The Groove Thief speaks to Jacky Murda

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Jacky MurdaSpeaking with Chopstick Dubplate’s Jacky Murda prior to his upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand, The Groove Thief covers a range of topics with the veteran jungle producer.

Whether you’re already a fan, or curious about checking out a live show, his musical vision is made clear: what ‘future jungle’ means to him, the four records that influenced his style, the origins of Chopstick Dubplate, the process behind the 2014 hit “Worldwide Traveler” with Mr. Williamz and Top Cat, and what we’ll be hearing from him next.

TGT: For people who don’t know you, who is Jacky Murda?

JM: I’m just a regular guy who likes to make music and perform, cook food, and travel. When I was really young I played in rock bands or whatever … I was in the marching band in high school. I got into DJing when I was sixteen years old, and that kinda got me really much more connected with hiphop and reggae sort of culture.

And then one year I was on stage scratching with a group, and someone came and robbed my old studio. So I quit doing hiphop and started doing jungle and reggae music. That was like 90-something. [Now I make] music with electronic bass, like future jungle…

TGT: What does ‘future jungle’ mean to you?

JM: It’s like – remember when dubstep was popular a few years ago? During that time I had a label called Little Island, and I was doing this kind of music that was 140 bpm but it was really dubby – more dub than step. I did a bunch of tracks with Top Cat and some other friends of mine, and had a group called JingBong Ting – which is Jamaican for ‘broke down car’ or ‘jalopy.’ My dog was called JingBong – we named the label after the dog. So basically… to make it really easy to understand, it’s kind of like 140 jungle, you know? 138-145, so it’s right around the speed of dubstep, to me it sounds a bit like breaks. [But now] I’m not really doing that style so much myself.

I was doing this dubby stuff, I started doing this live dubbing show, and then I was struggling. And then I went to England, they were like ‘we want you to play jungle.’ I was like ‘well, I’m kinda bored of jungle’ and they were like ‘we’ll pay you double’ … and so I started really getting back into jungle about five years.

TGT: So it was really the UK scene that forced you – in a good way – back into jungle?

JM: But they didn’t force me, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse… I was like ‘bro I love that music anyways, I’ll do that in a second!’ [laughs] So now I moved there about three years ago.

TGT: Does that mean then that JingBong Ting’s kind of on hold right now?

JM: No, that project just went into hibernation for a little bit – it’s getting reactivated, we’re gonna bring that project back maybe next year. Because the dub scene got really strong, but not the dubstep scene… JingBong Ting was always about dub.

TGT: So – this will be your first time in any part of Asia?

JM: I was born in Hawaii, but that’s as far west as I ever got. Never been to SE Asia or Australia or any of that … I’m excited to come out there!

TGT: How did this tour come together then?

JM: I have no clue [laughs]. Vanita [of NiceUp] contacted me and she was like… you want to come to New Zealand and Australia? Then, the 40 pages of visa applications and emails and that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

TGT: Do you ever have any hassles about being a murdera?

JM: Well, it’s not the name on my passport – it’s just a name people gave me and I couldn’t get rid of it ever.

TGT: Is there a good origin story of how you ended up as Jacky Murda?

JM: At the time when I first got my lathe, I was cutting dubs up in Montreal, and I had quit hiphop and gone back to reggae and jungle music. And then I was producing a young artist at the time called Krinjah, which is the name of He-Man’s Battle Cat when it’s not Battle Cat, right? [At that same time] I was playing really aggressive tracks in my sets, and everybody just started calling me Murda. And the name just stuck – I’m a really nice guy actually!

TGT: Yeah, you sound like it [laughs]! As far as jungle then, who have been the big influences on you and your sound?

JM: I guess, umm… nobody. That’s why we did it. I was inspired by a few particular records to make music, because more of these records were not out there. There was four songs… that inspired me to do what I do in my own way. Because I felt that music needed to be out there, and it wasn’t there. It was just sorta [a] sampled, chop, breaks thing that was there – and I wanted songs, you know, with an intro and a chorus. You know, you don’t hum a bass line in the shower, you know what I’m saying?

