Relentless Beats

Relentless Beasts: Keys N Krates Audio Engineer & Tour Manager Jared Jackson Talks Tour Life and Dubstep

“I learned so much just from watching people, and we recycle it. We all learn from each other. Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. The more knowledge and experience that you have about what you’re doing, and the more you learn… That’s your power.”

– Jared Paul Jackson

Meet the “Beasts.” Get ready for an in-depth look into the jobs and the people behind them who are absolute beasts at doing what they do best: making everything you love about this industry possible.

And what better way to kick off this feature’s first ever focus then with one who has truly done it all? Meet Jared “J. Paul” Jackson: Audio Engineer and Tour Manager for Keys ‘N’ Krates, a member of Relentless Beats’ production & stage management team, and a part of the group HavocNdeeD.

Keys N Krates — tell me about the group and your dynamic.

Yeah, it is the three main guys and then me. I’m kind of like the unspoken fourth member, they call it. Tour Manager, Sound Engineer, and then the Studio Engineer. Tour Management, I’ll handle all the advancing and the management team that we work with – Dave and Tyler. Then I come in and I deal with all of the the logistics of, for example… Got to plan sound checks, got to make sure all the set changes are right, do we have at least fifteen minutes before we go on, and all of that type of thing on top of “Do they have all of our gear?”, and “Are they set for us?” Then I’ll introduce our lighting guy Tom, and I’ll bring him into it and make sure it’s “Hey this is Tom, our LD and Visuals. This is what he needs.”

So, I’ll start that communication and I keep the communication going until the checklist is done. And then, coordinating all the plans and transportation – that’s the Tour Management side before. During, I’ll handle everything. To making sure all the things that we planned out, are going as planned. A lot of times, they don’t. So, then you find a way to fix it. Did they mess up your transportation? Okay, does this place have Uber or Lyft? Ya know? That’s my job on the road as a Tour Manager: making sure everything’s solid, down to making sure if the Green Room is set up.

When it comes to the Sound Engineer part, I am off the clock as the Tour Manager [technically]… To make sure that everything we’ve set is appropriate, that I dial them in, that I make sure that everyone in the audience has the best experience possible, but I also run their monitors as well. Sometimes we get a full sound check; other times we get a line check, we got to throw and go, and mix on the fly. So, after the show the whole Tour Manager thing starts again until everybody gets home and then I’m off the clock! Then, I’m advancing another show. Normally, I have other sh*t. There’s constantly a dozen shows I’m working on at a time.

Yeah, that’s pretty much me. That’s me. Adam Tune is the drummer. Greg Jr. Flo is the DJ, and then Matisse is the keys player. Then, we got Tom who is our lighting designer. Dave and Tom are in the office. We got our other management team who does all of the PR stuff, and then we have different agents that take care of bookings. It’s a well oiled machine. No act at that level is just that person or that group. That’s what you see, and that’s the product, and that’s what’s important. But, everything behind it is constantly working.

Exactly, to get that end product that we obviously see when they’re on stage…

It gives them their time to work on their music. The performance, the rehearsals, the new music, the studio stuff… And then the engineering I do with them is referencing, mixing, mastering.

Keys ‘N’ Krates ft. Aqui – Nothing But Space

Okay so when you guys are in the studio, you are the head engineer?

No, we actually have a pretty cool relationship with that. Everyone is really capable, as far as the guys. Let me put it this way: everybody has their laptops open at one point or another working on tunes, or working on different parts of tunes. But when it comes to putting something together, like this last EP, the guys will write the tunes. Then when they feel like a tune is 80% there, they’ll send it to me. I’ll reference it – studio headphones, on my phone, on so many other things – and I’ll offer feedback.

The cool part is that Adam the drummer is a phenomenal award winning sound engineer. He worked for the CBC in Canada for years. He’s phenomenal. But, that’s what cool. It’s not about this guy is better and this and this. When it comes to that, it’s all about the more quality ears and everyone has their talents , so they bring that into it. And for me, I am an insane perfectionist with stuff so that’s where that comes through with the mixes. We’ll stem it out, I’ll do the first preliminary mixdowns, a version one Master, and then we’ll send it over. We’ll do anything from one to five Masters before we’re really 110% happy, and then I’m like never happy [Continues laughing at himself]. I have to cut myself off. Every final is like 99.9% done to me!

You have a lot of experience and you are present in this industry in a range of ways. But how did you get from Point A to Point B; how would you say you stepped into this and where was your start with knowing that this is the path you’re going on?

