For some, following in the vocational footsteps of one’s parents means becoming a doctor or plumber, lawyer or farmer. Jamie Odell pulled a lucky lot by comparison: two professional musicians, including a father who made a living as a technophile drummer. At age 9, Odell learned how to program drum machines on prototypes of the legendary TR-808 and 909. He used his training when breaking into house music in 1991, and fifteen years on, he’s made his mark as a prominent British DJ, producer, band-member and label manager.
Odell has released tracks under many monikers but he’s best known as Jimpster. Where did the name come from? “It was a nickname from when I was age 11 or 12,” Odell admits. Growing up in Finchingfield, a small village in Essex, Jimpster and his break-dancing pals made friends with an older crowd who brought back music from London. “Early Depeche Mode, Yazoo and a lot of other Mute stuff was blowing us away,” Odell reminisces. “We’d get into my music room and try and recreate the stuff.”
But these days you’ll find Odell’s records in the house-music bins. Tunes like “Square Up” and “Don’t Push It” from his 2006 album, “Amore,” are exuberantly paced and blooming with colorful, ear-catching melodies that pull dancers onto the floor. The album was released on Freerange Records, the label Odell co-founded in 1996. “My girlfriend’s mum offered us £2000 to start the ball rolling,” he recalls. “I’d been producing quite a lot of music whilst at university in Manchester so we had a few EPs worth of stuff to get us started.” Freerange has also released material by Switch, Manuel Tur & Dplay and Stateless, to name a few.
This year Odell has been bombarded with remix requests and has reworked Bob Marley, Motorcitysoul, Justin Martin and a host of heretofore unknowns. He likens remixing to “instant inspiration” and gushes, “The boundaries and deadlines imposed by a remix make it a much easier and more enjoyable prospect.” Odell further indulges his off-the-cuff side as the keyboardist of the strictly improvisational live band, The Bays. And on top of juggling a record label, DJ gigs around the world and copious remix requests, he’s got a 1-year-old Jimpster Jr. to care for as well. But Odell thrives under pressure, and he’ll surely find time to nurture the next generation of electronic-music talent. (Steve Mizek)
Jimpster joins Frank Solano for Stylus at Spy Bar, 846 North Franklin, (312)587-8779, on November 14, 10pm-4am. $10, rsvp for comp admission before midnight to music-101.com