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Resident Focus: guest

Whether it be making music with Jabu, building synths in a DIY heaven or working on various AV installations, the woman behind guest, Jas, always seems to find a way to express herself in a clear, informed and original way. Here’s a look at some of the many projects she’s involved in.

Words Noods Editorial Published 12.03.21
Guest singing into microphone in red lighting
guest at Trinity pictured by Khali Ackford

We’ve all been there when you hear about an artist working tirelessly behind the scenes, involved in a million different projects, largely unseen and envy the dedication and work they put in. If there’s ever been an artist that encapsulates this, its guest. I’m going to try and detail some of the things Jas is involved with throughout this article, but be aware, as of writing this I’m sure she’s busying herself away in a studio somewhere conjuring up new ideas we’ll probably not hear about for years to come. There’s something so commendable about the artist who makes art for the sake of making it, for personal enjoyment and just because that’s something they do, it’s in their fibre. It’s no hot take that the world is rife with people making ‘art’ for money, clout, fame, whatever it might be, we’ve all seen it — it’s common knowledge, so when someone comes along like this it’s refreshing and reassuring to no end.

Jas started working with electronics largely by chance while working as a receptionist at a technology studio, and like all great things, curiosity catalysed the love affair with the meat and guts of electronic music, synth building. Eventually she left that job to work for Music Memory Box, a company building mini jukeboxes for people with dementia, where she soldered amplifiers and speakers. Following this, with little to no experience of modular equipment Jas found herself working for Bugbrand, a local small-scale synth company where she helps building modules.

After a summer working at Pusherman Productions in Bath, Jas was kindly donated some modules and a skiff by Phil (Pusherman) to help start another of her projects, Bristol Community Modular with Birthmark and Eusebeia— a place for friends to learn soldering and synth building as well as play with the modules. Located in the weird and wonderful Bristol Hackspace, a host for robot wars teams, druids, mead making workshops, amongst much more we probably don’t know about, it’s fair to say — it’s DIY heaven.

2 poeple soldering on taable
Bristol Community Modular at Bristol Hackspace
“Recently been re-watching Star Wars and realised Hackspace definitely has a Jawa quality..!”

Sadly only a few people were able to join before the looming lockdown took over and grounded everything to a halt. I know, another thing on hiatus because of this bloody pandemic. However, Jas tells me it’s very likely to open up in a more official capacity when community projects are allowed to start up again — we will all be making synths and mead soon (I bloody hope so anyway). This is not where Jas’s workshops end however, alongside friends Becca Rose & Kathy Hinde runs PRRRRRT!, a collective designed to provide one off mini noise machine building workshops. No doubt there are more in the works so keep your eyes out for strange and esoteric workshops in the Bristol area.

Group of people sat down at desk working on different projects

So, the thing Jas is mainly known for is the various music projects she’s involved with. The most acclaimed of these you may well be aware of, following their long awaited album release ‘Sweet Company’ last November, made in collaboration with Daniela Dyson and Sunun. I am of course talking about Jabu, her group with Alex Rendall and Amos, known for their beautiful blend of wistful vocals, soft sample manipulations and gentle drum machine tappings, all squashed into an amalgamation purely its own. She met the two of them at 15 but joined the group supplying her flavour of sultry vocals just before their first album release Sleep Heavy out on Blackest Ever Black in the autumn of 2017.

“It’s so vital to keep working with new artists. Her words formed the framework for that whole record and pulled us into a new area that is keeping us inspired..”

Collaboration seems very important to Jas, she said (talking about Daniela Dyson’s involvement with the ‘Sweet Company’ release), “It’s so vital to keep working with new artists. Her words formed the framework for that whole record and pulled us into a new area that is keeping us inspired..”. As if it needs to be said, but this love for collaboration is another testament to Jas’s passion and natural instinct to reject too much ego being involved with the artistic process, which in my opinion seems to result in work which is more thoughtful, genuine and coherent. The group also collaborated for a tape released on their own imprint ‘Do You Have Peace?’ earlier last year. Oh, and I should mention in case you missed it, Jabu’s performance for Boiler Room is an essential watch if you want a taste of the group in full force.

AMA Pictured at Cafe Oto by Christalla Fannon
AMA Pictured at Cafe Oto by Christalla Fannon

As well as this, her other main musical endeavour AMA, made up of AninaSunun and herself was created as a means to in her words, “mess around, relax and spend time together”, chaining their filters and delays together to create “mad underwater sounds”. The idea behind this project seems to be more as a way for friends to connect and enjoy each others company so the likelihood of a release any time soon may be quite low, but she assures me there will be something out eventually, just at their own pace... So keep those eyes peeled! As well as these projects, Jas has worked with Jay Glass Dubs on a track for his Soma LP on Berceuse Heroique last year and tells me she has something in the pipeline with some Manchester based producers to be announced soon.. exciting…

“The darkroom is magic. There is nothing like it, being in the pitch dark and having to learn to feel your way around these old machines and mechanisms. Since then I’ve been hooked.”

Like many musicians expanding their plethora of work, Jas has also delved into AV work, starting with a workshop at the Brunswick Club with BEEF where she learnt how to develop film. This fascination would later evolve into a full AV show in collaboration with film maker Laura Phillips for Viridian Ensemble at Supernormal, as well as more recently for EP/64’s 55th show at The Crofters Rights. At this show she cut strips of mirrors and projected onto them resulting in the images bouncing around the room while Sunun played the pieces of mirror rhythmically. It’s this sort of thing that really breathes life into Bristol’s music/art scene and keep things interesting, I’m personally very excited to see what she comes up with next in this regard.

Guest sat down performing on stage with music hardware
guest AV heartbeat set at The Sound Cupboard pictured by Simon Holliday

Last but certainly not least, Jas’s show for us as guest. From Gamelan to Cold Wave, Musique Concrete to Footwork and Jungle to Ambient, it’s fair to say Jas’s taste is as expansive as her amount of projects. The mixes seem to take form in however she sees fit, depending on mood, situation or who she’s with for the show. Whether it be that she’s cycling to Bath for work and needs to keep energy high and so makes shows with Jungle, or is hanging out in the dark room a lot and ends up listening to Post-Punk and early electronica. Either way the shows she puts out with us are consistently amazing and you should check them all out here.