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Friday, October 23, 2020

FOAMA: In Conversation with Matt Jolliffe and Adam Jaynoy

Adding to the list of jewels in our interviewee crown, we got to speak with the biggest DJ teams coming out of Bournemouth. Allow us to introduce you to Matt and Adam from FOAMA…

One of the best things about interviewing the talented of locals of Bournemouth is the chain reaction that sometimes follows. One story often breeds three more. You may recall our recent interview with designer and entrepreneur Cameron Varnish a few weeks ago. During our conversation, he mentioned the musical duo FOAMA, who, their youth notwithstanding, have made quite a name for themselves across the local DJing scene and beyond! And so it was with great pleasure that we got to sit down the the two leading figures on the team. Namely, local lads Matt Jolliffe and Adam Jaynoy.

WHEN DID EACH OF YOU DISCOVER THAT MUSIC WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO IN LIFE? WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED THE DECISION?

ADAM J: I have always been into music. Before I started DJing and producing, I did musical theatre. My mum has said from an early age she could see me becoming a performer and entertainer. I was very loud in the classroom and always wanted to be the centre of attention. The move from musical theatre to DJing came when the Dutch DJ Martin Garrix started becoming very famous with his song Animals. It was the life that he led – travelling the world, performing at big venues, playing music. That music was new to me, and I started learning it. Ever since then, he has completely taken over my life – it’s amazing.

MATT: It was different for me — I didn’t really grow up in a musical household. In the sense of people playing instruments. But I was always around music in a different way — my parents were into playing it. They weren’t into writing or anything. Simply, record deck or CD player. There was a lot of Motown and disco — those were some of my early influences. Soul as well — Barry White, for example. Later on, I started to learn the guitar but didn’t get on with it very well. I never got on well with instruments; can’t seem to pick them up. I can do music, but can never pick up the instruments.

After that, I started listening to more mainstream dance music — David Guetta and people like that. And that immediately stuck to me. I saw Guetta perform on The Graham Norton Show, and I didn’t think it was possible for a DJ to do that. To go on a talk show and perform — it was incredible that someone could be that big! So straight away, I started researching into it a bit more. And a few years down the line, I realised the reason I liked house music so much was because of the music I listened to as a kid. It had become ingrained in my brain. The disco, the soul — it translates into house music. Follows the same sort of pattern. And from then I knew that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

HOW DID YOU MEET AND COME TO FORM FOAMA?

AJ: It started with a house party in January 2018. My girlfriend at the time told me that a guy who was into the same music as me would be there. And Matt and I ended up meeting at this party, and in quite an odd way. I was blackout drunk, and Matt had kicked my watch across the floor.

M: And you shouted something at me.

AJ: I shouted something at him. And then about five or ten minutes later, he was stood outside so I went out to talk to him. Recognising who he was, I said, “My girlfriend mentioned about you”. While we were talking, I instantly realised we were into the same things — very similar interests — and we said, “Let’s make some music. Let’s see what happens”.

Whereas with Adam, we went to college together a couple of years ago. We got close because we used the same software to produce music. And then it was Bournemouth 7s that took everything to the next level.

M: So I was DJing for Fire Radio — I had a residency there. I was only 16 or 17, but I won a residency in a competition. They invited me to play at Bournemouth 7s as they were hosting a stage there. Obviously I thought that was a good opportunity to get everyone together and see how we work at a festival. See how the dynamic works in a more professional environment. Rather than just sitting in a room making music. So I said, “You guys should come along. Maybe take some photos…” Make it look like we have some sort of entourage and that we mean business, basically.

It sounds a bit cringey, but we needed to see how it worked in the professional sense. And it was a good plan from Day One. We all clicked and said, “Yeah, this makes sense”. That’s probably taken us to where we are today, near enough.

WHERE DOES THE NAME “FOAMA” COME FROM?

AJ: There was more of a team back then. We had three others who joined the group – Fred, Owen, and Adam Turner. Fred was the manager, Owen was the photographer, and Adam was the lead producer and musician. And we all decided to come up with a brand-new name.

M: Originally, you called your project Dynamics.

AJ:  Which was horrible.

M: The moment I came in, I said, “I hate the name. We’re scrapping that”.

