Yes Jimpster, thanks for your time. Summer is officially over for another year – how has 2012 compared to the rest? Did you do anything music-related (or otherwise!) for the first time?
Thanks for having me! yeah, it’s been a really hectic year so far and probably my busiest summer yet in terms of gigs and also studio work. Got to play a lot of new cities for the first time such as Skopje, Minsk and Bali and been trying to get my 5th Jimpster LP finished before winter comes but have failed miserably at that one.
Now that the Freerange 15th anniversary is out the way, how do you see the label progressing? Are there plans to try out anything drastically new or different in the coming years?
New? Freerange? No, of course not! 😉 Well we do try and push things a little with the music and constantly looking for fresh new producers to progress the sound but good house music is good house music right? It’s all constantly about the next new revivalist thing anyway these days so we tend not to dwell too much on trailblazing, and more just on the best music we can release.
You built Freerange on the deep house principles of Kerri Chandler and Ron Trent. Do you feel the label has managed to maintain some of that old skool US feel over the years or has it matured into something a little more contemporary?
I like to think that we’ve stayed true to our roots rather than trying to hard to jump on the next big sound or trend. For me, guys like Kerri and Ron are hugely influential and they’re perfect examples of old school originators that are still making incredible music today without compromise and remaining underground. We’re pretty open minded at Freerange so I would say our output does include more experimental or contemporary stuff sometimes but I guess it’s always within what we know as deep house.
Indeed that old skool US house sound has made something of a resurgence in recent times. Would you agree? Are trends something you pay attention to at all?
It’s impossible to not pay attention to trend and I think if you’re in business as a record label you do have to be aware of what’s happening in the dance music scene but we don’t ever get bogged down with it or intentionally try to pick up certain tracks just because we think they might be popular or on trend. My basis for A&Ring the label is pretty much if it’s something that I’d want to play out myself in a DJ set then we’re up for it.
Freerange has made a name for itself over the years breaking new talent. Which up and coming stars are making you as a label manager and DJ excited at the moment? Any albums or EPs we should be especially excited about?
Detroit Swindle are building a nice rep from just a handful of EP’s. They have a release on Freerange dropping next month which includes a remix from another talented producer called KRL. Also got a lovely EP from Nils Penner (part of Penner and Muder and has a great label called Wazi Wazi) with a remix from a Chicago guy called Savile. Personally I’m loving and playing a lot of stuff from guys like Jacob Korn, Roman Flügel and Mano Le Tough. These are the boys that deserve to be as big as David Guetta or Luciano!
In interviews you’ve expressed a desire to focus more on more downtempo projects, working with vocalists. Is that right? What kind of things can we expect and when?
My LP’s are usually more varied in terms of styles and tempos although i’m quite close to finishing the new one and it’s probably the most housey LP yet, albeit pretty raw, deep and quite trippy in places. I had planned to work with more vocalists on the LP but as the music was shaping up it was becoming more like an instrumental thing. There will be a couple of vocal tracks though and the new single These Times has Jinadu (of Beauty Room fame) doing his thing.
Aside from ‘Horny’ on this years Bas Amro compilation, your Audiomontage moniker has been conspicuously quiet over the past couple of years. Why so? Is it something you still revisit from time to time?
Studio time has been really limited the last year or two as I have two young kids and also been gigging and running two labels. Actually, i’m just trying to think about that Horny track and remembered that’s about 10 years old! I have a different alter ego I work under now but i like to keep that under wraps. 😉
You’ve been DJing and running the label now for over 15 years. What keeps you motivated and inspired to keep doing what you’re doing week-in-week-out?
I still absolutely love discovering new artists or tracks and being able to bring to a wider audience through releasing on Freerange. Even though gigging every weekend can really take it’s toll on your body I still love it and find it inspires me in my productions too. The fact that no two gigs are ever the same and some are great and some are bad keeps things interesting and I still get excited on the day of a gig about how it’s going to be.
Is there anything you’re still yet to achieve that you’d really like to? (Play a certain club/festival, release on a certain label, achieve something with Freerange..)
I used to play in a live act band called The Bays and we got to play festivals all over the world. We put the project on hold 5 years ago so we could concentrate on our own stuff but I really miss getting to play larger outdoor events as a DJ. So if there was one thing I could try and achieve it would probably be to be able to put on some more really special Freerange events at festivals.
You’re very focused on being a DJ. Describe to us, if you can, your ideal booking. (Length of set, type of club, crowd, DJs before and after you, drinks in the booth..)
I usually play 2 or 3 hours but occasionally get to do longer and always really enjoy it. I played at Zoo Project in Ibiza a month ago and that was lovely, having 4 hours to play and with and also being outside and going early evening until midnight. Of course, a good warm up DJ is preferable – someone who understands the crowd and how to build the vibe nicely, and depending on what mood i’m in and how tired my liver is it could be vodka, beers, tequila or maybe all three going on in the booth.
So Winter is upon us. Does Jimpster spend the next few months locked up in the studio, playing gigs in freezing cold Europe or do you pack your bags and head South for a second Summer?
I do tend to play a lot of winter gigs in freezing places. I’ve had numerous scary landings and delayed flights due to bad weather and this can be a proper ball-ache but I do love the cold weather in general so I’m not one to flee to warmer climes. I played in a Russian city called Khabarovsk in the middle of winter a few years ago and it was minus 25 and there were people driving their cars across the river which was pretty mad to see.
Words by Carlos Hawthorn