The Glasgow DJ and Numbers man on his spanking new mix for Fabric
Words Jim Ottewill
Up until now, IDM and the like has stereotypically been the refuge of the bald of pate and North Face of jacket. But Brylcreemed smoothie Jack Revill — daytime alias of Jackmaster — is doing his level best to inject a bit of body and texture into dance music, via his quiff and choice of product, but perhaps more obviously through his genre-busting DJ sets. Revill is a poster boy for a new generation of ravers in love with the bleeps and beats of classic electronic Warp and Underground Resistance slabs, and he’s turning a whole new generation of electronic music aficionados onto classic house and techno, while ensuring that the more contemporary strains of grime and UK funky get a look-in, too.
Revill’s inherent know-how of what makes a dancefloor shake has seen his stock — and that of the label, Numbers, he runs with his Glaswegian cohorts — rocket during the past 12 months. The imprint’s prominence as one of the integral heartbeats at the centre of UK club culture in 2011 has seen it land a prime slot at Fabric, and subsequently led to Jackmaster putting together the latest mix in the Fabriclive series, Fabriclive 57. His set goes far beyond the sometimes one-dimensional offerings from the club, incorporating booty bass, ghetto juke, house, techno, 2-step and Radiohead among others, all whipped together at lightning pace. But perhaps none of this should be so surprising. After all, it’s difficult to imagine many other DJs who’d have the brass balls to drop the Isley Brothers’ ‘Between The Sheets’ in the middle of a set comprised of obscure techno and electro.
With his star (and hair) still very much in ascendancy, we caught up with Revill on the eve of the Fabric release to see what’s doing.
When you did you first start DJing?
I started when I was 14 — so that’s over 10 years ago. Shit. That’s scary, isn’t it? I should be like Larry Levan by now. I started out on some old battered belt drive Gemini’s and a Numark mixer that were both made of plastic. I was on some trance and cheesy house tip back then. Those were amazing times…
Who got you into playing records in the first place?
It was Calum (aka Numbers DJ Spencer) who got me started. He is one of the other guys in Numbers and the other DJ I do the Rinse FM shows with. We went to school together in Glasgow and there was this whole summer where we hung out together smoking weed, chasing girls, buying shit records and attempting to beat match. That was probably the best summer of my life, actually. It must have been the summer of 1999. Back then Daft Punk was my main obsession, and guys like Armand Van Helden. I was bang into Fatboy Slim for a bit as well. Oh my god.
Numbers emerged from Dressed 2 Sweat, Wireblock and Stuff Records. How does the label work at the moment? Is your role as an A&R type figure?
Yeah, I do a lot of A&R. But we all muck in with everything. Different guys manage different releases. Some are better with legal stuff and accounting than others, while some are better at writing sales notes, or designing websites. Any music we release is a joint decision between the six of us. I can’t take sole credit for anything at all at the label. In fact, I probably do the least. Although without any of the vital cogs, the whole machine would fall apart.
With Numbers, LuckyMe and the like, Glasgow is obviously being name-dropped as the place to be. Do you think the city’s scene is still vibrant?
It’s probably not as vibrant as you’d like to think. Most of LuckyMe live outside of Glasgow. Half of Numbers live in London, as do Ross (Hudson Mohawke) and Rustie. Even guys like Taz don’t stay here anymore. The new breed needs to stand up because everyone has left me here, ha ha.
How did you whittle your Fabric mix down to only 30 tunes? Did you have alternative tracklists? And where did you record it?
I recorded it in my spare room. I spent about a month working on it and it was in my mind constantly the whole time. I’d honestly be mixing records in my head as I lay in bed at night, or writing down lists of tunes in the notes app on my iPhone when I was out at clubs. Since I don’t make music myself, I felt I had to look at this as my only chance to have my own product on the shelves of my favourite record stores, so I really wanted to give it everything. Basically, I chose about 100 tracks I wanted to use and just worked through them to see what hung together, what tracks sat in key, what blends worked best. And to some extent you’re at the mercy of the licensor with these things. It’s not like a podcast where you can play any track you want. If producers don’t want to let you use their property then you can’t. That happened a few times and there were a few hairy moments but we got there in the end.
What tunes never leave your box?
Strange question these days because of Serato and the likes, eh? The one track that I’ve probably played more than anything is Lil Silva, ‘Seasons’. Oh yeah, and Scottie B’s remix of ‘A Milli’ by Lil Wayne. That’s like a secret weapon of mine. Which isn’t so secret anymore, I guess!
I know you’re in the minority of DJs who doesn’t also produce his own tackle, but do you think you might do so in the future? Did you have much of a hand in the RBMA UK Hunky tune?
I’d love to do so in the future, yeah. It’s just a time thing at the moment. Working full time in Rubadub Monday-Friday, then gigs all weekend. I just don’t have the time or brain space to make music just now. That UK Hunky thing was started as a big joke. It was all done in one four-hour studio session with loads of beer. It’s hilarious to listen back to it.
Are there any new artists you’re particularly excited about?
I’m really feeling Blawan’s direction at the moment, although he’s been about for a while. And Ramadanman of course. Hessle Audio!
What else is on the cards for the immediate future?
More Fabric sessions for sure. Glasto is pencilled in at the moment, Bestival, Sonar, Space in Ibiza and a few other festivals that I’m sworn to secrecy on. We’re starting to plan another US tour at the end of summer.