Since early 2016, Adelaide-based Brit Kevin Griffiths has trodden a winding path through the more loved-up and laidback aspects of electronic music culture via his personal DJ/production project, Jura Soundsystem and the acclaimed Isle of Jura record label. In that time, he’s been responsible for a swathe of tactile, glassy-eyed releases, some of the most inspired reissues of recent times and two killer compilations of sought after musical gems.
Griffiths rise to prominence as Jura Soundsystem may be a recent development, but he’s been producing and releasing music under his own name since the mid 2000s. He became a familiar face within the global house scene via Tsuba Records, a hugely successful imprint firmly focused on club music. As well as running the label, Griffiths delivered a string of solo house releases, as well as some notably tough and rugged collaborations with Peace Division’s Justin Drake as Midnight Special.
In the mid 2010s Griffiths began to tire of solely focusing on club music. Inspired by investigating the forgotten corners of his impressively eclectic record collection and a desire to do things differently, he began to produce different kinds of tactile, loved-up tracks that drew on a wide array of interconnected, often off-kilter influences – think proto-house, ambient house, dub, leftfield disco, Balearica, world music and colourful electronica. He re-built his studio to include more hardware instruments and invited other musicians to contribute to his tracks. Taking on the name Jura Soundystem, he first released the single “Udaberri Blues” (2018) before wowing critics and listeners alike with 2019 mini-album “Monster Skies”, a superb collection of original productions that took a vivid and kaleidoscopic approach to musical fusion.
At the same time he began to take on more DJ gigs as Jura Soundsystem in order to showcase the warm, open-minded blend of rare, obscure and little-known music that was inspiring his productions. Many of the tracks he found during digging missions across the globe were showcased on the first Jura Soundsystem compilation, “Transmission One”, a set that also included a string of personal re-edits (Griffiths is also the man behind the Love Creation edit series) and specially-made ambient DJ tools that Phonica Records named as one of the best compilations of 2018. “Transmissions Two” was released in early 2020.
Both of these compilations were released on Isle of Jura, a label he launched in 2016 to reissue some of the deep cuts he’s unearthed over the years. Designed to mirror his eclectic, open-minded approach by reissuing music across a range of interconnected styles, Isle of Jura’s catalogue includes both sought-after rarities (Escape From New York, Q, Brian Bennett) and lesser-known gems that have long been on Griffiths’ radar (see Zann’s brilliant “Strange Ways/Inside Jungle” LP, Yvonne Archer’ lover’s rock cover of Chaka Khan classic “Ain’t Nobody” and Ingleton Falls exceedingly rare “Champagne In Mozambique”). Now in demand as a remixer and DJ, Griffiths’ has a swathe of Jura Soundsystem releases & edits lined up for the first half of 2020 including a six-track follow-up to “Monster Skies” titled “With You”.
Matt Anniss Feb 2020