Blind Jacks Journey is a vinyl-only independent record label based in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The labels name pays homage to local engineering legend John Metcalf (1717-1810) aka Blind Jack of Knaresborough. The label is run by a trio of friends who are also behind the Crow Castle Cuts imprint, another outlet for limited releases.
Blind Jacks Journey is forged out of a passion to release a slew of deep and dreamy house records, melding old skool sounds with the new. The imprint will release a series of various artist EPs, the first of which is Dream House Volumes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, which all have a dance floor feel to them, but will also feature a couple of laid back atmospheres to dream away to. They will also release a series called ‘The Trip’.
Since discovering the label, courtesy of Kristina Records, we’ve been spinning Gnork’s track ‘Blorp93‘ featured on ‘Dream House Volume 1.2‘ non stop, so we thought it was appropriate for us to invite Gnork to record a mix and for IA and for us to speak to Andy of Blind Jacks Journey about the label.
Can you please introduce yourselves and tell us what you’ve been up to over the past two months?
Andy – Creating mad little arty projects with historic depth and musical direction, all with a quirky conceptual feel to it. Making some deep music with Luv*Jam and Flyypost guises and doing a few DJ gigs dotted about. I run this label with my Wrexham partners in crime Daniel & Cristoph. Dan is a killer DJ and Cristoph produces under the Schmitt Trigger name!
Gnork – Being shocked by all the love I received for my first vinyl release. Collecting some new records, making mixes, working on future releases.
Let’s begin with Blind Jack Journey. What provoked you to start up the label, what’s the story behind the name and what is the labels mission/ethos?
Yes, it stemmed from Crow Castle Cuts our former project in our local hometown of Llangollen. That project was only designed to have 4 releases then semi-retire as the whole history of the castle was mapped across the 4 releases – but you can check that info yourselves later. Then naturally we couldn’t just stop, so we meandered to something else, and Blind Jack popped up!
A local legend of where I live now Knaresborough, Yorkshire and aptly the name of my local pub too! Blind Jack was very famous engineer of his time and helped build many roads, even though he was blind from an early age, he could do these amazing things – he even guided people from local towns across the river valleys as he knew the area that well. So Blind Jack became an intrigue of mine, and hence 4 more vinyl’s – the “Dream House Volumes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4.” The sounds were already in my head
Is there a particular sound or type of music that the label is focused on releasing?
Deep and dreamy. When I started this thing up, I had some sounds in my head and there were 5 or 6 tracks that sprung out:
If you listen to all of them, you’ll get me, then I thought mmm…Let’s do this, Jimini agreed and there we have it, we moved forward.
Can you tell us about BJJ’s musical aims and aspirations with current and forthcoming releases?
Keeping it deep and dreamy with some old school spice but still sounding futuristic. A bit of ambient, a slice of Italo, bit of this n that.
Each EP is a various artists EP – I know some folk don’t like this and want to hear full EPs by one artist and so do I. But by various artists – I don’t mean various slap dashed together sounding EPs, they all have a journey to tell. Like a mini LP of sounds and yes they all usually have a dreamy feel. They all have a dance floor feel to them, but at the same time, there will one or two tracks that are laid back atmospheres to dream away to.
Your debut release ‘Dream House Volume 1.1’ was released 6 months ago. Can you tell me about the journey and challenges you faced in making this release happen.
It was just fun, no pressures and no hassles, just a vibe that fell into place. Ok a few mini schedules to keep to and a bit of bugging here and there, but I’m good at being Mr Pushy in a nice way!? *he says*
On the BJJ website your initial post features words from Edgar Lee Master, what meaning and inspiration do these words have on you and the label?
Well that poem was referring to Blind Jack, so just that.
Rubadub appear to help out a lot of small record labels. How did your working relationship stem and how active are you n the general day-to-day running of the label?
This started by me needing a good friendly, helpful distributor! Simon Rigg of Phonica Records put me on to them with Crow Castle at first and they’ve handled everything since. I loved some of the projects they were dealing with, not just music, but art and detail. I had a chat with them and they gave me advice, as it was all-new to me really! I liked them, and we just did it! They have got the records in the coolest shops on the land from Dalston to downtown Detroit
What’s next for Blind Jacks Journey?
1.3, 1.4 then Blind Jacks Journey – The Trip 1.1 etc, plus more live action with some secret artists.
Gnork, when did you get involved with Blind Jacks Journey? Who approached whom?
It was a Soundcloud love story. One day Andy followed me on SC, so I shared some extra tracks with him that I kept private. Actually I didn’t have a clue he runs a label. Just loved his music so I wanted to show him mine. The next day I received a mail saying “I want THAT track!!!!!” I replied “I’m really glad to hear that but which one exactly?” He said “Blorp93”
Previously I have been sending demos (incl. Blorp93) out to labels with no reactions but the limited yellow quirky hand stamped vinyl release I literally dreamed about just happened when had no expectations at all. This made my year.
Prior to the release of ‘Blorp93’ and ‘One Point Two’ both featured on ‘Dream House Volume 1.2’ you had only released a single track ‘Skysurfin’ on Freakyhouse’s ‘Video Games For Bunnies EP’ – Do you have any other releases lined up for 2013?
Freakyhouse is a fab label from Budapest’s boiling underground music scene everyone should check out! I’ll probably release a new track on their next EP coming in May.
Vinyl wise – I’ve just checked the masters of Blind Jacks Journey Dream House vol 1.3 which is coming out in June with one from me again. It’s going to be huge. And maybe I can reveal now the secret that I will have my first full EP released with a remix from a wicked name included. It’s coming out during the summer on the awesome Bokhari Records.
Can you tell me about the mix you’ve recorded for IA, the reasoning behind your track list and is there an overall theme or mood embedded within the mix?
