I was curious to find out his ultimate intention when it came to putting the album together. Did he have a set plan or goal in mind in terms of sound or otherwise? “Not really. When I sat down and thought about it, especially as we got towards the end stages, all I really wanted from putting this album out there was for people to listen to it and go ‘that’s good underground dance music.’ I tried to be better than what I’d done previously and took my time on each track. I wanted to have the production levels and detailing so if you’re traveling around you can listen to it in your headphones and find it interesting. I think it also has a theme of well produced music that people will want to play out. Ultimately I wanted it to sound better than anything I’d made before production wise. I put more effort into each track, whether anyone else can hear that remains to be seen. I know I did and I can, personally, hear the improvements I’ve made. I’m still a little bit far off from where I want to be but I put a lot of effort in.” Repeated listens leaves you in no doubt that To Have & Have Not is the sound of a producer, highly revered in underground circles, at the top of his game and has brought some similarly talented friends along for the ride.
The significance of working with Goldie on The Prayer is something you can hear fills him with pride, and rightly so. “I’ve been mates with Goldie for years. To sit in the studio and write a tune with him meant more to me than anything. He’s not written tunes or done collaborations with many people. That let me know how much he thinks of me to even agree to do it, and for me it was like ‘Fuck! I’m writing a tune with Goldie!’ you know? When I used to travel to London from Dorset to go to Metalheadz nights I never would’ve imagined myself in the position where I’m in the studio with him writing tunes for three days.” I mention that it’s one thing for him to cross of his producer bucket list. Laughing, he continues; “Yeah, and if I never do it again I know that the one I did do with him was on my album!” Despite the success of the collaboration, it all could’ve been very different after Goldie was struck down with food poisoning after the first day. Knowing he didn’t want to let the side down he was back in the studio the next afternoon and the entire third day with Jubei and Heist making sure The Prayer was finished. The resulting track is a cut you could place anywhere in Metalheadz’s musical timeline, straddling new school production values with old school styling, swamping you in menacing bass weight and rattling drum work. “I was talking to him on the phone about it and said I want to do something really fucking dark. I didn’t wanna go in there and write something really deep because there were options to make various different things. I wanted it to sound like something me and him would do, that was the most important thing. I feel that it kind of does.”
From emerging onto the scene alongside Breakage in 2006, with detours via labels such as Ingredients and Critical, to being a full on Metalhead with his first album under his belt in 2013, it’s been a hell of a journey for the man they call Jubei. One solitary skit makes it onto To Have & Have Not. It’s the voice of a young woman explaining how being from the middle of nowhere meant they had to make their own parties and that “all the boys had decks, they all wanted to be drum & bass DJ’s.” For such an interesting interlude I had to ask how what she talks about in those 20 seconds resonates with Jubei as a person. “I spent a few years growing up in the countryside so when I heard it I thought ‘Wow, that’s exactly how my introduction to the music was like.’ Me and my mate Will used to hang around his house, wait for his older brother to go out, go in his room and mix really really badly!” he laughs.
Now he’s become that DJ, and producer, he’s always wanted and pretty much knew he was going to be. Proof that no matter where you’re from, hard work means that you can definitely have more than have none at all.
Jubei’s debut album To Have & Have Not is out now on Metalheadz. Check it out below.