For DJ, music producer, podcaster, and self-described “food enthusiast”, Jason Stewart (DJ name: Them Jeans), Los Angeles offers an expansive soundscape of frequencies to tune in - or out - depending on his mood.
“Los Angeles has it all, which means you’re able to change the soundtrack as you move. When you’re at the beach, you want to make breezy, summertime music,” the longtime L.A. resident explains. “When you’re downtown, you feel kind of… metallic and technical. When you’re hiking in nature, you’re feeling more atmospheric. And you have the ability to access all those moods, whenever you want.”
As grand in scale as it is by reputation, Los Angeles can be an intimidating place to navigate. But for a musical polymath like Stewart, the city’s notorious sprawl is also its most enticing feature: He thrives on the ability to switch between an array of modes and locations, whether that means hosting his monthly party Hang Time in the hip eastside neighborhood of Silver Lake, recording his podcast Tall Tales with guests like A-Trak in his Atwater Village home, or cooking a pop-up brunch for hundreds of guests in an off-radar westside art space.
“In my mind, L.A. is a giant amusement park with all these lands you can go to depending on what mood you’re in–and if you’re an artistic person, the stimulation you’re seeking probably changes a lot,” says the California native. “Whatever you’re in the mood for, you can just get in your car and drive to that very thing; feel that very feeling.”
Living in the show business capital of the world, it’s no surprise that Stewart’s creative process is inspired by the city’s cinematic feel. With its pastel sunsets, neon-lit boulevards, and palm tree-fringed blue skies, Los Angeles’ epic beauty is the kind that demands musical accompaniment. “Living in L.A. has definitely influenced my music” he says. “I've fallen into it because I try to create a soundtrack for all of my favorite moments in life.”
The car functions as both second home and workspace: a place Jason can zone out to a calming soundtrack in the midst of a stressful week, or test-drive the beats he creates at home.
His adventures across the city give Stewart access to an ever-changing arrangement of sounds that might just trigger the idea for his next beat or set. “Oftentimes, I’ll hear a cool little sound and just loop it in my head; I’ll think of how I would add drums around it, or a bassline underneath it…It could be something as simple as one sound, or it could be a general feeling that will make me want to create an entire song to remind me of the moment.”
Having worked as a DJ and producer for over a decade, sound has also come to define the very structure of Stewart’s daily life. “Music has really shaped how I live as a person,” he says. “You have to learn how to be productive with your day when you don't have a 9-5 job.”
For a musical polymath like Stewart, L.A.’s notorious sprawl is also its most enticing feature.
Unlike many of his music industry friends Stewart rises early to start working, long before the volume of the city begins to increase. “The only time that L.A. is quiet is in the early morning...Everything is calm, and I'm able really to relax and get all my work done.” Typically, he’ll stay at his mixing desk until nighttime, when “Los Angeles really comes alive. It’s a really beautiful city at night–the energy is very exciting.”
"L.A. is a giant amusement park. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you can just get in your car and drive to that very thing; feel that very feeling."
Despite having found a comfortable groove in the city, Stewart is proactive about staying inspired in his longtime home. “It’s easy to get lazy and stagnant in any city, so my whole philosophy is to surround myself by adventurous people. I’ll get a text in the morning saying: “Hey! Let’s go to this place,” and twenty minutes later, you’re having a totally new experience.”
Often propelled to new neighborhoods by his love of food, Stewart cites the burgeoning Chinatown district as his current culinary mecca (and the newly-opened Burgerlords as his neighborhood hotspot of choice). He works off Szechuan feasts in the San Gabriel Valley with hikes in Griffith Park, occasionally venturing further afield when the mood strikes.
“I have a buddy that lives over by the coast in Santa Monica, who’ll hit me up and say he’s going to hike some new spot in Malibu,” he says. “So I’ll make the effort to head over, and I’m rewarded by a whole new view of the ocean that I’ve never seen before.”
As cinematic in scale as it is by reputation, Los Angeles stretches far beyond Hollywood’s glittering lights. For a polymath like Stewart, L.A.’s notorious sprawl is also its most enticing feature.
Ultimately, it’s this promise of endless discovery - of sights, and tastes, and sounds - that keeps Stewart firmly entrenched on the west coast. “I'm somebody who craves so many different things at once” he says. “L.A. is the one town that offers it all.”
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