With 20 years of dedication to a musical movement, longtime drum and bass producer Majistrate (Ian Jordan) releases an appropriately entitled LP, Twenty. Holding an incredible discography spanning two decades, Majistrate has proven to be an influential and adaptable DJ and producer. Kmag discovers more about his musical journey, earliest influences, technical studio specifics and best moments from a very successful 2014.
Congratulations on your double decade journey producing dnb/jungle. How does one survive twenty years in the drum & bass scene?
The main reason I that I am still here today I think is purely down to having a passion and love for what I do. Some people might lose that feeling for the music and move into other genres, and I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, but for me although my musical tastes outside of drum & bass may have changed, I still feel the same about what I do now as when I first started. I’m always trying to better myself and what I do, and this keeps driving me.
Which artists would you say shaped the direction of your music?
Just listening to any music in general can have an influence on what you produce, but I believe most producers will try to develop their own sound. When I first got into the music it was hardcore & techno so I was very influenced by the likes of Jeff Mills, Joey Beltram, Dave Angel & CJ Bolland, especially with my DJing. I guess it was this style that I played that gave me the opportunity as a dj to become a producer, where I was asked to go into the studio to make my first track by a pirate radio station associate, which then turned into my association with Juice & Splash Recordings.
From my early days of production I always looked up to Dillinja, Rob Playford, Danny Breaks, Shut up & Dance to name a few.
What type of production techniques did you use back then, and still use now?
When I began producing I was using hardware, and technology was in such a different place than it is today. My sampler had around 8Mb of internal memory, so it became quite a skill to be able to fit as much as possible into it. Re-sampling edits was a really good way of achieving this, and that is a technique I still use regularly in today’s production. Other than that there aren’t many technological similarities other than sampling itself. The methods are slightly different from when I had an audio cable to my sampler running from either a video recorder or record deck, but searching for samples can still be a long hard task and I still tend to look for similar sources to years ago.
What are your top three “old skool” Majistrate-produced tracks?
1. “Step On” – This has always been a favorite of my own tracks. Kenny Ken has pioneered this track in his sets for years, and when I came up with the concept of ‘Twenty’ I knew I had to make a new updated version, which Kenny has given me his approval on.
2. “Step Up” – Not too old skool but this track changed the game for me, and I’d say was the first straight up dancefloor track of mine, which got played within all corners of the scene.
3. “What’s Up” – This one wasn’t so well known, but for me it means a lot to me as it was the first track that I produced by myself on my own hardware – it took a lot of time and effort I can remember that! But the track was deemed as good enough for release and became my first solely engineered and produced track.
What were some of the factors in deciding to create your own label: Sweet Tooth?
The main reason was to be able to release more of my own music. I’ve never signed exclusively to any label, but I only work with specific labels, so as you can imagine with other artists releasing material as well it limits my windows of opportunity to get music out. Sweet Tooth allows me to get more music out in a year, and also gives me the chance to showcase new artists music that I’m feeling. I’ve also got that control of deciding what music I release and when I’m actually going to release it.
What was the inspiration behind your new album Twenty? How did you select the tunes?
The whole idea and concept of Twenty is solely based on my landmark of 20 years of production. I didn’t really want to shout about it like an anniversary, so decided to produce an album with 20 tracks to mark the occasion instead. The album has been made for the followers of my music, so I didn’t want to differentiate from what I do best, although I have tried to include some different flavours into it.
As we near the end of 2014, what was one of your most memorable moments?
2014 has been great and there has been so many stand-out moments. Event wise, Sunbeatz, Inno in the Sun & Dam, Dour festival, Westfest, Summer Gathering etc. Probably my most surreal moment though was performing on Clubland TV. It was strange even for me to see back a typical set from myself live on Sky TV. Completing my album is also up there for me as well. After working all year and getting so close to the deadline for completion it was pretty stress reliving getting it finished.
What are you looking for when it comes to signing new producers to your label?
It’s easy to say originality, but originality alone doesn’t excite people. What I’m really looking for is a vibe, a riff in bassline, breaks, and good samples. They are key things I try to achieve with my own music, so that’s what I want from producers that are going to work on Sweet Tooth.
What does the future hold for Sweet Tooth Recordings?
Sweet Tooth has literally just had a full make over and re-branding, and this is just the start of the vision I have for the label. There will be a new website in 2015, which will feature a shop offering merchandise and the Sweet Tooth complete back catalogue, as well as artists features and exclusives. Also planned is a remix album, and further new releases from previous Sweet Tooth artists, Jessica Luck, Turno & Nu Elementz.
For someone looking from the outside, how would you describe drum & bass to a newcomer?
Although there does seem to be a split between drum & bass genres I still see it as a big family. I’ve been to lots of different nights playing various styles of music, but nothing has the energy and feeling of drum & bass. The combination or pace, energy and sub bass is impossible to emulate.