With Just Jack’s 8th Birthday fast approaching, boasting a collective of headliners the size of which Bristol has not seen before, we spoke to Dan Wild, one of the party’s residents and organisers about his first experiences with house music, his own productions and some fresh projects on the cards for Bristol’s biggest homegrown night. He’s also put together a mix for us giving a flavour of what to expect during his set this Saturday. In his own words, “the mix came from a good dig around in my record bag. After a good root around I decided to do it 100% on vinyl. Its quite a mixed bag but a fair reflection of the kind of stuff I play in a club situation”.
Upcoming Just Jack events to keep an eye out for: Barbershop Episode 5 (1st Feb); Just Jack & Shambarber: The 8th Birthday After Party (2nd Feb); Back 2 Jack: Levon Vincent & Portable (Live) (1st Mar); Just Jack at Alpfresco (23rd Mar); Just Jack at Garden Festival (7th Jul).
Thanks Dan for taking the time to talk to us.
What was your first clubbing experience, and where did you really first experience house music?
I first got the house music buzz through going to Back to Basics in Leeds when I was about 17. It was at the Mint Club at the time. I didn’t really know quite what to expect, and ended up going there on my own. I remember seeing Doc Martin tear it up. Everything about that place appealed to me: the music, the vibe, the crowd. It had everything I wanted from a club. I was instantly hooked and have never looked back.
Do these early experiences still shape the direction of your musical career today, with Just Jack and on your own?
Back to Basics had a massive influence on my music. The residents are second to none. People like Buckley and Tristan Da Cunha were real heros to me when I started out, and I feel privileged they have become good friends and they’ve been very supportive of Just Jack over the years. The old Sankeys in Manchester was also a big influence. It was there that I first heard Derrick Carter play, and I used to go see him there a few times a year . That Jacking Chi-town style was a huge influence on both me and Tom in the early years; hence the Just ‘JACK’ name.
Do you remember when you met Tom Rio and at what point the idea was planted in your minds to start Just Jack?
Yeah, me and Tom meeting was very random. Although we were partying at a lot of the same clubs in Bristol at the time we didn’t meet until my girlfriend who I met at a folk festival in Hungary introduced me to her mate who was at Uni in Bristol and she happened to live with Tom. House music was tiny in Bristol at the time and I was buzzing to meet what felt like the only other student in the city who was into house! Whats more he was an ace Dj and a friendship began straight away. Tom was already talking about doing a party, spoke to me and his other friend Rag about it. That was it, we were gonna make it happen!
Who played at the first night? Were there any serious hiccups you can look back on and laugh at?
The first proper event we did was at Dojo and our guest for the night was Buckley from Basics (see a theme there?). His release Bloc Party on Made to Play was huge at the time. We got 500 people through the doors and the party was a huge success. We’ve had loads of shit go wrong (including a few bunting related injuries) over the years but fortunately nothing particularly serious. We are still all here to tell the tale so that is a plus point!
At a lot of Just Jack parties you play B2B with Tom. Do you chat about your set beforehand or do you just both turn up with the records you’d like to play?
We don’t really prepare at all. Occasionally we check whether the other is gonna play such and such record, and sometimes there will be a quick ‘Bagsy!’ here and there for the ones we both want. Essentially though we have quite a similar style and have played b2b form the beginning so have quite a good understanding of each other as dj’s. The more we do it, the more natural and fluid it becomes.
Apart from being a resident DJ, are there any roles behind the scenes that you’re in charge of, or is it all quite a collaborative approach?
We do have our roles, but these do become quite blurred. We all tend to jump in and help where needed. I’m kind of in charge of the production of the venue though. Tom and I (especially Tom) have quite a specific creative vision for the parties, and it is our job to try and make that happen.
The JJ 8th birthday is going to be quite a night. Is there anything you’re trialling with this party that you guys haven’t tried before? Can you tell us a bit about the reasons behind the bookings you’ve made and how you’ve divided up the three rooms to accommodate so many big names?
I cant wait! The line up for that party just kind of came together, but really made sense to us in the programming. The great thing about Motion is that it has quite a few different spaces, so you can have slightly different vibes and music across the venue. One thing we are going to be trying out is the Clown Bar.All I can say is you will need to have clown facepaint on, or pick up a special clown business card before, or at the event, to be allowed access to this area. Its gonna be pretty weird!
Looking at your own productions now, at the tail-end of last year, you and Rowlanz released a collaborative EP on Save You Records. On Canelura, you use an interesting sample, also used by Romanian DJ, Petre Inspirescu on Flöte (above). The original (below) uses a Romanian version of a Turkish pipe called the Taragot, and is a striking, yet obscure sample to use. Was it the Inspirescu track or the original that you heard that really captured you?
I used to play Flote all the time, until I lost the vinyl. Whilst looking for another copy I came across the original Folk version and knew straight away I wanted to sample it. I chopped out the sample and played it to Rowlanz and then we put it together pretty quick in one studio session. We were really pleased with the feedback.
And more generally, how you go about choosing samples? Do these form the basis of your productions or do you start a track with a particular sample in mind?
A bit of both really. Sometimes you have a sample in mind or the parts for a remix but others you just begin and see where it takes you.
Have you got any more plans on the horizon with your own work, as collaborations or on your own?
The Just Jack record label launches in April, and the idea is to feature some work from me and Tom along side releases from some of our favourite producers. Tom and I have just finished a remix of Jamie Trench for the label, which we’re really happy with. Although I am happy in the studio on my own, I love working with other people. It is great to have another mind to bounce ideas around with, it’s a much more fun and interactive process.
Are there any new or up and coming Bristol producers and DJs that are really exciting you?
There are loads of great musicians in Bristol. It’s a really inspirational place to live and work. I share a studio with Lukas, he stands out for me. His productions are on another level, and he is a super talented DJ.
Thanks Dan, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you.