Diggers Directory: Jackson Lapes

Photo Credit: Maria Arvanitaki

Jackson Lapes is one of the minds behind Worm Disco Club, Worm Discs and Glasto’s The Wormhole — we’d call it something of a “Worm Empire”. Alongside friends Nathan and Jake, Jackson began the parties in Bristol after seeing a gap in the nightlife scene for a club night celebrating the sounds that they loved: African music, Jazz, Brazilian and Latin.

Soon Worm Disco Club started to snowball and after five years of soirees, Glastonbury asked them to bring the dance to The Wormhole. This then naturally led to the conception of Worm Discs, a label arm which highlights emerging live acts.

But it wasn’t Jackson’s Worm pursuits that started his love affair with Brazilian music, that came much earlier. Since 2008, usually with Jake by his side, Jackson has hopped to and from Brazil, spending his time learning more and more about the different sounds and styles prevalent within different regions of the country.

Of course, it would be silly if his mix didn’t trace the sounds that have played such an intrinsic part in his musical journey, so for his Diggers Directory he laces together, in (kind of) chronological order, a selection of underrated Brazilian cuts that he feels haven’t yet reached ears over this side of the pond. This sits alongside an interview about his travels to South America, the origins or Worm Disco Club and his life-long obsession with records.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about why we’ve joined Select.

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?

Definitely. My Dad is a big fan of Talking Heads/David Byrne and also had a copy of the “O Samba” compilation which came out on Luaka Bop. I remember that we taped that and had it in the car, probably my first exposure to Brazilian music! I can also remember my Mum borrowed a CD from the library which was just called “Cumbia and Merengue” and she copied it to tape (sorry for grassing you up Mum) and we had that in the car as well. Santana always had great percussion.

Later on came more Latin music from big names like Tito Puente, Buena Vista Social Club & Celia Cruz. My parents have a broad taste in music, everything from Miles Davis, Zappa, Black Sabbath, James Brown, Nirvana, Massive Attack, Hendrix… there was no shortage of incredible albums at home, and a lot of the time it actually took me quite a while to catch up with my parents taste — Captain Beefheart was one example, I just didn’t “get” it until I was a lot older. The same when my dad bought me “King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown” by Augustus Pablo, it took me a while to get into it.

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?

Curiosity, and being easily persuaded to part with cash for a great tune you may not see again! What made me start buying vinyl was a love of Reggae, and as there are some things that you could only own on record, there’s no choice! I really enjoyed the experience of learning how to DJ as well; the way to interact with a crowd, how to blend your selections, digging for records that no-one else has etc. It’s also pretty addictive and very hard to stop doing as there’s just an endless supply of good music in the world!

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I have a room downstairs with my records, some instruments and my decks and speakers. I’m really lucky to have a bit of space here! I divide my records into either geographical areas or genres. I have categories like; English speaking African music, French speaking African music, (I file records from the Caribbean in the same way), Latin, Field Recordings and genres such as Jazz, Funk or Reggae. Inside each section it’s pretty loose and unorganised, nothing alphabetical or anything. All the Brazilian stuff is together except all the Folkloric, Candomblé and Capoeira stuff which is separate. I like having the experience of flicking through the shelves as I always find something I forgot existed, always a nice suprise! But sometimes it takes ages to find what you want and I often convince myself I’ve just lost something, but it always turns up in the end.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

I’ve definitely had some fantastic times digging in Brasil, mainly in Recife, but also in Salvador and São Luís. Brazilian music is literally “um saco sem fundo” (a bottomless bag!), there’s so much to constantly discover and each city has different kinds of records. I also absolutely loved Paris as there was such a wide selection of both African and Caribbean music there, honestly I could spend weeks there I think. Amsterdam also has great shops.

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 man in Serioshas Records in Havana. A really sweet great guy to chat to and he makes you feel proper at home if you hang around for a while. There’s nothing worse than going into a record shop and having a really grumpy person working there… luckily that doesn’t happen a lot! If you ever go to São Luís make sure you link up with Chico do Reggae, he has some great records and is fun to listen to music with. Aníbal Queiroga from Musikantiga in Recife is also someone we spent a lot of time with, he literally has everything, though it can be expensive. You could honestly do 9-5 in here for a week and still be finding things. Alive Pop Up, my brother from Rio de Janeiro, has a lot of great connections and is good at tracking discs down.

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Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be elusive over the years?

I don’t really get proper cravings after loads of records now, but I have done in the past. One such record was Cartola 1976. I eventually managed to get a copy but I’m still always looking for another copy as this one is a bit shonky. Actually there is this one Dancehall 7” called Me No Wah No Bun by Oral John, which is such a tune, but hard to find. Hopefully one day it’ll show up!

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?

Depends. If I were on holiday with friends or family I would probably try to sneak off by myself, because I find it pretty stressful if you know the other person doesn’t really want to be there. I love shopping with Jake and Nathan from Worm Disco, as we’re always able to point stuff out as we know each other’s tastes so well. Digging with Jake in Brazil is amazing to be honest as his memory is basically an encyclopaedia when it comes to records. Unfortunately I don’t have the same gift! We generally just get a big stack of records and then go through them all together later and fight over them. It always ends pretty peacefully though!

I definitely want to shout out my friend Rodrigo Pires who we spend a lot of time digging with in Recife, he constantly puts us onto great tunes every time we go digging together. You can’t get a better guide than someone who grew up surrounded by that music and culture. Craig Murphy (Spud Roots) from Bristol is also a legend, we had a great time digging together in Paris with Nathan.

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?

