It feels like a very exciting period for Glaswegian DJ, producer, and now label boss, Rebecca Vasmant, and she’s enjoying every moment: “Since I released my album, things have been really good. I’m pretty much home three days out of seven at the minute because of gigs”. I catch her during her stint in Berlin, performing at Sebastian Studnitzky’s XJAZZ! Festival – which seems almost designed for the genre-blurring Scot, who describes herself as “part of a jigsaw. My piece fits all the other pieces together. When I work I’m just putting people and sounds together and making them sound nice”. More than that though, she explains that she feels like she is a part of something much bigger, where every member, every part of the jigsaw, holds equal importance and value – whoever she works with becomes a part of this community and everyone’s contribution is valued equally.
Music has always been a part of Rebecca’s life. Whilst her parents aren’t musicians, they are keen fans. “My dad’s into music, Eminem, TLC and all that, you know, the classics”. Growing up, it was all about hip-hop – albeit “very jazzy hip-hop”, but it wasn’t until later that she realised her love for jazz itself.
“I started out as a techno DJ and I worked for a while in a record shop in Edinburgh called Underground Solution. I’d be buying records there and I remember saying to George, who owns the shop, ‘Do you think there’s any theme in my music taste?’. He was like ‘Definitely, all the House Records and the techno stuff that you’re buying, all have jazz samples and keys and stuff like that.’ I guess now looking back it all fits into place. I started with jazzy Hip Hop and then started getting into house music, and then into techno and it all kind of fits together in the sense that all of its got jazz on it. I just had like a light bulb moment when I heard this one record ‘Starless and Bible Black’ by Stan Tracy quartet and when I heard that track, I was like okay, it’s not the samples, it’s not the beats, it’s not the electronic parts. It’s the jazz that I’m looking for and once I had that lightbulb moment, I just dove into Jazz headfirst, and here I am.”
The Scottish Scene
Now, living in Glasgow, it’s clear that she feels inspired and empowered by the city, and is proud to be living there. She jokes that she feels she’s always selling Glasgow, before reiterating – “everybody should come to Glasgow!” By the end of the interview, it’s a trip I am definitely considering.
“It’s a really new scene and it’s really exciting. It’s growing so fast and at such a rate that every time I look on Instagram or online, there’s a new band, an amazing new band, and all these amazing young jazz musicians and existing jazz musicians, who have been on the scene for a long time, are collaborating and working together. And they’re taking influence from Hip-Hop, Neo-Soul, Afrobeats and stuff like that but also there’s the traditional Scottish music influence, because obviously the whole folk and traditional Scottish music scene has always been important… I can’t even say enough with words how amazing the music scene in Scotland is. It’s so strong, so much talent is coming out of Scotland, so many amazing producers, so many amazing musicians”.
She speaks with so much sincerity and warmth about a place which she clearly loves deeply, gushing praise on everybody connected with it, and describing a real community of musicians who are inspiring each other.
Dance Yourself Free
Her new EP Dance Yourself Free was released in April 2022 and the process behind it turns out to have been an overwhelming experience:
“When I start making a track, I never know how it’s going to go. I see that as a really exciting thing, that you are creating something from nothing and you just never know where it will end up, especially when you work with other musicians because a song will sound a certain way to you and then you get Harry Weir, the sax player and adopted ‘jazz brother’ in and he starts to play his parts and I see something totally different. I never planned anything. I don’t. Sometimes I might say right, I want to make a track that’s kind of like this but a lot of the time it doesn’t end up sounding the way that you’ve planned it. It’s exciting.”
There is new music coming out – the aim is to combine the Glasgow jazz scene, with some select American jazz stars. “There’s quite a few really exciting people that are going to be on the next record. It’s a bit of a bigger one. We are working really hard on it”.
She is perhaps most pleased to tell me of a potential collaboration with the 80-year-old jazz icon, Norma Winstone. By pure chance, she had been telling a radio journalist of how much she loved Winstone. It just so happened that he was able to put them in touch. “She asked me to call her landline one evening at 7pm, so I just phoned Norma Winstone. I asked her to come on my next album and she said ‘yeah’. I guess I’m living the dream.”
Like her music, Rebecca Vasmant exudes energy, joy, and originality. With every release, it feels that she has found new inspiration, collaborations and styles to explore.
Every Monday the treasure hunt squad from the NBHAP staff is bringing an exciting new artist to your attention along with a 30-track-strong Introducing Playlist over on Spotify as we add ten strong songs by fresh acts on top of it. Feel invited to follow the playlist and give these talents a good spin.
This week’s picks include brand new music from artists like Chip Wickham, Emma-Jean Thackray, and Maliki. Come and hit the play button.