When it comes to the career of legendary session musician Alan Hawkshaw, it's best to let him do the talking. He's been involved with more amazing projects than we can count, and practically everything he's had a hand in has become prized by collectors of heavy funk. We were lucky enough to sit down with Hawkshaw recently to discuss his incredible career in music, spanning his earliest groups, the KPM period, his involvement in the breakdance classic "The Champ" by The Mohawks, the transition to the disco era, and the embracing of his music by modern DJs and producers.
Our collection of essential library music on the KPM label, Music For Dancefloors, is available now.
In the late 70's and early 80's in Communist Romania, Rodion Ladislau Roșca and his band Rodion G.A. created a hybrid of electronic music, psychedelics, and progressive rock that, decades later, has revealed itself to be remarkably ahead of its time. After years of obscurity, and only a handful of singles ever released officially, Rodion's music is finally getting the recognition it deserves. This is the story of the music, conducted as an interview with Ion Dumitrescu of Bucharest's Future Nuggets crew. Rodion speaks from his home in Romania about way he created his music, the creative climate in Communist Romania, and the sad fact that he feels that even the renewed interest in his work is coming too late to make a difference in his life.
The Lost Tapes, the first ever commercially released album of Rodion G.A.'s music, is due May 28th on Strut Records in association with Future Nuggets and Ambassador’s Reception.
There's something about the act of collaboration that can bring out the best in musicians. That's the philosophy behind our Inspiration Information series, and after some explosive results with artists like Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics and Tony Allen & Jimi Tenor, we're thrilled to have another killer pairing for a new entry in the series.
Cornell Campbell is practically an elder statesman in the field of reggae music, having released classic recordings spanning decades and a number of stylistic shifts. Campbell worked with some of the most legendary producers and labels, from “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One to ‘70s and ‘80s classics with Joe Gibbs, Bunny “Striker” Lee, King Tubby and Winston “Niney” Observer. His crooning vocals have been compared to Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke, but as he himself would say, his style is all his own.
Brixton's Soothsayers, lead by saxophonist Idris Rahman and trumpeter Robin Hopcraft, have built a reputation as one of the hottest live bands on London's competitive scene. The outfit has backed up artists including Mulatu Astatke, Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Arkestra and Hugh Masekela, and formed the nucleus of the band that backed the London leg of the ‘Fela!’ musical during 2011.
Together, Campbell and Soothsayers have created an album steeped in Reggae tradition, while incorporating elements of jazz, dub, and afrobeat. The songs offer a showcase for the talents of both artists, while not sounding completely like either of their individual recordings. In other words, a one of a kind collaboration.
Listen to their first song together, "I'll Never Leave You," below.
It's well known that the music libraries of the 60's and 70's have become serious sample fodder for hip-hop and electronic producers. But the music has also become a staple on adventurous dance floors a la carte, or in some cases after subtle tweaks from a gifted editor. That's exactly what Manchester producer Waiwan has done with his expert take on the Keith Mansfield classic "Crash Course." We've posted a download to our Soundcloud page, and the original version is available on Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library, which is out now.
We've already shared the incredible story behind the creation of Rodion G.A.'s recordings, and their discovery nearly 30 years after their initial creation. Of course, the story only means so much if the music itself doesn't transport the listener to a place they've never been before. With that in mind, we've posted a standout track from our collection of previously unreleased material to our Soundcloud for free download. We're pretty sure you've never heard anything quite like it.
The Lost Tapes, which collects material recorded in Romania in the early 80s that has never had an official release, will be available on May 28th on CD, Vinyl, and digital download.
The term "sleaze" as applied to disco goes back to the mid-70s, and was used to describe the slower, often vocal-lead tracks that DJs would spin toward the end of a party, in many cases in the early hours of the morning. The always informative Horse Meat Disco guys used the sub-genre as an inspiration for one of the discs on their third compilation with us, and there is of course an ongoing and healthy debate taking place online as to what technically is and isn't bona fide "sleaze."
