Jmcee aka Ethan McLaren is no newcomer to the Melbourne scene, yet it is in recent years that his DJ career has really started to take off. A longtime resident at Circus nightclub in Prahran, Jmcee runs Circus Sundays and is one of the founding members of The Breakfast Club at the other Prahran clubbing institute OneSixOne famous for it’s lit up ‘Saturday Night’ style dancefloor. With a sound that favors funky rhythms, hi-hats and percussive tech-house, Jmcee has been grabbing the attention of overseas promoters in Europe with gigs already behind him at places like Cafe Del Mar in Ibiza, London’s Fabric, and has supported the likes of Stimming, Madmotormiquel and Oliver Huntemann during their Australian tours.
We caught up with Jmcee during his current tour through Asia to chat about his career to date and the party ethos behind The Breakfast Club. Lucky for us he also put together a diverse mix showcasing some of his favorite tunes he’s been playing out over the last year.
How would you describe your sound?
I always find it quite difficult trying to describe my sound. I think there’s a time and place for all music. What DJing is about for me is having the wisdom to identify that time and place and the knowledge to provide the frequency needed.
What I get off on personally is raw afro-funky rhythms, loose hi hats, rattley percussion, something with a bit of swing and movement in between the beats Apart from the techno aspect of my DJing, I also play lots of funk, soul, hip hop and reggae. Real downbeat stuff, and I guess that street style swagger always finds a way of creeping into my techy side.
How did you get your start in music and as a dj?
My mate Benny taught me how to mix nearly ten years ago and it wasn’t long before I was hogging the decks every time I went round to his house.I was working in hospitality at the time too so once I was hooked on playing, I just started hustling with the limited contacts I had (massive shoutouts to Simon Blacher, Billy Niner, Cam Manning and of course the old Prince of Wales jukebox - may it forever rest in peace). Whether it was playing absolutely hideous cheese at drag queen shows or spinning funk and hip hop for free food, as long as I was behind the booth honing my craft I was happy.
What most excites you about the Melbourne underground scene, what trends do you see emerging in 2018?
The pool of local talent is what excites me most about Melbourne’s scene. From the likes of our highly skilled stalwarts such as Thankyou City, Uone, Moodmachine, Kasey Taylor to freshly established guys like Retza and even younger up and comers like Lask, Peruw and Luke Vecchio, I’m just constantly in awe of how diverse the sounds of our humble little city on the other side of the world can be.
The trend I see emerging (and this could be very wishful thinking) is that talented artists like the ones mentioned above get booked more for their music and less for their social media pull or popularity within the industry. This will take a little more growing up on Melbourne’s behalf before we get there however I can already see it taking place.
Do you have any plans to produce? If so what are you working on?
I tinker with a few re-edits and mashups, quantising old funk jams so I can beat match them in my sets and such.
Unfortunately the majority of my time is taken up with the events I run, Circus Sundays and The Breakfast Club. So despite having a lot I want to say musically, right now I have to settle for saying it with other people’s songs (although I’m working real hard on changing that so watch this space).
You’ve supported some big names like Stimming, Oliver Huntemann and Madmotormiquel.
What stands out as your most memorable support set?
Just a couple of days ago I played on the biggest stage of my career as one of the supporting artists for Fatboy Slim. Despite not having much of a crowd there for my set, the show was where I grew up in St Kilda, right on the beach in pretty much the exact spot my mum used to take me swimming. So I took her along to the show and she got to see me up on that stage 20 something years after we were swimming on that same beach. It was quite poetic and such a beautiful and surreal experience which I doubt either of us will forget any time soon.
Favourite moment witnessed behind a dj booth?
One of my all time favourite moments is kinda tricky to explain but I’ll give it a crack...
Circus Sundays (which is the event I help organise with my homey Le’Bruh and a great up and coming crew called Equinox) used to get too busy and we would always have a problem with people pushing other people out of the way to force themselves through a full dancefloor. Being up behind the decks I’d see it all the time and it always made me mad that crew out for a good time would treat each other like that.
About a year into doing the Sunday, myself Steph Yeah and Gabri-L started The Breakfast Club. After only about two or three weeks, I’d be behind the booth at Circus witnessing the birth of a new culture where crew who we knew didn’t know each other but who’d been partying with us at breaky, would start respecting the personal space of their fellow punter.
Not barging past them or shoving them out of the way, but instead saying “please” and “thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “excuse me”.
It’s a hard thing to explain in writing but it was pretty cool to see a physical difference in a crowd’s behaviour based on The Breakfast Club’s ideals of love and respect for your fellow punter.
If you could play any club or festival in the world, what would it be and why?
Such a hard question to answer!
To name but a few: Panorama Bar on a Sunday afternoon, Robot Heart for a sunrise slot, Rainbow Serpent Market Stage during Mad Monday, Garbicz Festival or anything else the Bachstelzen crew are involved with, Concrete or Rex Club in Paris, Warung Beach Club and Universo Parelello in Brazil. There’s just too much beauty on the world’s dance floors to pick one, but those would have to be my favourites and they’re all my favourites for the same reason; these are places where the music is valued more than anything else.
So many clubs use music as a backdrop to sell alcohol, so many festivals use laser shows and confetti cannons to wow their crowd, but the above parties mentioned all seem to do it for their belief in universal interconnectivity through sound, and that’s the only thing I’m interested in.
Any plans for an upcoming Europe or USA tour?
I just had the most unbelievable Europe tour last August. I got to play a chillout set at Cafe Del Mar in Ibiza, then a gig at Salon Zur Wilden Renate in Berlin, a gig at Golden Gate in Berlin as well as a cheeky Sunday night slot at Fabric in London for the legends over at WetYourSelf!.
I grew up listening to the Cafe Del Mar and Fabric mix CDs so it was quite the trip to be able to play on both hallowed grounds during the same tour.
Currently I’m in the middle of an Asia tour, with gigs in Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand, and then when that’s wrapped up I aim to get my bum back over to Europe for another run of shows, it’s just waaaaay too much fun over there. Plus my beautiful girlfriend Marine is French so I got myself a free bed in paris ;).
What are some up and coming Australian producers? Who should we keep an eye on?
Keep your eye on that Scotty Pesticide character, he’s owed me 50 bucks for like three months.
Can you describe this mix you’ve put together?
This mix is really just a retrospective of some of my most played tunes from the past 12 months. Some tracks are quite old, some tracks are brand new.
There’s been a few awesome albums out recently, the Andreas Henneberg LP and the Keinemusik LP were definitely my standouts of 2017. I really just wanted to put together a sampling of all that’s been moving me in my sets. It starts off pretty hard, then gets nice and warm and fluffy and ends with a beautiful piece of melody all the way from 2009.
Fiamma (Original Mix) Paolo Martini
Bergmann Kord (Original Mix) Mihalis Safras
Aki (The Glitz Remix) Marascia, Alessio Mereu
You Better Don't Say (Original Mix) Andreas Henneberg
Dunja Dunja (Original Mix) Sucre Sale
Go Molian (Original Mix) Italoboyz
Muyè (Original Mix) &ME, Rampa, Adam Port, Keinemusik
Mont Blanc (Andreas Henneberg Remix) Atlantik
Solaris (Original Mix) Sandrino, Frankey
Piano Roll (Audiofly Twinkle Edit) Martin Eyerer, Benno Blome