Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right ‘I’m broke. Help me!’: Jax Jones on how he made his biggest hits

‘I’m broke. Help me!’: Jax Jones on how he made his biggest hits

As the chart-conquering DJ-producer prepares for a hometown show at Koko, he shares the stories behind his biggest bangers

By Nick Levine
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1. ‘I Got U’ with Duke Dumont

‘I was working with Duke as a live musician when I decided to try producing some dance music. “I Got U” was the second track I came up with and together we beefed it up for the dance floor. I wrote the song about my wife and Whitney Houston’s “My Love Is Your Love” was the most romantic sample I could think of. I already had a relationship with [the song’s writers] Wyclef Jean and Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis from a band I was in a few years before. So I cleared the sample myself by phoning them up and saying: “I’ve got this song that I think could be big. And I’m broke. Help me!” Luckily they really liked it.’

2. ‘You Don’t Know Me’  with Raye

‘Raye’s on the same label and has a really cool voice, so working with her felt right. We just drank a lot of prosecco together and wrote this song. You can hear the prosecco talking in lines like: “Time is money, so don’t fuck with mine!” I never would have guessed it would go on to sell millions – I just wanted Annie Mac to play it on Radio 1! But I knew it was an infectious record. The techno sample [from Booka Shade’s ‘Body Language’] gave it a nostalgic feel and made it stand out. And having an “ooh na na yeah” chorus helps it connect with people whatever language they speak.’

3. ‘Instruction’ with Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don

‘I had the beats from a remix I’d done and I played them to [co-writer] MNEK. He was like: “This is a really powerful drum pattern.” So we decided to write a dance routine song, which is why the chorus goes: “Wind to the left, sway to the right.” It needed an iconic singer with some serious attitude, but I was so shocked when Demi Lovato agreed to jump on the track that I nearly fell on the floor. She didn’t change a thing, she’s singing in patois on this track! I wanted to balance it out with some UK flavour so bringing in Stefflon Don was the perfect grease.’

4. ‘Breathe’ with Ina Wroldsen

‘Ina and I co-wrote a song together for Tinie Tempah called “Text from Your Ex”. I always find her really scary because I’ll present all these track ideas and she’ll just say: “No.” So I prepared for our session together with loads of press-ups to raise my adrenaline! We kind of stumbled on the chorus and I just knew it was huge. We crafted the song bit by bit and I went over to [Wroldsen’s homeland] Norway to finish it. It was great working with such a talented songwriter, and because the song was successful, she’ll have to write with me again!’

5. ‘Ring Ring’ with Mabel and Rich the Kid

‘I’ve wanted to work with Mabel for a while because she’s a real up-and-coming star. But at first she didn’t like the beats I’d prepared. We’re both into R&B, that’s our common ground, so we ended up making something slower. We were hanging out and chatting about life when I started playing some piano chords. Then she freestyled the whole song in 30 minutes and I just cut it down. As soon as I heard that hook – “Hello? You there?”, which is about a booty call – I knew it was special.’ 

Jax Jones plays Koko on Nov 16.

Check out more great gigs happening in London here.

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