Metalheadz just keeps going from strength to strength! The latest in a serious year of releases is “The Rain EP” by Jem One, featuring six tracks of classic Headz darkness. We caught up with Jarrod to discuss the EP, graffiti and being part of the Metalheadz family.
Hi Jarrod, cheers for taking time out to talk with us today! Your latest release, “The Rain EP”, is out now on Metalheadz. What can you tell us about it?
I suppose it features various tracks from a period where I was experimenting with my style a bit. Before Headz, my tracks were very amen/breaks influenced, quite retro-sounding and in this period, I was trying other things out. However, my sound is retreating to its original roots once more.
It features six tracks in total, all with that distinct dark Headz vibe. Seems pretty fitting for these uncertain times! How did these tracks take shape?
They were made through a desire to explore different shades within my music. However, they all contain that darker Headz vibe as that is really the core of my being. There’s also a vulnerability that I hear within the music as well, this I feel is due to the stress and anxiety I felt when getting signed to Headz. Obviously for me to get onto Metalheadz was my dream and when I finally did, I instantly began to feel pressure as the quality of music is exceptional, to be honest, I’m only just relaxing after three years.
I hope you feel in a better place now, it’s refreshing to hear such honesty. Does producing music help you to deal with the anxiety or does it put more pressure on you?
I’m much better thank you. It can be a double-edged sword. I’ve realised it is all about the ego and acceptance. When we make music, we put our heart and soul into it? and then we either gain acceptance or rejection. This goes even beyond getting stuff signed, even now when stuff is released to the public, I can fear what people may think of it, worry that I may be judged, that people might think that its shit. However, there’s also the other side of the same coin, whereby I may get my ego stroked a little and that can be very empowering believe it or not in the way that gives you confidence. But, over the last 6 months, I’ve finally learned to let go a little and just let be. It is what it is. I’m not afraid of these feelings, or about talking about them, they are part of the human condition and I think that vulnerability within my self and the music I make is an integral part of the sound I create.
Do you have a favourite from the EP?
Yes! Monkey man. This track was made straight after a bout of sleep paralysis. During the episode I was aware of this skinny tall being with no face just staring at me around the corner of my door, I couldn’t move, and I was freaked! When I awoke, I was full of fear and went into my old studio to take my mind off the feeling and wrote the basis of this track over the next few hours. Still to this day when I hear it, I can feel that ‘being’ caught within it, I find that fascinating.
Do you often use music/art for cathartic purposes? Are they other examples like Monkey Man?
Yes, I have done. Sometimes they might not be full tracks, they can be parts within a track like say a string section, or even an aggressive bassline/ beat structure. I often use emotions that are within myself and express them through sound. I’m sure that sometimes I don’t even realise that I’ve done it and it’s a subjective experience. However, there must be a release in a healthy way for emotions that may be in me at times in my life. In days gone by, I would have used other means to exorcise my demons through bingeing on alcohol or food, or through anger or other negative means of trying to express pain, but that just creates a loop of pain that goes on to feed into the emotions that are already needing to be expressed. Nowadays, I meditate, I have done for about 10 years, but over the last few years, its become my lifeblood, that and my partner, Sarah and my close family. Through these positive things within my life and by allowing myself to express through art and music, I’ve been able to gain a deeper understanding of myself as a physical and spiritual being and I can better navigate strong emotions that may befall me.
What do you want people to feel when playing this EP?
Well, I’d like them to enjoy it! Lol. To be fair, I hope they catch a vibe and at least feel something if they feel nothing I’d be worried haha.
We’ll get into your art in a minute, but I feel your musical style is very much like visual graffiti. While the beats are bold and upfront, like graffiti, the background is equally as important with sounds morphed from their original form adding depth and colour to your tracks. How do you go about producing your music?
Yes, I can defiantly see the connection between Graff and writing music, to me, it comes from the same place. Everything starts with a feeling, a concept and a loop. I can’t create anything without a vibe as a solid foundation. From here, I usually start with the breaks and begin to layout the pace, flow and step. Then will come the bass and ill maybe chuck in a few samples or a pad and begin to create the overall vibe. From here I’ll use these building blocks to create the arrangement and it’s here that I begin to see the piece as a whole and see where it needs balance, detail, shape and space.
This is the third year in a row now you’ve released an EP on one of the Headz related labels, how did you originally hook up with them?
I originally signed a few tracks to the old Ruffige label back in 2007, 2008? I knew Goldie from years before that in the local Graff scene. He lived in Walsall, West Midlands at the time, and ran with a mutual friend ‘Dez’ (RIP). However, the Ruffige things never came out. It was three years ago about that I began to chat with Script from Scar and we became close. He passed some bits to Ant for me and Ant thought a couple of things had potential, so I then went on a mission writing a shit load of music until they found some tracks that they wanted for Methxx, they forged the basis for the first two EPs.
