It’s in no way easy to pull off “cool” in the music business, especially as a young artist. Granted yes, some new artists are cool for a few months… only to then check out to the musty waters of “One Hit Wondervillle” or out the gate think being cool is just wearing nice clothes and dating the latest supermodel. Others though, the real pros – the ones who when thrust into the limelight – do it effortlessly like John Legend, Michael Buble, Jay Z, the White Stripes, etc… are experts because well… they’re just cool for life. They show us that cool is more than just style – it’s about attitude and form. And to this point, you must admit that the coolest form of music out there is jazz. Yes, hip-hop has the attitude thing down pat, and pop stars can make you want to hang up posters of squeaky clean teens, but jazz will live on forever. The aura around jazz itself is a blend of sex, style, art and creativity that doesn’t allow just anyone to join its inner circle. You can either rise to the level of elite or end up singing bad covers in a hotel lobby outside of some random airport.
So when the Brooklyn-based Israeli artist known as J.Viewz – the jazz induced, electronic project from Jonathan Dagan was sent my way by a fantastic publicist I’ve known for years (who has yet to disappoint me), I was a little hesitant about immediately jumping on the band wagon. I read the bio – award winning, chart topping, radio play, etc. – all very impressive. But it was when I clicked on a YouTube link to J.Viewz’s jazz inspired take on Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” that I was totally sucked in. Set in a dim lit bar afterhours, J.Viewz sets the stage for an interpretation of Jackson’s hit like I’ve never seen. The first word that came to mind, very simply – cool.
Dagan grew up listening to industrial music and progressive rock– “It’s still a part of what I’m listening to these days, so I’m not really sure where this came from. I think it’s the freedom in programming and engineering that I was after which drove me into jazz to begin with.” Dagan adds, “I gradually found how it can work in a natural way with breakbeat or rock, and I’m trying to incorporate this type of production in almost everything I work on.” Whether viral or in person, J.Viewz shows are knocking fans left and right between jazz, electronica reggae and everything in between. “When creating the live version of this project I felt like I had the choice to go along with the vibe that exists on J.Viewz’s studio releases, which is sort of calm, and could even be background music. But I chose to go full-on with it and take everything a few notches up in terms of energy and power. So we present some different versions to all songs, we go from jazz to electro to reggae to breakbeat, and the main thing that I find interesting in this show is the combination of the electronic elements with whatever is going on with the acoustic elements on stage.”
Recently, J.Viewz’s latest EP, “The Besides” has been grabbing attention, filled with a range of tunes including their interpretation of classic covers like “Smooth Criminal”, a Nina Simone Remix, and other edits for tracks from the first J.Viewz’s album “Muse Breaks”. “The Besides” is a compilation that showcases why J.Viewz is bringing jazz to the new millennium. “Every tune is very different from the other as it wasn’t written as an ‘album’ to begin with, but as single tunes. It shows a funkier side of J.Viewz I feel, not as relaxed as ‘Muse Breaks’. It also shows the change that my music has gone through by being exposed to the crowd in live shows and the group work of the live act itself… It also gives a taste of my works as a remixer with the Seeline Woman Remix and the Remix of Yasmin Levi’s ‘Naci en Alamo (Vengo)’.”
J.Viewz is a stunning example of what happens when a creative mind with classic roots can use modern tools to twist one of America’s finest forms of music. To take the slickest style and make it better? That’s a gutsy move… but when you successfully pull it off, it’s just plain cool.