TGT: Yeah, it’s true, it’s true.

JM: Maybe dubstep kids do it, but when I’m in the shower I don’t go ‘whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp’ – I sing some pop song or whatever! So I wanted to make music, like song music, but I didn’t want to make pop music, but I still wanted it to feel catchy and positive and easy to digest and good and pleasant to the ear… when I started getting into it, jungle was dead, just tech step… I didn’t really like that kind of music that much; I really liked the music they were making a few years before:

D.R.S. feat. Kenny Ken – Everyman


M Beat feat. General Levy – Incredible


UK Apache & Shy FX – Original Nuttah


Prizna feat. Demolition Man – Fire

Those are the only records that came out of jungle that are remotely like what I do. Everything else is some sampled, chopped little bits – it’s not really the same. Those four records I just told you about are milestone records that for some reason people didn’t keep doing it that way… those four records really were the motivating slabs of wax in my collection that really made me go out and start making the beats that I did.

And also the fact is that I had bought a record lathe to make dubplates, cause I wanted to play the songs I produced in the night of the club, you know – and CD players, this is the 90s, CD players suck ass. I used some insurance money and some other money from savings and I bought an old lathe, I flew my friend over from Switzerland and he showed me how to set it up and helped me rebuilding it and I started cutting records. And from that, Chopstick really blew up – cause the name of the studio was originally Chopstick Dubplate and Master.

A couple years later I moved back to the States and moved down to Brooklyn, and from there I started having, within a month, Pinchers, Johnny Osbourne, Nardo Ranks, Yami Bolo, Junior Reid, Foxy Brown – they were all there within the first month of my studio.

Chopstick Dubplate logoTGT: Wow, that’s awesome. So I do have a question – since I’m based in Hong Kong – where did the name Chopstick Dubplate originally come from?

JM: The crew I was hanging out with. At the time my girlfriend was Filipino, and I was hanging out with these two Korean twins, these Vietnamese kids and a Chinese guy. Me being from Hawaii – which is not really Asian, but whatever – I always liked kung fu and kung fu movies, I love watching all those things that Wu-Tang was into – that was kind of a heavy influence at the time.

We just called ourselves Chopstick Crew at first, and then I got the dubplate cutter, and that went from Chopstick Crew into Chopstick Dubplate cause we’re like – we got dubplates so fuck it that’s it! Just arbitrarily picked the name because I liked kung fu movies, had an Asian girlfriend, and Asian best friends [and] we were DJing at all these underground parties – it was kind of a joke – yeah, call ourselves Chopstick Crew [laughs].

TGT: Yeah, you need to have a distinctive vision, rather than just like some tunes and make more tunes like that.

JM: I’m like an indentured servant to my vision… I wanted to hear this music that excited me so much and nobody was doing it, so I had to do it – so, that was it. For me, if something needs to be done it needs to be done, and that’s why I did it and there was a space for it.

There’s so many artists around that are copying Chopstick, for me that means I am doing something right. People don’t steal worthless shit. It’s good for you to know that you’ve got self-worth and you’ve got value in what you’re doing if people are going out of their way to steal it rather than paying a few lousy 99 cents to download or 10 bucks to buy the vinyl.

I was never one of those guys that got bitter about people stealing my tunes – however, I do get pissed at people who share the dubs. It’s gotta maintain a certain kind of social value. Anybody who likes our crew, who’s down with us – we respond to every letter, every email, every call – nobody gets left behind. Now maybe we’re a bit late but every email gets answered and everybody gets something, what they want… if they won’t share it. It’s personal – it’s people listening to music.

TGT: About “Worldwide Traveler,” since that’s obviously a big big tune, it’s received a couple nice remixes and the video’s quite cheeky and entertaining.

JM: Yeah, I shot that video.

