DJ, Producer and label owner Jacco@Work has been creating a buzz with his varied style of sound for more than 20 years now. Based out of Dordrecht (The Netherlands), his creativity functions on a global scale and he has never felt satisfied just performing the established big club tunes. He strives to make each set fresh and as diverse as possible. He is known for his consistency. Jacco has shared the decks with a wide assortment of international greats over the years including Eelke Kleijn, Darin Epsilon, DJ Tarkan and many others.
Jacco founded LuPS Records in 2008 and has steadily grown the label into one of the most well known progressive house labels around. Often compared with Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic’s Mistique Music as well as Ivan Nikusev’s OLD SQL Recordings LuPS is one of the best for the old school progressive house sound. We had a chance to sit down and chat with Jacco about the history of LuPS, what’s in store for the future, his own productions and a variety of other topics, a transcription of the interview is below and we hope you enjoy it.
1. How old are you and how long have you been producing / Djing?
Jacco: I’m 40 years old and I started DJ-ing when I was 17. I’ve DJ-ed in many venues across The Netherlands as well as playing at a lot of underground parties in my hometown Dordrecht. I started producing in 2004 and after two years of trial and error and a lot of practising I made my first full track which I called Manhattan Skyline. Ewan McArthur of Bellarine Recordings gave me the opportunity to release it on his label. This was back in 2006.
2. What are your earliest memories of music, what did you listen to growing up? How did you get involved in electronic music and what made you decide to pursue it seriously?
Jacco: My earliest memories of music is my dad’s the vinyl record collection. He was completely hooked on bands like The Shadows, Deep Purple and ZZ Top. Strangely enough my dad also really liked synthesizer music by artists like Vangelis and Mike Oldfield. He used to play this music loudly when my mum was out shopping. As I grew older (between 12-16) I discovered bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Front 242. I call it my dark years. After this period I got in touch with a few guys who had a drive-in show. They took me with them and I started to DJ. Around the same time, during my student years, I met another guy into the same music as me who really taught me DJ-ing and scratching etc.. He was also the person who told to start listening to the legendary but short-lived radio program “For Those Who Like To Groove” presented by Robin ‘Jaydee’ Albers. It got aired on national Radio 3 in The Netherlands . The first hour featured the best new house and techno music, and the second hour was filled up with a DJ who did a live mix. “For Those Who Like To Groove” was probably one of the most intimate dance programs of all times. Unfortunately it only lasted for one year. After hearing this show for the first time I knew that House music would become my way in life and that I wanted to DJ and create my own tracks and have my own radio show.
3. You founded LuPS Records sometime around 2008 i think, what was it that made you want to start your own label? How if at all has LuPS changed over the years
Jacco: Yes I founded LuPS back in March 2008, 2 Years after I released my first track on Bellarine Recordings. Between 2006 and 2008 I had a couple of other releases on other labels, but I wasn’t fully satisfied about how those labels treated me as a producer. With the exception of Bellarine Recordings and Reticent Recordings I never received any kind of royalty payment. It disappointed me but at the same time made me determined that I would do it differently and more honestly. LuPS Records is in fact the outcome of making many radio shows (which I called Locked up Progressive Sounds) on several internet radio stations like ETN, Pure.fm and PureDJ.com. I also did plenty of guest sets for other DJ’s who had their radio shows on internet radio stations. The turning point came in 2005 when I started a 3 hour live radio program on a local radio station with Compagnion Ilker Soylu (aka Philogresz). Through this live radio program I was able to meet and invite many talented Dutch DJ’s like Eelke Kleijn and Embliss and international DJ’s like DJ Tarkan and Darin Epsilon.
As a result of all my radio programs I’d managed to build up a wide international network of labels and producers from whom I received much promo-material including unreleased tracks by artists such as JOSEL, Matias Chilano (who was pretty much unknown at that time), Aber, Native etc.
The final decision to start my own label came when I met DJ Tarkan (No Smoking Recordings). I’d invited him on my radio show when he was in Holland for a gig. I had to pick him up from the airport and during the one hour car drive I had a good conversation with him. He just held a mirror in front of me and showed me all the connections and know how that I had gathered over the past few years. He literately said that the only thing I had to do was to go to my local chamber of commerce and register, the rest was all there. So a few days after the radio show I went to get my chamber of commerce registration and LuPS Records was officially born.
Now 5 years later LuPS Records is still there and nothing has really changed that much. I just had one big change and chance which was signing up with INgrooves, after almost 3 years of doing the distribution all by myself. Looking back on this I still can’t believe that I managed to keep LuPS Records interesting and vital for 3 years without being on sale via Beatport.
