Truancy Volume 177: Jackmaster Pt. I

Truancy Volume 177 comes from our favourite selector. Affiliated with Numbers, Wireblock, Dress 2 Sweat, and Rubadub, Jackmaster is known generally as one of the most consistent forces in music. With a wealth of heavy-hitter, high profile mixes in his pockets, such as his DJ-Kicks mix, BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, FabricLive instalment and more recently his Live From Mitchell Street series alongside friend and collaborator Jasper James, it’s his six-year running Mastermix series that’s recently taken a new life of its own. Running Mastermix parties across London, Glasgow, Amsterdam and Lisbon, he’s also just hosted a Mastermix stage at Riverside in his hometown of Glasgow. We’re delighted to add his first Truancy Volume to his catalogue; a mix that comes in at almost an hour and a half and it’s a relentless hour and a half at that. Jack takes us through a selection of techno including releases from Numbers and a track by Lory D he holds dear; the rest is left for the listener to discover. “I prefer not to publish tracklists for my own mixes for many reasons. Mostly because it removes any element of surprise which was always pivotal to my mixes which featured well known pop tracks blended with techno, or whatever. It was never to keep music secret. Music is for everyone and that’s why it’s so important, especially in these times.” We caught up with Jack about the art of digging, Circoloco, ‘Cunter the unsackable’ and the mix he’s recorded for us – with a second part to follow.

Hey Jack, how are you? What have you been up to over the last few weeks? “I could give you the standard ‘I’m amazing!” patter which is almost always true as I am living this kind of dream life I always wanted. The truth though is that I’m fucking tired all the time. Obviously I have this reputation as like a “party boy” or whatever, which is true at times but the truth is I am kinda boring. I sleep in the hotel before every gig. I sleep on every flight and every transfer. When I’m in Glasgow I sleep for 12 hours at a time. I just woke up from a 16 hour marathon. I am not 21 anymore, but I’m still touring like I am. There are too many good gigs coming in to say no to, and I’m trying to save up to buy a house in Glasgow. I think Resident Advisor said I do a gig every two days on average but it’s gotten even busier recently. Over the last few weeks I’ve been everywhere, from Exeter to Lebanon.”

Saw you landed in Ibiza the other week amidst of everything, are you back for your residency? “Yeah, I have my Circoloco residency on the island. It’s still surreal for me to even say that. DC10 is the fucking best place in the world and it seems like just yesterday I was asking the gods for this opportunity. You should have seen my face when my agent called me and told me I had my first gig there, I was bouncing off the walls. The first time I went properly was with Joy O when I gatecrashed his and his girlfriend’s holiday and the three of us went to see Dixon and Ben Klock. I didn’t even want to go but Pete persuaded me as he was big into Dixon at the time. I would have rather stayed in.” How did you go into your residency, what were your expectations? “I don’t know what I expected but I didn’t expect it to be that fucking good. It changed my whole musical trajectory. I am so grateful to be not just a part of the Circoloco crew but one of the family. They really took me in with an open mind and I was a big risk for them for sure. Ibiza is such a dirty word to dance music snobs. DC10 is the shining light in amongst a shower of shit in Ibiza. No CO2 cannons. No fancy light shows. No bullshit. The fuckin’ sound man lives inside the club grounds all year round. That’s my shit.”

There’s a lot of amazing clubs and parties popping up recently, to counter conversations of nightlife turning sour. Saw you shout out Golzheim in Dusseldorf the other week. What was it like? “That was one of my favourite gigs of recent times. They asked me to play strictly vinyl for four hours which is something I haven’t done for maybe 10 years. I am not a big fan of the whole format snobbery thing, though. If someone is playing an all vinyl set then so what? I don’t know why it has to be classified on the flyer. It’s the same with genres. Why do you need to specify (disco set) after someone’s name? That shit annoys me.” Where’d you take your set at Golzheim? “For the last year or so I’ve been buying a lot of vinyl but usually only stuff that doesn’t come out digitally, rare stuff from Discogs, second hand 99p bits and obviously playing it out but never exclusively – always amongst the CDJs. But that gig in Dusseldorf was a bit like going back to school for me. For the first couple of hours anyway, then I got the hang of it and it was as if I was 16 again and I was loving it.”

On the topic of finding records, you criticized certain DJs ways of finding records (or lack thereof) recently. Can you elaborate? “Yeah, I did this post recently on my Facebook fanpage because I have noticed there are big name DJs getting paid thousands of pounds to play music but they are using the identification of music group to find music. It got taken the wrong way by a lot of people and they thought I was having a go at the pager in general. I’m all about sharing music, and I’ve always been the first person to identify music for people when I can. I often search that page for my own name and ID the stuff I’ve played. But come on.. when this is your job and you’d rather bite your peers over going down to the local record shop? That’s some bullshit.”

