Interview: Jam One
Juan, or better known as Jam One, resides in Chicago and is a man that posesses many talents/hobbies. Those talents include the following: beatboxing, turntablism, freelance photography, graphic design, and video editing. He’s that guy you see making all kinds of noises with his mouth, while reaching for his camera to catch in-the-moment shots of those guys breakdancing on the corner. He might even have slightly rough finger tips from scratching vinyl over the years. He’s rocked the stage with DJ Q-Bert a few times, Mr. Dibbs, Qwel, Illmaculate, opened for Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against The Machine), and others. He made his first DVD, “The Cypher”, which features a bunch of footage from various underground hip hop events in Chicago (check out the trailer at the end).
Jam One is my 11th interview since April, and it’s is my last interview for 2009. Check it out…
Tiffology: Hey, Jam. What’s up?
Jam One: It’s 1am and I hear Greys Anatomy on in the background, just got home from a long holiday weekend and I’ve missed my ipod and decks.
Tiffology: First of all, where did the name Jam One come from?
Jam One: Comes from my initials, Juan A. M******, plus the obligatory “rok”, “ski”, or number of some sort haha…
Tiffology: Where do you call home?
Jam One: Southside of Chicago! All day every day till the world blow up like whoaaaaaaaa
Tiffology: Tell me about the TNA Crew.
Jam One: My family since 98′, started off as a few friends in the summer of 8th grade, expanded once we started meeting new people through our open practices at the local YMCA, b-boy battles and more. We’ve been inseperable since day one, all elements crew, everything from B-boys, Poppers, Skratch DJs, producers, emcees, graffiti artists and more, we’re all a bunch of multi-taskers and that keeps our energy level high and ready for more.
Tiffology: How did you come across beatboxing and when did you start?
Jam One: I heard one of my close homies Phonics kick a beat randomly one day at practice about 7 years ago (shitty slab of linolieum, alley, boombox, you know the deal). I found myself trying to kick little beats when I was back home that night, eventually I found a few forums online where there were a few other beatboxers who had posted up about voice chat sessions online. Ended up becoming a very tight knit little group of online session cats. My main partners being my homie Generik in San Diego and my homegirl Hopey from Australia, we’d teach each other our random sounds we had down, share little patterns and tips and tricks, eventually each of us ended up getting good enough to start doing shows in our own cities. I got my homie Generik his first show in SD all the way from here in Chicago, rocking out on the Van’s Warped Tour like I had done earlier that summer, awesome experience and really opened the doors for all of us to get into the performing artist realm.
Tiffology: How often do you practice?
Jam One: I wouldn’t call it practice really, but just unconciously all the time, just hitting snares or little drum rolls all the time,random cyphers that pop off between the crew and friends, haven’t had a hardcore actual practice session in a while, but I can never stay quiet regardless.
Tiffology: RANDOM – Name 3 of your favorite food places or dishes:
Jam One: Most types of Pasta, Jibarito (Puerto Rican sandwhich), and good ol’ fashion Pizza.
Tiffology: Is there anything that makes you stand out from other beatboxers? A technique, a sound, your energy?
Jam One: I’ve always stressed on clarity and flow. I like to have my sounds sounding as crisp as possible and I love a good funky-drummer style flow. That plus my years growing up listening to Chicago House mixtapes and underground hiphop gives me a mix-tape style vibe. I love to cut it up and keep it in your face, action packed and just throw something at you that you wouldn’t expect. My homie Generik know’s exactly what i’m talking about, we’ve both stressed on the clarity of all of our snares and other sounds and flow.
Tiffology: Any physical effects, negative or positive, that beatboxing has had on your body?
Jam One: I’ve noticed my breath control has devoloped nicely but last winter I had a severe case of Laryngitis that weakened my throat, my throat feels very sensitive now and certain techniques will cause me to lose it and cough/choke if I don’t pace myself. As for positive effects, defenitly has sharpened the mind after learning to keep outside distractions from messing with me and forcing myself to focus and practice.
Tiffology: Inspirational beatboxers?
Jam One: Oh man, there have been many, but honestly nothing has beat the inspiration that comes whenever I get to cypher with my original homies Generik and Hopey, it just feels perfect and draws out energy and just pushes new ideas out when we get together.
Tiffology: You’ve freestyled on stage with DJ Q-Bert. You beatboxing, and him scratching vinyl beside you… how was that?
Jam One: Oh definitly the highlight of my life at that point, I’ve always been a HUGE Invisibl Skratch Piklz fan and of course Q-bert was always the front man of the group. I had never met him before and I had missed out on 3 oppertunities to meet him previously because I was too young at the time to get into the shows (damn 21+ shows back then!), so I was just in awe rocking him showcase on his QFO. At one point the guy who had plugged his ipod into the QFO to supply the beats for everyone had to leave, and there was no more music to skratch to, the homie Buttah screamed in the crowd “Get that guy a mic!”… next thing I know, a staff member plugs in a microphone and hands it to me, and I just cut loose with the man himself. The whole time I’m just freaking out in awe at his precision and hand control, while kicking beats and trying not to think too much. We ended up cyphering from what everyone has seen on youtube so far, but as well as another hour or so with him and others that night. Him and his manager spoke with me for a while and we exchanged contact info and we had ended up rocking a few other shows soon after, definitly a highlight for me!
Tiffology: Which came first for you: beatboxing or turntablism?
Jam One: Vinyl has ruled my life. I’ve always been obsessed with becoming a DJ when I was growing up, I fell in love with turntablism and I prayed and prayed to get equiptment as I grew up. My mom being the awesome parent, bought me my first set of tables when I was in 8th grade, I was hooked!
Tiffology: RANDOM – What is one song lyric you will always remember?
