feeder insider interview with J. Gabriel [Onysia / Convent]

feeder insider extended interview with J. Gabriel [Onysia and Convent]

J Gabriel and Shaun Reeves collaborated on the “Delivery” EP for Convent label, born from their shared love for minimal house music. Convent explores a heavier, minimal sound compared to its sister label, Onysia. The tracks were crafted through experimentation with analog equipment similar to a Moog modular synth and vintage Roland SH2. J Gabriel discusses Brooklyn’s evolving club scene and favourite spots like ReSolute and Public Records. He also mentions collaborations with Mike Shannon and upcoming projects. For visitors to New York, he recommends a few interesting places, while highlighting Brooklyn’s coffee scene. Lastly, he suggests checking out “A State of Mind” by J Gabriel & Connie Yin, hinting at an upcoming EP with a similar vibe.

f: Hi Joseph, thanks for taking the time to talk with us here at feeder.ro. We’re loving your new collaborative EP on your Convent label with the beloved Visionquest member Shaun Reeves. How did you meet Shaun and how did this collaboration happen?

J Gabriel: Hey great to be in touch again, thanks yeah this project has been a long time in the making. Shaun and I were introduced quite some time ago by a mutual friend who felt we had a similar taste and passion for minimal house music. We ended up conducting several recording sessions here at Onysia/Convent Studios, which is the basis for the Delivery EP. Shaun brings a particular vibe as do I and to me, it feels like this EP reflects a really nice combination of both of our energies. 

f: Can you tell us about the aesthetic and sonic direction of Convent? 

J Gabriel: Convent is the sister label to Onysia, a sonic complement covering a different territory. Since Onysia is focused on this sort of organic, somewhat playful and “daytime deep house” vibes I like to call it, Convent is the heavier edgier outlet with a more minimal, peak and after-hours focus. A techier sound as well, you could say. So with this being the fourth release, I think there is a somewhat clear direction you can discern, and the pipeline is thick. You can expect music coming from Mike Shannon, Tom Ellis, Bruno Pronsato, Tommy Vicari Jnr, Thomas Melchior, Steve O’Sullivan as Bluetrain, Cabanne, Connie Yin, and others.  

f: What, where and how were these new tracks produced and how did the alternate versions of each track come together? 

J Gabriel: We just started jamming, I can remember clearly our very first session and Shaun writing that interesting drum rhythm for Delivery. 

The distinctive bassline came next, done on a very powerful modular synth – it’s an exact replica of the Moog modular schematic and has a quite special sound, opening and closing that filter with a really beautiful resonance, you can hear the depth and clarity of that on the track. Imposter, which is clearly going for a more minimal after-hours sound, I recall us playing around with a vintage Roland SH2, which was the precursor to their very famous SH101 synth but with a bit more raw sound… And experimenting with different textures and subtle melodic samples until we landed on what you’re hearing. Shaun of course has an amazing ear and was sensitive to really subtle things that affect the vibe – so I was also learning about listening in a different way from him, a reminder that there are drawbacks to always working alone in the studio. Being occupied with conducting the session and patching in gear etc, it was interesting to see how sometimes it can distract from simply tuning in to what’s being created in a more focused way… Having another deep musical mind who can focus 100% on what’s coming out of the speakers, really is invaluable and pays off big time, certainly with this EP I think heh. Delivery and Imposter felt like a pretty strong statement as is, so rather than spending time on a few other ideas which were floating around, it seemed appropriate to do variations on those ideas to complete the EP. 

f: You’re a native of Brooklyn, a club scene which seems to have been widely acclaimed for a very long time now. Could you tell us a little about the scene on your home turf, and what your favourite haunts or party promoters are?

J Gabriel: New York is of course a very interesting place, the landscape is constantly shifting particularly in the past few years when the city started embracing nightlife a bit more, rather than fighting it… Also, my perspective shifts especially over the long term, I’ve been going out steadily for the past 10-15 years and experienced different highs and lows. ReSolute has been the most consistent promoter in minimal, bringing interesting underground talent and doing a range of party styles. You have such a strong international presence here that contributes to the scene quite a bit, with tons of Europeans who make up a big part of attendees. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Public Records which is the club started by Francis Harris (Frank & Tony, Adultnapper) it’s a thing unto itself, really well thought out and bookings are excellent and diverse. Manhattan seems to consistently struggle, maybe because real estate is so bonkers I’m not sure. But I hope that there will be more underground parties there moving forward too… Something about the city is just a special type of sexy and markedly different to Brooklyn in ways which are difficult to put into words. I love having access to both worlds.

f: You collaborated with Mike Shannon on his Cynosure last year, how did this one and your connection with Mike come about? 

J Gabriel: It started with a release I did on Fresh Meat, Mazi who has been in the Chicago scene a very long time asked who I’d like to maybe remix one of the tracks, and I said Mike Shannon (who he happened to know quite well, as things would have it).

So from there, Mike became familiar with my work, and a couple of years later I was asked by Moteurville Musique (Detroit label) to do a remix on a release “Dem Nights” with him. So yeah it was just an organic thing that we started corresponding over the years, had a great time hanging out after one of his gigs here in NYC and decided to do a collab. Check it out!

f: What’s next for Convent and J Gabriel in general? 

J Gabriel: As mentioned we have a lot of material coming together for upcoming Convent releases, all really high-quality music in the pipeline. 

I’m busy producing in other genres, we’re doing another Scientist vs J Gabriel collaboration which is super cool. Working with Scientist is a really special and dynamic experience – he is one of my favourite all-time music producers, and it’s very inspiring. And he is so connected in the Reggae world, we’re able to get some top talent involved whether it’s vocals (this new song features Joseph Cotton, amazing dancehall style on this one), we have Tony Chin on guitar again who worked with Bob Marley in the 70s, and is on many iconic cuts from that era in Jamaica. I’m also developing an electronic/hip-hop/pop project so yeah, full plate! haha

f: Can you drop a few tips for folks visiting New York? Your hot tips to grab a slice of pizza, buy some records or anything else you feel is quintessentially a must-do in New York?

J Gabriel: Yeah, there is so much hype here where restaurants are concerned, if it’s being featured in one of those “best of” lists you can be pretty sure it is not the best haha. I cook a lot, so if I’m going out it’s gotta be proper. Can recommend Leo for pizza, they do a sourdough crust and it has high-quality ingredients. If you’re in Manhattan and craving a nice sit-down experience try Upland for one of the best chicken dinners in town. Maybe most importantly try the Matcha latte at PPL in Williamsburg, a real Japanese coffee shop, and if you prefer a cappuccino try Variety on Graham Ave… For me, Brooklyn does it better than anywhere else in the world when it comes to coffee. 

f: And finally, leave us with one track you think our readers should hear but may have missed, a gemstone tucked away on the B2 or something like that.

 J Gabriel: J Gabriel & Connie Yin – A State of Mind, had a limited vinyl-only run but now I’ve put it out digitally on Onysia. Connie has been my favourite DJ in NYC for many years and is the founding resident of ReSolute. We actually have a new EP coming soon which takes the psychedelic approach you hear in “State of Mind” and streamlines it into an even harder-hitting, dancefloor-focused sound. Keep an eye out for that as well =]


feeder insider extended interview with J. Gabriel [Onysia and Convent]

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Convent Records on Facebook

Words by Jordan

About feeder insider

feeder insider is a series of interviews that explore the universe surrounding music and visual arts while connecting the local to the international creative scene. 

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