I’m amazed that with such a relentless touring schedule, you find the time to search out new records. How? “A lot of the stand-out tunes in my sets recently have come from after parties at my house where me and all my mates share the AUX and do one tune about on YouTube. We call good tunes “belters” or “briefs.” I have this mate Cunter who’s been nicknamed “the unsackable” because he’s known for calling off work every Monday whilst sitting in a house in Glasgow, getting high and educating everyone on the “briefs” whilst managing never to get sacked, haha.”

Where are some of your preferred places to play recently, are there any other parties that stood out? “I just did Riverside festival in Glasgow with Jasper and that was really special. I had my own Mastermix stage with Koze, Mr. G, Hunee and more. Homecoming gigs are so nerve-wracking for me but this couldn’t have gone better, really. About 20 members of my family came to see me for the first time. And to share a stage in your home town with like 3000 people together with your best mate is an intense feeling. It’s just a clarification that you chose the right path flunking out of school to work in a record shop.” Mr. G is such a don, how was his show? “Mr. G is just one of those guys. A class act. He doesn’t take no shit. If the situation ain’t right he is not entertaining it. He cares not for money or fame or whatever. He cares for music and vibe and energy. When he plays alongside me I find his vibe so infectious. He has this sick track he always starts his live shows off with in Glasgow: ‘If house is a nation, I wanna be president.’ Well, he’s defo on the right track!”

What’s the one record you’ll definitely be playing out this summer? “Dukwa’s “4EVERTHIS”. It’s on his next Numbers EP. People go crazy for that one.” That Dukwa EP is incredible. How’d you first get in touch? “I first heard his stuff as he’s one half of Life’S Track. I sent it to Richard like ‘Let’s hit these guys up for a demo,’ and he was all over it. So Marco (Dukwa), a kid from Florence who gardens for a living and is a genius at football, sent me this track called “Thoughts.” It was exactly what I was looking for. The track got like 100k plays on Soundcloud. I texted him like, ‘You could make some cash off of this if you want to, but you have to learn how to DJ.’ He said he didn’t care for it. ‘I’d rather be an amazing gardener who keeps music as my passion and not clouded by money.’ I really respected that. For that comment alone I was proud to have him as one of the Numbers crew.”

What can you tell us about the idea behind the mix you’ve recorded for us? “Usually these mixes are planned but I just recorded this one on a whim and really got into a vibe with it. It’s my favourite thing I’ve done in a while. It’s kind of a journey. What a cliche! It’s not as polished as my usual Mastermixes (a new one of these is coming too, by the way). It sounds more live, this one. I really like it. I had a lot of techno stuff to get out of my system. I’m kind of in this place where I am typecast as a DJ. I always have been a bit. I guess all DJs are? Being connected with Ibiza, and with certain friends, people think I’m a tech house dj! People used to think I was a dubstep DJ. I don’t think I’ve ever played an entire club set of one genre in my life. I get booked for a lot of shows where I don’t exactly get to express my whole repertoire, so to speak. I was sitting on all these tracks last week that I knew had a certain vibe to them and they would work together as a mix, but I had to cut the set short as one of my mates who was in the house kept begging me to go back to back, so I’m gonna record a second part for you guys as well.”

With the absence of a track listing, can you lift one specific track from the mix and tell us about it? “One of my favourite tunes on the mix is a super old track from my hero Lory D. Me and Spencer used to basically stalk Lory. He was our idol. Calum was living in London and I was in Glasgow. One of the Rubadub guys Dan, from Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, booked Lory to play in Glasgow at a club called Monox. It was kind of like the Berghain of Glasgow in terms of relaxed licensing laws, and the harder techno music policy. We had been trying to email Lory for demos for our old label Wireblock for ages. He played his live set and I followed him around. I literally didn’t leave his side. He doesn’t talk much English and I was on pills so he must have wondered what the fuck I was on about. I was rolling joints for him, recording his set on minidisc. At the end of the night in his broken English he said ‘Ah, you are the Jack who has been emailing,’ and handed me a CD. I ripped it onto my computer at 128kbps, and being young and stupid I thought that if I re-encoded it at 320 then the quality would improve – idiot! Anyway, it still sounds good. I re-mastered it a little bit back when I went to audio engineering college.”

Jackmaster: Soundcloud, Facebook
Numbers: SoundcloudBandcamp

Soraya Brouwer
Soraya Brouwer

LONDON / soraya @ truantsblog.com / @sorayea

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