Monday, 5 March 2012

TEA Podcast #19 - Jobody

Techno in the traditional sense has yet to make an impact on the boom town sounds of Bristol according to local producer and label partner Jobody. Releasing under his Jobody epithet, Jobody's steely, dub tinged and industrial sound is a Bristolian techno vision he shares with Damien Schneider, Jamie Curnock and Patrick Bolton. Together the 4 produce for, and run apologue, fashioning four to the floor rhythms not so commonly seen in their locale. Comparisons could perhaps be drawn to the club orientated and Berlin based Fachwerk. Both troupes release their own music on their own terms, with apologue enjoying the added bonus of receiving remixes from Perc, Truss and Sawf.

Jobody is no stranger to DJing and production, but it was in 2008 that Jobody saw his first limelight release with "Spade For Hands" on Richie Hawtin's Sounds Of Can Elles, an exclusive mix for DJ Mag where the Minus controller "Shines a spotlight on the next generation of unsigned producers who've been invigorating his DJ sets this year". That same mix included tracks from Gary Beck, Pysk and Joel Alter.

Jobody's orientation has changed considerably since, dropping his melodic tendencies for a more abrasive sound, but in no way losing his groove. Ahead of his podcast for TEA, Jobody shared with us how techno can be a lonely place, the role of music videos in electronic music today, the apologue sound and a good tea to enjoy on the daily.

How did you first become involved in electronic music and how have you found your way to where you are today?

My old man is an awesome drummer, so I was always focussed on rhythms and beats. I grew up on blues, country, jazz, rock, kate bush, rolling stones and anything my parents listened to. I didn’t really hear dance music until the Chemical Brothers - Exit Planet Dust and Leftfield’s - Leftism. I remember getting my first VW Golf kitted out with some 16x9’s plus a 100-watt amp and rinsing Leftism. After that I got into Drum and bass and Jungle by guys like Kenny Ken, Mampi Swift and all that Helter Skelter stuff that came in packs of like sixteen tapes. It was an eye opener. My first bit of kit was an Apple LC2,I used it for sequencing midi and triggering an Alesis SR16 drum machine. Never really recorded stuff, just fiddled around with it. There is only so long you can listen to an SR16. I got decks when I was about 16 and I still love to play vinyl.

Recently I have been DJing using 3 or 4 decks in Traktor so I can incorporate my own tracks and loops. I’ve started playing live with ableton and it’s something I am sorting out at the moment. It’s going to be simple, a small poly synth like a Tetra of Evolver, a laptop running as a Drum Machine and Sequencer and a Cathedral reverb. It will be pretty raw and uncompromising but will still have a bit of funk to it. These days I make a lot of music, I have about 20 tracks that need releasing. I use lots of drum samples and found sounds, Logic, a tape deck, a Microwave XT and a few soft synths.

How did you work your way into the clubs?

I first started promoting and playing out when I lived up north in Newcastle. I put on a drum and bass and funk night which was great fun, messy times. That’s when I began to go out to loads of hip hop, drum and bass and funk nights. Meanwhile back home in Monmouth, two of my really good friends from school were well into four four structured music and when I came back from Newcastle I started getting involved in that sound. It was all pounding groove. Dave Clarke and Drumcode stuff. We made the trip up to the Q Club pretty often which made the connection with techno that much stronger. That place is infectious.

Your track "Spades For Hands" made Richie Hawtin’s Sounds From Can Elles compilation in 2008. What did that do for your confidence and exposure?

Yes, that was an experience. I used to send a lot of my demo’s to minus. I was almost too late to contribute to that compilation, Richie asked me for some tracks when I was on holiday and I just managed to get them to him. That track is filthy when it gets going. I recorded the synth live when I was very drunk, and somehow that was the track he chose. It definitely boosted my confidence but I didn’t get much exposure following the release. I don’t think the track was ‘minimal’ enough for the masses.

What were you making prior to this release?
I was making a kind of melodic techno, a bit minimal and a bit emo (laughs). Some tracks were hard as nails though. I was still finding my sound and that is something that has only clicked in the last year or two.