Jam One: I stand alone
Burned every bridge over the troubled water
No longer hiding from my personality disorder
A stronger tide is coming and I’ve been running
trying to function fine with out my mind
climbing out this fucking corner
Tiffology: When it comes to scratching, which do you work with most: vinyl, cds, or mp3 software programs?
Jam One: Nothing will ever replicate the control of vinyl 100%, I’ll stick to my records thank you very much!
Tiffology: Any plans to release any recorded material? Why or why not?
Jam One: I’ve recorded a few tracks, but honestly I can’t find a studio setting that I am satisfied with the recording of the beatboxing. It just doesn’t compare to the live show, you can’t put that energy and power in a booth, so honestly, I don’t know. I’m between both right now and I can’t decide what to do. If anyone’s got any tips or suggestions, please hit me up!
Tiffology: Any best/favorite live performances of yours? Why?
Jam One: The hypest show’s I’ve had witnessed have been RUN DMC, KRS-ONE, Tech N9ne, De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan and Dirty Digital, always a blast!
Tiffology: What are your weapons of choice in each of your specialities:
Photography: I’m in love with the Nikon systems
Turntables: I love the classic 1200’s but I’d like to get me some Vestax PDX’s, I love the torque and the straight tonearms
Video Editing: Premiere, Vegas, After Effects
Others: Photoshop, Illustrator, Notepad, Winamp, Ipod, and some Big ass headphones are a must!
Tiffology: What made you gravitate towards photography?
Jam One: I was always the one in the crew who decided to waste my money on disposable cameras from walgreens, eventually I had my hands on a DSLR for a few months and fell in love. I took a dive into learning everything that I could once I didn’t have access to that camera anymore and I spent countless hours learning everything that I could online and through other friends who were into photography at the time. To date I’ve got over 30,000 photos on my hard drive from the last 7 years or so.
Tiffology: RANDOM – Do you have any goals planned for 2010?
Jam One: Planning on upgrading a lot of equiptment, both in music and photography, I want to get back into video editing a lot more and I’d like to eventually put out a photography book of chicago hiphop and chicago gang life…
Tiffology: How would you describe your style of photography? Anything you like shooting in particular?
Jam One: I like the wild side of people, I like the in your face elements of hiphop, especially in B-boying, there’s just so much you can capture from an individual.
Tiffology: Are there any specific photographers that inspire you?
Jam One: Estevan Oriol has always been a favorite (does all of Cypress Hill’s photography).
Tiffology: If you could photograph any 3 people, who would they be and why?
Jam One: I’ve done photos of a lot of my favorites live, but I’d love to have a 1 on 1 shoot with Tech N9ne, he’s a very interesting individual to me and always has a wild and unique look, same with Krizz Kaliko.
Tiffology: Do you bring your camera everywhere you go, just incase?
Jam One: Oh yeah, every time I’ve left my camera at home, I’ve regretted it big time! I’ve missed some interesting ass moments, including a lot of funny fights, random celebrity suprises and more.
Tiffology: RANDOM – What’s the last album/record you physically purchased?
Jam One: Tech N9ne’s “Here come the Tecca Nina” and DJ Flare’s HeeHaw Braykes (o.g. was worn out and the grooves beat to hell haha).
Tiffology: “The Cypher” is a dvd that features a bunch of footage from various underground hip hop events in Chicago. You put it all together, right? Tell me about that.
Jam One: Started out with me backing up a bunch of old home video onto my computer, I ended up liking a bunch of footage and decided to try my hands at putting together some DVD content. I’m satisfied with my first project and already I am working on the next. Contains all sorts of footage of local B-boys, Emcee’s, etc etc plus random fun moments.
Tiffology: You’ve traveled to many states. Do you have any tales of any adventures you’d like to share?
Jam One: Scribble Jam 2002 (cincinnati ohio) was an insane weekend, spent the 4 day event with no sleep, redbull, vodka, battling, cyphering, and midnight raids. 16 people staying in 2 rooms. Battle hungry and sleepless. Best weekend ever.
Tiffology: What’s your most proudest accomplishment?
Jam One: Sharing the stage with Q-bert multiple times have been some favorites for sure.
Tiffology: Out of all the people you have worked with, or been on stage with, who was your favorite or most memorable?
Jam One: Opening for Rage Against the Machine’s own Zach De La Rocha and Tom Morello @ House of Blues was an insane experience. Aside from that, rocking the stage with Qwel, Mr. Dibbs, Cyphering with Thesaurus and Illmaculate, are some of my favorites.
Tiffology: Any shows / events you want to talk about?
Jam One: Just stay tuned to JAM1PHOTO.com or myspace.com/jam1 for updates, I’m always putting together shows, competitions, etc etc. 2010 will be full of goodness!
Tiffology: RANDOM – What are your thoughts on the whole 2012 thing?
Jam One: The myans know all, heed their warning.
Tiffology: Who have you been listening to lately?
Jam One: Krizz Kaliko, Tech N9ne’s latest K.O.D album, Qwel & Maker’s SO BE IT album, Dirty Digital, Ghetto Division, Ghetto Technicians, Sleep of Oldominion, Jamalski, Mestizo, and lots of Dubstep.
Tiffology: Any last words? Shout outs?
Jam One: Cypher Junkies all day every day, Shoutouts to Sour Apples and TNA, all the B-Boys and B-Girls who have been captured by my lens, all the party animals of chicago’s house scene, G4 for sure we going to war son, FullyBaked.org, Tiffany @ CrayonBeats, Soni, Mysry, Sola, Akis47, Bizkid, Thud Rumble, Rhymesayers Ent., Guerilla Union, Grandiose, Left n’ Company, and last but not least, visit JAM1PHOTO.com!
A few more Jam One photographs: