Still Digging: Jaisu

Following collaborations with Big Twins (Infamous Mobb/Mobb Deep) and LA-legend LMNO, Edinburgh-based beat-maker Jaisu is set to release the follow up to his 2013 EP ‘A Short Album’. Coming out on Glasgow’s Astral Black, Jaisu’s vinyl debut, ‘A Long Player’, was composed with the help of the MPC2000XL, and serves as a 12-track exploration of meticulously crafted instrumentals that use an extensive array of samples.

His hard hitting production style caught the attention of  recent collaborators The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (the group responsible for Rick Ross’ Maybach Music series and hits from Drake & Lil’ Wayne) and has landed him production credits on albums by artists such as Danny Brown, Maxsta and Tony Yayo. His tracks have received DJ support form the likes of LuckyMe’s Eclair Fifi, Plasitican, LeftO & Bok Bok – testament to the diversity of Jaisu’s own brand of Hip-Hop which has has the ability to move dance floors in a wide range of club contexts. We recently caught up with the rising producer over Skype to discuss his creative process, the professional relationships he’s built both sides of the Atlantic, and his plans going forward.

Hey Jaisu! Thanks for taking the time, how’re you doing?

Just keeping busy man, been DJing a lot lately and I’m chuffed that the record is out now – the feedback from fans has been awesome and I’ve received some dope comments from unexpected people too! After we sent out the promo runs, Bok Bok played a tune, Cashmere Cat was really digging it… it’s been a lot of fun!

Has the ‘reach’ for ‘A Long Player’ album increased somewhat since ‘A Short Album’?

Aye, I think so, it put me on a few people’s radar where I wasn’t before.  Its taken me out the underground Hip-Hop world, that world of flipping samples, to being put alongside people who have come from a different school of thought in terms of how they got in to making tunes. A lot of the boundaries are so blurred compared to when I was first making music – it’s dope.

Do you think the interest that’s coming from elsewhere has altered your production style at all?

Yeah, I think that’s bound to happen to an extent – you just let influences wash over you. Playing more in clubs has had a bearing on this. I’ve been DJing a lot since ‘A Short Album’ came out, playing a lot more Funk and Boogie records that I’ve used to make beats with in the past. Now when I’m record shopping I’m actively thinking about DJ sets – what’s going to go well with what. I played a gig here in Edinburgh on Friday for some pals and people were like ‘What?! I didn’t even know you could DJ like that!”, they were loving it but I think people were expecting me to play really moody beats live with an MPC.

I think the way in which you produce with the use of ‘multi sampling’ etc, lends itself nicely to exploring these new realms of music (from a DJing standpoint)…

Totally, I’ve been trying to make tracks in a way that’s influenced by things other than Hip Hop. Looking at the YouTube beat tape videos, the one sample chop up etc, that’s a very Hip Hop way of working. Trying to achieve different sounds but using the same technique has been cool.

That application of your existing technique to new sounds is refreshing. As far as this release goes, did you work on it as you have done on records in the past or did you switch it up a bit?

Nah, still in the same way, still sample heavy. Pretty much all the drums are taken off old records, no synthesisers – still the same approach and equipment. One thing I was switching up a bit was the DJ mixer I use. I’ve got this little Pioneer that’s got a 3-band EQ which complements the ‘caveman’ way in which I work (laughs). I EQ my samples on the way in so I spend a lot of time previewing and thinking about what I can scoop from the machine- so that’s one way I got more into thinking about the sonics, however crude.

jaisu lp copy

The beat tapes – which gained major recognition on YouTube – I’ve heard they were picked up by the likes of Guilty Simpson, 9th Wonder & Black Milk – did anything come of that?

Well, the Guilty Simpson thing happened through a friend of mine, J Large, who was dealing with GS and wanted to get a beat from me – nothing really materialised but it was awesome all the same. I was also working with this guy Tom Hardy, who was about to put out music on 9th Wonder’s label. I was sending them beats through Tom but ultimately, working with rappers across the internet is more hassle than it’s worth. I’m not perfect at communicating at times but I just got disillusioned by the whole thing.

Back and forth over the internet isn’t always ideal. You were in LA recently, did you build any relationships out there?