Your sound now is quite different to that of "Spades For Hands". How have you seen you productions evolve since that release?
My production techniques haven’t changed that much. I think it is more that my ears have become tuned into what I am doing and my mind is set on something before I start. It may be only a tiny element but as long as I have that, things can evolve from there. I am obsessed with kick drums at the moment and I am forever striving for bigger, lower and dirtier kicks, that’s one thing that can easily get me immersed in a track. The tracks I am making at the moment are a bit different to my Same Same EP and what I am doing at the moment is really working. I also make sure I use plenty of real sounds, be it drum samples or recordings of any old sounds I like. I need those sounds in my tracks to keep what I’m making real. I am finding it hard to find a software synth that is good for drums, but I recently discovered that Waldorf Attack which has a great sounds for drums, it is a bit wild though.
What brought about the change?
Age! And being fully focussed on directing the sound I am creating rather than it directing me. You’d think that I would get into softer sounds as I get older but it’s going the other way.
How much has Bristol influenced your productions?

Let me think about that. Not at all really, unless subliminally something happened that I am unaware of. We are the only techno label that I know of in Bristol and it can feel a bit lonely sometimes. There are plenty of labels doing great things in Bristol, like Punch Drunk and Idle Hands, but I find that Bristol is a bit closed off when it comes to techno. I tend to cut myself off from the music scene quite a bit, I am so picky. I can quite easily annoy my friends by moaning about the music. I mean I love all kinds of music, but only if it is well done. For me that is the blessing and curse of being a musician. I am easily disappointed with a lot of what I hear.

apologue crew from left: Patrick Bolton, Damien Schneider, Jobody

How popular is techno in the traditional sense in Bristol?

It is quite rare to find any proper techno in Bristol these days. See, I told you I moaned (laughs) but I am 30 so I am allowed to. We recently had Ben Klock play and have had Dave Clarke, Legowelt, Surgeon and others over the last year so it does happen, there just isn’t that much of a demand for it. We put a night on last year where we booked Function, we promoted the hell out of it for months and only about 60 people came. That’s Bristol and techno.

Tell us about your relationship with Damien Schneider.
Firstly he’s my very good friend and secondly he is one of the co-founders of Apologue. I have known him for about 6 years. We have spent a lot of time in Bristol together, partying, playing, producing, listening to music and drinking cider. Damien shot and cut the first two Apologue videos and we did the third one together. It is a very interesting process and it is an area that I am pursuing at the moment. He is an absolute perfectionist and always has a strong vision of how things should look.

So you shoot, edit and produce your own videos?

I am currently working on a couple of audio visual pieces. The idea is to start with a visual idea, usually an interesting texture or something with natural movement. Then I begin putting sounds to them. I then go back and forth with the video and audio and the piece slowly evolves into a really interesting and immersive experience. The locations I choose are where natural meets man made, where decay is happening and where textures are abundant. I have also produced a number of video interviews at TB2 Bristol, they are quite simple, using lots of footage from the night, then cutting an interview in the middle.

What role do you think music videos play in underground electronic music today?

I think it's a tricky one when it comes to music videos. If the music is leaning more towards the commercial side of things then I think music videos work really well, but when it comes to a 7 minute underground techno track, I think it would be a waste of time. Music videos are a big task and take quite a bit of time if you want to do something special, they can also be expensive. 2 minute promo films like we do are crucial for our promotion, people who listen to our music are going to be using the web and a promo video is a surefire way to grab their attention. Do something different and make an impact.

Tell us about your involvement with RFID.

There was a very successful night in Bristol many moons ago called Cuisine. Damien was part of this with his good friend Joanie Lemercier (antivj). Cuisine had a strong visual element and it really set the night apart from anything else. Cuisine brought out artists like Apparat, Stephan Bodzin, Redshape and Transparent Sound, so the music was always spot on. Joanie was experimenting with mapping techniques that just left people including me standing there in amazement. Since then I have always been really aware of how important visuals are in relation to sound. They just work so well together when done right. The RFID crew are a great bunch of guys and have developed a unique project where they display some amazing visual in a dome. When you are in there you are completely surrounded. We will be doing more projects with them in the summer and there is also the possibility of us doing some surround sound sets in the dome.

How did establish your label apologue?

