Gig alert: legendary drummer Jojo Mayer on his musical influences and the future of music
Plus, he plans to make movies and act in them
Swiss-born drummer Jojo Mayer is the son of popular musician Vali Myer, who introduced him to the world of music. Jojo is a self-taught drummer and has been playing since a very young age. Growing up in a musical household, he was exposed to all genres of music, and he even played for his father’s jazz band. But, he slowly drifted away to create his own niche — his style reflected rock and electronic music, so he decided to build his solo career. It worked out well for him — till date, he’s performed with great artists such as Screaming Headless Torsos, Meshell Ndegeocello, Monty Alexander, and DJ Spooky. In a quick chat with ELLE, Jojo talks about his musical influences, his favourite bands and his acting plans.
Stuart DaCosta: When you aren’t on tour or making music, what are you doing?
Jojo Mayer: When we’re not touring or working on new material in the studio, everybody in the band is doing different things. John and Aaron are mostly busy running the Bunker Recording Studio in Brooklyn. Jacob also works as a musician and producer for other artists and bands. I’m currently getting more involved in making movies — both making scores as well as acting.
SD: Which contemporary drummers/bands do you enjoy listening to?
JM: Deantoni Parks, Shawn Pelton, Brian Blade.
SD: It’s been 10 years since you formed Nerve, do you see this trio as permanent collaborators?
JM: I hope so.
SD: Are there any specific sounds/songs/music that have influenced you?
JM: We all have been and still are exposed to a wide range of music from mainstream pop to experimental subculture. I’d personally like a changing diet in music. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Brazilian music from the 60’s. I don’t think there’s anything interesting going on in pop music, jazz or rock these days. James Blake and Kendrick Lamar are exceptions. They bring new things to the table. I get inspired when I hear someone take a risk in order to express himself truthfully. The style is secondary.
SD: What do you feel will replace Jungle and Drum ‘n’ Bass as rebellious sounds in the future?
JM: Jungle and Drum ‘n’ Bass had a big moment about 20 years ago that unfortunately didn’t last very long. The reason was that the style got co-opted by interests that prioritised on commercial exploitation of the genre rather than its artistic development. This happened to many great inventions in music and art before and is likely to happen again. Many great ideas have turned into storefronts for bullshit over time. That’s why in art and music it is important to constantly innovate new syntax. Only this way great ideas can escape the process of being co-opted. By being reincarnated into new shapes. Mozart, Ellington, Hendrix, Aphex Twin, it’s all the same for me. The reincarnation of the free spirit. For this reason, I’m less concerned what style or fashion would be the next revolutionary movement, but more with how I, as an artist, can contribute to build that spirit in people. Whatever shape it will manifest in, that spirit will render new revolutionary music. I feel it’s already out there but it has no name yet.
Jojo Mayer and Nerve will be performing in India for the first time at Blue Frog in Bengaluru on December 8, 2017.