Remember a time when Bristol wasn’t part of the Holy Grail with London and Berlin as a triumvirate of electronic cool? No, us neither, but that was the case around seven years ago, with the glowing embers of a once great d&b scene the only thing to really be keeping the city on the map at all.
Now, of course, it’s all very different. The world has gone batshit crazy for whatever Bristol bass is, house and techno have never been more prominent and there are any number of labels and even a record shop now continuing to bring much heat on the West Country capital. Arguably, though, much of that is down to the vision of Rag Satguru, Dan Wild and Tom Rio who, in 2005, started a little night called Just Jack.
“Dan, Rag and I were all good friends,” recalls Tom. “We loved house music but didn't really have anywhere to go and see our favourite DJs play. The city was so dominated by d&b at the time that there was next to nothing out there for house fans. We didn't really have an outlet to play our own music so it seemed like a logical move to start our own thing.”
The aim from the off was simple: to ensure punters had a good time. “If people aren't cheering, then we feel like we're doing something wrong!” says Tom. “We want them to feel like they can let their hair down and act stupid, so we try to add loads of extra bits to make everyone feel suitably in the mood. Whether it’s decor, bizarre performers walking around or impromptu Karaoke sets in room 3, we're keen to get everyone grinning and in the mood to party.”
If you’ve ever been to a Just Jack party you will know their tricks work, with everyone from the headline DJ down to the most well travelled raver beaming from ear to ear on any given night. Early on, the monthly parties rotated between Dojo, an intimate, 250-capacity sweatbox and a much larger, warehouse-styled skate park now synonymous with huge events like IN: Motion, aka Motion Skate Park. Given how much the night has grown over the years, In: Motion is now the preferred home with the likes of Blawan, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, Tensnake and Craig Richards all having played there this year.
Though Tom cites Just Jack’s highlight of 2012 as winning this award, you have to assume that being part of the Eastern Electrics festival and co-promoting their own Love Saves The Day spectacular with other Bristol types has also been high up the list. Of course, one of Just Jack’s most famous events is their annual Halloween extravaganza where the fancy dress freaks come out with a vengeance.
“There's always a load of challenges to do with each party, especially when we're taking big risks and dealing with a load of different variables. Sometimes the troupe of boxing otters won't turn up, or the freezing weather will mean the snake charmer's snake can't come out to play, but that’s the nature of the game and we've learnt to love it and take it as it comes... we try to surround ourselves with competent and professional people that can handle the changes and adapt quickly, we couldn't do any of it without them!”
As well as their own events, Just Jack have a habit of teaming up with the best of the rest around the country, be it with Illusion Records in Leeds for an exclusive Mr G live show or with local folk like Futureboogie and Blowpop. Despite admitting many more such collaborations will come in 2013, Just Jack might make a few subtle changes in its eighth year.
“We're keen to mix things up a bit, to keep everyone guessing, so we're going to do some special smaller shows, take things back to our roots with some legendary acts and DJs in really intimate spaces,” excites Tom. “Plus there's a record label and agency somewhere on the horizon. Nothings’ set in stone but we're keen to keep on pushing forwards so stay tuned and stay jacking!”
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