Hi Jaren it’s great to have you on Trance Hub for the interview. Of course a lot of your fans want to hear from you!
Where do you find yourself now, after delivering some real big tunes in 2007?
In shock, really. So much has happened in the past year it makes my head spin sometimes. The pressure is growing slowly and steadily at a pace I can handle and I’m thankful I’m getting the time I need to adjust. I’m at a place where I feel really comfortable in my writing now, more comfortable singing live (we had a mess of a year with Live PAs in 2007), and I’m definitely having more fun at this point. Before our tracks were released there was that anxiety of "what if nobody likes what we do and we spend all this time creating pieces we love?".
Since when did you get into singing? What type of music you listened to and grew on?
I started singing just as soon as I realized I could make noise. It’s quite funny you ask because I recently found a home video where, at age 2, my parents were teasing me because I’d sing about anything. They gave me topics to sing about. They’d say, "Hey Jaren, why don’t you sing about the neighbor’s dog Muffy?", so I’d start singing "Sing a song about a dog Muffy…" Hahaha.
I first started singing ‘professionally’ at the age of 6. My family is very musical and my dad (a country singer/songwriter) started us young, before the fear of being in front of people could really affect us. Then when I was nine and my sister was seven, we taught ourselves to yodel and we did shows everywhere singing country music and yodeling in harmony. So yes, I grew up in country music and ended up singing/writing for trance. I could not have guessed that would happen! But I absolutely LOVE it and I still write and sing my folk songs.
How did Cerf, Mitsika & Jaren came together? What got you three to perform for EDM?
Matt and Shawn met online in 2004, and I met Matt in 2005 at a cd release party. He asked me to sing on "Walk Away" (DeepBlue Recordings) because he’d known about me for a couple of years through a mutual friend, but we’d never met. So I agreed and soon after I recorded it we started dating. That’s when I started getting into dance music.
Which is the best song you’ve sung so far?
Well… that’s tough. I like all of our songs, though I admit I’m a bit biased. "Saved Again" is the most personal one for me because it was the first ‘wordy’ electronic track I ever wrote and I felt so exposed and naked. I thought "If people don’t like this, I’m gonna feel like a failure." But it’s done very well so I feel like a proud parent!
How did it feel getting promoted by Armin van Buuren on his radio sets and compilations? "Saved Again" was one of his top favourite tunes of 2007!
I feel SO fortunate that he supports our tunes. He’s a great guy so to have someone with a reputation like his supporting us is a really big deal! We are lucky ducks. I have to admit that I’m just now realizing how big he is in the dance world, too. When I first met him I didn’t know who he was so I was like "Nice to meet you. Who are you, exactly?" Hahaha!
How do you define ‘Cerf, Mitsika & Jaren’ style of music?
We’re very different as individuals. We pull from completely different sources of inspiration, so when we come to the table with ideas I feel like they are completely original and for the most part, timeless. We love to experiment with sound and try different genres. We’re very moody that way and chameleon-like. We’re just three creative people who create tracks for fun, really.
What’s the experience like working with Matt Cerf and Shawn Mistika? How does everyone deliver and put effort in the group to churn out real beauties?
Matt is the obsessive one of the bunch. He’s very organized in his approach to structuring our tracks, the bass lines and music. He’s always waking up in the middle of the night and singing melodies into his phone so he’ll remember them the next day, haha.
Shawn is the smarty pants of the bunch. He’s always got ideas and is definitely the guy responsible for the rhythm and grooves of our tracks. He can take a piece of music and transform it in minutes to something that just makes you wanna dance like crazy.
The thing about these two is that they’re never satisfied, haha. They are like brothers in that they argue like crazy for the betterment of a track, but in the end we almost always end up with something we all love because they refuse to settle.
I have the easiest job of the bunch. I write the lyrics and provide most of the melody. Occasionally, Matt helps out when I’m stuck and he’s great with finding harmonies.
We manage to find a balance… somehow.
You are now married to Matt Cerf, how did you meet him? This pictures us that someday you both will come out with a song as couples. Any such plans for collaboration?