AJ: So we were all in the car, and someone decided to change the name. And one of us (I think it was Adam Turner) came up with the name FOAMA, which is just our first initials. Fred, Owen, Adam, Matt, Adam.

M: And we hated it from Day One. “That’s awful. We’re never, ever keeping that!” Fred made a logo, which is the one we have now, apart from a squiggle underneath that we got rid of. And we actually decided that it looked really cool. We had never heard anyone use anything like that. We thought, “Let’s try it. See what it looks like on a line-up poster. Make sure it’s stylised as all-capitals, so that it stands out”.

AJ: Big bold letters is what we were going for. And from there, the name FOAMA stuck. People often ask where Fred and Owen are, because people only really see me, Matt and Adam. They decided they didn’t want to take this as seriously as we did, so they moved on to do their own things. We’re still good friends with them and keep in touch.

TELL US ABOUT THE MUSIC THAT YOU HAVE PUT OUT THIS YEAR. MOST RECENTLY YOUR EP “TOLD YOU JACK”…

M: The only music we’ve put out has been in 2020. We’ve always said that we won’t put music out unless we’re 100% confident in it and that we have loads of people backing it who are going to take it further. We don’t want to just put music on Soundcloud or Spotify if no one’s going to hear it. Because we want people to hear the music.

At the start of lockdown, we thought, “We have all this time on our hands now. Let’s look through our projects, see what we’ve got, approach a few labels and see what we can get out there”. So there are a few friends of ours who run a small label called Feel the Fruit. That’s the label that put our EP Told You Jack out. We showed it to them, saying, “We have a couple of tunes here. See what you like and what you think of them”. They liked it, took it, signed it.

It was basically a few records that we had lying around. At the start, they were just ideas – we didn’t think anything much of them. But we progressed them over lockdown so they turned into things we could be proud of, put out and play in our sets. It’s more underground than the other release, which is a remix of Sigma and John Newman. But we want to have that balance between the two. The more commercial stuff that we love to do, and the underground, more experimental stuff that we do as well. We want fingers in all sorts of pies.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST MEETING WITH SIGMA…

AJ: We met Sigma by accident a couple of years ago. Matt started going to this event in London, by himself. Very small venue, very up close and personal with DJs.

M: Probably fewer than 100 people. Absolutely tiny. It’s actually designed for live-streaming. All the live-streams for the events we’ve been to are still online, so you can see us down the front. Trying to make ourselves seen, which is quite funny, as it’s where everything started.

AJ: At the time, we were still trying to find “our sound”, of what music we liked. And we were really into the mainstream music that you hear in parts of Europe like The Netherlands and Sweden. The line-up that night included Sigma and some guys called Third Party. We actually went to meet them, rather than Sigma.

M: They were more our style back then, when we were making more mainstream music. Whereas Sigma is drum and bass.

AJ: But they were there, and Third Party didn’t turn up, so we thought we’ll give the USB to them instead. We’d come all the way to London… we thought we might as well give somebody something.

M: They’re massive as well.

AJ: They basically ended up losing the USB stick, but for some reason they decided they wanted to listen to whatever was on it. So they got back to us on Valentine’s Day, explained that they had lost the stick and asked if we could send the files.

M: We were like, “Wow! That came out of nowhere!” We didn’t expect them to actually care. Had a long conversation with them, but it surprised us that they had remembered us and wanted to listen.

AJ: So we sent it over to them. They liked it, but it wasn’t really their style. And we didn’t really hear back from them for a few months.

WHAT LED TO YOU PRODUCING THE “HIGH ON YOU” REMIX?

AJ: Sigma were appearing at Switch in Southampton. And us being us, trying to work our way into whatever crevice we can, hit them up on Instagram saying they were nearby. Matt’s at uni in Winchester, so just down the road, so he suggested going to see them.

M: See if they remember us.

AJ: They came back to us and said they had us on the guest list. That was our first experience of the backstage scene with big artists. We really clicked with Cam Edwards. And it was literally from that night onwards, with him seeing us progress on social media and doing our own thing, that he decided to use his own spare time to push us forward. That’s when he told us last Christmas, “We have a song coming out with John Newman, and it’s more you guys’ vibe. It’s more house music than drum and bass. Have a go at doing a remix”. That was a major “Wow!” moment.