I went to LA for a holiday and met Twiz the Beat Pro, connected with him and Beatnick Dee, a UK producer living in LA. The three of us formed Drumset Music Works which is just us making beats and working with rappers, putting out projects by LMNO and Big Twins…that’s how the Big Twins thing came about. Twiz would play our shit for Twin whilst they worked together in LA and, naturally, he wanted to be involved with Drumset.

What else went down in LA and how long were you there for?

I was there for 1-3 months at a time, once a year, I wasn’t jetting back and forth or anything! There were a couple of crazy situations whilst I was there – this A&R guy who’s now head of Urban at Universal or something – Matt McNeal, I went to link with him at the Interscope Offices with that dude Manny something. He had like Timbaland plaques up on his wall in his office, that was crazy.

Have you got anything in the pipeline at the moment? New projects etc…?

I’ve got a project coming with DePTHS, he’s from Edinburgh but lives in Glasgow and did really well on the battle Rap circuit. We’ve been friends for 10 plus years and only started doing music together last year – it’s good though because it works organically, we work together well so I’m excited about that coming. It’s the first time I’ve tried to make ’Rap songs’ with someone, collaborating properly, rather than just saying ‘here’s my beats, ‘here’s my Rap’ and putting them together – we listen over samples together, work on lyrics etc.

Nice, I’ll look forward to that! Anyone you’d like to work with in future?

I don’t necessarily think like that when I’m producing –  who I’d like to have on a track or whatever – I think I turned that side of thought off…that’s not to say I’m not actively listening to UK Hip Hop though, I’m a huge fan of Lee Scott and I’d love to work with him. In general I’d rather work with someone in person rather than over email, but sometimes that’s inevitable.


I heard about the work you did with The J.U.S.T.I.C.E League (Rick Ross’s production team), what happened there?

That happened through Dion Primo, who’s a dope songwriter/singer/rapper based in Atlanta. To me, his music protests against negative Rap. I was sending him beats, and before me and Jon Phonics decided we wanted to keep the Jaisu releases instrumental, we were going to approach him to do a track. I had three tracks on Dion’s album that dropped at the end of last year, there was one track that he wanted to send to Kenny Barto (J.U.S.T.I.C.E League) to play sax on, that was crazy. So I worked with those guys indirectly, through Dion.

That’s nuts man! How are you finding juggling production work with playing out live, now that the amount you’re playing has gone up?

I use to stay up all weekend making beats but now I feel like I need a bit more ‘space’ when it comes to making a track – a lot more thought goes in to them now.

Rather than churning out at a high rate, you’re more calculated now…

Yeah, I still like messing with samples on that Madlib/Donuts type vibe, but it’s not like I’m thinking ‘ohhh I’ve got to put tunes together for this mix so I can’t work on beats’. I’ve got a lot more in to DJing of late and appreciating how it can help build up your production skills and knowledge of music in general.

So you’re taking those tracks that you’re playing out and actively applying some of the sounds to your production work?

Definitely, in the same way I really dig Hip Hop and Breaks, I dig this other stuff I’m playing so why not try and make some stuff like it. I’m not really into House but there are some 90’s House & Techno tracks I adore, the way they use samples is incredible. I’d like to make some half tempo House type stuff but still trying to be me, not asking ‘is this what House is supposed to sound like?’.

How did the relationship with Jon Phonics and Astral Black come about?

I’ve known Jon about seven or eight years. It was through ‘Louis Den’ originally, which was the name given to a studio in Birmingham that Sonny Jim & Cosign had. They would do these Sunday challenges they’d film and put on MySpace, picking a theme like an Arnold Schwarzenegger soundtrack or something and everyone had to flip the same sample – it was a lot of fun. Jon’s been backing me for ages and said that after the (amazing) Rugers tape, he wanted to do a Jaisu one.

It’s great what’s going on with the Astral Black camp and all the Jaisu stuff. I’m excited to see what’s next, I’m seeing you go a similar route to K15 or Seven Davis Jr perhaps…

Thanks, I appreciate that – I really dig what they’ve been doing, I’ll take that as a positive influence! Nice one for having me, cheers!

‘A Long Player’ is out now on Astral Black. You can buy it here

Words: Will Edge
Photography: Kirstin Kerr


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