Interview: Juffage

After wearing out the Bearded approved record Semicircle, we felt it necessary to catch up with the brains behind the operation. Meet Juffage!

Posted on Sep 29th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Juffage, Function / By Peter Clark
Juffage It’s now a couple of months after the release of Semicircle, how have you found the reaction to the record so far?
It's been pretty good, hasn't it? Obviously I always want it to be better and am never really happy where I am but that's just the human condition. Also, it's not like there is ever going to be massive mainstream appeal of what I do, but there's definitely room to grow. I'm not going to wake up one day and be the next Justin Beiber (hopefully), but it would be nice to be self-sufficient and not have to work boring jobs in between being on tour and recording other bands. As lovely as the jobs I've managed to pick up are, I'd still rather be writing or recording or booking shows etc. Or, maybe if I had a booking agent I'd still have time to have a real job!

You’ll soon be playing your biggest tour for 3 years. How do you find life on the road as a solo artist?
Are you expecting me to say "oohhhhh it's so lonely out there"? I've actually done most of my tours in the past with friends who have come along for various periods. When I toured the states for 3 months, half of that was with my friend Guy who used to be in Mammoths Melting Out of the Ice!?!, and the other half was with my friend Matt Sterling, who is this incredible projectionist from Baltimore. But the last tour of the UK I did I was totally by myself. Mainly this was because I toured in a VW Polo and there was no room for another person in the car after I put all my gear in. Being on tour on your own is a bit different though, and can quickly alternate between being a fun/weird/surreal scenario pretty quickly. It's always better when you have someone with you to help load and set up gear, or sell merch and stuff like that, but even when you are on tour by yourself you're never really alone. You're always meeting new people every day and seeing new places, which is probably the best part about being on tour. You also don't often get sick of the people you only see for a day, but a lot of bands who go on tour for a long time end up hating each other because they are stuck in a van together for months.
With the upcoming release of 'Small Fires' as an EP, do you still believe there is a relevant place for EPs/singles with the current music market?
Definitely! If anything, singles are even more relevant now because people no longer have the attention span for anything, especially not full-length albums; the overflow of information about bands and music on the internet has killed this. Instead, people click play on Soundcloud or whatever, and go straight to the middle of the song to see if they can figure out if they are going to like the band or not from listening to them for five seconds. That's because access to so much information means there are too many bands out there for anyone to listen to. So why not put out a single?

What did being part of Mammoths Melting Out Of The Ice teach you about being a solo performer?

Where does the name Juffage come from?

After coming from Chicago, Illinois, and studying in Leeds, how has the cultural change effected/enhanced your musical aspirations and identity?
I wouldn't analyze this too much. I don't know if being over here has really changed my music at all, at least not yet. Most of the stuff on Semicircle was recorded before I even moved to the UK, so perhaps this is yet to be determined. I guess it may have molded my identity a little though because after moving here, I went from being 'that guy' to 'that guy from Chicago'.
You’re more than just a musician/singer-songwriter, you’re also a recording engineer and exhibit multichannel sonic art works. Do you like to keep yourself busy or are you simply brimming with more ideas than you have time for?
Well, I definitely don't like the term 'singer songwriter,' and I'm sure most singer-songwriters don't like it either. It's like a vague term that has come to mean something more specific through time due to association, like the term 'post rock' or even 'folk music'. These aren't very good ways of defining things. But anyway, I guess I do all these things you mention because I'm always up for trying something different, and I don't like to let myself get too comfortable with just one thing, whether that be an instrument, or style of performance, particular pedals, etc. I suppose I just don't want to be one thing that I do and have that be the only thing that I do, you know? I think that's how a lot of good bands get lazy. It's like, "well we're really good at this one thing so let's keep doing that!" Diversity is nice.

Do you see any limitations to your music, or is everything fair game and open to your interpretation?
Well it depends on how you interpret the question. Theoretically, no, I don't put any restrictions on myself or the music that I write. I'm only limited by my own physical ability and the technology I have at my disposal. You can only do so much as one guy at one time, which is why I don't record in the same way I play live. So, there are big limitations present in my performances, but I actually kind of enjoy that because it forces me to come up with different ways of playing my songs that I haven't tried before. That's what spawned all this playing multiple instruments at the same time and stuff because I was like "wait a second, I can do this!" I was just sick of the whole build up a loop on a loop pedal and then take it away thing that I'd done and seen so many times. Because a lot of the time when you see a solo act, their set seems like it's spent waiting for the loop to finish so they can add something else next time around. I have ADD and it gets boring! On the other hand, I'm not out to make some sort of wildly original earth-shattering music either. I do appreciate that some people think that what I'm doing is pretty original but I just want to play music that I like and would want to listen to myself.
How does it feel being part of Function records, hosting some mighty fine bands. Do your label mates make you strive to make superior records?
Well, there are some great bands on Function that's for sure, some of my favorites being Shield Your Eyes and Nitkowski. Thankfully I don't really sound like anything else Function has put out though, so I guess I don't feel pressure to make a record that's going to fit perfectly within the context of the other records they have put out. Obviously I want to make the best record I can, but I think whatever record I choose to make will be supported by Function for what it is and not because it fits into some sort of greater label identity.

We will be toasting the release of the 'Small Fires' EP with a officially licensed Juffage mug! Will we be able to wear our Juffage slippers while listening through our Juffage headphones, perhaps in our Juffage house one day?
Mark my words that one day I will have Juffage oven mitts! Maybe after all this happens I'll finally get around to opening my own chain of breakfast restaurants.

Semicircle is out now on Function Records, Small Fires EP is released November 7th.