Our Stories: Jack Plant

Craig Gamblen

After graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a BSc (Hons) in Biology in 2015, Jack Plant decided to try his hand at something new and pursue a career in electronic music.

From releasing his very first EP, Exploring Planetoids, to performing at Antwerp Mansion and Sankeys, Jack definitely isn’t new to the electronic music scene in Manchester.

Busy gearing up for his EP launch, we caught up with Jack to find out about the whole process.

So Jack, before we get started, I’ve done a bit of research and it seems getting into music wasn’t what you intended as you studied Biology at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). 

Yeah, that’s right. Biology was the subject I was best at when I was at High School, so I naturally leaned towards it when I came to Higher Education. But, doing the course at MMU showed me it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Being sucked into the nightlife, here in Manchester, was kind of the falling point of it really. And, it wasn’t until then I realised I wanted to do it as a career. Before moving to Manchester, I did a couple of gigs while I was doing my foundation degree in Greenwich, London. But, apart from that, I was pretty much just making music in my bedroom.

Being heavily influenced by science led Jack to Spirit Studios where he studied Electronic Music Production & Performance, and led to him releasing his first EP.

Bit of a curveball, perhaps. Would you say science has had an influence on any of your music? 

Yeah, I mean the EP itself is heavy with astrological and space exploration themes. And, in terms of the track composition and the aesthetics of the release, it definitely follows a sci-fi theme. Science-Fiction is already quite a popular source of inspiration in the House and Techno scene – two scenes I want to break into.

Steven Rutter, who runs a label called Firescope Records, used to be part of quite a prominent live Techno duo in the 90s called B12. They were releasing on Warp Records frequently and still tour today. But a lot of his releases on Firescope have unique, striking artwork and coloured wax, making them more of a collectible item, rather than your average release. I guess that was a big inspiration into the lengths I went with my own EP release in terms of aesthetic.

While we’re on the subject, Science follows a very logical process. Would you say you follow a similar sort of creative process? 

Yeah, that’s a good question. I’d say the formal, step-by-step nature I’ve learnt through studying Biology at University has really influenced me. I kind of have a set of routine to the way I make music, I’d definitely say my music production process is maybe a bit less organic than others might be.

So Jack, you’ve produced, self-funded and released your first ever EP, Exploring Planetoids. Tell us, how did you find the process?

Yeah, that’s right. And, it hasn’t been the easiest. I decided to start the project in between year two and three. In order to send the EP off for pressing in time, I had to have it mixed, mastered and sent off by December – not a lot of time, at all.

After a bit of research, I decided to use Curved Pressings in London. As it was my first EP, I only wanted a short run of 50 – 100, however they would only press a minimum of 300 copies – it was all a bit daunting in terms of will they sell etc. Before sending the EP off for pressing, I wasn’t completely happy with the master of the second track on the A-Side, but time constraints meant it had to leave for the plant. Saying that, when it came back and I heard it on the wax, it’s become one of my favourites.

At the end of the day, if the EP gets me a first then it will have given me the result I set out to achieve. But, it’s also my first professional step in the industry which people can see and purchase, so you naturally hold yourself to the standard of professional artists you want to be up with.

In terms of sound, how would you describe the EP?

They’re all House and Techno tracks. Each one is a bit different, but I like the fact they are quite cohesive in terms of the sound, synths and samples used. Each one has a different inflection, I guess, from different genres. The first one is quite Detroit Electro inspired, the second track is more driving Dub-Techno, the third has a more minimal tinge, and the last one is acid led with a great breakbeat behind it.

And so, where did you get the idea for the EP sleeve?

There were two routes I could’ve gone down; a generic sleeve and text label, or the route I chose to go down, which was something more of a collectors item. I decided to go with the night-time exploration record sleeves as I wanted it to be a culmination of my 3 years at Spirit Studios. It felt good to have something tactile that looked legitimate at the end of the course.

In terms of where I got the idea for the EP, my dad, as he raised me on a lot of sci-fi books and films. When I was fleshing out ideas with the graphic illustrator at the start, I had book covers and images from films I liked in my head already.

Well, you’re certainly not new to the scene anymore. Since settling here, you’ve played some pretty big places, including Gorilla, Sankeys & Mantra Warehouse and also a former resident of Antwerp Mansion. 

I appreciate that. I still remember the first night my friends took me to Antwerp Mansion, and it absolutely blew me away. I’d come from small towns where there would only be one, small nightclub. So, to go to somewhere like Antwerp and see a party in a dilapidated house was one of those things that will stay with me forever. I knew instantly if I was going to play anywhere that’s where it would have to be.

I played in Sankeys just before it closed, but to get into that main room was amazing. When I stepped in the downstairs booth, I couldn’t believe my luck, thinking ‘Daft Punk have played in here, this is ridiculous!’

Jack smiles while talking with Aisling in our studio

Just one more before you go, Jack. You’ve been likened to a ‘Young Jeff Mills’. Would you say this is a fair description?

Nah, not at all. He’s the wizard, no-one compares to Jeff Mills. But, I really like his style and incorporation of the 909 Drum Machine into his set, something that I’ve started working on in my live sets here at Spirit Studios. If I could live up to his level someday that would be a job well done.

But yeah, no-one comes close to the wizard.