Matt and I met at a cd release party, as I mentioned above. There was just something about him that wasn’t typical-American-male (not that that’s bad in any way, I was just looking for something completely different). We’re inseparable. We work together and play together. He’s my best friend.
As far as collaborations in the future: every track we’ve made thus far has been a collaboration between me and Matt to an extent. We just have one more person involved and I think it’s best that way. Shawn and Matt are the music makers and it works because I don’t think like a producer. I think I’d be a terrible producer, frankly. Too many options. I need limits, haha. That’s why I like writing to tracks that are complete, musically.
In what manner do you pen down the lyrics for a song? The lyrics of "Saved Again" were great and that’s how a DJ would love to set afire the dance floor!
Thank You! My writing technique is, I’m sure, just like most writers. I pull from personal experiences in my real life and sometimes from my dreams.
Usually I just listen to the music and as I’m listening the melody and words come together at the same time. I’m not one that can write lyrics without music and later place it. I like to have all the elements there: the feeling of the music, the groove. It inspires the melodies and the lyrics to happen at the same time for me.
You sing for Trance & House, what insights can you provide us on the difference and effort it takes to sing for both genres? How do the vocals of Trance & House stand different from each other according to you?
I don’t think there is much of a difference, really. Maybe in the format.
In both styles, in my experience, I sing the same way, and I write similarly. I think generally, house lyrics are more feel-good and trance lyrics are more introspective. But I’ve done tracks that crossed over quite easily from house to trance, and vice versa.
What’s your favourite leisurely activity? Do you have any interests other than music? We would like to know it!
Haha. Well, believe it or not, I thought that I’d be a ballerina growing up. I did ballet for fourteen years and when I injured my back I had to quit. I very much love dancing still. It’s hard to make time for it these days, though, but when I can I try to.
Which vocalists do you look up to? Also tell us your favourite Trance producers at the moment!
There are a lot of great vocalists out there that I don’t know their names, but I love the tracks they sing on. I really admire Einat. She’s up and coming in dance and pop music. She’s very professional, got a great voice, and one of the hardest working vocalists I know. She’s also an incredible pop writer.
Some of my favorite producers are, of course, my boys Matt and Shawn, Armin van Buuren, Harry Peat (he’s more house), and Noel Sanger. All incredibly talented in their specific fields.
Talking about tours, it seems you have had a massive 2007 keeping your vocal chords busy. Is it easy to do more shows since you are three artists in a group?
Not quite. We’ve had a couple of shows together as a group, but it took some doing. Shawn lives in Denver, Colorado, and Matt and I are currently living in Los Angeles, CA, so we really have to coordinate with the promoters and that can be difficult. It seems easier to get bookings when we’re split up a bit.
Shawn has an extensive line-up of gigs by himself, but he represents for us, and likewise, Matt and I tour together and represent Shawn.
What would you like to share with your readers? What’s hot and up coming on Jaren’s Trance menu for 2008?
Well, first of all, a GIANT THANK YOU! to all of you who have supported us in the past and to those just finding out about us. It’s no secret that we’re where we are because of you!
As far as plans are concerned, I have all kinds of plans for 2008, but most of them are unconfirmed and/or secret at this time. I can say, however, that I have a giant single coming out with one of the biggest names in all of dance music, and I will be gigging a lot throughout this upcoming year. I’m being general, but as things unfold I’ll update my MySpace and website.
Have you ever been to Asia? What have you heard about the Indian culture? Do you have plans to perform in Asia?
I have not been to Asia yet. I’m really looking forward to it! Since I haven’t done too much traveling outside of the US, I don’t know much about the dance music scene in India. It must be big though! To tell you the truth I’ll also be excited to visit because Indian food is my favorite!! I’m drooling right now just thinking about it.
We have plans for gigs in a different part of Asia. We’re looking at playing in China this year, so I hope that comes to fruition. If and when we get to visit India we’ll have to make sure you all know about it.
It was indeed great to interview you for Trance Hub. We thank you immensely on the same! All the best to You, Cerf and Mitsika for 2008!
Thank You so much for this opportunity! I’m incredibly grateful :-)