JUSTIN ROBERTSON BIOGRAPHY
It’s hard to find a succinct way to describe a man with nearly 30 years of experience as an innovator and restless proponent of fascinating forward-thinking music, art, broadcasting and writing. Let’s use legend, it is sometimes over-used, sometimes misplaced, but in this case it is entirely accurate. His rich history is matched only by his tireless need to keep pushing forward, and as a result he remains one of the most exciting and important DJ/Producers in the business as fans of all ages will testify.
He has also produced and exhibited six collections of his art which have been shown around Europe, along with a book and a soundtrack. He has composed and performed the scores both for films and fashion shows including KANG.D and Camilla and Marc. His chart topping radio shows, “The Temple of Wonders” and “The Rotating Institute” go out on a bimonthly basis on Soho Radio, featuring a hugely eclectic range of music from the past, present and future.
Justin’s latest musical incarnation as The Deadstock 33s has been garnishing lavish praise from established figures such as Erol Alkan, Eats Everything, Ivan Smagghe and Daniel Avery, with whom he has a long-standing production partnership.
In September 2015 he released his latest Long Player “Everything is Turbulence” on Skint/BMG, a landmark body of work which was anointed album of the month in both Mixmag and DJ Mag. An album of remixes from this LP, including reworks by Slam, Dave Clarke and Gerd Janson was released in January 2017.
With several EPs, for the likes of Gomma, Optimo Music, Tiger Sushi, Southern Fried, Batty Bass, Days Of Being Wild, Clouded Vision, Darkroom Dubs, Paradise Palms, Throne of Blood and Join Our Club, and with a raft of top-notch recent remixes for the likes of Paul Weller, Bryan Ferry, Andrew Weatherall, Erol Alkan and Boys Noize, Asphodells, Justice, Klaxons, Stay Bless, Cheval Sombre, Sunshine Underground, Steve Mason, Heretic, Warriors of the Dystotheque, Jamal H, Drones Club, Raf Rundell/Selfie Boy, 2 Bears, PBR Streetgang and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the latter reaching No1 in the UK vinyl single charts, Justin shows no sign of slowing down creatively.
Justin began his journey as a student in Manchester. Attracted by the flourishing musical heritage of the town, he soon fell in love with the emerging alien machine funk that would become the Acid House scene. Working at the legendary Eastern Bloc records, it wasn’t long before he began to make his mark as a DJ, creating and curating two of the UK’s seminal Balearic House clubs in Spice (with Greg Fenton) and Most Excellent, where the young Chemical Brothers found inspiration.
Throughout the 90s Justin was consistently found at the cutting-edge of clubland, whether it be in his own genre-crunching Rebellious Jukebox (the blueprint for eclectic clubs like the Heavenly Social), the sweaty techno and electronica mecca that was Sleuth, or providing the underground alternative at Cream. Justin became the bye word for uncompromising jacking, but with a party guaranteed.
The early 90s also saw Justin begin a fruitful remixing career starting with local band Mad Jacks, he moved swiftly on to re-work, Erasure, Bjork, Happy Mondays, New Order, Talk Talk, Stereo MCs, Gary Clail, Fini Tribe, Felix Da Housecat and Chicken lips, to name but a few in a huge catalogue. Inevitably his own productions soon took centre stage, and he scored several top 40 hits and an appearance on Top of The Pops with his genre defying Lionrock. Touring with the likes of The Chemical Brothers, the Cocteau Twins and Death In Vegas, Lionrock became one of the bands that defined the growing confidence of dance music and its potential to flourish and mutate into so many fascinating hybrids, producing some of dance music’s most famous tracks along the way. Songs like ‘Packet of Peace’, ‘Rude Boy Rock’ and ‘Carnival’ appear in almost any list of stone-cold classics worth their salt.
As the new millennium dawned, Justin moved on, releasing several singles for Bugged Out, with whom he has had a long and fruitful relationship. In 2001 he conjured up and another genre defining release with his Revtone project, the eponymous album becoming something of a cult hit for the Nuphonic label, it brought primitive house and no wave disco into the digital age. The seminal track ‘Love Movement’ was reworked to devastating effect by Ulrich Schnauss, who has often cited Justin’s work as an influence, anchoring itself to almost every top 10 end of year chart in 2003.
Justin also found time to produce the achingly beautiful ‘Yes It Is’ with Tim Burgess, record reggae in Jamaica with Ernest Ranglin and Nadine Sutherland, front the art-rock combo Thee Earls, write songs for two Fatboy Slim albums and run his own Neverwork label releasing several singles that found favour with everyone from Ellen Alien to Paul Woolford, before embarking on the latest sonic adventure known as Justin Robertson’s Deadstock 33s.
This has kept Justin’s stock high, from killer headline sets at Bestival, Unknown, Glastonbury, Festival No 6 and Electric Elephant, to acclaimed sessions for The Warehouse Project in Manchester to Crobar in Argentina and an incredible 5 hour “All Night Long” set at Fabric in London, Justin continues to enthral, painting from a rich psychedelic pallet, taking in everything from wigged-out disco to stripped-down visceral Acid House. His Mixmag Lab session with Jackmaster, broadcast live around the world, was one for the ages.
Away from the studio and DJ booth, Justin has been doing some more writing, including a stint as guest editor of The Ransom Note. He remains a regular contributor to them, writing about culture and philosophy, including interviews with Gary Lachman and Rob Newman. He is much in demand as panellist for his witty and intelligent insights on all manner of topics and was asked to interview Irvine Welsh in one of the keynote talks at Festival No 6 in 2015.
He has also found time to do visual art. He has produced and exhibited six collections of art which have been shown in many different venues across Europe. The art is in many different mediums including oil painting, sketching, digital and photography. The exhibitions also explore and stimulate discussion on different philosophical themes.
The first collection was called “Everything is Turbulence” which opened at the Maurice Einhardt Neu Gallery in London in February 2015 before taking it on the road to Leeds, Manchester, Stockholm and Limerick.
The next exhibition “The Explorer’s Chronicle” was the centre piece of a four day arts extravaganza at Red Gallery in London in June 2016. He produced and curated a programme of live music, DJ sets, talks, discussions and a film screening, with a book and score to accompany it. This also went on the road around the UK.
The third collection was called “It’s Alive”, which was a two month exhibition at The Book Club in London followed by a similar stint at 33 Oldham Street, Manchester during 2018
His exhibition in the early part of 2019 was called “Alone” and was held in conjunction with Folk Clothing in Shoreditch in March 2019 before transferring to the Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art, which along with the Art Carboot Fair, are two prestigious events in the art world to which Justin has been regularly invited to exhibit and sell his art.
Later in the summer he produced two mini collections “Maps, Signs & Sigils” which was on display at the legendary Pikes, Ibiza for the summer and “Gathering Atoms” for Coastal Currents Arts Festival at Ruby’s Rooms. Hastings and to launch a new hotel & exhibition space in Margate The George & Star
2020 has obviously been a strange year but JR has released an EP released on the seminal Tusk Wax, began an acclaimed musical project with Sofia Hedblom called Formerlover, produced a number of remixes for the likes of D:ream & Field of Dreams, and launched (briefly) a new exhibition of art called “When the dark is light enough” which opened at The Union Club London, prior to lockdown. All being well it will be shown again at The Other Art Fair in October.
As noted above, he just keeps pushing forward.