If you’ve ever had the chance to attend a slamming party in Orange County, California, there’s a good chance your hosts for the evening were from Dr. Freecloud’s Mixing Lab. More specifically, one Simply Jeff and his partner and close friend, Ron D Core. Not that Los Angeles will ever have a problem with getting it’s name on the map, but these two busy guys, Ron’s wife Helen, and their associates at Freecloud’s would play a big role in getting it there. Together, they run their labels- Orbit Transmissions and Atomic Records. With the recent release(s) by City of Angels of Simply Jeff material- a 12” single (My Planet/ Godzilla Funk) and a mixed CD (Funkdafried), an even wider audience will get to experience a little of the exuded energy in the privacy of their own home and, of course, on dancefloors worldwide.
Jeff’s last name is Adachi, which is of Japanese decent. He is a fourth generation Japanese American- which means even his grandfather was born here in the good ol’ USA, so he’s about as American as you can get. His background in music comes in just as deep, with both his parents avid music fans (though definitely of different genres). His mother, Kumi, was a dance hall DJ in the 50’s and 60’s. “My mom threw parties in San Francisco and she would always be the one with the vinyl. Back then they didn’t use mixers the way that we use them, instead they would just cut and switch off of one line. She would have to be super quick to put on the next record. Sometimes she would have to work with only one turntable, so she would cut the record and the crowd would clap and while they were clapping she would have to throw one on real quick. Back then though, they were dancing to the likes of Chubby Checker. Because my mom was a DJ, she understands my lifestyle now. She still supports me and helps me when I need it, and the same with my father- they’re divorced, but they have been a big influence in my life.” His father, an avid record collector, would take Jeff to Tower to buy records when the other kids were out mobbing their parents for toys. When Jeff decided to make a career of music, his grandparents paid his way through school, and he isn’t one to forget the support his family has given him- Funkdafried is dedicated to his grandfather, who recently passed away, “He helped me out so much and was there with me the whole time. He was there to see me get the store and move up as a DJ.”
Jeff started DJing when he was in high school as a breakdance DJ, and tells the history from the west coast perspective: “Really it was the Electro days of the mid 80’s. It was the early stages of Hip-Hop, but before that it wasn’t even called Hip-Hop, it was called Techno. Even back then with people like Dr. Dre (with the World Class Wrecking crew), and NWA, they were all calling it techno. If you would listen to their first album, it’s techno mixed with rap, and then when the Sugar Hill Gang exploded it was all over. Those producers weren’t even producing that style of music anymore because they were switching over to rap and Hip-Hop, so after that era those producers were making it as a street thing. It was almost like how it is in the underground- tracks that you don’t normally find on a commercial market but if you would go to a mom and pops store you could find them. That’s when people got into making bootlegs or getting dubplates off people.”
Like all music enthusiasts, Jeff’s tastes are always expanding into other styles. When asked what some of his more valued platters are, an odd array including Earth, Wind and Fire, Lakeside, Cameo, and the Fat Boys is named… “especially the Fat Boys” he drops in. Soon, Jeff got into the Industrial/digital dance music side of DJing. He played stuff like Meat Beat Manifesto and Consolidated, Neon Judgement, Gary Numan… “I figured it was basically the next progression at the time for me.” This was all in the later years of his high school life. “After that, when Industrial/dance got even more popular- like Depeche Mode and Erasure, I even got into that kind of stuff.” Jeff went on to work at KROQ 106.7 FM- the first Alternative radio station in Los Angeles. The KROQ format shaped how MTV came to be because many people that worked for them now work at MTV. Alternative was the ‘in’ thing back in the late 80’s and KROQ was the first station to play it 24/7 in the US. Jeff had an internship working at KROQ, so he moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles. Growing up in Sacramento had it’s advantages as well, though, “San Francisco is only an hour and a half drive from Sacramento so we would go up there and party. It was no problem for us to go there all of the time, and that’s how I got into all of the breakdance stuff. We looked up to people like Q-bert back then. They were the people that pretty much paved the way for us up north as far as tricks and that style of DJing goes because back then there really wasn’t a rave scene- it was a street underground party, but it had the same style as a rave. It was before the English brought over the whole concept that we know as rave.” Jeff got as far out of Sacramento as he could playing street parties, for breakdancers, and in clubs, but he wanted something more out of life. Going to school for music and sound engineering was his next step- but there were no schools in San Francisco that suited his exact needs. “All my friends said ‘you’ve got to move to LA’, so in 1987 that’s what I did.” At 21, Jeff attended the University of Sound Arts, which, ironically, was right across the street from the building that housed the future City of Angels label that he records for now. In school, he learned everything about sound engineering. “It was the pre-stages of MIDI, when MIDI was just beginning, so it was kind of exciting at the time.” He finished his schooling and got his certificate as well as picking up a little education on filming. He actually participated in a film that got nominated for an Emmy Award- ‘Sensinina, What have we Done?’ “It was a short film based in South Africa- about apartheid.” Jeff went on to take extension courses at UCLA and met many people there who he’d bump into in the future. One person he met was one of the early minds behind Moonshine. “I had a marketing class with this guy and we started talking about music and he told me, ‘I’ve got a label called Moonshine starting up and was wondering if you want to be one of the first artists on the label?’- I said, ‘OK- that’s cool’, because at the time I was producing remixes and things for KROQ. They (the station) knew I knew how to do production- so they put me to work doing mega-mixes for Depeche Mode and stuff like that.” Jeff was out of the party scene for almost a year- mainly because when he moved to LA he didn’t know a single soul and spent his time just going to school and working in the studio or workshop. “I had no social life whatsoever, so when I got the internship at KROQ I got to meet a lot of people and started going out. That was when the rave scene in LA was exploding for the first time. It started in the mid and even early 80’s, but it didn’t really get big.” What Jeff witnessed at these parties blew him away.
