Quickly rising through the ranks of the UK underground with releases for house heavyweights Tsuba, Robsoul and Morris/Audio, Jordan Peak’s grasp of classic house aesthetics belies his relatively short career – but what else would you expect from someone raised on Todd Terry, DJ Sneak and Masters At Work? We caught up with him to discuss DJ culture, sampling and studio essentials.
Attack: Can you start off by telling us a bit about your musical background and how your relationship with house music began?
Jordan Peak: I don’t come from a musically productive family – none of them play instruments or anything – but I do come from a musically appreciative one. Both my parents had a great love for music and there would often be something playing on the stereo from the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Chic when I was growing up.
I first got into house music through my father, who wasn’t a DJ himself but really loved the sound. He had quite a lot of the early Strictly Rhythm and Nervous Records twelve-inches and the early Ministry Of Sound CDs when they used to be really decent and feature tracks from the likes of Todd Terry, Masters At Work and DJ Sneak.
That’s quite the introduction; so how old were you when you started listening to these compilations?
Well, to be honest, it’s as long as I can remember. I don’t think when I was really young I took too much notice of them but when you get to that age where the teenage hormones start kicking in and you start to notice girls in a different way and spend more time on your self image and start buying records for yourself it was definitely around that time. The first record I ever bought for myself to mix at home was DJ Sneak’s ‘Fix My Sink’, which I bought on mail order from Hard To Find Records. If you’d have told me then that I’d be friends with Carlos in 12 years time I’d have never believed you!
As a DJ you’re well known for playing classic tracks and forgotten gems from decades gone by alongside new releases – have you always been into digging in the crates?
Yeah, totally. I think that stems from being a kid growing up in the 90s and being constantly exposed to music that was made back in the 70s and 80s. It gave me a real appreciation of the timelessness that music can have. A good song is a good song no matter how old it is. Besides, DJing is all about playing music and the more records you have at your disposal the better equipped you are to tell your story.
All of my biggest DJ influences – Adam Shelton, Craig Richards, Onur Ozer, Derrick Carter, Dyed Soundorom and Agnes to name just a few – have incredible record collections. In the age of the iPod where pretty much any record is just a mouse click away and so many sets that you hear out are the Beatport top 10 deep house or tech house chart just in a different order it really makes you stand out from the crowd either by playing your own productions that you’ve just finished and no one else will have or by playing older and obscure tracks that other people have forgotten about or didn’t even know existed.
You mentioned the uniformity which results from the Beatport charts. How do you see the scene at the moment? Is DJ culture under threat from that uniformity and is clubbing in danger of becoming stale?
There’s always two sides to the story. There’s a good and a bad to everything. Everyone knows that with the advancements in technology this has opened the door for many more people to consume, produce, listen to and not often enough buy music. Yes, there are still some people that buy their records! Because anyone in the world with a computer and an internet connection has access to an incredibly large virtual music shop this has seen clubland adapt massively from the days when vinyl was the sole medium for DJs to perform with. It was often the norm that only a select few had access to certain records months before the general public could even get their hands on that prized twelve-inch that drove dancefloors insane.
Nowadays promoters don’t book DJs, they book artists, so unless you’ve had a string of steady releases on respected labels or have been lucky enough to have one track PRed to fuck and blow up the blogosphere or dance music publications you’re going to find it hard to get regular gigs or make a career out of electronic music. I’m not saying this is a bad thing and I’m not saying that this is a good thing, it’s simply the way the world is in 2012 and you have to be able to adapt to how the times of changed or get left behind.
Nowadays promoters don't book DJs, they book artists
You asked me if DJ culture is under threat and clubbing becoming stale. Well, DJ culture, clubbing and in fact our very own day-to-day life culture is just evolving. Whether you decide to evolve with it’s up to you. Personally what I consider a good DJ to be is a record collector that manages to both entertain and educate his audience regardless of their media presence, if a promoter thinks a good DJ is someone worth booking purely on the merit that they will bring x amount of people to a club due to their track being a Beatport top seller then thats’s up to them. Each to their own.