Deckajam are an urban music super group, featuring legendary rave producer Kevin Energy, Nick 235, Nat Clarkson (NJC), rapper Voodoo Browne and singers La ura Bayston (Currently working with Bassline Smith and Tantrum Desire), Rhona Nolasco, Sarah Alexandra.
DeckaJam are booked to open the main stage at the forthcoming United Festival in Finsbury Park and have a number of other high profile bookings including London’s Rhythm Factory
Band tour dates: https://www.songkick.com/artists/7527624-deckajam
Read the transcript of how the band came about, in their own words below:
Kevin) We thought you’d retired. What happened/how did the project come about?
That’s a pretty long story – I’ll try and sum it up without waffling on ;) I took a break to think about the bigger picture of my career and life in general as I had been hard at both DJing and running my record labels since 1998 non stop to 2011. For me, I couldn’t’t picture ‘Kevin Energy’ being my only life career as my NEC record company was barely breaking even financially and gigs were not as plentiful due to changes in trends within the underground rave scene. I needed to secure myself a lifelong career so I took time out to focus on that, and since then have created and established a business www.bigjamstudios.co.uk which I’m pleased to say is doing really well.
In the background, whilst all this was going on, myself, Nick 235 and vocalist Rhona Nolasco had been having some jam sessions just for fun and the first DeckaJam tracks were born out of that. The first being ‘Find The Freedom’ followed closely by ‘Amazing’ and the early version of ‘Stuck In The Middle’ Due to my industry connections, a lot of people encouraged us to push the project forward and we were quickly matched up with more great vocalists like Laura Bayston, Voodoo Browne and Sarah Alexandra who I was already working with on her solo music. Along came some live rehearsals and our first gig, so we hooked up the the awesome drummer Will Spurling and had a complete show.
Since then, producer and engineer NJC has come on board and really upped the way our live show works. He has helped greatly with the production and our general confidence whilst performing, and we now feel like a complete unit. It’s such a fun and dynamic project, which for me is ticking so many boxes musically. Now I’m back on track with some positive projects for my career I’m considering doing some more rave work under my Kevin Energy name next year. My fans have stayed loyal to me and I really appreciate that. They have understood my reasons which I have always been open about.
(Nick) Was your involvement in the band a natural process seeing as you and Kev have a long history? What’s distinctive about the band?
Well yes and no, we have known each other since around 1996 but if I am honest, when Kevin said he wanted to talk to me about something, I thought he was going to be offering me an office job at Nu Energy and not a band project! I also at the time was thinking why me as Kevin has work with a lot of talented people over the years, so I was a bit like Why me and Why now? lol…
The main thing that makes us stand above the crowd in the Dance music scene is our live show, we play everything 100% live which I know in dance music this is very rare.
(All) Where are you from and how did you get involved with Deckajam?
Kevin: I’m the founder in some ways as it was my idea to call both Nick and Rhona into the studio to have some writing and performing sessions for fun. Nick has worked alongside me since the creation and is very much my partner in crime with all things DeckaJam. I’m based in Sittingbourne in Kent which is also where by ‘Big Jam Studios’ business is based and is true home of our production.
Nick: What Kevin Said! Only difference is I’m a north Londoner living in Kilburn ;-)
Nat: I was sent a demo at the end of 2011 from Ola (JAL) who published us all, he knew my background in beat/bass led music and working with bands so thought I should have a listen. My first response after hearing it was, “a band”!??! Anyway skip forward a year or so and after loads of emails and track sharing I went to my first live DeckaJam show in London, at the Comedy Pub in Leicester Square. I took Voodoo Browne along with me and the rest is history :) our time travelled very fast after that night. I’m currently a non-public facing member of the group and have a more technical/executive role during the bands live performances. Both me and Voodoo are from Ipswich in the far east, of England.
Sarah: I am a solo recording artist and have been writing material for a while. I was put in touch with Kevin a little while ago and we have worked on tracks together, he has produced my tracks and built a great working relationship. He asked me to have a go at writing the top line for a DeckaJam track a couple of months ago and the rest is history! We recorded it and it has ended up on the album. Im the newest addition to DeckaJam and am working on more songs with Kev, Nick and the rest of the guys now. I’m based in Portsmouth at the moment but originally come from Darlington in the North East.
Laura: It’s been a dream come true working with Deckajam. Writing top-lines for electronic based dance act was always something I loved and was quite good at.. but had never met the right team to make that happen, luckily I was signed to music publisher JAL who had contacts with Kevin, he asked if I would mind helping co-write a few tracks which of course I jumped at! Although I’m originally from Dagenham Essex/East London, I’m now based in Cheltenham I do a lot of driving!!
Voodoo: I was asked by Kev & Nick through NJC if I would feature on a track and maybe become Deckajam’s main MC/Host. I went to a few DeckaJam gigs with NJC to witness the full live experience. I’m now in the band and have a number of features on the album. I’m from IP1 in Suffolk, same place as NJC.
