Housemasters Spotlight – Jo Wallace (Ramrock Records / F*CLR)
Written by SistaVixen on 15/11/2020
Housemasters Spotlight – Jo Wallace
(Ramrock Records / F*CLR)
Sista Vixen talks to Jo Wallace about the rise of F*CLR and Ramrock Records; the music, artists and the remixing process for Housemasters Radio.
Classically trained Jo Wallace the self-confessed mad, bag lady from Ramsgate has since the 1960s been a lover of music. Her own personal love with music began as a 4yr old when her older brothers would pass onto her their collections of Vinyl and by the time she was only 9 she had amassed a collection of some 300 records from a wealth of genres and styles.
Her DJ career began in the 1970s and the age of just 16 she was already holding her own in the club and pub scene and many a Scout Hut played host to her own DJ Nights and between 1983 and 1987 she had her own show 6 nights a week on BBC Radio Kent and then Invicta Radio and then worked on Kiss FM in 1992 for a year after they gained their legal broadcast license.
Having ran a couple of music and record shops she had all the tunes, talent and organisational skills to rule her local nightclubs with hit after hit of Soul, Jazz and RnB bangers and this experience was something she would continue to fall back on year after year after year.
Between 1988 and 2009, she held the posts of Fine Art Packer + Senior Picture Researcher at London’s V&A Museum and Head of Archiving at Universal Music UK and USA broadening her love of visual as well as audible arts.
In 2012 while Stage Managing the Speckled Hen beer tent at Goodwood, She had the novel idea to take the ‘Black Elvis’ from a bigger ten and put him onto their stage, burning the tent down every night with audience and clubbers.
In 2014 Ramrock records was founded as a direct result of a tune commission from Dean Chalkley as he was giving and exhibition “Return of the Gentleman Rudeboy” at Somerset House and also requested to have it pressed on Vinyl. Partner and now Husband Ashley Beedle jokingly implied the name “Welcome to Ramrock” which eventually got boiled down to Ramrock.
Ramrock was set up and remains an exclusive Reggae label and Jo prides herself on being “The Fat Controller” of the brand.
In 2016 Jo was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and as she commenced treatment and overcame this, a critical insurance payout allowed her to go onto create her house label F*CLR and Ramrock Blue (the soul label) and Ramrock Red (created for Jazz, Hip Hop, Blues and Electronica).
Names like The Dissent, Joseph Malik, Digital Liquid, Reggie Boone, Waterson and Steven Christie, Malcom Ross, David Donnelly and Chris Greive who formed Out of the Ordinary. Nicole Smit and Lynzie Dray are in the pipeline recording 2 EPs for Ramrock Red produced by Joseph Malik and Maxine Scott, a signing from Ramrock’s home town, Ramsgate will be released soon.
Greg Blackman was approached for a track which in itself led to the creation of Ramrock Blue. Reggie Boone’s gospel track “Made of Love” also ended up on this label as well.
A real stroke of luck came from finding a long-lost 1996 album from the legendary Marden Hill at the back of a drawer on a D.A.T. Originally destined for release on Warner Bros, it’s currently being remastered and prepared for release on Ramrock Red.
Joseph Malik has chosen to support an Edinburgh based Homeless Charity called Streetwork by donating the digital proceeds from the single ‘Republic of Persevere’ and monies from a forthcoming F*CLR release will support a Men’s Mental Health charity.
All of this prolific production, re-working and mastering allows the labels to support an Edinburgh based Homeless Charity call Streetwork and work through F*CLR will help promote local charities who work within Men’s Mental Health.
Jo admits to running Ramrock Red, Blue and F*CLR similar to a Major Football league and prides herself on adapting the business model Berry Gordy used in Motown.
Different genres of music go under each label and in that, it promotes not just the artist but the label as well and when looking for a track or artist to promote she is not short of Demo’s.
“You can tell if an artist has done their homework when they pitch a track. Have they done the research into what label they want to go on” and Jo deliberately looks for effort, musicality, composition, pitch and soul when it comes to the demos she listens to”.
A typical day in the studio involves working with husband Ashley and Darren Morris of North Street who does all the engineering, plays all additional instrumentation and mastering. With stems uploaded and Darren prepped, all the stems will be programmed in Logic allowing the three to slowly work through breakbeats, drum patterns, and an arsenal of music tools including plug-ins sponsored by German company Brainworx. Jo uses her classical background to arrange the strings, drums, brass and keys to create the final finish result which is agreed by all three.
What does the future hold for Ramrock and F*CLR?
Fabulous- It doesn’t run itself- it’s a team effort.