Olan O’Brien, Dean McGrath and Daire Carolan have embarked on their latest musical venture, Jheri Tracks. The new subsidiary of All City Records is about to release their first compilation, and after their appearance on NTS Radio, the excitement is building.
We caught up with Daire as part of our ‘5th Floor’ series; where we talk to Dublin’s best about what heights they want to reach.
Why is there a Jheri Tracks?
I was getting to know people in England and Europe that were sending me stuff that maybe wasn’t suited to All City, but we wanted to have a platform to put it out. So myself Olan and Dean started Jheri Tracks.
All City has roots in hip hop, but this label?
It’s basically club stuff.
So what specifically is the criteria?
I could say it’s house or techno, but the sampler has a guy called Bastiengoat on it and it’s footwork, but it’s suited to what we’re going for. It’s similar to Workshop, it’s not just house and techno but you know it’s from them. That’s what we want.
In terms of the name, how did that come about?
This could cause a serious fight. I think I came up with it, Olan thinks he came up with it.
Basically, Olan calls people Gerrys. I’m not sure what the full story behind it is, but it’s something to do with Dec Lennon. So when we decided to come up with the name I think I said, “Oh what about Jheri Tracks?” But he thinks he did. Look, he’s not here to fight his side of it.
We were looking at the new video earlier on, and there’s a very clear aesthetic to the whole label. Who looks after that side of things?
Mel Keane came up with the logo. I did the inlays of the record myself. I originally had the idea to have people with jheri curls, your man from ‘Coming to America‘ specifically, but Olan said it was stupid and sent back a photo of a young George Best and that’s what we settled on.
We came up with the idea of using images of footballers who have sort of lost their ways. Gil Scott Heron’s dad is on the next inlay. Then we might have Paul Gascoigne, I don’t know enough about football to be talking about this.
Ciaran Meister did the promo video. Every bit of design he’s done is just him. He’s really talented.
So the people that are going to be on it are Frank B under his Sias alias, Lumigraph and more. For your other label First/Second artists like that would always be somehow involved, so was it a case of you just approaching them for Jheri Tracks?
I hung out with Lumigraph and Boya when they were finding out what they really wanted to do so they were always in the All City shop when I started working there.
So it was natural?
Yeah exactly it all just came together itself.
Is Jheri Tracks going to be a continuation of First/Second or…
No, they’re completely separate. To be honest, I don’t know what the story is going to be with First/Second. In terms of output, First/Second is more of a family of people I’ve been talking to for a long time. Jheri Tracks isn’t a local thing, we’re not looking to find out backstories and things like that. We heard tracks and just knew they’d make a class record.
Do you think the All City backing has a positive influence on Jheri Tracks?
Totally. I’ve dropped the All City name a thousand fucking times trying to get people to listen to First/Second stuff. So it’s definitely easier now to get the attention of people when they know Jheri Tracks is a subsidary of All City. It’s such a known name.
I would have been waiting a lot longer to do that NTS show if it wasn’t for All City.
We’re obviously trying to make it our own thing, we just want Jheri Tracks to be Jheri Tracks. All City is just giving it that initial boost until it becomes its own entity.
Our main focus right now is to just keep putting out records we like.
In terms of the actual records, how have you approached producing and selling?
We’ve basically done everything handmade. Olan went to this place in Dublin to get them pressed and then we stamped them all ourselves and printed the inlays across the road. It was a weird experience doing it ourselves without a distributor.
We literally went to London with a big bag full of Jheri records. It was really interesting just going into the shops giving them the records, going off for a drink or food and coming back and they’d take 20 records or whatever.
Were you a bit afraid of rejection?
I wasn’t personally worried, but it was apprehensive watching Olan going up to people he didn’t know that well showing them the records.
Like, most people don’t even know All City is an Irish label, so they could easily have thought we’re just a bunch of Paddies trying to sell some records.