We had the chance to catch Jus Ed after his set for Dure vie’s three years anniversary. He spoke to us about his evolution into a professional Dj, his Underground Quality label, happiness and partying in Paris. Extra gift : The recording of his 6hours set at the Djoon…. Enjoy!
Hard Life • You are half American, half Cape Verdean. You often say that you’ve been raised with music. Which kind of music surrounded in your childhood? Did you practice any instrument?
Jus Ed • Yes I was playing the percussions. In terms of music there was no discrimination. We listened to everything, I was not playing house yet, because I was born in the sixties and that music didn’t exist at that time. I wasn’t actually playing by the way, it was mainly my family that was playing music, classical, jazz, funk or what it was called back then “ doo-wop music”. Doo-Wop was from the fifties.
Hard Life • Actually I heard that you started Djing at 10 years old. Is that true?
Jus Ed • Yeah I started spinning records at ten. I was playing 45s. I wasn’t actually mixing. We just had a stereo console that had a turntable. We used a cylinder to hold the 45s and I was basically the music selector. I selected which songs should go next for dancing.
Hard Life • So you were like a human jukebox.
Jus ED • Hahah, yes exactly.
Hard Life • And around what time did Djing change from being a hobby to a profession?
Jus ED • In 1981.
Hard Life • How did that transition occur?
Jus ED • Well it was a troubled time in my life, and I was escaping real life situations through music. Music has always been a way of coping for me. So I met a DJ from one of the clubs, and he taught me how to beat match. How to count the BPM and use a watch for counting to know how fast the music was going. And then I opened for him in the club after having practiced in front of him.
Hard Life • I’ve never heard of that watch trick.
Jus ED: Yeah you start on the down beat. You count it as one, and you use you watch to count up to 30 seconds and then you double it to know the BPM. Everyone now uses digital tools to count BPMs but it originally started like that.
Hard Life • Do you still use that trick?
Jus ED • No I don’t use this anymore. I can tell immediately how fast or slow the BPM is going because I’ve been doing this for some time. But for instance on the pioneer mixer you have a BPM counter.
You can even get a phone app on you Phone that does it for you now, to know immediately how fast the track is going. When you’re producing music you have to know the beat as well. So the old school was using metronome. A real machine that ticks left to right with a weight, like when you play the piano. That’s how you used to measure time in music. And Keep time.
Hard Life • And now a question a little different, can you tell us about the origins of the Underground Quality Label?
Jus ED • UQ, started as a party brand. It was a brand name around 99. But I met a Vic-Money from 98.7 Kiss FM who I partnered with 2001. In 2002 he retired and I took over the brand and made it into a label, so the label was pretty much created 14 years ago.
Hard Life • Now that you work as a DJ, record label, manager, producer. What do you enjoy the most?
“I Enjoy playing! But my best quality is picking talent. So DJing first, picking talents second, and producing third.”
Hard Life • By the way, if I’m correct, it’s you that scouted out Nina Kraviz before she was famous. How did UQ and you come across someone who was playing House & Techno in Russia? How did you find out about her?
Jus ED • Yes! I came across her on Myspace, but it’s a funny story because I met Anton Zap from Russia first. And I was blown away by the fact that they made music, house music in Russia. Then I met Nina on Myspace. From there the rest of the story is history….
Hard Life • And reading about UQ, you talk a lot of “jersey House”. To us in France it’s not a very familiar term. We know about Detroit Chicago, San Francisco, but Jersey not so much. So what’s Jersey House for you?
Jus ED • Jersey House is the house music that was played in Jersey when I was living there. That was one of my first club experiences. It was a very vocal, spiritual music. It was also gospel house. They were a lot of songs that were talking about being uplifted and the lord, and having faith. But then there was also a lot of music played on the radio from Philly (Philadelphia). So in my opinion it’s sort of where the Jersey House sound came from. Or at least it was how I got my personal exposure to this sound. I didn’t hear from Detroit, until I I went to Detroit in 2004. Omar-s introduced me to some of the Detroit artists. But I didn’t really know where the music was coming from because I was just a fan of the music and I just loved to dance.
Hard Life : Do you have any typical jersey house tracks?
Jus ED • That’s my perception, so it’s may not be exactly Jersey House; but that question makes me think of the group MFB Orchestra or the track I’ll be your friend this track?, but I’m terrible with names. I didn’t know all the labels and stuff, I was just listening to these songs on the New York radio…basically. When I started going to the Shelter parties in NYC I started listening to Kenny Bobien, Byron Stingily… I don’t know where these guys are from exactly. but I would hear there songs in Jersey and to me that’s what I think of when I think of the Jersey sound.
Hard Life • Something not completely related now. You came to play for us in Paris two weeks ago for Dure vie’s 3 years anniversary. My take is that it was a pretty wild party. But what did you think of it? What’s your opinion of the Parisian crowd and atmosphere?
Jus ED: Oh I love it, I love it!
I love it because it’s like playing in NYC. People are very expressive. I mean I can’t single out, but for the party itself it was really a classic moment. I was good and very satisfying as a Dj.
Hard Life • So I’ve got one final question now, which I always ask at the end of interviews. Our blog is called Dure Vie, which in English means “Hard Life”. Our moto is “ life is hard, we make it sweet!”. What exactly makes life sweeter for you?
JUS ED • That’s a long discussion, but if I could generalize, it would come down to music, food and positive environment. If you remember during the party at the Djoon, at one point I got on the microphone and yelled at one of the guy’s that was being disruptive near the DJ booth, and I turned the music down and yelled on the microphone “no fighting”, because if you don’t want to be there just live. And the place just went crazy. I actually have it on the recording you can listen to it.
Hard Life • OK cool, I’m looking forward to listen to your all night long set.
JUS ED • Yes! By the way I’m coming this month to play for Sonotown with Tom Trago at the Virgo, see you there.
Hard Life • Great. Thanks!