Editor Note: This conversation took place on May 26, 2020
Jak Aggas lost his father three weeks before our interview, and he has dealt with the passing of his father in the most incredible and humble way. “You can spend a thousand years with them, and near the end, it’s never enough time,” Jak openly said. “No one is ever ready for it.”
During the beginning of the current world situation, his father tried to receive a scan to see what was wrong with his shoulder. He and his family were sure it was a nerve problem. After all, the 75-year old had dealt with the pain for over a year. But, due to the NHS cutbacks for elective diagnoses and surgeries, he was told he would have to wait six months. When Jak’s family received a letter in the mail with a scheduled scan date, his father had already been deceased for a week. “When we received the letter, we were like, ‘Wow, could this be any worse timing?’ We had no idea that we would end up losing him to liver and lung cancer so quickly, but we’re happy that he isn’t in pain anymore. He lived a hell of a life!”
Like many of today’s successful producer’s parents, Jak’s dad wasn’t the biggest fan of dance music. Jak visually diagramed his childhood home with his hands while laughingly saying, “When I first started production, the sitting room was here, and my bedroom was here (Mind you, he barely moved his hands). And, it was bang, bang, bang, every day! Honestly, God bless him because his head was buttered! But, the other side of that is my love for music came from him by listening to The Beatles and The Who.” Jak recalls his father, who often worked frequently away from home and a lover of music, always had the radio on or a CD playing when he wasn’t watching television. “I wouldn’t be sitting here doing this interview if my dad hadn’t loved music as he did,” Jak humbly said.
Expanding on music, when I asked Jak why he chose dance music, he had an interesting answer. “When you think of music, you think of proper instruments – piano, cello, guitar – that’s how I look at it, and everything else is a different style of how that instrument is played; that’s where your different genres are derived because it all boils down to instrumentals.
Beginning production ten years ago, Jak was producing the furthest thing from Trance. He started producing Makina, a genre similar to happy hardcore, and is popular locally. “I grew up in the northeast (of England), and what I was making then was a genre in itself!” Jak laughingly said. “But, the inspiration in making Trance came from my mother cleaning the house from top to bottom every Sunday while listening to the radio.” Jak referred to the late ’90s and early ’00s when Trance was readily played on European commercial radio by the likes of ATB and Alice Deejay.
Having received a CD from his parents for Christmas in 1998, it contained a song that would forever change how Jak viewed electronic music. “I believe the CD was The Hits ’98, and it had Brainbug‘s Nightmare on it.” Not understanding what dance music was, much less Trance, Jak enjoyed the driving and melodic features of the song. In retrospect, when he was old enough to enter clubs, he realized that song was the type of music he enjoyed dancing to with his friends, and he wanted to make that similar sound.
Although a self-taught producer throughout the early stages of his learning, Jak insists that watching online tutorials by yourself can only achieve so much. “I’m a firm believer in working with people that are better or different from you,” Jak unabashedly said. “You can be the most accomplished DJ / producer in the world, but you can never stop learning from someone that has a different talent from your own.”
Growing into one of the more respected and well-liked producers in the Trance scene, Jak cites his very public professional relationship with Darren Porter who has helped him throughout his career. “I remember meeting him (Darren) during a FSOE (Future Sound of Egypt) show in Manchester five years ago,” Jak said as he looked up at the ceiling, trying to recall the day. “We got to talking about production and whatnot, and Darren asked if I wanted to come to Germany for a sit-down. Well, I think anyone would be stupid not to! So, I flew over there, and the way he explained things to me was probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life production-wise.” (Note: Jak isn’t the first to say this as other producers featured on Trance Farm have spoken highly of Darren.)
Since moving back to his home country of England, Darren and Jak now live 30 minutes from one another. And, with the current world situation taking its toll on everyone in the music industry, the two decided to collaborate with up-and-coming producers, Ryan Kay, Andy Watson, and Jay Flynn from Jak’s hometown of South Shields on a sample pack. Featuring a bonus folder with material form Clara Yates and Sean Tyas, the package is available here for only £39.95. “The quality of this pack is unbelievable,” Jak proudly said. “Anyone from a beginner to an advanced producer can use it. It’s a wonderful way for us to help other producers and earn a little money during lockdown in the process.” Although the timing of this sample pack was brilliant, otherwise, Jak’s timing couldn’t be anymore (now laughable) terrible.
“Looking back, it was the right time,” Jak said. “I was still living with my parents, and it was time for my girlfriend and me to get our own place.” The problem was that they decided to do this just as the lockdowns began, and his father was then diagnosed with cancer a week after they moved, only to pass away two weeks later. “It was a nightmare,” Jak recalled. But, luckily I only moved a five-minute walk from my parents. My friends and family helped in getting us situated, but what a crazy time that was!” Through all of this, Jak has learned a lot about himself and has remained as positive and upbeat as I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with someone. “I’ve had to continue on,” Jak said. “If I didn’t throw myself into my music work, everything would’ve gone to shit. I credit a lot of this to my girlfriend, but we had to do what was best for us.”
Now that he and Nathania have settled in their new home, Jak can now continue concentrating at the task at hand, making music in his new studio. I asked him, as I ask many artists, where he sees himself as a producer compared to a DJ. “I’ve been producing a lot longer than I’ve been DJing,” Jak honestly said. “I’d only been DJing a couple of months before my first gig, and it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Don’t get me wrong; I love to DJ – I’ll hit the decks at any time, but producing and DJing are totally different talents. For me, production work is much more serious than DJing. DJing to me is fun because I’m around my friends, but there are some incredible producers out there who are amazing technical DJs like Sam Jones, Shugz, and Jordan Suckley.
With this being said, I admittedly cornered Jak in asking what made him worthy of being booked at one of the world’s more popular outdoor Trance music festivals, Luminosity, when there are many Trance DJs that are better than him? He came out swinging. “I’ve kept going,” he sincerely said. “I’ve always tried to break through in trying new things and overcome many obstacles. Every time I’ve been stuck with anything in my life, I’ve made it through and improved myself. I’ve dreamt for years of playing this event, and to be honest, it was a massive relief when I got the nod. I’m extremely grateful I was given a slot at this year’s festival and happy that this year’s roster will continue to (hopefully) play in 2021.”
It is this determination and whole-hearted kindness that will lead Jak to the top of the Trance ladder in just a few short years, and we’ll be watching.
Jak’s latest single, Daggerfall, is out now courtesy of Nocturnal Knights Music.
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