“JPTR is Everything!”
JPTR is Everything! Well, technically, they’re a duo based in Zürich, Switzerland. Which is odd, because their press photos only feature one person: JPTR, a morph between KIU (Vocals and Drums) and IKARU (Drums and Vocals).
Unlike with most bands, where the visual component is merely an add on, in the case of JPTR, it’s an inseparable part of the group’s operation and often the key to their music. Which is probably why they refer to themselves as an art collective that fuses music and visual art and operates like a production house. IO, the unofficial 3rd member of the group, doesn’t really make any music. He is, however, responsible for their visual concept, co-writing the lyrics and bringing the songs to life through videos and visual art . And the three of them are in a constant, intense creative dialogue / negotiation regarding the parameters of this thing called JPTR, and all of its operations and expressions.
In 2016, alone, they recorded 12 songs and produced and shot a total of 8 stunning, high-level videos (to date only 6 saw the light of day). Each video was shot independently and according to a tightly defined aesthetic and conceptual blueprint. Practically all of them have been championed by upper deck media portals such as xlr8r, The Line of Best Fit, NBHAP etc.
So what about the music? Well, it’s raw as fuck! First of all, the arrangements only feature vocals and drums. All the other sounds we hear are just a factor of a very skilful use of sound design. The variety and the dynamic and stylistic range of their music is astounding. It covers everything from the edgier end of the Pop spectrum (with all types of inflections), all the way through a militant, avant-noise type of Indie Electronica.
Of course, this is no Electronica, as the music is almost entirely acoustic (excluding mics, outboard gear and fx) – but it’s played in such a way that it creates the illusion of something synthesised and made through studio craft alone. A great deal of this has to do with IKARU’s and KIU’s skills as musicians and the symbiotic sonic blend that they manage to create together.
Where as the drums opt for a mixture of essential (yet idiosyncratic) grooves and interesting textures (stuff that Brainfeeder fans salivate over), the vocals fill up the songs by exploiting voice dynamics to mimic a fully fleshed out arrangement.
The beauty of JPTR’s music lies in the fact that you don’t even notice any of the mechanics or omissions, nor do you think about them much, because the songs are that good and lead you like a dog on a leash.
As much as the music is a truly visceral expression for JPTR, and very much of the body, in that primal way (the songs are always written during rehearsals in a purely freestyle manner), the lyrics are all about control and the power of editing. They’re an intellectual exercise about achieving maximum potency with compact forms of copy and having fun with the form. And, of course, like with everything, there’s always a clear and predefined agenda at work.
The topic range is broad, but unified by socially and politically conscious angle: gender equality (Attack), the reversal of gender roles in the bedroom – as in pegging, where she gets to strap it on – (Boyfriend), sensory and intellectual overload for Internet natives (Jesus Christ JPTR), the dark side of the “European Dream” in the context of the refugee crisis (Europa), the power of female masturbation (Masterbabe), the first account of transgender thinking (Transformers) etc.
The wordplay is sharp, poignant, playful and the content packed with double entendres, hidden meanings and multiple references to history and science. For example, Transformers clearly references the cult documentary about the 90s voguing scene in NYC, yet it’s also written from the point of view of Emily du Chatelet, a French mathematician and philosopher, who is often cited as the first documented account of a transgender person (in spirit). It’s all fun like that, but you don’t have to get it all to have it as the music hits hard.
Are you fans of Paris is Burning? It’s so heartbreaking…
Absolutely, it’s been very influential in our work – it’s heartbreaking because many of the protagonists are nowadays celebrated for their creativity and courage, yet many didn’t live to witness that.
As much as this is an homage to the film and the voguing movement, there’s much more going on in this song as far as the lyrics are concerned – would you care to share?
Our starting point was the french natural philosopher and mathematician Émilie du Châtelet, of whom Voltaire once said: she was a great man, whose only fault was being a woman – “un grand homme qui n’avait de défautque d’être femme”. Discussions of gender identity are very old and there have been times in our own history and in that of other cultures, where gender was not perceived as binary as it is today. The song is the fantasy of Émilie du Châtelet throwing a ball – like the one in Paris is Burning – and starting a gender revolution.
It seems you guys love high density and layering in both music and visual art, which brings me to the new video: what’s hidden under all those layers?
The core theme of the video is “opulence” – as in “you own EVERYTHING” and it tries to connect our Émilie du Châtelet fantasy with burning down the ancient gender regime. We don’t think of layering as hiding something – it’s more a notion of reflecting the complexity of the subjects we care about. And some of it is just for fun – e.g have you seen the guy riding on the back of a carp at 1:24?