I dig completely based on what city I’m in, so I’d just jump into whichever genre would probably have the best selections in. Jazz, Brazilian, Latin, African would all be the first sections, but completely depends on the shop! When I’m digging I basically go off whether I’ve seen the label before, the name of the artists, what year it’s from, the song titles to see if it sounds interesting. I don’t really enjoy going to shops where you can’t listen to the records, for me it’s all about listening to unknown music and getting those under-the-radar cheap ones rather than buying proper rarities. I usually look in the cheap records first, but sometimes I might go in and just ask the staff direct about certain artists. Some shops are really organised and straightforward but the best digging always seems to be in the least organised and most dusty spot you can find, and you just have to dive in and see what you find! I always chat with the seller and try to get some recommendations, music crosses most language barriers!

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

Quite a bit, it makes it quite obvious what kind of year it could be from and also to the content of the music, although there’s always going to be ones that catch you by surprise! Especially if it’s quite a plain cover with just a photo of the artist and their name…it could be really open ended musically. Sometimes I have bought a record purely based on it’s artwork if it was pretty mad and caught my attention… but that’s pretty few and far between, although we did used to buy records with weird covers for Nathan for quite a while. Maybe that should make a return soon!

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

This mix is my attempt to showcase a few bits of Brazilian music which I feel are underrepresented outside of Brazil. There’s so much music which isn’t really talked about a lot in Gringo audiences, but which are really popular in Brazil. It has a strong focus on music from North-East Brazil, and I tried to showcase a few folkloric genres from the region as well. A lot of the songs have similar references in the lyrics as well, talking about Afro-Brazilian culture. The North-East is potentially the most diverse musical region of Brazil, it’s a musical universe in itself, a fusion of African, Indigenous and European elements. The mix is also (kind of) in chronological order, or at least some way which makes sense to me. I hope people enjoy it, and can go on a little bit of a voyage whilst listening to!

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

The version of Asa Branca by Sivuca, love it. A proper sacred moment in my opinion. And I love the Tambor de Crioula which I opened with, that rhythm is so infectious and I don’t think there’s much of it on vinyl either.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

People like Alex Figueira, Duncan Brooker, Nomad, DJ Tudo. They’re all into the actual act of digging rather than just rocking up and buying the expensive rarities on the back shelf. I admire anyone who’s so passionate about music they want to travel to be able to hear new sounds!

In Bristol there’s a lot of amazing collectors and DJs, who are all very distinct and different. John Stapleton, Spud Roots, Pencilface and Siegfried Translator all have incredible collections! Adam Kvasnica on Mixcloud is ridiculous all around. Epic Vinyls From Brazil, Tambourine Party, Coco Maria, Palo Santo Discos, Rebecca Vasmant amongst lots of other! So many UK legends as well such as Gilles Peterson & Mr Scruff, those people who can play stuff from right across the spectrum and from all the decades! I really respect people who’ve been in it for a long time, and all those people who make their living from buying records and selling records, the kind of people who buy whole collections.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

In terms of people who I think are underrated I would definitely say Spud Roots, he has some really incredible records and is one of those people who remembers everything. Amazing digi reggae selections. You recently featured my friend Poly-Ritmo who’s making big moves at the moment and definitely has a serious collection!

Worm Disco Club sees you working between the UK and Brazil, can you tell us a bit more about the work you do in each place?

My connection with Brazil actually started a long time before Worm Disco Club was created. Myself and Jake Calvert (one of my partners in all things Worm) both grew up around Bristol, and got into learning about Brazilian percussion at an early age. Since 2008 we’ve been travelling there to take our studies deeper, and really learn from the Masters. We’ve each gone there around 10 times each, firstly focussing on Rio de Janeiro, but later spending more time in the Northeastern states of Bahia and Pernambuco, specifically the city of Recife. We started our own community group, Afon Sistema, in Bristol which focusses on Maracatu music and dance around 2014, which was also the same time we hooked up with Nathan Price (the third Worm!) and started Worm Disco Club. Brazil is a great place to go crate digging – we normally buy as much as we can physically carry on the plane home. Shove as many as you can in your hand luggage and try to act like it’s not heavy so they don’t weigh your bags! We also work hard to bring a lot of Brazilian’s to the UK/EU and help to organise workshops so they can represent their communities work, and earn vital money to help support their projects over there. Though it’s difficult to work with the Arts anywhere in the world, we’re very privileged in the UK, it’s much harder to exist as a musician in Brazil.

Worm Disco Club was started as a result of us feeling that the Bristol music scene was quite monochrome at that time, most nights would be very specialist in a genre like Dubstep, Garage, House/Techno etc. We wanted to start a night where you could hear African music, Jazz, Brazilian, Latin and not be stuck dancing to one BPM all night. Through our community music links our friendship circle is really diverse and our parties attracts people from all different ages and nationalities. The club nights in Bristol host a mixture of DJs and live acts from right across the musical spectrum. Off the back of running that night for 5 years, we were lucky enough to be invited to host “The Wormhole”, at Glastonbury Festival, which is predominantly a venue focussed on the UK Jazz scene, people like Sons of Kemet, Joe Armon-Jones, Kokoroko etc. These bands are some of the most exciting acts on a global level right now! Shortly after the festival we started working on our new record label “Worm Discs” which started off as a platform for contemporary groups from Bristol, and has grown to include people from other cities like Glasgow….and here we are!

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

Hopefully being able to somehow retrieve a big load of records currently stuck in Brazil! I’m really excited about the return of live music and the summer here, hopefully a few festivals like Shambala and We Out Here will be able to go ahead. I’m looking forward to recording new music with Dundundun and bringing back the Worm Disco Club parties in Bristol. I think we could potentially have an amazing summer! A 2021 Summer Of Love?!

Photo Credit: Maria Arvanitaki.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about why we’ve joined Select.

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