The record that Jeff and Brian put out as X-Calibur was breakbeat, or pre-jungle- basically the same speed as jungle. Breakbeat back then was around 140-145 BPM. After Jeff did the record with Moonshine he helped them out with their first 140+ BPM compilation. Then Jeff and DJ Dan did their first project together called The Core. “Nobody would have ever known it was us because all it said was, ‘The Core, Written by The Core’ on the label.”
Other than working with Brian Scott, Jeff is working with a few other engineers. “The last engineer I worked with was Howard Ulyate- who is just getting interested in this style of music, but he is an awesome engineer. He has fucking cool equipment and shit that I don’t have. I’m learning my shit from him all over again because he has all this cool analog equipment- stuff that I could only dream of having, so why not work with somebody and get the experience.” In the future Jeff is going to experiment with a lot more people to expose himself to other artists and other producers. “I’m going to do that just so I can get a bigger overview and just learn some more shit. Basically, the more people that you work with, the more you learn. I’m just broadening my horizons working with different artists, people that play different instruments, and even vocalists.”
With the busy schedule that Jeff has between running Dr. Freecloud’s, DJing, and making records, he still keeps the ‘I’m a DJ first’ attitude. Jeff has been a DJ a lot longer than he has been producing so that’s why he puts his DJing first. But he is also a producer and he doesn’t forget it. “I’ll always be a DJ just because I’ve been doing it longer, but I’m a producer as well. I produce with the mentality of a DJ, if that makes any sense… I try to make records with dance appeal because it is all about moving the floor.” Later on in his career when he starts producing more and taking breaks from DJing, he might actually call himself a producer, but right now, by name, he is a DJ.
Jeff opened up Dr. Freecloud’s Mixing Lab in December of 1994 with Ron D Core. Jeff got to know Ron through a mutual friend at another radio station. After Jeff left KROQ, he worked for MARS FM- the first complete techno station in the US. “You could tune in and hear Messiah at 12 noon!” Jeff jokes. “The same people who own KROQ own MARS FM. What they did at KROQ in the 80’s, they wanted to do with MARS FM in the 90’s”. At KROQ, Swedish Eagle was the guy who played the cutting edge dance cuts. He would have a Midnight shift- “the truck drivers shift” as Jeff calls it. Swedish Eagle left KROQ and started MARS FM with Ken Roberts, but it only stayed on air for about a year and a half. Jeff had a show with Eagle every Saturday called ‘MARS FM Top 30 Countdown’- still spinning under his first chosen moniker- ‘DJ Spinn’. His friend DJ Robin and himself did the mix show. Robin also managed a club called Post Nuclear and Ron had his weekly called Funny Farm. From working with Robin, Jeff got to know Ron. “I’d met Ron a couple of times before, but I never got to know him until I started working with him at the club doing Funny Farm, and then later on getting jobs together at a valley record store. We both live in the suburbia part of LA in Orange County, so we would carpool to work. We had a lot of ideas and a lot of common interests, so we said, ’Hey, lets do it!!’ and so we did. We opened Dr. Freecloud’s Mixing Lab.” This story still continues, and has had many happy turns. Ron just got married to Helen, who is also really involved with the store. “The whole wedding was actually a real emotional thing, seeing I was the best man.”
In 1993 Jeff started the first breakbeat label on the west coast called Orbit Transmissions- just as techno was changing. “Techno was getting faster so either you liked techno or house. That’s also when the cliques started”, so Jeff was really confused because he really liked house music but had an appreciation for techno, because that is were his basis came from. In the end, going the route that felt best, as any old cliché would go, came out for the best, and Jeff is quite comfortable with where he stands. The music he produces, spins, and enjoys is currently among the healthiest of the electronic genres, and he’s in league with those he most respects nowadays- “Tim Simmonen from Bomb the Bass, Cold Cut, and of course the Chemical Brothers, who have opened a lot of doors. They are another style of breakbeat. They are big beat breaks, and I play funky breaks. They have the English sound and I have the U.S. sound. I look up to them because they are the first artists who opened the doors for everybody, for me personally anyway. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think breakbeat would be as popular as it is today”.
When the point is made about how far the Chemical Brothers have come- from underground heroes to household names, Jeff is quick to make a valid point- “There are a lot of people out there that would call someone a sellout if they agree with underground music becoming more commercialized or mainstream. I think it’s good in a way because it exposes that many more people to the good music that everyone is missing out on. Commercialism is good to a certain extent, but it always brings with it it’s own bad elements – but in the long run if you look at the big picture, it is exposing more people to the music that we all love.”