As Dennis Citizen Kane (the man behind the Disques Sinthomme / Ghost Town labels, one of our favorite DJs in New York, and another great source for disco history and information) is launching a new club night at the Soho Grand this Friday featuring some authentic sleaze sounds, we thought we'd take the opportunity to have him share some of his favorites.
Says Kane: "These songs are not ranked in any specific way, they are just 10 great sleazy jams, they all have tremendous atmosphere and great sonic palettes. All of them convey such an intense mood and intimacy, elegant, erotic, exotic, and modern."
Sleaze to Please - 10 sleazed-out jams selected by Dennis Citizen Kane
10 Pino Presti - Disco Shitan
9. Shock Taktix ~ Morocko
8. Puccio Roelens - Northern Lights
7. Jo Dassin - Le Jardin Du Luxembourg ( TeeTwo Mariani Edit )
6. Night Creatures - That's the night
5. Crystal Bird - Tunnel
4. Francis Lai - #1
3. Marti Cane - Love the way you love me
2. Bob Chance - Jungle Talk
1. Double Fantasy - Food for fantasy
Record Store Day is almost upon us again, and as we have the previous two years, we've come up with something really special to add to the festivities.
Following up on our retrospective of the legendary UK music library KPM, we've put together a limited, vinyl reissue of one of our favorite Italian library LPs (the originals of which, it should go without saying, are very tough to come by). The 1979 concept gem Desert is composed and arranged by Antonio Vuolo and Elio Grande, originally was released on small Italian label, Cardium.
The instrumentation features early electronics to set a cosmic tone, and the album regularly recalls early Tangerine Dream. Stand-out tracks include the haunting slo-mo breakbeat "Leaving," mellow electroscape "Transvesuvian" and the solid jazz fusion jam "Take Flight."
As a Record Store Day exclusive, we're reissuing the full album, mastered from the original reels for the first time since its original issue, and with artwork restored from the original lithographs.
Record Store Day 2013 falls on April 20th. For more information and participating stores, visit http://www.recordstoreday.com.
ANTONIO VUOLO: Mini Moog, Fender Rhodes, Piano Steinway, Clavinet, Vibraphone, Hammond B3
RINO DIAFERIO: Fender Stratocaster, Martin, Ramirez, Fender Precision Bass
ELIO GRANDE: Jazz Fender Bass, Guild Ramirez
GEGE’ MUNARI: Percussion
A1. TAKE FLIGHT 5.00
A2. DROPS IN THE WIND 4.22
A3. LEAVING 4.23
A4. SOFT MELODY 2.03
B1. DESERT 4.50
B2. BLOW BUBBLES 3.31
B3. TRANSVESUVIAN 3.42
B4. CREATION 2.26
B5. THE END 1.28
We hinted earlier this month at what we were working on with the Rodion G.A. project, but the full story of Rodion Ladislau Roșca is deeper than we could cover in a short video, and has yielded some of the most unique and incredible music we've ever heard. It's an honor to be able to be a part of finally sharing this music with the world at large, and to see Rodion's efforts and innovations see the recognition they deserve.
34 years ago in Romania, Rodion Roșca founded a group that came to deliver an alternative sound that was completely unique in the claustrophobic cultural landscape of those times. With only two tracks ever having received an official release (via a compilation LP on the State-owned Electrecord label), the music of Rodion Roșca’s band - composed and recorded almost entirely by its leader - has been secretly kept on dusty tapes ever since. Unheard for decades, it is finally being made available as Strut, in conjunction with Ambassador’s Reception and Future Nuggets, presents the first ever retrospective of Rodion G.A.
