Felix Jaehn is on a roll. Two years ago, the 22-year-old German DJ/producer watched his remix of OMI’s “Cheerleader” hit No. 1 on iTunes in 55 countries. And he hasn’t slowed down since.
His 2015 single, “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)”, was one of the biggest tracks of that year, and only a few months ago, he scored another hit with “Bonfire (feat. Alma).”
Jaehn has toured the world, and he tackled his first-ever solo live run - complete with live instrumentation and additional singers/musicians - at the end of last year.
Now he returns to North America for a seven-date, cross-country stretch that kicks off at Bang Bang on Thursday night.
PACIFIC recently caught up with the rising star to discuss it all.
PACIFIC: How are you?
FELIX JAEHN: Great, thanks for asking. I’m at home right now, packing my bags. It’s chill.
Do you still live in Germany?
I do. I live an hour away from Hamburg in a really small village close to the sea. It’s a great place to cool down and soak up the energy between tours. I’ve found it to be the perfect place to live. There’s not a lot going on, so it’s a great place to chill or just hang out with friends before all the madness starts again.
Is that where you create the music as well?
It is, mainly. And it definitely has been over the last few years. But it’s changed a bit because I’ve been traveling so much and renting studios around Europe. I’ve had some songwriting sessions in Amsterdam and places like that when I’m working with other producers. But I still have the home studio setup and do most of the production stuff there when I’m on my own.
Was there a lot of music in your house growing up?
There wasn’t, to be honest. It was mainly just me all the time. My parents didn’t play any instruments. But when I was 6 years old, I started playing the violin. So, in a way, I was growing up with music, but it wasn’t driven by my family. It was a passion I had and something I always wanted to do. I played the violin for seven years, played in a youth orchestra, and knowing about all of that music theory and harmonies has been really helpful - even with electronic music.
Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to be a DJ?
At the age of 15 or 16 years old, I just always wanted to be in charge of the music at birthday parties. It really started that way. But I also moved to London for a year to study music production and business. And that was the time when I decided I was going to work on music every day and try to get some shows. It was a really important step for me to be able to chase my dream at that time. And just living in London, and being able to explore the club scene every night, was very influential.
What did the success of the “Cheerleader” remix do for you?
It was a shortcut and really helped with everything. It gave me attention from 0-100 within weeks, was a great step, and the moment that helped with all the doubts. And it let family and friends know that it was something real and actually had a future. I had just finished high school and was doing music every day. And they were like, “Ok, but what are you going to do in 10 years?” And that makes it a really difficult time to stick to your dreams and do it regardless. Having a No. 1 global smash erases those doubts. But I’d still be doing music even if it didn’t happen.
When: 10 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19
Where: Bang Bang, 526 Market St., Gaslamp Quarter
Phone: (619) 677-2264
Do you play violin anymore?
Unfortunately, I don’t. But I actually got a violin from my parents for my birthday this year. So, when I finally have a few days off, I’m going to pick it up and see what I can do. I haven’t played in years, so it might be terrible.
Ha! That’s such a mom and dad thing to do!
It is! But in December I did a new live tour in Germany where I had live drums and a marimba on stage that I played myself. I also invited musicians and singers on stage, so we had a cello, trumpet and additional drums and singers on stage. It was much more like a live concert than a DJ set. I really liked that approach and my parents were like, “Imagine if you could play the violin on stage during a DJ set!” And that would be amazing, but I think I’m going to need a lot of practice.
I’m planning an album right now. It should be coming out very soon - sometime in the beginning of this year. It’s something that’s developed over time. I had been uploading tracks to Soundcloud that I finished at 6 p.m. and then put online by 7 p.m. And by 9 p.m., I’d emailed 200 blogs trying to reach people with my music. It’s quick and easy. But I still feel like an album can make sense from an artist’s point of view. And now that I’m signed to a major label, I need to consider the world as my territory. And I want to open up my own world to everyone.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.