Did you get one of those calls from Goldie I often hear about?
Haha, yes! I still do and they are always a highlight. The only problem is they are always at God knows what time in the middle of the night. I blearily answer the phone and hear maybe Yoda or some other madness chatting at me for 20 mins, lol.
What was that like!?
Goldie is an absolute legend man. Back in the day, Id stand watching him when he painted in awe, he was just the king man, I can’t explain how we looked up to him. Now, I’m an adult, I’m still in awe of his genius, however, I also know my own self-worth now and I see him as a guiding influence. Sometimes he just calls to give you strength, to send love and show his support, other times he calls and gives you the benefit of his knowledge and musical guidance. I’m not ashamed to say that he’s part of the power that drives me to create.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Headz is the sense of community, similar to Reinforced and Moving Shadow the label had a group of artists that helped shape their sound. What does it mean to be part of the Headz family?
Its surreal, and I still can’t fully accept within that I am a part of that legacy. The label is one of the most professional labels I have worked for. You are looked after every step of the way and nothing is forgotten. Goldie, Ant and Tom and all the others behind the scenes, run a tight ship and it’s a pleasure to be on the label. I am so very proud of every artist and release on the label. I’ve made a really good friendship with Script and I thank him for being integral in my reintroduction to the label.
I think it’s probably fair to say it’s most producers dream to have a release on Headz. What is it about the label that’s kept them at the forefront of drum and bass?
In my opinion, it’s the sound and the vibe that it offers. There’s something about a Metalheadz track that hits you in all your senses. It’s the B-Boy mentality within the music, the forward-thinking experimentation. The freedom to create whatever the artist wants. There’s also a reflective aspect within the music which nods to the forefathers of this label and you can hear nods to the past within all the tracks that come out.
Their artist roster is now worldwide, demonstrating the reach of drum and bass and the allure of the label. Who are some of your favourite artists?
Man, I love all the artists on the label to be fair, it is hard to pick favourites. I’d say Dillinja, Adam F, Source direct, Goldie. And more recently Friske, Blocks and Escher, SB81, Scar, Rolodex, Fanu, too many to mention.
Do you have any stand out releases from the last few years?
The Blocks and Escher album, “Something Blue” was just wow! And The recent Friske track “Untitled killer”… what a fucking tune.
Talking of community, I mentioned your art earlier. We both share a passion for graffiti. I see you’ve recently been hitting the walls again, do you do that solo or as part of a crew?
I paint with my crew DZB (Double Zero Boys), we’ve been painting together for about 30 years and were all lifelong mates. I’m doing my adult nursing degree now and in training to be a nurse within the NHS, so we only paint at legal spots, however, it’s just great to link up again as a crew and paint wild style. Shouts to Media, Sane, Wingy and Attai.
Any stories you’d like to share from back in the day?
Ha, if you know you know. You’ll have to use your imagination.
There is a clear connection between taking a letter and transforming it and taking a break or sound and running it through effects, putting your stamp on the subject. What parallels do you see between the two artforms?
There’s no difference between them. The feeling behind twisting a letter to create funk and flow is the same as how I approach my music. It’s about putting that feeling that’s deep within me and using that to create the letterform or the breakbeat. Trying to be forward-thinking but having an eye on the past. Also, it’s that B-Boy mentality. Back in the day we didn’t have all the fancy caps and paint that we have nowadays if we wanted a skinny line we had to make adapters to put on top of the can or steal different caps off your moms household products, we had to overcome and adapt. Personally, nowadays, my music set up is proper ghetto. I have a laptop, Cubase 5, a soundcard, a Spirit folio desk and headphones, and I use what’s available to the best of my ability. For example, last week, SR and I had a studio session planned, but due to Covid 19 measures it was called off. However, we adapted and overcame, we linked up via Zoom audio and screen share and made a killer. This is definitely how we will work now in the near future.
It seems you release a batch of music at a time, do you have any other tracks in the pipeline to come out soon or do we need to wait another year?
The release schedule is huge I imagine, so there always going to be a delay from conception to release. However, there’s a couple of things that we made six months ago that Goldie and Ant were interested in, so now it’s just creating those other tracks that will fit nicely with them. SR and I have been working on a few things that we have nearly finished that we hope the label will love, so hopefully, that will wrap up another EP, but nothing is concrete yet. I will only release on Metalheadz nowadays and all my output goes to Headz first and foremost, but I have a couple of good mates with labels and if there are things that Headz don’t want I’m not against putting them out with those. SR and I also set up a personal Bandcamp to distribute more experimental sides to our music like techno, breaks and jungle, but we’ve yet to find the time to take that further.
Cheers man, been fascinating talking! Where can people find out more and connect with you?
My social media profile is pretty small; however, you can find me on Instagram under the tag @jemone_soultek.