Jerome Hill

Jerome Hill

The English DJ puts the funk back into techno


Originally published on on June 2010

Courtesy of Fiercesounds

You’d be hard-pressed to tell from today’s Teutonically precise minimal beats, but techno originated when black producers in Detroit mated the funk of American acts like Parliament with the synth-pop of European groups like Kraftwerk.

Thanks in large part to ever more automated music software programs, much of the funk has been bled out of techno. But a small number of producers continue to keep elements of black music central to their productions. English DJ Jerome Hill—due in town for next week’s Fiercesounds event—is one of them.

“I’ve always been into scratching and hip-hop,” Hill says by email. “When I began DJing in 1990, lots of styles of dance music existed alongside each other, and there wasn’t the ‘strict’ genre division that you get now.”

Hill references hip-hop bands like De La Soul as much as dance music innovators like Renegade Soundwave, and says the UK hardcore hip-hop scene—sometimes called “Britcore”—also exerted a strong influence.

Launching his DJ career in the early ’90s as a mainstay at illegal warehouse parties across the UK, Hill has a reputation as a DJ’s DJ, and he continues to bring his manic mash-ups to marquee clubs worldwide. He’s also known as a tastemaker, serving as a buyer for London record stores and as a resident at key underground events UglyFunk and Bloc Weekend.

Currently running Swerved in London, Hill says he’ll be bringing to Tokyo “a load of different dancefloor styles—techno, broken beat, hard garage and old skool hardcore—plus some surprises from before I was born.” Among them will be tracks from his new label Fat Hop, which finally realizes his dream to release funk and hip-hop productions on 7-inch vinyl records.

Hill’s eclectic style should make for an intriguing contrast with that of DJ Mayuri, the famed founder of Metamorphose festival who has a penchant for hard techno. The pair will be partnering at the latest installment of Fiercesounds, an event that alternates between London and Tokyo.

In parting, Hill doesn’t mince his words on today’s techno producers. “Everyone is jumping ship, abandoning their roots and originality, and adopting styles of music that sound like a secondhand style copied from somebody who copied somebody else,” he laments. “It’s gradually getting watered down and there’s little rawness left: everyone’s playing it safe and is scared to rock the boat for fear they’ll be cut loose.”

June 19@Amrax
Fiercesounds. Underground techno: DJs Jerome Hill, Mayuri, etc. From 10pm, ¥3,000 w/1d. Shibuya. Tel: 03-3486-6861.