From a 10 year old boy hustling unsuspecting adults for pizza money, to teenage record label exec, to documentary film maker, to revolutionising the way travellers explore the world, Jai Al-Attas does the shit most people only talk shit about.
DSM caught up with Jai this week before the Australian launch of ‘Loqules‘; his exceptionally cool new system for hooking up amazing travellers with local legends. Epic adventures anyone?
DSM: When we were kids my cousins would sell the gravel from my grandparents driveway to passing pedestrians and motorists chunk by chunk. They didn’t even make lemonade or anything. Were you that kind of kid, always concocting ambitious schemes and businesses?
JAA: Yeah, most definitely. I was constantly trying to get a little extra cash into my pockets, there were a few reasons but the main one was basketball cards. I was extremely addicted to these things. I coaxed my best friend to help me out in my endeavours as we tried to raise funds for basketball cards and pizza hut.
‘We used to wash cars on my street for $5 a piece but we also ran a fake raffle selling $2 tickets door to door with fantastic prizes on offer…’
TV’s, meat trays and toasters. These prizes never existed, but we made enough for kids works for two plus 4 packs of Fleer 94-95. We were 10. In all fairness we only sold about $20 worth of these tickets but combined with the real hard work we did washing cars, we were able to meet our goals.
DSM: You’ve been doing really interesting shit since you started your own label, Below Par Records, when you were just 16, signing bands like Something With Numbers and Kisschasy and many others. It seems the shit you attempt is marked by what some would say is exceedingly optimistic ambition. It seems you don’t just dream big; you actually go big. Describe some of the projects you’ve attempted over the years…
JAA: So yep started my first legitimate business at 16 which was Below Par Records, the day before we started the label I had never had an ambition or single thought about getting involved in the music business.
‘We just did it, and learnt the rest along the way.’
We were fortunate enough to sign some great bands, have a great time and then sell the label to EMI about 8 years later.
What else have I done? I tried to make a documentary on 90’s punk rock, well I did make a documentary on 90’s punk rock, but after interviewing such legends as Green Day, Rancid, Blink 182, Bad Religion and Lagwagon to name a few, and have Tony Hawk narrate it – the labels and publishers of these bands wanted to charge us a few hundred thousand dollars to clear all the music, and just having left the music industry myself and knowing their income streams were drying up knew what was up. Unfortunately we didn’t have that money, so we worked on solving the problem for ages before it just didn’t make sense anymore. We played the film at a few festivals around the world and people were stoked with it, one day it somehow ended up on Youtube before we got a cease and desist from one of the majors telling us to take it down. We didn’t put it up, so I think Youtube took it down for them. Good job box tickers, someone else put it up again a week later. [See ‘One Nine Nine Four’ here, ’til it’s taken down again- DSM]
DSM: Running a successful record label in your mid teens, moving to LA and filming an epic documentary, starting successful businesses in areas where you have little previous experience, what do you think is the key to pulling that kind of shit off as you’ve done?
JAA: I crave heading into areas which I know little to nothing about. I think when I have that naivety about the way things work is when I’m my most creative and have the most potential.
‘People get so conditioned about the “right” and “wrong” ways to do things that they limit themselves. So my mentality is, just dive in, learn as I go and hope I don’t fuck it up too bad.’
DSM: Everyone at DSM is super excited by your latest project, Loqules, which is set to launch here and internationally over the next couple of months. What the flip is it?
‘Basically it’s a marketplace to do cool shit with people cool anywhere in the world.’
If you think about AirBNB, through the sharing economy they solve the problem of where to stay when you travel, well Loqules solves the problem of what to do when you get there. That’s the fundamental crux of it, however our thing is we’re not interested in lame tourist trap stuff like outlet shopping trips and visiting celebrity homes on a bus with 24 other kooks.
‘We’re interested in unique experiences with interesting folk that revolves around lifestyle; surf, skate, snow, music, food, drink, art, fashion, sport etc. Like I said cool stuff, with cool people.’
And how does it work you ask? Like I mentioned before it’s a marketplace, which means you search for experiences to do wherever you are and the Loqule expert has a price attached to it. If you think about how EBay allowed people to create businesses out of selling their old shit, we’re empowering our Loqules to create businesses around being themselves where their time, passion, skills and knowledge are their assets.
DSM: What’s next for Loqules and how can people get involved?
JAA: We’re weeks away from launching our private beta, when we launch we’re going to be invite only but we’re looking for interested people to request an invite because we want their help to test, play with and break the platform so we can make it better. It’s going to be pretty cool, we’re launching Sydney first as kind of our trial run and we’ve already got some pro surfers, skaters, chefs, models, artists and musicians to offer really cool and unique experiences. We want to change the way people experience the world when they travel.
DSM: Your personal philosophy is so close to the philosophy of DSM; Do good shit that adds value [i forget the wording! close right?]. What advice would you have for people who want to do the shit they love but haven’t quite gotten into it yet?
‘Yeah my philosophy is “Do cool shit that adds value”.’
What I mean by that is value to the community, family, friends, clients, customers and myself. But if you’re doing stuff that you enjoy you’re going to create a more positive energy so everyone around you will benefit. I think everyone is capable of doing it, maybe at different scales because of people’s circumstances but just to start somewhere is so important for creating that momentum, and you’ll notice things start to change for the better.
‘I can’t see a point in living any other way, makes no sense to me.’
To get on board with Loqules pre international launch head here now!
Keep up to date with Loqules on Facebook click here!
To illegally see Jai’s doco ‘One Nine Nine Four’ head here!