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Jackmaster & Jasper James
Jackmaster and Jasper James

Hear Jackmaster & Jasper James drop back-to-back bangers

Before Jackmaster plays Secret Garden Party this summer, the two Glasgow DJs drop a new mix and discuss their early years playing the city’s afterparties

Jackmaster and Jasper James are preparing for the upcoming summer festival season: when we speak, Jasper’s in Ibiza, while Jack is back home in Glasgow. It’s been five years since the pals played their first back-to-back DJ set, but their friendship goes back to their teenage years, partying at under-18s nights at Glasgow’s Sub Club. Since then they’ve recorded mixes together at their Mitchell Street afterparties and at joint shows everywhere from London to Ibiza’s biggest spots, Croatia, and back to their hometown. 

This summer, Jack’s once again bringing his vibrant, globe-trotting marathon mixing to Secret Garden Party, and the duo’s next gig together promises a stamina-charged homecoming to Riverside Festival. Ahead of those dates, the artists dropped their latest b2b session, and we caught up with them about their best gigs, sharing tunes, and the packed year ahead.

How do your mixes come together?

Jackmaster: These mixes come about really organically, they’re never ‘conceived’. We live right in the centre of Glasgow, by Sub Club, so what tends to happen when we’re both in Glasgow is that everyone just comes and has an afterparty at ours. When we get bored of everyone, we either throw them out or jump into our studio, hit record and have a jam session. This is the third one we’ve done together. I don’t know if the mixes go well because of our inebriated state, or whether we just like similar music, or whatever.

Jasper James: Aye, we’ve got similar taste. If someone starts going down a different vibe, maybe starting off funkier and groovier or with a slower BPM, it’s easy to vibe off each other. Our first back-to-back was five years ago, so you kind of get to know that person.

Jackmaster: When we have these afterparties in Glasgow it’s not a bunch of people just sitting down nodding our heads, but it is usually music focused. Everyone tends to have their own turn on YouTube. It just always gets me really inspired, sharing music with my mates. We’ll be buzzing off that and then we just do it.

How did you first meet?

Jackmaster: I must’ve been 14 or something – Jasper, how old were you? 

Jasper James: I was about 10, or nine. 

Jackmaster: It was the summer that I started getting into house music. My sister was really into house and techno – she copped on that Jasper’s dad was Harri, who’s this incredible DJ at Sub Club. I’d been going to the ‘Sub Club unders’, these earlier parties they would put on for school kids. They wouldn’t serve alcohol or anything but you’d have a coke... maybe smoke a joint before you go in. I had no idea who Harri was but my sister was like, ‘He’s one of the best DJs in Glasgow, if not the world, you could probably learn a lot from him.’ I pretty much just started spending time with Jasper because of who his dad was. 

Jasper and my brother Sean knew each other from skateboarding and all the girls that I wanted to pull fancied skateboarders. So this worked two ways: I started skateboarding with them and used to go to Jasper’s house and have a go on his dad’s decks. It was all very beneficial for me, I don’t know what it was for Jasper – I guess he’s reaping the rewards now! 15 years later and he’s getting to hang out with Jackmaster.

We didn’t see each other for a long long time but then we both ended up DJing at a charity event in Glasgow for Spirit Aid, and instantly we were fucking back into our groove. From then we were pretty much best mates within a couple of weeks. Jasper got chucked out of his house and ended up sleeping on my couch. He said two weeks and he’s still fucking here.

Jasper James: Four years later!

Jackmaster: He then promoted himself from the sofa to a blow up bed for two years. Then that burst and he got a real bed. Since then we’ve been pretty much inseparable.

There seems to be a real family vibe with both of your musical journeys. 

Jasper James: I wasn’t really interested in dance music until around the age of 15. Obviously my dad played records. One of the first records he played that got me into house was a Carl Craig one, ‘Throw’. I started looking through his tunes and putting them on my iPod Mini. I’d go to festivals with my dad like T in the Park or Creamfields. I got to hear the soundsystems properly and start seeing the ways crowds were reacting to this music and thinking ‘That’s pretty cool.’

Jackmaster: It was my sister that got me on to dance music – handing me a Daft Punk album or the Basement Jaxx debut. Before then I used to sit in front of my ghetto blaster all day and all night listening to Oasis and The Verve and shit. Her boyfriend at that time was really into heavier techno like Laurent Garnier. I was handed all these CDs and it was really an eye opener for me, almost overnight. This was just when file sharing started, and Napster, so you could sit on your computer all night just downloading all these tracks by everyone under the sun. Before I just saw dance music on TV – I mean the DJ was always miming, but they were always there.

