Dalston Superstore is beyond excited for our upcoming family affair this Friday featuring the unstoppable force that is Shaun J Wright. Between playing at Berghain’s Panorama Bar, releasing tracks on his own label – Twirl – and jetting between gigs in the US and Europe, he and Twirl partner Alinka debut new track, Way Back on Hannah Holland’s label Batty Bass today! We caught up to chat collaboration, dream-gigs and favourite parties.
What has been the most exciting moment for you since the launch of Twirl?
Alinka and I have shared some really cool moments since the launch of Twirl. Getting a nice review for our first single, “Journey Into The Deep” in DJ Magazine was super affirming. Also, having Annie Mac & Heidi play our tunes on BBC Radio 1 was special.
The Twirl brand is a collaboration between you and another Superstore fave, Alena Ratner (Alinka.) How did you guys come together as creative partners?
We met through Scott Cramer, a Chicago-based promoter who is good friends with Alinka. He thought that we would get along well musically and personally. He was correct. He also helped us to facilitate our party Twirl! in Berlin.
The first time we met was in her studio. We had instant chemistry and we haven’t stopped making music since. That really is my favorite part of the process. Sitting with her and creating new material is always fun, always driven by our current moods, recent experiences and encounters with fresh sounds. We sometimes surprise ourselves when we head into new directions. It’s all very exciting!
You guys have had a pretty huge year, from being featured on BBC Radio 1, gaining the support of Robert Owens and featuring artists such as Eli Escobar. What’s next for the label?
We have a single out now called Need Someone with stellar remixes from Aerea Negrot, Snuff Crew and The Cucarachas. We have one more single in the works before releasing a compilation in celebration of our first year.
Can you tell us about any exciting new artists you have coming up on the label?
Yes, Alinka made contact with a young man from the UK named Spatial Awareness who will be our first official release from an artist besides ourselves on Twirl. His sound is massive and we’re really excited to have him on board.
We hear you’re also working on a solo EP– can you tell us a bit about that?
Wow! That’s been quite the labor of love. I’ve been working on the EP for about five years. I have collaborated with Alinka, Stereogamous and Aerea Negrot. I’m very close with all of them so the work and the entire process has been very personal and in ways quite revealing. I find the material to be very inspiring and I hope it resonates with other listeners as it does with me.
It’s been an adventure attempting to carve out my space as a solo artist as I have yet to release any material under my own moniker. I’ve enjoyed the process of discovering my voice with collaborators who I can trust – who push me further than I thought possible. I really thank them for helping me shape this vision.
How much have you, as an artist, been influenced by your roots in Chicago?
I don’t know if I can separate my Chicago upbringing from my work as an artist, at least, not objectively or analytically. I do recognise how my experience(s) with the various cultural offerings from my hometown are shaped by growing up in the west suburbs and on the westside of the city and coming of age in the 90’s. Oftentimes, it’s easier to talk about house music cultures(s) from Chicago in a homogenous fashion but it was so diverse when I was growing up and it was all under the umbrella of house.
I was a footworker. I joined Mega Sweat (a juke-dance posse) in high school and participated in events like the Bud Billiken parade and local talent shows/competitions. I started sneaking into black gay clubs like The Generator and The East of The Ryan on the southside when I was way too young. That’s where I was first exposed to ballroom culture which opened my mind to an entirely new way of engaging with the music via voguing.
As a dancer and now musician, I’m certain I wouldn’t have received such a diverse education and offering of styles had I not been born and raised here in Chicago.
You must have been to some incredible parties over the years! What is your most incredible Chicago House memory?
Beyond a doubt, Frankie Knuckle’s last birthday celebration at Queen at Smart Bar. Derrick Carter, Louie Vega, David Morales, Michael Serafini and Garret David burned the decks. Inaya Day sang gorgeously. I had the honour of chatting with former Warehouse owner Robert Williams. It was packed to the brim and I thought the roof was going to lift off the building. The energy in the room was palpable!
What is one record you like to throw in as a curveball to keep people on their toes?
I’d have to go with Kink’s Source of Uncertainty. It is so twisted and full of surprises. If I’m looking to raise the energy of the room that one usually does the trick and allows me to push further into darker, more aggressive sounds.
If you had access to a time machine and could visit any dance floor anywhere/anywhen, where would want to go dancing?
