Jacky isn’t too cool to admit he’s doing his dream job and loving every second. And it shows: when the curly haired smiler is bouncing about on the decks, plotting a route through big and boisterous house and tech, his energy is infectious. His crowds suck it up and give it back with relish, and have helped propel him from bedroom loser to European mainstay in just a few years. These days, Jacky somehow finds himself as a contemporary tastemaker: the tunes he makes have hit the top of the Beatport charts a number of times, and get big plays from key stars like Skream, Jamie Jones and Marco Carola. As a passionate drummer, everything this goofy Geordie does starts with the kicks and hits. From there he builds up the vibes with versatile styles that reach into disco, tech and deepness as required. It’s the same story in the studio, where Jacky lays down the sort of big hearted, high impact sounds he gets off on when getting down. He’s done so on VIVA, DFTD, Repopulate Mars, FFRR, Elrow Music and many others, always with a unique sense of character.
You’re from the UK correct? Can you tell us whereabouts? Where you went to school and where you started your early clubbing and raving days?
Yup! I’m originally from a little village called Crook (which I never tell people because there’s a 99.999% chance you haven’t heard of it!). It’s about 30 minutes out of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the North East. My school life was a bit mad actually. I started and finished school in the UK in the North East but in the middle I lived in Africa for 5 years. Ghana for a short while but the majority of that time was in Tanzania. It was there where I found my love for music. I got my first drum kit when I was around 8 and that was it – I knew from that point music was going to be a big part of my life. My clubbing started in the UK. Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester were the main spots for me. Some of the best times of my life spent in clubs like Cosmic Ballrooms, Plug and Sankeys.
When you first started your electronic music experiences in the UK did you already have a strong sense that this is where your career would end up being?
Yeah, 100%. It was actually when I went to Sankeys in Manchester for the first time for my 19th birthday. It was a breakbeat night; Meat Katie and Plump DJ’s. I left there and remember saying to my mate ‘I’ll play there one day’. I kept my word – I played there about 1 year later and 6 years later I was throwing my own ‘Jacky & Friends’ parties there (and hitting capacity too may I add!). I always throw myself head first into projects and securing my own party at Sankeys was most definitely one of them I’m really proud of.
Looking back further into your school and educational days? Is there any distant memories that you can share that relate to where your career is in 2019 and heading in 2020?
I started to listen to trance and hard house through my early teens. Tiesto, Tidy Boys. These early influences definitely had an impact on my interest in electronic music.
If you didn’t take that path what do you think you would be doing for a career and paying your bills?
Well I graduated university with a degree in Music Technology, so if I wasn’t DJing I reckon you would find me in a studio somewhere, maybe an engineer. I wouldn’t really care, as long as it was something to do with music!
What was the first record or download you paid for with your hard-earned money?
I remember the first record I ever bought was in 2004 and it was Tiesto – Traffic. Still one of my favourite records ever.
Your current top 5 tunes are?
George Marshman – Attached
Ben Read – As You We’re
Manu Gonzalez & Shaf Huse – Yollow
Patrick Topping – Turbo Time
Cloonee – Hot
Your latest release on Repopulate Mars is ripping the dancefloors up currently in Bali. How did you go about getting a track signed to arguably one of the hottest labels in all the things house music right now?
PS: we have reviewed so many tracks from that label and they just keep pumping out the hits. What do you think their secret formula is and who is the brains behind signing so many quality releases? – It was actually really really easy (in terms of communication and agreeing on the EP!). I sent across a bunch of tracks across and Nick, who runs the A&R over at Repopulate Mars, got back to me the same day saying he loved them and wanted to pass them to Lee, who also liked them – and that was it! 3 track EP and a naughty remix from Mathias Kaden. Buzzing!
Tell us a little bit about your label ‘Jacky & Friends’. What have you got coming up?
Loads! I’ve got EP’s coming up from Holmes John, Piem and loads more for 2020. Looking big!
How about your collaborations with Holmes John from Australia. Its been the biggest track in the clubs down there for months..Tell us how the collab comes together? Working remotely? Which label is it on?
Precisely yeah. Me and Michael (Holmes John) will send an idea across and then we finish each others idea off. We may have to go back and forth 2 or 3 times but the process is so easy. ‘Mumma’, which we released on Circa Trax at the start of this year, was made exactly this way. It was an idea than Michael had got stuck on, and just fired it across to me not that excited about it, but as soon as I heard it I knew there was something in there worth salvaging! It’s a banger, I really like that record. A year later and it’s still doing the business, which of course we are over the moon about!
Its spent weeks as the #1 club track down under – what was the winning formula do you think and anything you can share from your teams hard work to help it get into the right airwaves and market that some upcoming and aspiring producer could read for some advice from one of the industry-leading and most humble guys right now?
I can’t say we have a formula so to speak. The most important thing is ‘content’. You need LOADS of content. Getting videos of big artists playing your track to big crowds is essential. How you attack the promo is literally the difference between a track flopping and smashing the charts.
While we on the subject of Australia what is it in the water down there right now that seems to be some sort of voodoo magic with the events and producers and legendary tales and vibes that just don’t seem to stop?
It has to be the weather, surely! Although if the weather was this good in the UK all year round you wouldn’t find me in the studio! Haha. I love being down under. The people are really up for it and my sound works so well over there at the moment. Every time I go back I have more shows and BIGGER shows too! I agree: there is a real buzz about house music in Australia right now and I hope that continues!
Any Australia cities, clubs or producers you would like to shout out to for a bit more recognition for their work or vibes to date and deserve an extra plug?
Yes, 100%. Big ups to my boy Holmes John. He’s a killer producer and an even better bloke. Big things coming for him in the next 12 months, I can feel it.
How about at home? Who from back home do you think will be the next guy we will be seeing hit the bigger stages soon? And why exactly?
Illyus & Barrientos are well on their way now. Really see them taking off in to the stratosphere over the next year. I really liking Ray Mono at the moment too. His sound is really strong in the UK and Europe at the moment and he’s had a great year, I think 2020 is going to be massive for him too.
Jumping back over to Bali. What’s your plan while here? A few days of between jet setting shows? Does some downtime include? Any food to try? Any places you heard about that you want to check out?
I’m there for 5 days actually! I can’t wait. The only time I’ve been to Bali was when I was 17 and I went with my Mam, Step Dad and brother & sister, so this is going to be considerably different! My days off will include chilling, eating and being a general tourist. Can’t wait!
What else can we expect to see from you in the near future Jacky?
I’ve got music coming up on Superfett, Solotoko, Circa Trax, my label Jacky & Friends and loads more locked in for 2020 which I can’t wait to announce 🙂