TRACK PREMIERE: SAFE JAZZ “GOOD VIBES”
Jesse Schuster is the kind of musician who moves in every direction at once—he performs, he produces, he makes sure the video is treated just as reverently as the song and when he finds both inspiration and the opportunity, he turns a genre inside out with his project Safe Jazz.
His new single “Good Vibes” is like jazz in schematic—instruments and melodies bisected and disconnected to expose their inner mechanisms and space and clarity enough to see how everything fits together. (And of course sample snippets to remind you what we’re building here: good vibes!) Schuster’s previous L.A. RECORD premiere “Sweet, Juicy and Delicious Strawberries” was awash in its own atmosphere, but “Good Vibes” is a little more light than lush, just like both titles would suggest.
Like L.A.’s new wave of jazz reassemblers (Sams Gendel and Wilkes, and many others) he’s mixing/remixing the experimental and the fundamental. It’s agile and casual at once, a feeling Schuster sought out and amplified after a spin through no-budget slice-of-life YouTube clips and a summer spent in a slo-mo pivot from commercial to conceptual creation. As he explains:
“‘Good Vibes’ starts about two summers ago. I had was still pretty new to L.A. and had just released my first Safe Jazz record Joy, Etc. which I made with some friends from Minneapolis where I’m from. One of the main sounds of that record was sampling old jazz recordings. But that summer I had started to make money on the side composing advertising jingles, which got me thinking I should probably try making some licensable beats for Safe Jazz, but that meant ditching the samples. So I tried faking jazz.
Half the things I would sample would be people’s home videos on YouTube—I love the beauty of the nonchalance so at the time I was making recordings of everything around me. Our friend Jeremy—Velvet Negroni—was crashing on our couch writing his record for 4AD with my roommate Elliott producing. The dialogue that plays throughout ‘Good Vibes’ is from a conversation we had at breakfast one day about spicy foods. Originally I thought the beat could be for him but he thought it was annoying, so I shelved the song!
Months later I was listening to Against All Logic’s first record which starts out with these apocalyptic atmospheric horn sounds, so I had my friend Connor McElwain—who produces a ton of hip hop as Waine—over to try ideas on the trumpet. We spent most of the afternoon fucking around on this house song, but as an afterthought we tried throwing some noodles at ‘Good Vibes.’ It changed everything—he just brought this classiness and pride; and I chopped and smeared his ideas together and it become the centerpiece to the song.”
“Good Vibes”—available here—is the first single from Sigh, which is due out this summer as the debut release on Schuster’s new Pop Can Records label. (“We drink pop in Minnesota,” he explains.) Besides Safe Jazz, Pop Can will be releasing a record by label partner Pat Morrissey’s Ill Peach and an album of protest songs by L.A.-area musicians due out closer to November’s election.