HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Paul Jackson

UK producer / DJ Paul Jackson remains best known for his string of highly successful club singles on his friend Darren Emerson's label Underwater, though after a 12 month hiatus on releases he's back on Dave Seaman's imprint Audio Therapy.

Like his biggest hit The Push, new single The Seeker is dark, melancholic though immediately engaging, which was clearly how Dave Seaman felt when he first heard the tune.

"Dave was doing a compilation for Renaissance and he got in touch with me and said 'I really like your stuff, have you got any unreleased tracks hanging around?' So I sent him a couple including The Seeker, more to see what he thought, to be honest, and he came back straightaway saying 'I really love this, I really want to use it'," says Paul.

"In the end I don't think he did use them for some reason but then he kept pursuing me over releasing it on Audio Therapy. At first I was putting him off, saying it's all part of an album project and I put him off for six months, then he just came back again and I thought about it differently."

One of the main reasons Paul changed his mind was continuing delays at Underwater, as the label went through an unexpected restructuring.

"The Seeker was done about a year ago and I'd passed it on to Darren and it sat about because things were happening at the label, personal issues, which put things largely on hold at the label. It was bad timing because Underwater were really on a high, it was a weird year, last year," says Paul. Another reason was an unexpected upturn in his DJ fortunes, he adds.

"I was really headstrong about doing an album, then over the summer I couldn't get into the studio for about six months because I was so busy DJing, I was literally away three or four days of every week so I think the whole idea of an album slipped away a bit. I think if I'd stayed focused on it, I would have finished it but I didn't have the time," he explains.

"I definitely had my busiest summer DJing last year, which never fails to amaze me. I haven't had a record out since probably this time last year, if not longer, yet all of a sudden, you are in demand and it's weird. I just put it down to that's the way it is; it can be that random. Sometimes you're hot and sometimes you're not. The less you worry about it, the better as far as I'm concerned."

> Interview : Jonty Skrufff


Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : Last time we chatted, you talked about The Push being a very simple track to make, was The Seeker similarly easy ?

Paul Jackson : Yeah, kind of. I did the intro first and then had this grand idea of it being a track in three parts, with a view to it becoming a centerpiece track for the album. But the more I got carried away with the idea, the more I thought it could end up being too long and boring the hell out of people, so it's shorter than it was when I started. It's still in three parts though, with a big string intro, big rhythmic bit in the middle, and a big string outro, but instead of being 11 minutes long, it's nine minutes long. You can only test people's patience so long. I gave it to Pete Tong who really liked it straightaway, but he immediately said 'this is a challenging record'. He did actually play it the first week he got it -right at the end of the show (Radio 1's Essential Selection)as the last record, because it's quite an easy way to stick it in there. I do appreciate what he means. On radio you can't play eleven minute records and expect people to stay with you.

Skrufff : Are you generally making hundreds of tracks and picking out the best ones for release ?

Paul Jackson : My approach has changed in recent years because now I work a lot at home on my laptop, but the way I used to work was with my engineer Richard in a studio. I used to go there to record and you'd tend to start a track and finish it really quickly because time is of the essence- you're paying for it. I never let it get to the point where the clock is really ticking and you end up short changing yourself on tracks just because you haven't got time - I never let it get like that, but I do find you are a bit more swift with work. I've noticed when I work at home I fanny around (mess around) a lot more on details that maybe I shouldn't. For example, I might spend ages on a hi-hat sound. It's sometimes good to have a bit of a deadline and, to be honest, I've never been that prolific.

Skrufff : What made you decide to go with Dave Seaman's label ?

Paul Jackson : I just saw it as a good way to reach a different audience. I don't know why my mind changed over it really. All the album tracks were still unfinished so when he came back to me I thought 'actually it's the perfect time to put something out with someone else, to reach a completely different audience'. It just turned into a really good idea overnight. I don't really know why.

Skrufff : When we chatted two years ago you were just about to prune your massive vinyl collection - are you still collecting records ?

Paul Jackson : I get sent a lot less which I think is a shame and I still buy it though I tend to use CDs more these days out of practicality. I remember I can even tell you exactly when I made the switch; it happened when I flew out of Heathrow Airport, which is about twenty minutes away from where I live and for some unknown reason they flew me back to Gatwick, which, nice airport that it is, is so far away from my home. I had a trolley record bag full of vinyl and a big CD wallet and just as I was leaving Switzerland, the handle on the trolley bag broke, so it turned back into one of those carry bags, and the whole journey home was hell.

Physically just carrying this thing that I used to wheel behind me, from the baggage thing to the train station, then changing trains at Victoria to get on another train was a nightmare; I got home, put the bag down and I collapsed and I just thought 'I can't do it anymore; I can't carry all these records around anymore', I still carry about twenty or thirty records and the rest are CDs. I run a lot of vinyl into my computer. I've about 15,000 mp3's now. It's not really slowed my music addiction down, which is funny. I thought I was addicted to the vinyl - the packaging and everything, but it seems it's just the music.

Skrufff : I know you got rid of about 2,000 records, are you hanging on to the rest ?

Paul Jackson : Yeah, I've still got about 20,000. I'm looking at them as we speak. I thought about it the other day, I was looking through for a few tracks and I thought 'it's a shame that I don't use them anymore'. They are lining all the walls in the room and I don't really touch them, but I have no desire to get rid of them. They are not going anywhere.

Skrufff : What sort of music are you DJing out at he moment ?

Paul Jackson : Completely as across the board as the crowd will let me, as I've always been, to be honest. My favourite gigs are still those gigs where I can play quite tough house blending into techno, and still be able to throw in the odd breaks track. The freer I'm allowed to be when I am DJing, the better, as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately a lot of the clubs, especially in this country, are very concentrated on narrow styles, which is a shame. I love all sorts of alternative music, and what I actually DJ out when I'm playing is about ten per cent of what I really like. But there's a fine line between trying to educate people and ramming it down their throats and it's always a line you walk as a DJ. I try to be as uncompromising but still appealing as I can. A lot of these records if you didn't ever play to people they wouldn't get to hear and you know they 'd love them. At the same time you can't play sets full of totally new stuff to people and expect them to enjoy themselves as well. It's a constant compromise and you do your best.

End of the interview

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