I’m… I’m old as sh*t right now. The thing is, I’ve been in music my whole life. I had very supportive parents. My thing was drums my whole life; I was really lucky to be in a cool band for a while and I really got my feet wet with that. That’s how I got into Electronic music to make an insanely long story short. We recorded an album with a phenomenal Producer/Engineer, a guy named Scott Wiley at June Audio. He would make me do the weirdest stuff to get sounds. I was trying to get a particular Hi-Hat sound. I had like the whole raver ball berry necklace thing – I told you I’m old – and he took it off and gaff taped it to a music stand and that ended up being the perfect Hi-Hat sound, for me to hit that. Anyways, he’s the one who got me into sampling and adding any sort of electronic elements into music and it just sparked me.

So when my band inevitably, like most bands do, went our separate ways that’s when I started really getting into the DJ thing and electronic side of things – whether studio or live. I was back-lining for any rentals: drums, keys, guitars, DJ gear, everything like that up in Salt Lake City. We were doing Sundance Film Festival, so I was lucky to do all these crazy acts – Herbie Hancock, to Justin Timberlake, Timbaland. I started DJing full time, producing, pretty much doing all of it at once and just kind of flooded it. I was never happy doing one thing; I just wanted to do it all. Inevitably, you get to a point where you’ve got to find a way; you get older and you’re like I’ve got to support myself and my family with this. And now, that’s what’s led me to what I’m doing now.

So you said you just kind of started doing everything at once; did you teach yourself everything as far as Production and DJing goes? Did you have a mentor, or learn as you went along?

Oh yeah, my first DJ mentor was a really good friend of mine named Terance Mealey. He was and still is a DJ, and still kills it. He’s up in Salt Lake City. He’s who taught me from day one: vinyl, how to beat match, everything. I just went from there. I’ve had a million mentors since then. I’ve been really lucky. I was never afraid to ask, but I learned how to ask in the right way. Instead of “Hey bro, show me this and this and that”, I would find a way to prove myself that I was serious about it then just really listen, learn, and try to absorb as much as I could. As far as formal, I went to college on a Jazz Performance Scholarship with drums. Drums, I was mad serious with that. But with everything else from that, it was trial and error. The guy who owned the backlining company is like a life mentor for me. Just taught me anything about the business, but also forced me to get out there and learn on my own. He was the perfect mentor. So yea, there’s been a ton of people like that. But still everyday, on the TM side, on the engineer side, there’s guys like my buddy Chad – who’s with a band called Thousand Foot Krutch – just killing it; I hit him all the time and ask him just because he’s so good at what he does! There are guys I have been very fortunate to talk to all the time. Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park has been a huge mentor to me; I got to do some work with him with my production duo HavocNdeeD. I could make a 10 hour review of just all the people that have helped me. It’s all opportunities and seizing that moment, ‘cause yea there’s a lot to learn.

When it comes to HavocNdeeD, how did that get going?

The whole HavocNdeeD thing started with myself and my production partner, Ben. He’s a phenomenal DJ and also another mentor. I was producing a lot of House music and a lot of 4:4 stuff. I did this kind of weird Dubstep-y flip to a tune before Dubstep ever really hit. First two people I ever saw or hear play Dubstep was DJ AM at this party through Banana Split Sundays at LAX in LA. He was playing some sh*t one night, and I didn’t even know what it was; it blew my mind. And then I saw Diplo open for Justice, on their tour, when he was nobody and no one even knew who he was. He was killing it, and this was years, years ago – talking like over ten years ago. So between that and all within that year, Dubstep started to pop off and it was just a good fit. Ben and I started making tunes together, he was in Vegas, and just went from there.

Would you say it happened on its own? It wasn’t intentional and you weren’t like “I want this to happen”?

No, we did! I was DJing full-time and so was Ben. I was really interested in making cool music. The thing about House music was… I like making it but at the time it was so prissy, as far as the scene! The music was dope, but a lot of bottle service-y sh*t going on at the time, and Electro. It was really cool sh*t but I was like man, I’m kind of a grimey dude. It just never fit. Then this community happened, with all the Metal kids and Hardcore kids, and I just fell into the whole thing.

HavocNdeeD ft. Armanni Reign – The Vow

Alongside all of that too, you are with us at Relentless Beats overseeing the Production of the Stage Management… What is that like, going back and forth from all of that to this company?

