As a producer and DJ, Jim Coles has been a significant and pioneering presence in various dance music circles for the past decade. Following a formative decade in the global hip-hop underground, Coles took on the mantle of Om Unit in the late 2000s, and since then the English producer has sought to challenge himself and his audience by going beyond the confines of genres and styles he has so far explored. In the process he has found success by striving for more feeling, for a more human and daring electronic music. Key to his approach is a desire to never settle for the destination and instead focus on what can be learned from the journey.
What drives Coles is a desire to keep challenging himself, and in turn his audience. During his time as Om Unit, this has led him to distill various influences — hip-hop, dubstep, ambient, jungle, footwork — into a fluid take on sound system culture that sidesteps the pitfalls of genres and pastiche and creates new potentials for exploration and inspiration, with many following in his footsteps. It’s how, in the early 2010s (under the recently resurrected ’Philip D Kick’ alias) he came to pioneer the stylistic and rhythmic links between jungle and footwork via a series of acclaimed edits that brought him to the attention of the drum & bass scene. This personal approach has earned Coles praise as a refreshing voice in dance music from both peers and the media.
On record, Coles’ explorations into the deeper end of the electronic music spectrum have come via releases for Civil Music, including a critically acclaimed debut album, 2013’s Threads, legendary drum & bass outfit Metalheadz, where he was given access to Goldie’s personal sample archive as the inspiration for 2014’s Inversion album, his own Cosmic Bridge imprint where in 2017 he released his daring third studio album Self (a true follow-up to his 2013 debut Threads), Planet Mu, for a collaboration with Machinedrum as Dream Continuum, All City Records, remixing Grammy-winning producer Om’Mas Keith, Plastician’s Terrorhythm, and dBridge’s Exit Records – where firstly he collaborated with Sam Binga (leading to their BUNIT series of white label releases) and later released as part of Richie Brains, a guerilla D&B collective that also includes Alix Perez, Chimpo, Fixate, Fracture, Sam Binga and Stray. The same exploratory approach has made him an in-demand remixer (DJ Magazine shortlisted him for Best Producer and Best Remix at the close of 2016) and BBC Radio 1, Boiler Room, Resident Advisor, FACT, XLR8R, and Rinse FM have called on him to provide mixes and showcase his sound.
In 2011, Coles set up a label, Cosmic Bridge Records, through which he has exercised an A&R sensibility that has created an exciting independent home for likeminded artists. The label’s releases, pressed onto limited edition vinyl runs, sell out within days of their street date. Through Cosmic Bridge, Coles has championed veterans such as Kromestar, J:Kenzo, TMSV, DJ Madd and Boxcutter alongside new voices from Europe and America, including Moresounds, Danny Scrilla, Crypticz, Proc Fiscal and Graphs. The label’s breadth is best seen in the celebrated, and award-nominated, Cosmology compilation series Coles began overseeing in 2014. Moving towards it’s 30th release, and with an all important Om unit album in the catalogue Cosmic Bridge continues to represent a dual path of inspiration: that which Coles found in others’ music, and that which others have found in his.
Coles is also a sought after DJ, with over 500 appearances in clubs and festivals in more than 30 countries he has made the equivalent of approaching twenty five trips round the globe and counting. And in line with his desire to imagine new potentials for dance music has appeared on varied bills from the Montreux Jazz Festival to Bass Coast, Outlook to Mysteryland. After two decades in London, Coles relocated to Bristol in 2015. From his new studio on the English west coast he has continued his search through production work (the Torchlight EP series on Cosmic Bridge including collaborations with DJ Krust, Mark Force & Digital) and aesthetic exercises (the Gates mix series).
Jim Coles has never been an obvious producer but zoom out on the years of exploration in the potentials of hip-hop beats, the space of slow-motion house music, the darkest corners of drum & bass & the hardcore continuum, or the frenzy of footwork patterns and by coming out the other side with personal takes fashioned from experience, experimentation, and excitement, that we can see, by consistently been putting Om Unit forward as a connector — between musical ideas, studio techniques, and potential emotional outcomes and by inviting listeners to hear and feel the experiences and memories that make up who we are – Coles has truly made an indelible mark on electronic music.
Anthony Kasper, more commonly known by just his surname, is a Minneapolis based producer, DJ, and label manager with Fokuz Recordings. The 27-year-old has been DJing and crafting beats for nearly a decade. His catalogue boasts 13 vinyl releases and 70+ digital releases via Fokuz, V Recordings, and other noteworthy labels.
Since 2016 he has completed 2 USA tours covering 10 states, and 1 European tour covering 13 countries – including playing at Let It Roll festival, one of the largest EDM festivals in the world. Selected by DJ Mag as one of the top up and coming US Drum and Bass producers, Anthony’s music is frequently supported by heavy weights like Friction, Technimatic, DJ Marky, Bryan G and Random Movement and on BBC Radio 1. Kasper also hosts the popular Fokuz Recordings Podcast on a monthly basis.
On the Minneapolis circuit, he is a full time professional DJ. His versatile style draws influence from the funk, soul, and jazz records he grew up listening to. In 2012 he was named Red Bull DJ Master at the U of M battle. You can find him regularly performing at nightclubs, opening up for international acts like Noisia and Pendulum, and in the stadiums for Timberwolves, Vikings, Lynx and Golden Gopher home games. Whether its a trendy rooftop or an underground club night, Anthony Kasper’s got the selection and skill to set the vibe right.
Calling to mind artists like AFX, Bogdan Raczynski, Venetian Snares and Luke Vibert with a string of well-received cassette releases on his own Valhallic imprint, Anticon-affiliated multi-instrumentalist Jon Davis (aka Ghostband) has his own distinct methodology, blending 90s junglist sensibilities with tasteful accents of hip hop, techno, house, braindance, grime and dubstep. Strictly hardware to the core, Davis elaborates on his production feats live, brandishing samplers and drum machines to demonstrate the difference between the mechanical and the musical, what’s merely cool and what’s stone cold.
Juke Nukem, a DJ/Producer with roots firmly planted in Texas during the bolstering DnB scene of the early 2000s, relocated to Minneapolis, MN in 2006. In 2011, he was introduced to juke/footwork by FreshtillDef and Moondoctor. Consequently, over the next year, he would submerge himself deep into the culture of footwork. From that time, he aided the two in the conception of Freshmoon Records, LLC., and continues to be an integral part in the further development of the label.
In 2013, he launched DISTRICT160, the collective dedicated to the worldwide advancement of the footwork culture. As a result, the proclaimed duke of Minneapolis juke, has since been inducted into TekkDJz. Founded by the late DJ Rashad and Traxman, TekkDJz is comprised of hand-picked DJs and producers from around the world who are committed to: “Saving the world from bad music.”
Leading into 2016, Juke accepted the role of student/intern at Slam Academy. As a graduate of the Ableton Masters Program, he would begin to manifest his dream of teaching. Alongside Leon J., Juke would lead several scratch classes during the DJ programs, establishing the framework to becoming Slam’s first scratch/DJ private instructor.
“This guy is so into the music its contagious. His finger work is fresh and fast. His timing is impeccable. And when he is off stage, he is at the edge of the dance floor close to the performers dancing and giving props. This guy lives and breathes beats and flow like no other.” —Ian Indo