Adelaide-based British DJ, producer, and record label owner Kevin Griffiths, otherwise known as Jura Soundsystem joins us for the 21st edition of the Off The Record Mix Series.
Kevin has been a close friend of ours over here at Phonica for quite some time now. For us, he first came onto the scene back in 2006, with his predominantly house and techno-based label Tsuba – which all the way up until 2019 saw releases from artists such as Norm Talley, Galcher Lustwerk, Detroit Swindle (now Dam Swindle) and Mic Newman to name just a few.
Back in 2016, Kevin launched Isle Of Jura – the label that focuses on reinvigorating lost classics and forgotten reggae, dub, disco, boogie and Balearic gems. Debuting with a reissue of the Escape From New York classic, ‘Fire In My Heart’, the label has since gone from strength to strength. Some of our personal highlights include Q’s early ’80s Italo-disco anthem ‘The Voice Of Q’, Yvonne Archer’s timeless cover version of the Chaka Khan hit ‘Ain’t Nobody’, and more recently, two funk and disco-fuelled jewels from The Pearls’ back catalogue – ‘On And On’ and ‘Groovy Beat’.
The final piece of the puzzle comes in the form of Temples Of Jura – Isle Of Jura’s sister-label that caters to original artist material. Since its beginnings in 2018, the label has played host to the likes of Len Leise, Filmico, and of course, Griffiths himself under his Jura Soundsytem moniker.
Coming in at one hour and thirty minutes, Kevin’s eclectic mix is a true reflection of everything that Isle Of Jura stands for – including tracks from Art Wilson, Telephones, Hotline, Andrew Weatherall, and more. Keep scrolling to check out our in-depth interview with Kevin, and there’s a full tracklist underneath that too. Enjoy!
Hi Kevin, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your recording and what the idea was behind it…
Thanks for having me! It’s a cliché but the journey aspect of the mix was a main consideration, taking a trip to different corners of my record collection with some old records alongside some new ones from a few different genres. I’ve just finished the Jockey Slut book on Andrew Weatherall where he talked about the transcendent nature of music which is something I consider with the label and hopefully has come through on this mix too. He continues to be quite an inspiration.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background, perhaps where you grew up and what first got you interested in music?
I grew up in Tunbridge Wells in Kent and for as long as I can remember have been pretty obsessive about music, hearing things like Kraftwerk and The Cure blasting out of my brother’s bedroom probably created that initial spark. Top of the Pops was a big deal and I would avidly check the midweek chart positions on Ceefax, buying 7”s from Woolies in town and the independent record shop Longplayer, which also had a cheap 99p section where a lot of the major label promos would end up. Buying records made me happy and not much has changed there!
For anyone that isn’t already aware of your label, Isle of Jura, how would you describe it?
Primarily a reissue label focusing on resurrecting lost musical gems that are no longer readily available on Vinyl. Its rooted in Balearica (for want of a better word) with forays into Reggae & Dub, Ambient, Street Soul, Proto House, Disco and anything else that floats my boat as the label is ultimately a road map of my musical tastes. I get a kick out of joining the dots between genres and love those records that bridge two worlds.
And what about your Jura Soundsystem production alias…
Jura Soundsystem has the same ethos really and there’s a definite Balearic Dubby vibe going on with everything I do, the BPM seldom rises above 115. I like the idea of escapism when it comes to production so when I’m making stuff like to transport my mind somewhere else which comes through in the music hopefully.
What else can we look forward to seeing and hearing from the Isle of Jura camp in 2021?
There are some great singles coming, the Bassline 12” is next, a UK Street Soul classic that was originally released as a white label in 1987 (the dub version makes an appearance in the mix), another EP from The Pearls and I’m working on a couple of compilations so am in the middle of some hefty licensing at the moment. There should also be another Jura Soundsystem release at the end of the year to complete the trilogy of 6 track Eps after ‘Monster Skies’ and ‘With You’.
What would you say are some of your all-time favourite record labels?
Nuphonic was such a great label run by great people, super interesting music with amazing branding and artwork. Output was another one, the attention to detail was next level, even the promos were unique and each release was quite special as a result. Studio One for the music and sheer breadth of the catalogue that keeps on giving. Golf Channel was a great label and the love really shone through, maybe it will come back one day. In terms of reissues I always dig what Chuggy puts out on Emotional Rescue and Efficient Space is another that’s always on point.
What’s your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in record shops (when they are open!) or do you prefer to find music online?
A bit of both, we’ve lived in Adelaide for 7 years now and there’s a healthy Vinyl culture here and a couple of new shops have just opened. There are some interesting record fairs every few months that usually throw up things I wouldn’t normally find online. Discogs and Youtube are my main areas for digging, plus talking to friends who give regular recommendations.
And what about these crazy lockdown times we’re facing today. What’s been keeping you going through it all?
We’ve been super lucky here and my local gigs returned a while ago and life in general has pretty much returned to normal. I played the Fringe Festival here in Adelaide yesterday and it was great having a run out on a big system again.
- Art Wilson ‘Rebecca’s Theme’
- Metric Systems ‘Adaption Dub’
- House Of Assembly ‘Hot Rock’ (Dub Version)
- Telephones ‘Summit’ (Wind Dance Dub)
- Greg Adams ‘Burma Road’
- Janet B ‘Voices’ (Instrumental)
- Bassline Feat Lorrain Chambers ‘Back To Bass-Ics’
- Steven Halpern ‘Moonrise Over Orion’
- William Aura ‘Dream Dancer’
- Cool Notes ‘Natural Energy’
- Hotline ‘Rock This House’ (Dub)
- Death is not the end interlude
- I Level ‘Number 4’
- NS Kroo ‘Simmons’
- Andrew Weatherall ‘Unknown Plunderer’
- Shine Grooves ‘Hangasumi’
- Restful Night ‘Counting Sheep For You’
- Dream Carpets ‘Melon City’
- Jura Soundsystem ‘Dreamweaver’