Jay Clarke, Klockworks artist and fabric resident is a rising star in the techno scene. He is the label owner and curator at BLACKAXON which launched in 2014, a vehicle to showcase his forward-thinking ideas and sounds.
2018 will see a further release on Klockworks, a debut release on Joseph Capriati’s Redimension label plus further release son own label BLACKAXON. Ahead of his performance at Scotland’s Terminal V Festival alongside titans such as Artwork, Amelie Lens, Derrick Carter, Rødhåd and more, we catch up with Jay to hear more about his story.
“I’ve met most of my friends and my fiancé though Techno”
How are you, what good and bad right now?
I’m doing very good thank you. I’m actually on holiday in Mexico at the moment. It’s well needed. As soon as I land back in the UK I fly straight up to Scotland for Terminal V Festival (without leaving the airport)!
What has been your journey to now – how did you get into techno, how long till you started making it and playing out? What have been some key milestones?
I’ve been listening to Electronic music since I was 10/11 years old; House, Trance, UK & US Garage, and Drum & Bass. At secondary (high) school I’d buy Drum & Bass tape packs and listen to pirate radio stations such as Kool FM and Cyndicut FM – when I actually could pick up reception – I was a big fan of Goldie and LTJ Bukem early on; both Timeless and Logical Progressions blew my mind at such a tender age. As my knowledge grew I locked into the rollin tech-step, and the harder Renegade Hardware sounds. On the flip side I also loved the smooth liquid sounds. I started buying records at the age of 14 and received my first set of Numark Belt Drive Turntables at the age of 15. It wasn’t until I went to Art College when I was 18 that I understood what techno really was. I bought Jeff Mills’ The Exhibitionist CD in 2004 without knowing who Jeff was, and everything developed from that point. It wasn’t until 2009 that I started to make music as a hobby, it became a serious thing when I made Entity and it received much great recognition from the techno community. The first milestone was of course hearing that Ben (Klock) had played it multiple times at Berghain during a set in August 2011. This is when I knew I was heading in the right direction. The second milestone is releasing on Klockworks. Ben is a master producer and DJ and it was such an amazing feeling to be asked to release on his infamous label. Third milestone; playing at Berghain. Such an incredible place to play, but man, was I nervous the first time! Forth milestone, becoming a fabric resident. I’ve been visiting the club religiously since October 2004 so it was an honour to be asked to play regularly and to give something back to the club that I love.
What is Techno to you, why do you love it so much? What does it do to you?
Techno for me is both physical and also emotional; It’s powerful hypnotic music; both energetic and groovy. It’s hearing a track on a big system and thinking ‘man what the hell is this’ and spending the next few days trying to track it down.
Techno is also about community, I’ve met most of my friends and my fiancé though techno. It’s nice going out and seeing familiar friends in London and Berlin knowing we are part of something special. Where would we be without the music?
How different is it playing as a resident at fabric vs being a guest headliner, and how did that gig come about?
Every DJ should be able to play an opening set. Everyone wants to be a headliner but I think it teaches you to be a better DJ playing the warm-up and certainly not a demotion by any means, it’s actually one of the most important roles and a chance to dig deeper; play house, play electro, play techno. Take people on a journey of you.
I’m in a very lucky position that I can play as a resident for fabric, and then I can do my thing as a peak-time artist all over Europe. It shows I’m not a one-trick-pony. I love deep spacey techno as much as I love old school rollers.
When it comes to the opening I try to remember people are on different levels of sobriety; Some people have just walked into the club and need a few drinks to loosen up, and others are flying and want to go hard right away. It’s about balance. Whether that’s fabric or Berghain opening you apply the same principles; be progressive and dynamic. I try to think a few tracks ahead to stay in control.
Whats it like running your own label in 2018? What are the highs and lows, the challenging bits and the rewarding bits?
BLACKAXON is only two releases young. This year will see two new artists join the fold which I’m very excited about because they are both very talented artists. The only challenge is learning everything from scratch; it’s like learning a new job. Once you know what questions to ask and understand the different timings, everything becomes much easier.
How did you link with Klockworks? What’s it like working with that label? Does Ben get involved and give feedback?
My link is through a mutual friend. He handed Ben some music of mine back in 2011 and things started from there. Ben is an extremely busy man; when he loves a track you know about it right away.
You have music coming on Redimension too – do you make stuff with a certain sound in mind for certain labels, tailor sounds to their output or?
I try not to make tracks for certain labels. I think it limits creatively and each track should have its own life. Jet Stream (forthcoming on Redimension) I made a few years back and has been stored away. Joseph (Capriati) and I started speaking a year ago and he asked me for some music for his Essential Mix. Out of a pack of 15 tracks Jet Stream spoke to him. There was no imminent plan to release it but I could tell from Joseph’s passion, that it was the right time and he was the right person to release it with.
Do you have any fail safe record you go to when you need to fill the floor or pick up the mood? Can you tell us some?
You play Terminal V in Edinburgh soon – what should people expect? What will you pack or plan for that one?
The Scottish are mad; I plan to bring energetic full-power techno. I will not be holding back for the crowd that’s for sure!
How does playing in Scotland compare to the rest of the UK? Do they go harder or faster?
Give em a portion of hard and fast belters and a pint of Bucky and their taps will be afffff!!
What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
I’m currently working on 4 remixes for various labels due out this year. BLACKAXON will be dropping 2-3 releases this year; one from myself and two from other new artists joining the label. I have my Redimension release, and I’m working on my next Klockworks release.