A One Man Tartan Army: Wallace in conversation

5 Minute Read
Credit Seb Gardner 2
Written by Sharon Andrews

One of the most pivotal producers de jour talks shop.

Jimmy Wallace’s Bollywood inspired Tartan debut came out in ‘22. Since then, Wallace Mania has gripped us, and the red, black, and yellow has gone on to deliver some monumental bangers to recent dancefloors.

Wallace has shown many sides to his sound: the soul filled beauty ‘Butterfly’, the Afro inspired ‘Sunshine Lady’, the paradise house of ‘Cynical Gringo’, all paving the way for the big room bouncer ‘Ayo’, that has had more hands waving in the air than the departure lounge at Heathrow airport.


Whilst it may appear that Wallace has made all the right moves and had a rapid trajectory, Jimmy has been at it for a decade honing his skills and tweaking his tunes to sonic perfection.

Having stepped out on Rhythm Section with ‘Ripples’, he confidently followed on with the stone cold killer ‘Papertrip’ also on the Peckham imprint.

Wallace has continued to drop bomb after bomb on Brownswood, Studio Barnhus, and Palmers’ CWPT. His November album ‘Red, Black Yellow’ saw the daylight on Mule Musiq with Kuniyuki lending his ears. On the nine track opus Wallace leaves the dancefloor behind in part, using recordings taped fresh out of nature blended with his deft studio ability. Jimmy Wallace is taking the dance scene by storm! The in demand DJ and producer recently played the hallowed Panorama Bar wearing his family colours with great pride. Read on to find out how the night went off and if his kilt stayed down.

How are you spending the day Jimmy. Where are you?

Afternoon! I’m currently sat in the studio at home mixing down my next record. 

…. There’s a bit of Wallace mania going on at the minute. How are you managing this starry moment, are you in a bit of a whirl?

I’ve been dreaming about and working towards this for so long now that I’m quite clear on where I want to go, and I suppose that helps keep a lid on things. Had it all started to happen for me in my 20’s I think I’d have struggled to cope with all of the noise. I’m also sat on 10 years of songs and ideas so don’t have the pressures of having to constantly create new things.

Have you had much out prior to Tartan, or was this where your productions first saw the light of day?

Not sure I’ve ever told anyone this, but my first release was a garage record with pal Alec Falconer back in 2021. You can try hunt that one down yourselves!

In 2022 Tartan Records was born out of a failed Optimo EP…. Basically, we couldn’t get the sample sorted so I just decided to start a label instead. I got put in touch with Spencer who runs Prime distribution, we pressed it up and the Tartan man was born. In a nice turn of events, I gave a copy to JD Twitch at the Berkley Suite in Glasgow when they were playing and 10 mins later I heard my music played in a club for the first time.

Shrewsbury or Scotland? What is your Scottish connection? 

My father and his side of the family are from Edinburgh and the East Neuk of Fife so I’m Scottish on my Dad’s side and English on my mother’s. I grew up in Shropshire & then we’d spend our summer holidays up in Scotland. I try and go up there a couple of times a year as that part of the world means so much to me and holds so many special memories. When it came to choosing an artist name I wanted to use my family surname so I could put the Wallace tartan (red, yellow, black) at the forefront of everything.

Credit Seb Gardner

Were you studying music at Edinburgh University? 

I was actually studying Spanish & Business alongside running parties and DJing. The city’s music scene wasn’t bursting with options back then, so it was a good time for the younger generation to come in and try to make their mark. A friend gave me my first ever gig for his night ‘Heard It Through The Bassline’ – a squat party in a disused church. He now works for !K7. Then another pal gave me my first residency. He now runs one of the biggest parties in Scotland. I also started a night with a friend who went on to be booker at Sneaky Pete’s and start his own label. So it’s nice to see all of us still involved in music 15 years later, doing our own things.

At what point did you start to dabble?

It was when I finished my degree. Everyone began to leave the city and pursue ‘proper’ jobs. That life just didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to continue with music, so production was the logical next step. 

