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12 Questions – Jamie Stevens interviewed by Steve Parry
3 November 2021

Our Selador artist baton-passing 12 Questions interview series continues with Steve Parry posing the questions to Jamie Stevens…

Steve: We’ve been lucky enough to have you on Selador previously with both remixes and contributions to our Showcase compilations, but this is your first actual fully fledged EP with us (alongside our good friend Anthony Pappa). Needless to say, we are delighted to have you on the label again. Have we got some kind of magical magnetic musical pull that keeps you coming back?!

Jamie: Well, thank you very much guys, and it’s great to be back. I would have to say it’s the warm, family-friendly atmosphere and amazing meals. It’s pretty awesome when you think about how long we’ve all known each other!

Steve: You’ve been making a few productions recently with Anthony Pappa, including your current EP with us and the wonderful remix of the superb Phil K tribute by Stelios Vassiloudis. What is it like working in the studio with Anthony?

Jamie: We have great work chemistry and somewhat of a different kind of collaboration that I have had with other producers. Anthony has an amazing ear for samples be they vocals, basslines or atmospherics. During lockdown, we’ve been unable to work together in person so I’d send him a basic idea for a tune and he’d hear in his head some possible samples that would work, he’ll send those over, I’ll have a play and manipulate those, send back to him and we keep going like that.
Essentially, I think the reason this collaboration is so great for us is that we both want to explore the same sort of sounds together, tapping into the classic progressive house sound that we love but giving it our own fingerprint. We have a loose concept of what we want to achieve with our collaborative efforts. Early on we shared (and still do) our favourite classic club tunes and we were 100% on the same page and both wanted to experiment with using these tunes as a reference saying “let’s find a way of injecting THAT sort of vibe. How can we do it in our own way, with our own twist?”

Steve: Aside from Selador and Anthony – what else have you been doing musically – what else is coming soon from you?

Jamie: I’ve been very focussed in the studio for a long while now and have quite a few things on the boil. I recently created my first NFT with the help of Djenerates of which there’s a limited number available on opensea. Essentially it’s a 45 minute live jam I did in my studio mashing up elements of tunes I’m currently developing alongside my newly-formed modular rig. I’m really happy with how that came out plus some really great video art from Hipworth (also of Djenerates).
Nearing completion is a 3 track EP on the darker, trippy bent for Melbourne’s rebirthed Zero Tolerance label plus a remix of Luke Chable’s ‘Sealers Cove’. I’m also doing work for Carl Cox and Eric Powell’s Mobile Disco Funk Collective band which has been an amazing experience. I’ve been working a fair bit with Eric where I’m deconstructing old funk and disco songs and re-producing elements for them to use in their cover versions.
I also have a few other collaborations such as my ongoing work with Joe Miller as we attempt to finalise an entire album, a new track with Gavin Griffin (GMJ) plus another one with Treavor Moontribe of Desert Dwellers. My production tuition and mentoring is mostly online these days and I love doing that plus my freelance mixdown work for different peeps. I think that covers most of it off the top of my head.

Steve: Australia and its artists seem to be in the midst of a musical ascendancy recently, is that something you’re particularly aware of? And if so, what do you think are the main factors behind it?

Jamie: This is a difficult one to answer because the more I think about different eras and genres, the more I can think of a lot of Australian artists shining through on a regular basis. Having said that, within the quote unquote progressive house genre, we’ve seen a big surge in Australian artists getting out there more and is akin to the early 2000s explosion of Melbourne talent (Luke Chable, the late Phil K (RIP), Nubreed, Josh Abrahams, Kasey Taylor et al ) that put Australia on the map in many ways. And now we have so many people like (including but absolutely not restricted to) Joe Miller, Mike Rish, Zankee Gulati, Luke Alessi, Doppel, Fabrication, The Journey, Liam Sieker, the Beat & Path label, Luka Sambe, Tristan Case, Open Records, Made in Paris, GMJ & Matter and James Beetham and his label carrying that baton. Everything goes in cycles and I think we’re a product of the current zeitgeist where Australian artists just do things a little differently so that our music stands out. Obviously I have a particular perspective from the musical world I’m in but I also know Australian acts have been killing it for many years in other electronic music genres too, although a lot of those artists are now ex-pats! Tornado Wallace, Rufus Du Sol, Sonny Fodera…

Steve: Australia has been going in and out of lockdown for some time now- Are things starting to return to some sort of normality? And how has it been getting back DJ-ing again?

Jamie: Well yes, in our state of Victoria a large handful of lockdown rules were lifted only a few days ago (on Friday October 22). NSW has had their rules lifted for longer but bars and clubs are still very limited capacity with little to no dancing so any sense of normality comes from the anticipation of more rules being relaxed. This, we are told, will happen once we hit a larger percentage of people ‘double dosed’. I can’t wait to get back out there and start regularly playing in front of people again, getting the buzz you get from reacting to a great crowd, playing new music, all those things that make DJing so visceral. I’m also excited about playing some live shows!

Steve: You’ve been producing and DJ-ing for many years now, would you say you’re primarily a DJ or a producer? And which do you enjoy more?

Jamie: Oh, I’m 100% primarily a producer. I produced electronic music as a little kid, started making house-inspired music before I even knew what a club was and released 12”s before I even thought about DJing properly. I love the studio and the process of creating new music and sounds. It borders on obsession for me! DJing is an entirely different beast. DJing is about connection with other people, creating a story through track selection and playing the long game with your music collection. Again, like said in the previous question, it’s ideally a visceral, collective feeling which is incredibly different from my detail-oriented approach to studio work.

