Flipping the Vs with drum 'n' bass legend Jumpin Jack Frost
It would be impossible to have a decent conversation about drum ‘n’ bass without touching on V Recordings and its many sub labels. The London imprint run by Brits Bryan Gee and Jumpin Jack Frost has been one of the backbones of the genre since the early ’90s. Releasing a wide range of styles from an array of artists, it helped make the careers of people like Roni Size, DJ Krust and Dillinja and defined many different eras.
Jumpin Jack Frost and Bryan first met in the late ’80s when they were both emerging DJs playing funk, hip hop and breakbeats. Before long the acid house invasion happened and along came famed London parties like Carwash, where eventual stars Fabio and Grooverider could also be found. Before drum ‘n’ bass fully emerged, Jumpin Jack played all over the world alongside the ravey likes of The Prodigy and Carl Cox, before eventually starting the V label with Bryan off the back of hearing some demos from unknown Bristol producers Roni Size and Krust. The rest, as they say, is history.
Between then and now Jumpin Jack has also branched out into production on occasion, but has primarily remained a firm fixture on the DJ scene, holding down residencies everywhere from Johnny Depp’s Viper Rooms in LA to The End in London over the last decades. A longtime champion of radio, he also spent five years at UK station KISS 100, winning an award for Best Radio DJ in the process.
There are few more integral people to the development of the genre over the years, so ahead of his gig here on November 21, we caught up with him for a quick chat…
How are you and what’s kept you busy and enthused recently? I’m good, just been busy with lots of albums on the labels and lots of DJ gigs. Same as it ever was. My passion for the music has never faded and just the way the music constantly evolves makes it easier to love every day.
You and Bryan Gee released some of the most seminal drum ‘n’ bass on V. How do you feel about that period now you look back? Were you able to enjoy it at the time or was it a whirlwind? Wow, that’s a good question. I have to say there was a really good balance and while it was a total whirlwind with things moving so fast, we did really enjoy that period. They was really good times.
What were you two looking for in the music you released? Was there a certain style or aesthetic that defined the best drum ‘n’ bass for you? I really think our outlook on the music has stayed the same: it’s just a vibe about a record that you feel on impact that makes you want to release it.
How have you had to evolve and adapt over the years in order to stay on top? You have to evolve in order to move on and progress and I believe the social media aspect has really made things much better all round.
As someone closely involved, do you think drum ‘n’ bass went through a dark and creatively lacking period recently? Well, the crazy people started making music and took it too far – no soul, just rock & roll. Really, it lost a bit of feeling and people from all backgrounds and musical influences started messing it up. Today though the music is healthy in all genres – there is so much good music around.
Back in the day pirate radio was a big part of your life. Does anything exist like that now do you think? I loved pirate radio and still do a regular show now. The V Records Show on originuk.net is every Wednesday, 4pm GMT, so check it out.
As a celebrated DJ, do you think the art of the DJ has got lost in the modern era? Well, in some ways yes and some no, it really depends on the individuals playing the music. I just focus on myself in that subject. I have always just been a DJ but have produced a few tunes in my time, the best-known being The Burial under my alias Leviticus.
You play in Dubai on Thursday. When was the last time you were here and what are you expecting? I was there about 12 years ago and think I was actually the first drum ‘n’ bass DJ to play there. I’m expecting a good vibe with a nice crowd ready to party.
You’ve had residencies in both America and England. How do crowds and gigs compare? I find the vibe the same in some places. Obviously it will not always be the same, but in America people do love drum ‘n’ bass.
What else are you working on or excited about? I have a new project that I’m producing at the moment and I have lots more gigs around the world. I also have my clothing line Team Frost that’s kinda cool.
Music Room, Majestic Hotel, Mankhool
Tel: (056) 7996335 Taxi: Mankhool Road
Thursday, 9pm to 3am
THE MANY SIDES OF V RECORDINGS The label and network of sub labels has released tonnes of seminal drum ‘n’ bass in its time. Here are some of our top picks..
Roni Size Fresh/Kiss (1997)
Roni Size was a long-term fixture on V Recordings and served up countless essential EPs. This gallivanting effort trod a fine line between jungle, hardcore and breakbeat.
Various Artists Brasil EP (2001)
After a trip to Brazil, label co-boss Bryan Gee was so impressed with the local drum ‘n’ bass scene that he got home-grown producers to work on tracks for this Latin-infused release. It was the start of a long and fruitful relationship.
Dillinja The Grimey EP (2002)
This EP showcased a much harder, tougher, more stomach wrenching side to the label from pioneering producer Dillinja.
Artificial Intelligence Hooked On/100% (2003)
One of the main proponents of the liquid style, Artificial Intelligence laces drums and riddims together in a way so fluid they pour straight to your heart.
Need For Mirrors Reset/Sea Slug VIP (2013)
This more recent bit of deep and slinky drum ‘n’ bass from contemporary dudes Need For Mirrors proves the label is still in fine fettle 20 years on.