“I wasn’t really interested in dance music until around the age of 15... I’d go to festivals with my dad like T in the Park or Creamfields and start seeing the ways crowds were reacting to this music and thinking ‘That’s pretty cool’” – Jasper James

What do you think about the impact of filesharing sites and Facebook groups on how we play and consume music?

Jackmaster: I made a really controversial Facebook post a few days ago about this. I was having a little moan about certain people using that group just to fill out their sets, and it got misconstrued. I was talking about DJs who are getting thousands upon thousands of pounds. I’ve noticed them pinching tunes. I hate the term ‘stealing’ or ‘pinching tunes’ because music doesn’t belong to anyone – that’s what’s so great about it, it brings people together.

I certainly think the sharing of music is brilliant and very important for our scene. I’ve never liked it when DJs are secretive about the music they have. But I made that post talking about DJs who do this for a living. They have the time and the money at their disposal to seek out new music that no one else is playing. Without it, the scene can’t move forward and just stays stagnant. Everything I said I stand by. It wasn’t a broad statement about music fans who play the same music that their favourite DJs play. If you’re a big DJ, going into the Identification of Music Group and just typing in another DJs name would worry me. Especially when they’re your peers. It’s just quite lazy.

Jasper James: I think filesharing sites like Dropbox are a great way to share your tracks with your friends and other DJs. I guess it’s almost like going into a record shop and you’ll always have someone who works behind the counter who recognises your taste and will put aside certain records that come in stock for you. I have a similar setup with with certain folk I share similar tastes in music with. It’s a good way to accumulate good music quickly for me.

With Facebook groups (like the Identification of Music Group), it’s a way punters can find out tracks being played by their favourite DJs usually fairly quickly through posting videos asking for IDs. I don't think as a DJ you would have any self-satisfaction basing an entire set around music found from sites like this, but it’s definitely handy for people being able to source music they liked being played on the night quickly. 

Do either of you have any go-to tunes to save the dancefloor?

Jackmaster: Homegrown stuff always tends to go down well. Right now, if I played one of Jasper’s tunes or if you played Denis Sulta people would go mental. It was the same five years ago if I would have dropped a Hudson Mohawke or Rustie track. People in small towns get really behind their own. And that’s something I’ve always liked about Glasgow. It’s a very British mentality to bring people down when they’re successful. A hater mentality. But in our small towns we’re always very loyal to our own.

And what about your new tune ‘Dirty Wrong’, Jasper?

Jasper James: It’s in the mix actually! It was something I did quite a few years ago but I didn’t finish. I found it on one of my old Macbooks. I just had a listen back and thought it was alright and that I’d try to finish it. I finished it that night. I didn’t really think about it too much and I sent it to Jack, and to my dad, and the Optimo guys. Then to Seth (Troxler) as well because we became friends out in Ibiza. Seth really liked it, and he played out a couple of times in CircoLoco. I was in Croatia at Hideout Festival and Seth approached me and asked if I wanted to sign it. It just went from there really.

“It’s a very British mentality to bring people down when they’re successful. A hater mentality. But in our small towns we’re always very loyal to our own” – Jackmaster

What are some of the best gigs you’ve played together? 

Jasper James: Sub Club is an obvious one. We’ve played back-to-back there loads of times. I don’t know if we’ve done ‘SubCulture’ together on a Saturday yet but I’m sure that will happen. CircoLoco is always amazing. I got to play for the first time with Jackmaster on a Monday night in DC10. Me and Jack first came to Ibiza together for the first time about five years ago – we were on the dancefloor at DC10 on the terrace and we said how one day we’d be up there. Fabric as well, and also at my own night at Phonox.

What artists do you want to see having a good year?

Jasper James: There’s Moodtrax from Belfast who’s been sending me tunes. He’s a really nice guy, really good DJ too. I played in Liverpool on Thursday for a guy called Andrew Hill. He’s a promoter, runs a lot of parties in Liverpool and he’s just putting on his first festival.

Jackmaster: BIG MIZ is a really good DJ and producer. He’s one of these kids who seems to be creative and good at fucking everything he turns his hand to. There’s kid who’s been sending my music. He’s called NYRA, which is an anagram of Ryan, his name. I really like his stuff.

Are you looking forward to doing the summer festival circuit?

Jackmaster: I usually kind of dread it when it’s coming up but once I get into it I start to enjoy it. It’s a heavy slog. It’s at the festivals you get to see all your mates.

Jasper James: Aye it’s like an assault course, man. It is hard work during the summer months but obviously you get to visit a lot of cool places.

Jackmaster plays Secret Garden Party, July 20-July 23