Entering the bass game in the late 2000s as one half of dubstep duo Stinkahbell, London-based Janset is no new name.
In the last four years since leaving Stinkahbell the MC/producer/composer has been refining her skills, redefining her sound and working with a wide range of collaborators from D&B stalwart Cyantific to rising wave luminary Kareful. Penning scores for short movies and working with the BBC Grime Orchestra along the way, last month she dropped her largest solo EP to date.
Seven tracks deep with sounds ranging from icy, dissonant post trap to gritty, turbo-charged grime, her Keep It Humble EP is the sound of an artist who’s confident in her vision, range and ambition. It’s also just the tip of the iceberg as she prepares to launch a new label Jubious in 2017.
Get to know…
Let’s rewind back to the Stinkahbell days for a second….
I felt we came through at a very exciting time. We came from more of a hip-hop background then in 2008 heard dubstep and it changed our lives. Nutty P had more of a production role and I was on the MC side. We had something different and enjoyed some great attention and amazing times. It was a pretty different vibe within dubstep at that time. The energy was very different back then. It was exciting – tunes were blowing up, a lot of the guys were starting to take it to America. It was mad. It’s still mad now. I can’t stand those guys who are ‘ah dubstep is dead!’ Genres never die and the people who are really into it have taken it back underground. There’s some great sounds out there this year. For me, in terms of leaving Stinkahbell when I did, I wanted to do different things and not be constrained to one genre. I feel I have gone to different places and can experiment a lot more from piano symphonies to going back to my hip-hop roots.
Piano symphonies… You don’t find many MCs writing them. Did you have lessons as a kid?
I did play it as a kid but only because someone came up to my mum and said ‘I got a piano for £200 do you want it?’ and she was like ‘yeah alright.’ So it’s always been there and I did lessons and got up to grade two or something but I was never into the theory side of things. As I got more into my teens I didn’t pay as much attention but it’s always been there in the background. I don’t read a huge amount of music, I play Bentley by ear and improvise comfortably.
Did you just call your piano Bentley?
Yeah he came with a name mate! Some people get a Steinway, other people get a Yamaha, I got a Bentley. He’s been a big role model in my life forever. No matter what style I’m trying, no matter what I’m doing, Bentley’s there…
So this diverse signature has been a key since leaving Stinkahbell
Definitely. When I left I knew I was going to try loads of different things but also didn’t want to force that – I wanted everything to fall into place naturally and not just try different things for the sake of it. I let it happen in itself. Plus a lot of people were like ‘you can’t do dubstep and hip-hop and piano music and this and that’ When you’re doing it from the heart you can definitely can.
I don’t think we’re so governed by rules of genres any more. Plus your actions speak for themselves. For example last year’s BBC Grime Orchestra and that memorable Get Darker show with Djinn….
That was legendary! Djinn is amazing. So many vibes! She’s much more on D&B tip these days. I’m so lucky I got Point Blank from her for my EP, it’s one of the last tracks like that she made before she went into the jungle side of things. Working with her is always a bonus. And yeah the Grime Orchestra was such a good day. There was this cool mystery vibe to it all day long. At first I got the call and it was like ‘you’re going to MC on 1Xtra’ so I like ‘okay then, let’s go’ Then there was talk of an orchestra, then it became grime focused. The orchestra knew a bunch of legendary grime tracks and re-composed these bangers into something classical. Inspiring!
You’ve worked scores on some short films haven’t you?
Yeah one was a dark comedy on BBC, it was 11 minutes and very dramatic – Sinkhole. It was very interesting and challenging and something I’ve wanted to explore for a long time. I know a lot of people will know me as an MC or lyricist but there’s this whole other musical side I don’t want to sit on any longer. Another thing I’ve done the score for is going to Cannes Film Festival which is awesome.
It must be a whole other discipline…
It is. I learnt so much from Stinkahbell production-wise. But I’ve always found that the stuff I produce myself doesn’t have that energy, that raaar factor to the music I spit to. It’s a lot deeper and more ambient which I feel lends itself to visual things. I’m constantly developing and trying to get my head around it. Now, after around four years, I finally feel like I’ve got it to somewhere where I’m confident. It’s taken a long time but now I’m ready to take that aspect of what I do further and set up my own label and push things in that way.
What are the plans for Jubious?
It’s for any kind of music lover, that’s important to know. It’s also an opportunity for producers to get more material out that would otherwise just sit on their computers gathering dust. I speak to and know so many producers who make a beat and if it’s not picked up by someone, or made for a purpose, or finished with a full song structure then it sits there on their hard drive never to see the light of day. I want to celebrate those missed pieces of art and help to present them to the world. Companies might want them for adverts or scores or MCs might hear them and want to pick up on them.
Nice. So many things never see the light of day.
Yes, you know it! And just because they’re not full songs, it does’t mean they have that real power that makes you go ‘raaaar!!!’ It’s that little bit of magic that I’m looking for because if it grabs me then it might grab you or your friends….
Where and when can we get grabbed?
Early next year if all goes well. At first I was going to keep it all mysterious and keep it disconnected from Janset but then I realised the whole anti-ego thing is just an ego thing in disguise. People will put two and two together eventually so just be honest… Like all good music should be.