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Q+A: Jackmaster

From afterparty king to DC10 resident: how Numbers label boss Jackmaster became one of the world’s most in-demand DJs

  • Words: Sean Griffiths | Image: Tine Bek
  • 5 January 2016
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What is it about happy hardcore that you love?

I was never an aficionado of it. Ross [Birchard, aka Hudson Mohawke] really was. When I first started going out I could only get into underage clubs, so we'd go to this night at Archaos that played happy hardcore. It was a proper Ned zone. When you went in you'd get your belt taken off you and given a raffle ticket to get it back at the end. But the atmosphere there was amazing and that's when the music caught me. I'd buy trance records in HMV and play them at 45RPM so I could mix them with hardcore. I made mixtapes to appease the chavvy kids in school and make sure I didn't get battered! They'd come back to me saying, 'That mix you did was a big deal round our way!'

You were back at DC10 as a Circoloco resident again this summer. It's fair to say you're not a quintessential Ibiza DJ. Has it changed your style?

I'm definitely not a quintessential Ibiza DJ. I went to DC10 with Joy Orbison and his girlfriend in 2011 and saw Dixon. It blew me away. He was blending tracks for 10 minutes at a time! That's when I decided I had to play there and started begging them for gigs without really getting anywhere for ages. Then I played the closing party one year and was really shitting myself. That's when I play best, though. The next year I was playing there seven or eight times! A lot of the music in Ibiza is what I call 'whoosh, bang'. It's a load of white noise followed by a drop, and that's kind of boring to me. Thankfully I play at a club where they book a lot of DJs who don't do that, like your Seths and your Martinez Brothers. I'm constantly buying music that's going to work in that room, and then taking them everywhere, so I guess it's changed the music I play in that respect.

A few years ago you said you weren't really feeling new house and techno. Is that still the case?

I was talking solely about techno at the time and I got given a lot of grief after saying that. But I was working in distribution for Rubadub at the time so I had access to pretty much any techno record coming out. To be honest, it's changed now though and a lot of the house music coming out I find uninspiring. If I play house it's usually old stuff. House now is very identikit with that whole 'deep house' sound that's just ripping off old US garage. There's loads of good techno coming out at the moment, though.

What in particular are you feeling at the moment?

I really like Illian Tape, the label the Zenker Brothers run, they're putting out really good techno at the moment. The Hessle Audio guys are always sending me good stuff. Then there's a kid from Newcastle called Elliot Adamson who has been sending me great stuff. Denis Sulta from Glasgow, whose new track we've signed to Numbers, is great. And a producer called Cratebug, who does great disco edits. That's the thing I always come back to. If I'm bored of house or techno, I can always find incredible old disco records on YouTube I've never heard before.

You were an early supporter of Fatima Yamaha's 'What's A Girl To Do'. How do you feel about it being one of the tracks of the year 10 years after it originally came out?

It's so weird for me. It was the first tune in my first ever 'Tweak-A-Holic' mix six years ago. When I first heard that tune, it was on D1 Recordings from Dublin and they had 200 copies that were deadstock. I immediately bought them all. This was in the days when you could sell a record just by talking it up in a mailout. Then Simon from Phonica in London bought most of them off me. It was strange hearing it everywhere this summer. But we found a track we really loved and supported it because it's an amazing piece of music, so the more people that hear it the better.

Jackmaster's 30th birthday takes place at Glasgow's SWG3 on January 10, and he plays Bugged Out Weekender on January 15–17

Sean Griffiths is Mixmag's News Editor, follow him on Twitter here

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