If I could only chose one I would go to the Music Box while listening to Ron Hardy spin. Just to experience the newness of house music during that era must have been riveting. I can only imagine the combination of the cutting edge sounds, the looks and the gyrating bodies. Pure unadulterated ovahness!
What does your perfect queer utopia look like?
Sitting in the living room with my closest friends with a bottle of red wine flipping between the latest political news/commentary and vogue performance clips from Ballroom Throwbacks.
Join Shaun J Wright on Friday 8 August for Twirl Presents at Dalston Superstore from 9pm-3am.
This Thursday we welcome Chicago legend K’Alexi to Dalston Superstore! Immersed in the then burgeoning house music scene as a pre-teen, he was exposed at an early age to seminal DJs and legendary nightclubs, not to mention a whole range of different genres and styles. For his DJ set here this week he’ll be joining Robert Owens in the laser basement for a real Chicago house love-in…
Is it true that you were hanging out with the likes of Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy when you were 12? If so how did this come about?
Yes, but mostly Ron, as an older friend he took me under his wing and got me in with him with no I.D and that set me on the path.
As someone who’s experienced quite a few seminal clubs first-hand, if you had a time-machine what dancefloor where and when would you like to go back to?
The Musicbox with Ron Hardy, the sound fx of rain as he played an edit of Clouds by Chaka Khan, such a beautiful moment…
What’s your one failsafe, timeless record?
My Mudusa – K’ Alexi Shelby
You’re playing alongside Robert Owens this Thursday! Besides him of course, who in your opinion are house music’s most inspiring vocalists?
Robert Owens, Byron Stingley, Paris Brightledge , Me, Dajae, Stephanie Cook, Ronna Ray, Jamie Principle, Russoul, Peven Everett, Terisa Griffin, Josh Milan, India plus much more and this is NOT in any order.
Why do you still do it ?
It’s so deep within me at this point I couldn’t stop even if I wanted too…
What would you be doing if you weren’t making or playing music?
I’m a creative person by heart, so I think photography. I love being behind or in front of the camera.
What’s next for K’Alexi?
I’m revamping my label K Klassik and it’s doing well. We’ve got mixes for some of dance musics best known, and soon to be known. We came together for me doing a mix on my song The Dancer… with vocals by me!
We’re really lucky that Chicago house is still important and still revered in dance music… having been there from the start, why do you think it’s so enduring?
The pure history of it rings out and goes way pass 4 on the floor. And as much as the world tries to name other places as the birth place we all know the truth… Chicago baby.
Tonight sees London house producer and DJ Jamie Blanco joins us at Society Presents Robert Owens. Currently releasing much hyped records on the ultra mysterious London Housing Trust label and one-half of atmospheric electronic outfit Figures; Jamie is an ideal person for a lesson in all things H.O.U.S.E. We caught up with him ahead of the party to find out what inspires him and what’s lurking in the depths of his record collection…
How did you come to release on the mysterious London Housing Trust label?
I could tell ya but I’d have to kill ya.
What’s your most loved piece of hardware?
My Roland Juno 60. I don’t think I’ve made a track that it doesn’t feature in.
Who are your house heroes?
Francois Kervorkin is someone I have massive respect for as a DJ and a producer. When I first started going out, I’d have to say the likes of X Press 2, Kahuna Brothers or even MAW gave me some of my favourite wide eyed dance floor experiences.
What was the best DJ set you’ve danced to recently?
Figures played a live gig last Saturday after which a load of us piled back to my mate Chris Stoker’s. Parts of his standard 12 hour mega mix from then on could answer that question, maybe not the five minutes of chiming Chinese water bells though. Other than that Ben ‘Gatto Fritto’ Williams anywhere I’ve seen him play recently.
What do you like, and equally what do you loathe, about London’s house music scene?
Love: the atmosphere when everyone’s enjoying the music and having a good old dance. Loathe: the atmosphere when everyone is there to just stand around in those bennies.
Personal favourite Chicago house gem?
Jump St Man – B-Cause is an amazing track, you either dance or chill to it.
Or Da Posse – In The Heat Of The Night (Acid Mix) always gets everyone moving.
What influences your live outfit Figures?
James and I wanted to make something of a slower tempo and more atmospheric than the house music we were both producing when we met, so we started Figures with the idea of bring others in to guest on tracks, hence the name. Other than that, whatever biscuits he turns up to the studio with as we drink a lot of tea.
What’s the best new music (of any genre) you’ve discovered lately?
