Dejot aka Daniel Jakob (aka Dubokaj) is a Swiss electronica producer, film composer based in the city of Bern. He has been steadily producing music since the 90s, collaborating with the likes of Lee Scratch Perry, Yellow, Nicolette, Bongeziwe Mabandla etc. He also remixed songs for artists such as Imogen Heap, Pressure Drop, Dawn Penn, Bonaparte etc. In 2017, he was nominated for the prestigious PrixEuropa (in Radio Music) for a podcast on Gqom entitled Gqom Edits – Durban Visit, made in collaboration with Thomas Burkhalter of Norient and Marcel Gschwend (akaBitTuner). His scores appeared in awarded feature films: Das Fräulein, Slumming, On The Line, Kameramörder. Jakob is also the coowner of Swiss boutique label Mouthwatering Records.
1: Last year I started to buy music again. What a good feeling, after all the streaming years. Is it pure nostalgia or is there more? Yes there is more! I simply listen in a more attentive way, when it’s on my turntable or a cassette deck.
2: It’s more fun to tape echo!
3: Skate and create. That was my bones brigade life back in the 80ies, and for the latest Dejot release I shot a couple of videos where I try to skate my 30 years old Blockhead skateboard. Now this is pure nostalgia!
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Collect sounds and tweak and manipulate them, that inspires me the most. Actually I don’t listen to other music a lot, but often work for days at the studio creating sounds. I work on a trial and error basis which is very time consuming, but… very inspiring! And mostly it’s the so called accidents that kick the most! So, in a way, all my music is made of accidents, coincidences.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
That was in the mid 80ies when I started to realise that music is not only about listening to the radio and exercising piano etudes. And instead of buying a stereo hi-fi system with all my money which I collected from weekly jobs at a grocery store I decided to buy an electric guitar. That was one of the most important decisions in my life! Making my own shit rather than listening to other’s music. From then on I was involved in a couple of band projects over many years! Around 1997, I started to work with samplers using cubase on Atari SE and I began to record and produce electronic music. In 2003, me and a friend of mine founded Filewile, which became my main project for about 10 years. At the same time we founded our label Mouthwatering Records where we put out our own releases, and also those of other artists. At the same time I wrote music for a couple of feature films and also for some commercials. The last couple of years I worked on two solo projects, one is Dubokaj, my moniker for dub music related projects. The other one is Dejot, with which I just released two albums almost simultaneously.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Caribou – Swim: I was blown away by the beauty of the sounds and their treatment/production. Everything feels so raw and fresh, like an instant collage. But of course it’s not. And the arrangements and the timing are incredible!
Mouse On Mars – Niun Niggung: I’m a huge MOM fan since their album Autoditaker. I love their adventurous playfulness, their mission or quest to always go further to find unheard sounds.
Rhythm & Sound – The Versions: A classic one to dive into. This is what I listened to when I spent a lot of time at home looking after my newborn baby girl. It reminds me of that cosy, safe bubble we created for our new family. Endless afternoons and evenings while half-asleep breathing in the noise and the bass and the space.
Burnt Friedman – Just Landed: This one hit me hard. It’s been in loop mode on my first iPod for years! A world to sink in, too.
Isolée – We Are Monster: I love the combination of all these sounds and melodies, the DIY touch, the atmosphere, the space.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Space, of course! My first visit was in 1990, it all felt dark and cold. Later I remember nights at Maria am Ostbahnhof around the year 2000. That time, I stayed for a couple of weeks and walked through the city day and night, mostly alone. I should do that again! Then CTM festival, visiting friends, a few shows I played with Filewile, my former band. And this really surreal moment when I found myself on the red carpet of the Berlinale in 2006! I’m a co-author of the score for the feature film Slumming by Michael Glawogger, and this film was the opening movie of the Berlinale 2006 on the biggest screen!! That was crazy! (laughs)
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Culturally: Reitschule Bern, a club called Rössli. It’s one of those squatted alternative places and it exists for something like 30 years already, so it became an institution. A big part of my socialisation with music etc. happened there. It’s so important to my generation, almost everyone who works in the creative sector in this town is influenced and moulded by this place. My studio is located in a co working space with around 25 people, musicians, graphic designers, a fashion designer, a photographer, artists, a web designer, a vinyl distributor, label offices, film producers, promoters etc. That’s another favourite spot for me. We moved in 10 years ago and it’s still one of the best places I’ve had where I can be creative.
For tourists and locals: the river Aare, where you can swim in the summer. Every Bern local jumps into the river straight after work, swims around the old town with his clothes in a plastic bag.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I used to draw and paint a lot in my twenties, and when I look at my works now I miss it!
I think it’s important to reflect on your environment, to react to what you see, hear, feel.
I’m not really good with words, so painting would be my translator if I wouldn’t have music.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
The album from Deena Abdelwahed, an amazing techno artist I saw live at Bad Bonn Kilbi last year. And then I bought almost the complete catalogue of Bokeh Versions. This is my favourite label, I’ve been following them since it started. Very adventurous releases. It really inspires me!
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Nobody specific at the moment. I collaborated with wonderful artists like Moonchild Sanelly from South Africa or with Lee Scratch Perry, with Nicolette and with Rider Shafique. With every artist it was a very intense and mind and ear opening experience. I’d like to work with a horn section, but I have no specific names. I recently saw Jenny Hval performing with two horns, and I first thought that this is a weird setup if you think of her music. But then the horns played very little, more like noises and the music started to move and groove in a completely different way! Such a contrast to her ambient-ish etherial sound. And this really inspired me to try to work with horns for the first time. I never felt like I’d need horns! Those little noises just changed my view and opened a whole new world of music for me.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a performer maybe the show at Sonar 2011 with my former band Filewile. We had that perfect slot right after Nozinja, it felt like the crowd was high on everything!
As a spectator: Caribou on a small stage at a small festival in Switzerland called B-sides while a deluge was happening, completely flooding out the place! It was magic.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s very important, though it’s not always about what the latest development is or the newest gadgets are – but electronic music is a lot about technology, of course. And the studio as an instrument is a major influence and inspiration for me. It depends on the tools you use, an important amount of decisions happen through the use of technology, whether it’s a DAW or a hardware compressor. For instance I got an old Trident desk that completely changed the sound and my workflow. It’s obvious, actually. Like I mentioned before, I often play around for inspiration, so what setup or combination of gear I use is essential.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have three sisters and a brother. But only my brother kind of is interested in electronic music. My sisters are average pop music listeners and not really into exploring music. But it can be very healthy to hear what they think about music from time to time. But after all these years I still don’t know what they really think of my art. (laughter)
Dejot just released two new full-length cassette tapes: Uhujano and Holowez were both recorded during a 3-month long stay in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Photo © Daniel Jakob