Amsterdam-bred musician Ellroy Uyleman has been on our radar for a while now. Better know via his moniker Jarreau Vandal, the Dutch DJ and producer’s kaleidoscopic mixes and high-energy beats have steadily taken over clubs and festivals both local and global. But it’s his debut mixtape, Anthology, that has us hooked ever since its release earlier this fall. Personal and collaborative, the project casts novel light on Jarreau—brashly letting go of his comfort zone, he uses his vocals on a song for the very first time and explores the extent to which he can grow as an artist.
It’s really impossible to box Anthology into a genre. Did the mix of styles come organically throughout your creative process?
The project came to life very naturally. It consists out of different songs made over the course of a year and not made to be part of a project—just created as songs that can be good enough on their own. And the versatility in sound comes from all the different influences I’ve had in my growth as a musician.
The name and the collage cover also speak of this impossibility to be trapped in one image or box. Do you relate that mesh of things that we see on the cover to your life as well?
Yes, definitely! I’ve always found myself in the middle of things, groups and people—sometimes in a less fortunate ways… But for instance, if I go out with all my friends or see all of them at once, it’d be a crazy combination of people that doesn’t make sense at first. I love it!
There’s an interesting clash of nature versus civilisation within the project too. Do opposites and contrasts play a role in your artistic creation?
Contrasts always play a role in my creative process and in what I make—it’s a form of expression. Extremes compliment each other very well. This is what I, for example, also like to do in my DJ sets a lot. A hard trap/hip-hop banger doesn’t have the same impact without any chilled music before or after it. Such complimentary opposition goes for everything.
You’ve mentioned this is a very personal project for you. Is it important for you, as an artist, to get out of your comfort zone and be vulnerable?
It’s tremendously important to get out of your comfort zone—that’s the only way to move forward. This project is personal for me, because there are a few songs that I sing on myself. Doing this is something completely new for me and I didn’t know how people would respond to it.
We also see you doing extensive collaboration work on this project. Why was working with other artists’ perspectives and ways of creating important to your development as an artist yourself?
When you work with other people and collaborate with them, you find out how much information you can, in fact, take in. You share big chunks of experience with each other and both get better and evolve in one way or another after the encounter.
You’re also going on your first live tour with a band this month? How and why did you decide you want a band with you on stage?
I believe that in order to maintain my career as a musician, which is all I’ve got since I never obtained a diploma, I have to keep evolving and growing both as a person and as an artist. Going out of my comfort zone is a big part of that, as I mentioned—doing things I never dared or thought I could do. Also, my managers told me, You’re going to do a live show this year. But at first, I didn’t really think it was ever going to happen—I don’t know why, but the idea of me performing in a concert setting seemed so far away. I thought about it a lot however, and realized that as an artist, I can’t simply stick to DJ-ing every month—I need to grow. So, I just started the process and went for it.
How do you feel about the tour in general and playing something so personal in sold-out venues, especially in Amsterdam?
I used to get very nervous every time someone told me they’d bought tickets for my show. But after a lot of rehearsals, I kind of got more and more excited about presenting the amazing show I prepared for this tour. I’m just very excited to plunge into this new world, and I feel it’s going to teach me a lot, be it for my next process of music-making or something entirely different.