Wednesday, March 22, 2023

'THE GREENROOM' Guest Mix from AARON JAY (Celebrating 15 Years of Influence Records) - March 29, 2023

On WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29th, STUNNA closes out the month in 'THE GREENROOM' on BASSDRIVE Radio with a very special return visit from seasoned DJ AARON JAY, as he unveils a brand new DRUM+BASS mix celebrating 15 years of his UK-based INFLUENCE RECORDS imprint.

STUNNA recently caught up with AARON to discuss music, life, and all things INFLUENCE RECORDS...

• Originally launched in 2008 as a vinyl imprint, your label, INFLUENCE RECORDS, really hit the ground running from the start, showcasing a truly global lineup of Drum+Bass producers. With names in its first dozen releases by the likes of BROTHER, RAW Q, ICR, SINISTARR, KJELL, BAL, DATA, DAVE OWEN, EVESON, SOUL INTENT, MR JOSEPH, and RANDOM MOVEMENT, you seemed to tap into a new class of burgeoning artists that have since gone on to become quite established acts in many corners of the larger bass music scene. Fifteen years later, in a vastly more digital music landscape, how has your approach adapted or changed in terms of signing and releasing music?

"It's harder now because finding artists on the internet or through social is a minefield. You’ve essentially got to find the DJs, producers and labels you love and follow everything they do so you’re on the pulse. You blink, you miss something. Back in the day, we all had AIM and I would come home at the end of the day, and I would have 150-200 tracks from producers from all over the world. Those days are gone, and you’ve got to reach out to artists, remind them who you are, and then go from there. That being said, the quality now is just incredible and finding music that suits the label in some ways is easier because there’s more choice or an excellent standard – we’re definitely in a golden era again where creative ideas are met with high production standards."

• Your tenure as a resident at FABIO’s famed ‘SWERVE’ night in LONDON in the 2000s must have kept you on your toes in terms of culling fresh new music for each session to play for educated club regulars. Did the continuous access to producers’ unreleased tracks eventually spark a desire to start your own label?

"Yeah, I mean that place was like a mecca for music in the 00’s. Everyone wanted a piece of FABIO. He was on BBC RADIO 1 (pre-digital stations), leading DRUM+BASS through a golden era of LIQUID FUNK and 'SWERVE' was this place where everyone wanted to be and be seen. Everyone from MARCUS INTALEX, SHY FX, GOLDIE, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, to TONY COLMAN (LONDON ELEKTRICITY) would just rock up, grab a drink, network and party. I got to meet and got to know loads of heads. It was a mid-week club night so it wasn’t just a normal weekend crowd. This was for your die-hard D+B heads and they kept you on your toes because they knew their shit.

The INFLUENCE label came about after I became friends with STEVE LYNX, and he played me what was an early version of 'DISCO DODO'. He actually gave me the first version of it at 'SWERVE' whilst I was on the decks. I dropped it, and it of course went off. FABIO rocked up sometime later and we had our usual chat before he went on the decks, and I was like: ‘Yo, FABS, you need to check this tune LYNX has done. I played it tonight and wow, went off!' Next day FABIO messaged me like ‘Yo, lock it down, I’ve signed it for CREATIVE SOURCE.' When it finally got released and I saw how well it did, I was kicking myself that it slipped through my fingers, but I wasn’t in a position to release it myself. The following week, I called SRD and arranged a meeting to discuss my idea for my label INFLUENCE RECORDS. After that, all the unreleased music I had started to become really exciting: I could do something with it. The rest is history."

• While each of the artists on INFLUENCE has their own unique, signature production sound, I personally have noticed throughout the years that each new release has been congruent to the last: an organic mixture of Techno-influenced elements. This progression seemed to be encapsulated succinctly in 2022’s ‘AARON JAY Presents: DIARIES FROM DETROIT CITY’ compilation. This finely-curated collection of tracks showcased offerings from LYNX, BUNGLE, SEBA, EASY, CONRAD SUBS, FLACO and more. Do you plan on continuing this series in the future?

"You’re right, and it’s been a bit of a conscious effort from me to have that sound in there. I’ve always loved D+B, but I think when I heard early INTALEX, my love deepened. Like many, his original tracks and releases on his SOUL:R label defined a new type of D+B. When he passed a few years ago, coupled with the slow down of output from CREATIVE SOURCE, I felt a responsibility to keep the LIQUID sound I’ve always loved alive and wanted to make sure I included that sound more heavily going forwards. This timed with me restarting the label and getting more involved in the scene again, so I had a clear direction where I wanted to take the label and I have just stuck to my guns. I don’t know if I’ll do another DETROIT style album again, but future releases on the label will still have those flavours. I’ve just finished working with FLACO and BUNGLE (separately) on two double EPs, and they are in the same vein. I think you’ll like them, I’ve included a lot of them on this mix."

• In 2015, you welcomed J:SKEPTIK to INFLUENCE RECORDS as label manager. Are you both involved in signing new artists and music, or do you each have specific roles in the general day-to-day running of the label?

"J is amazing! He’s a brilliant DJ and his knowledge of the scene and tunes is crazy. I mostly take care of A&R: finding the artists/tunes and briefing them on ideas for tunes, EPs, remix projects and generally steering the sound of the label. J’s my second pair of ears and handles artists relations like contracts and organises the release schedule, liaising with SRD on releases and exclusive partnerships, as well as making sure the designer does our artwork on time. He has a lot to do and loves being part of the label. I’m dyslexic and organisation skills are not my strength so I really couldn’t have the level of output we do if J wasn’t helping to drive the releases out the door. He’s a great label manager. Also shout to STEVE LYNX who masters all our releases. He’s a good guy to have on your team!"

• Can you give us a preview of what to look out for from the label throughout 2023 and into the future?

"INFLUENCE turns 15 this year and I’m slowly building up tracks for a celebratory album which should come out later this year. I’ve just signed new artists to the label including FLUIDITY, InsideMan, Sl8r, and MOTIV, as well as working with some of my more established artists like EASY, BUNGLE, FLACO, A-AUDIO, L-SIDE and LYNX.

I’ve got new material coming out from HLZ, a remix from ZERO T, BUNGLE's 'UNDER INFLUENCE EP Part 2,' the 'FIRE EP 2,' a two-part EP from FLACO ('4 TO THE FLOOR'), a killer single from A-AUDIO and JAYBEE, and so much more. It’s exciting times as every release feels special. It’s great to be in that place where the quality just feels organic and consistent.

Big shout to STUNNA for having me again – also, J:SKEPTIK, my wife BECKY and my kids AVA and PHIN, all the artists on my label, FABIO for the continued supprort, Voicemc (my favourite MC right now), and all those that make it happen behind the scenes at SRD. I hope you enjoy my mix!"

Please join us this session as AARON JAY celebrates 15 years of his INFLUENCE RECORDS imprint with an exclusive guest mix featuring new and forthcoming tracks on the label.

*For more information on AARON JAY and INFLUENCE RECORDS, visit:

• AARON JAY on Facebook

Hosted by STUNNA
Live from Chicago