In The Mix is a recurring series from Stem that spotlights special artists with a story to tell. This is Jachary.
Meet Jachary, music scholar.
50 Cent and Eminem dominated his elementary years. Blink-182 made fifth grade headphone cameos. Middle school blues brought Nirvana—and, naturally, the Pixies—into the fold. “Where Is My Mind?” and “Lithium” soon gave way to curiosity driven by circumstance: A high school speeding ticket left him in a community service program at the local library, exposing Jachary to, of all things, endless CDs. Rap charts and rock classics suddenly competed for brain real estate with Native American healer songs and traditional Chinese arrangements.
Those early explorations into faraway worlds would later help him construct his own. Released in 2017, There’s A Virus Going On placed Jachary at the nation’s heart. He reported live from our web servers, scanning the public consciousness before transmitting his findings via boundless digital funk. Virus collects fragments of sound—from UFO blips and arcade effects to live bass—and consumes them, churning out something both old and new. The project riffs off its nominal and spiritual predecessor by Sly & The Family Stone—a software update to account for new forms of global malaise.
Jachary covers serious ground on Virus. Impressively, he made most of it on his own, though that approach’s days are numbered. A short-lived stint at NYU kept the Massachusetts native in New York, immersed in a close-knit community of friends-turned-collaborators. His next project will combine those disparate talents, tapping Stem to facilitate collaboration and ensure everyone involved gets paid.
Continue reading to learn more about this versatile artist making music on his terms.
How’d you get started, Jachary?
I started taking guitar lessons pretty young, maybe when I was eight or nine. Then I switched to bass in high school because guitar was too hard, too many strings. Then my teacher gave me a four-track tape thing. I got the cheap software and just started throwing myself at it. I started collecting weird shit and got really obsessed with recording.
What brought you to New York?
I moved to New York for college. I went to NYU and stayed for a little bit. Didn’t end up finishing but got what I needed to out of it and met a lot of great people. I kind of always wanted to do music and New York felt like the natural move, especially coming from Boston. There’s a rich history of Bostonians moving to New York to pursue music.
So you go to NYU, you’ve been in NYC for seven years now. It seems like you really fell into step with some like-minded individuals. How did you come to know each other?
My friend Ben was in my old band. I was introduced to him and we had a lot in common so it was instant love at first sight. I ended up living with him in college with a bunch of musicians. We threw a bunch of parties. He’s in my band. My guitarist Felipe I met at a coffee shop. He had the same pedalboard as me.
People have just worked at this horrible coffee shop. It’s not horrible, but the barista job is soul-sucking to an extent. I was like, “How good are you?” He showed me a video of him playing “Temecula Sunrise” by the Dirty Projectors and it was like, “You’re fucking good, you’re in my band.” One of my friends Will, from Newton, he’s a really good producer and taught me how to produce. I’ve had like 17 drummers, but they’re all guys I used to play with in the PLUTO MOONS. I like to keep it in the family. It’s all people I’m very good friends with.
Bohan Phoenix, too. He’s a Chinese-American rapper who’s from Chengdu and grew up in Newton, MA. He’s doing amazing things. We both ended up getting kicked out of dorms at the same time and needed someone to live with. On some desperate shit, we started living with each other and then we started working on music. The universe sort of lets these opportunities happen that are really beautiful.
Lots of collaborators. Virus, on the other hand, was almost entirely you. It felt like a singular concept album.
Virus definitely has this mood throughout most of the song. It’s a lot of cynicism, which I’m trying to shed. I’m trying to talk about my own feelings and experiences more. Virus was a little detached. It’s pretty nebulous, I don’t know. There was a sense of alienation on Virus. I’m now trying to figure myself out, as opposed to figuring the world out. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
I’m definitely trying to let people know who I am more, though. I’m not sure I did that directly on Virus. The song “Loops of Life,” I have an acoustic video for it. That’s more the vibe of what’s coming. A lot of artists I really love master one sound and then keep striving to perfect that one sound, but that’s not me. I need to always be fucking around and experiment.
Before, I was looking outward, but now I’m looking inward. Sonically, Virus was definitely this trapped-in-the-matrix vibe. Lots of digital farts. It was supposed to sound like a computer virus. Now this new stuff is more classic, more band-driven. More of a reflection of the live show. I’m in transition as we speak.