You won’t meet a more genuine producer, with a more hazardous sound. This St. Louis dubstep sensation has mercilessly bulldozed through the music scene like some kind of oversized wrecking ball on the loose. With years of experience under his belt, jPhelpz appears beyond prepared to face any challenge that comes his direction.
Enter the Leveled EP. A creation so outrageously diabolical that even the most evil forces in existence wouldn’t dare risk listening with their own ears. After linking up with Firepower Records on multiple occasions in the past, we can’t help but celebrate the rekindling of this match made in bass music heaven. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to do the same.
jPhelpz hasn’t just recently catapulted himself into the spotlight, he’s been hovering around the outer edges for quite some time. And now that the Biggup King finally has the bigwigs to back him, absolutely nothing can slow his roll.
Please give us an honest assessment of your progression as a musician during the past couple years….
Back in the day, it was kind of as heavy as I could get, just pushing the heaviness to the maximum level. Over time, I’ve kind of gotten more into the bouncy vibe and style. You can definitely see that throughout my releases. It’s kind of strayed away from just focusing on how heavy it can be, to more about the vibe it gives and how danceable it might be.
I always want to branch out style-wise, instead of just focusing on the same tempo and same sort or style. Just trying new things while staying true to myself. That’s probably the lesson that I’ve learned over time. You just gotta do whatever you want. You can always try to please your fans and stuff, but when it comes down to it, it’s about you creating something and staying true to yourself and what you want to do.
When you sit down to create a new track, walk us through your initial thought process…
It’s all about how you’re feeling, if you’re inspired by something or not. A lot of my most popular tracks were ideas that I sort of had in my head already, just knowing how I wanted them to sound. So then I’d take that idea and kind of laid it out from there. But I’ll have times when I’m just sitting there, messing around and creating sounds, or putting some chords together, or just making some drums or something, and then I have an idea that starts from that. It’s definitely situational, depending on what I’m doing. But there are times when I have a pre-arranged idea in my head that I just try to execute.
Will your VIP of Hench with FuntCase ever see a proper release?
Funny you ask. Because it was an exclusive for myself, him and a couple people for like three or four years at least. But it actually just came out. So RAMPAGE put together a compilation and it has a bunch of legends on it, like Requake and some others. I know they put out the VIP of Hench a bit before the actual release, and then it all came out together recently. But yeah, it’s finally out!
I was trying to get it out forever ago. I would’ve been happy with it coming out earlier. We never really settled down on a final version of it because there was always stuff James [FuntCase] still wanted to add to it and everything. But I guess he got hit up by RAMPAGE and they were looking for a track from him. He contacted me and said “why just not finish this song final, we’ve both been getting bothered by people saying, ‘when is it going to be done?’ forever.” So we wrapped it up and put it on the compilation.
Solid Soul designed the artwork for your latest EP. Do you believe that quality artwork can markedly improve the reception surrounding a release?
Yeah, definitely. It’s kind of unfortunate from myself, because I’m really in tune with music and stuff like that, but as far as art goes – anything like drawing or painting – I’m really terrible at that. So Eric, who is Solid Soul, he’s a really cool guy. Whenever we do artwork we hop on Skype for a couple hours to talk about concepts and stuff for the release. Even when we’re facing a short deadline, we still manage to talk and get something really good out.
This time around, I told him for the Leveled EP I want something kind of showing destruction, something like that. Maybe like a city getting blown up. So that’s the concept he went with and I think it turned out really good. I love how it looks!
Was the release date of your Leveled EP any more special because it happened on the same day as your birthday?
The EP was originally scheduled for a different release date, and then I asked if it could be released on my birthday (Friday, February 24). Which I think worked out great. It’s just an EP I worked really hard on and I’m really stoked about it. Datsik’s been playing out some of the tracks and a lot of people have been supporting them. It’s definitely a big deal to me, so I figured why not have it come out on my birthday?
Which tracks were the quickest/simplest to produce? Which tracks required the most time/effort?
Let’s see. I would say that 007 and WOAH were probably the quickest ones. WOAH came about after I downloaded a new sample pack with some 808’s and some really nice drums. So I was basically testing them out and I came up with this trappy/housey hybrid track. I thought it sounded pretty cool, but I wasn’t really sure if it was for Firepower. But I sent the track over to Datsik and all of them, and he ended up liking it, so it went on the EP. A lot of people seemed to like it. I was surprised, you know? I thought people might hear this and be like, “what is jPhelpz doing? He’s got to do something heavy!” But a lot of great feedback from that track.
As for the others. Leveled took awhile to get that chunky mixdown. Turn It Up started out as a collab and then just ended up finishing it myself, so that one took quite awhile too. Spicy Meatball would probably be somewhere in the middle of all of them.
You’ve linked up with Firepower Records in the past, but what separates your newest material from some of the older stuff you’ve done for them?
Yeah, in a way all of it’s still in the same realm as far as the soundscape, style, and vibe. I think the last thing I put out on Firepower was the Beatdown EP and it definitely had a bit of experimentation on it. Just look at Trill, it was 100bpm and a little bit different style. If you listened to my first release on Firepower it was all about the heaviness, it was all at the same tempo basically. As it’s gone on, I’ve sort of branched out into different BPM’s and styles. But it’s all still the same thing, like if you listened to all of it continuously, you would still know it’s me.
How does it feel when people refer to you as one of the leaders of the underground dubstep movement?
I’ve had to get used to it. To be honest, I’m super humble about it. I don’t sit there and dwell on what people think of me and think stuff like, “Oh, I’m the shit,” or anything like that. I’ve definitely heard a lot of crazy stuff. I’ve heard people when I’m walking by just shouting like, “You changed my life!” Or crazy stuff like that. It’s always cool to hear, and I always be sure to tell people after shows if I meet them, “I really appreciate your kind words and for coming out to the show.” It definitely has it’s moments and I appreciate them, but I try to not let it go to my head.
Pretend I’ve never heard of jPhelpz, which producers would be your ideal comparison?
Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. I can definitely tell you some of my influences that I modeled myself after, starting with FuntCase & Trampa. Definitely a lot of Datsik in there too, with like the robot kind of sound he does. Yeah, I think I would show you some Datsik, Trampa, & FuntCase. I would say to just imagine a mixture of those guys, along with some of my local influences. Like my boy Bommer, we do some riddim/bouncy stuff together.
Riddim is all the rage right now, but that can’t last forever, right?
No. But it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. I feel like the trend that a lot of people have noticed is that dubstep was sitting at a slower tempo, but now it’s starting to speed up with artists like Skrillex and Zomboy doing all this 150bpm stuff. Trap music came around and now we’ve got a bunch more hybrids because of it.
But yeah, who knows? I don’t really know what’s next, but no matter what I’m just going to do my thing. It’s exciting honestly, because sometimes new styles come about that are really cool and no one would even have imagined that it would turn into a thing. It’s fun to try to make stuff like that! I think some of the biggest names in the bass music scene are the people who started a genre or certain style. So I think that’s the ultimate goal, to create your own way of expressing yourself.
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