04.03.2020 | Words by: Benjamin Rogerson
What body part does a dance track make you move? While some tracks have you swaying gently from the hip, others jerk you into full body convulsions. DJ Plead falls into the latter category, with a percussive style that balances delicate, minimal melody with urgent, tightly formed rhythms. Described aptly by FACT as a melting pot of Middle Eastern percussion and contemporary club structures, the SUMAC
label co-founder has been steadily vibrating dance floors with a flow of strong releases. With EPs Get in Circle and Pleats Plead, as well as collabs with the likes of Logic 1000 and 8ULENTINA - very rarely does a producer churn out such a stream of impressive productions whilst staying true to such a tight and distinctive sound.
For those who have seen him grinning behind the decks, they’ll have learnt that his DJing lives up to his productions. For those who haven’t, this Sunday at Het Weekend is a prime opportunity to have your body tossed around the dance-floor like a helpless doll: Suspiria-style. We caught up with the humble Aussie in advance of his set: covering underappreciated DJs, poorly thought-out closing tracks and kitchen storage units.Q: Hey Jarred, first of all cheers for agreeing to this! Heard great things about you from some (unnamed) Australian sources. I was wondering, for someone who has a reputation as such a friendly and kind individual, how do you justify such powerful and unapologetically banging music?
A: Wow! It looks like my reputation precedes (and exceeds) me. I don't feel like the music really betrays my general attitude. It’s tough and loud at times but I wouldn’t say that it’s dark or angry. Now that I think about it - I would say that my music is actually trying to be warm and inviting! Perhaps there’s an urgency and stressful energy to some of my tunes which might come from the anxious part of my personality.Q: Many people who aren't active in the dance community find it difficult to understand what a DJ actually is. British comic Stewart Lee claims that when he talks to his family about his success in stand-up comedy, they talk to him as if he's delusional and imagining the whole thing. How do people who have known you for a long time react to you being a DJ? Any unusual responses from friends or family?
A: Yeah it’s definitely a strange concept to explain to people that aren’t familiar with it. I completely understand the scepticism, because even I sometimes wonder what it is I’m actually doing. I’ve just spent a week with my family in my Dad’s hometown and it’s been interesting explaining to people what I’ve been up to. Quite a few aunties and uncles have just slapped me on the back and wished me luck. My parents have been supportive and proud though. Big up Antoinette and Roman!Q: A lot of interviews have asked about your musical influences, but beyond that, are there other non-musical influences you draw on in your productions?
A: There would be so many non-musical influences but I’m finding it difficult to think of any specific ones. Sometimes I regard making a track as solving a problem or puzzle you’ve created for yourself. Perhaps my approach is somehow distantly inspired by problem solving that I’ve done in my engineering studies. I’m sure I’ve also drawn inspiration from film, which I obsessively watched as a teenager and young adult. Q: Found myself enjoying this tweet from you recently:
"Before a lucrative career in beat-making presented itself to me, I was planning on making a living by designing Kitchen storage units to perfectly house Tupperware containers."
If the lucrative career in beat-making didn't come about, what would we expect you to be doing now? And if you were making Kitchen storage units, what would set yours apart from the rest?
A: First of all I should clarify that this was a joke of course and ‘making beats’ is definitely not lucrative (at least not yet). It’s hard to say exactly what I’d really be doing now if it wasn’t for music. I’ve had a variety of odd-jobs that I’ve fallen into over the years. I always end up finding something pretty interesting to do. The last few years I’ve been working with images so editing them and colour-grading them. It’s likely I’d just be trying to hustle up some more work in that field. If I had the privilege of designing kitchen storage units they would be functional and percussive. Q: You say that 'beat-making' presented itself to you. At what point did you realise that you were cut out for DJing and production as a career?
A: This part of the tweet was also a joke actually (apologies!). I think it’s funny to think about a career in ‘beat making’, especially if it presents itself to you. But I mean it is somehow still a possibility right? I don’t like thinking too far ahead with this stuff anyway because I feel like it could all stop quite suddenly, mainly because of how quickly we metabolise trends in music these days. The whole thing just feels precarious really…Q: You've been navigating a lot of dance-floors recently, but I feel the emotional depth of your sound could make sense in other media too - in films or dance performances or installations, among other things. Any plans to expand your work into other areas?
A: Yes, this is definitely something I want to do eventually! Being commissioned to make music for dance performances or film would be extremely rewarding. I often think my music is perfect car-chase music, or on some Bourne Identity trip. I pray every night that some Hollywood don walks into somewhere, hears my music and calls me up. Q: In the social-media age, we're obsessed with what's hot and trending. Could you highlight a few producers or DJs who you think are underappreciated and slipping under the radar?
A: Amsterdam’s very own, Fenna Fiction, is a DJ to put in this list for sure. She has definitely inspired me to be a better selector.
Mistareez is one of my favourite producers. Nimble and thoughtful - what a guy.
Henzo recently popped up on my radar. Prolific and consistent! Sends his new tunes through whatsapp haha.
And of course my idols, teachers and brothers Cassius Select and Cop Envy. Criminally under-appreciated…Q: You released an EP in early January, Massari for Relief, to raise money for the bushfire crisis. Is there a way that people who have already bought the EP can further support you? And how are you finding your role in supporting your home country from afar?
A: Yeah, I felt pretty useless being over in Europe. People can always continue to donate to specific organisations like Wires, Fire Relief for First Nations Communities or the Royal Fire Service, just to name a few. I appreciate everyone who has bought the tracks and who has donated. Q: Last one to polish it off. People often ask DJs in interviews what exciting track they would like to send off the interview with. I'm wondering if you could give us the track that a 16 year old version of yourself would most like to have heard a set end with? Or, if you fancy it, the most underwhelming and poorly thought-out closing track you have ever played?
A: Recently at Habitat, Bologna I ended my set with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Like I love You’ which is more or less what a 16 year old me would have wanted. Maybe that was poorly thought-out but it was still a success I’d say. DJ Plead plays Sunday evening during Het Weekend. Tickets are still available online and at the door.