Rodion’s music dug a subterranean niche completely opposed to the polished surface of the mainstream sound during the stifling atmosphere of Romania under the Ceausescu regime. Rodion himself was an enigmatic figure. Half-Hungarian and half-Romanian, he grew up during the brief “open” period of 1965 to 1972 when American and English rock bands, jazz legends and international pop stars were regularly played on the radio. He lived near the border with Hungary, in Cluj, a city with a healthy music culture that spawned important prog rock groups including Cromatic and Experimental Quintet. Here, Rodion managed to find vinyl and, during the ‘70s he became known amongst friends as “King Of Records”. As such, he became steeped in the major Western artists of the era – Hendrix, The Beatles, The Who, Zeppelin – and discovered many of the more progressive and electronic bands from both East and West like East Germany’s Karat, Yes, Jethro Tull, Syrius and Skorpio from Hungary, Kraftwerk, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Matador out of Czechoslovakia and many more.
From the start, Rodion was concerned with his own style of composition and set himself apart from the rock template that dominated Romanian music during the late ‘60s. Technically and in his compositions, he was obsessed with every detail of his sound. His first sessions, as a teenager, were recorded on tape during 1969-1972 - simple, sparse and haunting pieces using reel-to-reel recorders and based around vocals, guitars and improvised drums.
In 1975-6, Roșca formed Rodion G.A., the ‘G.A.’ comprising band members Gicu Fărcaș and Adrian Căpraru. Roșca had amassed equipment and became a DIY tech wizard, improvising his own techniques of composing using reel-to-reels. Surrounded by three or four Tesla tape machines, he would record beats and guitar on one channel of the tape, then stop and add other instruments on the other – a raw means of multi-tracking. He would use the other machines (transforming a Tesla into an echo machine) to add effects and delays on both instruments and vocals. Other tools in his armoury included an East German Vermona drum machine, a toy Casio VL Tone and a little Soviet-made Faemi organ to which he added phaser, flanger and fuzz pedals.
During Rodion G.A.s active period, there was only one label operating in Romania, the State-owned Electrecord, and the band recorded two tracks at the station’s studio, which surfaced on the compilation Formații Rock Vol. 5, in 1981. The band recorded five further songs at another Electrecord session which remained unreleased apart from radio airings. During the recording session at Radio Cluj, Rodion asked the sound engineer to allow him to record all of the instrumentals onto his own Tesla machine, directly from the main mixer. Within his later productions, he would sample drum parts from this session to build new tracks. Other pieces (including some made by Rodion at home on tape machines) were picked up by national radio and Rodion G.A. even hit the top of the Romanian charts for several weeks. Beyond this brief but intense exposure, no other recordings surfaced. Undeterred, the band toured extensively during the early ‘80s.
For the band’s gigs, Rodion made his own rig by hand, complete with ‘Rodion G.A.’-branded speaker boxes and amps. From the start, the band’s sound was incomparable to other contemporaries. Other Romanian musicians like Mircea Florian had moved from a folk-rock background to experiment with more electronic productions but Rodion was different, concocting dense, visceral synth sounds set against raw programmed rhythms, intricate, unusual arrangements, with prog and classical touches.
Despite the much harsher political conditions post-'72 (the "July Thesis" of Ceaușescu), with the grip on culture and society becoming increasingly strict, a live rock scene continued to exist in Romania during the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Gigs mainly happened within a network of festivals around the country and, during the summer, in seaside towns at restaurants and clubs. Bands would push the rules, often playing Western covers and venue owners had to be careful, getting to know when inspectors might drop by. Rodion was no exception and would need to dodge the censorship absurdly often. He remembers one occasion when an inspector came to listen to a band sound check. Despite singing in Romanian, the official pulled them up for singing “yeah yeah yeah” during a chorus.
The band’s only documented performance during their career was a show on Romanian television celebrating New Year’s Eve in 1980. Rodion G.A. eventually split in 1987 after a gig at the Mangalia Festival and Rodion then walked away from music completely following the death of his mother.
