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An interview with Terracotta Blue: talking new album Takoma Park

Meet Jay, the musical mastermind behind the mellifluous Terracotta Blue album Takoma Park. He's one talented man.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Healer by Terracotta Blue. Illustration by Geo Law.

From the enigmatic thump of Arcade to the Japanese inflected strings of Healer, murmuring beats of Lake Autumn and blissed out vocals of White Cloud, Terracotta Blue impresses with new album Takoma Park. Read on to find out more about the enigmatic Jay…


Who is Terracotta Blue, and what does the project encompass? I understand that Terracotta Blue is just one of 5 aliases – what else do you do?

I would say that Terracotta Blue is an outlet for my more melancholy, electro-inspired endeavours. And there’s absolutely no back story or special meaning to the name; I just thought it sounded cool! 

I dabble in all sorts of genres – essentially anything that has alot of samples, synths, and hard drums. Yes, I release music under four other aliases (which includes Electronic Dance Music and hip-hop), but I’ll keep that under wraps… at least for now. I can say with certainty is Terracotta Blue is not a side project of any popular superproducer/DJ. I’m just a guy trying to make a living off of his music like countless others out there. The anonymity thing just adds to the mystique.

Terracotta Blue by Gareth A Hopkins
Terracotta Blue by Gareth A Hopkins.

You’ve drawn comparisons to the oh so trendy chillwave trend as well as ambient, synth-pop and hip hop, what do you think best describes your music?
I’m a fan and listener of everything you just listed, but I would say that hip-hop is the one constant that ties everything together. From the use of sampling to the grittiness you hear in many of my tracks, the hip-hop influence is undeniable. I’m also fascinated by the inherent freedom electronic music allows me, in all its forms. So I’d best describe my music as sample-based, hiphop-tinged, electro chill music. Hopefully people will just regard it as good music.


Terracotta Blue - Healer by Rukmunal Hakim
Terracotta Blue – Healer by Rukmunal Hakim.

How did you get into music, and where did you learn how to play?
I played the saxophone and trumpet in the 4th and 5th grades, respectively. But it wasn’t until I tape recorded myself playing on this Radio Shack keyboard that I became truly fascinated by the synthesis of sounds. I eventually started experimenting by pause-mixing beats on karaoke machines and then recording drums machines and samples on 4-track recorders. I bought my first ‘real’ piece of equipment—the MPC2000XL—in 2000. Then in 2005 I was introduced to Reason and FL Studio software—I’ve used the same programs ever since.

Terracotta Blue - Takoma Park cover
What inspired the creation of new album Takoma Park? What were you doing at the time, and what subjects and ideas suffuse the songs?

My music reflects the changing of the seasons, and it’s been like that for as far back as I can remember. I’m thankful to be living in an area of the states where there’s so much contrast between the seasons. Takoma Park was definitely inspired by the sights and sounds of my favorite time of the year—autumn. There was nothing particularly interesting happening in my life during the making of that album; I just wanted to present the sounds I was hearing in my head at the time.

Lake Autumn

Terracotta Blue_Equinox by Jacqueline Valencia
Terracotta Blue – Equinox by Jacqueline Valencia.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? What have your roots brought to your music?
I grew up right outside of Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, Maryland—that’s where I live now. D.C. is known for its percussion-heavy funk music called go-go, but I was honestly never really into it growing up. I was that kid sitting quietly in the corner bobbing his head with big headphones on and a backpack full of hip-hop cassettes and CDs.

terracotta blue Arcade Healing3
What next for Terracotta Blue? Any special releases or free downloads that you would like to share with my readers? Have you thought about how to get your music on itunes?
I just released my new single Arcade b/w Healer, available for free download on my bandcamp page, where you’ll also find One Million Sunsets and Takoma Park. I’ll probably release another free EP in the spring and aim for an iTunes full length release in late summer, early autumn. I would also love to collaborate with more artists in the near future, so hopefully I can make that happen in 2012!

White Cloud


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