Who the heck is Diesel J ?

I’m Diesel J and thanks for visiting my website.

I was born and raised in Montreal and come from a Jamaican background…Ya mon!

Like you, my mother forced me to take what appeared to be never ending piano lessons for many years until I was old enough to buy my own instrument: The electric bass.

Playing bass was cool.

It really all started when my neighbors would blast their music so loud all I could really make out were the basslines to popular 80′s songs. As a result, I began to “hear” music according to bass riffs.

Diesel J

Diesel J

Some of my earlier influences were The Cure’s bassist  Simon Gallup, Depeche Mode, Red Hot Chill Peppers’ Flea, Marcus Miller and older p-funk albums.
During those influential years, I may have been one of the few black kids in my neighborhood who listened to those bands.

But wait, there’s more…

High school was interesting. Didn’t have much of a blast but excelled at the arts. On days where I didn’t doze off in class, I played percussion and bass in the high school jazz band.
This high school was heavily focused on music.

Diesel J busking Montreal circa 94

Diesel J busking Montreal circa 94

Growing up in Montreal we didn’t really have a music station such as MTV or MUCH MUSIC and there certainly was no internet at that time. Back then, you listened to whatever the local music tv stations played.
Enter Metallica, Guns and Roses, Living Color, NIN and some random band called Nirvana.

Quebecers were and are still obsessed with heavy metal. During these darker years, I became enthralled by this edgy sound. I really liked playing the bass to several of these aggressive tracks. Quickly, my bass chops were improving  and I was able to pull off fast and clean runs in a matter of a few short years. Thank you Jason Newsted and Muzz Skillings.

Believe it or not I actually finished high school (yippie) and began dabbling with jazz. Jazz opened up a new language and method of communication.  I became fascinated with chord changes, extensions and harmonies. I admired Charlie Parker, Paul Chambers, Miles Davis, Chet Baker and Bill Evans. Until this day, I’ve yet to discover a deeper form of music.

College was ok. I majored in music and spent lots of time practicing and honing skills. By then I’d been playing bass for roughly six years and most folks were impressed at the playing speed I exhibited at such a young age. Often, peers would ask “how the hell do you play so fast, man?” Truth is, I’m not that gifted. It was many years of playing that heavy metal “nonsense” that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Completely immersed in playing upright bass, I was an active musician in the Montreal club circuit. Ah fun times, indeed.

University wasn’t all that great. Again, I majored in Music but found most of the curriculum centered around using computers as a tool for making music.
Making music with the help of computers? Really?!… I’d never heard of something so foolish in my life. I wasn’t interested in it. I remained a die-hard musician for many years.

In hindsight the 90′s offered fresh and  progressive musical sounds. I really dug artists like Portishead, Tricky, and some Prodigy. Of course I still played and listened to jazz but began to appreciate what came out of the U.K. On the North American front, bands like Faith No More, 24/7 Spyz, Follow For Now, Infectious Grooves (Robert Trujillo), and so many more were always on my tape deck. (Remember cassettes?)

On friday nights our small time “MTV” wannabe music station (MUSIC PLUS) aired a dance music show. OMG! This music was amazing. The videos were cool and stylish. Unlike the 80′s, record labels and artists actually spent dough and produced innovative videos. Dance music was sexy. It was shiny and hip. Some of the good stuff came from Germany and the U.K. (“What are those Brits drinkin’ anyways?”) I remember loving Lisa Stanfield, Haddaway, Bass Bumpers, JK. Many of the bands had dope looking women who never really sang and pulled a Milli Vanilli throughout much of the 90′s. I always found it strange how many of these European babes were able to belt out songs with a strong gospel soulful delivery. But who cared, I liked the music…

Diesel J Bass Player, Songwriter and DJ

Diesel J Bass Player, Songwriter and DJ

It was during this time, I paid more attention to dance music. I had no idea how it was produced. In fact, I hadn’t given it much thought until someone turned me onto Propellerhead Reason v1. I later married them but that’s besides the point.

Propellerhead Reason opened up a whole new door for me. Seriously, I got to be the bassist, drummer, keyboard player as well as all the other instrumentalists. Maybe that’s what my university professor was trying to teach me all along but of course, being a jazz musician I was too cool for school! DOH!
I no longer relied on rehearsals with unreliable band members. I didn’t have to worry about making too much noise in my apartment and I could play whatever musical parts I wanted in an arrangement without having to offend anyone. Life was good!

I quickly began mimicking popular tracks on Reason. Learning the interface was tricky. I admit, I was blown away when I saw the moving cables on the back of the Reason rack. Damn, this is like working on real gear. Well not exactly but close enough.
Eventually I got into dj’ing and learned more about producing house music. Since then’ I’ve expanded my digital toys to include Cubase and Ableton. Now, we’re one big happy DAW family!

dieselj studio

dieselj's studio: my use of gear has diminished considerably since the taking of photo

I have a few releases under my belt that you can listen to here. In addition to producing dance music, I’ve been writing more royalty free music. If you have a project that requires background music for your websites, web based projects, radio, tv, film or presentation, then visit my royalty free music catalog.

Remixes are always fun and I’ve had the opportunity to remix some tracks. Currently, I’m currently working on remixes for European artists/bands and look forward to doing more.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to hone my skills and host fun music mixes.

 

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