moody synth pads, atonal brass sections and unnerving narratives
meet Jazzboy

It’s no easy task finding a suitable musical reference to compare with Jazzboy’s niche. The music made by the boy behind the jazz, Jules Cassignol, sounds more reminiscent of eighties horror scores than a conventional release. After recently sharing his debut EP, ‘Jesus Jazz’, the virtues boredom, solo artists, and his infamous ‘Jazzodrome’ nights.

Perhaps we should turn to Jazzboy’s own thoughts on his music. “I just try to get as a close as I can [to] my inner self”, he explains, “I try to get close to the things I have a hard time saying or putting into words, so I turn to music or images.”

Cassignol previously attracted media attention as a member of the French alt-pop trio Las Aves. After several years writing music with Las Aves, Cassignol splintered off to form his solo project and alter ego, Jazzboy. Received warmly by critics, Jazzboy released two kooky singles in 2017, ‘Bored in Bora Bora’ and ‘Harlem’. Lyrically, both singles strayed into unusual and left-field topics. This, alongside his idiosyncratic production, helped to verify Jazzboy’s avant-garde credentials.

Jazzboy discovered New York City’s underground scene around this time. During a trip to NYC, the Frenchmen found himself making an off-the-wall live appearance on MNN’s ‘The Special Without Brett Davis’. Featuring copious amounts of fake blood and cast under stage lighting, we gained insight into how Jazzboy weaves his live sound. The set featured his girlfriend, Lucy, in orange nun attire cooing French monologue between Jazzboy’s exuberant jigs, lunges and outlandish lyrical recitals.

This live appearance stands as proof that Jazzboy’s creative endeavours often digress far from just music. Jazzboy hosts his own ‘Jazzodrome’ parties which seem take an approach in a similar vein to his MNN appearance. “My girlfriend, [who] stars in the videos,” Jazzboy explains, “she comes from the theatre. We do kind of a whole thing together in the videos and at those parties.” He later elaborates, “I play music [and] I do a regular live show, but there are some performances there. It’s almost like a theatre piece but [with] live music and it’s very clubby in a way. It’s very dark and there are these art installations that are very gloomy and everyone’s drunk.” Although Jazzboy likes to keep the full extent of his Jazzodrome antics a secret, he describes his most recent performance in Paris. “At the last one we built fake paradise,” he says, “[we had] heavy smoke – you know the smoke that stays on the ground – and huge fake white clouds. My girlfriend was dressed as an angel the whole time and we used a lot of blood too.”

 

Jazzboy’s unconventional production and songwriting techniques are down to an ethos of discomfort and naivety. With this ethos Jazzboy crafts elements of his music through mistakes. “When it comes to art or when I’m on stage,” Jazzboy says, “I really like to play something I haven’t mastered because I think some interesting things have come [from it].” Jazzboy continues, alleging that “I really feel comfortable when I’m not comfortable […] I like the risk”.

Selecting instruments in which Jazzboy is novice extends to his use of the English language when writing lyrics. “It’s very fun for me to play with words that I don’t really master,” Jazzboy explains, “because [when] writing in French I’m too self-conscious to really have fun with the words.” Like his instrument choices, Jazzboy notes that “sometimes I bring mistakes and the mistakes give me ideas and other images. I like it to be a bit unrealistic and surreal in a way. I think the English language for me is very coherent with the way I approach music.” Jazzboy further reflects on his use of French in sections of his tracks. “English culture and French culture are different,” he says, “although very close [yet] very different. It’s interesting when I write the French text for Lucy, my girlfriend, who’s talking on ‘Jazz In’ and in other songs. I’m writing something that I wouldn’t write in English. [I] can be kind of poetic because I’ve mastered the language, so I can have fun in a different way.”

 

Alongside making use of naivety to generate ideas, boredom also constitutes an essential element of creativity for Jazzboy. Although his musical project extends beyond being merely the product of boredom, Jazzboy acknowledges that his enterprise may not have existed without it. “I just think boredom is a source of a lot of interesting things.” Jazzboy remarks, “it used to be in the past and it is now too.” He laments that it has become harder to be bored in the 21st century; a difficulty that he believes results in less creativity. “I think it’s even more precious now because it’s getting harder and harder to get bored. [People turn to] their phones and watch silly things on it.” His 2017 single ‘Bored in Bora Bora’ grapples with the idea of the virtues of boredom.

In addition to a decreased capacity to be bored in the present, Jazzboy stresses that another condition of the current era is a rise in solo performers. Jazzboy remarks of this that “I certainly feel that more and more people tend to get into music and write music alone and perform it alone. Nobody has money anymore so they have to think of a way to do it.” He also considers that “it’s very nice to be one person and to be like this kind of star”, and concludes that “we are very much within the pop music era, you know, like idols – just one persona.” Considering this, Jazzboy reflects on the communal aspect of bands and collectives as something to be missed. “People can forget about their ego and build something that is bigger than each and every one of us.”

Alongside the underground scene in NYC, Jazzboy has spoken highly of the Paris underground pop scene. Jazzboy cites Oklou and Krampf as among the more notable acts to come out Paris. “[Oklou] signed to Nuxxe with Coucou Chloe and Sega Bodega. […] She was co-produced by this great French DJ and producer called Krampf. He’s doing like electronic music in the underground in [a] ravey way.”

Concerning his own upcoming material, Jazzboy alludes to “something very different from the first EP” is around the corner. “I don’t have a special format”, Jazzboy teases, “I’m just focusing on finding new ideas and then I’ll see what format I will be using. So it’ll be a surprise.” Despite this exciting news, we’ll have to stay content with his charismatic debut EP for now.

You can check out the video for the Jesus Jazz, below.

Words by George Ellerby / Photography by Christopher Barraja

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