Interview: Gavin Handley (Jus Like Music)

Interview: Gavin Handley (Jus Like Music)

Following on from the release of BUG’s debut single in February and Part 1 of their Oscillations compilation at the end of March, we caught up with Jus Like Music Records label-head, Gavin Handley, just before the release of Part 2 of Oscillations. We delve a little deeper into what the project is about, as well as getting to the very roots of what this young label is all about.

Following on from the release of BUG’s debut single in February and Part 1 of their Oscillations compilation at the end of March, we caught up with Jus Like Music Records label-head, Gavin Handley, just before the release of Part 2 of Oscillations. We delve a little deeper into what the project is about, as well as getting to the very roots of what this young label is all about.

Music:  Bug – 20 Winks

Why did you decide to create the Oscillations compilations?

I’d been helping to spread the word of good music via the Jus Like Music blog since 2006, but around November last year I just had a sudden hit of inspiration. I felt that there were a lot of really talented artists being slept on and perhaps I had the tools available to me to do something about that. A free digital compilation was the proposed solution.

What is your goal/objective with Oscillations?

I want to get this music heard by as many pairs of ears as possible! That’s one of the main reasons why it is free, one less excuse to not check it out. I want people to hear this music and think “wow, what is THIS?!” In a sense I know that probably sounds quite idealistic, but I’m aiming high and will do everything in my power to make ‘Oscillations’ as successful as possible.

People who never heard about ‘Oscillations’, what can they expect when they press play?

There’s a real variation of sounds on ‘Oscillations’. In genre terms I guess you’d say; hip-hop, electronica, neo-soul, dubstep, but even then a lot of it goes above and beyond those labels. Essentially, you’ll hear some really fresh sounding music, some instrumental, some very electronic – but then there are also some singers involved and some quite organic sounding music too. Like I say, a real variety.

The artists on the compilations are fairly unknown. Was that your intention, or did you think about approaching ‘better known’ artists as well?

I did have an idea in mind to include a spectrum of artists based on how well known they are. Like there are some quite well known people involved, such as Slugabed, Om Unit, Lunice, 00Genesis, Alex B, Suzi Analogue and Kidkanevil for example. But, ultimately, every artist on ‘Oscillations’ has been hand-picked by myself and Johanna at Apple Juice Break because we really like them.

Can you tell something about the collaboration with Apple Juice Break on the compilations; why are you doing it with AJB?

I’ve known Johanna at Apple Juice Break since the second half of last year. In a very short space of time she has built up a very popular alternative hip-hop/neo-soul blog that already has a reputation for breaking new artists. We did a few mixes for each other’s sites, but once I had in my mind the idea for ‘Oscillations’, I knew she would be an ideal person to collaborate with on the project.

What can we expect of the second installment of Oscillations?

The main difference is that Part 1 had 20 tracks and Part 2 has 21, ha ha! It’s a whole new set of artists, as I’m sure you’d already have been expecting. It’s almost hard for me to explain, because I like such a wide variety of music, I just let it wash over me without ever feeling too conscious about what it is or where it fits. But, Part 2 has a heavy start with tracks from XLII and Slugabed, then stretches into some deeper electronic tracks before gliding into some vocal tracks and then finishing on some really nice beats. It’s solid from start to finish.

What are the differences between Part 1 and Part 2, when it comes to music/style/content?

I had toyed with the idea of actually splitting the styles between the parts, but I felt by doing that I would be actively encouraging the dubstep and house fans to avoid the hip-hop and neo-soul, and vice-versa. So, they are structured in quite a similar way. They really are just two parts of the same compilation and hence bare the same characteristics and vibes. I hope that those people who tend to stick to one genre or style might hear some tracks on Part 1 and 2, that they might ordinarily have avoided, and really surprise themselves at how much they like them.

How much downloads has Part 1? Are you satisfied with the results?

I was pretty overwhelmed by the response that Part 1 received. Within the first day or so, Part 1 had accumulated over 5.000 listens and over 1.000 downloads. By the end of the first week it was more like 13.000 listens and over 2.000 downloads. We’ve had fantastic support by blogs, websites, DJs and general music fans. People have been very eager to help spread the word. We even received support via Gilles Peterson’s website and the Red Bull Music Academy, which was really appreciated.

The compilation(s) are up as a free download: what’s your personal view on downloading and bootlegging?

There are a lot of arguments with regards to the internet, art, and laws, but ultimately, if an artist ends up in a situation where they are unable to create any more music because their existing music has been pirated, well that’s a real tragedy. It’s really hard to police the internet, but even if you do grab a download of someone’s album via a dodgy website, show your support and go to a gig, or buy some vinyl. Do something to support the people that make the music you enjoy so much.

Can you tell me something about Jus Like Music Records?

It has existed since November 2009, but the first release came out in February 2010. That was BUG’s debut single, Cosmic Lab / 20 Winks’, which was a free release.

Why did you start your own label?

I guess it was a natural progression for me and the Jus Like Music brand. I just saw that there was an opportunity to get involved and help a bit more with spreading good music and genuinely felt, and obviously still do, that I was capable and equipped to do so.

What makes your label unique compared to the countless others in the music scene?

Jus Like Music Records operates somewhere between being a traditional label and an online promotions company. Using my experience as a music blogger, journalist and writer over the past four years, I have a great insight with regards to pushing music online. Naturally I am learning all the time, and I’m glad to be doing so. It’s an exciting time indeed.

What can we expect from Jus Like Music Records in the (near) future?

I always have lots of ideas buzzing around in my mind, but at the same time I’m trying to take each day as it comes. Things can change in an instant, so I’m careful not to put all my eggs into one basket. I am currently in discussions with a few different artists about forthcoming releases, but no set dates just yet. Other than that, we have an Oscillations launch party in London on Saturday 15th May – so anyone in town on that day should come along!

Are you planning to release only (free) downloads, or physical releases as well?

Both! I see the free releases as a fantastic way to introduce people to new music, but not every release will be free. Plus, we aim to have some music out on vinyl this year too!

How do you feel about the current music scene in London/England, when it comes to the music you focus on?

I feel spoilt. London is fantastic for music and is the primary reason why I moved back to England from Australia last June. On any given night there’s always something amazing going on. Londoners don’t realise how lucky they are!

Besides the artists featured on your compilations and label, are there any others readers definitely have to check?

Always! Right now I’m particularly feeling; Devonwho, Robot Koch, Portformat, Emanative, Teebs & Jackhigh, Illum Sphere, Bonobo, Build An Ark, Lone, fLako, Julien Dyne, Shlohmo, James Blake, and loads more that have no doubt slipped my mind. In all seriousness though, definitely all the people involved with Oscillations, some serious talent there.

Anything else you wanna share with us?

I’m English. I’m a Leo. Born in the year of the pig. I can drive. Don’t own a car. I like music a lot. First concert was MC Hammer.

Words by: Danny
More info: Jus Like Music

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.