Steve: We know you have quite a broad musical knowledge and are into many different genres. Do you think it is important to keep abreast of all kinds of music, rather than just focussing on one sound, and what has been floating your musical boat recently?

Jamie: Personally, I find it essential as I find so much musical joy and inspiration from often quite unrelated genres. Importantly though, I listen to a variety of music because it’s my passion and I’m a musical sponge. The inspiration that comes from that absorption is the side effect, of sorts, albeit an artistically important one, and that’s where the magic can happen. Famously it’s said that nothing is ever new but when you channel different artists and vibes through your own lens, that’s what makes you ‘you’. You filter everything you listen and respond to. For me, it stands to reason that the broader your musical exposure is, the richer your own sonic palette will be. Currently I’ve been balls deep in different forms of psychedelic music, rediscovering ‘Shoegaze’ with smatterings of Afro funk. Bands like Brainticket, early Pink Floyd, Cymande, Holy Fawn, and artists like David Axlerod and Sinoia Caves.

Steve: You were of course part of the legendary electronic outfit Infusion, who have a cult-like status with many clubbers and DJ’s alike. Pre-Covid, we saw you did a kind of reunion live set in Melbourne with vocalist Manny and our mutual friend, the late Phil K, an honorary member for the night. How was that? Any plans to do further Infusion gigs?

We did indeed. That gig with Phil was incredibly special as we already knew at that point that he wasn’t well and so his passion in bringing something new to Infusion was really beautiful. That guy, as everyone knows, was a master and it was just so much fun seeing him thinking about what acapellas he could drop over our tunes, how we could reinvent different sections, how it could all be mashed together in a different way. We loved it and the atmosphere in that room when we played was truly electric. We had plans to do more shows with him but unfortunately he got too ill and then Covid struck. 
Recently we did a show with Nubreed which occurred in a small window between lockdowns which was simply massive and we do want to do more in that format and try to work out ways where we can jam together onstage. We have enormous respect and love for each other and we got a huge buzz from playing shows together so it would be silly not to do more. Obviously we haven’t had a chance to properly explore the technicalities of syncing up and jamming on stage together since we’ve not been allowed in anyone else’s homes and Manny being in NSW. Fingers crossed we’ll find a way and get out there and do some more collective shows.

Steve: What were your highlights from being part of that band – Any favourite tracks, gigs, moments stand out?

Jamie: I’ve been asked this a number of times and I keep coming back to the same answers because they’ve really stuck with me. Our song ‘Daylight Hours’ is still up there as one of my favourites of ours. There’s just some magic that happened with that one, I think. ‘Meant to Be’ is up there, too, just because of how we experimented with Manny’s little portable keyboard that we used for the drums (which we recorded to a cassette tape) plus getting some crazy high-pitch FM aliasing noise from said keyboard, sampled and played back minus 4 octaves which sounded like nothing else, a scratchy 45 of ‘how to speak Italian’ and Manny’s mournful lyrics. Loved making that one.
Gig-wise, Creamfields Buenos Aires, main stage, 2005. There were 60,000 people at that festival and more than half were in front of that main stage. It’s a shame The Prodigy destroyed our onstage monitoring before we went on but it was still an incredible experience.

Steve: The Infusion remix of Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill is regarded as one of the biggest progressive tracks of all time, I would say it’s an all time top 3 slab of goodness. Are you aware of how much people love that track? And do you ever play it still?

Jamie: It’s amazing how that’s still recognised and spoken about! I feel very honoured that it’s still celebrated. It probably would still be in 3 separate looping ideas had it not been for Cass insisting they be glued together, to be finished by the time he left our little studio session all those years ago. I had all the pieces, I just wasn’t sure how to transition between them and Cass knew how to do that so it was finished in a matter of hours. I do wish I mixed it better, though. Yes, I do occasionally play it out and we did play it at our Infusion show we did with Phil K. There’s another updated version I did of it that I play, too.

Steve: If you were able to get the parts for any track ever written, for you to remix, what would it be and why?

Jamie: This is always a conundrum of sorts because if you think of your favourite tunes and you THINK you want to remix it, you get to the start of the process and realise “actually, I have no idea which I’m going to do with this because it’s already perfect!”. I have a feeling I could do something with the album stems for Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’, even though it’s a masterpiece. The textures and layers still sound phenomenal and I think there’d be a lot of scope to do something unique with it. I doubt he has the parts, though.

Steve: Also – I remember years ago, you telling me that you had an obsession with collecting ties . Are you still collecting? How out of hand did it get with them and how many do you own?

Jamie: I was very, very much into my ties back then. I don’t really buy any these days, however. I’ve definitely misplaced a few on hotel room floors in a mad rush to pack whilst touring back in the Infusion days so my collection certainly dwindled. I think I still have about 30 or 40 left, though.

Steve: Thanks Jamie. Consider the baton well and truly passed. It’s now your turn to ask another Selador artist 12 Questions. 

Jamie: Ha! Ok, I wonder who that might be ; )

 

Anthony Pappa & Jamie Stevens ‘Here We Go / Where We’ve Gone’ Is out now on Selador – https://seladorrecordings.com/release/anthony-pappa-jamie-stevens-here-we-go-where-weve-gone/

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