Dec. 19, 2012 - Issue #896: New Year’s Eve - Style & Party Guide
Aging gracefully while maintaining credibility can be a tightrope act for many artists, but Jason Cambridge has never shied away from heights.
As DJ and producer A sides, Cambridge has helped pioneer drum and bass futurism since it first broke through in the early 1990s. Given this longevity, the Brit says his sound, style and persona are often referred to as being "old school." Not that he seems to mind: if the years—and his own discography upwards of 700 released tracks—have taught him anything, it's that all things old become new again.
"My biography says 500 releases, which I should probably change, but I lost count of some of what I have worked on over the years," says Cambridge, 42. "There have been so many collaborations, stuff without my name on it, so many pseudonyms. I love a lot of my old stuff. Lately, I have been dropping a few classics in my sets because many people enjoy hearing stuff they know. But I have been building on what I did before for a long time."
Cambridge's latest progression is his fourth album, Based Upon Bass, which was released this year. It's pure drum and bass, he says, and features a few old tricks (like longtime partner MC Fats on "Keep Steppin" and "Flashback") and a few new wrinkles. This includes "Spiritual Synergy," a track Cambridge recorded with LA-based vocalist J-os over the Internet.
Even during the interview for this story via Skype, Cambridge was simultaneously reviewing releases from his back catalogue for a possible Eastside Records best-of compilation—all while on the road in Miami. Cambridge maintains a rigorous performance schedule. After the US and Canada, he'll visit family and tour through Australia and New Zealand before returning to England in mid 2013. Not unlike drum and bass, Cambridge says his life's drumroll has always beat quickly.
"Even with DJ'ing, I am about playing the freshest stuff," he says. "But I have always been into new music. When I was in school, I played drums but had to sell my kit because I lived in a tiny flat. I got a drum machine instead and eventually progressed through hip hop, hip house, hardcore, jungle and now drum and bass."
He also does music library project work. His often uncredited productions have been in TV shows like CSI and Top Gear, amongst others. "I get bored fast," he laughs.
What does the future hold? When Cambridge starts contemplating the great inevitability, his thoughts fortunately turn to his 65-year-old uncle and lifelong influence Jeff Bertolla. A reggae and dub mainstay in England since the 1970s, Bertolla continues to produce music and tour throughout Europe as Jahfree Dub Activist. And if ol' Uncle Jeff can do it, Cambridge sees no reason he shouldn't.
"The thing that actually makes me feel older is thinking about the future," Cambridge says. "Inside, I still have the same energy and passion I have always had."
Wed, Dec 26 (9 pm)
Boxing Day Soundclash
With Celcius, Sureshock
and MCs Deadly and Flowpro
$15 (advance), $30 (door)
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