Jackmaster: The Mixed Fabric of Life
The fact that London superclub Fabric still releases physical mix CDs with metronomic regularity is both commendable and a little bit archaic. Fabric's two mix series, Fabric and Fabriclive, traditionally faced competition from other publishers, ranging from the DJ Kicks series by K7! to the Berghain-backed Ostgut Ton. But with an array of free-to-download podcasts and data streams readily available – and through entirely legal means – are Fabric mixes still relevant?
Jack 'Jackmaster' Revill is in a better position than most to offer an answer. Revill enjoys a cosy relationship with Fabric: from playing Room 3 with fellow Scottish label LuckyMe to being given slots in the larger Room 1 alongside big dubstep names like Skream and Rusko, and then putting on his own Numbers parties quarterly on Friday nights in the Sub Club. That said, Revill has also released a prodigious amount of free podcast material of remarkable quality. Though Jackmaster tries to play it down, the secret to Fabric's continued success seems to lie in its status.
Revill's own Fabriclive mix squeezes in 29 tracks in total ranging through everything from R&B influences of The Fantastic Aleems and Inner City to contemporary bass music tastemakers like Martyn, Machinedrum and Addison Groove, with room for more unlikely additions from Radiohead and Splack Pack. For all that these tracks might not look comfortable sitting next to each other, the wonderful thing about Fabriclive.57 is that it works just fine, and listening to the mix you begin to wonder why you didn‘t see it all along. Revill says that his eclectic entry to the Fabriclive canon is more about reflecting his personal tastes, past and present, rather than an attempt to look to the future.
“First thing I did was I asked all my favourite producers for upfront stuff to put on it, like exclusive stuff. Most of them sent me stuff but in the end I decided not to try and put too much exclusive stuff [on the CD], and to just go with tracks that were classic to me like old Detroit techno, old Miami bass... there’s Radiohead on there, just tracks that are from all different genres that I really like, my favourite tracks. I just tried to do something that was honest and something that girls would go back to an afterparty and listen to instead of like boys sitting in the house smoking weed, 'cos that’s not what I want!”
The mix reflects the Numbers club ethic, with the emphasis placed firmly on the party vibe rather than being overly concerned with genre specific orientation; in recent months Shed, Levon Vincent, Modeselektor and DJ Slimzee have all played under the Numbers umbrella.
“I kind of get lumbered in with this UK bass thing, but my real love is stuff like Detroit techno so I kind of wanted to set the record straight with the mix. A lot of fans of the Fabric mix series wouldn’t have heard of me, so with the people that already knew me it was a way to set the record straight and with the people who had never heard of me it was like I had a clean slate so I could shape what I wanted them to think of me as a DJ.”
If this was the mission statement, it could be counted as a victory, as the mix has received a positive reception across the board, leaving reviewers grasping for all the genres they could list. With a recently completed US tour, a regular show on Rinse FM and a number of high-profile 12" slabs on Numbers that continue to attract praise, it would be easy to think that Numbers is fast outgrowing its Glasgow beginnings, but Jackmaster is quick to counter this:
“The day we stop doing parties in Glasgow is the day we lose a very fundamental part of what we’re about. And just the way that people party here, that’s what’s formed our club and our label, the way people party here and the after party scene, going up to people’s houses, getting wasted and just chatting nonsense.”
This will be a relief to the enthusiastic Numbers crowd who showed up en masse for the Sub Club edition of the CD launch party, and if the old maxim of life reflecting art is true, then the crowd are the example of the Numbers party music personified. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.