The funny part about it is what I do with Keys ‘N’ Krates and what I do with Relentless [Beats], it’s a 180º of a role. So everyone that I deal with when I’m working with Keys ‘N’ Krates that I’m advancing with as a Tour Mananger, I’m dealing with Production Managers on the other end. When I’m with Relentless [Beats], I’m dealing with other Tour Managers. I literally just flip the script. And now, I have Joe [another member of Rlentless Beats’ production team] and that makes it perfect. I need to make sure everything is working and that I have good people here.

It’s like you know every facet then, because you’ve just been running through the line of jobs!

It’s not even knowing everything, ‘cause you really never know everything, but you’ve dealt with enough that you know where sh*t goes wrong so you know how to make sh*t right.

Because I would just guess you have learned a lot and that it’s been a huge learning experience, being through all ends and seeing how everything works or to get it working…

It is ALL experience! You’ve seen just about everything happen, so it’s easier to prevent things from happening. Seeing the bad, preventing that, getting it to go right – and then it makes you really appreciate when people have their sh*t together.

What would you chalk it up to then, for all of the above, to be the ultimate factor that got you into this position – as far as where you’ve gotten to?

Not being an asshole! [Laughs] No that’s not true, because I am an asshole. No but the thing is, my favorite saying, in life in general, is “Speak softly, and carry a big stick”. It’s an old Teddy Roosevelt reference about foreign policy. But the whole thing is, if you think about that and take it to heart, what it means is: if you’re a loud out-of-control a**hole or just an a**hole in general, it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do. Nobody wants to work with you. You can be the most talented, perfect person at whatever you do. But ultimately, you have to work with other people. So, that’s why I’m saying it doesn’t matter at that point. As a Tour Manager especially, the reason I say that, is because you have to go with every situation – try to be as calm as possible, try to be as cool as possible, try to put out fires before they’re there. But, when sh*t does ultimately hit the fan sometimes, you’ve got to be able to deal with it. It’s not speak softly, then be an a**hole. It’s speak softly and then your big stick is having the experience, the confidence, and the ability to deal with that given situation when it pops up. I fail miserably at it a lot of times, but I try to live that way in general in life. I try to keep that in my head.

Whether it’s as TM, as part of HavocNdeeD, or doing the overseeing of our Production & Stage Management… What is the coolest thing you’ve learned or experience you’ve had doing it thus far? Even if it’s just one, but something that made you think it was one of those moments that “make it all worth it”?

I mean, one of the biggest things is… Oh, wow. I try really, really, really hard to appreciate all of the micro-successes. ‘Cause you know you have these goals – and you’ve got to have goals – but the whole thing is to just see what the whole thing has become. Whether you take like what Mary and I started with, UK Thursdays, and throwing these Bass music shows with a handful of people into what she’s doing now, to what I’m doing on the road, what I’m doing at home, into being able to be parents who do that. I would say that probably my biggest thing is my dream, whether I knew it or not, was being able to support a life doing music, and I’m doing that.

And you do that with the ones you care about! With Mary [his fiancé], with your kids…

And that’s the thing… Keys ‘N’ Krates, HavocNdeeD, my solo production stuff, engineering stuff, to the work I do with Relentless [Beats], there have been thousands of micro-successes that have built this. It’s what you make it. I love seeing people fail and then put themselves back together. It’s one of my favorite things. It sounds kind of f*cked up to say that, I guess, but I love seeing that. Whether it’s a producer, a band, someone on the Production side, whatever! I love seeing that with my kids. I love seeing people pick themselves up because that’s the only way people grow and get better. That’s one of my favorite parts of this whole business.

Last but not least, what is something that is still a dream for you to do that you haven’t done yet?

I would ultimately like… This is funny, because this is such an old guy thing to say. Because, if you would’ve asked me at any point in my life I would’ve been like “Oh, win a Grammy”, and “Oh, I want to get signed!” I would say my biggest focus and goal that I have right now is I would love to be recognized by Producers, Engineers, whether it’s live or studio. I would love to be recognized and to be continually recognized by them for the work that I do, as for songs I may write as well. The really old guy goal though, of all of this, is I would love to get to a point where I have the security to know that the work that I’ve done in music will support my family for the rest of my life into their lives. That, to me, would be the greatest thing I could achieve at this point. Like I said, sounds really old guy to say but you start thinking that way. Whether it’s royalties from music or a job you sign into in the industry – whatever it may be – to where you can take a breath and go “We’re good, we’ve made it, just look.” That to me, is making it. That is the end game goal of all of it, and I want a Heavy Metal themed coffee shop! There you go, that’s retirement!

Connect with HavocNdeeD: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Connect with Keys ‘N’ Krates: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Show Comments