UK house producer, DJ, and all round freestyle jazz player comes to 360°. But what does he have in store? We demand that he tells us immediately.
If anyone was born to be a dance producer, it was Jamie Odell, aka housemaster Jimpster. Raised in a musical household (his father was the drummer in ’80s funk group Shakatak), the young Jamie soon found himself playing with his dad’s drum machines and samplers. By seven he was playing the piano, by 11 he was producing his first tracks, and by the time he was studying jazz at university he was also running the fledgling record label Freerange as a way to publish his own work.
Since then, Freerange’s catalogue has grown to encompass 100 different releases and Jimpster has become a very highly sought-after producer and DJ. Perhaps too sought after? ‘In the last two years it’s been getting really busy,’ he reveals from his home in Essex, England. ‘I’m not one to just turn up to the gig and then go home straight after, so it does take it out of me a bit. And I’ve got a family – a little boy – and during the week I’ve got to spend time with him. It’s a case of not enough sleep and too many hangovers.’
Still, he’s not complaining too hard. The success of his dance tracks has given him the opportunity to play the music that he loves all over the world. And it’s a good job that he enjoys both DJing and production, because, as he observes, the two are inextricably linked. ‘Sometimes people ask me what to do to become a DJ and I always say the first thing to do is to get into production. It doesn’t cost a lot of money now and it’s the quickest way to get ahead. You can even use [dance music distribution site] Beatport so you don’t have to press records. If you’ve got the talent you can become big very quickly, which is what’s happening with the German new wave of minimal house guys like Johnny D. They’ve only had one or two tracks and they’re instantly thrown into the big time.’
Unfortunately, the same is true of the producers without talent. Cheap production software and equipment mean the market is being flooded with a veritable ocean of sub par material. Surely that must rankle for Jimpster, a guy who’s been honing his musical skills since he was old enough to pick up a drumstick?
‘Yeah, it’s taken the magic out of it a bit – the club music especially, since all that matters there is what’s coming out of the speakers when you’re on the dancefloor. There are almost two scenes: the one that the media talks about – the hyped bands and experimental stuff with production skills – and the stuff that works in the club that can be made by anybody.’
Just in case you’re raising your eyebrows at this, it’s worth remembering that Jimpster knows what he’s talking about – not least because he’s a member of improvised jazz band The Bays, who’ve played alongside the likes of fusion jazzster Herbie Hancock. The guy knows his stuff. And just as he picked up music skills from his father, so he’s passing them on to his son. ‘He’s two-and-a-half, actually, and he’s already more musically minded than a lot of kids his age. He’s starting to understand what I do, and he’s asking if he can mess around on the decks. What my dad gave to me, I’m trying to give to him – letting him experiment with music and understand it as much as is possible.’
So, can we expect Jimpster Junior to play Dubai in a few years’ time? ‘I’d certainly encourage him, because I’ve seen a lot of my friends earning a living from music thanks to the digital revolution. My mum and dad only knew the pop world when I started and the chances of being successful there are pretty slim, so they were panicky. But the production industry offers a lot more opportunities.’
And what if he decided to become an accountant or something? Would he be a disgrace to the family name? ‘Ha! No, I’d be really proud of him if he became a plumber because then he’d be a millionaire. (Good plumbers are notoriously hard to come by – and expensive – in the UK) ‘Plumber or builder,’ he laughs again. ‘I’d encourage that for sure.’
Jimpster plays Audio Tonic Live at 360° on October 10.