In his own words, Jay Cook describes his humble beginnings as the classic DJ story. “Boy meets music. Boy falls in love. The rest is history.” Originally a Michigan native, who says he “couldn’t match a beat to save his life”, Cook cut his teeth spinning records at a local café during his college years at the University of Washington in Seattle. Gradually, as his skills developed, Seattle-based producer and Cook’s former roommate Benjamin Bethurum incorporated “DJ Jacedo” into a live, electronic show to promote Bethurum’s solo records. With Jacedo on the turntables and Bethurum on the keys and trumpet, Bethurum’s sister Didi on vocals and upright bass player Evan Flory Barnes rounded out the quartet. “The Bethurum Collective”, as it came to be known, became the perfect vehicle that gave Jacedo the platform he needed to reach a wider audience through his unique blend of hip-hop, drum & bass and Brazilian influenced beats.
In the years that have followed, Jacedo has been wrecking the decks on both coasts from NYC to San Francisco and everywhere in between, playing clubs and private events across the US and abroad. Since those early days with the Collective, he has continued to perform live on radio shows, as well as DJing and producing a wide range of international music events for companies as varied as Diesel and Red Bull.
His beats are infectious, his style is accessible, and his mission is simple: to get you moving. He is the breath of fresh air in an industry that sometimes takes itself too seriously. He effortlessly possesses a kindness and sincerity that permeates his sets, and takes you higher, but that’s not to say he can’t rip it up. And if you listen, not only will you hear a mix of the foreign and the familiar, but you just might just enjoy yourself too.
At dusk on a pleasant San Francisco evening, walking through NOPA on his way downtown to see a film about British street artist Banksy, Jacedo takes a moment to talk to EG15M about some of his favorite DJs, the differences between the scenes on the coasts, and the positive influence anthropophagy has had on the Brazilian arts.
Tell me about your DJ name. How did you come up with it?
I had a few terrible names when I was starting out… Bethurum and I were joking around that I needed a new name one night while checking out all the new drum and bass coming out of Brazil. Since my initials are J.C., he called me something like J.Cito. Two minutes later my name was Jacedo!
If I wanted to book you for a show, how would I describe the tunes that you spin to someone who had never heard you before?
As long as it’s got soulful melodies and funky beats, I’ll play it: Drum & Bass, Soul, Hip Hop, Electro, Jazz, 2-Step, Samba… etc.
You mentioned Samba, and there does seem to be a heavy Brazilian influence that underlies your style as well. What quality of that sound appeals to you over all of the other styles out there today?
For me it’s the sounds of traditional Brazilian percussion instruments, the syncopated rhythms of samba, and those sweet Portuguese melodies. I could nerd out here on a philosophical level too… about the cultural cannibalism of the Brazilian arts in general, but that’s for the EG30M interview…
Please, by all means, nerd out…What do you mean by “Cultural Cannibalism”?
It was a movement in the Brazilian arts called “Anthropophagic”. The movement was derived from a 16th century story about Brazilians rebelling against colonialism by literally eating a Bishop, hence the name. Through the years, Brazilian culture has had so much outside influence, that eventually there was a backlash from the indigenous people there, but instead of being overrun by these cultures, Brazilians chose to “devour” them and create their own Brazilian versions of it. They chose to “eat instead of be eaten”, and they have applied that concept directly in their approach to the arts. For instance, if James Brown put out a record in the US, a Brazilian band would put out their own version of that record. That’s why I love the dance music that is coming out of Brazil. It is something brand new, and at the same time distinctly Brazilian.
What are your thoughts on Serato?
It’s definitely helped and honestly was much needed at the time. DJing exploded in the late 90’s, as can been seen in the movie Scratch, but to become a DJ still took a huge financial and personal commitment just to get started. One record costs $6-12, they’re a hassle to carry, especially in NY! When CDJ’s came out music became a little easier to transport, but playing with CDs is a totally different experience… Serato has made DJing so much more accessible to everyone while staying true to the artform.
Who are some of your favorite DJs?
My favorite is definitely DJ Marky from Brazil. Number 2 is Annie Mac and rounding out the top 3 is Gilles Peterson. All of these DJs are people who I can trust for opening my ears to new music. DJ Marky is one of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen. He’s incredibly passionate about music, has a wide range of influences and has incredible technique. Annie Mac showcases the most cutting edge club music on her weekly BBC Radio 1 show and Gilles Peterson is like a musical anthropologist, always on the hunt for new music while exposing the history as well.
Describe the perfect gig.
I love playing earlier in the night in more intimate venues, especially outdoors. As long as the sound system is nice and thick, and there’s a warm ocean breeze I’m good to go.
On that note, what was your most memorable gig and why?
Well, as far as a straight DJing gig… my favorite gig would probably have to have been in Portland for a Red Bull/Flugtag event. I was in Portland for summer 2004 with DJ Tina T, who is based in Vegas now (she’s the one who actually taught me how to dj hip-hop). It was a gig that I just got to play drum & bass and Brazilian hip-hop to over 2,000 people. It was in the evening. It was on the river… it was hands down the best gig of my life so far.
What are you currently listening to?
- DJ Nuts – Embalo Jovem: Crazy Brazilian heat on this mixtape from Mochilla.
- Donaeo – Party Hard: Minimal UK Funky track with a smooth hypnotic groove.
- Steve Angello & Laidback Luke with Robyn S – Show Me Love: Epic electro remix of Robyn S that gets all the ladies dancing.
- Ska Mania compliation: The best £6.99 ever spent! 2 discs of ska classics, found this in a discount bin in Heathrow airport!
- Robin Hannibal & Coco Solid – Turtle Pizza Cadillacs: Strange but amazing, has an Amanda Black meets Blondie in space kind of vibe.
- Phase II – Reachin’: End of the night closer… classic disco-ish vibe.
What’s the last record that you bought?
I just picked up a couple 12”s from Sunrize Recordings out of the UK, that are full of beautiful summery Brazilian drum and bass. Also, I finally found Roni Size’s 1996 Music Box compilation on vinyl! Clean breakbeats with surprisingly soulful melodies, definitely a must have for any dnb collector.
How do you spend your days when you aren’t spinning records?
I spend my weekdays working in advertising. In my free time I love cooking, fancy wine, collecting design books and denim, and cruising with my lady on our BMXs.
Relocating to SF after having lived in NYC for many years, what would you say are the major differences between the two scenes?
I’m still trying to adjust to the nightlife in SF, but I feel like there’s more musical snobbery out here. It’s like a scene out of some indie record shop movie… like you have to play obscure vinyl to be cool. In New York, nightlife is all about having fun! DJs sometimes get too caught up in dropping knowledge and forget about the important part: inspiring people to laugh, smile and dance!!
However, having said that, I do like exploring the diversity of the music in San Francisco. There are so many interesting pockets of people. I think it just takes longer to dig in. SF also has a totally different musical history than any other city that I’ve ever been in. For instance, the unique history of disco and funk in San Francisco is really interesting and I’m enjoying digging deeper.
If you had one piece of advice to give to an upstart DJ, what would it be?
Always follow the music you love and practice, practice, practice. Today anybody can play songs off their laptop, it takes passion and persistence to become a DJ.
If you’re in need of a soul-overhaul, and everybody is from time to time, you can reset your calibrations with DJ Jacedo down at San Francisco’s Farmer Brown on Market & Mason where he will be in residence on 3rd Saturdays for the summer.