Catching up with... Audiojack
The lads took some time out from a busy studio and gigging schedule to talk and reflect on the last 12 months, the rise of Gruuv, what's currently in their record boxes and what is in store for them in 2012.
James Rial and Richard Burkinshaw (AKA Audiojack) are DJs, label owners and producers with music out on some of the worlds most highly respected and established labels including 2020Vision, Get Physical, Renaissance, BluFin, Diynamic and their own Gruuv imprint. They've remixed some of the biggest names in house including Underworld, Style of Eye, Mike Monday, Groove Armada, 2020Soundsystem and Paul Woolford ranging from the deeper end of house to driving techno, appealing to a wide range of international DJs and music fans alike.
Hi Rich & Jamie, thanks for taking time out to talk to us.
As the year draws to a close, what have been your highlights in 2011?
Rich: I know you're probably expecting some far flung story here but honestly my highlight, or at least the most important thing, was stopping smoking cigarettes. I haven't had one since January and I'm happy to say I think I've cracked it!
Of course there are some fantastic gig memories too such as Circo Loco in Sydney, D-Edge in Sao Paulo and Watergate in Berlin. My favourite gig of the year though was at a small venue called Vibe in Curitiba. I just love that club and their crowd! The whole city as well actually. And to think my phone alarm didn't go off and I nearly slept right through it!
I'm very happy with our musical progression over the last couple of years - we're really comfortable and excited with the house sound we're immersed in right now. We're really pleased to see our latest 2020 Vision EP being so well received. A Gruuv highlight would have to be Nice7's track Point which came out in February and topped Beatport's chart at number 1 for several weeks, becoming Gruuv's first five figure sales track!
Jamie: Yeah much of the same really, really enjoyed getting to play in San Francisco with Kevin Knapp (of "Like This") doing live vocals over the music. Really been enjoying the musical evolution too because it's brought us back to a sound that we grew up with as there are so many early 90's house influences in there.
How did the name Audiojack come about?
It was as simple as two guys sitting in a park reeling ideas off and Audiojack was the first one we both totally agreed on! That's something we still use to gauge the potential of our new music today actually, if we both totally agree on something it almost always ends up being something special.
When you first started listening to electronic music, which parties and DJ where you going to see?
Rich: I got into hardcore and techno when I was about 13 although I didn't go to many clubs back then, I was mostly listening to mix tapes, the likes of Sven Vath, Stu Allen, Slipmatt, Carl Cox all spring to mind. The first club night I remember going to would be DJ Sy in Wakefield circa about '94. I loved it, although in retrospect I'm sure it was awful! My first real DJ love though, and the inspiration behind a lot of my musical development has to be Sasha, a love affair which started around '96 and continues to this day. We signed to his now defunct agency Excession a few years ago and I had the privilege of meeting him in Miami. His Essential Mix from 2001 is still to me the greatest mix I've ever heard. I asked him how long it had taken him to get the right tracks and order ready for it. He told he'd got most of the tracks that week and just played them through in his hotel before going ahead and mixing it. The original superstar DJ...
Jamie: When I was at school my mate used to make me tapes with early 90s house on there and I used to listen to it on my walkman (younger readers note this is a very early version of todays iPod) when I was training for sport and what not. There was a rave held in the small town I lived in so I went to that for a couple of years before going to uni where I really got into the clubbing scene. I used to go out in Birmingham to clubs like Wobble and listen to whoever was playing really I didn't care what kind of music it was as long as it was credible dance music I just soaked it all up. It's only been in the last 10 years that my taste has zeroed in on the specific types of electronic music I'm into now. I've certainly become more of a music snob over the years ha ha.
"We were kids who got a lucky break back then. We've since had 5 years to hone our sound and learn new production techniques..."
How do you think your sound has evolved since your first track 'Robot' back in 2005?
Well we've matured a lot since then, our tastes have become more refined and we're definitely much less noisy! Robot was a twanging techno monster, made around 128bpm whereas the stuff we're making now would almost all be categorised as house, and much slower too, around 120-124bpm. We were kids who got a lucky break back then. We've since had 5 years to hone our sound and learn new production techniques, so I'd hope our sound has improved, if not we should probably look into new careers!
Which artists have been your biggest influence on your music, right from when you first started out to more recent time?
When we first started out as Audiojack we were very inspired by artists such as Switch, King Roc, Tiefshwarz and Paul Woolford. It's interesting to see how these inspirations have moved musically too. We're still very much musically in tune with King Roc (Martin Dawson) despite our music and his changing a lot. We've got a lot of respect for Wooly and Tiefshwarz, but what happened to Switch?
