HOUSEofAFRIKA returns this Thursday, 27th February for an intimate night of Deep-Afro-Soul-House grooves. Jimpster is one of the most respected house producers and DJ’s on the scene and he’ll be headlining on the night.
Ahead of the event which takes place at the new monthly residency at ToroToro, Grosvenor House on Thursday, we got to chat to him about all things music. Here’s what he had to say:
Please tell us how you got into the music scene and what are your first memories of music?
I’m lucky enough to have come from a musical family. My dad is a professional drummer and founding member of the band Shakatak who had some pretty big success in the 80’s and are still gigging regularly to this day. My mum is a jazz singer performing at jazz clubs and festivals. Music was always being played in our house but I think the thing that got me most into music and made me realise I wanted to make and perform it was all the time I spent tagging along with my dad to the studio when I was young. At times it would get a bit boring listening over and over to the same kick drum for hours on end but there would always be a new synth or drum machine sitting in the corner so I would grab some headphones and teach myself how to use it.
I think I learnt a lot about the recording and production process even though most of it was probably subconsciously being only 10 or 11 years old at the time. When my dad got loaned a new drum machine by Roland called the TR808 I was all over it, quickly realising that it was this machine that I was hearing on all my favourite tracks I was breakdancing to. Nunk by Warp9, Clear by Cybotron, Planet Rock by Africa Bambaata. Making beats on the TR808 was what got me hooked on producing and as the technology developed into sampling I embraced it with the same excitement and soon found that my tracks were getting to a fairly decent level. In 1991 I submitted my first track to a UK based label called Jumping’ & Pumpin’ and they included it on a compilation.
House music is a clear passion of yours. Can you describe your inspiration & sound & where do you see the house scene in the next 10 years?
I first got into house music around 1990 during the explosion of the rave scene. The area where I grew up called Essex in the south east of the UK had quite a strong scene with acts like Prodigy and Shades Of Rhythm coming from the same town. We had a club called The Braintree Barn which Matthew B (Of Layo and Bushwacka fame) was resident at. It was a world class club at the time and had a lot of big name US DJ’s like Joey Beltram, Frankie Bones, Lil Louis Vega and Derrick May coming to play. This was where I first heard such seminal tracks as Strings Of Life and Radio Babylon and where I really caught the bug for House Music.
I think the scene feels fairly healthy at the moment and I’m certain it will continue to grow and evolve in a positive way. Festivals like Dekmantel and Houghton have proved that there’s an alternative to the cookie-cutter techno and tech-house that has dominated the scene for years and injected a sense of fun, musicality and soul back into the parties.
You’ve performed in many different destinations and venues all over the world. What has been your favourite location and destination to perform in and why?
There not really one venue or country that comes to mind as a favourite. It just depends on the vibe of the crowd at the time and no two gigs are ever the same vibe, even if it’s for the same promoter in the same venue. I usually find the most fun and exciting gigs are the ones where you might have had crazy travel to get to or at the end of a long weekend of several gigs. One sticks in my mind, having played New York on a Friday and then LA on the Saturday, we drove for 4 hours straight after the LA gig at around 6am to an Indian Reservation in the middle of nowhere for a festival called Tropical Hearts, a regular crew at Burning Man.
I ended up playing almost 6 hours as the closing set from around midday and I was so tired but really buzzing from lack of sleep and descending on the final hours of a very intense festival. I also love playing in South Africa where the deep house scene is well documented and ingrained in the club culture. It always feels very different to playing anywhere else. The crowd are clued up on deep house and are super passionate about it.
Can you tell us more about your plans for the next few months? Do you have any new collaborations coming up or music that you can mention?
I just have my latest single called One dropping on 28th February. It’s a collaboration with New York producer, DJ, label boss and vocalist Casamena. He runs a label which he launched with Osunlade several years ago called Ocha. It’s our 250th release on Freerange so a bit of a milestone. We hit on a kind of deep Essex meets Brooklyn hip house vibe with a touch of Afro and pleased to have legendary Detroit artist Waajeed onboard for the remix. We also got a video made featuring a local house dancer George ‘Astro’ Hicks and he smashed it!
I’m currently working on a new LP of more downtempo, abstract hip hop and chill outstuff. Also in the middle of prepping a Jimpster hardware live show which I’m really excited about as it’s been over 10 years since I performed live and really looking forward to doing some improvisation and playing again.
You’ll be playing at HouseOfAfrika very soon. Rumour has it you have a special set planned for the night What can people expect to hear from you on the night?
It’s been quite a few years since I last played in Dubai so I’m looking forward to being back! It will be my first time playing HouseOfAfrika but seeing the calibre of past guests such as Atjazz, Osunlade and Black Coffee shows an emphasis on quality, underground, Afro-influenced, electronic-edged, deep and percussive house, and for that, I’ve got things covered! 🙂
Thanks for your time, Jimpster! We can’t wait for Thursday! See you at ToroToro Dubai, Grosvenor Hotel from 9 pm. Visit the HouseofAfrika Facebook page for updates.