Saturday at Dalston Superstore sees legendary musician, DJ and now producer Hifi Sean take to the decks for Bust Yo Nut. The lead singer of ’90s Scottish rock band The Soup Dragons, Sean went on to form The High Fidelity and become a successful DJ in his own right. With a new solo single on the way and a side-project with Severino, we caught up with him to get the latest gossip and find out a few lurid tales of rock n roll excess and indie band debauchery ahead of Saturday’s party.
You used to be the lead singer of ’90s band The Soup Dragons. What’s your most treasured memory from that time?
As in what bits do I actually remember haha? Well, a classic was being banned from TVAM by Lorraine Kelly for life. We had been up all night partying at Milk Bar which used to be near Tottenham Court Road, it was a release party for our album and we had Terry Farley on the decks; it was an amazing party.
We got back around 4am to be told by our manager that ‘ooops’ he forgot, but we had a big interview on TVAM as our single I’m Free had climbed to number 5 in the charts that weekend and the album was out that day. He bundled us all in a cab. I’ll let you fill in the messy blanks.
How much did appearing on NME’s classic compilation tape C86 affect you or mean to you?
We had only started playing together year before so it was all very fast and crazy for a bunch of 17 year olds to start getting so much so attention so soon… before we had even learned to play our instruments properly. I asked Ross at a party if he’d play drums for us cause I liked his haircut; he was a guitarist. I suppose when you’re 17 haircuts are more important that musicianship.
To be honest I owe John Peel everything and I became really good friends with him, in fact he wrote and recorded a song with me for The High Fidelity on the Ominchord Album, something I treasure dearly. He was as obsessed by Omnichords as I was and still am. I miss that man so much, like many others do too.
How do you feel about the recent resurgence of acid house after having experienced it the first time round?
The acid was better.
How did you come to work with Severino on your side project Up Yours?
We were spinning next to each other one night at a club and hung out listening to each other. We quickly realised we were really got off on what the other was doing and it just grew from there.
I’ve only been in London for six years now and miss a lot of my musical friends from Glasgow that I made records with or DJ’d with, but Severino has been such a great musical companion for me since moving here. And like what you should be doing, we are just enjoying ourselves and having good and fun times with our musical passions.
We had to come up with a group name for our first single on Southern Fried Records as they preferred us to have one, and ‘Up Yours’, which is so quaintly British and Carry On, just seemed to tickle our fancy… matron.
Tell us about your new (and debut!) solo single…
I was in Chicago about two months ago DJing and I made a track with Celeda who lives there. I met her through a friend and we wrote and recorded a nice piece of gospel deep soulful house called Tear It Up.
Although I’ve done tons of remixes under Hifi Sean this is going to be my first solo single under that monicker. I’m taking my time with mixing it and getting it just right, I’m in no hurry, but it does need to be out for the summer I think.
What influence do your Glasgow roots have on the music you make/have made?
Glasgow has always been a melting pot of creativity within the arts, such a amazing place to have lived and been brought up. The six years I ran Record Playerz with DJ Hush Puppy at Glasgow School of Art were my fave memories. Every Thursday we had hundreds through that door, sometimes a queue down the road, and it was like a family, what a real club should be.
We used to do crazy things like one week turn all the lights off, put a strobe on full blast and play Plastic Betrand Ca Plane Pour Moi full volume over the massive soundsystem and then go straight back to a house record minutes later.
I never realised until the day I left that club how much it meant to me. I still have the big card that every person who came that night signed telling me how much they would miss me. If you know me, you’ll know I am a big softie and that can still bring a wee tear to my eye.
That was my musical playground where I learned to be a DJ and not just a musician .The venue was knocked down a few years ago and Alan (Hushpuppy) who I ran it with got me a piece of the infamous chequerboard dancefloor which I have framed on my wall. It was my musical playground where I learned to be a DJ and not just a musician.
What are you favourite queer dancefloors past and present?
I lived in NYC back in early ’90s and my friend Lavinia Co Op worked for Michael Alig, so I saw it all back then, and I mean ALL. Club USA, which was nuts, it had a a spiral slide from balcony to bottom dancefloor. Limelight was crazy too with all of Alig’s and the club kids parties. And obviously the few times I went to Sound Factory were pretty special music-wise; you just heard things that sounded like they were from another planet .
Another fave was Save The Robots, believe me you cannot get anymore underground than that party was back then. Plus the Meatpacking District had places like Jackie 60.
It did help that my manager was gay and loved dragging me around all these places. These days just give me anything with no attitude and good music and friendly people.
And what do you intend to treat the Superstore dancefloor to?
Ha, now you’re asking, I tend to make things up on the night set-wise. Watch the people, take the feeling of the room; I’m not one for ‘working out a set’ beforehand, but for me it’s always deep sexy beats with focus on the tripped out grooves and a few new things thrown in to mix up the whole bag.
Who are your favourite or most inspiring vocalists, from house music and beyond?
Wow that’s a question, but obviously right now I have to say Celeda. She blew me away recently when working with her. I’ve always loved her cross between slightly tranny style bitch house and gospel soulful. She said she hadn’t sang like this in a long time as most collaborators wanted the spoken or shouty stuff. The ‘Music Is The Answer’ singing style she did had taken a back seat for a while. But boy can she sing.
Loleatta Holloway also, was a very special house singer and now much missed. I tend to swing to the gospel side of things with house singers. I remember back in Soups I was always blown away by the choirs we worked with and it was always a special day when we had one in studio, which was a few times. I could never sing around them, felt like a foghorn around some of these big voices!
What’s next for Hifi Sean?
Bed. I’ve been up since 4am DJing then had an appointment to take my Mac at 9am to a bloke in Mac shop in Westfields in Stratford, they’re way too nice at that time of morning….
Join Hifi Sean this Saturday 8th June at Bust Yo Nut at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.
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