Just to call yourself a veteran in the fast-paced world of deep house is an achievement in itself. But to remain current after 20 years as a producer and DJ, while also running two seminal labels in the process, places Jimpster (aka Franc Spangler) firmly as a UK institution in house music. Raised on the jazz-funk sounds of his father Roger Odell, Jamie has injected a warmth and deepness into his own productions and DJ sets, while employing a similar policy in the co-running of Freerange Records and Delusions Of Gradeur, home to 6th Borough Project, Tornado Wallace. Next month, Jimpster will be headlining a day party for our West Country friends Sanctuary, joined by Freerange signee Tomson. In anticipation, we’re delighted to host an hour of his set this month at Badaboum, Paris.
20 years plus in the game is quite an achievement and the face of dance music has seen some changes in that time. What do you think is the most exciting recent development?
I think the most exciting recent development is the rise in vinyl-only labels again. It feels like things are going back to the DIY spirit of the 90s and you can feel the possibilities and potential that new producers can really make a name and create hype off the back of one or two vinyl only releases. Seeing so many new labels prepared to take the financial risk by limiting their releases to a few hundred copies has been really inspiring and has proved to be a real antidote to the fairly painful and laborious task of finding and buying digital music online.
You’ve spoken of the influence your parents had in forming your own musical career. What five records from the last 20 years would you pass onto your children in the hope that it would influence the next generation of music makers in your family?
Can we make it the last 30 years? 20 ain’t enough and it’s a hard enough question anyway!
Pepe Braddock – Deep Burnt
A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation
Bobby Caldwell – Open Your Eyes
Sergio Mendes – The Real Thing
Underground Resistance – The Jaguar
It was all over the broadsheets (or maybe just RA) that you fell out of love with vinyl in 2007? Is the relationship with your waxy friends still a troubled one? Have you been temped to return at any point?
I never fell out of love with vinyl actually. I still love playing it at home and take to gigs occasionally but it was around 2007 that I switched to using CDs to play from as my main format. I guess it was the same with a lot of travelling DJs. It still feels much more special when you play off vinyl and I really enjoy watching other DJs play vinyl but because I choose to play quite a lot of unreleased music in my sets it makes less sense for me these days.
You’ve spoken before about the balancing act between new and old in the running of Freerange. Could you expand on that a little? With so many new labels popping up and eyes firmly set on new sounds, it’s no doubt a valuable insight for many younger DJs, producers and label bosses.
Obviously you have to try and keep injecting new energy into a record label and try and keep things fresh and relevant but I don’t really see Freerange as being on a crusade for new sounds as such. I like to be on the look out for new artists to release as well as building long term relationships with our regular guys but I would say that the focus is on new producers rather than new sounds.
How would you say your work with Delusions of Grandeur and Freerange differ?
My work with the two labels is exactly the same. I’m involved with the A&R so finding tracks and new artists and lending my ears and offering constructive criticism if needed. I have my partner Tom taking care of the day to day runnings and we also have a Matt and Lou helping with some PR and admin stuff. Obviously I try to create a different style musically between the two labels so Delusions has a slightly more underground, raw and disco influenced edge to things but it’s certainly not set in stone and sometimes a specific track or producer comes along which just seems to fit better with either Freerange or DOG.
You’re due to headline the Sanctuary Day Party in Bristol on June 4th. You looking forward? Have you had any good experiences in Bristol before, and any particularly memorable day parties in general?
Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the Sanctuary event. It looks like an amazing venue to have a party and it’s always a real pleasure to play outdoor daytime events. I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences in Bristol. One that sticks in my mind is a boat party about eight or nine years ago which sailed from the quay side up into the canals and things just got messier and crazier until it ended up resembling Apocalypse Now! I just got back from playing a sunset session at a brilliant party in Naples at a natural thermal hot spring so you could just see all this steam rising up around the place which looked pretty mad.
No doubt you’ll be playing more of a sunshine set than you do for club bookings. What are some of your favourite records for the summer?
There’s a really nice edit of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme done by Skinnerbox, which will definitely be getting a lot of plays for outdoor parties. A few other current favourites are Headless Ghost – Swept Illusions, My Rules – Yah Yah and Manuel Tur – Ara Anam.
Back in 2010, Tomson released on Freerange, and now he’s supporting you in Bristol next month. It must be nice to see a younger label signee moving on leaps and bounds recently?
Yes, we’ve played together a few times before so will be great to see Tomson again. He just did a nice release with Chez Damier and his Tomson and Benedict release on Freerange still sounds heavy. It’s always lovely to see a relative newcomer gaining recognition through releases on our labels and being able to play a small part in helping an artist develop and grow.
Beyond the day party, what plans to you have this Summer?
It’s looking quite busy with gigs so far with some nice festivals already confirmed in Canada, Holland and Belgium. I’m about to start preparing a live set to be able to go out and play my Jimpster productions in a live and more spontaneous and improvised way. I’m still really enjoying DJing but coming from a live music background and having played with The Bays for so many years I’m starting to miss the live performance side of things. I’m hoping to have it ready by the end of the year. I want to make a start on a new Jimpster release but just finishing to remixes first for Detroit Swindle and S-Man. I have a couple of other remixes about to come out for Paskal and Urban Absolutes on Sonar Kollektiv and Cajuu on Avida.