Q&A: JUBEI | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Q&A: JUBEI

We talk collabs, artistic freedom and musical roots...

Jubei is one who has achieved the highest accolade a producer or DJ could ever wish to be blessed with; the total and unadulterated respect of his peers. A combination of raw talent, a thorough understanding of electronic music and an unpretentious view of the dance world has hoisted him to the top of the game. Cultivating a sound which can clearly be attributed to his name is one of his achievements.

Warm pulsating basslines which tend to dance in the darker realms of the spectrum have earned his initiation into the prestigious ranks of Goldie’s Metalheadz.

Since his debut on Emcee Recordings in 2006 Jubei, known to the taxman as Paul Ager, has exercised his kinship with many of drum & bass’s best-known names. From dBridge to Breakage, Lenzman to Logistics, the list of collaborations is seemingly endless — and there’s no shortage on the new album. Today we chat to Jubei about his love of drum & bass, the mighty Metalheadz and of course the new album 'To Have and Have Not'...

You’ve got a few major collaborations on the new record, how did they all come about?

“It was quite general really, I didn’t have a list of people I wanted to work with, they all just kind of happened. Like, with Marcus Intalex for example, he booked me to play his night Soul:ution in Manchester. And the week before we were talking on the phone and he said, 'Why don’t you come down in the day, and we’ll get a tune done?' And I was just like, 'OK!' So I went down in the day rather than the evening before the gig and we sat in the studio all day and it went from there really, I brought it back to Newcastle, got all the parts, had a little jiggle about, and thought, actually this is quite good.

So I spoke to the label managers and said, can we stick this on the album? Same with Goldie really, since I signed to Headz he’d been saying he’d wanted to do something with me for years. And it just so happened he had a few days free, and that kind of happened towards the end. It all just happened naturally.”

Goldie, Metalheadz, they’re kind of a big deal! How did it feel when you got involved with that camp?
“It meant a lot to me personally, because Metalheadz the label and the whole back catalogue really sculpted my whole taste in drum & bass. When I was younger I used to buy all the releases, go to all the Metalheadz nights, it was a really big influence. So to be asked to release music with them and do the album, it was a 'pinch yourself' moment.”

When you were growing up and discovering music, what were you listening to?
“Various stuff, I used to really like Michael Jackson, I went to see him at Wembley when he did his Dangerous Tour. When I went to secondary school, that’s when I got into music properly, like dance music and stuff because all the guys I knew, all my friends' elder brothers, they were all into techno, Detroit techno, Chicago house, Spiral Tribe stuff. We used to practice with their records and I got into that side of it.

I used to get tapes off the local DJs, and really got into techno. Then I kind of heard some jungle, sort of jungle techno, hardcore stuff. I got into that a bit, and when I made a conscious decision to leave the 4/4 stuff behind, every time I went to the record shop I’d buy jungle. I went to Lakota in Bristol, specifically to see Dave Angel, who was playing the main room, and I ended up wandering into the room upstairs, which was the drum & bass room, and I remember thinking it was a completely different atmosphere, just a completely different energy, and I was like, ‘Fucking hell this is amazing!’”

Was that where your love of drum & bass really ignited?
“Yeah, massively! I knew what it was and I was aware of it, but I hadn’t actually experienced it in a club environment, and when I did I literally became obsessed with it. The following weeks, whenever I went to the record shops I was mentioning names that I heard about through magazines, because there wasn’t any internet then. I had to do the research and find out, going to the local record shop in the town where I lived was pretty shit because they had a very small section, so we had to go to further away places and get the bus to other towns or cities, to search it out and dig it out.”

When you walked into the drum & bass room that night can you remember what DJ it was?
“Yeah! it was Roni Size and Bryan Gee and MC Dynamite, and then after that I started going back there all the time. I used to live near Bristol when I was growing up, so we used to go there all the time, and that’s where they had Breakbeat Culture, the record shop where MC Jakes worked. There was Decoder, Substance, there was the Full Cycle stuff, there were loads of parties. I just become obsessed, I just stopped buying techno.”

When you were putting the album together did you have a concept in mind?
“No, well yeah and no. Whenever I thought about making it I always pictured the end of the process and having a CD in my hand, or when I was doing it I always imaged listening through it as if it was a CD. I always wanted it to be diverse, each track to be different. But at the same time I wanted them to be tied together with a certain attitude, like the same vibe.

There’s a grime tune, drum & bass then liquid drum & bass, but I think it’s all tied together, I think it all sounds like me. I had a folder of tracks that I kept going back through, deleting the ones that I wasn’t sure of and eventually I was left with this album and people have said it really sounds like me.”

Did you have a timescale to complete the album?
“Yeah, I had a timescale... and I went way past it! It should have been ready about eight months ago. That’s the good thing about having Goldie as a label manager, you get so much artistic freedom, he’s like, when you’re ready, when it’s ready, that’s when we’ll put it out, but at the same time, kinda saying, you know, hurry up, in a nice way. I glad they did give me extra time, because it wasn’t ready then, some of the better tracks came later.” 

What's next?
“I have a couple of remixes that I have to finish, and I’m trying to get something done before DRS’ new album, him and Marcus did something for me, so I’ve got to return the favour.

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