Posted by: SandraDeeble
May 14, 2011
Jazzie B tells Sandra Deeble about his favourite places to get creative. Jazzie B started DJ-ing when he was 13. Later he went on to forge hits like Back to Life and Keep on Movin’ with his dance band Soul II Soul sound system.
He recently moved from his old offices in Camden to a new workplace – The Yard in Soho. There’s space for a shop, a big lofty room with decks and records, corridors for pacing or scootering and a warehouse downstairs that’s reminiscent of the party venues Jazzie used in the early days of Soul II Soul.
“I came up in buildings like this so it feels quite right. I love the vast volume of space. There’s all different textures so it can put you in different frames of mind: there’s a different vibe in each room. In the Yard there’s a scenic vibe. The other day someone came here and said: ‘Do you guys work?’. We’re going to put palm trees out there and light it up.
“I don’t like the word ‘office’, it’s too corporate. In Camden we had particular spaces allocated, it was like ‘the office is here and that’s there’ but now we’ve freestyled it up a little bit, that was all part and parcel of us changing our rhythm and coming here.
“It’s a different surface in Soho. It’s rustic but it’s in the middle of town. It’s that English cobbled mews kind of thing but with music and fashion all around: you’ve got Berwick Street market and loads of record shops, it’s so vibrant and there’s this amazing energy.
“When people ask me what I do I say ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’. It’s writing, producing, DJ-ing, looking after artists like Wookie, mentoring some of the kids we look after at Soul II Street.
“I remember my careers teacher saying: ‘What do you mean “sound system”, Beresford? There’s a perfectly good job going at BT’ but I weren’t having none of it so I applied for loads of jobs and I ended up working for Tommy Steele and got into the music business.
“I don’t know where I’d be without music. I don’t see work as work. I go to a record shop and that’s work – it’s how I meet other producers, potential artists and sometimes investors. Or I can go to Strut, or meet Wookie in a clothes shop. For the past three months we’ve been at every festival, and that’s work.
“My real work space is Lonely Hill, Antigua. Next year I’m doing a festival there. I also go there to chill out but after 48 hours I’ve got to do the next thing: doing some keys, emailing, programming, nicking an idea from here and there.
“I’m so blessed. I’ve got to be responsible to a degree but at the same time I can have a laugh and a bit of fun. I can do a bit of indoor football in here for 10 minutes but then I go and check the artwork.
“I’ve just turned 40 and I’m so loving it. I’ve got a lot of young people around me, that keeps it fresh. Sometimes I meet people and they say: ‘My mum knows you! I was probably made to you!’
“I had more inhibitions before but I suppose I’ve laid down foundations over the past 20 years so now I can take each day as it comes. I just fear God and live.”
@SusieSteiner1 I loved your latest book and read it far too quickly. I’ve just given it to my mum and she is gripped. Thank you.