Branding himself as a ‘latecomer’ to making drum and bass, UK-based artist Jolliffe has wasted no time in producing music since his first release in 2019. Over his time he has released on the likes of Soulvent, Spearhead and Shogun, working with artists from across the scene as well as being one-third of d&B trio Clashtone. This came after years of working in the background of the scene, helping others to record music, and put on live shows and various other musical projects.
Now the spotlight shines on Jolliffe as he begins releasing his album on DeVice Records, wholeheartedly given the green light by the label’s head honcho Rene LaVice. What started out simply as one tune grew into a full 10-track project, featuring a roster of DnB heavyweights including Inja, Liam Bailey, Jade and Rider Shafique. With the album done and the release schedule sorted, Jolliffe is not taking a second to breathe as he already lines up his music for 2024. But in between studio sessions, making music on the go and running the odd half-marathon, Jolliffe sat down with UKF to talk about his musical trajectory and what fans can look forward to for the future.
Thank you for taking the time to chat! Firstly, how is everything going on your end?
My pleasure! Yeah very good thanks, I’ve actually been in the studio non-stop. This might sound strange but I’ve just been getting all my music ready for 2024. During my days I don’t really do anything – I get up late, often run a half marathon, but then after that I get ready to crack on!
Wow, so I guess in 2022 you were getting everything ready for 2023 then?
Basically, my trajectory for releases has really picked up over time. When first starting out I had releases on Soulvent, Delta9, and an EP on Guidance, this was before the pandemic hit. During the pandemic I had another EP out on Spearhead and another out on Guidance as well. So I felt like there has been momentum building over time. But this dropped off a bit during lockdown as obviously there weren’t a lot of opportunities with everything going on. So it was kind of like back to the drawing board. In 2021 I had a couple of releases out on Shogun, which was amazing. Had a collaboration with Joe Ford and then one of my own. But last year, the only thing I put out was an EP on Dispatch. I did have a collab with Molecular, but really I just spent the whole of last year writing crazy amounts, and finishing so much music. And this all ended up turning into an album!
Well before we get into talking about the album, let’s first hear about Jolliffe’s origin story. How did you first get into drum and bass?
To be honest as an artist, I feel like a bit of a late comer. I didn’t release my first drum and bass track until 2019. Which is weird as all I have ever done is music – mixing, writing, arranging. I first started listening to the music when I was about maybe 15 or 16. I’ve always had love for D&B, especially the stuff that started coming out from 2006 onward – that was a lot darker, more minimal, not aggressive. It was also when I started listening to liquid and thought ‘this is amazing!’.
I’d say I’ve been working in music from about 18. Even before that I used to do the sound at Warning in Cambridge so I was very exposed to the music there. Of course I used to go out raving a lot, I’ve always liked anything that takes place at night. I’ve found you meet the most interesting people at 3am, and have the most bizarre encounters. So that love for night time culture definitely played a part.
Then from working in the background of the scene for so long, you made that jump into being a solo artist.
Exactly. I’ve always been involved in things, but where I was one part of something bigger. I worked with people on their records, live shows, contributing in some way to these musical projects. And for a while that was really good fun as you are part of something. But it got to a point where I thought it was time to stand on my own two feet, and contribute to the scene through myself.I think I wanted that creative freedom, to put my mark down in my own way.
What I love about drum and bass is – obviously you’ve got the big names in the scene – but more often it’s a lot of really talented people contributing to the scene. It feels more like a communist endeavour, rather than an individual wanting to be a pop star. Yes drum and bass rises into the mainstream culture from time to time, but it always remains part of the subculture. I think being part of this subculture, always bubbling away and growing, is much more exciting.
And as you said your first drum and bass release came in 2019, and you have been contributing to the scene since 2019. But now comes probably your biggest contribution to date, as you release your album! Can we hear more about Line of Roses?.
