The first of our Dig Deeper series see us have a chat with the man behind Equal People Records. Launched in February, EPR001 came alongside the early wave of new things UKG and has firmly cemented itself within the community as one of the releases of the year! We have followed them closely since, with intrigue, so decided to find out a bit more about the label, the DIY behind the scenes, 002 and future plans. Enjoy!
Easy Jordan, thanks for taking your time to answer an earful of questions from us, this has been on the cards for a little while now, it’s great to finally get some words down!
No worries Max! Thanks for taking an interest in what’s been happening with the label.
For the people that don’t know, please introduce yourself and the label…
I’m Jordan Dessar – aka J Dessar. A lot of people know me by my surname. I’m 26, from North London. I’ve lived in a few other countries as well, so I’ve met people involved with music from everywhere.
The label I run is called Equal People Records. It is an independent label which I fund and manage myself. From producing on the label, to A&R, to finding new artists to develop, to handling all the admin, and even being a postman getting the orders out! I get involved with every aspect.
We first crossed cyber-paths back in February, off the back of our launch feature on the UKG revival, where we featured EPR001 which came out around the same time. Talk to us about the inspiration behind the Label launch?
The idea behind Equal People was just to create our own lane in the industry with a DIY mentality to make great records and distribute them ourselves. I could have done everything online and not moved from my house. But interacting with the shop owners, artists and DJs has been great and really created a strong foundation for the label. To meet a lot of like-minded people who share a certain love for the music has been really cool and the support of the first release has been amazing.
How did you go about selecting the contributors for the first VA?
I first signed Max Casebolt. I’ve followed Max for a few years and he sent me some older beats he had made and I told him I wanted something fresh and he hit me back with a 2-step banger. That already set the bar high for the release.
Then I got introduced to Jack by a guy called Tam who is heavily involved with the music scene. We met and had a jam which was wicked. I went to see Jack play at 93 Feet East and met Aston, who’s one half of Frinj, with French being the other half. They sent me an early version of Portmore. Everything just fell into place nicely. All the artists delivered great tracks resulting in a fantastic EP.
It’s certainly a solid 4 tracker, you personally kick things off nicely with a subtle breaky number… as JDessar, what’s been your route in music and describe your sound?
Thanks man, yeah I enjoyed making that track. I made a fair few tracks before The Energy, but that just felt like the right one to put out for me. It´s good to see the whole EP getting a nice response. All the tracks have had spins from different DJs.
For me I’ve always wanted to do music since I was a little kid and have never let the idea go. I used to play the piano to a basic level growing up and then moved onto the drums, but after a while I went from a real set of drums to an electronic Roland kit, to using Fruity Loops, then onto Garage Band, and finally Logic which I´ve always used as my DAW since. The past few years I really got into hardware - I found working in the box cool, but working with hardware is way more fun for me personally. I first got my hands on an old Access Virus Indigo which this guy I knew lent to me; it had missing keys and would cut out a lot, but that opened my eyes to what I could do with hardware. Then I got some drum machines and samplers. I´ve had an Elektron Rytm, which is really good, and a Korg Electribe. But currently I use an MPC 2000 XL which has been the best purchase, and my Virus TI with a few effects units for most of my productions.
I used to volunteer and have a show on Hoxton FM every Friday for a couple years; from that I met a lot of people and was around a lot of great artists. This was an important part of my career for me. My sound is broken beat, steppy and deep I would say. I just make what comes out of me. I don’t really stick to a BPM or idea. I get inspiration from the genres that influence me and I just go from there.
And at this stage is the EPR sound reflective of your own or does the ‘label head’ in you see it going in different directions?
I love broken beats that why the label features breakbeat style tracks as well as UKG. Having a wide variety doesn’t pigeonhole the label. With Equal People you are going to get some steppers alongside some breaks. The formula for Equal People will just remain the same but the content will keep growing.
Talk to us a bit more about 002?
Joining me on 002 we have young Nathan Pinder - aka Pinder – you’ll catch him on the A-side of the release. This 21-year-old has great potential to have a long career. I bought him down to London for a weekend to come jam in the studio and to get to know him. Over the past few months we’ve been speaking a lot and he has been working on a nice folder of material so definitely one to watch. Then we have Tom – aka Peaky Beats – on the B-side with myself. Peaky Beats has a lot of knowledge when it comes down to production and fit on the EP perfectly.
On a couple of occasions, you’ve broadcast the cutting of a couple of dubplates, the culture of which appears to be healthy at the moment. What’s your thinking behind this? Is it about cutting a track with label potential or?
Yeah, I’ve been a few times to the legendary Music House. I wanted to cut some dubs to get a feel for forthcoming music and to introduce some new artists to the label. The final press takes some time, so it is nice to have a dub in the meantime.
Nice touch. Is there anything exciting on the horizon for EPR over the coming months? (Club nights, merch etc)
Everything will come in time! The most important thing for now is the music.
You do your own distribution, how have you found that?
Yeah that’s correct. It has been the best move. To be able to know exactly what’s going on is important. I like dealing with people directly, where I can go and drop off the records myself and have a chat with the guys who run the shops. I think this is will be an important factor to running a successful label. I have to big up Dan at DNR Vinyl down in Croydon for really believing in the label, the push from them really helped to kick things off. Having the record stocked in Phonica is wicked, thanks to Simon Rigg. Tribe Records up in Leeds have also been really supportive! The record is also abroad which is amazing. Carpet and Snares have shown a lot of love; they made EPR001 their record of the week, and on another occasion made The Energy, by myself, staff pick of the day. This meant a lot to me as so many records pass through that store so to get a mention made me feel proud. I also went to meet Jimmy Asquith who owns Lobster Records and had a chat with him - really cool guy.
KMA60 in Berlin, which is a lovely looking new store stocks us now too. I can’t wait to go and check it out!! So doing my own distro' has opened a lot of doors.
EPR is now in 8 shops so far and most have restocked 001 so I couldn’t be happier with the response.
Favourite Record of 2019 so far?
I don’t have one, I’m always listening to loads of music.
One to watch? (DJ/Producer or Label)
There are too many but Highrise is a really great producer. I’ve been chatting to him recently about different production methods and equipment. He’s been putting out some heaters via his limited press Swings n Roundabout series. Jack Michael is a huge talent - he makes some insane riddims and his Orbital London imprint is fire. Holloway too, has got some solid productions. Perception always makes bangers.
Favourite UK event?
I don’t have one to be honest. I go to various events but not to many club events though. Been to some wicked parties on boats, under bridges and in the forest. I do really like the sound system in The Cause though – been there a few times. Other than that I’m in the studio.
Copies of EPR001 available via www.equalpeoplerecords.com.