In Medias Res: Jacques Greene
In Medias Res: Jacques Greene
- Words Christopher Fenimore
- Date October 30, 2018
"In Medias Res" is a column in which photographer Chris Fenimore links up with some of fashion's most interesting people to see what they're wearing throughout the week.
How old are you and how did you begin your career in music?
I’m 28. Had an ear and interest for music as long as I can remember. I played instruments in high school and in like 9th grade a teacher at school lent me some seminal Warp releases to take home for the weekend (Aphex [Twin], Autechre, Boards [of Canada], etc). I came back on Monday and decided guitars and drums were kind of whatever, swiftly pirated a copy of Fruity Loops and subsequently bought a MPC with my summer job funds.
After that it was all I ever poured any free time into, until I finally had one record that clicked, quit my job when I was about 20 or 21 and went on tour. Haven’t looked back.
Where did you grow up? Where do you currently live?
I grew up in the east end of Montreal, around the Mile End and Lower Outremont. The vibe of that area is kind of inescapable and permeates everything. Just like probably most people in the universe, the first time I did psychedelics in high school was to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but they also happened to have their rehearsal space like 6 blocks from my house, owned a restaurant and cafe we would go to a lot, and just be around. Montreal had an extremely strong scene and identity when I was “coming of age” and so a lot of those indie rock DIY values seeped into my outlook. I think also growing up primarily in French in a primarily French city in a vastly anglophone country gives you this kind of "us-vs-the-world" feeling of isolation, individuality and solidarity for your city and community. Feeling like an outsider feels completely normal.
I now live in Toronto, on the West Side. It’s fine. I was in New York for two or three years and it was an absolute riot but completely exhausting and my lifestyle meant that in order to afford my apartment I had to be away touring most of the time. Toronto feels like a fine middle ground for now—I’m not in love with the place but being in Canada is chill and I’ve got a good thing going here for now.
What are some of your biggest musical influences? Where else do you gain inspiration from when working on new music?
Any music that has almost overwhelming harmonics or sense of melody. For me that ranges from My Bloody Valentine, to Young Thug to early-'90s trance records. Specifically when I start working on a new record I try to give myself a healthy mix of genres and things I enjoy so I don’t get too pegged into one way of thinking about how to write a melody or mix drums. I’ll also try to go back to albums or projects that I find impeccably realized and try to figure out how that was accomplished. The Knife’s Silent Shout was something I listened to again constantly while working on my first album Feel Infinite. Often I try to get inspired by the general feeling of a night out I’ve had or a particular memory from a club night or the emotion attached to a moment I spent listening to music with someone or whatever. Trying to replicate not the song itself but the way it made me feel.
What’s your favorite venue? How about your favorite city you’ve toured in?
I love small-medium sized venues where you might be able to touch the ceiling with your arms raised. Sub Club in Glasgow comes to mind. As far as a favorite city... to be honest New York has always been a place that has loved me as much as I love it back. I feel so incredibly lucky to get to go there often, go back to places I love and discover new ones etc. There’s so much of everything and something for everyone.
Do you change aspects of your live show from concert to concert? I assume crowd reaction has a hand in how your set progresses, but I’m sure your DJ sets are quite different from your live shows.
Sure, although not as much as I would a DJ set. The DJ set is rather amorphous and outside of like five or six tracks I’m really obsessed with at the moment and a few of my own things I’ll throw in, the rest is entirely up to that moment where one track is playing and I look across the room and try to play 2000 different riffs from tracks I like in my head over the one playing out the system and try to figure out what the best call is. For the live show there’s a lot of moving pieces and rehearsal that goes in for me to actually get it right but it’s nice to feel in control and let parts ride out and even surprise myself with a thing I wasn’t too sure some synthesizer could do.
Do you have a favorite person to collaborate with? How about a favorite moment in your career?
Melissa Matos is a creative director from Montreal that I think I’ve done some of my favorite work with. She’s directed most of my videos, did the concept for my live visual rig and we once did an immersive live audio visual piece together at the Tate Modern in London. I am constantly in awe of her creative process and rigor and find her constantly inspiring.
Do you have any musts when you visit or play in New York?
I lived in the Lower East Side so I always need to go back to Cocoron, get the Apple Kimchi Cold Soba, and then pick up some wine for the club and then for home from Discovery Wines (Ontario alcohol importation laws means our wine selection is garbage). I used to pop into INA in Soho from time to time and did get a nice Comme de Garçons Homme mac coat there when I was in town last to play at Elsewhere. I like the guys at Idol Brooklyn, I always appreciate a space that feels personal and directional as opposed to vague and purely commercial. Their soul and personality is in every inch of that spot and we need more places like that. 2 Bridges record store in Chinatown is a recent addition to the must-visit spots.
