A staple part of the UK’s thriving disco scene, Jive Talk are a rare breed – a duo with a genuinely inimitable style and a refusal to conform to conventions of the scene.
With an obvious passion for the music, their Jive Talk & Friends parties have not only become a firm favourite in Hackney where the night started, but are now also regular fixtures at festivals like Gottwood and Noisily where the pair curate their own stages.
Fresh off the back of the release of their Cheap Knock Offs EP – a vinyl-only release on their ‘Not For You…’ imprint – we caught up with the guys to find out where it all started, the secrets behind the Jive Talk style, and how mere mortals can be just like them…
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is the Jive Talk sound? How would you describe it to somebody who has never heard it before?
We love anything groovy and we don’t like to stick to one genre – it could be house, minimal, disco or afro beat; we also love big boy tunes, the kind you shouldn’t tell your parents about.
We’ve seen your press shots, how important is it to look the part?
Let’s put it this way, you wouldn’t drive a Ferrari wearing crocs…
When did you both realise that you were destined to be disco disk jockeys?
It kinda just happened; we both started DJing at Uni but in separate DJ duos (Jive Talk formed about four years ago). We just played at house parties etc – neither of us ever really expected to play in a club, let alone at festivals. It’s still funny to think that people actually pay us to play music we love.
You’ve just released a new EP on your vinyl-only imprint ‘Just For You’ – what made you choose vinyl over digital for this particular release?
There’s so much music out there it’s hard to stand out, so having a white label with a stamp saying ‘Not For You…’ seemed like a great idea. We also both love collecting records, it’s just nicer having a physical copy of something you like.
You’ve made a big impact on London’s scene with your Jive Talk & Friends nights, how did it all start?
It happened very organically, we were offered a platform by no90 in Hackney Wick a while back and this gave us a great opportunity to get like minded DJ friends involved. We’ve got a kind of loose collective going, we just can’t settle on a name.
What advice would you give to someone planning to hit a Jive Talk & Friends event for the first time?
Have a substantial but light dinner, dress casual but flamboyant, take it steady and go crazy.
You’re a regular feature of several UK festivals – do you think disco works better in clubs or on festival stages
We think all dance music works better on a festival stage. Everyone’s there to escape reality and enjoy music in beautiful surroundings, through good sound systems. People are more receptive and open to be taken on a journey so you can experiment more with your track selection. Certain tracks do amazing things to a festival crowd whereas in a club environment they may even clear the dance floor.
Curating your own festival stage is something most DJs only dream of, how did you manage that? How is it different to running a club night?
We cornered one of the organisers of Gottwood and he’d heard we were dangerous, so when we told him we were running a stage at his festival he couldn’t really say no. Jokes aside, we feel extremely privileged to be a part of that festival, we’ve played there from day one which certainly helped us get our stage takeover. It’s our favourite festival and it gets better every year! We’re also really excited to be returning to Noisily festival this year, bringing ‘Jive Talk & Friends’ with Moodena & Sartorial (Tropical Disco Records), Mark Hume, Jay Carder, Move DJs and Adop+ AKA Nickname Steve (co-founder of Not For You…)
Curating a line-up for a festival stage is a lot more fun than running a club night. We’re very fortunate to have a shed-load of very talented DJ mates and we enjoy working out the best running order with each artist’s style in order create the best vibe and musical progression as the day goes on, it’s kind of like making a playlist. When you’re running a club night, there is a lot more to worry about and you don’t have the same timeframe to try and build something. The main worry is normally whether anyone will actually turn up.
Disco is everywhere – festivals, clubs, the charts – why do you think it has managed to remain such an important and consistent part of dance music culture? How would you like to see the genre develop and grow?
It has remained such a consistent component of dance music in our opinion because dance music, DJing and clubbing all have their roots in Disco and funk. It’s hard to see the evolution sometimes, as the genres of dance music seem so far removed. That said, all you have to do is revert back to the four on the floor beat to see the impact that disco had – and still is having – throughout the genres. For us, it’s great to see such a big resurgence of disco edits and rethinks, and at the same time it’s been great to watch electro have a revival with a lot of old tracks getting attention again. With dance music / culture, it will always look back, reimagine, reinterpret and reinvent itself for the time – for us this is exciting and the best way for it to continue to grow.
Do you think dance music in general takes itself too seriously?
There are a lot of people who take themselves way too seriously within dance music, mainly with their moody press shots. We think it’s important to have fun with it and take the piss. That said we do take our music very seriously.
If you could make one change to the UK music scene, what would it be?
Licensing on volume restrictions and opening times. There’s nothing worse than being able to hear people’s conversations over the music or having to leave a party at 2am. This country panders to a minority of whinging killjoys and that fucks us off #Firethemusiczsar.
And finally – what can people do to be more like Jive Talk?
Don’t bother trying, you’ll make yourself look stupid! However, if you want us to like you, buy all our music, come to our gigs, and send nudes.
Jive Talk – Cheap Knock Offs EP is out now. Grab your copy HERE.