Better known by his artist alias, Jimpster, Jamie Odell is a tastemaker, producer, and label-boss for esteemed labels Freerange and Delusions of Grandeur. Ever since hearing ‘Strings of Life’ in 1988, he has continued to push impressive acts such as Detroit Swindle, Tornado Wallace and Session Victim into the spotlight, becoming a custodian to the authentic house sound.
Acting as one of the key founders of the prolific label Freerange Records along with Tom Roberts, the label will celebrate 20 years of nuanced dance floor sensibility and genuine emotional impact. They are marking the occasion with the summer release of a carefully curated and lovingly assembled 20 track, five vinyl box set. Featured is exclusive new music from associates old and new, as well as a worldwide events series.
See also: Mix #102 By Jimpster
Detroit Swindle returns in style with a robust and acid laced banger, while Milton Jackson builds a melodic mountain of magic, leaving Pittsburgh Track Authority to layer a majestically defined, soul infused future track. Jimpster bolsters the whole package both solo and with Luv Jam as well as remixing Tim Toh, and on each occasion proves why he is one of the pivotal figures of the UK deep house scene.
In light of the 20 years compilation release, we had the chance to catch a few words from Jimpster about his own production process and life as the label boss of Freerange.
“There are plenty of people who say the only important thing is the DJ’s track selection and that format is irrelevant in a club. I don’t agree..”
Where are you and what are you doing at the moment?
Right now I’m at home in Essex on a glorious spring day answering some questions for you before heading off to Ibiza for a family holiday. It’ll be the first time spending more than just a couple of days there for a gig so I’m looking forward to exploring the island properly and discovering some nice beaches and eating my own weight in fish.
How often are you in the studio on a day to day basis? What’s a typical day like?
I’m in the studio every day during the week but it doubles as my office so I’m often juggling a few different jobs. There’s always a lot of label stuff to do so I usually start with emails about 9am after dropping the kids off at school. I try to get on top of press releases, charts, mixes and checking through my promos which normally takes me until lunchtime. That generally gives me a few hours to make some music in the afternoon. Friday’s are normally spent just getting ready for the weekend ahead, listening to my new music and picking out some older records to rip. I’m currently working on a new Jimpster LP so on certain days I like to try and turn off my emails and focus solely on music for a 5 or 6 hour session so I can get in the flow.
Talking about your labels (Delusions of Grandeur and Freerange), could you tell us about where they are headed since their long history, and what the labels are currently curating?
Tom and I feel most comfortable letting the labels naturally evolve over time without any strict policy to go in this or that direction. We certainly never feel the desire to ‘try out’ certain new genres of house that might be emerging or proving popular just for the sake of it. We prefer to put the trust in the artists to stay fresh and be able to bring new and exciting music to the label, albeit within the cosy confines our own personal taste and interpretation of what deep house is. In a nutshell my A&R policy is pretty much if it’s something I’d play out in a set then chances are it could work on either Freerange or Delusions. Delusions caters for my rougher, rawer, disco-ey, warehouse, dusty groove influenced stuff while Freerange treads a more soulful, electronic and classic deep, warm and musical house path.
What do you think is the resource behind Freerange Records that has kept its fire burning all these years?
We’re still very passionate about releasing the best possible music that we can find as well as discovering emerging talent. We have a really solid crew with specific job roles and we are all managed very well by my partner Tom who makes sure things get done properly and at the right times. This makes the day to day work of running a label more enjoyable and less stressful so we can focus on the pleasurable stuff of finding good music and artists to work with.
Since the 90s you’ve used the computer as a tool. How would you describe the difference between the techniques in software vs. hardware – and how do you think this stands out in your productions?
Yeah, my first ever release was in ’91 and I used an Akai S900 and Atari 1040ST computer running C-Lab Creator. So even my very first productions were still driven by a computer-based midi sequencer. The single biggest factor that software developments have bought over the last twenty years is power and flexibility. Unfortunately this also gives us producers too many options and therefore can have a negative impact on the music sometimes. The limitations imposed by basic hardware synths, drum machines, samplers and outboard gear can be very inspiring in a way as it can enable you to focus on key elements without getting lost in a sea of possibilities.