by Nam Huynh
As someone who listens to a lot of electronic music, I often have a hard time finding very unique tracks. When I heard ‘Follow The Firefly Lights’ for the first time, I immediately knew this artist was truly different from the rest. An even bigger surprise was when I discovered he was from my hometown, Edmonton.
Trance, Future Bass, Glitch-Hop: no single genre defines Jayeson Andel’s music. It’s so unique that the producer who typically creates electronic music has started his own record label to release his songs. I was already interested in his Edmonton background and his style of music, but I had to find out why he was so determined to be independent.
Although known for his genre-bending style, Andel was first introduced to traditional music at the age of five, when he started playing the violin. It wasn’t until he turned 15 that he discovered his passion for electronic music after seeing an effects processor for the first time. “When I first saw it, it was tied into the violin,” says Andel. “I was like, ‘This is the coolest thing that I’ve ever seen.’ It was that kind of connecting point bridging the two sides.”
After graduating from LaSalle College (formerly the Art Institute of Vancouver) in the Audio Production program, Andel started DJing regularly in Edmonton. With this, Andel gained a first-hand experience into the landscape of Edmonton’s electronic music scene. “There’s these really cool pockets of culture that are separate from the main, ‘Let’s go party on Whyte Ave’ kind of thing,” says Andel. These pockets range from fans of massive raves for promotional companies such as Boodang and Blueprint to more underground shows put on by the Night Vision collective.
However, Andel soon realized DJing wasn’t the right direction for him. “It didn’t really become feasible for me to put that much energy into something that wasn’t really appreciated,” says Andel. “[Openers] are just there to fill up time. And if you’re not really bringing people to the show, were you really relevant?” says Andel. So Andel then switched his focus from DJing to music production. “You can always put in more work personally, but you can’t make people like you or make people come out to shows as much as they’re gonna come out anyways,” says Andel.
Andel then began working for Edmonton-based electronic label Nueva Recordings.
He worked hard enough to eventually call in a favor with the owner: arrange a collaboration with LTN, a veteran Trance artist on the label Silk Music. It was through this project that Andel would make his first big step into the music industry, but only because the collaboration didn’t go according to plan. “We decided our ideas for the track were so different; let’s just do two different versions. Silk took a chance on it and said, ‘You know what? After considering it, let’s release both versions.’”
Andel’s version was well received; as a result, Silk Music decided to sign him. With that came Andel’s first album, ‘Urban Monks’, where Andel was able to further develop his unique sound. “When it came out, it charted on the Top 10 on Beatport in five different genres because it was so diverse,” says Andel. “From that point, I knew I was doing this forever.”
After getting a taste of creative freedom, Andel soon realized he craved more. “Up until that point – when you’re making music, you’re still always keeping in mind, ‘Which label am I going to sign this to?’” says Andel. This train of thought would lead to the birth of his own label: Urban Monk. “It’s my personal thing, I get to control 100% of it, and it’s really just an unaltered version of what I want to put out,” says Andel.
Now, Andel has a strong foothold in the electronic music scene while remaining fiercely independent. Andel credits this achievement to support from his parents as well as his work ethic. “I don’t think people understand how much work has gone into it,” says Andel. “I was doing freelance [music] stuff without a day job when I got back from BC for four years. I worked seven days a week, and that’s not an exaggeration,” says Andel. “I prioritized my music over everything else. I didn’t have a relationship at that time just because I was working. I didn’t have friends at that time because I was working.”
But Andel believes all the work has paid off. “I don’t know why I got into what I got into, but it just felt right so I’ve just kind of followed that feeling,” says Andel. “I look now at where I’m at and what it set me up for – because I’m nowhere the end of where I want to be or close to be where I want to be – but I wouldn’t have that leg up on people,” says Andel. “That hardcore discipline: that only comes from loving what you do. You can’t fake this. There’s no way possible you can fake this.”
What I found most memorable about my meeting with Andel was that last quote. Andel’s refusal to conform has only been possible through his intense passion. This resonated with me because his explanation for his success can apply to anyone. Passion won’t make hard work any easier, but it will give you the determination you need to achieve your goals.
Photography courtesy of writer, Nam Huynh.