In this latest edition of “Behind the Job” we talk to Gregory Ferguson, aka Jupiter Ace, about his work as a dance music producer. Gregory has had a number 1 hit in Australia with the Wynter Gordon track “Dirty Talk” and had huge success with his track 1000 Years. Having worked with various labels including Sony and Atlantic Records, he is now running his own label. Gregory’s music receives huge attention from top DJ’s Pete Tong and Tiesto. Check this guy out! He’s a legend and he lives right on our doorstep. Yes, it is possible to have a music career based in Northern Ireland …
► What is your name?
► What do you do/what company do you work for?
I’m a self-employed dance music producer, mainly going under the name Jupiter Ace.
► Can you tell us about some of your recent jobs/projects?
I had a No 1 in Australia with Wynter Gordon ‘Dirty Talk’ for which I produced the music. I also run a dance record label called Big Vision Records in affiliation with Strictly Rhythm. I’ve been releasing my own music on the label since the start of the year and we’re getting support from Pete Tong, Tiesto and Avicii amongst others.
► How did you get into this line of work?
I was always musical growing up and also had an interest in computers… the two just came together I guess! When I was in my late teens I decided I wanted to try and make music for a living and basically just got on with making tunes and sending them out to people until something stuck.
► What would a typical day consist of?
I use a studio space at Start Together Studios in Belfast. I spend most days there and would clock up somewhere between 5 and 10 hours. Each day would be split between emails/internet, phone calls and of course lots of music work.
► What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The real fun part is the creation of new ideas – that’s why I do what I do – there’s a lot of hard work that goes into the mix downs and so on which I enjoy as well but it can be challenging at times!
► Tell us something annoying about your job?
When you put blood, sweat and tears in to a project and it never sees the light of day. That’s happened to me in the past and it still happens now and then for one reason or another and not always because the music’s bad! The music industry is a tough place sometimes.
► Is there any particular thing you are proud of doing?
I feel proud when I see the end result of what I do – people dancing to my music in a club or at a festival. I also feel proud when I listen back to a mix and I feel I’ve done a good job on the mixdown. It’s a craft I’ve had to learn over the years and it’s good when you feel like you’re progressing with it.
► Have you any exciting projects lined up for the future?
Because of the success of the track I did with Wynter Gordon I’ve started to work with some really talented, top line (vocal) writers for dance and pop music. The fruits of that will see the light of day soon. There is more to come this summer from my record label as well so watch this space!
► Do you see yourself carrying on with this line of work or moving into something else?
The record business is a tough place and it’s hard to say what life will throw at you. Having said that, things are going really well right now – I find what I do exciting and stimulating and I enjoy coming in to ‘work’ every day – you can’t really ask for much more than that! Many people sustain a musical career for their whole working life one way or another so that possibility is there.
► What kind of characteristics (personality) do you need to do a job like yours?
Tenacity, positivity, flexibility, and I sort of live in a bit of dream world half the time – I think if I was very in touch with the real world I wouldn’t be in this line of work!
► What skills are needed for this job?
You’ve got to be good with technology for obvious reasons. You need to have a basic understanding (at least) of the business principles involved. You’ve also got to be very motivated and be good at organising your time. And of course you need to have musical skills, e.g. having learnt an instrument.
► Working hours/patterns of work?
My ideal time to do creative work is in the evening, which I sometimes do, but most of the time I do a normal-ish working day – maybe 10am—7pm, which fits in with my family life at home. Sometimes deadlines mean I have to work through weekends, but I also have the flexibility to take time off at another point.
► Are there any qualifications needed for your job?
Nope! I do have a BSc in Music Technology, but most of what I’ve learnt is self taught or from reading things like Sound on Sound or Future Music. I also learn a lot from the other guys at Start Together.
► Have you any advice for anyone looking to get into this area?
Take what you do seriously and don’t expect success to come on a plate – it’s a case of working very hard and being there when your lucky break comes along.
► Do you have one big tip for getting by in the music industry?
To quote Take That… “Have a little patience, yeah”!
Wynter Gordon – Dirty Talk
Latest release: Glowing in the Dark