Gareth Elliot and Tommy Holohan caught up with one of the most in demand DJs on the planet at ADE. Known for his impeccable selections and energy behind the decks while still finding the time to run his Numbers label. Jackmaster tells us about his upbringing in Glasgow, his musical influences and the resurfacing of a Numbers regular, DJ Deeon.
Q. So Jack… How was it growing up in Glasgow? You’ve talked about it being quite a tough area to grow up in.
A. Aye it was a tough place to live in, But I wasn’t brought up in a tough neighborhood. My family was kind of middle class. But I went to a very tough school. The school behind my house was the school for all of the rough areas put into one, I always thought that all the rough kids that went to that school would burn it down or something *laughs*. Certainly for around 50% of kids growing up in Glasgow it’s really difficult man, there’s a lot of trouble.
Q. I’ve been there before, it can be very intimidating in places. The humour is very dry & stern.
A. Exactly mate. It’s kind of like Irish humor, it’s why I love visiting Ireland so much.
Q. Growing up with friends like Jasper & Spencer and having Harry there as source of a musical guidance. That must have helped you a lot of times when you were younger?
A. I didn’t really get any guidance from Harry when I was younger, because me & Jasper hung out due to him hanging out with my little brother. I hung out with him basically because his dad was Harry and I wanted to use his decks & stuff… We didn’t sit and have chats about DJing or anything, I was just his sons pal. But it was Spencer that was my big influence when i was growing up. He taught me not just how to DJ, but how to DJ well. How to mix the right tracks together at the right time. When we both got jobs at Rubadub we would both do Altern8 Saturdays, but I actually got sacked because I was a graffiti artist at the time and we would be out till all hours of the morning and I would often miss my shifts in Rubadub. But Spencer continued on and he would then educate me about the stuff that was getting sold in the shop. And then sooner or later I got my job back in Rubadub *laughs*.
Q. Being so heavily involved with Rubadub and having Barry take you in shows how lucky you are compared to some other kids growing up in Glasgow at that time.
A. I mean the thing for me was is that I took a chance with going to Rubadub because it was when we did work experience in school you would go on a placement and you would get a big list of places where you would like to go. But I wanted to work at Rubadub though, I knew there was something special about the place. So I approached my guidance councillor and told her I want to work for Rubadub and as I told them they thought “Brilliant, free labour for a week” And from there they taught me everything I needed to know.
Q. Do you think music saved you from going down a dark road?
A. 100%. When I was growing I was painting graffiti which was obviously illegal. One of the reasons I got my job back at Rubadub was the guy Barry who was kind of my mentor. He saw what was going on and saw some kind of potential in me even though I always fucked up. He would do things as well with me where he would get me to make mix-tapes/mini discs to try and get under privileged kids into music and out of gangs. Happy Hardcore was the most popular amongst the kids and the closest thing musically to it that was sold in the shop was stuff like booty music & ghetto stuff. He would give me all of the Database Records which was Godfathers label & told me to make a mix out of all of them records that night to distribute to youth clubs. That was something that never really got going as Barry actually left the company for various reasons and at that time I was a kid hand writing the invoices for him, I wasn’t doing the fanny work but I was just learning the trade.
Q. Sub Club sounds like it has a special place in your heart, It’s a club that is turning into a Berghain-esque club where people are travelling from all around Europe to Glasgow to party there, What makes it so special ?
A. 1. Any decent club has to start from the bottom in terms of music & have to have great residents, Harry & Dominic are the residents there and have been so for the last 25 years. SubCulture there on the Saturday is one of the longest running house music club nights in the world.
2. The way the club is set out. There’s a really low ceiling which is very different to many big opened venues. Even when you’re in the booth you’re disconnected from people enough for e.g steaming kids not to do your nut in, But you also feel you’re apart of it and very connected to everyone.
3. The sound system is incredible and it’s just one of these places where if I had the true answer to your question I would be a millionaire, but you know what in every generation you kind of get a handful of these specially unique spots.
Q. Your label ‘Numbers’ is one of the main reasons for the resurgences of ‘DJ Deeon’ with the label releasing some of his classics. What made you want to release these tracks?
A. I just kind of saw Deeon as a person that had dealt with a lot of bad luck in his life. He’s struggled with cancer & didn’t have a passport. And everyone knows nowadays you don’t make money from making records but from playing gigs in the music industry. I used to talk to him often enough as I released one of his records on my old label called ‘Dress To Sweat’ and he’s always been a constant. Pretty much every numbers party ever has had a DJ Deeon track played if not 2,3 or 4. From then I thought why not re-release some stuff? He was completely down for it. Right after all of that he got his passport back & he started to begin touring again. It was a nice feeling at the end of it as I find it interesting to see these unsung heroes in dance music.