Hi Simon, many thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at This Is Progressive. Firstly you are from sunny Newcastle. Can you tell us a little about your time in Newcastle and how you came to get in to DJing?
Well they’re 2 different times really. My time in Newcastle was spent playing basketball and going to school! At 19 I left Newcastle to go to University in Leicester. I started DJing after university, and that became my new obsession. Producing came much later in 2008, and ever since I started I haven’t stopped, it’s like crack.
Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences and why?
I take influences from everywhere, so it’s really hard to say. I guess my biggest influences over the years have been guys like Avatism, Tale of Us, Mind Against, Maetrik, Audiofly. Usually the darker deeper sound. But I also take enormous influence from the more melodic stuff from the likes of Guy J, Hernan Cattaneo, Petar Dundov, Pachanga Boys, Dixon and Ame etc.
You moved to Leicester in order to study at University. What did you study at University and how did you find student life in Leicester?
I studied Psychology, it was alright. Total waste of money to be honest, but I picked up a lot of valuable life lessons at university, and I think the extra 3 years of education really helped me develop as a person, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste! Still paying off the student loan though. It goes without saying that I really enjoyed student life, who wouldn’t!? Partying non-stop :)
Leicester is not really renowned for it’s music scene. How did you find the scene in Leicester?
It wasn’t good to be honest. You had to dig really deep to find a night with decent music. Luckily I had mates who ran good bars and the odd decent club night, but since I’ve moved to London it made me realise just how limited Leicester is for music. I still love the place though! And try to go back whenever possible.
How would you describe your sound today to our readers?
This is an interesting question actually, particularly at the moment. Because I’m going through a bit of a transition, where my older sound was quite hard and bass oriented, and mainly sat in the ‘deep disco’ arena, whereas I’m really trying to transition into something new. What that is I haven’t decided yet, but my recent tunes are definitely more melodic. I’ve got loads of new tunes that haven’t seen the light of day yet, so I’m hoping to get them out soon. To give you an idea of where I’m trying to get to, my ideal labels at the moment are Innervisions, My Favorite Robot, Life & Death, Phantasy, Supernature, Clouded Vision & Last Night on Earth.
You spent many years of teaching yourself how to write dance music before attending an online Ableton course. Which course did you attend and is it something you would recommend to any budding producers out there?
I took the Point Blank Online course, ‘Deep House in Ableton’, it was basically aimed at Ableton beginners, but the lessons had a deep house theme. So you learnt how to construct house beats, basslines and house chords etc. It was the best thing I ever did, because I needed a gateway to proficiency in Ableton, without fumbling around for another few years and getting nowhere, so it helped me get to a level where I knew what I was doing quite quickly. I would highly recommend it to any beginners.
What made you decide that you really had to look into production as an avenue? Do you feel DJs can make it in the scene without a production background?
I was DJing in Leicester for years and getting nowhere, I had been playing for about 8 years and the biggest venue I had played was the local club in Leicester, and even that was because my mates owned the place! It was impossible to get gigs off your name alone. I realised that all of the big DJ’s were making their own tunes, and it was the only way I would get anywhere as a DJ. So my housemate at the time was a very talented producer (Alec Pritchard, I’m talking about you), and he introduced me to Reason, and after a few years I switched to Albeton and I’ve never looked back. You can still make it as a DJ alone, but it’s about as rare as winning the lottery. It just doesn’t happen any more.
You have now released tracks on labels such as Connaisseur Recordings, Underground Audio and Electronque Digital. What process do you go through when producing a track? Do you aim for a certain sound or is it a fluid proces?
I’m generally aiming for a certain sound or style. I rarely start a tune without a goal in mind. That’s half the problem in having a ‘sound’, because I’m trying something new every time! My influences are so wide spread that I have no idea where I want to sit as a producer.
Can you tell us a little about your studio and some of your favourite gadgets?
Yes I can! I say that enthusiastically because the last time I was asked that question my ‘studio’ consisted of a laptop and some headphones. I’ve been spending a lot on hardware recently, I’ve really caught the bug. So my studio now consists of the new Elektron Analog RYTM drum machine (when it finally arrives in a few days), a Korg Monotribe, a MicroKorg XL+, Ableton Push, the new Roland TR-3 and the TV-3 vocal unit. So I’m kitted out quite nicely at the moment. I’m also looking at Machine and a new keyboard synth, but I’m also struggling for space so I might have to hold off for the time being.
The edit you completed of “Hey Now” by London Grammar has received over 40,000 plays on Soundcoud. Would you like to work with artists like this from different genres to release a full remix?
Yeah I think so, the ‘Hey Now’ edit was a random one, I loved the original and wanted to make something I could play in a set, although it’s best suited to the very start or the very end of the night. I prefer making edits because I can work at my own pace, and if I don’t like it I can scrap the idea. Whereas with official remixes there’s always a deadline, which I hate, so I tend to avoid them.
How do you approach a remix, as apposed to one of your own productions?
I approach them both the same way, with a goal in mind or a sound I’m trying to achieve.
Do you have any advice for any young producers looking to break into the industry?
Don’t jump on the bandwagon, try and go your own route. Listen to the tracks you love and figure out what makes them great. Produce every single day. And network! I’ve heard some pretty terrible tunes on some pretty big labels, so these guys must have friends in high places! ;-)
You have recently been asked to play a secret warehouse party alongside the likes of Martin Roth and James Silk. Can you tell us a little about the gig and how it came about?
Kal (my boss) called me and told me about it, that’s the first I heard! Sounds amazing though, apparently the last one absolutely went off, and I’ve heard there’s often a pretty big crowd, so it should be great fun, I can’t wait.
Lastly, is there anything you can tell us about what you have planned for 2014?
I’m going to spend this year in the studio and try and come back strong in 2015. I want to really refine a sound and make sure my next releases are worthy of all this effort. I’ve been spending every spare minute making music, and I’ll continue that until I start hitting the right labels. All I can say is watch this space, and look out for some new music.
You can catch Jobe at Undisclosed:
Go to the Facebook event for all the information: https://www.