23 Year Old Producer, Sajeeb Saha, has had an incredible year since starting Jai Wolf after shifting over from No Pets Allowed. In just this year, Jai Wolf has already received immense amounts of plays on his tracks with many over a million plays on SoundCloud, support from Skrillex who not only signed Jai Wolf’s remix of “Ease My Mind” to OSWLA but also continues to play it often in his sets, has sold out a show in NYC, and has performed at huge festivals such as Bonnaroo and just this week at HARD Summer. Last week he played a secret set b2b at the Moving Castle Virtual Summer show at Slake alongside Moving Castle founder Manila Killa, after great sets by AObeats, ROBOKID, Hunt for the Breeze, Yung Wall Street, and TJANI. I got the chance to talk with him about his influences, plans, and more before the show.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Can you tell our readers a bit about your background and how you first got into music?
So I am from Bangladesh but I came to America when I was a year old and moved all over the US. I’ve lived in a small town in southern Illinois called Carbondale, Pittsburgh, and then I’ve been in New York for the last ten years.
I grew up playing the violin, learned a lot of classical music, shifted to guitar in high school, and then started making synthesized based music. I was really into synth-pop and combined that with my love for cool melodies and hip-hop! When electronic music got really big, I started making a bit of dubstep. I liked dubstep but I found there to be kind of a ceiling there so I took a step back and went back to my roots.
I reinvented myself and started a new project called Jai Wolf a year ago in 2014, and have used a lot of elements of indie, hip-hop, and electronica all mixed together.
How did you come up with the name Jai Wolf?
When I was switching from my dubstep project, No Pets Allowed, I wanted a new name. I originally wanted Dire Wolf like in Game of Thrones but my manager told me it sounded like a heavy metal band. So, I thought maybe I’d have a stage name like Frank Ocean or John Legend. But I’m not white so I looked up top ten Indian baby names and picked Jai because none of my friends were named Jai and that would’ve been weird. So I took Jai and Dire Wolf, combined them and got Jai Wolf.
How did you first become involved with MOVING CASTLE?
I’ve actually known Chris, Manila Killa, since 2011 through the Internet. I was doing dubstep and he was sort of doing the whole indie electronica sound for a long time.
So when he started MOVING CASTLE, I wasn’t a part of it originally but I was really tight with AOBeats and all those guys. Last year, me Chris, AOBeats, Robokid, and Mark Johns played a show together for Chris’ 21st birthday at Slake, so that’s kind of how we became really close. I made a remix for them in April and Chris told me if I’d made it a few weeks earlier it could’ve been on the first compilation, but he told me I should make something for a future one. So these guys started MOVING CASTLE and I was always the friend/associate but finally for volume 4, I did a track “Diamonds for Breakfast” with Chris, AO, and Mark Johns, and I became an official member.
What was it like having a MOVING CASTLE showcase at SXSW with Yung Wall Street, ROBOKID, Hunt for the Breeze, and AOBeats, who are all playing tonight?
It was really exciting and was great playing with them. We packed out this venue called Kingdom, which is a similar venue to Slake in size. The final show for SXSW, they had Sweater Beats and Porter Robinson do a secret set, which was really cool.
Everyone in the MOVING CASTLE collective is really tight as you mentioned, how has being close with such a talented group of producers influenced you?
It’s cool because when I was making dubstep MOVING CASTLE just started and it helped me realize that dubstep wasn’t what I wanted to make. The coolest thing about MOVING CASTLE is that it’s very individualized music and everyone has their own style. It made me want to take a step back and re-evaluate what music really meant to me. It was great seeing them make music so freely without any expectations of what it should sound like such as house or dubstep. For a long time, I thought I have to make house music to succeed, and seeing that helped me step out from that mentality. Of course, also the creativity between everyone, having everyone together communicating and inspiring each other.
What would you say is your favorite set that you’ve played?
That’s a hard question, but Bonnaroo was a lot of fun, that was really crazy. I played in New York last week and that was my first sold-out headlining show so definitely really high up there. It was really memorable because all my homies were out there, and my parents came to support me too. Just seeing people from your city there was really crazy.
Your songs have a very unique style. You mentioned earlier that you started with dubstep, how would you say you’ve developed your sound since.
I sort of stepped back and tried to figure out what type of music that I truly enjoyed. MOVING CASTLE inspired me to make the shift, but musically I’m really influenced by artists like Kanye West, Kid Cudi, the band CHRVCHES, Two Door Cinema Club, I actually used to listen to a lot of band music and music that was very synth-based, so I carried that into making music.
Going off on that, who would you say are some of your biggest inspirations?