I think I’d need some ID’s from last Sunday morning to answer that.
What outside of music creatively inspires you?
All the features on David Attenborough recently.
And finally, be honest, what is the most unexpected record in your collection?
I have Toxic by Britney Spears on 12″, Great track. Would that be classed as unexpected…?
Tonight London based house producer Palms Trax joins us tonight for that monthly lesson in all things acid and Chicago house, Society. With day jobs at both Boiler Room and Phonica Records, a hand in clubnight Streets Of Beige and a healthy love of the Burrell Brothers, he’s a man who knows a thing or two about good music. We caught up with him ahead of the party tonight to talk about his musical roots and underrated house gems…
How was Palms Trax born?
I guess from a desire to make music a bit more spontaneously than how I had been before, timed impeccably well with an unhealthy fascination of the Nu Groove back catalogue – it was just really refreshing to hear all those records after two years of aspiring to be the smooth peanut-butter of bass music so I just got the worst flute sound I could find and mined it for all it was worth.
You’re from Bristol, a city with a prodigious music scene- what influence do your roots have on the music you make now?
Well it was only when I moved to London that I became aware of dance music properly, so not actually all that much to be honest. I did play piano for a long time so that helps in the writing process, but I think it’s always what I’m discovering now that inspires me the most. If it wasn’t too late to play the tambourine for Talking Heads then it would be a different matter altogether, but there’s only so much years of Black Sabbath abuse can do for your drum programming.
You also work part time at Phonica Records- how does this shape your record buying?
Well it’s not so much my record buying that it’s shaping, as it is my overdraft.
You’re releasing on Lobster Theremin which is vinyl-only… why does the UK dance scene need more vinyl only releases?
Well I still buy some music digitally but I think it helps to get away from this disposable relationship that a lot of people have with electronic music, as well as it being a genuinely exciting way to discover it that isn’t always instantly gratifying but constantly rewarding.
What’s one Chicago house underrated gem we can expect to hear from you tonight?
No idea if it’s underrated or not but The Don – Message of Love, heard it on a Delroy Edwards mix somewhere and it’s the best record I’ll ever buy for the price of a Solero.
This Thursday House Of Trax head honcho Rushmore joins us once more for another lesson in all things H.O.U.S.E. with Society. As one of the brains behind the hugely successful parties and now record label Trax Couture, we caught up with him to find out more about his fledgling label, the debut release from himself and more…
Congrats on the first Trax Couture release! Love the artwork, it’s really reminiscent of the Rap Colouring Book stuff- what was thinking behind it and who is the artist?
Hey thanks for taking time to talk. Glad your into the first release. The talent behind all of our artwork is co-boss and resident Fools. He’s a sucker for a good ghetto tinged illustration and Letraset, as you might be able to tell from the flyers. With all of the artwork and what we do with the House Of Trax parties, we reference early Chicago and New York house flyers which were done in a similar vein along with old UK rave flyers. We try to put or own H-O-T twist on things too.
Where do you plan to take things with the label?
Well as it’s a natural extension of the parties, we aim to put out as much music as we can by ourselves [Fools & Rushmore] and people who we’ve become close to through doing the nights. So that’s been the aim from the start. Then if we look at the clothing side then we just want to start with seasonal capsule collections in a very limited number and build from there. Who knows we might have our own totally self built label showing at fashion week and curating the runway music ourselves someday, haha!
What track from last year do you wish you’d signed?
Girl Unit – Ensemble. It was a track I truly rinsed last year and got such a good reaction every time. It would never have happened anyways, as we know those guys and was only ever going to get released on Night Slugs.
Who has been your biggest/most high profile supporter of the label so far?
Our biggest supporter, for us, with the label so far, has to be MikeQ. We’ve had him play at our first party last January and again since. Our first release contains a good portion of tracks that are influenced by modern ballroom that Mike and his Qween Beat label make. It’s a great honour to have his support with a style and culture which he is a leader of, and we enjoy so much.
Besides yourself, what other artists can we expect to see releasing on House Of Trax?
So, without giving too much away you will definitely see a debut from Fools. We’ve lined up some remixes from previous House Of Trax guests. There might be one or two curve balls, maybe something a little different which you may not expect form us too! Don’t really want to disclose more than that right now… wouldn’t want to jinx anything! You will be the first to know when the time is right though!
What existing labels success do you hope to emulate?
