London-raised DJ/Producer Jesse Figueiredo has seen himself steadily climbing the ranks of playing local house parties and bars to opening for such headlining acts as Felix Cartal and Vicetone, to achieving billing on this weekend’s first annual Aries Music Festival in London, ON. We recently chatted with Jesse to gain insight on his influences, production methods, and the music industry, itself. Just don’t ask him to choose between Favre or Rodgers…
Who are you?
My artist name is FDJT, which is pronounced as “Fidget”. But to friends and family, I’m just Jesse Figueiredo.
How would you best describe your sound, or production methods? To whom might you be compared (or perhaps contrasted)?
I am frequently compared to Deadmau5, which is both a blessing and a curse. I think this stems from my production methods mostly, as I like to make very melodical, progressive music. A lot of my synth work sounds very analog, as well, which is a signature of his since most of his stuff is actually analog. So, I love the comparison in that sense.
Mind explaining where the ‘FDJT’ alias came from? And how important is the artist handle to the process of establishing your musical ‘identity’?
It’s really not as amusing a story as most people would think. When I was first starting out at house parties, a lot of my friends would call me “Figgit”. One night, someone misheard one of friends and started calling me “Fidget” all night, and it just kind of stuck since I’m a fairly energetic person. From that I tried to think of a catchy way to separate it, and something that would be alone when you Google searched it. Thus, “FDJT” was born.
What sort of music did you enjoy throughout your youth?
Pretty much anything and everything. I listened to some terrible, terrible music at times, but I enjoyed it, so I didn’t let opinions stop me from listening to it. I would listen to anything from Big L, to Blink 182, to Armin Van Buuren. If it made me happy, it was on my iPod (or CD player, haha).
What drew you to the world of electronic music? What artists were seminal in capturing and holding your interest?
I’ve always had a passion for electronic music. I never would have said it was my genre of choice during my teens, but something always caught my ear when I’d hear it. On the production side of things, my heart has always been in piano, which is a crucial tool in producing electronic music. Once I got my hands on my first DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), there was no turning back. Everything felt very easy to me, and I knew I had found something I could run with.
As for what really captured me about electronic music: it was the scene at the time. It had a very underground family vibe to it in 2008-2010. You could tell it was about to explode. People you had just met would treat you like family, and everyone had one common goal: to just have a good time.
Asides from electronic music, what other interests or influences do you have?
I take influences from anything and everything. I find video game soundtracks are very underappreciated in their beauty and composition; I’ll often be playing a game and think of a piece to build around it. I find the best way to find inspiration is to often let it come to you, as taking a step back has often led to my biggest breakthroughs.
How difficult has it been to find ‘success’ in this field, having to largely produce and promote your own work before being signed to CDN Entertainment? How much of a role has social media played in helping to find, and hold, your audience?
Social media is absolutely everything nowadays. This industry is cutthroat and I had to play a LOT of shows for simple drink money before anyone even knew I was a DJ, let alone a producer. I often tell people right now that, the way the industry is, it’s less what you know and more who you know. People are booked simply based on Facebook ‘Likes’ or Instagram followers with no regard for talent. A huge problem right now is people buying fake fans and Likes for social media outlets. CDN Entertainment has been a crucial part to my success and I don’t go a day without thanking them for everything they’ve done. They’re like family to me. It’s a dark reality, but talent will only get you so far these days, and it’s the sad truth.
Speaking of ‘success’, what, to you, would be deemed ‘successful’? What propels you to create and perform this music?
Success to me is being able to do what I love and pay bills. People constantly ask me if I think I’m going to be famous, and I tell them that I really couldn’t care. As long as people are enjoying my music, and I can afford a decent lifestyle, then I am more than happy. I have no interest in making what is “popular” in order to make a few extra bucks.
Do you feel the relative ease of accessibility to technology used in electronic music production (i.e., laptops, computer software) is making it easier for blooming artists to get noticed, or more difficult (due to how many are now appearing)?
It could go either way, honestly. A lot of people catch flack for the type of equipment they use unless it’s vinyl. Advancements in technology have made DJing a lot easier, so people who actually have a ton of talent are sometimes lost in a crowd of DJs playing a bunch of bootlegs and hitting the ‘Sync’ button. If you use the technology to be more creative, that’s awesome, but a ton of people are just lazy. It’s really not hard to beat match.
How do you feel about being on the billing for the first annual Aries Music Festival in London? What emotions or feelings come to you at this moment?
Excitement. The last 6-8 months have been an absolute blur, and this is kind of an accumulation of all that hard work. When doing opening sets and other things at various venues, you often have to cater to a certain style. At Aries, I can be myself. I’m not opening, and it’s not some club that likes specific types of music, I get to be an artist and play what I’d like.
Do you prefer producing music at home or performing for a live audience?
They both have their pluses. When you are producing at home and you know you’ve perfected something, it’s an absolute thrilling experience. Producers have a rule of thumb that basically says, “Goosebumps don’t lie”. At the same time, performing in front of audiences of 1000+ people is absolutely jaw dropping at some moments. Cutting out vocals and allowing everyone to sing them to you is an experience you can’t quite describe. The same goes for building the audience up over a period of time just to see the exact moment it hits, and the reaction they give. It’s awesome.
What’s the most memorable live moment you can think of?
Most recently I opened up for Vicetone and a few points of my set were definitely moments I won’t forget anytime soon. I got the chance to play my remix of Kaskade’s ‘Atmosphere’, and the crowd went absolutely nuts, singing an entire verse. That was absolutely nuts. Then, because I’ve always wanted to be able to play ‘Strobe’ by Deadmau5—as it’s been a huge influence on my career and is what I’d consider one of the best progressive songs ever made—I did play at the end of my set. The mood was just right, I went for it, and have no regrets. It was beautiful.
What’s in store for the future? Any new material to look out for?
I don’t like to look too far ahead as that can sometimes lead to disappointment, but I always have new songs in the works. In the past I was bad for putting up too many previews which caused the launch of songs to not have as much punch as I would have liked, so on I’m holding back on my next EP until the entirety of it is done. Expect a few commercial remixes to be released as long as I don’t run into copyright issues… As for shows, I’ll be branching out to surrounding cities this summer, so hopefully I can expand my fanbase a bit.
You can live inside one video game world. Which one, and why?
Damn, that’s a tough one, but I’d have to go with Hyrule. I have an insane love for anything Zelda-related, but at the same time, somewhere like Kanto would be awesome too because, I mean… C’mon, Pokémon.
You can musically collaborate with up to three different living producers or artists. Who?
Elton John, Sam Roberts, and Kaskade. Although if I could bring back Jimi Hendrix or Freddie Mercury…
Who is your spirit animal?
According to a test I just took, a bear. But I honestly have no idea, haha.
Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers?
You don’t wanna go there, haha. It’s hard to not pick Favre since he is a legend and did a ton for the franchise, but I see Aaron Rodgers having a better career. So right now, Brett Favre; in the long run, Aaron Rodgers. Can I do that?
If you had to become famous/successful in any other field but music, what would it be?
I’d love to be a comedian, or an actor. Some kind of performing art. Honestly, as long as I make money doing something I love, I won’t complain too much.
FDJT will be playing at the London Music Hall on Saturday, April 5th, as part of the two-day, first annual Aries Music Festival in London, ON. Tickets are $55. 19+ event.