4. What advice would you give to producers hoping to get their tracks signed to LuPS? How would you suggest they approach it?
Jacco: The advice I would like to give to producers is that they need to be unique and authentic. Especially with Progressive House music I think it is important to hear that a producer has put their heart and soul into a track. A track needs to give me goose bumps and shivers down my spine or tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
That is the approach for me. “The heart over mind principle”.
For me the mind is termed the logic and what is right for the many. The heart is your feelings and what personally makes you feel good or happy inside regardless of the opinion of others.
You can’t truly function without your mind, but I think that the heart needs to feed the mind when it comes to decisions, as the heart contains the most pure intentions we have. When you decide to make music and you let your heart speak while making it, it can be felt and heard. The music will touch the other person at the same place, namely their heart.
5. What are your thoughts on Artist albums? You just released Napalm’s ‘Sonus Universi’ album which was a huge success for the label. Is this something you’d like to do more of in future and do you think artist albums are as important as they were before the digital era?
Jacco: Yeah well the artist album of Napalm. It just crossed my path as Napalm is a pretty busy producer. He kept on sending me his tracks and almost each track gave me those all important goose bumps. So after he’d send me about 20 tracks I made up my mind and decided that I wanted to do an artist album with him and release the other tracks individually with remixes or on an EP without remixes. Together with d-phrag I selected the tracks for Sonus Universi. It turned out to be a great album which showcases the immense talent of Napalm. Indeed the album became a huge success for the label and especially the track Deep In Love hit the right spot with many people. Deep In Love reflects the Heart over Mind principle in it’s closest form.
6. When you sign a new original track what criteria do you think about when choosing a remixer for it, and is there a point where a release can have too many mixes?
Jacco: Actually this is a quick natural process inside my head. When I sign a new original track and I want to have remixes of it ,I almost instantly know who to ask for the job. I think it has to do with my musical memory which stores all those producers with their styles.
I don’t have specific criteria for choosing a remixer besides the fact that I try to work as much as possible without advances. Today’s advances are sometimes way over the top compared to the sales of a release (despite how much time and money has been spent on PR things). Of course I know that producers are humans as well and that they need to eat and pay their rent and such, but spending $ 300,00 dollar for a remix and earning $ 100,00 in return means a loss of $ 200,00.
What I do is work with a mixture of the more established names and combine this with new talent. I always try to avoid an overkill of remixes because I think this doesn’t do justice to a release. When you have a strong remix in a package then the other remixes and even the original are fading away into oblivion. This is not how it should be. So for me there is a point that a release could have too many remixes. My criteria is a maximum of 3 sometimes 4 remixes. When I do have more remixes (which hardly occurs) I will release these 1 or 2 months later.
I work with the policy that new talent needs to get a chance to expose their capabilities. That is what is needed in today’s scene to keep things moving forward.
7. LuPS now has a catalog of close to 150 releases, what are some of your personal favorites and why?
Jacco: Oefff. This a difficult question to answer. I do have about 800 tracks to choose from, but recently I made a selection as I do have some plans to release a LuPS Records 5th Anniversary Mix Compilation which should give an overview of the labels work. So here in random order 13 of my personal favourite releases on the label:
LuPSRec 007 Pierre Sebastiano – Vanguard Road 303 (Soundstorm Remix) – The bass line in this remix is just gorgeous and the brightness of the production is just unbeatable
LuPSRec 017 East Cafe- Summer Solstice (Michael&Levan And Stiven Rivic Remix) – This is one of the two remixes Michael & Levan did for LuPS. Still a timeless masterpiece which perfectly reflects this duo’s huge talent for creating tracks with a soul. 4 years old and still goose bumping.
LuPSRec 024 Kay-D – Without Delusion (Phonic Deep Remix) –
This is one of those tracks for me which I will never forget and should be played at my funeral. This remix helped me through rough times. Timeless track from Alex and Petar.
LuPSRec 035 Kaanturker – Amsterdam Calling (Original) –
One of the first releases ever for Kaanturker. This original still sounds great and fresh. Also here the bass line does it for me.
LuPSRec 048 Aggressor – Timeshifting (Original) –
One of the first release of Goce on LuPS Records. The appregio line in this track is way to good and is really an ear catcher.
LuPSRec 072 East Cafe – Fayerye (Alfoa Fairy Breaks Mix + Loquai Remix) – The mighty breaks remix of Alfoa with that growling bass line is just another timeless gem on the label. Together with the irresistible Loquai remix this release is one of LuPS biggest to date.
