J-Felix // Guest Mix 011

19th October 2021

J-Felix is something of an accidental DJ. He’s a musician and producer based in Brighton. He has played Love Supreme in the past and you can probably find him with a hand in some of your favourite acts at the moment from Swindle to Ragga Twins to Ibbio Sound Machine. His mix here explores jazz, broken-beat, dub and a bit of funk. Read on to find out more and listen to his guest mix for Supreme Standards.

Who are you and what do you do?
Hello , my name is Joe Newman (aka J-Felix) and I am a producer, artist, musician and DJ. I also teach sometimes.

You grew up in Bristol, how did the culture there shape you?
I love Bristol. When I was growing up, my parents introduced me to local music which was massive (excuse the pun) at the time like Tricky, Massive Attack, Roni Size and Portishead. I think there was something about knowing these guys grew up round me and did their thing just up the road which made the dream more in reach for me, most ‘stars’ were American – I thought it was cool how Bristolian artists like this embraced Hip-Hop culture from early, did their own thing and got so big with it. Apparently there was a big link between Bristol and New York relatively early on which helped Bristolians get into that early Hip-Hop from the off. I started break dancing regularly at about 13/14 at the Bristol Dance centre, I was rubbish, but that music had a big impact and watching the local heroes do their thing on Blue Peter once was another big source of inspiration. The local graff scene was huge as well. My local skate park, Dean Lane which is pretty infamous was the home to some amazing artists. ‘Nothing Meaner than the Deaner’. They used to do these massive pieces that took up the whole area down by the half pipe which blew my mind as a kid. There St Paul’s carnival too which was the Bristol Caribbean style carnival which I started going to when I was in my later teens. A good introduction to sound systems there. I was spoiled really come to think of it. One of my favourite things is a thumping system on a city street.
So many people expressing themselves around me on the big screen and big stages that were from same place as me. Ashton Court festival was great too, it was this free festival (can you imagine!?) that went on for years which often showcased a lot of local talent – my mum and dad used to take me and my brother. I think the thump from the dub tent (I don’t even know if that’s what it was called) will always stay with me (and the smell of weed!)
There was a great local band scene too, I played in a band that was a bit like The Clash I suppose, (but not as good) with my brother and two of my Dad’s football mates sons. Even though I’m not really a massive fan, football was a big part of growing up too, my Mum and Dad still play every week. Football and Music – good combination. I have a lot to thank Bristol for. I am quite proud of being from Bristol tbh. It always did its own thing away from what is going on in London.

Why did you choose to settle in Brighton?
Leaving Bristol was a difficult choice, but I knew I wanted to leave town and go to uni. I saw a picture of Brighton at my old college taken from the headland looking down on one of those classic Brighton summer nights and it looked lush. I realized Tru-Thoughts were based down here too along with a lot of artists I was following at the time. It seemed like a good choice and it definitely was.

You’re quite a collaborative musician having worked with Wrongtom, Ibibio Sound Machine, Ragga Twins and Swindle. What have been your most formative collaborations up to this point?
I love collaborating, I think it’s the most natural and fun way of creating music, ideally we’re all in the same room together. For this reason, it has to be some of the sessions I sat in with Swindle on because sometimes there were loads of people there in the studio with you, all jamming and bringing the best out of each other. I look up to Swindle – he has a very good attitude and is a great producer/musician.

You are a producer, a songwriter, a DJ and you play in a number of bands – do you think of these as separate disciplines or do they all feed into one another?
It’s all one in the same in some ways because each discipline relates to the next and can help you improve a holistic approach to making music and ultimtaley stay involved in music and feed the soul. Sometimes I get frustrated at my guitar playing for example though, if I have been producing/ DJing loads and feel like I’m getting rusty. It can be challenging to stay properly sharp at everything. Playing with some of the bands I have done with the standard of musicians involved, I have to practice a lot before shows because sometimes I’ll only pick up the guitar to record an 8 bar loop or something – that’s not proper practice.

What, for you, is the place of Jazz in contemporary British culture?
Well Jazz seems to be at the forefront of things in British music culture right now which is incredible. This is really nice for me to see as a fan of jazz music because for a while it was definitely a dirty word! Seeing young artists becoming so successful is a real inspiration and good to see people appreciating the real skill involved to make music like that. It wasn’t long ago that it definitely wasn’t cool to think jazz is cool in your early 20’s – I have first hand experience!

Who’s music are you really excited about at the moment?
Well this is a tough question when things are so exciting in the UK right now. I’m looking forward to hearing Swindle’s forthcoming album in it’s entirety. I am working on stuff of my own at the moment which I am excited about. I am keen to see how this new wave of broken beats develops too. Artists like EVM128 and WheelUP have really caught my ear.
What are the artists/producers you find it hard to get through a set without playing? (For me it’s Andrew Weatherall, Erol Alkan and Dan Carey)
All great artists! I tend to play a fair bit of EVM128’s stuff in my later DJ sets, Zed Bias usually gets a nod at some point in late ones too. Dam Funk and Quantic get regular spins and specifically ‘Tonight’ by Children of Zeus keeps appearing.
Can you talk us through what you’re playing in this mix?
Not sure yet – I’ll get back to you.

Finally, we have a feature called “Supremes.” The idea is that you build a trio out of any three current musicians/producers in the Jazz/Soul/RnB/Hip-Hop space who you think would work well together – obviously “The Supremes” were a vocal trio but you don’t need to be restricted to that. You can just give the names and leave it if you want, but you could also embellish with some reasons why. So, who are your “Supremes?”

Soweto Kinch on Sax/ Raps
Dayna Fisher on Bass
Peter Adam Hill on Drums.

Soweto Kinch is insanely good both at rapping and playing the sax and I think he deserves his flowers as the new generation of jazz player taking inspiration from Hip-Hop etc are coming through.
Dayna Fisher is a session player I met through playing with Swindle and this guys is absolutely brilliant. Tone, rhythm, style all on point.
Peter Adam Hill is a friend of mine (got to look after them) Who played with me for the Whole Again Hooligan Shows. He has also played extensively in the London Jazz scene and been tour with Alfa Mist. He’s got that thing that people like Troy Miller and Spaven have. Bouncey, Funky, but at the centre of Pete’s playing will always be the jazz.

Talk us through this mix.

This mix goes through jazz flavours, hip-hop, dub, funk and Boogie and broken beat/house. It’s not 100% perfect all the time. One of the needles was slightly dodgy but I quite like a bit of imperfection and the human element to the mix. I even try my hand at a little bit of cutting and scratching with a Marvin Gaye Acappella (only briefly though!).

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