(Rhona) My first involvement with Deckajam started out with some jamming sessions with Nick and Kevin. Kevin approached Nick and myself with the project which sounded like a great venture. We gelled really well together, playing around with some ideas, which then started to develop and it all went from there really, growing into something very big and exciting! I’m also a North Londoner based in Camden.
(Will) I’m a Surrey lad, grew up in a small village called Brockham (yeah no-one has ever heard of it) it’s at the foot of Boxhill and about 15 minutes’ drive from Gatwick Airport. I now live in Surbiton!
The story begins a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away………. No I mean that man me and Nick 235 met when we were 16 on our second day of BRIT School, it feels like yesterday but also another lifetime ago. Nick was already producing some dance tracks back then and was as wacky as he is now, he’s just better at it now. At that time I really began to get drawn to Drum&Bass and started trying to play it on the drums. I also started going clubbing and was totally absorbed in the culture, then my group of friends in Surrey began organising our own illegal raves. For years I’d dreamt of playing drums in a club like Fabric alongside DJs like Andy C. In fact I made it part of my practice regime to jam along to Andy C’s nightlife CD series. I’ve long thought about trying to produce some D&B tracks with live drums but never got round to it, also dreamt of one day starting a live drum&bass band. It was just the phone call I was looking for when Nick 235 called me to ask me to come and Jam down at Big Jam Studios for the day and see what happened. I think Nick and Kev knew they were onto a good thing and so did I
(All) what do you feel you bring to the DeckaJam sound?
I like to think that I bring the experience of knowing what makes people react on a dance floor. I’ve spent the majority of my adult weekends throwing down beats to excited crowds and I like to think that experience has found its way into the DeckaJam material. Musically, I feel both myself and Nick have the same enjoyment of euphoric melodies and a sense of a musical journey which we always like to make a signature of our music. Beats wise, you’ll notice there’s a wide range of styles and BPM’s and that is intentional as we have a love for moist dance genres and we wanted to keep our performances varied to reflect this. Being able to switch things up and grab people’s attention is fast becoming a trademark highlight of our performances.
Nick: To add to what Kevin has already said, I would say that I bring the more slightly unconventional ideas to the table as well as the big room hooky riffs, like in Move Your Body Now, Wavy and our current single “We Don’t Care”. I also play guitar on the tacks and which I play in the live shows. I’ve been in a lot of gigging bands and have a ton of live experience, from both a performance and technical stance.
I’m fundamentally a beat, bass and vocal man in the band, meaning my sole focus a lot of the time is on the rhythmic/vocal sections of the tracks we work on. I started out as a drummer many moons ago so I’m very aware of the solid beat patterns that form the foundations of all the electronic bass/beat led genres DeckaJam work on. I’ve navigated my career through many genres and all of that time spent working with singers, rappers and MC’s. So I bring all that honed in skill along with well over a decade in full-time studio and live based music work. I’m very comfortable in terms of getting the sound right and making sure things are where they need to be in the mix and/or the production. Don’t get me wrong, both Kev and Nick have a very good ear, it just kinda feels like i’m the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle that brings the sound together.
Sarah: I feel that I bring a totally different style of vocal, we are all very different vocally which works great on the album and suits each and every song. I try to bring a flavour of my solo artistry and classical musicianship into the DeckaJam sound and we are working on bringing in some live violin into the set.
Laura: In terms of writing for Deckajam I try to bring in a simple hook that is instantly memorable with catchy lyrics relevant to the style of music kevin & Nic produce. I’m also a lover of BIG old school style diva vocals. In terms of a LIVE performance it’s all about energy both vocally and visually. An audience have paid money to be entertained therefore I bring high energy, passion combined with powerful vocals.. I always give 100% to a performance, it’s a show and if I come off stage NOT ready to drop I haven’t worked hard enough!
Voodoo: I bring ruff, rugged & raw rhymes to the Deckajam sound, which enhances the experience from an audience point of view and for the band. There’s a lot to coordinate on stage but we all like to vibe off each other.
(Rhona) I have a ton of performance experience and I love to perform, especially on live shows which are energetic and exciting! My vocals are bright, smooth and sometimes rocky, contributing melodic tones to the overall Deckajam sound.
(Will) as a drummer, ever since I first got into dancing and going to clubs I began to truly value the power of a beat to get people dancing. Probably before that I was only interested in hearing big fills and solos. I was fascinated by the skill that dance music producers created beats using sequencers and samples that I respected the fact that I couldn’t have thought of that. Naturally everything about that vibe began to influence my playing. Back in 2003 I was in a Ska/Reggae influenced band called The Souls, I used to count in the tunes too fast because all I was listening to were Slammin Vinyl box sets and Kool FM!
I feel what I bring is beats that are true to what a track needs from a crowd perspective and a producers ear, but with the freedom to improvise in subtle beat changes and the way the fills go. This adds an extra excitement to the sound as it’s unpredictable. Whereas a DJ can totally change a crowd’s mood by the tune he selects and the way in which he mixes it, I can lift the energy of a song up higher than a programmed beat on the spur of the moment. I’m naturally into improvising, I was brought up by Jazz musicians. I don’t play jazz much or that well but one of my drumming heroes, Joe Morello said “jazz is a state of mind”
Now that we have the technology for me to trigger electronic kick and snare sounds and old skool samples from my acoustic kit, things are only gonna get more exciting.