Your edit of White Ferrari is a favorite of mine. How do you approach sampling, remixing or editing a previously existing work, especially one that already stands on its own original sound and fame?
I try not to overthink it. I’m sure a handful of Frank Ocean die-hards must have felt slighted and insulted by hearing a kick drum over that track. Ultimately I was madly in love with both Blonde and Endless and wanted to play a track from either out while on tour and made parts of that edit while traveling. My friend Dan De Lara heard it and offered to play bass on it and it really locked into something that if not made the original better, was a nice companion piece. I wanted to just keep it for myself but too many friends started asking for it, and you know... sharing is caring.
How did you find an interest in fashion?
I went to school for graphic design and had a brief stint as an art director in advertising, but that was a slight derailment of 18 year-old me having dreams of going to Central Saint Martins. What always attracted me to design and advertising (and, to an extent, music and performance) was just communication; the exchange of ideas and emotions with other human beings. The clearest, loudest act of that that we do every single day before talking to anyone is what we wear. I love that we’re these dumb creatures that are super self-conscious and wear things that shout at the world either saying “I’m super relaxed,” “I’m angry and antisocial,” “I want to be desired,” “I want to make you laugh” and so on.
Do you have a favorite brand or designer? How would you describe your style?
About 10 years ago, when I was in school, I found out about Raf Simons; like so many others today it changed a lot and redefined what a “fashion designer” could be. That the designer was not someone that had to give you 50 new versions of a trendy bag shape and a full commercial line but rather a lens through which to see the world and yourself. If you happened to be part of the small number of people who really identified with the ethos and vision it was really interesting. These days I’ve hopelessly fallen into a world of Comme des Garçons Homme. It can be muted, but if you happen to notice the lining, or the fact those trousers don't have a crease, or that those Nikes are two shades of pink with an orange swoosh—you go, “whoa what even is that”. I like that I can find things that feel both subtle and kind of outrageous, which I think is kind of where I’m at in my style in general. I tend to be a bit obsessive with things I get into and over the past year that has meant getting rid of a lot of things with the ultimate goal of having only CDG in the closet.
Do you have a favorite piece in your closet?
I’d have to say my 2004 Comme des Garçons navy track pants with the brown and white stripe on the sides and the zippers. Really good for travel and go with so many other things in my closet. Far from the "craziest item of clothing ever" but I kind of find myself wearing them insanely often.
Does touring or playing live music affect how you dress when compared to how you normally dress when you’re just hanging out?
Absolutely. I think I tend to wear more dress shirts and trousers at home but I get stressed out about ironing and creases while traveling so I’ll stick to things that handle Duffle Bag Life™ a little better. Incredible respect to the DJs and musicians I see on stage and in the booth in perfectly pressed dress shirts (with no sweat stains)—simply superhuman.
How long have you been using Grailed?
Feels like forever. I was a few degrees removed from the people who started it in New York, so I was using it when it was a fairly clunky website. It has changed a bit over the years, from interface to the sheer amount of streetwear that seems to pop up on there but with the right search terms you can still find the best stuff. If I buy retail, “upscale” stuff, I only ever buy from independent brands, avoiding the LVMH and Kering brands. Even then though, I like the idea of not adding more to the considerable amount of waste the clothing industry produces. Hunting for that one specific piece feels more fun and more responsible.
What's your most memorable Grailed come-up?
I got this incredible massive 1998 Helmut Lang parka for super cheap a couple years ago and it feels like it could outlive me, it’s simply the best.
As well as this Comme des Garçons Homme Plus “Dad on European Vacation-print" shirt I got last fall for a steal. Simultaneously so dumb, but so well constructed.
I’m going to a friend’s wedding this weekend and got a hilariously goofy box fit 1991 Comme des Garçons Homme suit that just arrived a couple days ago. Might pair it with with the shirt!
What’s your ultimate grail?
This staff hoodie Yohji Yamamoto made for his bud Takeshi Kitano. It’s a particular cross-section of my interests.
What’s in the future for Jacques Greene?
I just approved masters for another EP I have coming out in the fall, as well as starting to piece together what I want to do with the next album. It’s been a busy summer but I like it like that... and hopefully more Comme des Garçons.