Jumping Back Slash puts a UK spin on gqom and SA house
Jumping Back Slash moved to South Africa from the UK in 2007. He and his wife had initially gone back for five months. Almost ten years later they are still in Cape Town, and he has cemented a place among the players in one of the most exciting scenes on the planet. In the years he’s been making music as JBS, he has released several EPs independently, worked with and remixed the likes of Okmalumkoolkat, Card On Spokes and Spoek Mathambo, not to mention gained a couple of production credits on Fantasma’s Free Love from 2015.
The upcoming Slow Oceans EP on new label Cotch International is his third to drop this year. When listening to all three, the real breadth of JBS’ palette comes to the fore. The harder, darker sounds on tracks like Tethered To The Edge are a far cry from the smooth, rounded edges of Fall In Luv. Slow Oceans sits somewhere between the two, all the while retaining the broken beats upon which he builds his sonic structures.
He recalls how his love of that scene was first established, “I heard a track called Bazoom Base by DJ Sdoko and it blew my mind ‘cause it merged almost tacky Eurohouse progressive sounds into this mad, broken house rhythm. After that I just got very into it. That informed Jumping Back Slash: it was my influences and aspirations before I came to SA smashed together with the music I was hearing here.” It’s fair to say that there were a lot of them: inherent in JBS’ music are hints of classic RnB and jazz, as well as jungle and dub, all refracted through the filter of the sounds of SA.
Being from the UK and adopting the flavour of South African music, initially SA house and more recently the darker, sparser sounds of gqom, carries some danger and requires a certain sensitivity. “I’ve never been interested in straight up xeroxing the sounds here. I’ve always tried to do something new and attempt to put my own spin on things. I don’t see myself as a representative or an authority at all… if I am anything I am part of the larger SA electronic music scene and what I do is very reflective of and inspired by my life here. I feel very lucky and grateful to be here.”
In this age of shrinking musical boundaries, when geographical location hinders the reach of music less and less, these are questions which remain relevant. In his words, “there is amazing, forward thinking, one-of-a-kind music made here by so many different people in so many different ways.” His is one way, and it speaks for itself.
Felix Laband / Nonku Phiri