Tuesday, 24 May 2011

An Interview with Jimpster aka Jamie Odell

Jamie Odell, aka Jimpster and more specifically his labelFreerange has been a staple diet of most House-of-the-deeper-persuasion fans over the last decade… and then some.

He pretty much needs no introduction so I’ll spare you the chit-chat and allow you to indulge, with us, in five minutes of talking the Soap Awards, Freerange and being Dad with Jimpster.

Hi Jamie, where are you sitting right now?

Right now, I’m in my front room with the Soap Awards on the telly trying not to get sucked in by the hideousness of it all. It’s quite compelling in a car crash kind of way.

Tell us about the early days of Freerange, around 1996 right? What do you remember of the scene and setting up the label?

Yeah, we started the label in 1996 while I was at university in Salford and my partner Tom was studying in Luton. We had come through the rave scene in the early 90s then got more into the deeper Techno and House of labels like DJAX, Warp, Strictly Rhythm and Nervous. After going to Salford I got a lot more into Jazz, Fusion and also the emerging Trip-Hop and Drum ‘n’ Bass on Mowax, Ninjatune etc. Being in a very musical city like Manchester was amazing and I was gigging a lot in Jazz and Funk bands and meeting good musicians whilst making tracks on my own at home. Fat City record shop and label was very influential at the time as well as an amazing club called the New Ardri, which hosted a party called Herbal Tea Party where I went regularly around 1996 to hear the likes of Weatherall, Justin Robertson and the Dust Brothers as the Chemicals were then known. Basically, the scene was really wide open with a lot of different styles of music as well as subcultures all sitting very well alongside each other.

It’s obviously a vast amount of time to cover between then and now, but as an overview how has the label evolved in your eyes? Has there been a natural evolution through different sounds?

I think you could say that for the first five or six years we were a lot more eclectic and less club orientated but gradually and naturally we started finding our niche in the deeper end of House music. There was a couple of important releases on the way such as Switch’s ‘Get Ya Dub On’ that threw in a curveball and also helped establish us with a much wider audience and a different set of far more established club DJs.

It’s fair to say Freerange is up there with some of the best labels in the UK, if not the World. Has it’s success correlated to the rise of Deep House as a genre?

Thanks very much for saying so! Yeah I guess it has definitely helped us that the deeper end of House has become increasingly popular over the last 5-10 years.

From a personal point of view, how do you manage your tour schedule, producing and running a label? Must be a pretty heavy workload!

Well, the tricky thing is trying to be a good Dad to two young boys too, but I’m really lucky in that my partner Tom manages my label work very well and we also have Matt Masters helping us run stuff day to day. I only really gig at weekends rather than go away for weeks at a time and I actually manage to get quite a lot of basic ideas for tracks sorted whilst I’m travelling, but i wouldn’t be able to manage without a very understanding wife and my best mate Tom.

What I think people love about the label, is it’s loyalty, almost a familiarity with specific artists associated with Freerange - Shur-i-kan, Manuel Tur, Milton Jackson and more recently Tony Lionni. Even though they’ve got other things going on there a strong relationship. Is that something you’ve always tried to reciprocate when working with others? Seems quite a personal touch?

We definitely like to try and build lasting relationships with producers yeah, but I’m not sure it’s too different to how any other label operates. Inevitably, when you’re working on LP’s for example you go through quite a long process and potentially a lot of back and forth that can sometimes get quite stressful, so it’s important that mutual respect is there and there is good communication between the label and artist. We’ve been lucky in that pretty much everyone has been a pleasure to work with and we’ve gone onto become good friends, as well as getting to regularly play together at gigs, which is always good fun.

Your own productions tend to be fairly rare but strong. Is that a conscious decision to release quality not quantity or does time just not allow you to get in the studio that often?

I only get about one full day in the studio every week at the moment, so time is quite tight. I’m also a really slow worker when it comes to my own original productions but I don’t stress too much about it because I do prefer to have fewer releases, rather than releasing too much and people getting really bored of it.

Must be time for another album soon?!

Yeah, actually I have quite a lot of ideas coming together which might start to take form of an LP next year perhaps. Need to see how things progress with it over the course of this year.

With Freerange topping 15 this year, where do you take it from now? What are your plans for the future label-wise?

We’ve never had a master plan as such, so just continue to release the best possible electronic music that we can from some of our favourite producers. This will include a brilliant LP from Manuel Tur much later in the year or early next year and EP’s from Andre Lodemann, Alexkid, Mic Newman, Bas Amro and Lovebirds. These releases include remixes from Radioslave, Iron Curtis, Vincenzo, Bassfort and San Soda.

What have you got coming up in the next few months you can fill us in about?

Personally, I’ve been making a few remixes recently for Vincenzo, Kollektiv Turmstrasse and Youandewan. Nearly finished a new Jimpster EP too, although that wont be out until after summer now. Got quite a busy run of gigs over the next month or so taking in Mexico City, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Madrid and of course, Manchester, which I always enjoy playing having lived there for so long.

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