TGT: It seems like both Top Cat and Mr. Williamz really were enjoying getting to speak some truth.

JM: Everybody hates that airline, but they love to hate it, because they know they gotta get somewhere… so you pay the 70 bucks and you get treated like a cattle and you get there on time. Even EasyJet, like in the lyric – Williamz is like ‘we prefer fly pon EasyJet’ – but EasyJet’s always late, sometimes they’ve flown me to the wrong airport, kicked me off the airplane, and didn’t offer me nothing. So, Ryanair always got me there on time. I might have been treated a bit like a cattle, but, you know – so we had to write the song.

And for me, that was the last song on the album, we had written all the other songs, I had one day left at the studio before I had to go the States and do a whole lot of family stuff. We’re in the studio working, and we recorded like 3 songs, but none of them are really… we are like ‘nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.’

So then I was like, ‘listen bro, I really want to do this song about Ryanair, and I want this lyric to go like this’ and I had said something like ‘when the plane takes off you get scared, and all the hostesses look like a bear’. Afterwards Top Cat started changing it around, to make it what he wanted it to be: ‘all the luggage has to fit in the small square, can’t take a suitcase cuz it’s extra on there, food and drink too expensive in there – [laughs] – so I’m not gonna take a sandwich, and we’re not gonna take a beer!’ – and I was like ‘that’s good enough too!’

Then the next day I got an airplane – British Air [laughs] – and I flew to the States, and basically I had a really nice stewardess. I sat there on the trip with my headphones on and my computer and basically did the whole arrangement, created the song, on the plane drinking cognac.

So when I got to America the song was done – but the session sounded nothing like that before I got on the plane. It had to be done on a plane since it was all about flying. So, that’s how that song ended up being so good, and that ended up being the new favorite song on the record of course.

TGT: It has the right blend of fun and serious… jungle, in the big sense, is more often than not very very serious with the vocals.

JM: I’m not a teenager anymore, I like living a positive existence and being positively motivated and thinking about positive things so my music is generally positive things. Even if I have a struggle song about Babylon, or something like that, it’s still got some tongue-in-cheek enjoyment in it. For instance “Rumble Jumble Life,” you listen to Williamz’ lyrics, there’s a certain real heavy seriousness, but at the same time there’s a real tongue-in-cheek kind of way of saying it.

TGT: So is that the tune you’re most proud of, of your recent productions?

JM: Oh no – you haven’t even heard some of the new stuff we’ve got to drop! We’ve got the new Williamz we’re gonna drop at the end of the year. We just released an EP with Cheshire Cat that’s sick, that’s a real good response.

We got a remix of the Wanted album that’s gonna drop, but I got a brand new tune from Williamz called “Saturday Night” – imagine like “Saturday Night Fever,” and you know that vibe [sings ‘why you can tell by the way I move my…’] – now imagine a jungle kind of thing, music is totally different but those same vibes. Going out on a Saturday night, you gonna link with your people, you got some weed, you going to the dance… we did a song like that.

And just before I left we started working on the Daddy Freddy EP, I think it’s gonna be Chopstick and Daddy Freddy Versus The World or something like that. It’s gonna be another one of those cartoon covers in the vein of Scientist and Mad Professor and those kind of 80s dub records.

We got a new EP that’s coming out this summer, it’s called Tonight EP – we got Eckleton Jarrett on “Turn Up The Heat”. I got Williamz and Nanci from Congo Natty doing a romantic tune, “Tonight,” where we kept the hook from the original one but we got rid of all the sort of bitter jealous verse and we put a romantic kind of Williamz type of deejay thing.

We’re just getting that whole release schedule stacked at so we can start looking at other projects, like bring out JingBong Ting again and reactivate Little Island.

TGT: Well, alright! Thank you so much… Enjoy the tour!

JM: Thanks a lot, was nice to talk with you.

More info:
Jacky Murda Facebook
Chopstick Dubplate Facebook


The Groove Thief

.the future of dub is the present.

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