Apologue was born because we wanted to have control of all aspects of our music. There are four of us running the label. Jamie and Patrick are both friends from school and Damien came later, he was like the missing piece. It just made sense to start the label as our tastes in dance music are very similar. We all produce and we all want to release our music on our own terms, making sure that we are in control of each step of the creative process.

What is the apologue sound?

The Apologue sound is the culmination of our influences over the last 15 years or so. We like our EPs that have depth. We are all for allowing the artist to experiment, without losing sight of what works in terms of a set. The four of us definitely differ in our styles but there is always something coherent from release to release. Something that all our tracks have in common is combining clarity with dirt, plus a bit of warmth and soul. There will usually be something gritty going on but it will be complimented with a really clean element. These two elements working together is part of our sound.

What platform does apologue offer its artists?

A platform to produce without having to stick to a pre-defined brief, giving the artists the freedom to express themselves. We make sure everything is right before it goes out. From the mastering, videos and artwork to promotion, we believe in quality over quantity. We like to make sure our artists EPs looks and sound as good as they can. Reaching the right people is key. We have our tracks mastered by Chris McCormack who has been an integral part of the process. He nails the balance of loudness and dynamics perfectly.

Tell us about your choice of remixers for the label so far?

Truss was a few years above me at school so we have known him for quite a while. He is one of my favourite producers. He heard my track ‘same same’ and really liked it, so it was a no brainer really. His remix is filth, I love it. I met Ali (Perc) in Bristol when he was up here to play and I picked his brain about starting a label. His tracks are really distinct and raw which worked well alongside Damien’s tracks. Sawf’s productions are quite experimental and we knew that he would bring another interesting aspect to Patrick’s EP.

How much is apologue a platform for Jobody?
It is very much a platform for me, but not just for me. It’s so all of us can get our music out there in the way we want. Apologue is a really good project for me to be involved with, not just for the music, but it gets me thinking about the style, the design and the whole feel of what we are about. I have learned a lot over the past two years on how to run something that I really care about.

How important is vinyl to apologue?

Extremely important, we all grew up with it. We will be releasing our first vinyl this summer. Starting with digital releases was the only viable way to start. We needed to be established before we could approach someone for a pressing and distribution deal. The first record is a collaborative project between the four of us, which I am really looking forward to.

What is the concept behind your artwork?

We believe that it is important to have a visual aspect integrated in what we are doing, it sets the tone for the music. The depth and perspective which feature in the artwork reflect the depth of sound we aim for in all our releases, the colours and textures also adds to this feeling. The use of tunnels, roads and tracks seems to be used by a lot of other labels, so that is something that we are discussing at the moment. Not that we invented it or anything!

What’s next for Jobody and apologue?

We have a digital release coming up from Jamie Curnock, it is his first release. I am really exited about this one. The tracks are huge and we are going to film the promo in an old castle which will look amazing. After that it’s full steam ahead with the vinyl release and we will be picking up the pace of our existing schedule. We had an absolute nightmare with our first distributor during our first year, that really set us back, but we are back on track now. As for me I have a couple of vinyl only releases in the pipeline for two labels that I am really looking forward to working with.

What is your favourite tea?

Love a bit of Darjeeling but good old builders tea is the daily.

Podcast Tracklist
  1. Heel - Threats [Unknown]
  2. Tessela - D Jane [Punch Drunk)]
  3. Unknown - Untitled [Unknown]
  4. Reeko - Empirical Science [Pole]
  5. Autechre - Overand [Warp]
  6. Area Forty - One Mjolnir [Ann Aimiee]
  7. Patrick Bolton - Half Cut [Apologue]
  8. Samuel L Session - Four To The Floor (Tiger Stipes Remix) [Ground Factory]
  9. Redshape - Plonk Dub [Present]
  10. Basic Soul Unit - Soulspeak (Shed Remix) [Dolly]
  11. Thom Yorke - The Clock (Surgeon Remix) [XL Recordings]
  12. Donor - Stepping Over (Truss Remix) [Miniscule]
  13. Karenn - Auflen Whip [She works the long nights]
  14. Unknown - Untitled [Unknown]
  15. Joey Beltram - Shaking Trees [Tronic Soundz]
  16. Jobody - Bound [Unknown]