Jeffrey T. ‘Juffage’ Smith is fast becoming an institution on the Leeds scene. Known for his frenetic live performances and manic looping occasionally bordering on Dadaism, he proves time and again there’s life left in the lonely world of the one man band. I sat him down before Low’s gig at the Brudenell Social Club to talk about where the magic comes from:
What would be your chosen song?
It’s kind of a hard question to narrow down but I guess I’d have to say something like ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong.
Where can we find it?
Any Louis Armstrong compilation, it shouldn’t be a hard task these days.
Why is it so influential?
I like songs that have timeless melodies; It’s harder for new bands to make timeless melodies because they don’t care or they don’t try or all the good melodies are taken up by now, but it is possible to create things that, in a year or so, aren’t going to sound dated. ‘What A Wonderful World’ came to mind because it’s one that I’ve covered and you can take it, make it completely different but it’s still essentially the same song.
How has it influenced your songwriting?
Probably because it’s lasted so long, it’s pushed me to try to write things that aren’t going to fade quickly. You can be really technically good, have crazy ideas and be really innovative but if you have bad songwriting it’s not going to matter.
How do you put your songs together?
I write some in that more traditional way, but I guess more and more lately I might have my stuff set up, some loops going etc., and think like, ‘oh, this is how I want this part to go, now it’s time for a bridge’. Half the time I just start recording and see what comes out, I’ll end up with 100 tracks of stuff – sometimes I’ll get to about 15 tracks and say, ‘oh this stuff sucks’. The aim is always to make something I guess that I’d like to listen to.
Is there anyone in particular who influences your live set?
There are really good loop guys like El Ten Eleven with some really great loops; one guy plays a double neck bass and guitar while the other drums. Dosh at brainwash were one of the tightest I’ve seen. Those 2 people, I think they’re really good: It’s not the music I’m trying to make, but it’s really admirable to see them pull it off.
What have you been listening to lately?
Dog Day from Halifax in Nova Scotia (as opposed to Halifax, West Yorkshire), a lot of Tom Petty, Blue Roses. A couple of old bands from my youth like American Football. Also, Low I guess, like actually right now anyway.
What’s next for Juffage?
Currently I’m trying to find a job as I have no money. I have a record coming out in April on Function Records who have decided on vinyl and download only. My next Leeds show is on December 14th at The Well with Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Steve Brodsky of Cave In. Also, at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, I have a multi channel sound art installation, the easiest way to explain it, like a 10 channel loudspeaker installation in the main room, 10 tape loops in the other room sort of running around the walls. It should sound like 5 or 10 songs all playing at once, so they’re gonna overlap in different ways so it’s like one big Juffage song which lasts for about 3 months.