If Dutch producer and DJ Jarreau Vandal could be described using one word, it would be versatile.
Raised in a musical family- with a grandfather who was a producer, and parents who used to be dancers at Amsterdam clubs-Vandal’s earliest memory of loving music is playing in his church band as a drummer.
Having been exposed to a wide variety of musical influences right from gospel and soul to jazz and house, Vandal’s musical identity is organic as he aims to combine everything that inspires him, turning it into his own authentic, one-of-a-kind brand of music with a focus on putting out good vibes.
Gaining fame for his edits, such as Rihanna’s “Work” and remixes such as Dua Lipa’s “New Love” and Mahalia’s “Sober”, which is his most successful remix as far streams are concerned, Vandal is looking forward to evolving and establishing himself as an album artist. With more confidence in who he is and what he wants to say as a musician, Vandal is now ready to expand his horizons from DJ and producer to an all-rounder; his upcoming EP The Villain Within, out on 19th June, is the another step in the journey.
Having begun his career as a beatsmith, lyrics and messages were never at the forefront of Vandal’s mind. He says, “ Sharing a message with my music was never my thing. I left that to the artists I worked with, while I focused on producing. But I’ve already started to expand and develop that as an important part of my creativity.”
Explaining the theme of his upcoming EP, he says “ In previous projects I only had music and didn’t have any general theme or concept. It was frustrating to narrow down on what to call it, what the project was going to be about. With this EP I came to the realisation that for me it’s not about coming up with a theme, it’s about drawing from the experiences of where you are in life.”
The Villain Within is a continuation of one of his first EPs Suburb Superhero. It focused on his early days growing up in Amsterdam, becoming successful in music and inspiring others to chase their own dreams, thus becoming a kind of “superhero” to those that looked up to him.
On The Villain Within, the subject matter is heavily based on the bad habits Vandal has picked up in his life as a young adult, which he is pointedly working to overcome. Whether drinking, smoking or negative mental habits, Vandal visualises them as the Villain within him, against which he is fighting in an effort to find the superhero again.
The seven-track EP is a blueprint of Vandal’s original sound. Organic, soulful with a perfect blend of electronic, and his creative approach of taking trending genres and putting his own twist on it.
On track “Bad Shit”, for example, Vandal mixed the currently popular Afrobeat drum patterns with his own elements. Lyrically, the track is imagined as Vandal singing a love song to a bottle of alcohol.
The Villain Within is also teeming with features from various talented artists. Vandal has worked with British rapper and visual artist Kojey Radical on two tracks on the EP ; “Midnight”, which takes on the “let loose” vibe of a house party and “Nothing Nice”, a track about being grateful for whatever you have, which also features rising vocal talent Gaidaa from the Netherlands, who also features on final track “Cold Outside.”
Other features include the Nigerian vocalist Tay Iwar on breakup song “Single Complexities”, which talks about struggles of handling the lonely aftermath of a broken relationship. The track was written by Ari Pensmith known for his work on American rapper Goldlink’s album.
Pensmith also co-wrote track “My Way” featuring North London artist Col3trane, the narrative of which falls right before the breakup in “Single Complexities”. Vandal explains, “ It’s about coming to the conclusion that the relationship isn’t working and that you need to go your own way.” Finally, New York vocalist Kiah Victoria makes an appearance on “Slow it Down”, which had been on Vandal catalogue of tracks for a long time before finding its rightful place on The Villain Within, a perfect bridge to the sound of his earlier projects.
Vandal might just be laying the foundation of his world as an artist, but he’s already had many memorable moments in his career as a producer and DJ. He reminisces, “My track “Someone That You Love” hitting around 20 million streams which is a huge highlight, my live tour where I sang on stage with a band backing me which was a dream come true. The beer brand, Bud selected me as an ambassador for their launch in the Netherlands, and we collaborated on an in-depth profile piece video ‘Be A King’.”
From DJing hundreds of club shows to headlining his own tours in UK & Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Asia etc and plans to tour North America in early 2021, touring and live shows are a huge part of Vandal’s career. His live set on Boiler Room late last year- wrapping up their One Night Only show with AXE Music – reflects the incredible impact that Vandal has had on the club hip-hop scene and beyond.
Concerning achievements and highlights, Vandal was noted in Vogue’s “ The Boys We’re Spotlight In 2018” article when he was 26 years old, and proves the versatility of his interests with his love for fashion ; similar to music, he finds expression of his identity in fashion, and is inspired by creatives in fashion to think outside the box as an artist.
Vandal, who has a brand called VANDALIZED which he started with the release of his edit packs, has also released his own clothing line with T-shirts and hoodies, accessories, bathing suits under the brand, and he is lining up even more fashion-focused collaborations in the future.
Influenced by the likes of Childish Gambino, James Blake, Prince and too many others to count, Vandal is a multi-faceted creative who is driven by his immediate goal of releasing a debut album, mid-term goals of setting up his own label to discover and work with new talent and long-term goal of making timeless music that stays with the world long after the melody and artist fade.
About any future collaborations, Vandal makes a poignant statement, “I want to focus on my own sound and build my world, making it so interesting that people want to be part of it. I’ll reach out to people for features of course, but I’ll never force it- rather I want to be the artist that people want to work with.”