Just A Gent: “I try to make a new idea each day”

On a dreary, drizzly Thursday evening, as eager festival-goers trudged into the mud to set up camp, the first night of Splendour in the Grass 2015 commenced and with it came an opening party like no other, with a premium assortment of electronic dance acts, with names like Yahtzel, SLUMBERJACK and LDRU, lighting the Splendour candle at the Red Bull Music Academy stage. The scene was hectic and heaving; a feverish buzz in the air as people prepared themselves for four days of intense partying by flinging themselves into a sweaty dance mass.

If you managed to get into the stage area, you would’ve been privileged to witness the headliner set from the very suave Just A Gent, who we managed to interview just before he hit the decks.

Jacob Grant, the man behind Just A Gent, has just finished a massive national tour, has been signed to both Australian and US labels, is a Triple J Unearthed winner, and concocts some of the sickest dance floor bangers to grace your ears. Did we mention he’s just turned 18? Yeah – we feel inadequate too. This delightful chap is instantly recognisable with his slick top hat, dapper suits and pulsing, grinding electronic productions with a particular flair for remixes, having worked with the likes of ZHU, Alison Wonderland and American Authors (plus, check out the gentlemanly mix he did for us here).

We caught up with Jacob to talk about his first Splendour in the Grass experience, coming of age, the iconic Just A Gent wardrobe, his current influences and his plans for the next year. Keep your ear to the ground for this gentleman – good things are ahead.

It’s your first Splendour as an 18 year old! How did you go setting up camp and getting into your gumboots?

It’s a bit messy out there, but exciting! Our tent snapped, but we got some rope, so it’s all good. I do have gumboots but they’re not very gentlemanly, neither is having no vest. I dropped my vest in the mud.

What’s in store for your headliner set tonight at the Red Bull Music Academy stage? It’s pretty hectic out there.

I came a little unprepared, I thought Byron Bay would be really chilled out, but not out there!  I rocked up and watched SLUMBERJACK’s set and thought, “this is not the right time for chilled out”. My whole mind is set on getting my tent set up though – I really need to get in the mood – this is helping! I had two Red Bulls, so I think I’ll be pretty good.

Who are you planning on seeing at SITG?

There’s so many! Tame Impala – I was listening to their new album on the way down, Shlomo and Blur – once in a lifetime opportunity.

So, how big is your JAG wardrobe?

The funny thing is, all I have is suits in my wardrobe. During day-to-day I always wear these dodgy clothes from like 10 years ago because I spend all my money on suits. Recently I’ve been shopping a bit more for casual wear, not very gentleman-like. If you open my wardrobe there’s about 30 jackets and that’s all that’s in my wardrobe.

When going overseas, does your JAG outfit change according to the country you’re in?

Hmm, I can try that! But I think the English gentleman concept just sticks everywhere, as much as I’d like to try other things. When I was in the USA I wore Converses while I played, which looked really bad, but I was getting into the spirit.

Tell us about your 18th birthday just gone, and your national birthday tour? (As you do)

My birthday was in April, and it was really fun! At a few of the gigs I was made to skull drinks on stage – but I’m meant to be a gentleman on stage! The whole crowd was encouraging me to do it. They were the best gigs I’ve played so far – Perth was probably a highlight.

Now you’re 18 and a full-on adult, what does the next year entail for you? Can you give us any hints?

It’s been so long since I’ve released any music, so it’s in the works. Right now I’ve been focussing on production, but I have a few shows over the next few months planned and then back to production again. I’ve recently signed to a big record label (both in Australia and the US), but I want to stick in Australia for as long as I can.

Having turned 18 we imagine you’re experiencing a bit of pressure to possibly go to university, move away from home and make some big life choices. What are your thoughts on that?

Yeah, I’m feeling the pressure a little bit, especially because I left school in Year 10 to focus on music. What should I do? Do I need to grow up yet? I’ll move one day (from Newcastle) but not for now. I’m still happy working from home.

I read at one point you had something like 200 projects on the go at one time. Is that how you like to make music?

I produce every day, and I try to make an idea per day. It’s a thing I’ve been doing for ages. I used to get caught on tracks that went nowhere, so I decided to focus on a track a day, and sometimes I spend extra time on extra tracks – they’re generally the ones that are released *laughs*. Back then I had 200 … now I have no idea how many.

Has your sound been evolving? Are you being influenced by any particular artists at the moment?

It’s definitely changing all the time – my sound has been getting darker. It’s funny, I feel happier, but my music is getting darker. I’ve been listening to a bunch of stuff, like SLUMBERJACK who are playing now. Their drums are incredible. Other influences are MR•CAR/\\ACK, osky (from Brisbane), Apache and NGHTMRE. 

Awesome. Well, we’re seriously looking forward to your set – have fun and enjoy the rest of your Splendour!

You can find out more about Just A Gent’s upcoming shows here.