Kanye West for sure, he’s without a doubt one of my biggest influences. Everything he does artistically is really cool and definitely has influenced the way I write music. Especially his album 808s and Heartbreak, which a lot of people didn’t like, but before that I didn’t really listen to electronic music but that narrowed it down for me and I decided this is what I want to do.
Who are your favorite artists to personally listen to besides Kanye West of course?
I actually listen to a lot of my own stuff. It’s really weird. [laughter] But I think that’s how it should be, I think we should question if that’s actually weird. I make a lot of music really for myself. I hope I don’t sound narcissistic but I’ll wake up and go on my SoundCloud. It also serves as a reminder to before I start my day to create more music. So I’ll also think what about these songs, not decided by me but listeners out there, have made them so successful and dig into that mentality.
Coming from a Bengali background, how would you say that has influenced your sound and you as a musician?
I listen to a lot of classical Indian music, I know a lot of my music now doesn’t really have that influence besides “Indian Summer” and my “Ease My Mind” remix. Definitely looking to have my upcoming EP feature more influences like that though. I think it’s a very unique sort of sound and people don’t really utilize music from halfway around the world, especially in America.
What were things like after your remix of Skrillex’s Ease My Mind blew up and got signed as an official remix for OWSLA?
It was crazy because I made that song in my mom’s basement, so for Skrillex to play it in so many sets and to sign it to OWSLA, I’m really appreciative because it just shows that hard work can get you anywhere and you don’t need fancy equipment to make good music at the end of the day. So I’m really thankful, it was life changing for me.
Did it change a lot in regards to bookings?
It definitely did though it took awhile. I think a lot of my other songs like “Doll House” and my ODESZA remix attributed to it, with all the plays they got. Doll House in particular was really crazy because I put that out a few weeks after my Ease My Mind remix. I thought this is a chill song, it’s not really going to be that big, and now a year later it has over 2 million plays. That’s wild because I never really expected that song to blow up. To me, that was the first truly Jai Wolf song, because Ease My Mind was very trap-influenced I was still trying to pander to the EDM song. So to see that song be so successful on SoundCloud, that was the first step to everything I’ve followed.
You’ve had a lot of remixes, what would you say was your favorite one?
I listen to my “Miss U” everyday, the one by kitty. It’s not the most popular one on my SoundCloud but I listen to and really like that one. From a melody-standpoint, I really like it.
You recently put out your original track, Indian Summer, what was the creative process like for that?
ODESZA’s label contacted me and told me I should submit music and if I do maybe I can play at Bonnaroo, so I thought this better be good then. I sent them something else first and they liked it but it needed a singer but we couldn’t find one in time because they gave us a deadline and we needed to have something by then.
Before I even wrote the song, I already named it Indian Summer because of the vocal line. An Indian Summer is an unnaturally hot or extended summer. It’s not really subtle, so I didn’t know if I wanted to keep the name but my friends and the label people said I should do it so I stayed with it.
So I came up with Indian Summer from an inspired space particularly the Indian classical music I mentioned earlier. Putting out my first original was definitely a big deal. I wanted it to be something that people would remember me by. I could’ve easily done a really generic future bass sounding song. So much music on the Internet is forgotten the next day. I could put out a generic song and people would think that could’ve been made by ten other people. I just wanted to make sure at the least that especially because it was my first original that it would have a unique sound to it.
How would you say your live set mixing style differs from your production style sound wise?
I try to have diverse live sets. I’ve seen house DJs just stay in a 128 set, but people like that, a lot of people like that. But I personally don’t want to go see a DJ that stays in the same genre, same style. I’ll play everything from future bass to future house to trap, I’ll play hip-hop, I love playing songs like Kanye’s “All Day”, I’ll play danceable Indie stuff. I go through all the tempos and try to make it a fun energetic set so people don’t get bored
I’d say that’s the biggest difference from my production because a lot of my songs are really slow and chill, but no one really wants to hear a full hour long chill set, unless you’re in a setting that calls for it.
There’s a lot of people who might not even know who you are, so you have to convert them to fans. I’m also the kind of person who plays music that I would want to hear and I like energetic music. So I’ll use my tracks such as Weekend and my ODESZA remix. I used to not know how to incorporate my own tracks, especially earlier this year when I was opening for Kap Slap. I did five shows with him but I only used my Ease My Mind remix.
As much as I like it, I’ve never actually played Dollhouse in a set, that one’s especially hard, but I’ll figure it out one day. If I switch into more of a live set with drums, I think Dollhouse would be perfect with that.
Last questions, what are some of your future plans?
To tour in a bunch of new cities for the rest of the year and of course working on my EP so be on the look out for that!
Great, thanks for doing the interview with us!
Yeah of course, no problem