Jaymo and Andy George: We just want to keep raising the bar
Jaymo and Andy George are a twosome who have made pretty impressive progress with their musical careers over the last few years. Having started out putting on nights in their hometown, Lincoln, the duo have gone on to start their own record label, organise far bigger events, making their own music and, of course, landing their own show on Radio 1.
Who were the first musicians you were into? And who inspired you, individually, to become musicians?
Jaymo: My main love has always been samples and melodies. Sampling provides such unorthodox results – if you can predict what a song is about to do then it’s never going to be as good as if a song surprises you – even if that song is musically rich.
I guess that passion started when I was at school, with people like Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers, alongside the whole nineties trip-hop scene. I’d say my passion for melodic club music was solidified by the electroclash emergence that followed.
Andy: My Mum’s a pianist and my dad collects vinyl (ironically) so I was exposed to music from an early age. My parents were really keen that I learnt too, so I started playing the cello when I was 11, I think I got to Grade 6 but then left it there when I was 15 and got a pair of belt drive turntables for my birthday.
From then on I was buying all kinds of different records, from indie stuff to house and techno. Thanks to people like James Murphy my ears have always been open to all kinds of different sounds and influences.
How did both of you get together?
A mutual friend put us in contact because we were both talking about starting a new party in Lincoln, where we both grew up. Turned out we both had a very similar vision – a few months later Moda was born.
How did you go about making your early dreams of having a musical career a reality?
I know this is gonna make us sound like hippies, but it really is about hardwork and belief. If you’re genuinely passionate about something you can make it happen, you just need to create opportunities. That’s why we attacked from all angles; throwing the Moda parties, producing, constantly looking for new music, starting the labels. A lot of this kicked off around 2007. We’d be working or studying all day, then doing Moda stuff or making music at night. Moda has always defined us though.
How long was it between deciding to become producers/DJs to getting to a point where you felt as though it was a worthwhile pursuit?
Once we started putting on our own parties and seeing a tangible return, I think that was the tipping point. It was the realisation that being a successful artist wasn’t based on luck, it was based on you making it happen. When you’re really young it’s easy to think those vocations are out of reach and that you should be doing a ‘proper’ job.
Did you ever face any opposition from your parents? What would you both have done if music didn’t work out?
Jaymo: Not at all. I could have said I wanted to be a road sweeper or a stunt man and they would have supported me, as long as it made me happy. I lost my Mum suddenly a couple of years ago, I’m just so glad she saw me fulfilling this childhood dream first. Her life ambition was to be a good mother, so my success was her success. She was, and is, a massive inspiration to me. If music wasn’t an option, I’d work in design or marketing and brand development; all of these are things I’m really involved with for Moda anyway.
Andy: Same as Jay, my parents were so supportive all the way. Music doesn’t seem like a likely career when you’re younger and I also really wanted to work in television, they helped me get work experience. I went to study broadcasting in London, then I started working for ITN when I was 19, floor managing news bulletins for ITV and Channel 4. Throughout this time I was DJing and then working on Moda. I was determined to make it happen, and it did! I guess I would still be working in television if music hadn’t have happened but we’re so lucky in that we get to wake up and actually use our passion to make a living – we certainly don’t take it for granted.
You started out making music that’s a bit different to what you’re doing now, why the change?
Andy: We were more into into a UK sound when we broke through, it was a really cool time, but we’ve ended up returning back to something closer to the sound we grew up with. I guess ultimately the records you buy when you first start DJing, or going to proper clubs, end up defining you for your entire life. If I need inspiration in the studio I almost always head for those records rather than new stuff. The result of that is we have never felt so emotionally attached to our music as we do right now.
Now you’re at a pretty good stage in your careers, how does it feel? To what would you credit your success?
It feels amazing, every day we think how fortunate we are. We are living out our 18-year-old dreams (minus Jessica Alba and the XJ220). But there’s never gonna be a time when we’ve ticked everything off our list because we’re not the complacent types. As well as busting our balls, it’s also about working with the right people and having the right attitude. As well as us, Moda is also our longtime friends Craig, Ben and Tom. We all have different skills we bring to the table. We have amazing managers too – they don’t work for us and we don’t work for them – we just work together and that’s how the best stuff happens. You see some old school ‘superstar’ DJ’s bossing their managers around for stupid stuff, like making sure their dressing room is a specific temperature or ensuring all their towels are a certain thread count – I mean, seriously?
If those types of DJs allowed their managers to think strategically rather than wasting their time with nonsense crap then they’d be making even more money!
Would you say it’s easier to do well in life by working in a twosome?
Quite possibly – we are essentially two people working as one artist – J&AG – which is why we get so much done. There’s load of behind-the-scenes stuff we do. As well as DJing, producing, label A&R and the radio shows, we’re still very hands-on with events and the business side of Moda. It means no two weeks are the same, which is perfect. Your best ideas tend to come when you’re not thinking about a problem, so that dynamic provides constant inspiration.
If you could impart a key piece of advice to any young people considering trying to emulate your success, what would you tell them?
Hard work and honesty – again, sounding like a hippie, but if you’re not legit then people will see through you, but if you are legit your passion and enthusiasm becomes infectious.
What was the idea behind starting up Moda Black?
We spent a lot of last year talking to new acts we were interested in for the label, but when it came to planning it all out we realized the breadth of artists was quite wide. The most logical step was to create a new department, if you like. Think of it as ying and yang; Moda Music is for the brighter stufff, and Moda Black is for the darker club stuff. The lines will blur sometimes, no doubt.
What are your plans with the label? Which releases do you have scheduled?
We’ve just released the Moda Black compilation, which I really think solidifies the sound of the label. It’s 13 tracks made exclusively by artists on the label, such as Hot Since 82 and Mia Dora, as well as artists we’ve been big supporters of, such as Disclosure and Tim Green. We literally couldn’t have been any happier with the end result! But we can honestly say we’re only just heating up. The forthcoming releases are gonna blow peoples heads off. A lot of our artists a very new names on the scene – which is really our ethos. Finding and developing new acts.
The next release is from a Scottish duo called Mia Dora, followed by a new dude called Prince Adam. Forward-thinking, incredibly well produced house and techno, basically. They’ll also be a new J&AG EP soon too. Flip over to Moda Music and the next release is from a new French guy called Plezier – we gave the track to Claude VonStroke to test out and it’s been causing pandemonium.
Who are you really into at the moment, in terms of new/contemporary artists?
For electronic music, we’re big fans of Amirali’s new album on Crosstown. A young guy with a lot of talent and ideas. Behling & Simpson from Bristol are making really soulful slow-mo house with smooth basslines and skippy garage percussion – quite a unique combo.
It’s great to see Todd Terje getting so much heat this year – just goes to show that the essence of disco will genuinely never die. Albeit the Italo side.
Any hot tips/names to watch? (Apart from yourselves)
Hot Since 82 is getting bigger by the day. A bias opinion given he releases on Moda Black, but you can mark our words on that. Maxxi Soundsystem isn’t a brand new name, but he’s about to get a whole lot bigger. We’ve heard his new stuff and it’s immense!
The whole Wolf Music crew, along with people like Bicep and Dusky, are doing really great things. Strong UK influences but in a way the makes them appealing to the global market. For even newer names Walker & Royce, Karmon and Jesse Perez have all got our undivided attention right now.
What does the future hold for you both? Or what would you like to be doing in say five years time?
We just want to keep raising the bar on everything we’re already doing. Breaking more artists on the label (that’s a great feeling!), throwing bigger, better and more innovative parties all over the world, possibly some kind of album project.bbc, Jaymo & Andy George, music, radio 1
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