Fast forward to 2012. Blogger and film-maker Luca Sorin is intrigued by the mythology around Rodion G.A. and, after months of hunting, tracks down Rodion Rosca, and posts a handful of tracks and video footage of the band’s 1980 New Year’s Eve concert online. The links come to the attention of young Romanian crew, Future Nuggets, a collective of producers and musicians as dedicated to unearthing Romania’s musical past as they are to forging new sounds and fusions for future traditions and the global community of beat diggers. Then, further conversations, a live comeback gig in Bucharest, the first in over 25 years. A partnership with Steve Kotey of Ambassador’s Reception leads to a compilation of Future Nuggets’ own studio work, Sounds Of The Unheard From Romania in 2012 and a release from their acclaimed psych-jazz project, Steaua de Mare, in April 2013.
A strange and very precious artefact, the powerful music of Rodion has a special place in the unofficial museum of sonic oddities made behind the iron curtain. Strut, in association with Future Nuggets and Ambassador's Reception, are honoured to release his first full LP, delivering the tracks - made in the past but undoubtedly for the future - that will earn him a deserved place in the international electronica pantheon. Rodion G.A.- The Lost Tapes is released on May 28th 2013, remastered from the original tape reels. Rodion G.A. backed by Steaua de Mare will be touring fully across Europe from Summer 2013.
Here's the second half of our video documentary on Celluloid Records. Bill Laswell and Grandmixer DXT, part of Celluloid's production brain trust, speak on some of their production work together outside of the label, including Herbie Hancock's groundbreaking song "Rockit," and PiL's Album with Ginger Baker. Label founder Jean Karakos also speaks about signing Fela Kuti to Celluloid. Hearing info on these projects and more from the mouths of their creators is one of the reasons we love what we do! Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story is out now on double CD, double LP (w/ CD insert) and digital download.
The story of Celluloid Records is a complicated one, and one that goes deeper than the music. Vivien Goldman did a fantastic job of outlining some of the label's history and context in her liner notes for Change The Beat, and now we have the pleasure of learning even more from some of the key players in the label's storied history. Filmed in Paris and New York City, this two part series features producers and musicians Bill Laswell and DXT (formerly Grand Mixer DST) and founder / owner Jean Karakos. Part two in the series will be posted shortly. Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story is out now on double CD, double vinyl w/ CD insert, and digital download.
Romania, late '70s, early '80s. Ceausescu is in power, the "July Thesis" has been passed and, because of the increasing censorship of arts, music has become dominated by polished domestic pop-rock and nationalistic festivals. There is only one label in operation, the State-owned Electrecord. Cut to Cluj, Romania's second city. A home-made studio, a bank of Tesla reel to reels, an East German Vermona drum machine, a toy Casio VL Tone and a small Soviet-made Faemi organ, adapted with fuzz and flanger pedals. There's visceral, other-worldly music being made here and it will remain hidden for 34 years....
Why do we love library music so much? Take a listen to John Cameron's "Swamp Fever" for an idea. Air-tight musicianship, out-front back-beat, sparse arrangement, crisp recording, effortlessly funky. It's as if it were made with the beat lovers of the future in-mind.
"Swamp Fever" is featured on our Music For Dancefloors collection, and originally appears on one of the heaviest and most sought after of all KPM LPs, Afro Rock, recorded at Morgan Studios by John Cameron and Alan Parker in London in 1973. As well as being a library music veteran (with over a dozen different LPs recorded for KPM and Bruton Music since the '70s), Cameron is a bona fide film composer whose credits include Kes from 1969 and 1973’s A Touch Of Class (starring Glenda Jackson and George Segal) for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library (Deluxe version) is released on April 2nd on 2xCD (original studio recordings and live concert), 2xLP featuring the original studio recordings and 2xCD insert of the full CD content, and digital (original studio recordings and live concert).