What kit did you use in the beginning?

I quite vividly remember being sat on my sofa in Edinburgh in 2012 with Ableton open in front of me for the first time. An hour later I’d cooked up some terrible loop which sounded absolutely killer to me at the time, and I thought to myself – this isn’t so hard. 10 years later I put out my first record…

What do you make music on these days? 

Still on Ableton and I still feel like an amateur who hasn’t even scratched the surface of what’s possible.

“Everyone began to leave the city and pursue ‘proper’ jobs. That life just didn’t appeal to me.”


How much has your creative and production process developed over the last ten years?

A lot of the early techniques I still use or use in a more advanced way. You have love affairs with certain processes or pieces of gear which either stay as brief flirtations or stick with you for longer. A big moment was meeting Tristan from Devon Analogue, who helped me create an Ableton environment which synced with outboard gear. This took all the headaches of working with synths/drum machines out of the equation and allowed me to spend time on making music rather than trawling Gearslutz for days trying to solve tech issues. Thank you Tristan, eternally grateful. 

I’m not sure if there is anyone who has had a better year than you Jimmy. Rhythm Section, Mule Musiq, Brownswood, Studio Barnhus, Palms Trax’s  CWPT. …  Has it all been roses?

For me it was a self-confidence thing, I just didn’t believe my stuff was good enough for so long. I was stuck in this loop of thinking the next one I made would be good enough and never sending music out. I warmed up for Hunee in 2019 and plucked up the courage to give him a USB of bits. A few months later I was in Home Bargains buying toothpaste and an email came through on my phone from him saying he’d played my music in Panorama Bar, Dimensions, De School etc. That really was the catalyst for me and gave me the push I needed to start sharing my work. Over the next couple of years, I had a few record deals fall through and it felt like it may never happen for me, but I just stuck my course, kept writing and sending music out.


Do you feel a pressure to make sure the next release is as good as the last?

I don’t feel that’s a particularly healthy way of looking at things. I’m just trying to deliver something which is true to my sound and the best possible version of itself. Once I feel that I’ve achieved this, then I’m happy and everyone else can decide what they think of it. You’re not going to tickle everyone’s ears and that’s fine.

How has the experience been running a label?

The label is a breeze to run, all thanks to the folk at Prime doing the heavy lifting. I just make the music then we rejig the logo and send it across to distro.

That logo is pretty special.. 

Right! I can’t exactly remember when I had the idea, but I’ve always liked records that use the spindle or the motion of the turntable to create a little arty or tongue in cheek moment. My brother –  who runs the label with me  – got in touch with the amazing Grace Biddle aka Lethal Biddle and she cooked up the Tartan man. Thank you Grace!

Do you have plans to release other people’s stuff on Tartan or is it just for you?

Yea it’s just a way to put out my own edits and some originals. Next year I might start something new to house other people’s work as well as my own, but equally I’m quite happy how things are at the moment putting Tartan stuff out and working with other labels.

You went out to Berlin to play Panorama. Have you been to the club before as a punter?

Yea I’d been a handful of times before. Seeing Steffi playing Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies on her birthday in the garden, Matrixxman finish with Sylvester in the main room on his debut and Nathan Micay opening up with Gat Decor in Pbar are standout memories.

Well done for sporting the kilt. How did it go down? 

Thank you! Well, no-one could see it tbh, but I was really just doing it for myself. To be able to close that club in my family colours meant a lot. I did get a few winks from the regulars mind, and some wanted evidence of no pants which I was more than happy to prove.

How did the crowd react to you?

Wild, intense, emotional. It’s an extremely liberating space with an emotionally intelligent crowd who want to hear your story, this allows such creative freedom to express. Getting to play music there for 8hrs on a bill with some of my favourite DJs surrounded by best pals really is one of the most cherished moments of my life. 

How did the first release end up on Studio Barnhus, did Axel give you any tips or were they happy with what you submitted straight off?

