Jacob Grant is better known by his musical moniker Just A Gent. Having just turned 18, Grant is just about to set off on a bunch of tour dates across the country (including Groovin the Moo) to celebrate his birthday. He’s already tasted incredible success with all the music he has shared online (gaining millions of views on Soundcloud), so this week we caught up with Just A Gent to chat to him about touring, being underage at concerts, and the challenges that producers face when they’re pigeon-holed into a genre label.
Well… happy birthday for today? Yeah?
Your first headline tour kicks off this week in Canberra on Friday. Tell us about it what’s happening?
It’s basically just a bunch of my birthday parties.
What’s it been like preparing for a huge nation-wide tour, what’s been the process behind it?
I try to leave most of it to the agents but for me personally, I basically just have to go out and buy a bunch of lollies and earplugs for the road, it’s what you need to keep you going. I’ve basically just spent three weeks going over the songs I want in my sets, I’ve been trying to finish off heaps and heaps of ideas I’ve had. What I’m really aiming to do is have 50% of my sets on this tour be unreleased stuff, which I’ve never done before. So I’m really hoping people are going to like it.
Is it mostly going to be your own stuff?
Probably around 80%. I still like to play a lot of over people’s edits because there’s so much good music out there. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.
Tell us about how you ended up on the line-up for Groovin The Moo.
I actually played a gig for a showcase during EMC (Electronic Music Conference) in Sydney and the guy that runs some part of Groovin was there. He came up to me and introduced who he was, and I was like; “damn, I’ve wanted to play Groovin Maitland my whole life because I’m from Maitland. Do you reckon you could get me a spot?” And he said, “Yeah sure”.
So I guess that will be super exciting going back up near your home city?
It actually is my home town! I’m actually from Maitland even though I say I’m from Newcastle because Maitland is irrelevant in the world.
“I used to only be able to go into a club for my set and then leave straight away.”
What are you most looking forward to as an 18 year-old, what do you think that being over age will change for yourself as a musician?
The main thing definitely is to be able to go and watch acts that I’ve always wanted to see, in the clubs. I used to only be able to go into a club for my set and then leave straight away. So now I can hang out with fans and friends. If Porter Robinson came I’d actually be able to go, instead of just sitting at home and watching it on YouTube.
Who have you always wanted to see live?
Definitely Skrillex and Porter Robinson. They are two people that I’ve really wanted to see live. Even though I’ve seen a lot of artists live, luckily I’ve stayed at festivals after I’ve played a gig.
What sort of music did you like listening to as a kid? How have your tastes changed over time as you’ve become an artist yourself?
I used to listen to a lot of ’80s music because my dad was stuck in the ’80s his entire live until he discovered Triple J and electronic music. The ’80s was a huge thing, and then when I was 10 I discovered Ministry Of Sound, which was a lucky thing for me because I wouldn’t have made electronic music. So I guess that’s where it all kicked off for me in the electronic world.
From Warlock Masquerade to Limelight to Dusty, the stuff you’ve done is pretty diverse. Does it frustrate you at all when people try and pin down your style to a couple of adjectives or a genre label?
It doesn’t annoy me when they put a specific song into a genre but when they tie me down personally as an artist, to a genre. It does suck because I really try to be diverse enough to be an artist, not just a genre-producing-person. A lot of artists do get stuck in that genre-specific group and I try to avoid that as much as I can but it still happens…
So I guess I shouldn’t ask you what Lovetrap is…
Oh you can ask me what Lovetrap is. I made Lovetrap, I made that up myself. Lovetrap is actually something that I’m happy if people say it about me. It’s my own thing but at the same time I don’t want to just be known for that.
Limelight was such a huge track last year, and the video that you put out for it was just as impressive. Tell us about the idea behind it and how it was made.
It’s actually a crazy story. I was at the barbershop one day and an old man was telling this story about how he used to dance a lot with his wife and they were really good dancers. So he told me that she was now in a wheelchair so he used to dance around the room with a mop and she would just laugh at him.
He was just a local Maitland dude, so I thought that’s actually a great idea for a music video. I hope he hasn’t seen the video, he might try and claim some stuff on that. But it got picked up by a major record label so I got a good budget, contacted some friends of ours in Canberra, gave them my brief, and they just went with it. I didn’t really have to do anything.