Photo Credit: David Stanley
Birmingham’s Jayson Wynters had his first start in music in the late 90s, cutting his teeth as an MC for Nasty Boys Squad, but soon he began exploring other sonic avenues and found his footing as a DJ — a deep digging one at that.
He took that passion into his daily work too. A few years ago he founded Café Artum, alongside friend Christy, a record shop and cafe that also acts as a hub for the local community and a space for artistic practice.
On the production side of things Jayson’s first outing came in 2016 via Mr. G’s Phoenix G. imprint, before he went on to a make a home at Semtek’s Don’t Be Afraid for a couple of releases, with a pitstop at London-based label Ornate.
Taking things down a notch for his Diggers Directory mix, Jayson hones in on unexpected curveball releases, picking out the ambient and downtempo cuts that sit on the B, C and D-Sides. This appears alongside an interview with Jayson about his relationship with records.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Partly yes, only because my dad had a small collection of records, though I never really paid much attention to them at the time, and my mum didn’t collect records but music did play a huge part in our lives. At the time growing up I wasn’t hugely into some of my parents music so I don’t have any pivotal records from back then I can recall really. It was all a mixture of Reggae, Lovers Rock, Rare Groove, Funk & Soul etc
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
I guess I’ve always loved the hunt of digging for music both online and offline. I was a bit of a late bloomer collecting wax as my thing was mostly CDs in my younger years. The feeling of finding good music is like a shot of dopamine for me and my preference is to be in a shop. The motivation to continue doing so is deeply rooted in my passion for music and discovering good material.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
Funnily enough during the first lockdown I finally got round to sorting my records which is a task I’ve wanted to do for the longest. My records live with me in my apartment and I have wax stored in my living room, hall way and second bedroom.
So my filing system runs two fold. For most things that don’t fall into the electronic/dance music category I use a timeline then file by genre/style. Jazz for me is the root of what we categorise as Black music so my collection starts from from circa mid sixties to seventies. Then will have sub genres like Jazz Funk or Spiritual/Soul Jazz etc. Anything from the 80s Jazz-wise I categorise as modern Jazz when the sound started to change a bit with artists using more electronic instruments and different recording techniques etc.
Then I just basically continue the timeline going into Soul/Disco/Funk etc right up to 90s Hip-Hop & RnB and present day, again being specific with the era or time — which usually works out in decades. The filing is also distinguished by LPs or 12s which mostly take place from the 80s, especially around the disco era.
My collection is quite varied and wide so it helps to have a decent filing system which I feel quite comfortable with. In some cases I file by country like Japan, France or Afrikan music and I also have a particular groups own discography section like Azymuth for example.
Now for the Electronic side of things I do this via label and countries, a tip I got from Jane Fitz. I remember her telling me don’t bother try filing by Deep House or Techno etc you will get lost. Which is true as some releases have a mixture of both, so filing by label and country is much more coherent. The only section that I have an exception for is the 90s House/Techno.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
There’s too many to mention but here are a few off the cuff…
Honest Jons (London) – They have all my flavours under one roof and get some killer exclusive cuts. I became pals with one of the guys that works there and he became my dealer for a while and would call me up when they had stock and put a pile aside for me for when I travelled from Birmingham.
Sounds of the Universe London – Off the scale forward thinking music with great books for sale.
A1 Records NYC – I always come out with heat, probably the best store I’ve ventured to for second hand records.
Betinos Paris – Another great shop for a variety of styles and flavours and the the owner is super friendly and knows his onions. Random fact: I also ran into Maisie Williams who plays Arya Stark in Games of Thrones digging for Madlib which was unexpected.
Synchrophone Paris – Another great shop for House / Techno etc and is round the corner from one of my fave spots to eat when in Paris.
