Prins Emanuel’s latest LP “Vhassal” was released in 2021 April 12th on Jj funhouse, a label that is known for its consistent take on the music it publishes. Sounds that we hear throughout all of the Jj releases are Instrumentally rich, emotionally bright and background-friendly. Prins Emanuel’s “Vhassal” fits contextually perfectly in Jj’s sound library.
Many of Prins’ releases feel warm and exotic, there are a lot of elements in his music that could be attributed to World and Balearic music genres. Some of his tracks are quirky invitations to move on the dancefloor, others are relaxing and touch the listener gently with poetic motives. “Vhassal”, compared to other Emanuel’s production, is more hypnotic and molded with a spice of Nordic character to the instrumental parts of the release. Overall, the album is a dreamy trip that has a motion-picturesque soundtrack quality to it and can be absorbed with a great satisfaction in any environment and context.
To learn more about the album, the artist and the label, we have asked Prins and Joke a few questions about the process of the release, personal life and their relationship to music.
Family, a new-born baby, work and a bunch of DJ mixes dropped now and then! Your life is full of action yet you managed to squeeze in and record a 7 track LP that has a rich diversity in sounds. How do you stay productive and creative with music production?
To say that my life is full of action is a great overstatement, haha. My life has never been this calm before, to be honest.
I am, unfortunately, aggressively opposite to being any sort of routine-person and this is, at times, a challenge, especially when it comes to music. I have long, pretty inactive chapters of my life where nothing listenable seems to come out of me but all of a sudden I have a spur of ultra-focus and I finish something. It’s always been like that. I have a lot of unfinished music that possibly will never see the light of day. At least I can be happy that I seem very active, then. Hah!
Me and my girlfriend support each other in all endeavors. She’s a very talented photographer and I think the fact that we both take each other’s creative disciplines and work very seriously helps the mentioned equation a lot.
I have been following your works for several years and you have kept a smooth continuity of bright and warm oceanic sounds that differ widely in execution technique but still retain your authentic character. Please take us through your personal taste and creative evolution of music!
Thank you! That makes me very happy to hear.
I’ve always been interested in different types of music, sounds and instruments and I surely have had my hate-love relationships with a fair share of different genres. Tearing them inside out, hating them profoundly and then slowly getting back to them.
Nowadays, I feel content and happy with the fact that genres or labels don’t matter that much to me when it comes to making music. If someone doesn’t understand or appreciate this, that’s on them. The vast majority of the artists I hold close to heart are living (or dead) proofs of a person’s ability to work with both the accessible and the adventurous simultaneously.
My father, who passed away in January, used to say that the fact that Bo Diddley’s music had been played for me often as a baby was the reason why I started playing drums. I don’t know if that is true but I do know that rhythms always did play a very important part in my life from my early childhood.
Even though there was music around at times, I didn’t grow up in a particularly musically interested household and nor did I have any singers or instrument players in my close family. But – I was always vigorously encouraged by my mother to explore my interests, whether it was skating, drums or choir singing. I think this is the biggest reason that I do what I do today. Thanks Mom!
I fell in love with Jamaican music at an early age, that is probably the longest lasting and steadiest ’relationship’ I’ve had musically. I think this definitely has affected me and coming from a strongly leftist family and community, I’ve always had songs with strong messages and melodies close to heart. Somehow this combination relates to the music I make today, I think.
“I was always vigorously encouraged by my mother to explore my interests, whether it was skating, drums or choir singing.”
What are your other projects, collaboration or playful experiments you have been working on, maybe you paint or code? I know you used to work with Golden Ivy quite a bit, is there anything to be expected in the future from your other creative endeavors?
It’s funny that you mention painting and coding. I was really interested in both as a teenager. I don’t do much of any of it now, apart from maybe some drawing at times.
Me and Ivar (Golden Ivy) have done a lot of music together since we started working with each other in 2010. A lot of unreleased stuff that we might release at some point. I don’t really know. We’ve always worked together really well musically, but I think we lack the same discipline in finishing stuff sometimes. Haha.