Well the first label that comes to mind is Night Slugs. We’re good friends of those guys and have really enjoyed what they’ve done. They have completely built up their own sound within a family of their own. Bosses L-vis and Bok Bok have done an awesome job nurturing what they had and taken it to where it is now: a globally reputable label with really strong individual artists. We’ve been lucky enough to have their support since the beginning of Rhythm Talk and continued through to now with House Of Trax. We would definitely like to achieve that level of success though doing the things we want in our own way, only time will tell.
Tell us about the Trax Couture clothing line!
So, when Fools and I have ever discussed the idea of clothing, it was always in a collection type way. It was never just a case of lets just do standard logo T, it was always in an abundance of ideas which made it easy to decide to do a small collection, seasonally. As long as we were responsible with quantities then it could definitely work. We will retail it through our website, which is having a makeover before it launches. Regarding the concept for each season, it was quite easy for us envisage a starting point, with nearly two seasons pretty much designed. From there we can just evolve and develop each season, with a view to expand it too. So the easiest way for now to sum up the range it’s street wear, club wear, club couture, Trax Couture.
You’re a pretty frequent guest, but in your opinion how does Trax Couture and Rushmore fit into Society?
Haha! Besides all of those words fitting nicely into a society in which we belong! Since Fools and I started running parties together, Rhythm Talk being the first and then now alongside H-O-T, I became friends with Kieran who runs Society. There are similarities in the music policy which can cross over and we’ve since played each others parties. I love playing at Society and Superstore in general as it’s always a great vibe and the people there know how to party too. So to sum it all up it’s a great appreciation between like minded friends and promoters.
What ONE thing would you change about east London’s house music scene?
The one thing I would change is for there to be more adventurousness.
Sum up Trax Couture in 3 words…
“Bitches ( you better ) be ready” Kind of cheated no that one haha.
Banjee Boy Realness resident Joe Robots gears up for this Saturday’s Xmas Love Break with co-resident Josh Caffe and mysterious new act Mannerism Inc by dropping this hot mini-mix on us ahead of the party. With tracks from Todd Terry, Ilgot’n’gane, Cajmere and Waze & Odyssey, it’s pretty much banger after banger, from start to finish. We caught up with Joe to get the skinny on both his mix and what’s in store for all the banjee boys and girls who show up this Saturday…
In your opinion, what one track on your mix epitomises the Banjee Boy Realness sound?
The whole mix epitomises how I think of the BBR sound, although co-promoter and DJ Josh Caffe might have a slightly different take. For me it’s about ’90s New York house and garage, and the producers who’ve taken that sound recently and run with it again, some UK garage, which has the same kind of restless swing to the beats, in part because it mutated music from across the Atlantic in that particularly British way, jacking Chicago house, which has a raw, bouncy energy that’s often missing in this age of overly polite deep house, and booming sub-driven club music, sometimes actual ballroom productions but mostly tracks that have a similar attitude and rudeness. So, in a very political way in which I ignore your question to pursue my own agenda, all of them.
There’s a track by you on it called Joe’s Garage… what nefarious goings could we expect to see happen in your garage?
Yes, that was a track I made about six months ago, then badly mixed down and boosted in various ways to try and ensure some kind of continuity in the mix. Basically, after working with more experienced producers on a few things I realised it’s easier to try and do stuff yourself as, even if though I’m some way from any technical proficiency, it’s much easier to get the outline of what I want to make. My actual garage is in the process of being converted into a studio flat by my landlord, so it is looking ‘Ruff Cut’, and it’s filled with men who wake me up very early each morning with their banging. Does that sound nefarious enough?
How hard or easy was it ensuring there was at least a little bit of Aaliyah on it?
The only hard bit was ripping it off vinyl. I still buy records for tracks that aren’t released digitally but tend not to take them out that often as, unlike Superstore, most place don’t really care about the state of their turntable. I’m trying to get into the habit of burning vinyl to CD as soon as I get home. My cat Barry (White) has taken to sharpening his claws on my record spines, so he appreciates the fresh covers. I’m waiting for the day I catch him, although there wasn’t a hint of remorse when I walked in on him trying to bury a shit in the bath. He’s a problem child from Celia Hammond but we’re working it through.
Were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut that we might hear on the actual night?
Loads. Turn up on the night and you’ll find out. A girl has to leave a bit of mystery. ‘Lordy’ which I just got sent by DJ Haus, who runs Unknown to the Unknown, will definitely be getting an airing.
