Justin Robertson's tastes have always been catholic though in 2009 you would be hard pushed to find a musician working successfully in areas as diverse as techno, house, dancehall and art pop. Justin is a true modernist: he excels as a DJ of international repute; is a creator of bespoke techno; one third of New Pop band Thee Earls, a remixer for the likes of The Whip, Bjork and Felix Da Housecat and, most recently he has written and produced an album called Silent Life.
His latest solo venture was made and mixed in his West London home with Justin adding guitar to synthetic pop that belies his love of inventive, but odd early 80s music. In the midst of a creative purple patch Justin has also just released the Voodoo Swamp EP for Southern Fried – with another single to follow for Paper recordings – called The Deadstock 33's which he calls psych-house.
Justin works in so many genres that he sometimes needs to create new ones. Last year Justin was approached by Harmless records to compile and mix their Art of Acid compilation which was reviewed to universal acclaim in September. As a DJ of 20 years repute Justin was the obvious choice to be allowed access to the Trax back catalogue that Harmless own and he collated a mix of house music that had inspired him as a clubber on the Hacienda dancefloor back in 1988. He also curated a second disc which featured re-edits from the likes of Boys Noize and Dusty Kid. It was compilation of the issue in DJ magazine on release and made Mixmag's top 20 best of 2008.
Justin's lineage through music has taken many twists and turns. He began as a DJ in Manchester and his early 90s clubs – Spice and Most Excellent – were hugely influential and cornerstones of the burgeoning dance movement. The Chemical Brothers, then students in the city, cited him as their mentor. His Rebellious Jukebox club – also in Manchester – pre-empted the Heavenly Social and the mid 90s trend for mish-mashing musical styles.
In the 90s Justin generally operated under various nom de stages, the most renowned being Lionrock with whom he scored several Top 40s hits – 'Rudeboy Rock' and 'Packet Of Peace' among them – and appeared on Top Of The Pops in a dashing purple suit opting for twin gramophones over Technics. It wasn't until 2001 that Justin stepped out under his own name releasing house and techno like 'Have Mercy' for the Bugged Out imprint. In 2001 he recorded his most critically acclaimed project to date Justin Robertson presents Revtone which brought primitive house and new wave disco into the digital age. Originally on Nuphonic the best tracks came out through Bugged Out, with 'Love Movement' – remixed by Ulrich Schnauss who cited Justin's early work as an influence – being placed second best single of 2003 by Jockey Slut magazine. Contemporaries Black Strobe, Chicken Lips and Kiki also remixed Revtone tracks.
For someone with such diverse tastes it should have come as no surprise to anyone when Justin began recording and singing with a guitar. He has been writing songs since his school days and played electric guitar in Lionrock. 2004's 'Twisted and Torn' (released on Slut Smalls) reflected his love for singer songwriters like Neil Young and Nick Drake. In the same year he also wrote a song with Tim Burgess and Rob Playford called 'Yes It Is'. It became one of the most requested songs on Sean Rowley's BBC London show and came out on Justin's Blister Ballads 7? label in the fall of 2006. He continued in this vein writing songs for Fatboy Slim's Palookaville and he has also contributed and sung on two songs for his BPA album. Further co-writes have been completed for Dub Pistols and also with Jon Carter and Anil Chalwa. His band Thee Earls have been regulars on the festival circuit and singles Bombs To Fall and Let it Rain were popular on NME and XFM radio.
Always keen to seek out new bands Justin has lent his support to several new acts with remixes for Shed, Coyote and Hackshaw. As a man as renowned for his reggae collection as his electronic Justin was an obvious choice for Wall of Sound's Two Culture Clash album project. He recorded in Jamaica in 2005 at the legendary Gee Jam studios with the lover's rock of 'Save Me' – featuring guitarist Ernest Ranglin and Nadine Sutherland – the beautiful result. As a DJ Justin continues to play a mix of techno and electronic house at clubs such as The Loft in Barcelona, Pacha in Buenos Aires, Bugged Out in Manchester, Shine in Belfast, Chibuku in Liverpool, Together in London, and at various clubs all over Europe and the rest of the world. Alongside Guy Williams, Bones and Ed Chemical Justin formed the Black Rabbit club in 2006 who throw parties across London and Ibiza. He also plays more eclectic sets featuring his love of reggae, northern soul and pop at festivals and nights like Sunday Best. Justin will continue to wear several hats, metaphorical as well as some stylish real ones!