Nicolas Jaar Names His Top Five Rock, Pop, and Electronic Jams

Electronica wunderkind Nicolas Jaar is many things. But he's definitely not a genre purist. After all, this is a guy who name-checks minimal techno DJ Ricardo Villalobos and Ethiopian jazz maestro Mulatu Astatke in a single sentence.

Jaar's live sets, in particular, are kaleidoscopic sonic tapestries where you might hear pop vocals, hip-hop breaks, and jazz horn riffs. And Space Is Only Noise, his critically-acclaimed 2011 debut long-player on Circus Company, transcends genre altogether.

So when Crossfade asked Jaar to name five tracks that have most touched or influenced him over the years, he predictably came back with a selection that's all over the spectrum. See for yourself, after the jump. Then go catch him live at the Electric Pickle this Thursday.

1. Gonzales's Manifesto

"Gonzales is the Žižek of pop music," says Jaar. "I think this is the only album I play when I'm home." It's no surprise Jaar feels a kinship with this chameleonic Canadian musician, who's just as likely to be banging out electro numbers with Peaches as composing downtempo avant-pop piano instrumentals.

2. Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead"

"What I used to listen to when I was younger," says Jaar. "Dave [Harrington] and I (as Darkside) just covered it and will be playing it live on our first tour." This song's dub-influenced percussive guitar sound is the kind of experimental electro-acoustic production technique that Jaar is known for.

3. Pink Floyd's "Echoes" (Live in Pompeii)

"This song probably changed my life. For better or for worse," says Jaar. Yup, Floyd changed plenty of lives, many before a lot of us were even born. We don't have to delve too deeply into what Nicolas Jaar and Pink Floyd might have in common, beyond their shared penchant for emotive, forward-thinking music.

4. Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire" 

"I made an edit of this song a month or so ago and play it all the time at Brown [University]," says Jaar. Naming the Stones as an influence just goes to show that no matter how experimental and avant-garde he gets, Jaar never loses touch with pop appeal.

5. Aquarius Heaven's "Can't Buy Love"

"Wolf + Lamb as strong as ever," he says. "Miami is lucky to have them." Indeed, Jaar and Wolf + Lamb label's latest recruit share a boldly individualistic approach to their music. And neither Nico, nor Aquarius Heaven is afraid to bear his emotions and belt out a vocal.

Nicolas Jaar with Electric Pickle residents. Thursday, November 24. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit

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Sean Levisman