LuPSRec 083 F-Act – Whirlpool (Original) –
The relentless and endless energy inside this track is just amazing. A true peak time hour bomb.
LuPSRec 087 JOSEL – Dark Matters (Suffused Silence Remix) –
Just another timeless jewel on the label. This remix just breaths and inhales.
LuPSRec 091 JOSEL – Himalaya (Toppy Remix) – Toppy joined the label in its early state and I think that this remix is one of Toppy’s best ever The additional synth lines in this remix are just goose bumping and the whole remix puts you into a trance. Together with his remix of JOSEL – Synasthesia and the one from Napalm & d-phrag – 43 Toppy proves that he is still a producer to look after.
LuPSRec 111 Stanisha & Milos Ilic – Feel Stronger (Original) – Stanisha just sent me this track to listen to and I was instantly hooked on the great flow and atmosphere. Another track that breaths.
LuPSRec 113 Audiostorm – Amazon Clouds (Vlada D’Shake Remix)
– Newcomer AudioStorm delivered a great Original, but Vlada D’Shake turned it into an even greater tune. The gorgeous bass line and angelic atmosphere will send you to heaven.
LuPSRec 129 Jelly For The Babies – Morning Sex With The Ex (Matias Chilano Remix) – The return of Matias Chilano on LuPS. Like Toppy, Matias also joined LuPS at an early stage. After several releases he spread his wings and got picked up by other labels. This remix just shows that Matias is a great producer who is constantly reinventing himself. One of those producers who makes music with his true human being.
LuPSRec 139 Analog Effect – Rambutan (Original) – My Dutch friends from Amsterdam asked me to release this track for them. This is one of those tracks which does its job in a rather sneaky way. It just builds and builds and the bass line just grabs you.
All original tracks by Napalm with and without d-phrag. – To round up this long list all the Original tracks by Napalm with and without d-phrag. Without a doubt the future is bright for Napalm. His recent teaming-up with d-phrag is perhaps one of the most spectacular things for the coming two years.
8. The artwork for each LuPS release is unique and has an individual concept catered to each specific release. Many labels are content with a generic sleeve nowadays, how important is artwork to you and do you think it’s something that is really neglected in the digital age?
Jacco: Yes indeed I think that the artwork of LuPS is unique. I’m always receiving good feedback on the covers. In the early days I did the artwork myself. The first 9 original covers were all from my hand (not the generic covers which are online now, as the originals got lost during by a hard disk crash) and they already contained a certain style. However, as I’m not a graphic designer I took the helping hand of Ivan Philipov (d-phrag) He is a true wizard and expert when it comes to designing sleeves. The first covers he did were really amazing and they contained that clean graphic design. During the past few years it changed slightly into a combination of chopped up pictures and graphics. It is still always a surprise what he comes up with. He has a free hand in designing the covers for the label. I really think that without his help LuPS would not be so vital.
Artwork is a neglected thing in the digital age. I believe in the fact that a good cover really helps the sales and visibility of the label. A cover needs to grab your attention. In fact it is the first thing that you see on a website, after that comes the music.
A cover also needs to match with the music. You can see that Ivan knows what kind of music we are talking about. He has that unique combination of being a DJ and graphic designer.
9. As a producer you’ve got a discography of just over 130 releases which spans 7 years on labels like Mistique, OLD SQL, Festival Lounge and many more, what are some of your favourite productions and has your production sound changed at all over the last 7 years?
Jacco: Ok. Another overview. Here is a selection of some of my favourite own productions:
Bs As Deep – The Last Angel (Jacco@Work Flying Angels Remix) [Carica Deep] 2007
Jacco@Work – Headless Horse (Original) [Morphosis Records] 2008
Jerico – Contact (Jacco@Work Remix) [Bellarine Recordings] 2008
Jacco@Work – Respray (Original) [No Smoking Records] 2009
Jacco@Work – Echoes From The Past (Original) [Mistique Music] 2010
Matias Chilano – Voyager (Jacco@Work Acid Voyage Remix) [LuPS Records] 2011
Erdi Irmak – Knowledge And Awareness (Jacco@Work’s Angelic Remix) LuPS Records 2012
Deriwer – Speechless (Jacco@Work Remix) [LuPS Records] 2013
I think my production sound has changed a bit over the years . In the beginning I used more raw acidic sounds and most of my tracks where around 128 bpm. It all the moved a little towards the more deeper and smoother side of Progressive. Also the bpm went down and I have tried to experiment with Progressive Breaks as well. What didn’t changed are the deep baselines and the tight percussion lines.
