Put Your Hands Up For Jaguar Skills
So, this will be my first post for The Drop Media. My name is Isobe. I’m a dance music fanatic from Manhattan, NYC. That is all.
Last night, I had the opportunity to see Jaguar Skills, a UK based EDM-fusion DJ who is steadily gaining prominence for his mash-up style of mixing various genres of dance music (electro, house, tech, dubstep, drum & bass, you name it) Although his name may not be recognized everywhere around the globe, particularly in North America, Jaguar Skills has been a stable fixture in the British dance music scene for nearly 10 years. He’s released hundreds of mixtapes, primarily broadcasted through BBC Radio 1 and Ministry of Sound, and more recently has released his own Toolroom Knights album on Mark Knight’s Toolroom Records.
Over the past several years, I have witnessed countless of the world’s most respected producers and DJ’s spin their records and present their work in ways that make them individualistic in their own respective ways. Typically, the most in-demand and popular names tend to be producers by trade, who receive extensive reception based on the music that they have produced and put out themselves. With this, there is a continuing discrepancy between producing and DJing. I mention this divergence because Jaguar Skills is a pivotal example of what a celebrated, genuine DJ is supposed to be. He epitomizes the significance of a DJ in a culture where the art and skill of mixing records according to the energy of the dance floor is frequently absent. I have not seen such innovation from a DJ since Fatboy Slim.
Anyway, let’s get to the set. Jaguar Skills opened for will.i.am at Pacha NYC. He went on around 12:15am and played for just over an hour. In this time, the ninja himself played over 80 songs, drastically shifting the energy in the club nearly every second. I’m not sure that many people at Pacha last night were there to see Jaguar Skills, but because of his unprecedented style of mixing, the energy on the dance-floor was consistently hands in the air, with complete attention on the ninja-DJ. His entire set consisted of well-known bangers of dubstep, electro, house, and a considerable amount of drum and bass. It was electric to see the crowd at Pacha react in amazement to many of the drum and bass drops, a genre that is probably the least known to American dance music fans. I wasn’t able to record a full tracklist, but below are a number of records that the ninja played, in order.
- Chase & Status – Blind Faith (Loadstar Remix)
Pacha NYC was the second to last stop on Jaguar Skills’ brief US tour. He is in Seattle October 1st, then headed back to the UK for his Winter 2011 tour throughout Britain. The Drop will have you covered when the ninja returns to the US in 2012! Here are some tracks for your enjoyment from Jaguar Skills’ 2011 US tour, and check out the interview Cuervo held with the man himself below! Also, stop by The Drop’s YouTube page for extensive videos on the Jaguar Skills show at Pacha and more!
Last week I had the opportunity to ask Jaguar Skills a couple of questions before his big NYC debut and his responses are just incredible, certainly one of the more interesting DJs I have ever spoken with!
The Drop Media: First off, thank you for your time, I understand you have a large winter tour coming up and we were hoping to talk a little bit about that. First just asking, what are you anticipating out of this next UK to US cross over, because we have not seen your name around to much in the USA yet?
Jaguar Skills: You’re right. I haven’t ever toured in the US and this would be my first time in the country. I’m super excited and a little nervous. I’m just gonna play the stuff that I spin in Europe and see what happens. I was thinking about playing some Hip-Hop as well in my sets, but then I thought, no, I’m gonna give it to you straight, just like how I do it at home. So expect a lot of jump-up style music!
TDM: Do you have excitement about your NYC gig specifically? We at The Drop are all native New Yorkers and we love it when our favourite DJs are especially hyped to play in our home town!
JS: I love New York and I love the 90′s New York Hip-Hop sample based sound. Plus all the Disco and Latin stuff as well. I’m super excited to be spinning in NY – I just hope the music that I play isn’t to crazy for y’all!
TDM: On to your mixing, in the Toolroom Knights booklet you are described as “The Greatest Mash-Up DJ on the planet” I think whats being referred to is the fact that in one of your mixes you use far above the average amount of samples normal DJs use, which makes your mixes incredibly unique, dynamic, and almost like an adventure to listen to. How do you continuously not discriminate against any genre and find yourself mixing Hip Hop – Dubstep – House – Electro and more when most DJs have to stick to their one genre?
JS: I’ve never been a musical racist. Plus I never want to limit myself. I think just playing one type of music is akin to just eating one type of food. I love Sushi. But I love McDonnalds too. You know? I not afraid to change the tempos. I like speeding things up and slowing them down. I really just go for a ‘feeling’. If a tune, whatever the style, gives me goosebumps. Then I’m gonna play it. Some DJ’s have told me to just to pick one style and stick with it. They told me that a DJ who play’s lots of different styles of music, doesn’t get the respect that specialist Dj’s get. I don’t necessarily think that. I like the freedom that multi-genre DJing gives me. But on the other hand, I have full respect to people like Mark Knight who have forged their own lane with their own music. Sometimes to do think that I could have some sort of musical Attention Deficit Syndrome. I switch the tunes around and mix very quickly. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t ALL electronic music basically the same style? It’s all made by computers. So why not mix them up? It’s more fun that way, right?
