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Future Funk
Future Funk

Jerome Isma-ae, progressive house DJ/producer and founder of Jee Productions, is one of the most respected names in the genre. He’s elusive, laconic, and deeply dedicated to his work. Isma-ae’s in Perth headlining Under The Dome, a three-stage event featuring DJs like Alex H, Philly Blunt and Liquid Culture. PENNY LANE and ZOE KILBOURN report.

Jerome Isma-ae gives very, very little away. What is clear is that his incredible musical success – in a career that’s swung from techno to house to breaks to its current comfortable position in progressive house – is deeply rooted, and not budging anytime soon.

I was in school,” he says, of where the EDM passion began. “I got quite early into dance music in the age of 15. I didn’t really take care about this when I started to produce. I made it just for fun. It was my hobby and my passion without thinking, ‘How far can I go with this?’”

And that’s just it – Isma-ae, like most of the ravers and househeads who were jacking in Munich warehouses back in the ‘90s, seems to be very comfortable with the immediate, functional elements of dance music. Unlike many producers, he’s not above fitting himself in a genre, even if he then moves to another, and he’s very comfortable with the crowd-focused elements of his work.

Isma-ae’s journey proper began with the nu-disco-tinged Future Funk project in 1996.

I met this guy, Marcel Krieg, in my local record store, and he told me that he just bought a sampler and is going to sample some beats from records,” says Isma-ae. “I had already a few synths so we put our gear together and started to sample old disco records and mixed it with house beats. This is how we created the project Future Funk. We released tracks on Sony, Strictly Rhythm and many more labels. After a while, I tried other styles and and wanted to change my own musical style.”

And now, he makes progressive house, a label he’s comfortable with. “I would say its something between techno and trance,” he says, of his work, and the broader genre. “Techy driving beats and basslines combined with trancy chords and pad sounds.

The tracks I produce now are very different to the tracks I used to make,” Isma-ae continues. “Music style is changing, but everything comes back after a while, just like in the fashion industry. Deep house, for example, seems to be something very new for many people, but it was already there 20 years ago.”

His musical tastes are far from limited – nor are they the be-all and end-all of Ismae-ae’s day to day life: “I listen to everything from classic to jazz, from rock to pop, but sometimes it’s also good to listen to nothing for a while.”

There’s a very clear sense of self in his work and in the way Isma-ae speaks about it. He’s an artist who not only values his quiet time, but his independence.

I started the label Jee because i didn´t want to discuss any changes or whatever in my music with an A&R guy of a record label,” he says. “The whole idea behind Jee is that I can release all my tracks whenever I want.”

As for Under The Dome, Isma-ae’s been keeping busy, and he’s not afraid to drop some of his new cuts for punters. “I have tons of bootlegs, mash ups, remixes and new productions to play,” he says.Of course, in the new future there will be a new collab with Ilan Bluestone [frequent collaborator and fellow DJ] and I work on a few other productions, but I can´t talk about them yet.”



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