10. Production wise what are you working on right now, anything you can tell us about?
Jacco: I have just finished a remix of John Freedman – Space For Two on Greensnake Records. I have also finished a collaboration track with Ilya Deep called My Little Girl. Another collaboration track with him is in the pipeline. The pads and melodies are already finished, but I need to add the baseline and percussion. Both these tracks will be released on LuPS with remixes later on this year.
Right now I’m working on a remix of Manufactura Deep which is almost finished. Then I need to finish a remix of Silicon Syndicate – Plan R which will appear on the yearly LuPS Records Sampler, Spread It Till I Die. Once that has been done I will focus on a couple of remixes on Quadrature and Vice Versa.
11. What artist or track would you love to remix?
Jacco: If I ever get the chance to remix Quivver – Brothers & Sisters then I’m more than a happy man. The beats and percussion, the superb pads, that catchy arpline in this track, combined with a massive bass line makes it one of my all time favourite tracks. A timeless gem from an ever consistent producer.
12. What do you like to do for fun outside of the music? and do you have a regular job?
Jacco: Well I play volleyball once a week. Just for fun with a couple of neighbours. We hire a sports hall for a couple of hours and afterwards we generally have a beer together. It is just recreational but always great fun. Apart from the music I do have a regular job for 32 hours a week. I work on a daycare project with mentally disabled people between 20 – 35 years old. As well as their mental disability these people also have psychic health and behaviour problems. Not one day is the same during my work here.
13. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic music?
Jacco: My oldest daughter is into Rock Music and she really likes the stuff from Linkin Park, Papa Roach and Evanescence. Every now and then she plays me new tracks. I don’t like all of them but the stuff from Linkin Park is cool. Besides that I have to admit that I like Dubstep pretty much. The energy that is captured inside this genre is phenomenal.
14. Jacco@Work Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Drink: Vodka and beer
TV Show: I hardly watch television so I can’t give an answer to this question
Movie: The last movie that I have seen was Tron.
Video Game: Don’t have time for that either
Album: Napalm – Sonus Universi
Track / Song: Napalm – Deep In Love
Producer / Band: Napalm & d-phrag, Neel V, Loquai, Toppy, East Cafe, Peres, E.F.G. Silicon Syndicate
Record Label: besides my own label I really like the stuff from Mistique, OLDSQL, BC, Outside The Box
Nightclub: Energiehuis, Dordrecht
DJ: Eelke Kleijn
15. If the final DJ set of your career was next week what would be your last record?
Jacco: Well that is a hard question, but I think it would be Bedrock – Emerald (Original). I think that this track reflects the feeling of saying goodbye in the best possible way. It is emotional, but it also has a happy and feel good vibe. When I hear this track it always makes me reminisce about life.
16. What can we expect to see in 2013 from Jacco@Work and LuPS Records?
Jacco: Well a couple of things are in the pipeline. This year I will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the label. In March there will be an exclusive Sampler which contains a few exclusive tracks from artists who had previous releases on the label.
I also have plans to organize a 5th Anniversary Party in my hometown. Within about 2 months from now a fantastic new venue (Energiehuis) will open it’s doors in Dordrecht and I’m destined to get myself a gig there.
Furthermore in May this year my track Helium will finally be released on LuPS with remixes of Napalm, Neel V, AudioStorm, F-Act and Mahmut Orhan. I made this track back in late 2011 and put it aside for a while. I wasn’t fully satisfied and sure about the arrangement so I reworked it in 2012 and put it aside again for a few months. Last December I decided it to give it a green light for a release. Helium showcases the more uplifting melodic side of Jacco@Work.
17. Finally, what advice would you have for anyone that’s planning on starting a label out there?
Jacco: My advice would be don’t do it unless you are sure that you have plenty of time left for running a label. There are so many things to take care of. It is not only a matter of signing tracks and get remixes fixed and releasing them. You’ll need to find a decent and proper distributor, you’ll need an artwork designer, you’ll need to know about all the legal stuff, you have to maintain your network, spend plenty of time on social media etc. And to discourage anyone who thinks that he has enough time, there is the royalty calculating issue which is probably the most time-consuming and most complex part of running a label. In the beginning the calculation is easy as you will not have too many artists, but the more releases you get the bigger the statements become. Once calculated the payments need to be done and you have to send out official statements to each individual artist. When you have to do that for more then 150 artist you can imagine how much time it takes.
Interview courtesy of: Release Promo
Release Promo would like to send a huge thanks to Jacco for taking the time to do this interview.
Silicon Syndicate’s ‘Freefall’ EP is out now on LuPS, you can purchase the release: here