Nicolas Jaar performing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Feb. 3 (Photo: Alexey Yurenev)
It's been a whirlwind two months for the electronic musician Nicolas Jaar. Backstage at the sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg last Fri (Feb. 3) night with filmmaker Noah Kraft, Alastair Duncan of Infamous PR and freelance music scribe Mike Rubin, Jaar's weariness was readily apparent.
"I started off in South America," Jaar says, "then I played New Year's in Mexico, had meetings here in New York for 3-4 days with Noah and then went to Europe. I just got back to New York from London at 1:00 p.m. today." The next day Jaar will play an improvised five-hour set as part of the launch of his and Kraft's multi-media art collective, Clown & Sunset Aesthetics, at MOMA's contemporary art museum P.S. 1 inside a geodesic dome.
Tangled Up In Blue: From left: Nicolas Jaar; Noah Kraft, a filmmaker and partner in the Clown & Sunset Aesthetics art collective; and musician Will Epstein. (Photo: Alexey Yurenev)
The crush of activity surrounding Jaar, who grew up between New York City and Santiago, Chile, is even more astounding if you consider he timed it to coincide with his break between semesters. Jaar, 22, is in his final few months at Brown University where he is pursuing a degree in comparative literature. This at the same time his music career is blowing up.
Jaar's 2011 album "Space Is Only Noise" (released on the French Circus Company label) has sold more than 30,000 copies - according to Duncan it's sold more than 25,000 in Europe as of October (where the majority of Jaar's fan base is located) and 7,000 in the U.S., according to SoundScan. "Space"'s gorgeous hypnotic minimalist morphing garnered reams of plaudits including Best New Music honors by Pitchfork, number one album of year honors by brainy electronic music site Resident Advisor and a top ten spot in New York Magazine's year-end tally. The album is currently No. 49 on Billboard's Uncharted survey where it has spent 42 weeks in total.
The geodesic dome at MoMA's P.S. 1 where Jaar and Kraft launched their Clown & Sunset Aesthetics arts collective with an event titled "From Scratch" featuring dance, music and film created live on location. (Photo: Alexey Yurenev)
When asked what him and his team have done to promote and market "Space," Jaar is quick to reply, "Nothing. It's all been mistakes. We gave NPR an unreleased track - it's NPR, I'm a big fan, I love NPR. -- I made a year ago with my friend Scout [the excellent "And I Say" recorded with Scout LaRue, a.k.a Demi Moore and Bruce Willis' daughter who also attends Brown].I gave it to NPR and it ended up being put up on every single blog I've ever read as 'Nicolas Jaar's new single.' Single for what? I just gave them this track. It wasn't done on purpose, there was no marketing." The same thing occurred, Jaar says, with a fan-made video for "Materials" erroneously became "Nicolas Jar's new video," which again he had absolutely nothing to do with.
Tonight and tomorrow's performance (Feb. 5) mark the launch of Jaar and Kraft's Clown & Sunset Aesthetics art collective, a project that grew out of Jaar's Clown & Sunset label he began two years ago with two friends Nikita Quasim and Soul Keita he met in the Sonoran desert . Everyone on tonight's bill -- Acid Pauli, Valentin Stip and Pavla + Noura and supplemented with performances by Dave Harrington (who collaborates with Jaar on their Darkside project , Will Epstein and Sasha Spielberg (Steven Splberg's daughter) -- is also part of the arts collective.
The most amazing part of the evening comes rather unexpectedly when Jaar and Kraft bring out a top secret new format for the first Clown & Sunset Aesthetics' release, a compilation coming out on April 1. The music delivery system will feature everyone who played on tonight's bill and others. All Kraft will say is that, "the way people experience music can be as important as the music itself." Though I am sworn to secrecy, I can say it's mind blowing, sculptural, social, sleek and like no format on the market today. It could potentially change the way people consume music and have a significant impact on the music business. But that's a long way to go, and first Jaar has to get back to Providence for classes.
Musician Soul Keita at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and who befriended Jaar in Mexico's Sonoran Desert.(Photo: Alexey Yurenev)
Jaar performing at Music Hall of Williamsburg with incredible visuals created by Ryan Staake. (Photo: Alexey Yurenev)
Red Tide: Nicolas Jaar performing to a sold-out crowd at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. (Photo: Alexey Yurenev)
Nicolas Jaar en route to Williamsburg following a trans-Atlantic flight from London where the night before he played before a crowd of more than 3,000 people at London's Roundhouse. (Photo: Alexey Yurenev)