Introducing: JNTHN STEIN – #AnInterview

If you haven’t heard of Abelton or Abelton Push, then prepare to be introduced and beguiled in the best way possible…So far, you might have heard of Brooklyn based producer and classically trained musician – JNTHN STEIN –  from the infamous music collective ‘Team Supreme’: an exciting and powerful young group of beat-makers who have harnessed the value of the team that works towards helping all the individual members. Team Supreme’s mixtapes have seen the likes of guest curators DJ Shadow, Daedalus, and Soulection and caught the attention of Ableton: a music software company based in Berlin, who made a documentary video feature of the collective’s members called Team Supreme: Strength in Numbers. Stein, who is part of the collective and who once used making beats on Ableton as a form of escapism. Finally, took all of his experiences with instruments and time studying at MSM (Manhattan School of Music) into producing music himself. He became a spokesperson for the Ableton Push after he showed the creator, Jessy Terry, how he used it. An act which then lead to Terry inviting him to Berlin to make a video of his use of the Push, where in 3 takes of 2 hours each, JNTHN made a song from scratch. The result was the three-track Berlin EP called ‘Changes’. You can view his Push 2 video here where you can see him creating the Berlin EP for the first time.

Today this young innovator and beat-meister is back again with his deep and explosive new single ‘Who Cares’ in collaboration Mr. Carmack

KALTBLUT had the chance to talk with Stein and find out a little bit more of what sets him apart from the pack, and what is the best piece of advice he can share with musicians and music producers today…

KALTBLUT: So, you’re from Oakland… Can you tell us a little bit about what was like growing up there?
JNTHN STEIN: Oakland was, is, and always will be a fascinating city. There’s so much diversity, from topographies to ethnicities and fiscal demographics to personalities and artistic aesthetics to food recreation and heaven knows what else. My time spent growing up there from birth to age 18 was a time of immersion to the relatively full spectrum of what the world is made of, despite being in one place at one time. This included the serene and beautiful, as well as the harsh and ugly. More specifically, Oakland introduced me musically to soul, funk and hip-hop, all of which it has a rich history with.

KALTBLUT: We know that you are a classically trained musician – where did you study? And what drove you to music in the first place?
JNTHN STEIN: I’ve studied with private teachers on both electric and acoustic bass since early high school, as well as participated in instructed jazz ensembles at the Jazz school in Berkeley. This was all tremendously valuable foundation that prepared me to head to New York to go to Manhattan School of Music, or MSM as we music school nerds call it. These were years of continued artistry-changing musical growth and most importantly, life-changing personal growth. However, music has been in my ears long before any of this… My dad is a professional pianist and my mom plays proficiently as well, so I was exposed to good stuff from the beginning. Despite this, I suppose what started the spark was pretty arbitrary; I chose to play bass so as to get closer to my friends in middle school, whom played guitar and drums respectively. What started as social ambition soon became my relationship with music, the most important one of my life.

KALTBLUT: Is there anyone who you were really inspired by growing up?
JNTHN STEIN: I had many role models as a kid, and tried to adopt qualities from each of them. The short list goes: Wayne Shorter, Aaron Copeland, Eminem, Bill Dickens, J.S. Bach, Marcus Miller, John Patitucci, Dann Zinn. Feel free to look up some of these more obscure wildcards.

KALTBLUT: How did Team supreme come about? And how would you say it differs from other music collectives?
JNTHN STEIN: Team Supreme formed very naturally, starting with a few friends challenging each other to time-restricted beat-making exercise via email, which led to those friends inviting more friends to participate, which led to all the resulting beats being thrown together into a cohesive beat cypher that was posted on YouTube (and eventually SoundCloud), which led to this happening weekly (and eventually occasionally), which led to the participating producers forming and sharing a brand, and most importantly a musical and personal bond. Despite us growing together for many years now, what distinguishes us from any other music collectives perhaps in the world is our uncompromising eclecticism and diversity. No two of our members share a style, genre, medium of creation, or aesthetic goal, and our stark range of contrast I think actually unifies us in a weird way, and is what brings such a wide group of musicians appreciators and fans alike together to participate in and experience what we have to offer.

KALTBLUT: You are further establishing yourself as a solo identity outside of Team Supreme, what sets you apart from the rest?
JNTHN STEIN: I suppose my contribution to this is bringing my long and deep relationship with instrumental music of the world and time to the fresh and wild medium of electronic music, beat-making and songwriting, and recorded music altogether.

