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Meet berlioz, the jazz-house producer sampling the everyday

The artist formerly known as Ted Jasper discusses how sampling interviews lets him tap into a new and more spontaneous form of creativity.

By Will Richards

berlioz (Picture: Danika Magdelena)

In his work as berlioz so far, Jasper Attlee has sampled a rare radio interview from Matisse, a woman declaring her love of Picasso and beyond, turning the results into jazz-house productions that have set TikTok alight.

Formerly going under the name Ted Jasper, Attlee used the fresh start of a new project as a chance to step away from personal excavations and instead towards pure and unfiltered creativity.

It’s borne out on upcoming debut album open this wall, a record that is simultaneously smooth and palatable but also boundary-pushing and inventive.

In our Play Next interview, Attlee discusses his unique method of sampling, the role of his wife in his creative process, and the joys of staying true to your vision.

What made you want to start the new project berlioz? What did it represent for you that the music under your Ted Jasper moniker didn’t?

I felt too attached to ‘Ted Jasper’ at the time – it was always my precious baby, it had kind of become too much a part of my identity too – I didn’t like that, and I wanted to create a new project that had its own identity distinct from me that I could put all my inspiration and all the art and creativity [into] and leave out a lot of the personal baggage. Ted Jasper was ‘me’; berlioz is an outlet for my art. 

Were you surprised when it connected online so instantly, and how did that affect what you thought the project could achieve?

I think in hindsight it might look like it connected instantly – but it took 6 months and 3 singles to figure out a way to connect berlioz to people – it’s every artist’s dream to find an audience, the 16-year-old me who started making music would be so happy and proud to see that I found an audience for my art after nearly 10 years!

I don’t take any of this connection for granted. On achieving things with the project, I take connection and inspiration for listeners as the achievement in itself. So as the project grew and connected to and inspired more people, I continued to see that it was achieving its goal.

How quickly did you begin thinking about debut album ‘open this wall’, and do you consider it an introduction to everything the Berlioz project has represented so far?

Before the jazz is for ordinary people EP dropped I was already plotting an album, I’d even planned where and when I was going to create it. My wife Joycelyn helped me so much, she talked me down from getting straight back in the studio. I took some time to get my creative energy back up, and I also took time to soak up the feeling of connection with my listeners and enjoy myself – I’m so grateful to Joycelyn for that, and glad I gave myself that time. open this wall is everything I could hope my first ever album would be – it’s a ‘place in time’ in my life – not only does it take so much of my inspirations and style but it’s also so full of emotion and the affirmations that have got me here. 

berlioz (Picture: Danika Magdelena)

Sampling is a very important part of your work – can you spotlight some of the samples on the album that felt particularly important in sharing its message?

Nancy Wilson – open this wall – this sample that I cleared from PBS. It’s all affirmation, it’s all positivity, it’s light and it’s real, it’s what I LOVE about sampling interviews. It’s spontaneous – so it comes from the heart in a way that even the most spontaneous written vocals and poetry can’t achieve.

How does your wife come into your creative process? You’ve spoken a lot about her impact on your work.

She’s my co-producer, she’s credited on my music – she’s a serious force to be reckoned with, her taste is unmatched and it’s an open secret at this point how pivotal she’s been to some of the arrangement and mixing decisions on my records. The first time I invited Joycelyn to my flat in 2017, she was by my side as I produced music (who knows why or how she put up with that!). It’s a thread that’s run through our whole relationship is what I’m trying to say! We both support each other’s creative work.

You were born in Cape Town – how much does South African music influence your work?

I love South African music, it was definitely one of the sounds of my childhood – I was actually listening to a lot of Abdullah Ibrahim + Miriam Makeba at the time of making open this wall. I think the fact I was born in Cape Town isn’t super relevant though as I spent all my life growing up in Cornwall (I was only in Cape Town until I was six months old!) 

Do you already know where you want berlioz to go following the release of the album?

Stay independent, stay true to myself and my creativity – I always have new ideas, but I’m not feeling any pressure to rush them. Physically I’ve already been so fortunate with where I’ve gone with berlioz – I saw North America with my wife, Copenhagen with my dad, Switzerland with my mum, Munich with my oldest friend…