Early on in Strut's existence, we created the Music for Dancefloors series in order to mine the fertile territory of production library music for under appreciated (and often extremely hard to find) gems. Originally recorded as a source of go-to material for use in film, television and radio, library music wasn’t intended to be enjoyed in a home listening context, and often wasn’t available for commercial release at all. However, due to the quality of the musicianship and the stripped-down arrangements, music from the best libraries has become extremely sought-after by DJs and producers.
The UK's KPM library (especially its green "1000 series" of the 60s and 70s) is easily one of the most legendary sources of library funk. KPM music has been sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, DOOM, Madlib and Guilty Simpson, Dangermouse, Action Bronson, and even turns up in the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s film Kill Bill (via the Grindhouse promo spot which uses Kieth Mansfield’s “Funky Fanfare”).
Out of print for years, our Music For Dancefloors release collects some of the best of KPM's catalog, with an ear not just for loops and breaks, but quality compositions and performances that stand the test of time. We've included key cuts like Alan Parker’s ”That’s What Friends Are For” featuring Blue Mink’s Madeline Bell on vocals, Alan Hawkshaw’s “Senior Thump” (a precursor to his work as The Mohawks), and Keith Mansfield’s “Crash Course,” each one a classic in its own right.
This new edition features an exclusive bonus disc, which makes available for the first time the debut gig by the KPM All-Stars, bringing together many of KPM’s greatest composers for a unique night at London’s Jazz Cafe on 27th April 2000.
Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library (Deluxe version) is released on April 2nd in three formats: 2CD (original studio recordings and live concert), 2LP featuring the original studio recordings and 2CD insert of the full CD content, and digital (original studio recordings and live concert). The album features the original sleeve notes by Charles Waring (Mojo magazine) alongside extra photos and memorabilia.
CD 1 – KPM LIBRARY CLASSICS
1. That’s What Friends Are For - Composed by Alan Parker. Vocals by Madeline Bell
2. Unlimited Love - Composed by Alan Parker
3. Funky Express - Composed by Duncan Lamont
4. Assault Course - Composed by Johnny Pearson
5. Samba Street - Composed by Barry Morgan and Ray Cooper
6. Second Cut - Composed by James Clarke
7. Swamp Fever - Composed by John Cameron
8. Reggae Train - Composed by William Farley and Dennis Bovell
9. Incidental Backcloth No. 9 - Composed by Keith Mansfield
10. Cross Talk - Composed by Francis Coppieters
11. In Advance - Composed by P. Xanten. Performed by Pierre Lavin Pop Band
12. Senior Thump - Composed by Alan Hawkshaw
13. Expo In Tokyo - Composed by Alan Moorhouse
14. Nascimbene - Interlude: Witchdoctor
15. Jungle Baby - Composed by H. Ehrlinger. Performed by Juan Erlando & His Latin Band
16. Morning 1 / Morning 2 - Composed by Klaus Weiss
17. Freeway To Rio - Composed by Les Baxter
18. Brazil Express - Composed by G. Callert. Performed by Juan Erlando & His Latin Band
19. Piano In Transit - Composed by Francis Coppieters
20. Crash Course - Composed by Keith Mansfield
CD 2 - KPM ALL-STARS LIVE AT JAZZ CAFÉ, LONDON. 27th April 2000
1. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Soul Thing
2. Alan Hawkshaw & Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Theme from ‘Dave Allen At Large’
3. Alan Hawkshaw & Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Beat Boutique
4. KPM All Stars – Swamp Fever
5. KPM All Stars – Unlimited Love
6. KPM All Stars feat. Emma Kershaw – That’s What Friends Are For
7. James Clarke with Steve Grey and KPM All Stars – Second Cut
8. Duncan Lamont with KPM All Stars – Funky Express
9. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Girl In A Sportscar
10. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Senior Thump
11. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars - Landscape
12. Alan Hawkshaw with Kirsty Hawkshaw and KPM All Stars – The Champ
13. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Crash Course
14. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – UK Sports Theme Medley: Theme from ‘The Big Match’ / Theme from BBC Wimbledon Tennis / Theme from BBC Athletics / Theme from ‘Grandstand’
Appia Kwa Bridge Tour goes on!
