that when I realised I had so much music. It all felt very cool and very real to me and an honest representation of dance music and what I like around records. I like bringing out the best in myself and it all felt very natural. I was like "Am I really doing this? Is this really coming together to make an album?" Then I switched my thinking. Once I'd started thinking about it being more than a bunch of demos then I started thinking about certain tracks' positioning on the album, and I started piecing it together like that.
You've talked about this record getting a lot of press but in the past you've had people like Drake and Radiohead praising you. Was that something you had to try not to think about?
I met the Radiohead guys once after the remix was out and they gave me tickets to one of their shows, which was unbelievable. But for the most part, with anything like that, it's just an email. Or you hear from someone who's friends with someone who was at a party where Drake and his manager were playing a remix of your song. None of it feels very real. In fact, even with the release of this record, some of my friends were asking how it felt to have an album out. It's kinda crazy because I've been working a lot and my phone's hot because my Twitter mentions are popping but outside that, the record's only just out. It's weird how the internet separates milestones in your life into very abstract, distant experiences. "Oh my god! It's an email from Thom Yorke!" [Laughs] But that's still so far removed from reality. It's not like he found me at one of my shows and was like "Man, I love your music, you need to remix us!" It's all very humbling and very cool but it's easy to keep my head straight. It's not like my life is crazy, it's just sometimes I look at my phone and it's a bit nuts. Some of these things seem really important at the time, but it's just an email. The club being able to provide arguably insignificant moments, but they're real and they're in person with human beings. There's a physical nature to them. There's a true, emotional response there. That's something to be valued in the age of the internet.
What would you consider a more significant milestone in your career, something you'd rather celebrate?
One moment that recently came up was the first time I threw a regular dance music party in Montreal. It was called Night Trackin and it was with these guys Brent Duvall and Seb Diamond. The three of us booked this basement in downtown Montreal. These kids that I'd seen in other parties started coming religiously every night and would always be front row. They were these gay, black, voguing dudes from Montreal. Frankly, I didn't even know what voguing was back then. When I was an early teenage I was into post hardcore so I was familiar with mosh pits. This was so crazy, though. It was like 2am and there were these two twins and two other characters called Ian and Kevin and they would really take it over. They would create a space in the crowd like they were creating a mosh pit and people would be clapping them on. It was this amazing moment of dancefloor support and fun and liberation, but also discovering this dance style and the fashion sense. They were all dressed in crazy, drapey black stuff with Rick Owens vibes from like eight years ago. That was one of those moments like "What is happening here? These two gorgeous, handsome twins dancing with each other, throwing shape. That's insane!" Even though we're three white dudes who've thrown this party, it feels like we've created a space welcoming enough that they can come and do this.
So, beyond the new album, what have you got coming up this year?
Well, I'm on the tour in Copenhagen right now; I'm doing this live show which is kind of consuming my life. Honestly, I enjoyed putting this record together so much that I've already started writing the next thing. Again, I don't want to set myself up with all these expectations and crumble under pressure so I'm just writing stuff. Ideally, I'd really like to push forth and get another album out next year. I don't know if I can do that because, like I said, I'm pretty slow with this stuff. At least an EP by the end of the year. Because this record was a kind of manifesto written in stone, that means I'm at this exciting, scary place where I have to evolve it. That means it's the last time I can get away with R&B vocals and a house beat [laughs]. So I'm forcing myself to challenge my workflow and so where else I could take it. That's super exciting but also very scary because I'm jumping into the void. I've already got a couple of ideas and loops, though, so I'm hoping by the time I come off this tour I'll have a bunch of little things made so I can bang them out. Releasing this record has been a very reassuring thing. People do actually fuck with me and I can just be myself, trust my instincts, and it'll probably work out. I'm just riding that wave and seeing how far I can take it.