Smurphy is a larger than life persona, a figure that looms large; or at least that’s how it seems. Her image, visual content and, above all music, immerse you into her world where she reigns supreme.
Unlike other internet personalities who only have a well curated Tumblr page to their credit, Smurphy has music to back up her reputation. Her hybrid style is a reflection of her and her tastes, done in an amazing manner. Urban, weird, spacey, hazy and, above all, dancey; her brand of bass and trap has filled her releases from day one, which include Nightwaves (2011), #Smurphwave (2012) and the recently released #Geminiss, are very well done efforts that sounds like little else out there, a collage of many current styles.
Jessica Smurphy is no newcomer to the Mexico City scene. She started with the synthpunk outfit Post-Pastel and then fronted the riotously fun retro acid house Supermad. As part of the NAAFI collective of brilliant electronic artists, Smurphy is cutting a path for herself on her own terms, proving her talent and challenging herself in each step of the way, while collaborating with other people like Javier Estrada or LAO.
We spoke to her prior to her performance at the MUTEK festival.
How has everything been since the release of #Geminiss?
Like I was telling you [before the interview], you make a record and you don’t know what going to happen, but it happens. Right now, with MUTEK, there is a lot of stuff coming up, and I’m focused on playing this record and stuff I’m working on right now. The record was done a couple of months ago although it’s just coming out, but I’m working on other stuff to be released next year. It will be a full length album.
You’re turning out to be quite prolific.
I’m a little hyperactive [laughs]. I get bored real quick. I can’t play the same thing over and over again because I get sick of it [laughs]. I say “I have played this already bla bla bla, now to the next thing.” Like if I was making pizzas [laughs]. It also has to do with the rhythm I keep on my day job– it’s a production house and the whole time I’m like “do, do, do,” and there are small stretches when I don’t do much so that’s when I have time to make music. There are moments when that’s all I do. That’s how I spend my time, working and working.
When did you realize you wanted to do music?
I was always interested in playing music since I was very young, I was in classes and groups and choirs, etc. But making music as such was until I was like 20 when I formed Post-Pastel with Bona [Bonsón a.k.a. Dr Dude; ex Fancy Free, Six Million Dollar Weirdo and Supermad]. It’s when I said “it’s time to make music.” He was important because he taught me how to make music by myself.
What’s the difference between collaborating with others, like you did in Post-Pastel and Supermad, and doing your own stuff?
The other two were groups, DJ Smurphy I had to make everything myself. I had to and I wanted to. It has been a process to learn how to make music by myself and getting to this point of producing my first album by myself . Like in school, you learn how to read and then you learn how to write, and once you know how to write, you get to write a short story, then a novel and so on. With the other bands, I used to think of them as hobbies, and DJ Smurphy has taken over my life [laugh]. It’s when I said “I want to make music, it’s what I like and what I have to do”.
I’m letting myself go with whatever comes to mind. It’s like getting on board a boat and seeing where it takes me.
Is it difficult to do stuff by yourself or is it better?
It’s a different flow when you’re playing with other people, because you can do whatever you want and nobody tells you anything. If you don’t do something, it doesn’t matter, and if you want to do it you just do it. You have a ton of freedom, but it can become too much freedom. You have to be really focused. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to rehearse. In the end, you find the time to do it, but it’s definitely different.
Smurphy is a lot more unique sounding and based on very modern sounds, whereas before you were used to do music that can be considered retro.
Supermad was thought up as genre music. We said “we’re going to do acid house versions of pop songs; we’re going to use all the classic sounds and really delve into it.” That’s the way it was planned. And Smurphy is more personal; I’m letting myself go with whatever comes to mind. It’s like getting on board a boat and seeing where it takes me. It has to do with what I’m listening to. I used to listen to a lot of older music, and ever since I started DJing, I have to download music all the time. I’m more in the mood of playing new stuff, everyday I try to download four or five albums and every time I DJ I try to play new stuff. That’s the way I am, I have always been obsessed with the future. I’m very curious to know what’s going to happen.
What are you looking to achieve with your music?
When you are listening to music and you like it, it’s like a synapses happens. You’re listening to something good and then something happens like [makes gasping noise] and it makes you feel pleasure. That’s what happens when you like a song. When you make music you’re looking to feel that. When you are listening to something you really like, you think “how did he or she do it?” and who knows how they did it, everybody has their own weird methods. What’s important to me is finding those moments that make you feel like that, like small electric shocks [laughs]. I do write melodies and I have structures in my head when I’m doing stuff; but when I sit down to record it, things happen. I start wondering “what if I do it like this instead? Oh!” [laughs] It’s pure fun.
That’s why I think it has taken over me, because I like doing it. Before it was fun to write a song and sit besides a producer and do the song, but it’s way better to have an idea, sit down, and do it myself to see what happens.
What was the inspiration behind #Geminiss?
Me [laughs]. It’s like a self portrait. Last year I was in psychiatric treatment and therapy, in a search within me. This record is like “I’m going to stop fucking around and do what I have to do.” It’s called #Geminiss because that’s my sign. It’s more like mixtape, more than an EP or an album, it takes you through different moods. It’s like an x-ray of how my head works.
This record is like “I’m going to stop fucking around and do what I have to do.”
It’s more like a combo of sensations. I really don’t want to give any message. It’s something you should listen from start to finish and let it take you.
How did your association with NAAFI started?
It’s funny because we met on the internet and at parties, and little by little we started this relationship. I used to go to their parties and they used to go to the parties I played in. At some point they told me, “hey, come over here.” We have grown together. When we all met we were on a different level and now, LAO is in Japan, Siete [Catorce] has become an authority. We met as friends and now it feels a little different because we’re all focused on the business side of things. NAAFI is growing, and us too as artists. I like that process of growing together, like if we were brothers.
You have a strong visual side. How important it is for you to have that side of the project?
It’s because I’m a graphic designer. I have a background in developing a product, I know how to do it. If you’re going to present something to the public you should do it right, present as much a complete product as possible. I wouldn’t want it to become something like an ultra hyped product, though. For me, music is healing, I’m not looking to become Lady Gaga or Grimes, or something like that…people love comparing me with Grimes, for soe reason.
For me, making music is how Genesis P. Orridge does it, making a new album a week for the rest of my life. That’s what I want to accomplish. Never stopping, having the music always be there.
You have had great reception from fans and critics, how do you feel about that?
It’s weird because it’s not in your hands. It’s like throwing it in the river and who knows what happens with it. I didn’t expect anything that has come my way, but to a certain degree it’s what I have always wanted to happen. All the invitations to festivals, everything has been like “Ahhh, they invited me to MUTEK!” and then I call my mom and my friends. It’s really exciting, because you want to be there and be seen. I do [music] for myself but it’s a blast that people are enjoying it.
What does your new stuff sound like?
A friend told me it sounds like an after party in Acapulco. I was like “yesssss!”
What can you tell us about the mixtape you are preparing for us?
Future music. All mixtapes I have done this year have been super new, this one is no exception. I think it’s going to be strange. Tons of experimental stuff, some “weirdo” stuff, and new stuff.