Skinned #7: Jerome Hill [Don't]

Ahead of his appearance at the Bloc Weekend next month, the ever-industrious Londoner delivers a typically turbo-charged foray through his heaving techno and acid crates

Feature by Ronan Martin | 27 Feb 2015

With the inexorable rise of DJing as the number one cool guy career move, and with the clubbing scene all too often characterised by PR-fuelled hype and stale music, it’s comforting to know there are still people like Jerome Hill out there.

Emerging from the London pirate radio scene in the early 90s, Hill embodies everything that is vital about underground electronic music, tirelessly devoting himself to releasing records and throwing parties in London and beyond. A vinyl connoisseur of the highest order, his time spent working in record shops gifted him invaluable access to a world of music, and his interests are unsurprisingly wide and varied. His labels – Don’t, Fat Hop and Super Rhythm Trax – deliver raw techno of all hues, old school hip hop and pulsing acid respectively and, when he can’t quite put to a name to a genre, he invents his own (see "wonky techno"). Also making time to produce his own music and host Kool FM’s “Roots of Rave” show, Hill is a welcome presence in an age when many so-called artists have more press photos than they have records worth buying.

This month sees Jerome return to the Bloc Weekend, where he lifted the roof at the event’s opening night in 2011. Serving up everything from techno, acid and rave to b-boy breaks and garage, his scratch-infused style of mixing is a joy to behold. We suspect his outing at this year’s event will be one of our highlights. Luckily, for those not attending the festival, you can also catch him in action at Edinburgh’s Mash House for ETC in April.  

Appearing as part of Bloc's I Love Acid showcase, Jerome's mix for us serves as a perfect sneak preview of the kind of frenetically intense sets he delivers live - full of rugged techno and glimpses of the twisted 303 weaponry he has at his disposal.   

Can you tell us how your involvement in music began?

I was a big 50s & 60s rock n roll fan. I used to go to watch Chuck Berry & Jerry Lee Lewis in the late 80s and was massively into it all - a borderline obsessive, reading books and copying tapes from the library. Then in 1990 I heard Fantasy FM in London mixing up northern bleep with acid house, Belgian and Detroit techno, uptempo hip hop like Big Daddy Kane with what was soon to evolve into hardcore – all crowned with the magic pirate radio static. I was hooked.

You seem to be refreshingly immune from bandwagon-jumping and have always ploughed your own furrow. What are your thoughts on the electronic music scene in the UK generally and what’s caught your interest at the moment?

The music scene here in the UK is something we should all be thankful for and very proud of. It's always been amazing and is as diverse as it gets. With the internet age, it's easy to be fooled into thinking that just because something isn't being 'covered' in an online publication, it doesn't exist or can't be up to much. Like, if you post a statement on Facebook saying 'Technics deck found in good condition at club', it means nothing. But if you post a link to a website that says exactly the same thing, then it gives more weight to that statement. That just simply didn't happen before because everyone was actually doing stuff, instead of scrolling down a screen reading about everyone doing stuff. Am I making sense? I don't know. It's late. 

Right now, techno is exciting me again. It's again deemed ok to veer towards the harder end and bang stuff out, or to nurture individual and sometimes brilliantly weird styles, which I guess is a direct reaction to everyone getting fed up of 'the emperor's new minimal' and releasing years of pent-up creativity. It's great. People seem to just be making what they really want to hear, which is a good thing for the dancefloors. There's also a big old skool thing that’s been bubbling for years and years and it seems to be reaching fever pitch. Early 90s hardcore, acid house and new beat are all getting lots of love and you can even hear it creeping back into people’s productions. Plus, I must mention the hip hop scene. Crews like Dookie Squad, Chrome & Illinspired (listen to their new album on B-Line Recordings) and, up in Scotland, Mistah Bohze and the Southside Deluxe crew are all on fire at the moment. You don't read about this stuff in the music press, but it’s out there happening. Now!

What’s been happening with Don’t and your other projects of late?

Don't is in good health, There was recently a various artists EP, Square Meal, with some absolute crazies on there, followed by a beastly acid record by Chris Moss Acid which I believe is sold out at the distributors now. I'm also about to release a record that perfectly captures the label by Tobias Schmidt.

The new label, Super Rhythm Trax, has started really strong and 003 is out next month, featuring a remix I've done of Marshall Jefferson and an edit of a wicked old Trax b-side by Dancer. Then 004 will be cut and should be along around April. But that's a surprise! I’ve got an EP on I Love Acid coming out this month too.

The Don't club night in London has been amazing and celebrates its third year on April 18th in London. Fat Hop also had a strong year, releasing lots of good records in 2014.

You’re returning to the Bloc Weekend this year after a particularly impressive performance in 2011. How do you find playing the festival circuit, as opposed to smaller clubs and what can we expect at Bloc this year?

Thank you. Always massively look forward to playing Bloc. It's such good fun and a chance to catch up with crews from all over! I love playing small venues. Love it! I also love a festival, and I’m doing a few this year, but Bloc nicely straddles the two. This year I'm playing with the I Love Acid crew, so there'll be some acid in there somewhere I should think! I must not miss Egyptian Lover either, as he puts on such a good show.

Finally, tell us a bit about the mix and what you were going for with it?

I wish I could say there was a 'concept' or something behind it. I started out thinking I'd do an acid mix to tie in with I Love Acid at Bloc, but then wanted to start with some different stuff. Then I sort of lost control of it all! Basically I just picked out lots of old records and some new ones. It starts off quite well behaved, then proceeds to lose all sense of decorum and ends up thrashing around on its back on a beer soaked carpet – so in that sense it's maybe quite fitting for a Bloc mix! Bugger, I just realised I didn't even put the new I Love Acid record on it. Tsssk.


UR – Twista
Dave Tarrida – This is War
Neil Landstrumm – The Rise of Slime
The Exaltics – Escape 2
Suburban Knight – Infra Red Spectrum
Green Velvet – Fake & Phoney
DJ ESP – Slo-Mo
Jerome Hill – Bully Beef
Chris Moss Acid – Acid 209
Richie Hawtin – 005
Mike Ink – Move Your Body
Public Energy – Three 'o Three
Essit Musique – Essit Musique
Mescalinum United – We Have Arrived

Jerome Hill plays Bloc Weekend, Minehead 13-15 March and Edinburgh’s Mash House on Friday 3 April. You can check out Fat Hop's releases here.