Tru Thoughts Records - An Interview with J-Felix
by Alice Beesley
AIB have been lucky enough to chat with well-known Brighton name J-Felix – Producer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ. He released his debut album, “101 Reasons” with Tru Thoughts in 2015, receiving high praise from NME and has toured with Alice Russell and her band as a guitarist. This interview will give you a peep into what its like to be a musician, working with a reputable label, J-Felix’s musical roots and where he draws inspiration from.
I suggest listening to this track whilst reading!
For those who don’t know your music how would you describe it?
My music is based in funk and soul, it’s electronic with elements of Disco, Boogie, and Jazz but it’s rooted in Hip Hop. I like finding original samples and then recreating the music with live instrumentation.
Who are your greatest influences when making new music?
Definitely ‘Amp Fiddler’, he has always been a massive influence of mine because his sound goes across a lot of different BPM’s, for example in one record he’ll have a nice slow R’n’B tune and the next will be a Detroit House tune. He has always managed to a do lot of different stuff but stay coherent - you always know your hearing an Amp Fiddler track.
If you like soul music, you like Amp Fiddler, he’s an amazing singer and used to be a part of Funkadelic. He is also a multi-instrumentalist – he plays the keys and allegedly he taught J-Dilla how to use an MPC.
How many Instruments do you play and which is your favourite?
I play quite a few instruments, but quite a lot of them badly! Guitar is my main instrument, then bass and a little bit of keyboards, as well as drums and percussion.
My favourite is probably guitar, but recently I have gotten into playing synth. I just bought a Juno 106 and it’s really fun, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing most of the time but sounds cool and it’s good fun.
How old were you when you first decided to record something?
I must have been about 14. My brother and I had this four track Tascam tape recorder, I didn’t really understand it - I am really impatient with any technology, I either have to learn it really quickly or I just don’t get on with it at all. I think we were recording some kind of Funk music, my mum’s friend had lent us a few synths and we had my Dads electric guitar and some rubbish electronic drum pads. But we were definitely playing some funk-orientated stuff!
Is your family quite musical then?
Sort of, my family were always really into music. When we were growing up I remember my parents going to festivals and coming back with all these compilations. I grew up in Bristol as well, so they got me into Massive Attack, Roni Size, Gill Scott-Heron and all of these amazing African artists like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé.
My parent’s weren’t necessarily musical but my dad made guitars for a living, so there were always musical instruments all over the house and tons of records and CD’s.
When you’re doing a DJ set what do you think about before hand? Do you curate it or just jump in?
It depends on the set. Sometimes I think about what I’m playing but generally speaking I never play what I plan to, I may think ‘yeah, I’m going to try and play that!’ but inevitably I end up deviating from it. Most of the time I probably don’t plan ahead, but that’s the joy of having a control vinyl with a Traktor, I have thousands of tunes to pick from on my laptop that I can organise. I think if I didn’t have that I would probably prepare some more!
I really enjoy my residency at Patterns which I do twice a month, it’s four hours which can be a long set, but I like it because it’s a great testing ground - if something works I’ll note it down to play in future.
How did you get involved with Tru Thoughts?
I got involved with Tru Thoughts whilst playing guitar for Alice Russell. Her usual guitarist known as TMJuke wasn’t able to do a gig and I was with the guy he shared a studio with playing the guitar for him and I must have come up in conversation because then I got phone call asking if I wanted to do the gig at which I said ‘Yeah! Of course!’ from there I went on tour with Alice Russell.
After the European tour we came to Brighton and I met Paul [Jonas] and mentioned I had some of my own tunes, then he passed them on to Rob [Luis], we met to do an E.P. which ended up turning into my album “101 Reasons”.
How would you describe your relationship with music?
My relationship with music is generally really positive. I think there are a lot of cliché things I could say about it, but right now it is one of the most important things in my life. It can be quite anti-social and tricky to balance, especially if you’re doing a show that’s in the evening or if you’re DJing till 4:00 am.
Music is the love of my life, I am always listening and drawing inspiration from everywhere, not just from music but also life experiences and people I meet- especially right now as I am working on another record.
If you could collaborate with any Artist alive or dead, who would It be?
Good question! I would love to collaborate with Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and Prince 100%. They’re all geniuses. A more current artist would probably be Dâm-Funk. I would like to collaborate with a lot of people, I love to collaborate and I would really like to do something with Alice [Russel].
If you were trapped on a desert island what record would you take with you?
This is really difficult, I can think of 10 or 15 I would take. For now I’ll have to say Waltz of A Ghetto Fly by Amp Fiddler.
What instrument would you take with you?
What random item would you take with you?
Can I take a laptop? [no!] Okay, a little digital 4 track recorder then!
What was the last record you bought?
Yesterday I went to Rarekind Records and bought a 7inch of “Light of The World” by London Town.
Jazz or funk?
Brass or Beats?
Vinyl or Digital?
Vinyl… No, digital.. No Vinyl!