TDM: Of the genres I mentioned you tend to mix, do you have a favourite, or a background in any one genre when you were getting started?
JS: I started out as a Hip-Hop dude. A real 100% B-Boy. Rap Fanatic. But as I got older and started to check out the samples and shit used by the Hip-Hop producers, I got into Jazz and Funk in a big way. The disco. The classic New York Disco shit. Which lead me onto House music. Disco is the shit that the House dudes would sample. Just like the old Jazz and Funk the Hip-Hop guys would sample. But growing up in London, we have a massive Jamaican community. So there was loads of Reggae around when I was growing up. I’d go to all the Reggae Bashment jams going on. Going all the Ragga jams, then got me into the faster shit, like Drum & Bass and Uk Garage. It’s not uncommon in the UK to be into loads of different music. So I guess I grew up with a tonne of different styles and cultural influences. But it was Hip-Hop that got me into music. De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, 3rd Bass, Public Enemy, Jungle Brothers, Kool G Rap, KMD…..the list goes on.
TDM: Can you talk about your Hip Hop influences? Its very rare to see a “House DJ” open up for De La Soul in a club in Ibiza, but you did it this past summer at “Come Together” Space, I thought that was one of the coolest lineups I saw on the Ibiza 2011 season.
JS: Yeah, well that was a dream come true. Meeting De La Soul was a bugout for me. I’m a massive fan. Come Together in Space in Ibiza is ALL about mixing different styles of music together. Just good music, I guess, is their policy. De La Soul brought some light relief to the proceedings. Then I came in hardcore with the electronic shit. People when nuts!
TDM: When did you first start working with Mark Knight and how has the release of your ToolRoom Knights mix, which I will admit is how I found out about you, helped boost your range of fans?
JS: Working with Toolroom Records and Mark Knight was wicked. Mark is a music man. He loves all types of shit. You’d be surprised. He loves all the electronic musical style as well as shit like R&B and Hip-Hop. He knows so much about music, it was wicked working with someone who just let me do what I wanted. I did a few gigs for them at the Ministry Of Sound club in London, which is an amazing club, and then they asked me if I’d be down for doing an album. I think the album gave an awareness to people to what I do as a DJ. It was great fun making it, and hopefully, people liked it to.
TDM: We at The Drop Media, are all about those heavy and hard hitting DROPS! You have quite a few of those on your ToolRoom Knights mix featuring tracks like 9 Levels of Power, Brap, and Bright Lights, I was hoping you could share which track you often play has your favourite Drop to it?
JS: Jaguar Skills is ALL about THE DROPS! That was what excites me. When you hear a massive drop, it’s like being kicked in the nuts. But my favourite drop? I love the hard electro drops like Babylon by Congorock. That’s amazing. Bass Cannon by Flux Pavilion has a massive dub-step drop. Dub-Step has the huge drops. Drum & Bass has some CRAZY drops. I love Drum & Bass. I’m not too sure if the US know too much about D&B, maybe I’m wrong, but D&B is the way forward!
TDM: You clearly, beyond your track selection, have a wide range of influences since you support songs from DJs as old as Fatboy Slim, to as young as Bart B Moore, do you have any single greatest influence as far as house music DJs go and similarly do you have a favourite up and coming young DJ to watch out for?
JS: Man, I just try and play music that I like. When the tune was released, or by whom, or what style it is, doesn’t concern me. If it’s dope, I’ll play it. But as for House music DJ’s? I respect pioneers like Pete Tong, Carl Cox, Mark Knight, peeps like that who have made a massive career out of Djing. It’s inspiring. But as for hands-on type influences, I guess, it has to be Fake Blood. I used to drive him to gigs, before I was a DJ, and he really showed me what Djing in a big club could be about. He’s a musical genius.
TDM: What is your DJ set up like and similarly what is your production set up like? Basically what are your preferred Ninja Tools?
JS: I use Serato, a Mac laptop and two Technics 1210′s. I’m not on CDJ’s. I don’t even know how to use them! Ha!
TDM: Any new productions or collaborations you’ll be releasing soon that we can look forward to?
JS: I wanna start making an album soon. There’s a load of people I wanna work with. I’d love to make some multi-genre album where it doesn’t sound contrived or forced. Something that naturally moves from one style to the next without you ever realising. Like a track with Kool G Rap, where he rhymes over some Dubstep shit, which transforms into some Drum & Bass shit. Or a Soul tune that turns into a House tune that then turns into a Electro tune. But naturally. I’d like to do something like that. But – I DO – release a mix EVERYWEEK on BBC Radio One in the UK where I mix pretty much everything into 10 minute blasts. People need to check those out. They’re crazy! Yo, I gotta go now, there’s a party to rock! So until next time, HooooooOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
TDM: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and we look forward to seeing your skills take over the USA HoooOOO!