Millennium Jazz Music's Gadget on Culture, Music, and Talent.

"Well first and foremost it’s the music that grabs my attention. Personally I don’t care if you have been around for years or you’re a little less experienced. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it." -Dave "Gadget" Lewis

Some time last year I was introduced to the work being released on an indie-label called Millennium Jazz Music (MJM). After combing through the label's catalogue, I was highly impressed by and enamored with it's diverse array of artists and mature sounds.

This is thanks in large part to Gadget, the brain child behind the stellar discography that MJM has amassed since it's inception. The Londoner has been instrumental in developing quality acts and projects under the label and it is on full display with each new release.

No stranger to production himself, Gadget has been surrounded by music his entire life and frequently makes appearances on the projects involved with MJM.

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Prox: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and how did you get into music?

Gadget: I grew up in north London in a borough called Hackney where there’s an estate/neighborhood called De Beauvoir. Besides growing up in a musical family and being around musicians and studios in my early years, the estate was a very musical environment as well. There were many influential people who were doing Reggae and Soul music, DJing at the local clubs and discos. Not to mention, we had a lot of local radio stations in the area during the beginning of rave scene.

Prox: Were there any albums, artists, or projects that directly contributed to your decision to get involved with music?

Gadget: I couldn’t say there was a particular artist or song that gave me that kind of inspiration, and I’ve never actually made a decision to get involved with music. It was like being in a park as a child (or even an adult) and you turn around and see a football rolling towards you. You impulsively kick the ball back to the group playing with it, or you may even get involved without even thinking about it. That said, when I started I was definitely influenced style wise by some older Reggae artists like Frankie Paul, Wayne Wonder, Sanchez and Papa San etc. The Jungle/Drum & Bass rave scene and DJing for so many years definitely taught me more about music than I realized at the time. It was kind of on a Karate Kid vibe where in my case I thought I was just enjoying playing music with my people, but playing all those drums, synths, samples and patterns into my head everyday was slowly making my Kung Fu strong haha!!

Prox: Are there any elements of old school and contemporary American Hip Hop that you like to purposely incorporate into your tracks or do you just go with the flow?

Gadget: I wouldn’t just say “American”, as a lot of the sounds I work with and music I study are worldwide. Ultimately, I like to think of myself as an all-rounder. I do have an old skool Hip Hop approach in terms of being a vinyl junkie and still enjoying my analogue hardware and crate digging, but I’ve always been open to using knew ideas, equipment and software. I just love to make music. What we use are just tools, and how we go about it are just the steps to get the sounds out of our heads and into the world. Either that or I should consider medication!! 

Prox: Tell us a bit about Millennium Jazz Music that we might not know. What do you hope to accomplish with the label and this jazzy, “spiritually honest” sound?

Gadget: Hmm, anything goes really. I never planned to start a label in the first place so to say where it needs to be is a tough one. There is no end game or final destination in sight. All I know is I want to keep setting small targets and finding new ways to release music, especially physical material. For now we’ll just keep challenging ourselves creatively and I’ll continue to use the label to try help manage our artists and projects to reach as many people as we possibly can.

Along the way MJM has teamed up with some like-minded labels and other entities that are doing some good things. These collaborations have worked out ok so far as another house may be doing something our house is missing, and vice versa. So I hope to learn more from these experiences and continue to link with people who are on the same page creatively, at the same time while getting inspiration from other independent label heads in the community. 

Prox: What are some things you look for in artists you sign or collaborate with? Is it just about their sonics or do you look for work ethic and other factors?

Gadget: Well first and foremost it’s the music that grabs my attention. Personally I don’t care if you have been around for years or you’re a little less experienced. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. It’s as simple as that. After that I definitely look at the work ethic, consistency and a few other areas. In the end it comes down to how well we can communicate, regardless of what language we speak. MJM has always been about chemistry first, and I think it shows in how close we are. If we can’t maintain good communication to keep things transparent and comfortable then it’s pointless.