I think I just messaged Axel on soundcloud with some stuff for him to play out. He  came back saying would I like to do a release with them and that was how the first ‘Wallace’ release came to be.

I don’t think we changed anything to be honest. We’ve still never met but he’s certainly one of life’s good guys, always checking in and keen to offer a helping hand wherever possible.

When you released on Rhythm Section, did you make the tracks with the label in mind? 

I’d been to a few of their parties before and loved the family feel of the label. I think it was another case of me sending my music out to a DJ in the hope they’d listen/play it which then blossomed into a release. 

I remember he invited me down to London one afternoon, we sat in his living room, and he said, “play me everything you’ve got”. We chatted for a few hours, listening to my music whilst he painted things on his iPad. A few hours later we’d come up with a track list and Ripples was born.

"I’m just trying to deliver something which is true to my sound and the best possible version of itself. Once I feel that I’ve achieved this, then I’m happy and everyone else can decide what they think of it."


… Has Bradley been a mentor to you this last year? 

Yea he’s really had my back since that first record. It can be a tough landscape to navigate as an upcoming artist so having an experienced head like him to turn to is invaluable. He’s given me confidence in my sound, constantly supported my music, put my name forward to promoters, helped me understand how to grow and shown me the value of community. A true gent and supportive soul.

Mule Musiq – What was the journey of your debut album on the legendary label?

At the start of last year, I set myself the goal of growing more in Japan. I’d been there a few times and fallen in love with the culture and its approach toward music and record collecting. I was sat on a bunch of ambient music much of which was inspired by time spent out there but still felt I was one strong track short of putting it all together on an album. I wrote the track “Labyrinth” in the spring (a homage to a festival I’d been to in the country), and it was the climactic moment the album needed and tied the rest of the record together. Mule seemed the perfect home for the music, so I reached out to Toshiya and thankfully he felt the same way.

Your ‘Red,Yellow,Black’ album references the sounds of nature. How did you go about gathering those sounds?

I’ve got one of those field recording devices, so I sometimes take that out with me on walks and gather sounds of my hometown and the surrounding nature. The track “By The River” was created this way, taking sounds I’d recorded from the river which runs through Shrewsbury. Every time I hear it I’m taken back to that day sat on the banks of the Severn basking in the sun. I also have an ongoing collection of foley and nature sounds taken from charity shop CDs, online and my dad’s CD collection from when he was making animal programs.

How did you work with Kuniyuki on the album?

Kuniyuki mastered the record, I thought he did a great job of not hitting things too hard, enhancing the tracks in a musical way whilst making them gel together as a unit, which I really wanted for this record. Being an absolute hero of mine it was such a pleasure to have his input.

You’ve been writing a lot of ambient stuff over the years. Are there plans for you to release more in this vein?

Yea definitely, it’s not just about writing 4×4 face melters. I love to explore it all and challenge myself to create a medley of different moods and speeds. 

What’s next for you on the release front? 

I’ve got a release out via Moxie’s On Loop label this summer and then the tartan man should be returning for his 6th outing before the end of the year. Beyond that I’ve got another EP lined up with a label which has consistently been one of my favourites since I first got into electronic music. I’m working with a vocalist for the first time on that one, so I look forward to seeing what comes out.

How are the summer bookings looking? 

Things are simmering away nicely. I’ve got Glastonbury, Kelburn Garden Party, a Phonica In-store, Suze Ijo is bringing me out to the Netherlands for Wilde Weide, Pikes, Corsica Studios, a festival in a Sicilian castle, Oslo, some radio stuff on Rinse and NTS.

You’re at the Wild Wood Disco festival in June…

Yes never been but heard great things from quite a few different people who went last year. I’m playing early evening for Erol Alkan’s “To The Rhythm” stage take over. Then there’s talk of a secret set in the early hours too.

Are you any good at 3 days in a field? What’s your tip for festival survival?

Less good than I used to be but ploughing on regardless! Sun shining, surrounded by great music & friends… life doesn’t get much better than that. Lucozade sport (the orange one).