Juan Pierre Coleman is a rambunctious music man, master of all things creative and perhaps one of the hardest, most focused individuals you will come across. An analogue junkie, he has scourged the Cape Town electronic music scene with joyous abandon, composing musical banter and bristling, electronic dialogues.

Employing relentless fervour, he resonates with high-octane energy from his Woodstock studio, a space where day tends to flow unnoticed in to night. Juan is also an academic of the arts. He has mastered the tools of design, demonstrating, for nearly 12 years, an uncanny grasp of a kaleidoscope of design skills. But, this is about the music, so let’s stick to that. For now.

Known as JDL Quake, Juan is a beat maven who has been in the industry for 17 years. Originally from the Free State, he’s been living west coast since the late ’90s; adapting, evolving and managing to remain humble. He’s played alongside Scratch from The Roots, Luke Vibert from Ninja Tunes, Cut La Roc, General Midi, Krafty Kuts and Cypress Hill. Amongst, and one of, the big players, he stays true to himself and his beat-love. A guy to be respected.

Quake’s a sucker for slutty synths, playful scratching, turntablism and experimental mixing. And we’re a sucker for his beats. Musically malleable and versatile, Quake’s sets incorporate hip-hop, drum ‘n bass, breakbeat and funk. They’re as esoteric as they are intense, and as surprising as they are lucid. Ten minutes with this guy and you’ll be restless with creative desire, impassioned and rat-a-tat-tatting with taut, suspense-ridden drive.

In 2010 Juan started a radio show with DJ Microstripe called the XXXL BASS Show and for the last few years he’s been running 24audio with that crafty finesse we’ve come to love him for. After co-ordinating the DMC champs for many years, Juan handed over the reigns to the African Hip Hop Indaba in 2011. Juan’s been spending a lot of time in studio and on the decks; focussing on the study of scratching, learning more styles and perfecting old ones.

Sarah Claire Picton caught up with JDL Quake to find out a bit more about his latest in-studio and behind-decks endeavours

The DMC years for you, tell me about those.

I loved doing the DMC events, it was something very close to my heart. Tony Prince from DMC International was very kind to me and the DJs here by allowing us to host it officially in South Africa. It was a lot of hard work as I had to co-ordinate everything, speak to sponsors, work out budgets, and write proposals – all the not so nice work that was keeping me awake at night. Since we didn’t have huge budgets we had to do a lot of the running ourselves. But we had some amazing prize sponsors! The one year we had R65 000 worth of prizes. So that was cool for publicity!

What’s happening now that the African Hip Hop Indaba has taken over?

The Hip Hop Indaba crew run the African Battle of the Year (Graffiti and B-boy battles). There won’t be regional qualifying rounds anymore – they will in future be running an elimination round on the night of their events in Cape Town and sending the South African Champions overseas to represent South Africa

Post-DMC, what new things you been up to in the studio?

‘Well since I have been stronger on my right hand I have always concentrated on platter movements and minimal cuts with my weaker left hand and now I have moved over to the left on the record, with the stronger hand on the fader which cuts the sound on and off or changes the volume. So I can cut up the sound faster and more accurately basically…’

Kentaro doing tiger paw styles
‘I have been looking at developing some new styles. I for instance am working on an up-fader cutting style which allows you to cut different velocities and since my up-faders are usually set to a slow velocity curve I can create some awesome effects that sound like a wah-wah pedal. It is very similar to the up-fader delay style fade outs that some guys like Q-bert do or DJ Kentaros ‘Tiger Paw’ style (two hands on one up fader)’


City Lights – I Know The Truth (JDL Quake Drumstep Version) 192kbps FREE Download by JDLQuake  
The move to digital?

It’s been tough for me moving to digital. I have tried Serato and Traktor and Dj controllers but nothing has seemed to match vinyl for me as yet. I still own 5000+ records and yeah well… I will probably keep scratching for a long time still. It’s something I’m strangely addicted to. I have been trying to make the move to digital. It adds so many more possibilities to be creative. It’s just a matter of spending time and learning and developing new techniques and styles on that format. It’s a huge problem that 95% my music on analogue though but I am getting there!

Sound Squad promo

Tell me about Sound Squad events
Sound Squad, hehe, another love project. But you know it changed a lot of things when we started doing Sound Squad events there were none multi genre outdoor electronic events! I kind of feel like we paved the way… showed people the potential there was guys like Resonance started taking other electronic genres seriously and now they have a second floor catering for that. We wanted to come back with a big Sound Squad V

What happened with that?

We were building up to it but I had in the interim closed my Record Shop and was in the process of a lot of change in my life. So we never made it happen. We are always toying with the idea of doing another one. These days there are a lot of multi genre out door electronic events. They are all over… So competition is heavy now. We had fun, we went all out. It was all about the finer details. Our venues were tops, we always made a mish to get the best venues! But such huge events are a huge stress to organise. Wow its so much work, especially if you want to do it professionally.

Sweat X performs live at Sound Squad Revolutions New Years festival 2006/07. Cape Town, South Africa
The reaction?
We have people to this day coming to us saying ‘that was the best event I have ever been to in my life’ and having happened so long ago and going up against what not, that means a shit load – especially since we walked away from it without making much. But, yeah, major missions to make it happen. There was definitely a need for the Sound Squad thing to happen at the time I feel it served its purpose and I am happy it still lives on in the memories of some of those who attended.

Is there not a need for it now?

Like I said, we are always playing with the idea. Should we do this, should we do that? The Sound Squad are taking a deep breathe. Some production company in Johannesburg started doing New Years Revolutions as well. So we are probably not going to do that again. I cannot say too much about our plans as yet – but there are always awesome ideas on the table, very interesting and different ones. So be assured that when we come back, it will once again be something nobody has done before!

JDL Quake – Deep Dark Africa Vintage Vinyl Dubstep Mix by JDLQuake  
2012; what’s on the cards?

I am heading into 2012 with a very motivated and positive head…There are tons of projects in the pipeline. To feel my worth on this earth I feel the need to push boundaries and create new things. This is part of the reason 24audio is now moving into software development and away from retail. Oh yeah, and I am working on a new jdl quake website… it will be up at www.jdlquake.com in the very near future

JDL Quake slashes any misconception of South Africa’s electronic music scene lagging behind our overseas partners-in-beats. With blazing passion and unparalleled enthusiasm, Juan Coleman will continue to inspire and push the industry; in Cape Town, throughout South Africa and without a doubt, internationally.

Photography: Desmond Louw