Jeremy Underground | Beauty
I couldn’t be prouder of that playlist because for me every tune on this is killer and every tune blew my mind when I first heard it, every tune grew in my mind. I have stories about all of these records, and I would remember the moment I first heard it, who put me onto it, when I got the record, where I was.
“You know there are all those kind of tunes that when you first hear it you listen to it like 100 times in that first week, that’s the kind of obsessive music listener I am. The NCCU track for example. It was my friend Fredfades, who got me into it. He is a Norwegian DJ/ Soul-Funk collector and Hip Hop producer from Oslo. We have been sharing music with one another for years, I met this guy in 2009 when I visited Oslo, he is younger than me and super deep into records. I would say he is one of the best guys in Europe or even the world for such a wide range of good music. When it comes to Rare Grooves he is in it much deeper than me. He’s not really into House, but Soul, Funk and Jazz you know, he is deeply involved.
He’s the kind of guy that when he posts something I will always go through the mix and truly listen to every track. And he just played it! I cant quite remember the name of the set it was maybe 2010 or 2011 and then that tune came on and I was like, ‘what the fuck is this?!’ He told me the name and I remember buying a copy off Discogs when returning home from the Canary Islands in 2011. I connected to the mobile network and saw an email from Discogs saying that one copy has come up for sale! Now normally I don’t want to stay on the internet for long because you know how expensive it can be when abroad, but at this moment I really did not care. I had to just buy it right then. I then called up my good friend Milo, and was like ‘Dude, I have the NCCU copy!’ I just had to tell someone you know. It wasn’t even that rare or that expensive but I was just so happy. Man it’s a beautiful record. It makes me think like cosmic soul, you know there is something psychedelic about it, it’s got that psychedelic vibe but it’s not what is typically thought of when you use that word, it has no ‘smoking blunts’ kind of connotations around it. It’s a specific vibe that I just can’t quite describe.”
N C C U – ‘Superstar’
Beauty is Jeremy’s compilation of some of the finest and rarest Soul-Funk records he’s discovered over his career, which is no small feat given the amassment of records he’s collected as a DJ. As well as wanting to release a record more soul and jazz-orientated, Jeremy’s desire to showcase album artwork more expressive of his musical identity saw him partner with Elliot Fairhurst, with the view to capture something more reflective and personable:
Jeremy and I first met at one of his gigs in Germany 5 years ago. It was towards the end of a short trip round Europe. Only weeks before I took one of the photos that was to feature on ‘Beauty’. After meeting Jeremy that night we stayed in touch over Facebook and Instagram. Without the technology of the internet, he probably would have never seen my work. I think in ways it may have appealed to him because of the raw side to it. I think these photos could be a perfect reflection of Jeremy’s raw and pure taste of music.
These days it has become all too easy to capture these moments of time, too easy in fact that it is a common catastrophe of the time we live in. Too much time has been wasted attempting to get the perfect picture or to capture the perfect selfie. Don’t get me wrong, I love all elements of photography and understand that digital cameras have the capability to capture things film cameras never could, but for me it is all about the moment, the here and now; this is why I prefer to shoot with film. It does not distract oneself from the moment, no time is wasted taking 10 of the same shot, and no time is wasted filtering through thousands upon thousands of photos trying to decide which image is the best.
To me each photo is perfect because of that time, and even if it isn’t what you expected it is what it is, and that, for me, is the simple beauty of it. The raw element of film inspires truth, no editing, just what it was in that moment when the lens opens its spiral doors for a split second, and spectrum’s of light sear their way into the dark abyss of the camera until finally making contact with the brown transparent film. Within the same second darkness falls again and memories are saved for eternity.
The cover is actually made up from four separate moments, from three very different parts of the world. The silhouette of Jeremy was taken by Dan Medhurst, at Dimensions festival in 2015. Then there was one taken when exploring the Southern mountains in Montenegro, only weeks before meeting Jeremy for the first time. Then the other is actually a double exposure of the view from a place called Frenchman’s Peak, in Western Australia.’
The internal cover is made up of another four pictures, both double exposures. The one with the cresent moon was taken on La Maddalena, Italy. It is overlapped with the double exposure of kayaking off an unknown island in the Philippines, probably my favourite destination on the planet.
I loved it when I first saw that the photos have been layered on top of one another, it created something entirely new, it took the whole idea of a double exposure to the next level, combining time and destination into a perfect visualisation that completely fit the style of this album. All the original photos are featured on each side of the 2 records.
On the release itself Jeremy explains how it took three years to produce the record, the brainchild of Danny from Psychemagik. “When Danny first heard me playing a Soul-Funk set he absolutely loved it. And he’s typically the dude who doesn’t care so much about what I’m doing in the House scene because he’s not that into it, but he is CRAZY about these 7”s that I’m playing. He said to me, “Dude we need to make a compilation!” and so I jumped on it. I have always wanted to express myself in that field because people know me for my House side, which is amazing, but in order to give a complete picture of who I am, musically, I need to express my love for this side too.
He wanted to give audiences a picture of himself as not just a ‘house dude’, but someone who cares deeply about other sorts of music. “It’s me you know; this compilation is a reflection of me. And I know that it may come as a surprise to some people who thought I was just a House DJ, but for me I am just so happy and so proud of this release. Finally I can express myself even more and be more confident about mixing up styles because now, it is official. I am also into that.”
It’s me you know; this compilation is a reflection of me. And I know that it may come as a surprise to some people who thought I was just a House DJ, but for me I am just so happy and so proud of this release. Finally I can express myself even more and be more confident about mixing up styles because now, it is official. I am also into that.”
That desire to express himself beyond just house manifests itself throughout the record, with elements of soul, disco, funk and jazz resonating through the 14 tracks. Undoubtedly his musical approach has changed and evolved over the years, from his days as a house head to eventually uncovering the endless realms of music across the genres prevalent in this release. “I started as a House kid from the first record I bought when I was 10. Up to the age of 18 or 19, I was a House head. I would listen to Hip Hop and everything and would say ‘ahh this is good, that’s good’, but I wouldn’t buy those records or care about the labels enough to buy them. But at some point, you realise, New York house is not infinite, you’ve got Jovonn, Blaze, Kerri and smaller artists but there are not millions of labels so I kind of always get back to the same tracks, and I thought, I want to expand. I wonder what the older people are listening to, and of course when you try to get deeper it’s always disco, and then soul, funk and then jazz and then at some point I started to really feel it, this was older music, bus it was the roots of house music, the music that house producers would listen to when they were kids.”
Since 2007/08 Jeremy became more interested in Rare Grooves, building a strong collection on the side of his comprehensive House and Techno collection, naturally taking a greater interest in movements of soul, funk and jazz. “With Soul-Funk collecting there are a lot of Hip Hop dudes that are into it because of the whole sampling side. In Europe right now, the people in the world of rare grooves – who are deep into African Jazz and Brazilian and everything – usually they are not the same as the people who are really deep into House music, sadly. In France and the UK maybe it’s a bit more varied, but usually those people don’t actually really mix. These people that strictly listen to Soul-Funk would be like ‘ahh House music…it’s just music for the kids’. So it’s kind of two different worlds, and for me, it’s two different passions. So I stayed House because you know, ok, I had to express myself through the [MLIU] label and everything, but then on the other side I collect the super rare 7”s and at some point I was like ‘man yeah I wanna play these 7”s as well’.”
We caught up with Jeremy before his recent London Boiler Room show with Kerri Chandler. The full interview Jeremy Underground | Insight and Inspiration coming soon.
Words by Elliot Fairhurst and Will Harris