M: Especially considering that the label it was coming out on was 3Beat. They’ve signed people like Philip George, Anton Powers, Skepta, Pixie Lott… BIG artists! And we knew that as soon as anyone gets signed onto that label, that means immediate KISS FM play, Radio One play, that kind of level. So if we were getting a remix on there, the possibilities for us in terms of getting our music out there are endless. We’d have the link with 3Beat so send more music to them… we thought this was incredible.

WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE IN PRODUCING THE REMIX?

M: We heard the song a month or two before its release and we thought, “This is really good”. And in our heads, we already knew what direction we wanted to take it in.

AJ: The song a weird time signature, though, and that was our first big hurdle. That messed us around a bit.

M: But we forced the vocal into a more regular time structure to fit a 4:4 time signature. And then we could say, “Right, we know what we can do with this now…” The three of us sat down and said, “We need to make a remix that essentially feels like it’s a different version of the original. Not the kind of thing that we usually do. Do it more mainstream. Let’s throw a few pianos in there, see how it sounds”. We tried it once and we said, “Yeah, this sticks!”

AJ: We started writing it and Adam Turner – very talented man that he is – started doing these chords for it. When you do a remix, they send you all the separate parts of the song to use at your disposal. And we decided that we were going to take the vocal and write it as if it was our own tune.

M: We really wanted it to be the standout remix of the pack. And for people to say, “This is like an alternate reality version of the original”. More commercial and the kind of thing you can play in a club, whereas the original is more radio friendly. They’re both pretty radio friendly, but ours is more club focused.

AJ: Essentially, after a couple of months, many arguments, and sleepless nights, we came out with the remix. We were super nervous about releasing it.

M: It was so different to anything we had done before.

WHAT WAS THE REACTION LIKE?

AJ: We found out on the remix package who else was going to be releasing. Illyus & Barrientos, who were already big DJs. We thought there was no way we were going to surpass them.

M: They’re probably closer to the scene in terms of house music than Sigma. So we were expecting big competition.

AJ: But we are the most-streamed remix of the entire package. Having just hit 200,000 plays on Spotify. That’s beyond what we could have imagined for that remix.

M: We worked our arses off promoting it out to radio. We know specific DJs who would play it, so we sent it out to them and they gave it great support. Select Radio and KISS FM have been great, and both Spotify and Apple Music have been the same for putting it into playlists.

AJ: We have to thank Callum Burke and Calvin Miles for everything they did for that remix. Managing us (and the arguments), the artwork, the promotion… coming in off their own back and helping us.

M: And further thanks to Sigma themselves – Cam Edwards and Joe Lenzie. Simply for giving us the opportunity to do it.

WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE IS NEXT FOR FOAMA IN TERMS OF PROJECTS?

M: We have been sent a lot of tunes by people, which we have worked on here and there, and got them up to a standard where they’re ready to be mixed and mastered.

AJ: But like with everyone else in the music industry, it’s hard to plan to release anything with everything that’s going on. The government is showing no love to musicians and artists. Putting us in a corner. And it’s hard because there is literally nothing we can do about it, apart from shout and shout and shout. Until something happens. I’m not saying to reopen everything now, but just give us some sort of hope. The music industry employed 1.7 million people last year. And that’s not just DJs. That’s club owners, bouncers, bartenders…

M: The people who make it happen behind-the-scenes that don’t get the praise that people like us always seem to.

AJ: And now we’re being told to retrain.

M: People with much more experience than us — that’s going to be hard. They’re losing their livelihood. Everything they’ve worked for… their talent… that’s all going down the drain. And we can’t let that happen. Obviously yes, we need to keep people safe. But we also need to protect the things that are there, like the arts and the music industry, so that they’re still there when we go back to normal.

Keep up with FOAMA on their Facebook page and their Instagram account. For more local music stories, click here. And don’t forget to follow us on our social channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube!

Dale Hurst
Dale Hursthttp://dale-hurst.com
Dale Hurst is the Content Editor of HQB Media, as well as an author, restaurant critic and presenter. A graduate in Multimedia Journalism from Solent University, Dale has a wide variety of journalistic experience, ranging from reviewing top London restaurants to interviewing MPs for BBC Radio. As a writer, Dale specialises in entertainments, lifestyle and culture.

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