Rich: I heard something he's made under a pseudonym the other day on 6music and it was almost unlistenable - probably one of the worst things I've ever heard! It was reviewed on Round Table, a feature on Steve Lamaq's show. The funny thing was all the reviewers sat around the room were all saying how much they 'quite' liked it! I think most likely a case of uncomfortable 30 something musos and journo's desperately trying to remain cool in front of the kids. An Emperors New Clothes situation. Either that or I'm just old!
Back on point though, every year sees new influences and new favourite artist's spring up. In the last year or so Maceo Plex, Huxley, Waifs & Strays, FCL, Eats Everything and Julio Bashmore have been really standout artists or us. We're really excited about quite a few newer artists such as Balcazar & Sordo, Ardalan, Ksky and Dusky. Keep your eyes out for upcoming material from them on our Gruuv label.
What's been keeping you busy in the studio lately?
Finding out we can use 3rd party plugins in our music set up has been the single most important discovery for us musically in the last couple of years. This year we bought Rob Papens Albino 3 and Subboombass plugins which has opened a lot of doors to new exciting sound which most of our new productions are based around.
How would you describe your creative process whilst working together in the studio?
Pretty straight forward really, getting a good groove or bass line that's going to work on the dance floor is paramount. If the foot isn't tapping to a simple loop then it's back to the drawing board. Then its building a track around that using the percussion to get the type of rhythm you're aiming for, and the instruments to get the mood you want and a structure to fit where you'd want it to fit in a set. All sounds pretty obvious and as long as you can get what's in your head to come out of your speakers you get a nice little tune at the end of it all.
Which artist would you love to collaborate with?
It might sound bizarre but none really! The phrase 'too many cooks' springs to mind, we've already got enough ideas going on in the studio. Although there are lots of vocalists we'd love to work with, impossibilities such as Dave Gahan, Bjork or Thom Yorke, and lots of bands we'd love to remix.
What is your favourite track at the moment?
Right this minute the first track that comes to mind is a new one we've just finished called Overtone. There's some red hot tracks coming next year on Gruuv too, but you'll have to wait and see regarding the specifics! For something people can check out right now though, keep your eyes out for the upcoming Catz n Dogs EP on Dirtybird.
Which artists and producers are you feeling right now?
Probably covered above?!
How do you compare studio time to playing out at gigs?
You can't really they're totally different, it's like comparing writing an essay in your own time to doing a presentation in front of a crowd of people.
Your new label Gruuv has gone from strength to strength over the last year or so, why did you want to become label owners?
Primarily we started Gruuv out of a passion to support some of the fantastic music we were being sent by upcoming producers. Also as a platform to occasionally release our own music. We just love putting EPs together, from helping artists with getting their sound right to signing music, choosing remixers and promo'ing to other DJs and releasing. It's a great feeling and it's a fantastic reason to get in touch with producers we respect.
"Different Language has been the best thing that's happened to the underground scene in Hull as there aren't other places where you can see these kind of international acts in a warehousey type environment..."
Gruuv has seen artists such as Catz N Dogz, Luna City Express, Marcin Czubala and H.O.S.H involved, is there a specific sound you are after releasing?
Yes and no... you'll not see any banging trance or heavy metal coming out of our label but we definitely don't want to be pigeonholed into one specific sound. We set our Gruuv sound out the same way we set out our Audiojack sound - just groovy bass driven music which sounds good and works on the dance floor.
What are your future plans and goals for Gruuv?
Our first release in January is a pretty big one, we've been working with vocalist Kevin Knapp for our new Audiojack EP with remixes from FCL, Waifs & Strays and Gorge.
Long term our plans are fairly straightforward - just keep signing and releasing music we fully support from the artists we love.
You're from Hull right... what do you think to the music scene here since you left for Leeds?
Rich: I'm actually from Barnsley (don't tell anyone) so I'll leave this one with Jamie!
Jamie: There will always be a decent crowd into good underground music in Hull and a decent scene as limited as that maybe compared to some of the cities in the UK. It seems to come and go in waves where everyone will want to be a part of it and go out to the gigs and then for a while only the hardcore fans will go out but it will always keep bubbling away. I think since the Our House days of the mid naughties, Different Language has been the best thing that's happened to the underground scene in Hull as there aren't other places where you can see these kind of international acts in a warehousey type environment.
Buzzing Fly's Ben Watt wrote on Hull which is a nice read.
You've frequented the Different Language parties as both guests and to party, are you looking forward to be back playing there again?
It's always nice to play in Hull as so many of our friends come from there and it's a great opportunity to catch up with them. We've always had a great time at your parties and the venue this time is new to us so we're looking forward to checking that out and showing off some of the new music mentioned above!
See you both on Boxing Night, until then have a Merry Christmas!