So I’m sure a lot of artists say the same thing, but I only set out to make a tune. Then I thought ‘hmm this tune is quite good, but it needs another tune to sit with it’. So I made another. Then next thing I was making tune after tune, not sending them out to anyone. And each tune I was starting from scratch – I don’t have any templates, and don’t use any samples that I’ve stored in folders. I just switch everything on and write as I feel that day. But I was just committed to making music every day, with some weird schedules sometimes. Like last summer when I was travelling across America, every day I had my laptop and headphones, either on the go or checking into a studio. Even if it was a spare ten minutes, on aeroplanes or in my tour bus bunk, I kept going.
Sounds like you put in a lot of hours into making this album. Was your motivation coming in waves or was it more of a constant process?
For me it was definitely a constant thing. I wasn’t forcing myself to go make music every day, it was a natural thing. When you feel like you’ve got something to get off your chest, you get it off however you can. And that can be through music. So it was constantly coming out. But I ended up with a lot of music, then I had too much! I was trying to work out what made sense as a body of music, and I think I came to a good resolution.
And on the album you’ve got to work with a number of artists, including Inja, Liam Bailey, Jade and Rider Shafique. How did you find it working alongside all these artists?
It’s been a great experience working with all of them. Inja I have actually known for about 16 years, he’s like a lifelong friend. Jade is another one who is such an old friend. I was writing one track, and I didn’t know what to do with it so I sent it to him. Then he responded with some stems, and we just kept pinging the track back and forth. It was great! I think it was good for both of us, as Jade is in that neuro world, but it’s not a neuro track. It’s more of a clubby roller, so we kind of met in the middle for it. But I just love doing anything with Jade, in and outside of music. Doing anything with a friend is always fun.
Being in the studio with Liam and Inja, I think to myself that I am so lucky to work with such talented people. As a producer you make a piece of music, then you get someone like Liam or Inja on to do their thing and it’s just taken to another level. Liam has got unbelievable talent. Seeing him first hand when the microphone is rolling, it blows you away.
Then with Rider, he’s such a humble, nice guy and I’m a big fan of everything he does. I didn’t personally know him before, but got chatting to him and said ‘well I’ve got this beat’. He was instantly up for it, and didn’t take any convincing. It was great having him, and everyone else on board.
And on top of all the artists you’ve worked with, it is also being released on DeVice Records, as the first solo artist album on the label?
Yeah, the cherry on top. Rene is one of the most amazingly funny guys. He thinks at about a million miles an hour. It has been great from the moment he spoke about signing the album. He was just like ‘how quickly can we do this?’. He put together a great release plan, which is essentially to put a single out each month for the rest of the year. And I’ve just rolled with the punches, I haven’t really thought about it other than that. But it’s a real honour to be supported by somebody that has been around a lot longer than I have.
What makes it more surreal is that of course at the time I didn’t even know I was making an album. I was just making a lot of tracks, and that’s all I cared about. Then when all this music was done, I just wanted to send it all to someone to have a listen. So I sent it to Rene, and he got back to me 24 hours later like ‘I love this, can we do something with it?’. That was a big moment for me, as I hadn’t even played it to anyone through the whole process. So he was one of the first people to listen to it, and was so kind about it. I just thought ‘wow, he’s excited, maybe I should be excited as well!’. I’m really contrived, but you know when something sounds good and you just want to play it to everyone. But I guess all I can do is live long enough to see it come out!
So as well as the album, what else can fans expect from Jolliffe?
So far, I want to get the music right. In the most meaningful, wholesome way that I can. But I do have some remixes and a couple collaborations in the works too.
The one thing that I haven’t tried at the moment is playing the music out – I’ve done a couple sets at Fabric, with Soulvent and a few others – but I think the next thing is to start ramping up the bookings. Obviously one of the parts of making the music is playing it out. You want to play your music to people, and be like ‘look what I have been doing’. I want to see how my music works alongside other people’s, see if it holds its own in the mix.
And also to see how the crowds react to the music as well?
Exactly. Ultimately they are the people that are going to tell you if you have made a good track or not. I find that really supportive, once it goes beyond the ears of you, your mates who produce and the people who have signed you, then you really get a gauge for your music. It’s exciting, and it makes me excited for the future. It feels like now is a good time to be making music, and there’s so much good music coming out. I’m very happy to be releasing on DeVice, but there’s still a long way to go before it is all out, so maybe best to check in with me next year!