Ethyl & Milton Jackson
We catch up with Milton Jackson and Ethyl ahead of there appearance this Friday. Read on to find out what there plans are for the summer, get some tips for budding producers and if the music industry is all they expected it to be.
When did you first start DJ’ing, how long has taken you to get as far as you have got right now and has it been hard work?
Milton: Very hard work! 10 years on and off. I started releasing records at 19 and had quite a lot of releases in those early years, then drifted out of it. Started back in 2006 and never looked back!
Ethyl: DJing always came first for me. I got my first set of turntables when I was 13 and have been collecting records since (perhaps with a brief hiatus when I couldn’t afford to feed myself) but it hasn’t been a straight uphill slope to where I am now. There’s never been a grand plan and I’ve been EXTREMELY lucky along the way. I’ve been given ample chances and opportunities by a lot of very kind people, perhaps undeservedly so. It’s certainly not been hard work, I enjoy every minute of it so it never feels like work. I’m convinced if you’re pushing too much, you’re doing something wrong. I’m not a fan of these people who consciously timetable their day and spend hours and hours on a beat because they know they have to. Yeah a lot of these guys get to the dizzying heights of opinion polls but at what price. AT WHAT PRICE?!
In your opinion, what’s your best release?
Ethyl: Crikey, can’t say I’m overly enamoured with a whole lot of them. You won’t catch me playing my own stuff out unless it’s in the making and I want to see how it sounds, but by the time it’s hitting the shelves I’ve more often than not had enough of it. I’d have had enough of any record if I’d heard it as much as I hear my own stuff. I can only apologise to the people who ask me to play an Ethyl track but the truth is I don’t even have them with me, unless I’m bringing a copy to give to someone. The tracks that just seem to happen and are done in an afternoon are the ones I can bear and for that reason maybe Paisley Riffs on Quintessentials or Shelter on secretsundaze, both of which I did with Flori. Aybee’s remix of myself and Huxley’s Reflexions on Tsuba was dynamite!
Milton: I like the latter day Freerange stuff, Probably the Crash LP I did for them.
Where the best place you have played in terms of atmosphere/vibe?
Milton: Loads of good places, I enjoyed womb in Tokyo, Goa in Madrid is always good. Sometimes you get smaller venues though, I had a great time in Grelle forelle recently in Vienna and a boat in Lyon which were Great.
Ethyl: A friend of mine owns a bar in Cleethorpes which for those of you that are unaware is near Grimsby on the east coast. It’s a quiet seaside town where I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for saying, not a great deal happens. I played down there not long ago and the place was absolutely rocking. There’s a bit of a history of house and techno there, I’m told; at some point over the last twenty years, they’ve played host to Kevin Saunderson and Carl Craig and the like, unless someone was pulling my leg.
I’ve also got to mention Freerotation in Wales. We played and attended for the first time last year and that place is just unparalleled. Although we were on early (opening the main room on the first night) the vibe was great. Really pleased to be on again this year - more than anything can’t wait to see the rest of the lineup!
What’s your plans for summer? You playing Ibiza?
Ethyl: I have a few friends on the island who are very good to me so I will have at least one date out there which I always look forward to, whether it’s the pomp and splendour of Space or an ad hoc party in some undisclosed location, it’s always a hoot.
Milton: More of the same really, got some releases out on Tsuba, Morris audio and a new track for Neurotraxx which is quite a mad one! Not sure about Ibiza yet…
Who is your favourite DJ/Best performance you have seen? Even though you’ve probably got countless ones try and pick one special one please haha?
Milton: I saw Ben klock on a Thursday night in sub club in Glasgow. He played a lot deeper than he normally does I think. I really enjoyed that, it was the perfect balance.
Ethyl: This is really difficult. I’m going to make it easier for myself and say the best in the last couple of years and I’m going to have to refer back to Freerotation. There were some stellar sets from Jane Fitz, Miles Sagnia, XDB, Steven Tang, Chicago Skyway, Levon Vincent played a stormer, Steevio, the organiser’s live modular live set was great but the one that took the biscuit was Fred P on Sunday night. He absolutely killed it.
Is the DJ/Music career all you expected it to be? Why?
Milton: There’s a lot of hustling sometimes for little reward! You have to take the rough with the smooth, obviously it’s different in that Luciano/Sven vath bracket. We’re kind of in the deep house trenches here! Those guys are the 4 star generals :-)
Ethyl: I really didn’t have any preconceptions of how it would be but I’m enjoying myself. Some months are good and some months are difficult but I’m definitely not going to complain.
What is your DJ’ing set-up i.e. Turntables, CDJ’s or Laptop and why do you have this preference?
Ethyl: play about 99% vinyl and the odd promo on CDR. The reason I choose to play records is two fold. If the set up is right, it really sounds so much better and secondly I’m a collector. A hard disk of music just feels too transient, it doesn’t feel like mine but my shelves of sleeves and artwork does. It’s one of those impalpable emotional things. It must be the same reason people still buy books even if they’ve got a Kindle. If I get sent a promo digitally and I like it, I will definitely go out and buy the record when it’s available.
This said, I’m in the process of making a ‘reliable’ set of a few CDs at the moment because I’ve had too many bad experiences with jumpy needles and decks feeding back. It can really ruin the vibe in a room if the record keeps skipping and it prevents you from playing what you want and the way you want.
Milton: Traktor with the vinyl controllers. I like the vinyl control with the ability to have loads of tracks on the computer. I run a lot of tracks off vinyl purchases Into the computer.
What is your current Studio set up?
Milton: Logic/ableton>soundcard>summing mixer. Oberheim and various old samplers.
Ethyl: I work mainly in the box - I have a few sound modules, some external effects and a dusty old synth that I found abandoned in Shoreditch (I know, right?). I used to have a lot more hardware and I sold a lot of it when I didn’t have the space and was feeling the pinch so I’m sort of recouping some of that. Got a lot on my to-buy list, but I think I always will.
Can you please go through your processes of creativity when it comes to production?
Ethyl: Every punt’s different. I don’t approach any two tracks or remixes in the same way but loosely it’s about finding that one sound or idea from which everything else follows. If it’s a remix it can be from really mangling up a part from the original or it can be from the mightily embarrassing ‘ideas’ recordings on my phone where I talk myself through ideas that have occurred to me.
Milton: Trial and error/hair tearing/despair/elation. Sums it up.
Any tips you could give budding producers?
Milton: Learn some chords, maybe try using an mpc or something a bit different equipment wise to spice things up a bit and differentiate yourself from your peers.
Ethyl: Take your time - find your sound.
Any upcoming releases you would like to talk about?
Milton: Nice one coming up for Tsuba (vinyl only )plus the mad Neurotraxx one called breakdowns and the Morris audio I mentioned. Prob another track for Freerange as the recent one DSI Has done pretty well
Ethyl: I have a few exciting remixes coming up for labels that I have a lot of time for but I can’t talk about them in any detail. I’m not taking on any more remixes after these are done because the main thing for me is getting some original solo material done this year.
Ethyl-We see you have played in Manchester a few times before. What are your experiences of Manchester and do you like playing here? Like any city of a reasonable size, each time has been different depending on the size of the club, the time of the day and the party I’m playing for but what I have noticed is the people are up for it. Worryingly so! Even the clued up heads seem to go bananas which makes for a great party so I can’t wait to get back up there.
Thanks for your time look forward to seeing you both at the weekend :)