Jemist and I have known each other for years and despite having some good late night conversations at chance encounters after our DJ gigs, this was the first time we got time to really chat. In fact, it was weird seeing Jem in sunlight, and I’m sure he thought the same. What was not weird though, was his home in Downer. Interesting (especially if you’re into music) is a much more fitting description.
We didn’t spend too much time going from room to room because there was really only one room to see—yes, the infamous record den. The room is essentially a library of records—well more like a world library of records. Now I specifically say library because it is more than a collection; it’s a historical archive of music from a number of decades. This is the place where Jem pulls out an original 7” (most likely ’50s rockabilly), decides which record player to play it on, selects the right amp and speaker combo, chooses just the right whiskey and reclines in a mid-century armchair to take in the experience.
Jem and I have been DJing for roughly the same amount of time, but Jem has been a record collector way before he even started mixing vinyl. That 14-year period somewhat explains why he has so many records, but not completely. When I pointed out that he might actually have a record hoarding problem, he at first looked at me with that kind of ‘perhaps I should ask him to leave’ look, but then said ‘you’re right, it’s an obsession.’
Relieved that I was not going to be asked to leave before I at least heard some records and got to pat the cat, I went on to investigate further. We quickly worked out that Jem’s obsession is all about hearing music in the way that it was heard at the time. It is the authenticity of the historical listening experience that drives him.
Mind you, he’s also got a colossal electronic games collection, including consoles from niche Japanese markets. I decided to quit while I was ahead and avoid asking too many questions about that. Instead, I asked him if he still enjoys DJing after all these years. And yes he does, especially when he can express his real depth of knowledge in DJ sets. And don’t we all? But of course the real value of a DJ is in his ability to adapt to the needs of the venue and the patrons.
At that moment we looked like a couple of old guys satisfied with the sharing of wisdom, so it was a good time to say good bye … at least until we run into each other again under the cover of the night.
Words: Ashley Feraude
Images: Victor Tawagi