Idle Hands _ Interview With Jake Conlon
An odds-on favourite for interesting things to come.. Jake Conlon has worked with the likes Pareto Park, TrusT, Cicuta, InputOutputSystems and Decoy to name but a few. He regularly has his tracks played on the CLR podcast and recently won the subsekt / Mattias Fridell remix competition.
The Birmingham Upsetter & Resonance DJ provides the music and words for subsekt 030. Look forward.
We began the interview by quizzing Jake on his lack of a bio.. finding the missing pieces and discovering how he developed his early musical education. Jake shared some favourite tunes, spoke about his involvement with Resonance; the Birmingham Techno night. Later, we discussed his productions, impending releases and what to keep an eye on from New Birmingham.
It’s always a pleasure when there is some words to go with the music.. and this one is a nice read.
Hi Jake, you don’t have a bio on Soundcloud or Facebook, but I know you ain’t mysterious haha.. but would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself? Anything particularly interesting or attention grabbing that you’d like to share..
Hi John, yeah, not really mysterious, I do have odd behavioural patterns though so maybe weird is a better word. I wasn’t intending to have a serious bio until I’d actually achieved something. Anyways, yeah, I’m Jake of The Black Country. I live in the Borough of Sandwell, just outside of Birmingham. Sandwell is a never ending expanse that consists of a mix of housing estates and factories. It has its charms, but it’s actually a dull place to be.
If you want attention grabbing.. I’ve made music in three decades without the use of time travel.
Well, obviously a lot of people will now recognise Sandwell as being an area of Birmingham these days, but how did you become aware of the role that your city has played in Techno? Was it something that always surrounded you, or did you have to locate it?
I literally stumbled across it, when skipping school. I have always read everything there is on a record and would take time off school to go to the record shops. Eventually, when listening to random records , I started stumbling across telephone numbers, addresses and track titles which were related to my locality. I still wasn’t aware of its role, just thought it was nice to know that somewhere a couple of roads across there were people making and distributing this quality music.
It’s kind of mad not feeling that you are alone whilst wagging school, because somewhere out there someone is making tunes on their own. It took me until I was a bit older to find it properly and I started going out to see it in action for myself, to fully realise it. Now people compare me to the people who came before and it makes me blush and wonder what I have done.
So what sort of records were you listening to back then? Was it always Techno?
Not at all, it definitely wasn’t techno and anybody who glosses over where they came from and says they got into “TECHNO” straight away is a liar. I came from a musical mish-mash, a solo journey through anything my ears warmed too.
It started with “Dance Music” being taped off the radio. I enjoyed hearing music by the Prodigy, Underworld, Orbital and The Chemical Brothers. One of the first Albums I had was ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ by the Prodigy. I then moved onto Trance around 1997/8, I loved the way harmony and melody made me feel and I can still listen to a select few tracks and get exactly the same feeling. But, because of my age, having no money and a birthday next to Christmas meant It was kind of slow progress for a few years, as I just couldn’t get the music fast enough.
Then I got a paper round and that enabled me to buy music. I started collecting all the Trance I didn’t have, bagfuls of Classical from charity shops. Stumbled across Brian Eno and Aphex Twin’s Ambient, which naturally led to me into IDM and then when I started seeing the word Techno in the Record shops I was going to, that’s when I got onto Techno. It all stems from relentless searching on my own, wondering if I’d ever come across someone else who listened to what I enjoyed.
I don’t really want to grill you for ‘influences’.. but would it be better to ask about what music has shaped your outlook?
With regards to what makes me tick and gather ideas for my creativity… I just like sound in general. I could happily sit on the back of the bus and listen to the engine or the rhythm created by a dishwasher. I can also be found walking past something over and over again, trying to re-create or hear the sound I have already heard.
Musically, The sounds that I could say have shaped me have come from Inigo Kennedy, Jeff Mills, Oliver Lieb, Surgeon, Regis, Aphex Twin, Makaton, Boards Of Canada, Autechre and The Smiths.
I’d be hardpressed to put it down to 5. Honourable mention to ‘The Sky Was Pink’ and ‘Universal Nation’
Really short list of favourite tracks;
Boards Of Canada – Chinook
Autechre – Laughing Quarter
Clark – The Autumnal Crush
Regis – Cold Water
Surgeon – FIVO
Deadly! So is Techno something that the average man on the street knows about then, or is it still an underground thing in Birmingham? Are most people aware of the musical influence their city has had internationally?
It’s probably not the average mans stuff and most people are definitely not aware of Birmingham’s wider influence. Very few people even know what Techno actually is, nevermind being able to even comprehend the greater influence. From the conversations I have with people whilst I’m out flyering at Techno nights, I feel that many people see it as party music, something to get off their faces to. They have no idea, who is playing or what they are actually dancing to. I’ve turned up to at Brum Techno nights where the DJ is playing Psy-Trance or Euro-Pop Remixes..
Well, that’s cleared that right up then haha..