Hey everyone, my name is Jeremy Van, some people may know me in the creative scene as Jaro. I was born and raised in Chicago. I’m a full-time web application developer at the University of Chicago and I make music.
When did you first start getting into making music?
I’ve known how to play the piano, guitar, bass, and the drums since a pretty young age. I learned Piano around when I was 5-6 and that was my main instrument. In middle school, I picked up a guitar and that led to learning about bass. My dad was also a drummer so I knew basic drumming. Nothing too crazy. In middle school, my cousins and I formed a little band and that was my first experience writing original music. We actually made a CD. Looking back, it was really bad.
How did you then transition into producing?
The second half of my undergrad. I invested in an Akai mpd midi controller and started watching Youtube tutorial videos. For the longest time, I was making stuff on Garageband. I started getting some positive feedback and that led me to start taking it a little bit more seriously and transitioning to Logic Pro.
Many people know you from the early days of Beach Jesus. When Beach Jesus split, were you ever worried about continuing to pursue music solo?
It was tough because I was so dedicated to the group at the time. Towards the end of the Beach Jesus phase, I think I was at the peak of my music commitment as far as time and effort. At the end of all that, I kind of went ghost for a little bit and I really re-shifted the way I thought about music. I stopped treating it so much as a grind. I stopped caring about trying to get on.
Your first solo project was La Rouge and the second to last song was, GoodBye. Was that song a goodbye to Beach Jesus? Why was this song so important to you?
That was never the intent. We made that song not too long after the release of Two Weeks Vacation. I remember being with Jesse in my attic and we were messing with ideas. He ended up laying that down and we both started lowkey weeping. It was really sad. I laid the original piano down and it was a really a skeleton idea. I sent it over to Elias because he was a producer I was working with very closely at the time. Elias is a genius. He turned that song from a really sad song to a huge climax at the end. That was one of the very last songs we put out.
Weekdays with Ben & Jaro. You two have been able to do a ton of great songs with talented artists. What has been your favorite track from the series?
That’s tough. Each one of those songs encompasses a very different feeling and time in my life. I really love On Baby with Joe Nora and Leslie Marie. That was one of my first collaborations with Joe, actually. Man, every one of those sessions I can recall the exact feeling. I think I like On Baby the most because it’s the most underrated one of them all.
When it comes to your music and who you collab with, you tend to work with a ton of your friends. Ranging from Beach Jesus, Iris Temple, Cae Jones, Banks the genius, Joe Nora, Ben, and more. Do you feel like you and your friends often get overlooked in Chicago’s music scene?
I would be lying if I said no, but at the same time if you look at Iris Temple now they’re snapping. They just finished their North American tour with Xavier Omar. They’re getting great attention right now and they deserve so much more. Quinn Cochran is easily the most talented musician that I know. His musical knowledge is nuts. He can pick up any instrument and go crazy on it. Quinn Regan, or Quinn Barlow… I don’t know anybody that writes better than him. But, I’m also biased. You listen to some of the things he says and the metaphors and analogies that he puts together…it’s not only incredible, but it’s beautiful. Cae is also another incredible writer that I love working with. Everything he comes up with is an instant bop. We’ve just gotta get that man in the studio more! Banks is one of the hardest working dudes I know and is a wizard on the boards. He’s a great motivator and is always hounding me to make more music (just like Ben). Joe Nora easily one of the most underrated producers I know. Yomi has lowkey been a critical role in a lot of the sessions/songs I’ve worked on. She’s one of the usual suspects that will always get an invite to a session. Harp game so strong. I haven’t gotten a chance to work with Olivia Prado or Barnes Blvd yet, but I love those two people so much. They’re both so inspiring to me, and I’d love to link with up with one day. And obviously, none of this would be possible without Ben.
Did you always want to make sure that you only worked with your friends?
Yeah, I’d say so. It’s mainly because I feel most comfortable in that space. I’ve tried sitting in the studio with people I don’t know and it’s just really hard. It’s a different feeling when you’re working in a comfortable environment where you trust everybody and you know what they’re capable of, and vice versa.
Let’s get into some tweets
“I want to be the best at every single thing that I do, which is the same mindset that can put me in a dark and sad place sometimes.”
I’m a very competitive person. I’m extremely competitive with every single thing that I do. And that messes with my head sometimes. Sometimes I think, I’m a really shitty runner compared to my friends, I’m a really shitty producer, compared to my peers, or I’m not quite as intelligent as so and so. It’s this constant pressure that I put on myself to be the best. I don’t like half-assing things. If I’m going to do something, why not try my best? Why not give myself a reason or incentive to get better? It’s good to hold yourself to a high standard, it’s just hard to not feel like a failure when you’re constantly surrounded by greatness.
“I want to make this scene care more about production. It’s deeper than just “beats”. How do you make that happen?”
If I had an answer to that, things would be a lot easier. I don’t know how I can make that happen, but what I’ve been trying to do is put more exposure on instrumentals. If I put out a song and I’m collaborating with someone, I’ll make it a point to say, ‘i’m collabing with Joe Nora, or Boathouse, or Banks, or whoever.’ I’m always including the producer as a feature in the title. I think that’s important. Just for fun, Ben and I have done some side projects and Ben is really the one that is putting on for producers. He’s putting out a bunch of instrumental volume compilations, the SLEEP project, and he’s working on this 10-minute project. He is doing so much and has a lot up his sleeves.
Spent 2017 focused on bettering myself. Focusing on my production as a stand-alone artist – Can that mean 2018 we expect a project?
Honestly, I’m going to have to say no. 2018 is going to be the busiest year of my life. I’m pretty deep in finishing my Master’s degree at the University of Chicago, while still working a full-time job in programming. All the while, I’m also training for the Berlin marathon, and working towards a Google internship as a software engineer.
How important of a role has Ben played in your friendship/artistry?
Huge role. Ben was one of the very first people to write about my music back in like 2013/2014. Nobody knew who I was. It was crazy. I was doing this challenge where I would make a beat every day and release it on Soundcloud. He caught wind of it and wrote about it and that started giving me some traction. And then we lived together for a year. When we lived together, he was the one that really motivated me to make music every single day. I slack off a lot and he would always be hounding me to make a 10-minute beat. He would always ask me to contribute to his projects and he would put a fire under me to make something. More than half of the music I have out right now wouldn’t be possible without Ben.
What are the three songs you contributed to that mean the most to you
1) Annabelle – my“biggest” instrumental
2) 4 in da morning. I love that song.
3) Lovemore. Ask anybody involved in making that song what it felt like that night in the studio. There was an unexplainable synergy in the room between everyone involved.
With the first quarter of the year already almost coming to an end, what are two big things you want to accomplish by EOTY?
1) Race the Berlin marathon in under 3 hours. If I did that I would be very happy.
2) Music wise, it would be very cool if I can stay on top making songs. I have a few planned releases, so be on the lookout for that.