This was a very special mix for me. I tried to show more of the different ways of musical expressions that inspire me. There is a bit of ancient power, some jacking drums, some Italo basslines, some raw analogue, some glorious old-school anthem feel, and some warm lovely chords. I hope it shows a bit of the mess in my head but I hope it will make sense too. It’s pure vinyl. Not because I’m a vinyl snob, but that’s what I have at home. Enjoy!
What’s your musical heritage, how long have you been producing music for?
It’s hard to tell about all my music influences because there are a millions. I don’t refuse any styles, and I don’t really think in styles either. I am rather open to any tunes that move something deep inside me. I am looking for music that cannot be unlisted – dreamy or powerful, or both, often with a quirky twist.
My interest towards electronic music developed in the second half of the 90’s. That was when I discovered the legendary Tilos Rádió. It was a pirate radio playing only at night so it was very hard to catch the waves of the broadcast – I had to turn all my room into one receiver, connecting all wires and metallic objects with the radio including the vacuum cleaner and the heater system. Then I recorded the shows to cassette full off noise and hiss.
Usually some random Hungarian DJs were playing without comments or track names. I had no clue what music they played but I knew it was MY music. It fascinated me. Not one of my friends knew that this music existed and when I showed them most of them didn’t really get it. Old school stuff, Detroit, French house, atmospheric jungle, breaks.
Later I turned more towards 60’s Blue Note records and 70’s jazz-fusion. Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Weather Report were my favourites. Turned back to electronics in 2006-2007. Since that time I am trying to express the music buzzing in my head.
Another life turning date was a year ago when I realized the best music is not released on digital so I have to buy them on vinyl – I bought a pair of used MK2’s. To test my equipment I entered the Deep Record Store to buy 2-3 records. That’s where I met Crimson, who works in the shop. He is a genius DJ, a promoter with knowledge and a shopkeeper with insight. He instantly knew what I needed to do and his advice opened my eyes to a whole new world of house and techno music.
2012 was life changing for me in many ways. I met other people from the Budapest scene. Previously I didn’t realize the scene existed at all but suddenly everything started to boil around me. I met Route 8 (we make music together), Telefunken (we play out together), Mr Fiel and in:form from freakyhouse (we play out together, swap records plus they released my music), Joe Bonez (a defining guy in the BP house scene who now moved back to UK) and the fabulous Bounce Crew an amazing promoter & label crew who made real magic: gathered a decent crowd of people out of nowhere and made them listen to new and fresh music on a regular basis. All these people make it happen that the previously small and peripheral scene of Budapest is starting to EXPLODE!!!
What artists/albums have been key in defining your personal music taste?
A random and eclectic selection of some tracks that defined my taste:
It’s great Andy mentioned Pacific State by 808 State, it’s one of my all time favourites.
As for house (and a bit of techno) music I love the faces label, MCDE, Christopher Rau, Smallpeople, Dynamodyse, Nicholas, KaSpar, Gerd AKA NY Stomp AKA Geeman, Borrowed Identity, Tom Ellis, Kez YM, Rondenion, Luv Jam, Schatrax, We Play House, Rawax, Burek, Delsin, Fear of Flying, ManMakeMusic, and off course the one and only Blind Jacks Journey and a lot lot more.
It’s all happening so fast and I find 10+ interesting artists and labels at least each week. It’s hard to choose but one of my dream jobs would be to compile a “Back to Mine” album. But until that if you are interested you can follow my facebook page where I often post music that grabs me:
For me ‘Blorp93’ is the standout track on ‘Dream House Volume 1.2’ – It sounds like you were influenced from house and early rave music. How did you go about developing this track?
Yeah, definitely early rave music. Like I mentioned I have lots of music fascinated me including early rave and jungle. One day it just hit me in the head – I love the power of house music and the rawness of rolling break drums. Long ago, in the early days of rave music they could perfectly work together- why can’t I use them like that?
I took the right break loop and created a catchy house beat. Then I felt it needs a big piano tune. Then took some strings and arps to connect the parts and let the track float. I love that sound and I guess I will use those breaks in the future too.
In what environments do you prefer to make music in? What’s your studio equipment situation like at present?
My studio is not much more than a laptop. I consider this as a weakness because I love the raw analogue sound and it would be much better to make that with real analogue hardware. But I don’t have any. The most interesting object in my studio is my Akai EIE Pro Soundcard and my two Technics MK2’s.
I would prefer working with a TR808, TR909, an MS20, a DX7 and a Polysix plus some analogue mixers, tube amps, tape recorders, hardware samplers, sequencers and a Fender Rhodes. I guess I need some more years to collect all these but I’m on it.
Any words of wisdom for our readers?
1. TowLie ‘This is a Momenth (BMX Edit)’ [WT Records]
2. STL ‘Loon Side Drift’ [Something]
3. Tiger Mask ‘Zero Gravity’ [Jam Traxx]
4. Heko ‘Nu Reve’ [Blind Jacks Journey]
5. Massimilliano Pagliara ‘Sensation 9 (Marco & Orpheo Mix)’ [Rush Hour]
6. River & Phoenix ‘Follow Your Dreams, Pursue Your Nightmares’ [Let’s Play House]
7. Hundred 20 ‘Summer Of 89’ [MCDE /Faces]
8. Gnork ‘One Point Two’ [Blind Jacks Journey]
9. Motor City Drum Ensemble ‘The Stranger’ [MCDE /Faces]
10. Freestyle Man ‘Master Class’ [Hairy Claw]
11. Spencer Parker ‘Show Him You’re The One (ItaloJohnson Mi)’ [Tsuba]
12. Fold ‘Slime’ [Manmakemusic]
13. Gnork ‘Blorp 93’ [Blind Jacks Journey]