Today we are fortunate to be speaking to one of the revivers of house/techno in New York City and the surrounds. A gent who truly brought “Underground Quality” back to the streets!
Hi Edward, thanks a lot for having a chat…where are you right now, Connecticut?
Yeah, I’m home right now…
How has this week been for you? Your travel schedule is looking quite intense, as always, you still having fun on the road?
Not busy enough man, but It’s been pretty good, was playing out and flew in on Monday.
It’s well documented that New York City went through a bit of a slump musically around the late 90’s early 2000’s and then the likes of yourself, Levon [NYC], DJ QU, Fred P [Queens] and more recently Joey Anderson [New Jersey] brought the fire with some exceptional work.
Apparently the connection started at the record store called Halcyon [where Levon worked], right?
Let me fill you in on the history of Jus-Ed and Underground Quality as I believe this is important in telling the full/true story of what went down.
Post 9/11 there was a saturation…a stagnation in the sound in New York City and the surrounding areas. There was no room for new DJs, no changes from the old heads who were pretty much set in their ways.
So I decided to start making music, for me…and this caught on and other artists around the country [and even in Europe] heard about my music.
Alex aka Omar-S heard a track of mine on my UQ-001“Carnival House” CD ALBUM and then went to release the track “AM MIX” on the FXHE label. Subsequently, that track got released on the FXHE Compilation #1 EP which featured myself, Omar-S, DJ Snotburger and Young Seth [Seth Troxler]…this is actually Seth’s first release.
I was about to put out a release on my own Underground Quality imprint UQ003 – Fly Away EP which was the 1st vinyl release on the label and Alex asked me to wait for the FXHE to release before releasing the UQ release. This was the turning point for me as Downtown 161 [a key distribution source here in the USA] got wind of my release on FXHE and they FINALLY decided to start distributing my music.
I then went on to play gigs in Offenbach at Hafen 2 and then for Cassy at Panorama Bar
Damn, I love Cassy ❤
Yeah, everyone loves Cassy…she’s quality!
Tell me a bit about how you and Levon got in touch and how that relationship has progressed
I met Levon [Vincent] about 13years ago in 2001 and then in 2006 he sent me some of his work and asked me to help him with releasing it.
At that point I told Levon that he’s 2steps ahead of Europe as his productions joined the dots between the progressive house and the groovier acid sound really well.
I told him in the 1st year he’d be as big as me and in the 2nd year he’d surpass me. Of course he didn’t want to hear this, but I was right in the end.
Your relationship with Fred was after he did a remix for Jenifa [in 2007] on the “Time Waits For No-one” track [under his Black Jazz Consortium moniker] and you two then went on to release UQ-017 Real House Series DJ Jus-Ed vs. Fred P and then UQ-005 Unity Kolabo pt2 – 5….& Ed & Fred Project
I actually had no contribution to the Ed & Fred production ….I did have the only copy though…and I asked Fred if I could release it. Well his hard-drive crashed and he lost the track [hahahahaha], so he called it Ed&Fred as we were going to do a joint project, which resulted in it coming out on UQ044 Endurance album.
Jenifa approached a few people to help her with a remix for one of the tracks she put out and nobody came through, but a certain Fred P did a remix and it absolutely BLEW ME AWAY!
I felt I owed him, big time as Jenifa’s my woman and here’s this guy who had just done amazing work for her, so when Fred P’s first release came out on his own label “God’s Promise” – I did a remix for him
Personally, I see Fred P as one of the finest producers around right now. The music he produces leaves me spell-bound! Another amazing amazing artist is Anton Zap from Russia, who also has this incredible ability to just create sublime pieces of music.
If you had a coin, it would be Fred P on the one side and Anton Zap on the other!
Then of course there’s DJ Qu and Joey Anderson…
PeeWee and Dr Jones are part of H.D.C. (House Dance Conference), they came to my Party called Kazulo which I did with my Partner at the time Joann H. These guys invited me to the HDC party…and this is were QU and Joey Anderson would be…I met QU by way of Myspace and he sent me his record…He also Invited me to their monthly party. Once I got there I met Joey A and the rest of the Crew!
QU knew my releases and he introduced me to David S. & Ruben ( Nicuri). QU told me about this release he and David S had done entitled “To Eaches Own” which I went on to play on my radio show, then in Europe and the people there wanted to know what the fuck this track was!!
I then went on to help them with the release of that record and gave Qu step by step guidelines as to how to go about with the getting distribution etc …in fact I pretty much told him what to say and when to say it, to make this release work.
So there’s been a heavy crew connection for years now! How important is it to have a crew rather than be going it on your own?
All of our dealings are built on trust and helping each other. Creatively we work independantly but commercially we help each other in many different ways.
There’s this “Blood Contract” I have with each of the guys/artists who have released on Underground Quality and it is to give credit where credit is due and spell my fucking name right
Our friendships are inpenetrable, because it goes beyond the music. It’s about life! I’ve spent intimate times relating with all the guys on my label, and we are real friends
It may be a bit over-zealous of me to liken you four [DJ QU, Fred P, Levon and yourself] to the gents from Detroit [in terms of techno], but lets be honest, your impact in the sound of House [with a taint of techno] is quite HUGE won’t you say? I mean some have labelled you THE GODFATHER, even hahahaha.