(Voodoo) What do you feel bringing a rap artist to this collective has added?
VOODOO: Being a rap artist I bring the street/urban/black vibe or whatever you wanna call it :) DeckaJam have a unique sound which covers almost every modern electronic genre out there! With plenty of energy! I do my more street projects when I’m on my solo tip but this is a great way for me to explore live performance and command an audience through a mega PA system. I’m the glue around the rest of the band, the hype man who keeps you on your toes.
(All) How are you feeling about opening the mainstage at United this year? And what can we expect from your live show?
Kevin: I’m super pumped for this. I know the promoters will deliver top production and that the crowd will be hype – in a way it feels like we’re destined to grace that stage, and we have found a really unique way to trigger authentic breakbeat samples from an acoustic drum kit that as far as I know, has not been done before in an act like this. If we pull it off, it will be amazing and the best performance in our journey so far!
Nick: I still don’t believe we are actually doing this! it so unreal and so soon in our journey. We are so honoured to up there with such big names and it really establishes us as a big time act. All I can say is Expect the Unexpected…you’ll just have to come and see us to find out.
Nat: I feel this is a very big privilege for DeckaJam, there’s a certain amount of trust handing over the keys to open the main stage at such a significant event in Rave Music culture. This is the bands chance to show real bass lovers what they can do. Kev and Nick have been working hard on some suitable exclusives for the set, but that’s all I’m saying ;)
Sarah: I’m absolutely buzzing about opening the mainstage at United!! I know I haven’t been in the band for very long but I have followed from the start and know how much hard work and dedication has been put into it. We are going to rock it and hopefully wow the crowds with our modern, energized set. I don’t think a lot of people there will have seen anything like it before and it’s a very exciting and slightly daunting prospect!!! I know it’s going to be amazing though and we have a few exciting surprises thrown into the set.
Laura: I’m stupidly excited! Baby D and Drumsound & Baseline Smith are also playing our stage, LEGENDS! I mean WTF!! I can’t wait to run around that HUGE stage in my new Adidas wedges! Perfect for bouncing and jumping about in and I intend to do a lot of bouncing! Booom!
Voodoo: I’m super hype about opening up the main arena at the first ever United Festival, especially as my voice might be one of the first to be heard on the main stage that day, it’s an honour to perform alongside the names on that stage, its mega in many ways.
(Rhona) I’m very exciting about opening the Main Stage at United! I remember going to all the Slammin Vinyl and Movment D&B raves back in the day, just purely loving the music and energy! So to be part of something like United, which totally has its oldskool roots, actually feels pretty special to be part of!
At our live show, be prepared to expect something old and something new with loads of energy!
Will: Blimey when I got notification we were confirmed I was so happy. It’s a massive privilege to be performing alongside all these giants of the industry. But even more so it’s an honour to celebrate this movement of culture with the people coming to spend the day partying.
I think you can expect a multi-dimensional package. You have two highly experienced producers in Kev and Nick who’ve written some absolute bangers, then there are 3 heavyweight vocalists – each with their own unique style and energy. Then there’s me, and Voodoo who’s a wicked MC. It just works, we all felt it from our first gig together. We know this a big occasion so I reckon everyone will get up with their full game in play.
(NJC) As an experienced producer and mix engineer with skills that span many genres, tell us about the DeckaJam sound and how it was achieved in the album and then into live?
NAT: through speakers :) from my point of view, the sound of DeckaJam is always evolving, it’s very dynamic in production and real terms. As a production unit/team we’re all consistently trying out new techniques and ways of performing the sounds and vocals you hear. Whether it’s in the studio or a live setting, we’re very keen to keep consistency without losing the all-important live element.
In the studio me and Kev being the senior producer/mix engineers, we both try to work in a very similar way, meaning we both run stemmed audio pairs into our summing mixing environment to achieve the final mix-downs, basically giving us the ultimate headroom to experiment with the audio signals in the playback of the production. We’re very strict about audio signal flow and never settle for a ‘that’ll do’ working method.
(Nick) You’ve worked with Rhona in the past, was she a natural choice for this group? Tell us about the other singers in the band…
Yes she was, I have been friends and worked with Rhona for a long time. She has a great voice and looks the part. We both have very similar taste when it comes to music and I find it very easy to work with her….lol most of the time ;-)
Well Laura is larger than life, proper Essex girl and great fun. She has a very powerful voice and is a genius when it comes to writing the special vocal hook.
Sarah is more than just a vocalist, she is a very talented all round musician and brings a world of musicality to Deckajam.
The great thing is that they are all bonkers so we all get on great and have hell of a good time being DeckaJam
Album website: Total JamNation
Physical album available upon request
Album sampler video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEVW98tQrIc