From his intriguing public opinions about astronomy to a brief stint as a collective of 20 producers, NYC-based artist josh pan has always resided in the realm of extraordinary. In many ways, josh pan’s art transcends his musical output, bleeding into areas of visual, academic, and even psychological bases like magic marker on trace paper. josh’s distinct mindset and art have always felt unapologetically personal first and professional second; a genuinely passionate approach which ultimately led to staunch support from Skrillex and an official record deal signed with OWSLA in late 2015.
Less than two months into 2016, josh pan has made his OWSLA debut with original recording “Platinum” — a left of center record comprised of trap horns and hyped samples while maneuvering at a house tempo — but today, the unconventional producer reveals a much larger project nearly a year in the making. The josh pan “It G Ma” Opus Remix has arrived.
Clocking in at over 14 minutes, josh pan’s protracted vision for “It G Ma” is truly an opus by definition. Verses from the all-star cast of lyricists including Ferg, Father, Dumbfoundead, Waka Flocka, and Anderson .Paak are essentially given their own song within the song, or “chamber” as josh explains, sewn together gracefully through minimal threads and textures that act as the record’s connective tissue. Additional production from fellow forward-leaners sakuraburst, MISOGI, X&G, MEDASIN, and oshi further define these in-track separations, yet josh’s awareness for arrangement allows for natural transitions throughout. If dance music and hip hop were two lanes on a highway, josh pan’s “It G Ma” Opus is the open, unbounded flightpath above them.
To fully grasp josh’s intent with this groundbreaking piece of music, we had to go directly to the source. Listen in to the Opus via the Soundcloud player and find some of the best excerpts from our fascinating conversation below.
From the beginning, how did the idea come together to create this kind of “opus” of a remix?
When my manager, Sean, was originally signing me, he brought up the idea of doing a long remix of it. Back then I was releasing a lot of random, crazy projects on SoundCloud and he just said, “Why don’t you just do a bunch of styles, and recreate ‘It G Ma’? We can create a video around it.” That was the original idea. As I started, I realized that I could just get the craziest producers and bring them together to create almost a kind of opus. It was strange because at one point we wanted to take off all of the vocals and do something original, but I think recreating something as iconic as “It G Ma” was pretty hard – there were so many remixes that had been done already that I just had to do something different.
The Opus feels like multiple individual songs strung together for each verse. Can you speak on that?
I had a really visual story in mind, it was supposed to be like each part was a different chamber, and each chamber was one of the artists from the song. I wanted it to be very visual and theatrical in the way an opus is. I think my entire aesthetic is based around being in that limbo – about not being sure what reality really is. I think we did a pretty good job of creating almost an Inception type of feeling to it; after every song we dropped into another reality. I feel like a lot of people are taking music too linearly right now, and I think that composition and arrangement is my strong point and this was a really cool way of bringing everything together. A lot of my music is more about how I do it, rather than what I’m doing, so I really enjoy bringing in those kinds of atmospheres for people to get into the story.
Were there any disadvantages to working remotely on this project with the additional producers?
Actually, there were some. I picked the people pretty strategically — I knew MEDASIN would do a really huge, melodic synth section and I knew MISOGI would bring in something dark, epic and trappy. We used the part of his song with Oshi, “Beowulf”, because it just fit perfectly. At the very end, it was just me and sakuraburst working on it because we’re used to working on really crazy, weird shit. He works almost entirely with WAV samples rather than midi, so he bounced everything to audio. Only problem was that it kept crashing his computer because the file was so big. Lastly, I chose everyone who works in Fruity Loops, so we could pass around the project and really dissect it together, and at the very end we added in X&G because these guys are the future and no one really knows yet. It was pretty much just me putting on a ton of people that I trusted musically.
You seem like you’re very emotionally connected and hands on with anything that has to do with your art – whether that be the music, the videos, or the art that goes with it. Is this how you’ll continue to approach your career?
I definitely need to be a really hands on artist, almost like Kanye. Music and art have always been the central parts of my life, that and I guess philosophy. I’ve always had a strong vision, and I really want my message to be pure. So I need to spend as much time as I can in any creative process. If I give up too much control I feel like I’ll just be upset at myself later because it’s not truly honest to who I am. Even working on the songs for [an upcoming release], I think that I’d like to fly out and work with people in person. There are a lot of ideas that have to be compromised if you’re working remotely, but now that I really understand the people I’m working with and I have a great team behind me, I think that I really gotta take things hands on.
Should we finish up by talking about the last interview that we did with you when you were 20 people?
Oh yea! That really changed my life. None of us realized that it was going to be that crazy. After we did that interview, everyone in my real life thought that I was 20 people, and that really blew my mind. People would ask me, “Hey Josh, are you really 20 people?” – people I grew up with! I thought it was so funny and meta. It was Sonny’s fault really, after we shared that on all of his social media, I was forced to shut up and really work on music. It was really good in that way. It was a good jump start; after that, people were really focusing on the music rather than the person. We need to do that more, we focus too much on the artist and their personal lives – which is cool, and sharing stuff from their personal lives is important – but if we could focus more on the message that people are trying to give, I think that music and art can be so much more powerful.
Pick up josh pan’s “It G Ma” Opus Remix this Friday, February 12th via OWSLA.