J Plates is an Electronic Music producer based in North Yorkshire, England.
Are you a former Kiwi? How did you end up in the UK?
J: Hi Albert, thanks for having me. I was born and raised in New Zealand and have been living here in the UK for around 4 years. It’s actually my second stint having previously lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland going back almost 10 years ago now. I basically came over here to further my music career and to hunt out new opportunities less abundant in NZ. I’d achieved all the goals I had set out over there and wanted a new challenge; I’ve certainly got one now!
I wanted to bring up a comment that brought up by Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK), Rishi Sunak. Appearing to suggest struggling musicians should get a new job during the pandemic era. What are your thoughts?
J: Yes I’m familiar with the comment/interview and it’s certainly disappointing to hear but not very surprising. I think it was a very transparent attitude in terms of just how out of touch some members of the government are considering the significance of the UK’s arts and nightlife culture contributing to the economy and tourism.
On the other hand, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the music industry has been seriously suffering for around a decade and it’s becoming increasingly harder (near impossible as an independent/smaller artist) to make a sustainable living from music sales alone, so the only saving grace to at least musicians, performers, DJ’s, etc has been the live/events sector, but even that has had its challenges in the past. I mean, that’s why I came over here in the first place right; a much larger demographic, more condensed cities/venues, and easy access to Europe and the States compared to the confines of NZ.
In terms of all the art mediums, I think music unfortunately has and will continue to be considered by some as a disposable underdog. I can understand people’s passion for music and “doing it for the love it” and all that, but at some point, you should be able to put and keep cornflakes on the table like any other sector of the arts! Whether you agree with it or not, the music industry is a business and should be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other service-based industry, and that can only start from within oneself and the immediate community.
It’s also interesting that you used the term “pandemic era” ironically as the pandemic here in the UK technically ended around late June according to the multiple sources of publicly available data, so there’s that elephant in the room to deal with as well.
The best and only way to make any difference at this point, in my humble opinion, is to vote incompetent people out of office before we lose the right to do even that. Contact your local MP’s and ask them what they’re going to do for YOU. As a public, we’ve all done enough and we’ve certainly had enough of socially engineered solutions to biological problems.
Your catalog is pretty deep. With that said, it looks like you are just getting started. What keeps you motivated to be relevant and consistent?
J: I’ve been creating, performing, and producing music for the majority of my life one way or another, however over the past few years I’ve really knuckled down and pumped out a whole bunch of material and ventured a few tangents along the way too. Through personal experience, I can say that creating music is a full time, life long commitment. In the past, I’ve had to work around a stressful full-time job (I was a Live Sound Engineer, Events Technician, and Entertainment Rigger for over a decade working with large international touring productions) often working 18+hr shifts during unsociable hours, so the time I used to be able to put into my musical craft was very minimal in comparison to now. E.g. if you look at my output of material you’ll notice there’s a number of years where I only released one or two projects during the entire year. In comparison, over the past year I’ve released at least six projects, and have more scheduled releases before the year is out. And in case you were wondering, COVID had nothing to do with it, I was going to do this year anyway!
I couldn’t care less about being relevant, in fact, I’m not relevant. I’ve been chipping away doing my thing in the Drum & Bass scene now for about 14 years; I’ve seen trends come and go, run sound systems at sold-out shows, and performed alongside many top-level acts over the years, but I’m not going anywhere but forward. I’m a musician first and foremost, so whatever inspires me to keep going, whether it be hearing newer or older music, travel, life struggles, you name it, it all has an effect on my psyche and it translates into and through the music I make.
In the mix you provided for PB, you promoted up-and-coming producers. Why do you think the average Drum & Bass Dj do not look out for hidden gems? Even now, I am wondering why am I still hearing this one dBridge song every other demo mixes I get. It is somewhat annoying. Why are we so myopic and resistant to music research?
J: Yes I’m glad you brought that up. I made a conscious effort in this mix to play it forward with a whole bunch of promo material I’ve been sent recently. It’s so important to nourish and support each other whether you’re a veteran or an up-and-comer, and I’ve certainly received my fair share of artist support from some serious players in the scene; it’s just common courtesy to pay your dues really!
