Taking It Back To Square One With Jayfor

East Midlands events are on the offensive...

Photography by: Jack Kimber Photography Ltd (www.jackkimberphotography.co.uk)

There have been recent rumblings occurring in the East Midlands drum & bass scene with Nottingham being the hub for a host of events. But sometimes you have to strip things down to build them into a successful project.

Step in Jake aka Jayfor, head honcho of Square One Events, who has quite literally risked it all to run a successful drum & bass events company that is now thriving in the East Midlands.

A regular organiser and performer at Void Nightclub in Lincoln, Jayfor is fresh from hosting a 360 event in which he played for four hours straight, inviting some friends to perform alongside him. Titan, Summer LC and Deon all joined Jayfor behind the decks for an evening that popped off like an AK-47 with infinite ammunition.

With a career spanning a decade now, Jayfor originally sharpened his teeth in his university house performing for friends before success in a competition led to being booked for sets in Nottingham.

From smaller Nottingham raves to now running and performing at the upcoming Square One Easter Warehouse Fest at Lincoln Showground with artists like Wilkinson, Serum and Phibes headlining, Jake has seriously come a long way since his journey began.

With a four track EP and multiple bootlegs on the horizon this year, the Square One top boy is the epitome of dedication towards his craft. In this inspiring conversation we find out all about the origins of both Square One as a company and Jayfor as an artist, the challenges of running an events company, drum & bass in general and much more.

So relax, take a breather and buckle up those seatbelts as Jayfor takes it back to Square One

How did Square One happen originally?

Square One originally started around ten years ago. It was formed by me and a few other mates from uni who were all aspiring DJs from Nottingham and this was at a time when D&B was not at the forefront of the scene, bassline was taking over and we were struggling to find events where we could play. We got ourselves together one night, sat around a table in my uni house and brainstormed some ideas. We couldn’t settle on a name and kept saying we’re back to square one. That’s where the name originated and we just stuck with that! After scraping together bits of cash we launched our first event in a small underground bar called Market Bar in Nottingham for about 150 people. Our first headliner was Frankee who used to be signed to RAM Records who no longer tours which is a shame. From there it just turned into a monthly event, the first year involved a few events at Market Bar where we developed a small community and then eventually we progressed to larger well established clubs like Stealth in Nottingham and Rescue Rooms, things just took off from there.

Love it! Is it a solo venture or do you have a team helping you?

It did start off with four of us involved and we were had an equal split in the business, but as time passed the others lost interest and the motivation wasn’t there so it got reduced down to two of us. A few years ago, the remaining partner left to pursue some other ventures in America so now is purely just me. I do have a few people helping me here and there, who contribute to various aspects of the business like marketing and operations on event day, but primarily it is just me that plans and manages the business and events.

Awesome! Can you tell us about some of the artists you’ve worked with and shows you’ve thrown?

So over the course of ten years we’ve pretty much booked most drum & bass artists under the sun, this is ranging from huge headline names like Sub Focus and Andy C to many upcoming artists. I think the only major touring D&B name who’s escaped us so far is Chase & Status. We’ve done shows in clubs, warehouses, O2 academies, art galleries, dance studios, cattle markets, even a working mans social club back for our 1st birthday!

A range of different venues there! What are some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced running the brand?

Running a drum & bass event brand is probably one of the most stressful ventures you can think of. The amount of money that you have to risk to throw events in this genre is considerably high, especially when it’s a solo venture and it’s purely your own money on the line. Acts, production and venue hire is only increasing and the profit margins keep getting slimmer year by year. The biggest risk I’ve undertaken today is throwing the recent warehouse festival that happened in Lincoln in October and also the upcoming event this April, both of which pretty much risk most of my life savings as we have to build the event from the ground up, but fortunately have paid off. We’ve run countless shows in the past where we have booked artists that were slightly risky. We booked an Eatbrain night a few years ago as I become obsessed with them after witnessing them at let it roll festival and we had about 150 people turn up in a 500 capacity venue. It was an incredible night where all of the attendees said was one of the best they’ve ever witnessed in Nottingham, but we lost a considerable amount of money in the process.

How did your journey as an artist begin?

