Desert Child and 808 Showcase Winner Shares His Musical Journey
For 808 Day, we put our ear right up to the subwoofer. We asked our Roland Cloud Family to showcase its percussive prowess on the software version of the drum machine that started it all. You responded with sounds that reminded us that the boom is real and thriving. We sifted through the ripping beats and chose three monarchs to claim the (drum) throne as 808 Day royalty. These are their stories.
Jose Jasso was born and raised in a small desert town in Southern California. He first placed his hands on a Casio keyboard at age five and remains passionate about music to this day. Jose’s musical journey began by playing lead guitar in local rock acts before he discovered the Roland MC 505, SP 404, CDX 1, and other electronic tools. After finding the world of hip-hop production, he knew he’d found his sweet spot. Jose shares his thoughts about music’s power to heal, the evolving role of guitar, and why it’s important not to strive too hard for perfection.
What is your favorite opening track on a record and why?
The opener for Herbie Hancock’s Headhunter. “Chameleon” is funky, like an old batch of collard greens, and it does a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a perfect example of what a good opener should be. I can never listen to that album without listening to the first song.
What was the first recording you heard and understood that the production was just as important as the song itself?
I saw Pink Floyd’s The Wall when I was 15 and was dumbfounded by the overall production of everything—from the music and lyrics to the animation and storyline. I became obsessed with concept albums after that.
Are you a perfectionist?
If I’m trying to get it perfect, I’m probably trying too hard. I think it’s good to find a balance. I try to go outside of my musical comfort zone and into that unfamiliar space where I just play without thinking and don’t fear mistakes. That’s where my best music comes from.
Do you believe in the healing properties of music?
Music is my therapist. Sound vibrations and music will become more important to human health as time goes on.
What was the first song or album you heard as a child that made you want to play music? Do you remember how you felt?
As an eight-year-old, I watched SRV on Austin City Limits and told myself I would do that one day. I wanted to play guitar like Stevie. I got chills from hearing the blues that I wouldn’t get from any other music.
Is there a particular recording that inspired you to become a producer?
Tupac’s All Eyez on Me. I played along on guitar and tried to learn the bass lines. After hearing that album, I started paying more attention to liner notes and production credits.
What are your favorite pieces of gear?
The Minimoog, Prophet 08, and Elektron Digitakt drive most of my production at the moment.
In which direction do you see the majority of music and production heading?
I see music becoming more socially conscious and production getting spacier and more electronics-driven. I see instruments like guitar and bass being used like never before and becoming more synthesized in production. I like where music is at and where it’s going.
Is the rise of digital-based or electronic music a momentary trend or do you see guitar-based rock returning to mass popularity?
I agree it’s dropping in popularity, but I still hear a lot of guitar on the radio. As a guitarist, I feel like the role of the guitar is changing because of the advance of electronic instruments and music technology. It doesn’t bother me. I definitely see technology taking guitar to new levels. It feels like a natural progression more than a trend.