Jackmaster: Beyond the Studio
For anyone who’s ever stepped foot into a nightclub in the past three decades, you’ve no doubt heard Chuck Roberts’ iconic proclamation on Rhythm Controll’s 1987 staple “My House”: “In the beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove…”
While Jack Revill was just a wee lad crawling around Scotland at the time of the track’s release, he might as well have served as the titular subject as the song. Donning the name Jackmaster when he took to the decks in his early teens, the young Glaswegian found a home—and his encyclopedic knowledge of music—while working amongst the stacks in the city’s Rubadub record/gear shop.
You see, Revill is a true selector—the oft-revered “DJ’s DJ,” if you will. You won’t find his name slapped on any record sleeves, perhaps next to a ghost producer’s—no, Jackmaster is entirely dedicated to the art of the mix. Armed with a seemingly bottomless record bag and an innate sense of how a party should flow (thanks to his formative years running not-quite-legal events at the bar owned by a friend’s father), the jock is unafraid to incorporate slammers of all genres into his sets with a signature high-speed mixing style. Whether he’s deftly taking clubbers from tech-house blazers to classics like Prince’s “Controversy” in mere seconds or crate-digging to bring forgotten gems back to the surface, Jackmaster is a sight to behold as he rips into crowds with ease.
Despite a nonstop touring schedule that keeps him up most nights of the week, the man keeps a firm finger on the pulse of clubland as co-founder of the label Numbers. Taking its name from the party Revill ran in Glasgow in his teens and run in conjunction with five of his associates (Bobby Cleaver, Goodhand, Nelson, Spencer and Simply Richard), the imprint and party series has become a seminal figure in the world’s musical landscape. With Numbers having been the home to pivotal releases from illustrious artists like Jamie XX and SBTRKT, Revill has helped shape the taste of clubgoers far and wide with his placement at the heart of the brand.
Now, Jackmaster is about to reach another career milestone by entering the hallowed halls of the DJ-Kicks compilation series. We caught up with 30-year-old Scotsman during his packed Miami Music Week schedule, where he broke down his path to the top of the mixing pack.
DJ Times: What sort of musical upbringing did you have? Was your family particularly musical?
Jack Revill: My family was very musical, especially my dad. He brought us up on black music—soul, funk—and some popular stuff like Prince. He was playing music all the time, and I used to sit in front of his hi-fi with headphones on. You know how you used to have lyric sheets with CDs? I’d be singing along to all the tracks. If it wasn’t for my dad that played me music and got me involved and interested in high-quality music when I was so young, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. Or I’d be a shit EDM DJ.
DJ Times: You started out in a record store, correct?
DJ Times: Is that how you picked up DJing?