In the year or so since we first heard about it, the young Antwerp-based label that goes by the name of Jj funhouse hasn’t ceased to amaze us. The project of graphic design graduates Jos and Joke, the label is as they put it “a label where everything we like is possible as a release or a project and where there’s always plenty of fun in the process of doing so”. Have a listen at the exclusive mix the loveable pair just recorded for us – total absence of pose, complete lack of irony and a bucketload of very-Belgian nonchalance – and you’ll get what they mean. Heck, they even managed to slip in the likes of Mamanne Sani in the mix. Props.
Can you describe yourself and your sound in a few words?
We are two girls, Jos and Joke (yes, that is a real name in Flemish). We finished studying Graphic Design together and started a few projects after that. Eventually we decided to ‘DIY’ in a more professional way. Jj funhouse is a label where everything we like is possible as a release or a project and there’s always plenty of fun in the process of doing so. There are several labels working in a same way: every idea/release gets a catalogue number, no matter what the medium is, and gets archived. We curate, decide the format and ‘design’ it. It’s quite a simple concept but I do think we are balancing between different worlds and put down our own stamp. We’ll be one year old pretty soon and so far most of our releases include Milan Warmoeskerken. So, his sound is definitely an important influence. We could try a few tag words: library music / synth / wavy / minimal wave / dusty beats / power melancholia / tape collage / romantic electronics…
How did you first start releasing music? How does it fit into your life?
Well, Milan Warmoeskerken and I (Joke) make music together as Mittland och Leo. We were ‘forced’ by Dennis Tyfus to start making music, so we started playing, literally, with two on one tiny Casio keyboard. After a few covers for Ultra Eczema’s legendary one-song-only nights, we had a 7” on the same label. Nowadays our biggest room is filled with rhythm boxes, organs, synths and keyboards and in October our lp ‘Optimists’ came out on the Jj funhouse label. So, Jj funhouse doesn’t make music, but releases it and I think we may say, it fits perfectly into our lives and catalogue.
Is music a full-time thing for you at the moment? If not, what are your other occupations?
2014 was a musical year for us, but in 2015 I think we’ll put out some things on paper as well.
We both put a lot of work in what we do as Jj funhouse. But we also operate as a graphic design studio (jjfunhouse.com) or design/lay out on our own and work is aways welcome. Unfortunately we aren’t able to live from it yet, so Jos is in the process of becoming an art-teacher and on the look out for a relevant job and I’m looking for a part time-function inside a ‘cultural’ organisation, to be perfectly honest. :)
Can you describe the mix in a few words?
Some of these are what we aim for in our choices towards music for our own label. It’s a compilation of what we listen to while working together, behind one computer. You can enjoy it during your everyday. It has a slow awakening start except for the intro maybe, a bit more of an agitated mid section, and a more dark and sleepy ending.
Can you tell us about the exclusive track on the mix? Why did you chose to include this one? If it isn’t one of your own productions, how did you come across the artist?
It’s an original, first version of ‘Palm Café’ by C.Young. He eventually slowed it down…a lot. We gave birth to his first and vice versa. JJ001 is his ‘Daily’s’, a 10” on 300 pieces.
When and where did you record it?
We operate from three different places, It’s either Jos’ or Joke’s house, or the silkscreen studio. We’re mixing it at Joke’s place. Right in the middle of the Jewish neighborhood on a rainy Friday night. It’s sabbath. If we open the window, it’s almost like they are all singing along, amazing.
It’s Saturday, we’re checking the volumes again, since this morning there’s military men on almost every corner, ‘guarding’ the Antwerp streets with machine guns, less amazing.
What’s your favourite track on the mix?
Jos: Ode to an African violet by Mort Garson, an instant classic.
Joke: There’s a lot of my favorites in there. I’ll say El Syncro by Dr C.Stein and Rain in the south by Art Fact. I’ve listened to both non stop for a week, one year ago.
What are your top 3 albums of the year so far and why?
As we’re two and as the year just started we’ll give you a top 6 most played albums while working together in the year 2014.
Deutsche Wertarbeit (Medical Records, 2012): It’s a beauty.
The Space Lady – The Space Lady’s greatest hits: finally, someone released it! Night school records did so in 2013. But her show at Het Bos during her European tour in 2014 was so lovely, such a sweet sweet lady.
Mamanne Sani – La Musique Electronique du Niger (2010) & Taaritt (2014) (Both on Sahel Sounds): Have a look at the liner notes! “In Niger we have sweet melodies. When the music is good, it’s a positive vibration. When someone can cry because of a melody, there is something humane in them. If you are stressed, you can take this music like a tablet. It’s music to cool down. It’s not music for dancing, but maybe it can make you dream.”
Mathieu Serruys – On Germaine Dulac: BAADM, 2014 reminds us of early Robert Turman.
All the Lee Hazlewood reissues that came out in 2013-2014
Arthur Russell – World of Echo: Reissued again by Audika Records, 2014, definitely one of the most amazing and important albums.
What do you have coming up in the next few weeks?
It’s a pity, you just missed the release of Roger 3000 and Milan W.’s tapes at Stadslimiet last weekend.
21-02-2015 Mittland och Leo is playing at Het Stuk, Leuven. (Together with Mouse on Mars and Lydia Ainsworth, for the Artefact festival.)
28-02-2015 C.Young is playing (together with Hiele) at CC Hoboken.
And also design a sleeve for a new release, DSR lines: it just arrived with wetransfer and it sounds magical.