High-life legend Ebo Taylor (Ghana/Strut Records) & Afrobeat Academy announce more tourdates for february 2013.
Feb 06th 13 Madrid/ Tempo Club
Feb 07th 13 Toulouse/ Dynamo
Feb 08th 13 Nimes/ Paloma
Feb 09th 13 Cenon/ Le Rocher de Palma
Feb 12th 13 Riorges/ Les Mardi
Feb 13th 13 Kortrjik/ De Kreun
Feb 14th 13 Mulhouse/ Normatrouff
Feb 15th 13 St Germain/ La Clef
Feb 16th 13 Massy/ Paul B
Feb 17th 13 Antwerp/ Trix
Feb 19th 13 Berlin/ Lido
Feb 20th 13 Dresden/ Scheune
Feb 21st 13 Hannover/ Lux
Feb 22nd 13 Niederstetten/ Kult
Feb 23rd13 Dublin/ Choice Cuts
Ashley Beedle is one of those incredible DJs who has most likely forgotten more about music than most of us will ever know. Hyperbole aside, it's a thrill to hear him speak about his early nightlife experience, the transition from soundboy culture into early club days, and the music that soundtracked the different times of his life. We're honored to have Ashley on the line-up for our Christmas Party this week, and hope you can join us for what promises to be an incredible evening!
You used to talk about soul clubs in North London that you went to when you were young. Can you tell us about those days?
Yes, I was 16 or 17 when I was going to places like Bumbles, which was either in Tottenham or Palmers Green, and the Royalty in Southgate. I actually saw Marvin Gaye perform there. At the time, I was dabbling with sound systems and I was involved with Stateside which was a sound up in Wembley. My cousin Ricky Bushell hooked me in and I travelled around with them. Already at that stage it wasn't just about being a pure reggae sound - 2-step soul had started to come in since reggae was a very male phenomenon at his height. The DJs had realised that they had to appeal to the girls and it was soul tunes like Natalie Cole's 'This Will Be' that worked and got them onto the floor. Norman Jay was doing that too with Joey on his sound.
My first club experiences were really during my last year at school when London's West End was big. Clubs like Crackers and Obie J's. Where I was living, Harrow (North West London) had a big club scene at the time - there was a big Asian and black population there and the soulboy thing was big. Places like Harrow Leisure Centre, the Kings Head at Harrow On The Hill, Circles in South Harrow, the Headstone in Harrow & Wealdstone and the Co-Op disco which was very influential. There was a white guy, Dave, who ran a sound system called Channel One - not the reggae one we know today - and he played big reggae hits next to tracks like Fatback Band 'Spanish Hustle' and 'Going To See My Baby', then Elton John's 'Philadelphia Freedom', Mass Production - 'Cosmic Lust'. I went to Wembley too - the Hop Bine. The dancers from Crackers used to go there and they moved around different clubs and cut each other up. It was a really interesting time. Hammersmith Palais did a Sunday gig where Kelly's Roadshow played . The biggest tunes were The Real Thing's 'Can You Feel The Force' and GQ hits like 'Standing Ovation'. I remember there was a turning point when jazz funk became too insular - you'd be paying £20 for a rare album with just one playable track on it. Then kids got into Slave, Freeez, the Brit funk wave which was massive during the early '80s. There was crossover with the punk scene too as punks took elements of Soulboy fashion like mohair jumpers and plastic bag tops while studded belts and winkle pickers crossed into the soul crowd. That doesn't often get mentioned.
Which were your favourite clubs during the heyday of electro and boogie around '83-'85? Any life-changing club moments at that time? Where did you used to buy your records back then?
