Just recently we caught up with one of our former students Brett Jacobs. Brett took an eight-week online Logic course, which set him on his current path as a burgeoning producer with releases via Luna Records, Karton and Fuse London. As a DJ he has toured the globe, visiting Australia, Latvia, Switzerland, Germany and, of course, plenty right here in London. We’re big fans of Brett’s sound here at Point Blank, in fact his brilliant track Bajar was one of our favourite tracks from the past year.
PB+’s Marcus Barnes and Jonathan Cornacchia recently spoke to Brett…
So Brett, what’s your earliest memory of music?
I have always listened to music from a very young age whether it be TV, radio, or elsewhere. It was when I was around 11 or 12 that I knew music was what I wanted to do.
And when did you start to get into house/techno/electronic music?
I think it was around 2002, when I started moving away from my UK garage roots and over to house. I found around this time, the amount of promoters putting on UK garage nights dropped dramatically and the house promoters took over.
How did you start playing and making music yourself?
I got my first pair of turntables at the age of 12 and went from there, started buying UK garage and grime on vinyl each week from my local record shop and spent hours teaching myself how to beat match. Then, at 18 years of age, after having built up a few years experience playing in various bars and clubs (and running my own parties), I decided it was time to start producing my own tracks and developing my own unique sound which I felt was missing from my sets.
Cool! Which UK garage and grime producers you were really into?
I was always inspired by producers such as MJ cole, Todd Edwards, Scott Garcia, Grant Nelson and even Wiley and Dizzee Rascal back then [early 2000s] were doing some great stuff.
And which did you start with first, DJing or production?
I was first a DJ for around five years, then I began producing music. I actually did an 8-week online course for beginners in Logic with Point Blank London which gave me the foundations to go on and learn all I needed. Since then I have done further studies in audio technology and sound production.
Oh really, we didn’t realise you’d studied with us.. Have you ever learned to play any instruments?
I messed around with drums and a keyboard when I was younger but never learned to play an instrument proficiently or learned to read music. It is one of my biggest regrets because being musically-atoned and knowing keys and chords can be a big advantage in your production and creativity levels.
You must get this a lot, but how would you describe the music you make?
I would say my sound is very stripped back, deep and dubby tech house.
I say this a lot, but I really do not like putting my music, or in fact anyone’s music harshly into categories or genres… to me it’s house music and if I really liked a track and it suited my sound I would play it even if someone had placed it into a category such as ‘progressive house’ or ‘breaks’ etc…
Agreed! So, what’s your biggest source of inspiration when you compose music?
90% of the time before I even begin starting a track, I try to listen to music that I have recently heard that has inspired me or given me an idea or some sort. It may not always be house music. A lot of ideas for my productions will come from old soulful tracks or even hip hop.
Which producers do you really admire at the moment, old or new – and can you recommend some artists who we should check out?
Most of my favourite producers right now are friends that I work with. We all have the passion for the same sound that we both produce and play religiously. These are people such as Samu.l, Randall M, Chad Andrew, Stuart Hawkins, Seb Zito, Enzo Siragusa, Jun Akimoto, Rhadow… the list could go on. In terms of already well-established DJs/prodcuers, I would have to say the Desolat gang. Artists like Martin Buttrich whose mixdowns are amongst the best out there and then Guti whose tracks are so musical and well-balanced.
How strong is the relationship between the music you play and the music you make?
Very strong… I only ever aim to make music that I would play out myself. The sounds you play to people should always be what you firmly enjoy and believe in, you should never make music that someone might like, be true to yourself.
Bajar is a really great tune, one of our favourites of last year actually – can you tell us a bit about how you made it and maybe some of the production techniques you used?
I actually made this track with a friend of mine called Mark Sullivan (Sullie). The general idea came together really quickly, maybe an hour or two. The drums are pretty stripped back and basic, for the bassline we used Rob Papen’s amazing sub boom bass VST. The vocals we sampled and chopped up from an old Motown classic, then recored in through Logic’s ESX24….add some shakers and ride and DONE!
What’s your favourite music production tool?
Over the years I have built up an extensive range of plug-ins, VST’s etc… but I would have to say some of my most used production tools are Logic’s own such as the ESX24 which I use for sample playback and recording and also the space designer reverb which is amazing.
And your preferred set up when you get to DJ?
My DJ Set up is pretty basic at the minute. I play using Traktor Vinyl so use Technic 1210′s and then either an Xone 92 or Pioneer DJM mixer. Hopefully in the future I will begin working on playing LIVE!
Is music your main source of income or do you have a full-time job as well? (If so, what do you for a living?)
Being a DJ and producer is my full-time job but trust me, it’s not as easy as it appears to be.
Any predictions for the forthcoming year? And do you have any firm plans for the year yourself?
I have a number of releases coming out over the next year…the next one being on Luna Records, which drops on vinyl in March followed by a digital release. We have been lucky enough to get Berlin-based producer Rozzo on the remix which sounds amazing. Gig-wise, I have various things planned for Switzerland, Germany, Italy, as well as the UK. I will also be spending a lot of time in Ibiza this summer.
What’s your best piece of advice for our production students at Point Blank?
The two pieces of advice that I was given years ago and I still believe in to this day are, firstly: make music that you like and believe in, don’t try and make tracks that you feel someone may like, it won’t work. Secondly, DO NOT give up. Building up your exposure and relationships with various labels, artists etc.. takes time, it will not happen overnight, if your music is good enough, it will get found… and be consistent with it.
Do you have an ultimate plan/ambition about where you want to go with your music?
I try not to plan too far ahead with anything but in the near future i would like to work alongside labels and producers who have inspired me in the past. If i can make a good living from doing what i love then I’m happy.
Finally, can you name your top 5 UK garage tunes??
Roy Davies Jnr – Gabriel
24 Hour Experience – All Nighter
MJ Cole – Be Sincere
Sound of One – As I Am (Todd Edwards Remix)
Antonio – Hyperfunk
Here’s a recent mix by Brett below, enjoy!