There’s also an interesting project that will be released on a very nice Canadian label in the (hopefully near) future. It’s me, Martin Blomberg (Inre Kretsen Grupp) and Ivar who have had the privilege to work with old recordings made in the 90’s.
Thank you for your time, Prins! Before moving on, please share with us the experience you had with Jj Funhouse.
I was very flattered and thrilled to get the question from Joke to do something for the label. I’ve always really enjoyed Jj’s output and philosophy.
I think the label has a certain aesthetic and even though we’ve never met personally or had any steady interaction during the process (which took over 2 years from Joke asking me to do the release) there was this unspoken artistic vision that I could feel at home with.
Joke and Jozefien have been really supportive, offering great artwork and presenting the record in the best way possible! They are working with their label in a way I think all labels should work, basically. I’m really, really thankful!
Joke from Jj Funhouse
As we spoke with Emanuel about his experience on your collaboration, could you now share your take on it?
I came across Prins’ “Aquarius” some years ago through YouTube and played the tune over and over. I actually thought I discovered an old nugget. After a couple of 20 YouTube plays, I decided to look into it and buy the album. I remember being surprised when I found out it was recent and felt lucky, as it meant we were able to invite him. It was a great pleasure when he said yes to the invite, learning he was as much a fan of the label as we were of his music.
It took a while before “Vhassal” was presented, we didn’t talk much during the composition process, so it was a big surprise when it arrived as a finished album. As Ewald Dupan wrote it, “Whereas his first LP oozed youthful carelessness and euphoria and the second one takes on a more visceral note, this album breathes hope and sentimentality.” We instantly loved it and let Ruud Lekx work his magic on the mastering.
We’ve never met or talked in person, yet as with every artist we work with, I feel we did. Oh, the digital age… Hopefully, when the pandemic is over, we’ll have a chance to put on an event together and celebrate this beauty.
Prins Emanuel’s album is a great addition to your collection of releases! How does it compare to other releases on the label? How does it differ and how does it connect with other music you promote?
We’ve noticed that artists we invite to make new music for the label, compose with a ‘“Jj funhouse sound” in mind. I guess the “Jj funhouse sound” foundation came about with all the first releases, which include Milan Warmoeskerken; C. Young, Milan W., Mittland och Leo, … Recurring themes: melancholy, flutes, smoke, chords, synths, machine rhythms.
Every album we’ve put out connects, yet each release has its own idiosyncrasies. Prins’ bright, warm oceanic atmosphere you refer to, may have shifted to a melting of glacial ice on ‘Vhassal’.
“Whereas his first LP oozed youthful carelessness and euphoria and the second one takes on a more visceral note, this album breathes hope and sentimentality.”
How do you select music that goes on the label? All the sounds and music styles have a continuity and each release complements one another. Is it a conscious choice to have music that sounds alike or is it a pure accident of personal taste?
Pretty amazing how there is a communal understanding of our personal taste.
Up until now Jj funhouse only released instrumentals, which is also a personal preference… 🙂
We reach out to artists and often get sent unsolicited demos. At times, there’s a strong interest and others just don’t click. Even though our personal tastes are quite eclectic, there is a quasi-serendipitous consistency in what we think fits Jj funhouse and what doesn’t.
You don‘t list full digital tracks on your bandcamp, just previews on Soundcloud and a “buy” link to a physical release, yet some of the artists have their digital pieces listed separately on their personal pages. What is your view on the eternal discussion of digital vs. physical releases in music.
Jj started out as a publishing house, with the intent to support and collaborate with artists, rather than a music label per se. When we started in 2014 we didn’t even have a proper business plan.
For us, it never made sense to release something intangible as we have such a strong interest and appreciation for the physicality of these objects. We always felt the music belongs to the musician and in that way we kept digital sales separate.
From a strictly business perspective, having only physical copies is probably not the most astute decision. We do not make a living from the label, let’s just call it a labour of love…
Thank you for having Emanuel on your label. For a nice closure of the interview, please give a shout out to some of the upcoming projects releases you may have!
We also thank Emanuel for that and would like to give a shout out to all the wonderful artists we’ve worked with so far, making Jj funhouse what it is today.