I’ve mentioned this in the past, but there’s just so much music out there; every day there are thousands of releases coming out and it’s both easy to miss those hidden gems, but also easy to become complacent to what’s trending, popular, or in the charts. For me personally, a track generally has about 5 seconds before I know whether or not it’s for me; whether I’ll want to play it out or feature it in a mix. Having said that I pay little attention to new releases and just let tracks and artists come to me organically, that’s why I still play what would be considered “old” material, but if a tunes a tune, you can’t argue with it. I think perhaps it has a little bit to do with insecurity that one has to play the latest thing or the in-sound of the moment or whatever, but there’s certainly Artists and DJs out there unafraid to curb the norm and step outside of the box; that’s how genres and sounds evolve beyond the confines of the echo chambers they often find themselves within.
Will you consider doing soundtracks and scores for games and movies at some point?
J: I’d love to, and I’ve pursued the odd role here and there in the past, but I haven’t had much luck breaking into that area of the industry over here, unfortunately. On the other hand, I’ve been pursuing more seriously a career as an Audio Mastering Engineer for the past few years which I feel is a more viable option and interest at this stage. You can check out my website here for more information if you’d like: www.transferloungeams.com
I had this conversation with a few people that Drum and Bass can be so much more. We are more than nightclub music or trading top ten lists on Dogs on Acid. Do you envision D & B in journalism, politics, or contributing to social causes?
J: Honestly this music is all I’ve got; it’s my source of joy, it helps me vent, it allows me to communicate with like-minded people and shake off the cobwebs in the dance. Ever since I experienced my first sound system it’s become part of my soul; I get IT, and IT gets me. I can see why this type of music can get a bad rep from the outside looking in though, but underneath the occasional bravado, it’s just people having a good time, letting off steam, and connecting with the energy of the music on the dance floor; they don’t call it dance music for nothing you know!
There’s always going to be a certain amount of politics built into the music by default, just look back at the history of Reggae and Dub, for example, the Acid House movement of the ’80s, etc. Every era has had its issues and will continue to do so; just look at where we are now! Music is self-expression at the end of the day and my personal opinion is that people should create whatever they want whether there’s an underlying message or not; the public/listener has the final say at the end of the day when it translates to a sale, a play or whether they share it with a friend because it connected with them for whatever reason. That’s why I make and play music; as a means of staying connected to myself and others, putting different ideas and feelings together and out in the open as a means of self-reflection.
Most electronic music goes beyond standard Pop arrangements and lengths anyway, so the entry-level is always going to be high (e.g. not everyone likes Jazz for instance), but there’s an endless reward for those that choose to pursue the challenge of going deeper into what Drum & Bass and Dance music, in general, has in store. I think it helps if you’re already a fan of a variety of music genres and styles in order to be open-minded to it in the first place; there’s certainly something here for every taste.
Any final thoughts? Shoutouts?
J: Look out for my limited run 12” titled ‘The Eternal State EP’ due out on London label ‘Silent Force Recordings’ next month and grab a copy while they’re available.
I hope you enjoy the latest Phuturistic Bluez Podcast; it was a blast to put it together so thanks for the opportunity to be involved. And be sure to go hunt out the artists featured on the mix!
1 This World Must Be Destroyed: Dsmo 2 – Front 242
2 The Purge – Zezalien
3 Confinement – Montesco
4 Eye Speak – Medok
5 Persiste – Dedman & Montesco
6 Hooking The Beats – Zezalien
7 Return Of The Samurai – Black Opps
8 Question Everything – Psyek & SPOI
9 Photegraphik – Art Cuebik
10 Corrupt – Psyek & SPOI
11 Dark – Albert Wesker
12 Hollow (Original Mix) – Mindloader (feat. Anders Fallesen)
13 Mind In Motion – Law
14 Court – Leks
15 Through My Eyes – Al:x
16 Airbound – Skwig
17 Call To The Ancestors – Mizeyesis
18 Pull Up – DJ Twiz
19 Cyber – DJ Convertor
20 Sunchase – Why We Are Here (I Wannabe Remix) – I Wannabe
21 Simon Lake – Harland
22 Petrichor (Original Mix) – D Flect
23 Skys Falling – Black Brothers
24 sunset – 骨架的
25 Red Planet – Crosspolar