Feature: Atjazz

Picture of Atjazz

Interview by Marc Kets

Martin Iveson has come a long way since he unleashed his Atjazz monker onto our ears through his own Mantis Imprint in 1996. He has since released two albums including the exceptional work ‘Labfunk’ in 2001 and he has recently released his third opus ‘Full Circle’, where he has collaborated with the mighty Robert Owens on tracks such as ‘Love Someone’, which has found favour with tastemakers the world over. He has recently started the Version project with dance music royalty Charles Webster and judging by the fruits of their labour over the past few years this is going to keep Martin at the very precipice of quality music for years to come. Martin Iveson is certainly someone who puts swing in all his music and his records invariably have kept me entertained on dancefloors the world over.

Where did your love of music stem from?
I guess when my sister used to listen to northern soul when I was a kid, I kind of got into listening to Alexander O'Neal / Luther etc. a little later on. I've always loved the soft soul elements of sound.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get his or her music out there?
Make sure you make it good! There is a lot of very tame music coming through, my advice is put your heart into it, and your music will last the test of time.

When you think of house music, you tend to think of New York City or London but you're based in Derby and sealed your reputation through the Nottingham-based DiY imprint. What do you think it was about the area that made it so fertile for house music?
Well to the best of my knowledge, it's been a bit of a melting pot for music from the early days of house. Derby and Nottingham are smack bang in the middle of England and a lot of people have stopped off stuck around and left, a large amount of hit club nights have passed through, too. We were really lucky in the early days of trip hop too, James Lavelle had his Mo’wax official club night here presented by Athletico, we had a far whack of amazing DJs around back then, DJ Krush, DJ Shadow, Attica Blues etc. not forgetting the other nights either, Progress and Renaissance also started in Derby. Lets say all of this happening, DJs passing through, you also had DiY, Charles Webster, Nail (Bent) and many more, I think joining the forces of Nottingham and Derby you got yourself a little Manchester! Loads going on!

How have your production techniques changed since 1996?
Well I've gotten into producing songs a lot more, my studio is large as when I started out it was tiny in my cellar at home where I made "that something" yeah I think after doing this for 13 years I’ve had time to grow into my music.

You've worked on soundtracks for video games in the past. Is there a different approach when working for this medium as opposed to trying to make a record that makes people dance?
Very, it's all about making things fit basically, there are very string boundaries, I did it for 16 years, I've kind of left it behind now, I still do the odd job but it's no longer as important to me.

Did you experience any backlash when a British national dance publication famously declared deep house 'Dad House' at the tail end of the 90s?
Well we're all getting older, I think what I'm writing at the moment is soul, I don't mind dad house, but to be honest I use that phrase more than anyone so I don't think (hopefully) that it's caught on as a genre thank god! Or thank dad?

How did you come up with the name Atjazz?
I took it the name idea from an episode of Top Cat, A.T.Jazz was a bit of an enemy to Top Cat, the ‘A.T.’ stands for all that! So I jammed it together to make Atjazz - allthatjazz!

Why did you start Mantis Recordings?
Through wanting to release my own music without boundaries! It's an outlet for great underground sounds whatever it may be!

What was it like working with Pete Wraight on Labfunk?
Pete is amazing; I've never drunk so much tea! He's a good friend and I learnt a lot from him, we still make music together today!

If you were forced to single out a few of your releases, which ones would you pick and why?
I think my new track with Robert Owens that feels like a whole joint! "One" from my new album full circle, and maybe a few older tracks like, fifth quarter, wind and sea, I think it mainly because us producers are own worst critics, I can't personally pick fault with these pieces!

What was it like working with Robert Owens?
Robert is awesome, really great spirit, obviously a great talent and full of ideas, really one of the easiest thing I've worked on, we kept the vibe and that’s the great thing. We're working on new material together now - watch this space!

Are you still afraid of flying?
Yup, I hate it! Grrrrrrr. but I get by. My iPod Touch keeps me sane!

You've worked alongside Brooks as Lesbonics 101. What was it like working with someone who has quite an avant-garde approach to house music?
Well I think his sound has become more odd as he's gone on, I help heavily in producing his first album and also on a few bits on his second but working with Andy is easy, he's a studio geek like me and love messing around, he gets things together easily and it's a pleasure to work with him.

How did the Version collaboration come into being with Charles Webster? What does each of you bring to the table when producing tracks?
Charles and I have been spinning together for about 9 years since my 25th birthday! We hung out a lot, never really went in the studio, then it kind of just happened one day, we looked at each other and decided to take over the world, we're still working on the blueprints!

What makes for a successful collaboration?
Ease of letting go, being honest, that’s the key!

What do you think went wrong with broken beat?
Well, it's man music, it's 50% for producers to show off to each other (that’s a good thing) and the rest of the stuff is great to dance to. I think there were a lot if not too much plagiarism going on and it imploded. The people out there that count are ace and still around!

Tell us about your new album 'Full Circle'.
Well it's now been mixed 3 times; I really wanted it to sound perfect for me, not really for anyone else. I also wanted the chance to get some of my favourite vocalists more coverage and work with some people I admire, but I really wanted a perfect sound in the album, I think all producers make an album like that. I'm producing number 4 now and that is only going to be available on plastic! Yes, please!

Why did 'Broken Slang' take so long to come out?
Label Logistics, the industry was falling onto it's knees, we really didn't feel putting the Clyde album out in this mess would be a good move, also Prime Distribution went down, then Amato etc. It's all sorted now and that’s the important thing, we survived a horrible hit to the system. We're back baby!

Are there any producers or styles of music exciting you at the moment?
Yes always! Listening to a lot of soul always gets me going, the latest Angie Stone album, clean as a whistle! Interesting things like the latest IG Culture, also a few little bit out of Germany on Philpot, and of course, Osunlade etc. The whole soul house thing hits me every time.

www.versionsounds.com
www.atjazz.co.uk
www.mantisrecordings.com
www.myspace.com/atjazz

Marc Kets, Jun 2008

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