Look, for this renaissance, definitely I have played a huge part in that, but I aint going to go claiming that I’m the be all and end all of house/techno.
I struggle to pin your sound to one specific genre, i mean it has elements of House, Techno and some Acid thrown in there too. What would you call it? Music?
I’m an underground DJ who plays quality music from classic house right through to techno. If it’s quality, I’ll play it and my motto when DJing is
“I’m not the best DJ in the world, but I’m better than you”
Also, for me, a disc jockey is one who plays records. A CD DJ plays CDs…a guy playing off a macbook/laptop selects music from a playlist, they’re NOT a DJ!
I’m an advocate for quality music over getting lost in the genre debate, MORE SO, today where everything is being labelled [deep] house or techno, even when it’s nowhere close. What are your thoughts on this?
When I’m producing I draw inspiration from all over. It doesn’t necessarily have to be dance-music for me to use it.
My lifestyle has been all about growing the scene and helping others find their path. It goes beyond the fame and fortune, I mean I could do with more money, but honestly, at the end of it all, if I’m making ends meet, then I’m happy, because I have helped rebuild the house/techno scene in this city and beyond.
I’ve noticed a number of high-quality labels surfacing over the past few years. There’s L.I.E.S and Francis Harris’ Scissor & Thread and Joey Anderson’s Inimeg as examples…is there something in the water there or have we just been sleeping on the quality coming from the NYC and Jersey?
It’s a rebirth of the underground scene, for which I’m credited, but that accreditation is not a public thing. So what this is, is the fruits of that.
The East Coast is one of the originating points for this kind of music and there has been and continues to be a number of amazing producers/labels for this sound.
Many of the label houses will not get the recognition they deserve, even though they’re releasing some amazing music, but it’s great to see that rebirth has given artists an opportunity to produce/play music they believe in.
Speaking more about labels and since you’ve been running your own and helped Anthony Parasole, Levon Vincent and Fred P get theirs off the ground, what advice would you give to guys thinking of starting up a record label. For example, on press-plants, distribution and so on?
You got to be patient, don’t be in a hurry with it. Learn everything from publishing and distribution and make sure you have a pressing plant close to you, so you can control your masters.
Over the years I’ve helped about 4-5 labels outside of the UQ circle who are successful!….all it takes is to be honest with people.
There’s a saying: “You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with shit” and that’s how I operate. Just be honest and you’ll reap the benefits of that kind of living.
Let’s talk a bit about Nina Kraviz, her rise to stardom, and the part you’ve played in her career? That track CPT Time [off the 1st Time EP on UQ] is sheer class. Are you the guy who ‘found’ Nina Kraviz?
Yeah, I am the man behind Nina Kraviz’ rise to stardom. In terms of productions, I have nothing to do with Nina’s music making. When I met Nina I visited her in Moscow and I got to see that she was the real deal! I knew she would be huge! To be honest, I didn’t have the means to help push her career at that time…so when she was approached by Rekids I was very supportive of her making this move…and it was the right move!
Secondly, in terms of production work, does she use you as a reference point or guide when she’s producing her “acid-based” sound?
I’ve sat in her studio, and like you know I did the vocal on CPT Time, but that’s about it, she does her own thing…
She’ll be here in Cape Town in about two weeks…
You guys are in for a real treat with Nina. I went to her party in Russia…and there’s a lot to be said about a FEMALE DJ commanding a crowd in Russia. Now many say “it’s cos she’s hot, it’s cos she’s beautiful” NO IDIOT, it’s cos she’s got skill…she’s bad-ass!
Jenifa [Mayanja] your wife, runs the Bumako Recordings imprint and has released some amazing work on there too.
Yeah, when it comes to musical ability Jenifa is way ahead of me. She’s amazing. Even as a DJ she’s an exceptional talent and her productions speak for themselves.
It’s Festival time of the year in the USA with WMC coming up in the next few days and also Movement in Detroit in May. Been reading growing reports of the decrease in quality around WMC. Do you agree with this and what do you think is the reason behind it becoming a bit of a commercial venture rather than for the love of music?
I don’t think I’m in the position to answer this in it’s entirety, but what I will say [from personal experience] any time you have a good idea, you have to protect it…because there’s always somebody who’s gonna try and take it, and they can take it because they have more money/power/connections than you.
I believe that what’s happened here is that the original idea was stolen by a company with big capital came and ‘stole’ the idea and they’re the ones who have fucked it up with commercial gains.
My early memories of the Miami Winter Music Conference are quite fond, I went to WMC from 2001-04 and for 3years I threw my own parties, because nobody wanted to book me and this is how i met Omar S 
People have also become more aware of the ‘rip off’ in terms of prices happening in Miami and it’s made it unattractive.
I know you’d love to play in South Africa at some point. Who does one speak to in terms of bookings etc?
I’m on the same booking agency as Nina Kraviz, Paramount Artists. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, can we look forward to another album from Jus-Ed in the near future? The last one “Endurance” came out in 2012, if my memory serves.
Yeah, there’s one coming out at the end of April. It’s the kind of album that tells a story and it’s called “Fathers Feelings” Item Number UQ058
The CD will be out first and then a vinyl release later on.
Thanks very much for the chat, totally enjoyed that Edward! Hope to see you soon.
I appreciate that you have ‘found’ me and I look forward to meeting you at some point.