Rush Hour Amsterdam – Incredible selection of all sorts with strong access to labels from the states, which can be a little tricky to get elsewhere.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
The guys from Turntable Lab in NYC — shouts going out to Zephyr Ann who’s become a friend over the years and put me on to some great music, as well as burning a whole in my pocket. The guy I met in a club in Tokyo then went digging for hours the next morning at Technique records in Shibuya. The gentleman who ran Goodies records in Paris that put me onto that Pharoah Sanders killer LP. And here are some more closer-to-home people who always share music with me: My Dad Cornelius Wynter, Mikail Huggins, Abu from Honest Jons, Omar Johnson, Adam Shelton, Colin McBean, Jamie Taylor, Kieron Ifill, Kofi Pemberton, Ana Pryor, Daniel Ondutan, Don Leisure, and Kevin from Kung Fu. I probably forgot some people on this list so please forgive me if your reading this.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
The Roots released an album called ‘Dilla Joints’ digitally back in 2010 which was off the scales, however they released a test press of the album a few years ago which went under my radar and now it’s almost £200. I am a huge Dilla fan so I am hoping they press some more at some point :(.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
Mostly I prefer to go on my own but also welcome company sometimes. Me and one of my best friends sometimes go digging in Paris and the feeling when either of us finds good stuff is electric and we just bounce off one another.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Usually I walk around and familiarise myself with the layout of the shop, the gaffer/co workers, and the location of the records and how they’re filed.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
I really dig great artwork but it’s not the decider for a purchase, the music always comes first.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
I mostly wanted to explore or showcase artists that threw curveballs in their work. So this could be their B, C, or D sides from their projects. Typically some of these artists are known primarily for more uptempo rhythmic exploration, eg. Miles Sagnia who’s track I have featured sits around the 92 BPM marker which may come across as unusual for anyone that follows his work, where most of his releases probably sits anywhere from 120 BPM to 130 and above BPM range.
The music featured is mostly within the Electronic spectrum. From the 9th track the music get a little more percussive, gradually increasing to no more than 112 BPM or so, and hopefully you can see where it could take you if I was playing for much longer.
In some ways I am paying homage, not only to some of the artists who are exploring other BPMs and patterns they’re not known for, but also to the DJ who probably would like to play some of these in a set in a club but feel the music may not be appropriate, but would sound great.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
One of the tracks I featured from Aybee’s Worlds LP which is really an amazing body of work, another from Miles Sagnias Aeration LP, DJ Sports brilliant offering on Firecracker, Orson Wells Pneumatics LP, Leif’s Dinas Oleu LP on FOF records and David Swattens Definitive Transmissions on Boe recordings that came out earlier this year, which is one of my fave releases at the moment. I really dig all of the tracks featured in the mix but these are some of the ones I have rediscovered/discovered.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Adam Shelton: Adam is a good friend of mine and has a really great selection of music, he is open wide musically and has been collecting for a while. We are always talking about music and our new discoveries. Every time I leave his house I feel inspired from being in his record room and the way he has it laid out.
Colin McBean (Mr G): An amazing record collection to envy (in the nicest sense). Colin has a great range of different styles and when you’re in the presence of his collection theres an intimidating feeling that your out of your depth as you scan up and down the shelves. There’s a sense of experience and deep history when you see the collection or speak to him. He’s always digging for heat and will give me a run down of what I need to cop ASAP, also don’t go digging with this man if don’t want holes in your pocket. I don’t think a month would go by where he hasn’t bought any music.
Jane Fitz: Another avid record collector with great knowledge and experience. I have bought records from Jane a few times and was privy to seeing her collection first hand. Another inspirational space to be in and Jane’s also given me some real good advice in the past on music and records.
Mikail Huggins: Mikail is one of my best friends who’s been collecting for a while. We do digging trips together and can lose hours in listening and sharing music with one another.
Madlib: One of my favourite producers who’s an absolute nerd for digging. He likes most things and will put you onto great records via his productions. I highly recommend anyone that’s into music, especially Brazilian/Latin, to check out the documentary he’s featured in called Brasilintime which is a story of some of him and his friends (from Stones Throw Records) who go digging in Brazil and collaborate with these legendary drummers… incredible.
Mr Scruff: Serious collector who then translates his experiences via his marathon DJ sets.
Quest Love: It’s school time when you hear this guy speak about music — the depth and knowledge of it all is really amazing. Also check out his hoard in the Dust & Grooves book.
Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
Christy Lakeman one of the young bucks coming up who’s a friend of mine and business partner. I met Christy through DJing at his underground House/Techno parties in Birmingham around 5 years ago. Since then we’ve both set up Cafe Artum which is a record store/cafe in Birmingham. When I first met him it appeared he was mostly into electronic music, however since the years have gone by his taste in music has grown exponentially and he has a varied musical palette.
Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
Hopefully releasing some music in 2021 that was supposed to have been released this year but as the pandemic hit us it has slowed things down. Making more music and exploring new sounds. I also have really missed DJing in public so I am looking forward to doing that again, oh and travelling abroad and discovering a record shop.
Photo Credit: David Stanley