Prox: How do you get the most out of the artists you work with? What are some techniques you use to maximize the potential of each collaboration?

Gadget: Well, everyone on the label or who is or has been a part of our collectives bring a little something of their own to the table first and foremost. I’m good at coming up with concepts and managing the overall process, but I only need to present an idea or challenge and the hunger and creativity of the artists speak for themselves. I’m just lucky to have been able to work with some easy going and creative people. If they weren’t working with MJM, trust me they would be putting work somewhere else. In fact, a lot of MJM heads manage to keep up with me constantly putting an idea out to them, and they still manage to make solo albums and feature on other label compilations. They are a serious bunch!! But again though, it’s all down to communication.

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Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists, business people, creatives or intellectuals?

Gadget: Too many artists to mention, but I will shout out the man they called Adlib Swayze in Germany, because the re-release of his Drunken Bamboo LP is the last record I bought before this interview. Serious beats made on a SP1200 and it’s been one of my favourites for a long time. Look out for him on our new Made in Germany compilation from the second volume of our On The Radar series dropping in June/July.

A business person I find very inspiring is the Russian born Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s got a lot of strings to his bow and I love his bluntness when expressing himself.

For an intellectual, today I’ll salute Michael Eric Dyson. He’s a great speaker who can debate on various topics, and you have to love his respect for lyricism and how he holds people like Nas, Tupac, and Scarface (etc) as high as some of the best poets that ever lived.

A creative that comes to mind is Mel Robbins. She could be labeled as business women too, but I’ve found some of her talks very interesting. Her theory on The Five Second Rule is inspiring. I think I’ll get her book after hearing her.

Prox: Favorite Hobbies?

I like to be on the road with my missus. We try to get out as much as we can and have a short break from the city or jump on a plane. We enjoy a few drinks, eating out and watching certain shows. And though I’m constantly working with music in some way, I still can’t get enough of listening to new stuff and supporting artists in the community. Besides those I genuinely really enjoy what I do with MJM.

Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?

Gadget: Keep trying and learning new things as long as you’re loving what you’re doing, and never think you know all there is to know about your craft or you might find you’ve hit a ceiling and suffer from beat-block. Some people like deadlines, others like to work freely without any pressures. Just do you.

Prox: Information on upcoming projects and releases?

Gadget: There’s a lot going at the moment as several of the label mates are in a good place musically.

- We’ve just released The Bare Dusty Beat Tape by Bare Beats & Dusty Ohms  just a few days ago on cassette and digital.
- We’ve also dropped new vinyl project called EP Boulevard by French-Canadian producer Tehu. 

- We’re just finishing our Fifth Element, which is the Jazz Jousters 5th anniversary album. This will be a double vinyl release dropping in June to follow out Locations: USA record.
- We’re re-releasing Maple Syrup’s Vacation LP on transparent yellow vinyl in July. We have 200 being pressed as we speak, and only 30 copies left due to pre-orders. 

- We’ve got our second volume of our On The Radar series about to drop with ‘Made in Germany’ which follows Project Canada. The French volume is close behind it too.

Basically look out for new music by RickMal (he has returned), Bare Beats with a solo LP, Koncise & MoSick (Jungle Brown) have an album coming to an end, SmokedBeat’s Smoked Mood vol.3 is coming along nicely, as is Bones The Beat Heads The Repertory vol.3. Maple Syrup has a follow up album close to finished, LeeN has a little project finished and awaiting artwork, and we have a new series called Mellow Mania dropping on vinyl this Summer. The first volume features Flitz&Suppe.

Prox: Final Thoughts?

Gadget: Just thank you for taking the time to focus on MJM and reaching out for the feature. I wish you well with your future movement.

Bless!

Dave/Gadget
MJM

Head over to TwitterFacebookBandcamp, or Soundcloud to get updates on Gadget and MJM family.

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