Kevin Le Gendre gets some answers from Joe at Jamwax Records.
When was the label founded?
Joe: The label was founded in December 2013 when I just came back from a digging trip in Jamaica. It was a great session in a house with more than 35,000 vinyl [watch Jamwax youtube channel to see the session]. Most of them had been untouched for more than 15 years. I bought about 2000 tunes from Hutchie, the owner [the cousin of UK reggae producer Barry Issac]. Hutchie, a schoolteacher, supplies all the “records hunters” in his area. Delroy Melody is a good friend of Hutchie’s, and I first met him in 2009 in Jamaica.
I made a deal with Delroy to reissue his anthem Ease Up The Pressure. That tune was absolutely nowhere at the time [no youtube, no discogs] and only a few collectors and soundmen were aware of it. Delroy was totally obscure for most reggae lovers, and my aim was to make a short video to show the man is still alive and tell his amazing story.
Do you have a background in the music industry/media?
J: I first started working for www.reggaefrance.com in 1999 and I also worked as a seller at Rimshot music in Barcelona [2003-2004]. It was the only reggae records store in Barcelona at that time. So in 2003 I started working with most of the big vinyl distributors around then: Cap Calcini, OJ36 Records, One Love and also Ernie B.
In 2005 I went to Paris and met Eric from Black-Catalog. I helped him build his website [mainly the database with about 6000 vinyl, samples and photos] and I got a lot of records from him because he was at that time the main link between the UK and France for reggae vinyl. He was doing a trip each month and came back with a lot of stuff. Eric helped me a lot when I started my label. He gave me good links to press records properly and told me a lot of things about the vinyl business because he’d been doing it 15 years.
How do you research and source music for your catalogue?
J: With [my business partner] Nicolas we go through our vinyl collection and we choose the releases we love first.
Is there a particular area of black music you are interested in?
J: We are of course specialized in Jamaican music because I’ve been listening to Jamaican music since 1992, and my first concert, Israel Vibration in 1996, really blew me away! But Jamaican music gave me the opportunity to discover all genres of music. Because they love to cover songs, whatever the style, and I love crossover style. Also my parents used to have a lot of vinyl at home… with my father listening to Dire Straits, Sting, Rolling Stones, The Beatles… and my mother listening to classical music from her Russian origins, such as Rachmaninov. So Jamaican music brought me to the whole Caribbean and the mainly dancefloor styles such as soul, funk and disco. So we have no borders and we will release things we love, whatever it comes from, whatever the style.
What are your best sellers?
J: The best selling 7” is Juggler by Owen Knibbs, and the 12” is Physical by Vivian Jones.
Is there a greater demand for vinyl than downloads?
J: Actually download is nearly dead and only streaming works. Vinyl sales are not what they were in the golden years, but we believe they will get better. [We hope so!]
J: We have a lot of releases we are working on, but can’t reveal anything yet. Also I am working on a new version of the Jamwax website where I will sell a part of my 6000 vinyl collection because my flat doesn’t have space anymore. We are ready to play at any venues/festivals with our stuff on vinyl. I love Jamaican music cut from the early ‘60s to late 2000s [when they stopped pressing vinyl] so we can adapt our show to any audience.