So as an artist I think I first developed my love for D&B when I attended Hospitality in Brixton Academy over a decade ago. For me this will always be the golden era of D&B, where acts like Netsky, Camo & Krooked and Metrik were all blowing up. There was so much emotion and energy in the music back then. From that moment I knew that this is what I had to devote my life to. As soon as I got home I ordered my first pair of decks, I think it was a pair of CDJ 1000 mk2, I had to literally teach myself as none of my friends had any interest whatsoever. You hear the phrase now “everyone’s a DJ,” rightly so as the equipment has become so cheap and accessible which is obviously great to open the hobby to more people. Eventually I had the confidence to apply for a student run DJ competition at a local bar in Nottingham, I came second place but from there I managed to bag myself a set at another local event. I would invite loads of rave friends around for pre drinks where I would DJ to them in my uni house, we hosted some epic parties there as well which helped build a small community.

Communities are integral! You played an all night 360 set recently at Void in Lincoln and brought some friends along, how was it?

I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life so far, I played for four hours straight and invited a few of my favourite DJ’s that I’ve been offering sets at Square One along to join me for some surprise back to backs throughout. The support I have in Lincoln is absolutely incredible, I managed to shift over 900 tickets for this one which frankly blew my mind, the event was popping off right up until close and I couldn’t have asked it to have gone better.

How do you prepare for a longer set?

So I found this set really interesting because it’s physically impossible to plan for a set that long. Especially in a 360 environment, you’re feeding off the energy of the people around you and you can’t foresee what the mood in the room is going to be like. So many DJ’s will spend ages crafting a perfect one hour set in which all the blends are perfectly executed, and I myself have been victim to this a few times, it’s easy to get carried away in the pre planning process. But for these four hours I approached things completely differently, I basically spent two weeks trawling through my huge collection of music that I’ve gathered for over twelve years and I organised everything into ten playlists so I could just dip in and out of these folders as I saw fit. I also threw in some techno and garage as well because I think it’s unreasonable to expect people to go HAM at 180bpm for four hours straight. It’s so much fun because you end up selecting tunes and mixes you’d never think of going for in your studio.

You’re responsible for many events around your local area, can you tell us your thoughts about the East Midlands rave scene?

Over my ten year career I’ve seen the scene in the East Midlands go through many different phases and to be fair it has always been a really strong scene. In Nottingham I do think the scene is slightly over saturated in that there’s a lot of events trying to do the same thing and unfortunately this is meaning that crowds are spread thinner and the vibe isn’t quite there at some of the events. But I have to say I have all the places, the scene in Lincoln is absolutely thriving right now, the energy and attitude that people bring to every event always completely blows me away. They turn up as soon as the doors open and they leave when the last tune plays. We’re also dipping our toes back into Leicester this year after a couple of years off with an Andy C show in April.

Love to hear it! What are your thoughts on D&B in general at the moment?

I think it’s fair to say that drum & bass is clearly at the forefront of UK dance music right now whereas a few years ago we were a bit of an underdog compared to house and techno. So that’s obviously great to see, the scene is expanding and reaching new people. That being said, and I hate to be this guy,  but I do think social media, especially tik tok may have had a negative impact on the music recently as the attention span from the consumers is just getting shorter and shorter. You rarely see popular tunes over 3 minutes these days which is sad to see in my eyes. It’s very easy to look good on TikTok with an amazing blend that lasts for 10 seconds and I feel like I’ve had to conform to this somewhat to keep up with trends. I hope that the music can return to longer form in the future where tunes are back to the 4-6minute mark and there’s more of a shift towards crafting a journey rather than who can bash up the fastest chops. Needless to say there’s some incredible artists doing huge things at the moment and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to have witnessed so many talented artists play at our events.

Have you got anything exciting happening at the moment or in the future you can tell us about for Square One and Jayfor?

So Square One has an upcoming huge warehouse event this Easter which is taking place at Lincolnshire showground on Saturday 6 April. This is a follow up to the first warehouse rave that we organised back in October where we had nearly 2000 people show up. It’s our flagship event and I can’t wait to show what we have in store for this one. We’ve got brand new stage production, incredible lighting and visuals and a few surprises to reveal on the day. Tickets are selling quite well and we’re heading for a sell out. As for myself Jayfor, now that I’ve completed my all night 360 set I want to take this a step up and I hope to headline a much larger version of this show myself in the future, it’s just finding the right place to do it and the right time. I’ve also been working hard on my own productions and buzzing to have an EP that is dropping next month and you can already listen to two of the tracks, Technologic and Feel The Beat on Spotify now. The next three will be dropping over the course of the month I’ve also got loads of bootlegs remixes and other tunes in the works that I can’t wait to reveal later this year.

Jayfor: Instagram > Facebook

Square One: Instagram > Facebook

Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.