Interview: PYJÆN on collaboration, their new album 'feast', and coffee cup nicknames
With the release of their new album Feast, we caught up with five-piece jazz fusion outfit PYJÆN...
Your new album Feast is a diverse range of jazz-based styles, what was the writing process for this release?
Feast essentially started out as a collection of tunes all written individually over the course of lockdown in 2020. When we realised we had more than enough tunes for a whole album, we got to work and rehearsed pretty intensely over the summer and autumn of 2020. We did what we’ve always done with our tunes - we played them together and bit by bit we changed them, everyone adding in their own taste and thoughts for certain parts etc. You can hear the core personality of the tune from the individual, but it’s been gelled together by everyone else!
Three of your recent singles feature Nix Northwest, Elisa Imperilee, and corto.alto, with your previous EP Sage Secrets including Blue Lab Beats and Odette Peters - how do you approach collaboration?
With most of our collaborations, we usually write the foundation of a tune, and then get the collaborator to add their own ideas, and thoughts. Each one has been approached differently however - corto.alto wrote out the whole tune for us, 'Stay Home', and we just added our own style and touch to the tune. Beetlejuice started out as an instrumental written by Dylan Jones, but we gave the beat to Nix and he added his verse and chorus to it.
Are there any other contemporaries or legends that you would also like to work with?
We would love to work with musicians like Thundercat, or singers such as Arlo Parks, as they both have such a great vibe and lots of our music has been inspired by them!
Where do you draw your musical inspiration and what artists do you take influence from?
We each have our own inspirations, that clearly come out in our writing - musicians such as Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Steely Dan, Thelonious Monk, and loads more. By writing the core tunes individually but then working on them together, as a band, all these different influences come together.
Having formed in 2016, already garnering support from the likes of Giles Peterson and Jazz FM since then, how did the band come together and what has your creative journey together been like so far?
We formed together at Trinity Music College in 2016 as a straight ahead, jazz group called Vice Quintet. After a year or so of playing together, we started to write tunes for the band. Fairly quickly it turned into something a lot different, with elements of funk, rock and jazz all tossed into our writing and collaborations.
We all went to Brainchild Festival in 2018, our trumpeter ordered a coffee at the coffee stand, and for some strange reason the barista called out the name ‘Pyjaen!’, which was how he thought Dylan’s name looked like on the coffee cup! Since then we decided to rename the band and make it something different.
Do you have any upcoming live shows or festival spots to promote the new album, or other projects in the pipeline?
We’re super excited to announce our album launch, at the Jago, Dalston, on the 13th November. We have something super special planned for that gig.
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you?
We think groove needs to be connected with your body. Anything that vibrates and resonates with yourself is a groove to us!
Buy tickets to their gig at The Jago in Dalston on 13th Nov.