Exclusive interview with Jay OM a.k.a Journey

Jay OM is the solo project of Milan-born Giampiero Mastino, the founder of popular UK trance label Free-Spirit Records. Jay moonlights under many names including Journey, Omsphere, Sonic Wave Control, Crocodile Rangers and even Star~Trip, as he delivers his diverse psychedelic and progressive beats to listeners across the globe. Jay OM will be performing at #EasterVortex 2015 as part of his South African tour celebrating “ten years of living life as free-spirit.”

This interview was conducted by Batia Efrat, on behalf of
Psyked in the City.

jay om 1

Hi Jay! Thanks for chatting to me today. You’ve been living in London for the past 17 years. What’s the scene like over there? And what encouraged you to make the move from Milan?

Jay OM:
The scene in London is full-power but has its ups and downs, and we have had to go through a bit of a dark patch. With regards to moving to London, I was working as a graphic designer in Milan and decided on a whim to travel to London for few weeks for a change of scenery. The first day I arrived I went to a psychedelic party at the legendary Thyssen Street studios, and my life changed!  I was not particularly happy with my job at the time, and didn’t have many reasons to return to Milan. So I decided this is where I wanted to be, and stayed. The rest, as they say, is history.

You’ve been described as one of the most hard-working men in psychedelia. What would you say is your key to success and what keeps you motivated from day to day?

Jay OM:
Working in the music scene motivates me every single day. It is hard, and sometimes the game is tough but I am passionate about it. I am the kind of person that doesn’t give up easily and that keeps me going.  There are so many people out there trying to make their mark and it is very rewarding when you know that you have helped someone on their journey.

jay om 2

There is so much variety and competition within the current music industry, not to mention imitations; how do you maintain originality and distinction within your sound/s?

Jay OM:
I am in a constant state of evolution in the making of my sounds; Journey, Omsphere and Sonic Wave Control all have their own unique elements. I have never used templates or copy-and-pasted from others, instead I use my time to create and that makes my sounds original which is very important to me.  Having different projects also helps as they feed off one another, keeping my sounds fresh and unique.

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Music is a constant evolution; how does this enable you as an artist to keep exploring new influences? By the same token, how do you keep up with the fast-paced changes and developments of technology?

Jay OM:
Constant evolution, exploration and collaborations with other artists are the main reasons I manage to keep up. It also helps that I always have my mobile studio with me when I travel. I love making music and I’m constantly writing down ideas during my travels – travelling is always a great inspiration!  When I get back to my home studio in London then I develop the ideas.

Last year, you completed your first Omsphere album K‘ag Bak‘tun, which means “the new era” in the Mayan language. Did your experience at the Mayan Soul Festival in 2012 inspire the name or was it something more?

Jay OM:
Perhaps there is far more to it than that, in part.  Attending Mayan Soul was a very moving experience for me; going to Guatemala and meeting the people that were direct descendants of the Maya, spending time with them and learning about their culture.  It was a culmination of many things for me.

According to legend, the ancient Mayans’ long-count calendar ended at midnight Thursday December 21 2012; this was the end of the Oxlajuj Baktun cycle, The Old Era. It was not the end of the world but rather a change of cycle; a new era, a new beginning, a new Bak’tun.

K’ag Bak’tun is the era of consciousness and this album was dedicated to all of us that are a part of this new world. The album was conceived over a long period of time, with much of the inspiration coming from my travels over the years.

Omsphere was conceived in 2009 while you were touring South Africa as Journey / JAY OM. What encouraged you to stray off the path, so to speak, and conceptualise a new project?

Jay OM:
It was a long tour. I was in the process of finalising my second Journey album, ‘Through the Mirror’.  I needed a change and a break from Journey beats for a little and just decided to experiment.

I also noticed that there was something lacking with me not having much involvement with proggy beats at parties and festivals when I was playing in Cape Town, at the time. So I did a few track/loop ideas during the tour and when I went back to London I developed all the ideas, resulting in a lot of new tracks. The new sound went down really well with all my friends so I carried on, and Omsphere was born!

While Journey is highly psychedelic, Omsphere is pumping and more progressive, yet both acts are well-suited to day or night-time slots.  Do you have any preference in terms of performance times?

Jay OM:
Not really. I completely agree with your vision of my sounds but I don’t have preferences of set timing, as long as the musical sound makes sense. What’s more important to me is the length of my set – 1.15 minutes live and at least 2 hours for a DJ set…Three hours is the killer.

jay om 5

You often work on at least 6 or 7 tracks in the studio simultaneously; at what point do you render a track complete, and how long does the process from creation to finalisation usually take?

Jay OM:
I love my puzzles – as I call them – ideas, ideas and then ideas…I write music in pieces and stories; it’s funny and challenging but sometimes you get stuck on a point which is frustrating. Then I go to work on something else, adding new pieces to a different puzzle. When I feel I am at the end of one puzzle, I concentrate on getting it finished.

Aside from moving people to dance, what is the role of your music? Is it also a means of expression for you?

Jay OM:
My music is definitely an expression of how I feel in that moment and the place I was in when I wrote it. And if what I’ve made works and people will dance to it, wow, I love that.

Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you’d like to share with our followers?

Jay OM:
Thank you so much for the nice interview. I am really looking forward to my next set at Vortex Parallel Universe.  I’ve always loved playing at Vortex and the line-up for #EasterVortex 2015 is absolutely awesome! It looks like it is going to be an epic festival, I hope to see you all there!


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