JNETT Shares Some Scenes From Melbourne's Dance Music History
JNETT on iconic Melbourne club nights, record shops, and local legends.
What JNETT doesn't know about Melbourne's club culture history is maybe not worth knowing. JNETT has run record stores, run residencies, basically just run things for years across the fields of DJing, production, photography, fashion, and media. THUMP is honoured to have the influential icon play as part of YAMATHUMP, our Melbourne Music Week event with Sugar Mountain Festival, on Friday November 21st. Ahead of the date, JNETT offers a very personal story of the city's music scene.
At 15 years of age, I was frequenting a club on Friday nights called Bombay Rock. Funk night alright and totally outtasight! Musically, it was my absolute awakening into a world that existed in my heart, and to find it in the flesh was totally a beyond belief moment. It was non stop funk, disco, italo, boogie and beyond. Packed every time, and full of a load of Euro's with fros!! I have been chasing those sounds for a long time now. I still occasionally come across a record from back then that instantly takes me back there, and has so much relevance to now.
At 17 years of age, the action moved to Billboards on a Friday night. Funk Night with weekly featured guests, and a funk covers band known as Jabulani. Jabulani consisted of siblings, two brothers and their two sisters. They were originally from South Africa, and ended up in Melbourne. They covered songs by the Whispers, Mac Band, Kool and the Gang and beyond. They never really made it outside of Billboards world? This was certainly one of the few places to get a fix of pure funk, soul, R&B at that time.
With this I have to mention places like Checkpoint Charlie, Razor, Inflation and Chasers. Certainly never at this time did I feel any aspirations to DJ, just to buy as much of this amazing music as I could!
In my early 20's I returned from living in Ladboke Grove, London, where I had lived for a few years. That was for me, totally a regular fix of music and sounds on a regular, and always coming out of a big booming system! You didn't have to go look for it, it was everywhere!
Central Station Records
Coming back to Melbourne in the early '90s my next big Melbourne influence really hit when i started working at Central Station Records on Flinders St. Well, that was about the only way I could continue feeling surrounded by music and records. It specialised in vinyl imports, and was certainly an iconic destination for any like minded 12" collector or enthusiast. It certainly introduced me to a likeminded community within Melbourne, where there were already a heap of underground clubs and many legendary people that were really breaking grounds. That leads me to my next big influence: John Cassar (RIP). John was a colleague at Central Station Records. He had been around years before I started, and was at least 15 years my senior. It was John that gave me the most significant insights and first real tips into mixing and various technicalities of PA's and mixers. He was responsible for guiding heaps of DJs at that time. The loveliest, most helpful man, with no ego, just the greatest talent in the art of mixing! John Cassar (Legend!!), and truly a great lover of the FUNK!
The next great Melbourne influence for me, came along also during my time at Central Station Records: Jim K (Kontogiannis), a genius! He's the single greatest music forecaster and major influence for me. Jim and I worked for many many years together, then went on years later to re-open our own franchise of Central Station together with Andee Frost and another colleague Mike, which then became Hear Now Records. Since I have known Jim, he was and is always first onto it. Music wasn't even listed yet, and Jim knew about it…it's like it wasn't even recorded yet and Jim seemed to know about it, or at least that when it did get a release, it was the record to have! He was and still is amazing, and I have never known anyone like him in that regard. Without a doubt, if Jim hands you a record it's exactly what you didn't know you needed, and suddenly couldn't live without!
Still holding firm to the Central Station connection, my next big influence came in the form of DJ Ransom. Ransom was a regular customer, and of course legend in his own right. I regularly heard him on DJ Krisy's "Steppin' To The AM" PBS show, Saturday nights. We were certainly interested in a similar sound. In fact, he was the reason that I ever got on two decks in a public place in the first place. Before that I was committed to my bedroom, practising night in, night out. It was a last minute moment: the venue, Purveyors at Lounge. Ransom was a resident and they needed a fill in. I reluctantly (but secretly eager to fill in) did it and never looked back. From then on I had a residency, which led to another - less than a couple of years later - at Saratoga. Such great times, the residents were Ransom, Mr Takse, and myself. We were collectively dubbed 'The Funk Mafia'.
Finally in my list of Melbourne music references comes Maurice Fulton. Maurice lived here for a period of years, years ago. Maurice and I became friends, and ended up playing quite a few gigs together. He was a wonderful influence and mentor, and certainly a major influence in self belief for me. The best moment was when he and I played a support gig at Honky Tonks for an international DJ/producer. After half an hour, Maurice went up to the international and told him he should stop now and that JNETT was getting back on! Needless to say I was flattered by his support, and equally as freaked out that this international was being told to get off.
See JNETT during Melbourne Music Week at YAMATHUMP, Friday Novemeber 21st, presented by Sugar Mountain & THUMP