Interview: Jack Beats Talk ‘BeatBox’ EP And Craig Mac Love

It’s time to get back to the roots of Jack Beats. Since 2006, Ben Geffin and Niall Dialy have carefully crafted hip-hop influenced house music—and it’s taken the music community by storm. They’ve done collaborations throughout the years with names like Diplo and Dillon Francis, as well as remixes for A-Trak and Major Lazer, but that’s old news.

Jack Beats recently released the ‘BeatBox’ EP and to the UK duo have crossed the pond for their Beatbox Tour North America. Vibe sat down with Jack Beats at Prime Nightclub in Boston to talk about their dripping heart logo, new releases and tour, their feelings about New York’s Electric Zoo festival security updates and what they have coming out next.

What was the inspiration behind ‘BeatBox?’
Niall: Digging through records. If you listen back on quite a lot of our old songs we have original material. I think at the end of 2012 we had done a lot of fairly mainstream stuff for a while and like we needed to get back to our roots. We came across that sample again and it grew and got bigger.
Ben: Yeah. If you listen to most of our tunes, there’s a very strong hip-hop thread. It might not be as obvious as beat boxing is from a sample from Craig Mac, or something like an actual rap sample. But there’s always something in it that’s hip-hop orientated. It was just a natural progression of using that shit. We’ve been using it for years.

Why that beat boxing sample?
Niall: The whole sample is Craig Mac and it’s like an intro to one of his records. It was the second single he did in ’94 when he released his album. He blew up the same time that Big E. blew up, and everyone knew him for one record while Big E. was going sky high. So the intro to that record is him kind of mocking himself, and his beat boxing. And he’s frustrated and everyone knows, and then he comes in with this follow up [track] that, kind of did all right, but it wasn’t played much.
Ben: If you’re as old as we are, you kind know that record was a bit of a parody of himself, and we were just like, “let’s loop it up, and make a baseline that sounds kind of similar.” And it was going to be something super simple, and it just became this super chill song.

The new music video for BeatBox is awesome, when did you film it? How did you come up with the concept of having artists beat box along to it?
Ben: We are on the road a lot and have lot’s of friends in music, so we were like, “Let’s get our friends in music to mime the beat box sample,” so we’d just have a video of everyone’s face just like doing the sample…
Niall: We were going to try and do it from our iPhone – just going around and being like really shitty and kind of funny.
Ben: But then management and people that sort of annoy us basically were like, no you can’t just do that, you’ve got to do other stuff and make it look like your on the road. You know, have footage of you at festivals. So we just sort of merged the two ideas and took as much as we could and did some stuff of us on the road. It’s just a snapshot of last year, really, for us.

So what were some of the festivals that are featured in the videos?
Niall: Fuji Rock Festival in Japan,
Ben: Electric Zoo New York, Day of the Dead in LA, Creamfields in England, and then there was other bits of footage. There’s us in London, there was OWSLA’s second birthday in LA, and just a few others, not festivals, but the shows where our friends were.

This year’s Electric Zoo festival has some security updates, including drug sniffing dogs and a drug safety video before they enter the venue. There will also be undercover narcotic officers in the crowd. What are your thoughts?
Ben: It’s awful about what happened last year. At any party, it doesn’t have to be a festival, but drugs and music go hand in hand. These things unfortunately just happen.
Niall: To be kind of fair, back in the ‘90s when music was kicking off, kind of how it is here but in a smaller way in the UK, when there were flash points with that sort of thing happening, it did cause a lot of headlines in the newspapers. And when that happened, I actually thought this could be a turning point where this starts to get a bad reputation. I think, in the states it’s kind of a different thing. Things function in a different way and I think there’s so much invested, not just financially, but in EDM. The States wont shut down something this big, but there’s going to be a reaction. You can’t have an event that has that happen and be nothing.
Ben: Videos, sniffing dogs, undercover police, all this shit, it’s been happening for years and it won’t do anything. It’s just a media thing for people to be like, “Yo, were making a stand against what’s going on” or whatever. Drugs and music just happen, that’s part of both worlds.
Niall: Jimmy Hendrix fans would say the same shit back in the day.

So, what are you looking forward to this tour?
Niall: Always coming here, the States in general is great. We haven’t done a big tour like this for a while. We were here loads last year but we were just, almost half-living here, in a way. But this is like 15 days in a row.

How did you and AC Slater get together?
Niall: Yeah there’s a blog called Palms Out that started releasing records and AC did one. I can’t really remember how we got to know those guys but…
Ben: I think it was MySpace, wasn’t it?
Niall: Probably, yeah. It was back when we were “Blog House” artists, like that’s what we actually called it. The people at Palms Out asked for a remix and we said no. We were trying not to remix at the time. But it had all these Jack Beats samples in it. We didn’t really meet any of those guys. That’s kind of how it was back then, forwarding everything for free, and you just did it if you were down. That’s why it was really good time. So we did it and we did two versions. The second version was working so we submitted it, and then it pretty much launched what we did.

Do you have any new singles or collaborations coming out?
Niall: W’re trying to finish up the next two singles at once, and then while they start coming out, we’re going to start remixing again, because we haven’t really done that in a while. There will be a lot of stuff I reckon sometime in July onwards in the US. We’ve got lots of material.
Ben: We really didn’t release for maybe 18 months before ‘Beatbox.’ and then the FabricLive compilation as well. But it’s coming.
Niall: You’ll hear some of it in the set, but I can’t really tell you what it is yet.