Rising Scottish house star Milton Jackson discusses deep house, geeks and why he’s not the new Mylo with David Pollock
He’s a young Scottish producer signed to a respectable national label, who’s getting attention in the pages of Mixmag and on dancefloors around the world, but just don’t, whatever you do, go proclaiming Milton Jackson to be ‘the new Mylo’. Or ‘the new Calvin Harris’ for that matter.
‘I really respect what they both do,’ says Milton, aka Barry Christie, choosing his words carefully, ‘but it’s a lot more mainstream than the music I make. I’d describe them more as pop music, you know? While I’m into the underground scene, and I’d rather be thought of alongside guys like Alex Smoke and Slam’. Which is still pretty good company to be in.
Originally from Bonnyrigg and now based just outside of Glasgow, Christie’s latest lease of life through a deal with Jimpster’s Freerange label (his new album Crash will be enjoying its Scottish launch party here) comes after an earlier recording career. Now 28, his first release came at the age of 20 on Stevie Sole’s Tronicsole label and continued through records for labels Black Vinyl and Glasgow Underground, as well as professional nods and plays out from the likes of Laurent Garnier, Tom Middleton and Roger Sanchez.
The Milton Jackson name has been there since day one, quite literally. ‘It was on the day my first EP was going to press,’ he says. ‘I had to come up with an alias really quickly, and was leafing through a bunch of old records when I spotted this name; Milt Jackson, on the cover of his Sunflower LP. So I changed that slightly, and after that it just stuck’.
Inspired by nights at Edinburgh’s Honeycomb and Glasgow’s Sub Club, Christie thrived on a combination of geekish obsession and the predominantly deep house sounds he would absorb while he was out. ‘I think you have to be a geek to do this,’ he says, ‘because you have to know how certain software works and what it does. Working with music makes you a cool geek, though, rather than just a complete geek!
‘Back in those days, of course, being able to make my own tunes was all so new and exciting to me; I’d literally go along to the Honeycomb, listen to what Gareth Sommerville was playing and then try to recreate that sound on my computer when I got home. I’d usually fail miserably, but it still taught me a lot.’
The lure of geekdom almost finished his career in music for good, though. In 2004 he went off to get a day job: ‘Mmm … it was sort of like a database thing. Quite dull. I kind of thought I should just get a proper job though, you know? I’m glad I didn’t follow it through.’ This holiday in real life lasted for two years, and forms a kind of prologue to Christie’s current career, when past collaborations with Freerange artist Tom Szirtes, aka Shur-I-kan, brought him to Jimpster’s attention in 2006.
Now travelling virtually every weekend to Europe, Japan and Australia on DJing jobs, Christie needn’t worry about another day job. ‘People used to be DJs first and then producers,’ he says, ‘but it seems to be the other way around now. Promoters are more keen if you already have a name.’ Milton Jackson has had his for eight years – it’s good to see it getting some use.
Tronicsole hosts the Milton Jackson album launch at the Admiral, Glasgow, Sat 21 Mar.