interview + photo ROWLAND AKINDURO
Happiness is the only thing that you cannot buy. The only way you can get it is just keep being yourself, trust yourself, and love your friends. — Jan Blomqvist
ROWLAND AKINDURO: So you’re originally from?
JAN BlOMQVIST: Berlin. I mean I was born in Hanover but I spent half of my life in Berlin.
ROWLAND: Cool, so what got you in the music? What was the moment when it struck?
JAN: It’s difficult to say because I started playing guitar when I was eight years. My Auntie gave me some hippie tunes and she gave me a guitar. She was from Munich. I mean, I was always playing in punk rock bands and stuff, but the moment it really kicked me was when I was 19 in a club in Berlin and I heard some minimal techno. It was this crazy underground techno party and I was like, “Whoa shit, I want to do that.” And then I traded my guitar for Techno.
ROWLAND: Now I noticed that you have a lot of vocal elements to your music. Watching you on stage, I noticed that you’re taking it a step further by doing live vocals. How did that come about?
JAN: Well I was partying in Berlin for so long and I was already working on my own style and I always felt it was missing something. I was always a huge fan of Radiohead and English music. I was always impressed by stuff like Brit-pop. I was always missing something in the underground techno scene in Berlin. So I thought OK let’s do some deep bass and some minimal stuff combined with piano tunes could work, I think, and somehow I put some elements of vocals in it. But maybe it’s too much; I don’t know. Maybe on my next album I’ll put less vocals in it. But on stage for example, I love to be kind of rock ‘n’ roll, you know? I cannot imagine to be just a DJ playing tunes. I need to do something with the crowd and give an experience-something personal.
ROWLAND: How was your experience been so far here at the festival
JAN: To be honest it’s been super crazy, super hectic trying to find the stage. And when I first went on, the crowd was not feeling it as much, but by the end they were going wild; so that was super satisfying. I have been looking forward to this event for months. It’s super different than Europe.
ROWLAND: What’s your favorite part about the states?
JAN: Oh, New York definitely.
ROWLAND: And your favorite part about Europe?
JAN: Favorite part about Europe. Berlin. In Europe there is so much happening in such a small area like for example: it’s only 500 km from Berlin to Italy and like only 500 km to Paris or Amsterdam and there’s crazy, huge steep mountains with so many nice cities. And what I love in the USA, you travel here and you think oh my god this is such a wide country it’s so nice to be here.
ROWLAND: So from a feeling perspective what would you say the process has been versus the technical aspects of your music? I noticed that you use ableton. And how has that evolution happened feeling wise? Because I know the aligned mind and heart is a refined tool of perception and sometimes we take a mental approach to music and sometimes we take an emotional approach. Do you think you’ve gotten farther taking the feeling approach versus the mental approach? I know it’s a layered question.
JAN: Exactly that’s what I was missing in Berlin like everyone was doing these crazy techno parties. Like they were unbelievably phat there still phat. But it was missing this feeling this heart stuff. It was difficult to find a way to express your ideas like Bob Dylan, you feelings like Radiohead and put it together in a beat like Richie Haughton this is of course difficult. It is a lot of work honestly. In the beginning nobody trusted me, they were like, “what are you doing there? You cannot combine Richie Haughton kick drums with Radiohead vocals, that’s not possible.” But I think yeah it is possible for example like in festivals today, toward the beginning everybody is like, what the fuck is he doing? But if you give me like one hour everybody understands it I think.
ROWLAND: Do you feel you have a mastery now or that you have a long way to go? How far along on your career do you think you are from your perspective?
JAN: I never called it a career. My aim was just to make a living off of music, because I’m a lazy guy and I don’t want to work. I was working as a barkeeper in Berlin. That was fun also but I don’t think you can be successful in anything that you don’t like. My aim was always, only do the things that I really love to do. That’s what I’m still trying to continue. Even though I know I’m kind of successful and I don’t really have to think about money anymore, I try to focus on happiness and focus on the things I really love.
ROWLAND: Was there a certain point where you realized, oh money can’t buy happiness?
JAN: Yeah for sure. I mean look, I was so happy when I was a barkeeper. I mean, I had absolutely no money but I was like a child in Berlin. I was so free and I felt like, “Oh my God I can do everything.” And for example now, I always have to think about everything twice, like can we buy this? Should we invest in this guy? Is he a good guy? Maybe not. Which video maker should we call? No, for sure, money doesn’t make you happy. The only chance you have to be happy is to do what you love to do.
ROWLAND: And when you’re on stage do you genuinely feel the reaction from the peoples’ emotions?
JAN: I need it. I really need it. Like for example: today was difficult, as I told you toward the beginning, the people were like, “well, what the fuck is he doing here.” Because I think maybe in the USA, people aren’t really used to this kind of music. Like EDM and Hip-Hop is really big here. For example: Hip-Hop doesn’t even really exist in Europe anymore. So people are watching me, and I really need the interaction with people. It took me about 30 minutes to get somebody in the crowd and then I was fine and for the last hour I was really happy.
ROWLAND: What are some of the upcoming projects you have?
JAN:: I’ll be working on the next album for sure. I’m always making new tracks and making new ideas happened. I’ve been working on my ideas for 10 years now and it’s never finished. There’s a certain line that I follow. My passion is always to make people feel melancholic vibes and then give them a feeling of happiness.
ROWLAND: Bring them down then bring them up?
JAN: Exactly. And this is kind of like a mission which never stops.
ROWLAND: So it’s like the Yin Yang all in itself.
ROWLAND: [Question in German *translated* “Say something funny in German.”]
JAN: [proceeds to make a hilarious quip about the clothing choices of a portion of the population who attend coachella in German]
ROWLAND: Is there anything you want to mention to your fans?
JAN: Yeah, keep trying to be happy — happiness is the only thing that you cannot buy. The only way you can get it is just keep being yourself, trust yourself, and love your friends.
ROWLAND: Thank you very much!
JAN: Yeah thank you!
ROWLAND: I’m from Austria, I was born in Vienna.
JAN: Oh, so you understood what I was saying!? Can we do it again!
ROWLAND: Ha ha. ich liebe dich that’s all we can say anymore.