Q&A: Jacques Greene On Producing Pop Acts, Being Introduced To Dance Music, And Bridging Gaps Between Audiences

Electronic dance music's recent youthquake has brought forth not only a lot of new production talent, but also a healthy number with distinctive styles. That's certainly the case with the 22-year-old Montreal producer who goes under the moniker Jacques Greene—a normal-enough-sounding name, particularly given his hometown, but one that didn't take long to become a name to watch.

Greene has released a handful of 12-inches since 2010. They largely refine a similar palette—skipping house rhythms and bass patterns that owe the post-dubstep diaspora, marked by long-furling neon-synth chords and soulful vocal snippets each sent through curling, patiently winding low-pass filters. Filters can be shamelessly hokey, as anyone whose ears have suffered through a night of bottle service is aware, but Greene uses them so subtly it becomes intrinsic to the fabric of his tracks as the shiny keyboards. "Another Girl," released in January 2011, remains the shimmering peak of this style.

Greene's music since then has found even more wrinkles. Most recent is the Concealer EP, released this past January. Its highlights are "Flatline," featuring vocalist Ango, a more or less straight R&B tune that maintains Greene's trademark sound, and "These Days," which refines the formula of "Another Girl" to a giddy point. SOTC spoke with Greene over the phone from his Montreal apartment a few days before his appearance at Mister Saturday Night.

How do you classify your own music? Where would you file it?

I try to just keep it as dance music, is enough, if that makes sense. [laughs]

When you go to a record shop, what's the first section you go to?

When I buy vinyl I buy techno, always. I don't know what it is. I love how techno sounds on a 12-inch. But I definitely don't make techno, and don't really plan on making it. I just love having it.

Is it the visual aspect of the sleeves?

Not at all—it's almost the opposite. What I like about techno vinyl is, a lot of it is almost sort of anti-aesthetic. They're very much into the white label, just stamped with minimal information. I like that about techno. But as far as my stuff, I mean, I don't know. It can fall all over the place.

Given that you really like the sort of anonymity aspect of it, have you ever considered using an alias?

Well, between you and me, Jacques Greene is not my real name, so that's exactly what I'm doing. [laughs]

Where did the name come from? Is it like your porn name?

Kind of: I was born and raised in Montreal from an American dad and a French-Canadian mom, so I was raised in French and English. I picked a pseudonym, or a pen name, if you will. I didn't want it to be a literary or pop culture reference, because that seemed silly. So I just went with a French-Canadian first name and an Anglophone last name to keep in tune with who I am.

Since you picked a French name, I'm curious if you feel any kinship with French house music? You use filters a lot, as they do.

I see a lot of similarities between my stuff and Alan Braxe and Fred Falke and Philippe Zdar [from] Cassius. They have fantastic use of melodies. When you listen to a Fred Falke record, he always has like these great bass lines that hit the root notes. They're just brilliant melodies. I stopped caring—I'm not as big a fan of the more aggro, modern side of French house. But no, I think there is definitely a kinship between my stuff and French house—which I haven't ever really thought of before. But it's definitely there.

One thing Zdar has done is going on to produce rock bands, like the Rapture and Phoenix. Would you see yourself ever doing that?

Yeah—I would absolutely love, love, love to produce some pop music. That's always been a dream of mine and definitely something I'd like to do. I don't know if it would be something I would do on the side or as a main thing, but yeah, for sure.

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