Brazil has a reputation for producing innovative and talented drum and bass artists. Not least amongst them is Jam Thieves. Over the past fifteen years, he has continued to hone his distinctive hip-hop tinged blend of rollers, minimal, and neuro. Originally a duo, Jam Thieves became a solo project in 2020; nevertheless, production standards have remained consistent and the project has retained its funky creative direction.
Since rising to prominence in 2015 with the release of the Minimal Funk Project EP on Playaz, Jam Thieves has amassed releases on labels including Hospital, Onyx, Symmetry, Serial Killaz, and Invicta. 2022 has been a particularly productive year; in addition to a string of successful releases, Jam Thieves has now released his debut solo album, titled Blue House, on Dispatch.
We recently caught up with Jam Thieves to discuss his LP, the history of the Jam Thieves Project, and the differences between the drum and bass scenes in Brazil and the UK.
Congratulations on the release of your first solo album! What made you decide to put out a full LP?
To be honest with you, it was originally meant to be two EPs! Then Ant TC1, the Dispatch label boss, asked me what I thought about turning it into an album. For me, this was a massive idea! So, I made some collabs with Magenta, Bennie, and NC-17, worked a bit more myself, and made an album. I’m really happy with this project!
That’s great to hear! Why did you choose to release on Dispatch? You don’t normally see artists with tracks on both Playaz and Dispatch…
For me, Dispatch is the best label in the game for minimal rollers. Different labels have different styles, but Jam Thieves has its own style which fits on lots of labels.
So true! The Jam Thieves style blends so well with many other sounds.
It’s great for me! I’m haappy with the result.
One thing I’ve noticed about the album is that a lot of tracks have colours in their names. Blue House, Orange Dog, and Red Mamba, for example… is there any reason for this?
At the time, I was watching some movies and documentaries about Africa and Pablo Escobar! Red mamba is a snake, Orange Dog is a ‘type of plant’…
That also explains the multiple references to the criminal underworld in track names, too! Medellin, Scarface, Big Poppa…
It’s like my reality! I was in Brazil at the time. Unfortunately, it’s a very dangerous place.
How come you settled on ‘Blue House’ as the title?
Blue House was a place where Pablo was hiding from the police; it was a special, safe place for him.
If a lot of tracks have a shared story behind their names, then I guess there is an underlying theme to the album?
If you have a listen from the first track to the last track – from Blue House to Scarface – they are all rollers, but there is a lot of variation between them. The album reflects my reality! When I was in Brazil, it was not good. Lots of people were dying because of the pandemic, and the president (Bolsonaro) is a bastard.
I love it when an album ties an artist’s personal life and musical surroundings together! Care to tell us about any upcoming projects you have?
I have a release on Onyx coming out in November – Dexter VIP and Enei remix. I’m also working on a USB Bootlegs project which will be out on Serial Killaz towards the end of this year or some time next year! Twelve bootlegs, or more, with my versions of tracks by Post Malone, Lady Gaga, and a load of others. I’m also working with Vegas from Bad Company for a release on Bad Taste!
I’m really excited to hear all of that! That’s enough talk about the future – let’s take it way back now. Tell me a bit about how Jam Thieves came about!
It was 2007. The name was almost an accident! ‘Jam’ doesn’t mean something you put on toast. It means a musical jam. On lineups in Brazil at the time, the last two hours would be a jam session with DJs. Pure back to back sets, lots of improvisation. ‘Thieves’ refers to my history and reality. I saw lots of bad things in my neighbourhood when I was a child. In Brazil, if someone makes a serious tune, we say it’s made for gangsters. It’s an expression! So, Jam Thieves means improvisation with big tunes. It doesn’t mean I’m going to steal your jam. I don’t even like jam!
I love the Jam Thieves sound; it’s a perfect combination of minimal, rollers, and even some neuro. What drew you to this style?
I prefer serious songs. Kick, snare, bass. But the best quality of my music is the masters. Sometimes, the label doesn’t like my song, but they say the quality of my master is massive. When I was working with Playaz, Hype told me that when he tests my songs, the bassline is huge. Vegas also told me the same! When you hear a Jam Thieves track on the dancefloor, you feel the bassline.
Going solo has allowed you to refine your sound in a particular direction. What else has changed since Jam Thieves became a solo project?
After I went solo, I released on labels like Hospital, RAM, and Souped Up! When I started working alone, I let myself release on other labels, which didn’t happen when Jam Thieves was a duo. I kept the name because I thought it was too late to change!
So, you’re in the UK now… how are you finding it?
For a drum and bass DJ, it’s the best place in the world! I’ve heard New Zealand is great too, but I am yet to go there. I’ll be in the UK until February, so if anyone wants to book me while I’m over here, speak to Ben from Hot Cakes agency. I have shows sorted for Bristol, Brighton, and London. I’m loving it!
How does the UK drum and bass scene compare to the Brazilian scene?
Unfortunately, there are no drum and bass shows in Brazil! You can’t make money with drum and bass in Brazil. There are a lot of producers, but hardly any shows; only one every three months. In Bristol, there are at least three every weekend! Drum and bass isn’t popular in Brazil any more. Ten years ago, it was fairly popular. There was reliably one show a week. But not any more. If you want to listen to drum and bass, you have to do so at home.
Blue House is Out Now on Dispatch Recordings.