Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Interview with Jalapeno Boss Trevor Mac & Exclusive Track for Members ONLY!

As head honcho of arguably the longest-running NuFunk label, Trevor Mac has watched the scene grow and flourish whilst working with some of the most talented producers and DJs from the UK and overseas.

He took time out of his hectic schedule to talk to and share an exclusive free track with our members.

So, how did Jalapeno Records come about?

Jalapeno more or less grew out of the dying embers of Big Beat.

Skeewiff were signed to FSUK, which was part of Ministry, but they got dropped because they were touring a lot and running up a pretty big touring bill, which Ministry was picking up.

Thankfully Ministry said they could keep the rights to all their unreleased records – one of those was ‘Mucho Mambo’, which went on to sell around 3 million copies. They realise they could do this on their own.

So they set up Jalapeno, so they could release their music without some of those pressures that come from being on a label.

Before all this, I was at college with Elliot and Alex in Brighton. At that time I was working my way up in the music industry and was a marketing manager for a major label. We had always kept in touch, so they called me and asked if I could run the label for them, so they could get back to making music.

Is there a particular ethos to the label?

At Jalapeno we want our music to be successful, but there is no pressure to follow the latest sounds or fashions – this meant that Skeewiff could explore their loungey, funky breaks thing.

That whole Nu Skool Breaks sound was becoming quite hard. I know it was sometimes billed as funky breaks, and some of it – the kind of Finger Lickin’ style of breaks – does have funky elements to it, but it’s quite tough music.

So we’ve suffered a bit from not knowing what to call it. In the last year people have started to call it NuFunk. If everyone had left funky breaks as funky breaks, then we could have just called it that, but really that sound became something else.

Whilst a lot of newer labels in the scene are releasing big sample records, mash-ups and bootlegs, Jalapeno seems to be moving away from that sound. Was that a conscious decision?

 Ultimately I’m looking at building artists. I love big cut-up sampled records, they’re great to play out and DJ with, but I like to see artists writing their own music – that gives us something to build on.

Sample records are great fun and they can really rock a party but we don’t want to invest a lot of money in a band only to have EMI or one of the other majors come along and say: ‘That’s our music, we own that’.

Kraak & Smaak had a lot of samples on their first record. In fact ‘Squeeze Me’, which has been one of their biggest sellers, had a sample in it. Even though Ben Westbeech sang an entirely original song over it, EMI took 75% because of the sample. And that was a result, you’re lucky if you can talk them down to 75%, you’re lucky if they don’t just say ‘that’s our music’ because of a sample.

We want to see originality because the technology is getting simpler and for a laptop DJ it isn’t a big step between playing out beats in Ableton and creating a cut-up sample record. I mean, that’s great, but it’s not something we’d want to invest in.

What recent releases on the label are you excited about?

We’ve got Dr Rubberfunk’s 3rd album. His first two were released on his own label GPS. I pitched him for his second album actually but he wanted to keep it on his own label. By the time it came to his third though, we’d kept in communication and he said: ‘You know what, I don’t really want to do the label bit this time’.

So we signed him a couple of years ago and now the album is out. He’s a very musical guy. His first album had a lot of samples and cut-ups, the second album was a mix between that and more original stuff and this third album is all original.

Obviously it’s great to have successful releases, but for us we don’t see it as a disaster if we put out a record and it only sells 500 copies. As long we the artist thought it was a great record, we thought it was a great record and the people who bought it thought it was great we’re happy with that.

The tracks that come out on the label are pretty diverse, but would you say there's a particular Jalapeno sound?

They all loosely fit together. If you see Jalapeno you know roughly what you’re going to get. It goes from proper funk records like Dr Rubberfunk through to people like Kraak & Smaak who are making quite big electronic records but they all loosely have that Jalapeno sound.

Beyond that, it’s just stuff we like, what we hear in the office and suddenly think ‘we need that’. Soopasoul was like that. Danny had his own label and I picked up one of his tunes in a record shop. I thought it was amazing so we called him and talked and got him on the label.

Nowadays Jalapeno is quite well known so a lot of people send us stuff. That takes a bit if the work out of the A+R aspect, going to live gigs and trawling through Myspace. We get to hear stuff from agents or managers who will play us something they think we might like.

That’s how Smoove & Turrell came to be on the label – through their agent.

One recent release that caught our ear here at was Tape Loops Vol. 1 & 2, how did that come about?

That’s actually an alias of Skeewiff. They are very prolific and it’s hard to keep on top of everything they’re writing. They’ve set up their own library music company and they’re writing stuff for that all the time – the film and TV music licensing people in the UK and US really love their sound so it makes sense.

They had this album of reggae stuff, working with Finley Quaye on some tracks, which I heard and thought it was really good. I told them that I had to sign some for commercial release.

They got to know Finley through someone they work with who was a part of Finley’s live band and it just went from there.

What have you got forthcoming on Jalapeno that we should keep an eye out for?

Basement Freaks has already got one release on the label and we’re planning on doing an album with him this summer. Also Max Sedgley’s album is dropping in summer too. Kraak & Smaak’s next album is nearly done.

We’ve got a Beekeepers album – which is Parker & Boca 45. It’s a side project for both of them, Parker’s got loads going on at the moment and Boca is doing very well in the States, but they’re moving towards it becoming more of a live band. They work well together and they’re going to be playing Glastonbury this summer – dressed in full bee-keeper costumes, like the West Country Daft Punk.

We’ve also got a good turnout at Glastonbury this year: Smoove & Turrell, Dr Rubberfunk, Beekeepers and Jalapeno Soundsystem are all playing.

The NuFunk scene really seems to be taking off at the moment, are you excited about that?

I don’t know whether we strictly fit under the NuFunk banner, because a lot of the scene is based on cut-up and samples, but I’m glad there’s a name for what’s going on and with providing a focus for it, it’s a good time, an exciting time.

There’s a lot of cool people around the world supporting and playing this type of music, some great labels doing their own thing, making everything from real funk to club records that people really want to play. There’s some great DJs, from selectors like myself to really great technical DJs who can really wow the crowd with their skills.

It’s a big eclectic sound, people can experiment a bit, play what they want. It’s a good time for the scene.

Tell us about the exclusive track you're sharing with our members.

It's a track by Radio Trip. When we heard their album 'Music Heads' we signed it straight away. It's full of samples, but it was so inventive and had such a strong sound that we knew it would be great on Jalapeno.

This track is a remix of their tune 'Lonely'.

Radio Trip - Lonely (RT Remix) by

We reckon it's a banger: tweaky acid and glitched-out vocal samples over relentless beats.

To get your mitts on this exclusive free download, head over to our brand new Member's Vault at the forum. You can't get in if you're not a member of, in fact the forum is invisible until you sign in.

Once you sign in, the password for the Vault is in the forum description. We've spray-painted it out in the picture below, but you get the idea:

Get the latest Jalapeno releases on Junodownload, and don't forget to check out their mighty compilation 'Jalapeno Funk Vol 2' - a rollercoaster ride through the freaky funky world of Jalapeno.

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