This was a strange time for me - I opted out a bit during this period. I was checking bands like The Clash, A Certain Ratio, Orange Juice and Siouxsie And The Banshees. At the same time, Rob Mello and I used to go to Bentleys where Derek B was the main DJ. I first started to hear electro and boogie there, all mixed up, just as the B Boy thing was coming through. Then there was Spats in Oxford Street where Tim Westwood was the resident. He'd play that US remix of Tears For Fears with the big break, Ryuichi Sakamoto 'Riot In Lagos'. It all changed so quickly. Boogie was big and I got totally caught up again after being an indie kid for a while! I had blue plastic brothel creepers, a quiff, the lot! There was a lot of crossover with electro and boogie. A seminal record back then was Terence T 'Power' which was a big record when pirate station LWR first started up. Rumour had it that it was Terence Trent D'Arby behind it but it wasn't! It came out and I remember that you could only get it in Tower Records in Piccadilly. We had no mobiles so it was all word of mouth at that time - a collector called Rajan tipped me off that they had copies. I got there and the queue was round the block! I used to go to obvious small shops like Groove Records in Soho but HMV and Tower used to have some good records back then too. Groove would sometimes even buy their copies there. Reggae shops too - Hawkeye in Harlesden brought in UK boogie tracks and soul to broaden their selection.
How did you find the transition from sound system DJ to club DJ back in the day? Or was it a natural move for you? Where did you first cut your teeth as a DJ in clubs?
I started to make my name when I was with Shock sound system. When we started that, it was just before acid house. Rare groove was really going on but then these proto house records started to appear. I went to Meltdown one night, a club run by Jonathan More and Norman Jay at The Crypt in Brixton. They were playing proto house records mixed in with Fela and James Brown and then eventually all these other house records appeared and they played them too. There was a 12 called 'JB Traxx' by Duane & Co. - a massive record. That was the vibe, then Trax came in. We were then given our own room at Clink Street and that was the first time that we did longer sets, playing 2-3 hours. None of us really went to Shoom at the time but the Shoomers came to Clink St after Shoom had finished. We were playing the black end of house which was very different to their sound and we still played soul too staying tru to our suburban soulboy roots. Then Phil Perry, who had Queens in Windsor, approached me to play there - that was the first time I saw Phil, Breeze (God rest his soul) and Weatherall. They played odd records but I adored them and I kept going up to booth asking 'what's that, what's that!' Tracks like Les Negresses Vertes 'Zobi la Mouche', 'Oh Well' by Oh Well, Belgian new beat. All coming in at different angles.
You're in Manchester now? How are you finding life there... and music?
It's one of the best moves I've ever done. London was good but personalities had started to outstrip what the music was about. I found that none of them talked about music - it was all about their careers. I met with T. Williams and listening to his stuff buzzed me up again. Julio Bashmore too. Floor-edged UK funky house that references the older stuff we played but in a great new way. I did my 'Yardism' EP in response to that (which is doing well, may I add!). So, I moved to Manchester partly to get out of London and my partner is also studying here. There are so many little scenes here - everyone knows each other and everyone is really helpful. There's some really new stuff up here and, dare I say it, it may be a bit ahead of London! Wet Play is a great night, Red Laser Disco, Hot Milk playing bashment (which Eoin Mcmanus who is connected to the Oi Polloi store is involved with). Another lot called New Bohemian, Irfan Rainey flying the flag for black house music - he runs a night called Community. Then the Electric Chair crews influence is here everywhere. They really were the forerunners of a lot of stuff happening in Manchester now.
At the Strut party, we're looking forward to you getting back to the original vinyl. Do you get a chance to spin the rare older tracks as a full DJ set these days?
I do and I don't. I try and keep a balance, making sure that I'm playing new material but bringing in old tracks too. I mix it all up. If you've been DJing as long as me, you start to know what your records are about. DJ Harvey said that you start to understand that when you hit 40! I'm looking forward to the Strut night - it should be great fun.
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