KALTBLUT: What is the story behind how you became a spokesman for Ableton Push?
JNTHN STEIN: A few years ago when Push 1 had first came out, I was introduced to it by a friend, and immediately connected with its bass/guitar inspired keyboard layout. I used it in a live show which happened to be attended by an artist rep of theirs, whom approached me afterwards and offered me a Push in exchange for feedback. I spent the next year practicing with it, as a performing and composing tool alike. At the end of this year, I was offered an afternoon of hanging with the creator of Push himself, which ended with me being invited to be filmed making music with the upcoming Push 2. I remember being excited, elated, nervous, and challenged to push myself even further when this happened. So there you have it. These type of stories always happen naturally and even purely coincidentally, just somehow being in the right place at the right time, and of course through working hard and loving what you do.

KALTBLUT: Can you tell us a little bit about who worked with you on your debut ‘Changes’ EP?
JNTHN STEIN: ‘Changes’ was the premiere of my musical relationship with artist and great friend BXRBER, of which there’s much more to come. Me and Kenny met in London less than a year ago, immediately clicked on all levels, and wrote Silvertown together in a few hours. I immediately recognised that not only did he have limitless vocal and lyrical ability that was equally limitlessly fun to accompany, but he shared my artistic drive and ambition, and most importantly joy for creation, and love for love itself. Since then, we’ve written a dozen or so songs that we’ll be happy to unveil to the world in the coming years, along with the many more we’ll write together.

KALTBLUT:  What was the story behind the ‘Changes’ EP?
JNTHN STEIN: ‘Changes’ initiated a big stylistic shift for me. It opened my mind, ears and thus my sound to warmth and richness, sensuality and empowerment. It also brought my oldest love, bass playing, back to the forefront of my music, and most exciting and challenging for me, it was the beginning of my voice being a predominant element in my music, which has pushed me to not just make beats but to make songs. The EP and most specifically the title track is about exactly this… ‘Change’. This can mean many things to many people, from learning and developing the knowledge and skills you have, to letting go of the past so as to embrace and make room for the future, to relinquishing attachment altogether, accepting relentless chaos and thus being liberated by it, to simply enjoying trying and being new things for the sake of pleasure. 2017 for me so far has been no exception of all of these reasons, and I think change will always be important to me, and hopefully positively inevitable to the world.

KALTBLUT: Tell us the concept behind your new single release ‘Everything Is A Drug,’ why did you choose that track name? It’s quite experimental and borrows from many different styles.
JNTHN STEIN: Everything, as real or surreal as it may be, is experienced by us subjectively through our senses and processed by our brains. I wanted to evoke that it all comes down to how something makes you feel, and that’s all that matters. Maybe the actual aesthetic of this track mirrors this, in the sense that it is stylistically ambiguous and amalgamous, rushing from the simple to the complex quickly the way a simple feeling can bloom into a network of thoughts and sensations. But more importantly, I made it the way I did because of how it made me feel.

KALTBLUT: This is the first single from your new EP, what can we expect from the other tracks?’
JNTHN STEIN: ‘Who Cares’ is a collab I did with Mr Carmack that shows the full range from serene to horrific and everything in between. It’s otherworldly, and simply wild. ‘Master Control’ is a shlumper I made with BXRBER that will make your head fall off from bobbing too hard if you’re not careful. I’ll let you decipher the lyrics for yourself, but for now I’ll say it’s about awesome fun stuff you can do in cars.

KALTBLUT: What’s the best bit of advice you could share with other aspiring musicians and producers?
JNTHN STEIN: Current culture has its trends, but music itself does not. Everything that ever was, is, and will be all relevant. Trust your instincts and feelings, and through this use your tastes and passions to enjoy what you do as much as possible, and therefore be willing to work hard at what you do. Through this work convey your enjoyment and love to your audience and the world altogether. We live, we die. Success and fame will become irrelevant; all that will matter is that you’ve had a good time, and that you’ve loved.

KALTBLUT: How long did it take you to find a team of people that you could work with and trust musically?
JNTHN STEIN: I’ve had positive musical experiences since the high school years, simply because I’ve trusted my instinct to lead me towards mutually positive and potent musicians that I could in turn trust as well. If you rely on this, and not on any external preconceptions, I believe it is not hard to find the right people and community, as long as you are proactive about sharing who you are and what you do through any medium necessary.

KALTBLUT: What was it like being in Berlin and producing the three-track EP?
JNTHN STEIN: Berlin is an amazing city, with a cultural diversity and progressivity born of past conflict that reminds me of Oakland, despite having such different music and food tastes. I’ll never forget my time there. People were friendly, I enjoyed walking through its hoods, especially parks. I had an apartment with the living room set up as a cozy studio (as seen in the Push 2 vid), and was filmed in three takes of me making a beat for two hours each for Ableton, the third of which was condensed into the video released. The whole experience was so positive for me I decided to release all three tracks and name it after the awesome city they were made in.

KALTBLUT: What is your favourite coffee shop in Brooklyn?
JNTHN STEIN: Right around the corner of my place is a sweet lil’ spot called Variety, full of beautiful interesting people, fun pastries and great coffee and tea. If you’re ever in the hood I recommend.