WORDS

Jade: Neuro Architect

His label may have just celebrated five years, but Eatbrain founder Jade has been around a minute or two longer…

Breaking through in the slipstream of the original neuro/tech explosion in the late 90s/early 2000s, he’s released music on some of the most influential labels in drum & bass: Moving Shadow, Commercial Suicide, Black Sun Empire, Citrus, Lifted and more.  Consistently and confidently carving his own sound and path, weathering the trend and hype storms, things began to level up for Jade (real name Gabor Simon) when he quit his job as an architect in 2009 to take his music as far as he could push it.

Within two years he’d released his debut artist album (Venom), landed the role as main designer for Triple Vision (the Netherlands distro behemoth who work with many of the biggest labels in worldwide drum & bass) and launched Eatbrain… One of this decade’s most remarkable D&B label success stories.

From fronting early releases by the likes of Mefjus, Neonlight and Teddy Killerz and guiding next generation acts like Agressor Bunx, L 33 and many more, to creating an instantly recognisable sound and branding and building up a loyal and passionate community, Jade has created something genuinely special. What began as he wanted to create something he could call his own home has now become his own universe.

As the dust settles from a new year and a move across to a new HQ on the other side of Budapest, we called up Jade to hear how Eatbrain came to be… And what they have in store for the next five years. Well, the next few months anyway…

Let’s go back to 2011 when you launched Eatbrain. By then you were already well established…

Yes, my first record came out in 2004 and I’d just had my artist album out on Citrus when I was thinking about launching Eatbrain. Those years were interesting. I’m an architect by trade and I was doing both things until 2009 when I quit to do music full time. After that everything changed – I released the album and wanted to do more, more, more… I wanted to create a more artist-centred label. Plus I needed my own home; over those first eight or so years I had released on 15 labels.

Some properly big labels though…

Yeah, like Moving Shadow and Black Sun Empire. They were proud releases but I was a guest with all of them. I didn’t have a family situation – it was whoever agreed to release my music first. There was nothing certain – promoters didn’t know which labels to put after my name on flyers. Some used Lifted, some used BSE or Moving Shadow and others used all 15. It was stupid. I wanted to create my own home.

Did you tick off every label from your bucket list before you did it?

I ticked off a lot but not all. I never released on Renegade Hardware and that was a big dream of mine. It just didn’t happen. I couldn’t tick all of them off but I was proud enough.

So the year you set up the label is pertinent… 2011 was an interesting time in dnb. The midst of the big chart hits and dubstep explosion. A weird time to set up a neuro label?

It was! Even my long time production partner Matt U jumped ship to dubstep… Everyone was jumping ship. It was sad. It wasn’t why I made music – if I wanted to jump onto bandwagons and just make money then I’d go back to being an architect which is much better pay. So I continued to make the music I loved and enjoyed. Some people talk about neurofunk like it’s a new thing. Personally I’ve been doing it for 15 now years – it’s what I’ve been listening to even longer. Since Wormhole, Bad Company, Konflict, Usual Suspects…

You came through on that original neuro sound.

That’s where a lot of inspirations come from and I wanted to put my own interpretation on that sound into the present in my own way. I didn’t want to jump ship, I’m not looking for commercial success… It felt like the worst time to set up a neurofunk label but in retrospect it paid off.

Can you pinpoint any releases when you started to feel it might not be such a bad move?

The first few releases were my own and they came out quite slowly. Three releases in one whole year – just me and guys remixing me. Then 2012 I signed relatively unknown guys called Mefjus and Neonlight. They did some serious magic. I’m so proud of those releases. Before then Eatbrain wasn’t really functioning as a proper label, it was more of a vehicle for my own material. But when I signed those guys it was a big turning point. I’ve known Martin and have always supported him – I had Far Too Close for two years before it was signed to Neodigital. It was amazing to get him to the label so early. What happened next was interesting and built my confidence… Neonlight were signed to Lifted then Blackout and Mefjus was signed to Critical. Both of them blew up! I felt like ‘okay I might have a talent to find new talent’. I enjoyed the whole process so really started to focus on that and started to sign new guys like Teddy Killerz… When they signed to Ram I knew I was on the right path. I was privileged enough to grab those guys before they took over the scene by storm.

There’s a tradition of labels like Citrus, Talkin Beatz and Formation who have historically  given many artists their first or early releases. Eatbrain is part of this tradition…

Yes, but this changes over time as a label gets more established. It’s anticipated that new artists will go from smaller labels to bigger labels. So I knew that guys like Mefjus or Neonlight would go on to big things when I signed their music and it’s really cool to know I’ve played some type of role in their early development. But as Eatbrain grows we have more to offer and artists will stay with us for the ride and be part of our community. Agressor Bunx have an album out imminently. I think it’s going to blow them up. They’re going up and up anyway but after the album it’s going to be amazing. Mindscape is coming with an album too. Working with guys like them and L 33 and Zombie Cats and many more is what I love about running a label. There are other things that I’m not so fond of. Paperwork, legal things, politics…

You seem like a politics-free man. As a designer you work across the whole scene with many other labels don’t you?

Yes. I’m the in-house designer for Triple Vision for dedicated artwork pieces for labels such as Fokuz. It’s what funded a lot of Eatbrain to begin with and it goes back to my debut artist album on Citrus. I asked Marco, the main boss, if I could do my own artwork. They were unsure but we gave it a try – they loved it so much they fired their designer and offered me his job. So for the past six years I’ve been doing their in-house stuff. It helped me start Eatbrain – I needed a distributor and was already working with one who wanted to help. Having that information and knowledge was an incredible help to launch the label, not having that would have cost me a lot.

Does that help you look out beyond the neuro bubble? There are still many blinkers between the subgenres…

I hope so. I encourage everyone on the label to be creative and experiment. I only release EPs for this reason – they have four tracks minimum to showcase something different. If you want to do a mindfuck piece or a deep thing, do it. It can be anything. Like Nickbee’s electro neurofunk 4/4 tune. There’s space to it, the musical vision allows it, be creative and do something special. Of course there needs to be amazing dancefloor tunes that are part of our solid foundation but there’s space so why not use it.

Is that a theme for the future? Are more artists doing that?

I love to hear it but not all producers have that mindset. Some artists are happiest fuelling an EP with the angry sound that Eatbrain is known for. But I would always encourage more experimenting – I hope that becomes more accepted by artists and fans of ours in the future. I want to hear more special stuff – Agressor Bunx do a really weird, creepy type of thing. I don’t know what to call it but I always want to hear more. But it’s a fine line… We need consistency for the dancefloor but it’s building up the variety for all other aspects of life. In the gym, in the car, in work.

Interesting you mention the word angry. I’m always surprised how chill angry music makers are when I meet them. Like unleashing the darker sound provides space for more thought and consideration…

Definitely. I have friends who listen to make or listen to music that’s way darker than our sound. Black metal, grindcore and all that. And they are the most chill people I know! Listening to and making aggressive music doesn’t reflect your personality – if it does, it’s the other way around.

Amen. So what about the future?

So much stuff I’m bound to forget something… We’re back at Let It Roll, which is unbelievable for three years running. Release-wise we have Optiv & BTK, State Of Mind are coming back for something very soon, a Dub Elements EP, a vocalist EP for the first time by Kryptomedic with productions from State Of Mind, Mindscape, Fragz, Disphonia and Akov. That’s the first vocalist EP on Eatbrain, which is really exciting. Also Zombie Cats are coming back, Hypoxia are working on something special, Mindscape is working on his artist album…. Lots to look forward to.

Follow Jade: Facebook / Soundcloud 

Follow Eatbrain: Facebook / Soundcloud