Who’s on the dream guest wish list for Banjee Boy Realness in 2013?
‘Yo Vogue!” by French Fries has been a bit of a Ha Dance sampling anthem this year and I met him and everyone from the label he’s on, ClekClekBoom, in Amsterdam earlier this year. They’re all based in Paris and have been putting out loads of weird, amazing records influenced by all kinds of stuff; global bass, garage, Detroit techno, Chicago house, hip-hop… They’ve got a comp coming soon, ‘Paris Club Music Volume 1’, which summaries their first eight releases and has some brand new unreleased tracks, so I’d definitely like to see them rocking the DSS basement. Another person is Dutch producer Gerd, who has been putting out some unashamed old school house bangers under the alias Geeeman, as well as more garagey stuff as NY Stomp. Jackmaster’s sets pretty much tick all my boxes too, plus a few more I didn’t even realise were on the other side of the page…
Join Joe Robots for Banjee Boy Realness this Saturday 22nd December with Josh Caffe and Mannerism Inc from 9pm to late.
Tonight sees Simon Lee, one half of seminal disco act Faze Action, here at Superstore for Chicago house party Society. He and his brother Robin helped define the nu-disco movement coming out of east London with their first EP in 1995, Original Disco. It’s difficult to estimate the influence their band has had on DJs, producers and artists over the years, which frankly makes him an ideal guest for Society’s party celebrating the “Uniting Sounds Of America” as he joins the legendary Robert Owens in the lazer basement with a whole set of NYC disco and Chicago house. We caught up with Simon ahead of his set tonight…
Playing out in London has changed considerably since Faze Action began in the mid ’90s- what do you really miss and what do you feel has changed for the better?
I remember playing disco records in the ’90s and people would come up and ask for something “a bit more pumping!” These days disco has gone from being a slightly special moment in a house set, to the expected or accepted norm, which in my eyes is a great thing!
What one record do you wish you’d made?
Hard question there are loads…The Clash – London Calling, Marshall Jefferson -House Music Anthem, any Chic record and that’s with out even thinking!
What’s the most unusual influence you’ve ever managed to incorporate in your productions?
I think we used half a bottle of Cianti on one record!
Where is your favourite dance floor?
The living room!
Your seminal LP Plans & Designs helped kick-start what we now call nu-disco – how do you feel about having personally had such a huge impact on dance music?
I guess at the time we were just making music we wanted to hear, we didn’t think about it. Looking back there were a few artists doing a similar style and we all got lumped in the nu disco genre.
What do you feel about the term “nu-disco”? Is it unfair of us to blame it on you?
I guess the term “Nu Disco” was a term made up by some journalist back in the day! To name a movement or to put like minded artists together. For me it’s more of an approach to music, in that pretty much anything goes, which is a good thing.
What was the last record you bought?
Gyan Kiki – 24 hrs in a Disco
If you can pick one moment, what would you say has been the ultimate career defining moment for you so far?
Playing live at Glastonbury in 2000.
Who are your musical heroes?
Love all the greats: Stevie Wonder, Chak Khan , Marvin Gaye, Sylvester.
What are you most proud of releasing on Faze Action Records?
Love all the artists we’ve had Guy and Dan Williams as the Shack, Luke Howard as Miss Cheescake, Del Strange as Del Strange!
This Saturday Sydney’s Light Year swoops into town as part of his European tour that has so far stopped at Barcelona, Paris, and Leipzig amongst others, finally finishing right here in Dalston.
And we’ve got a very special prize to give away! To win guestlist to see Light Year play this Saturday at Body Talk AND get your hands on one of these amazing tshirts, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “I heart Light Year” by 2pm tomorrow – Friday 19th October 2012 – and answer the following question correctly…
(only winning entrants will be contacted)
How does Light Year describe his latest mix?
a. Church techno
b. Wigwam techno
c. Sausage-fest techno
Formerly a duo, now a solo act, we caught up with the acid house obsessed remaining member of Light Year, Jordan, to find out how the amazing video for his massive hit Moderation came out, what personally gets him raving and what we can expect from his set at Superstore for Body Talk – We Are 3…
You’ve been touring like mental this year- where’s been your favourite touch-down so far?
Yeah this year has been busy with tours. Europe and USA twice and Mexico for the first time, and Canada too. I also played HARD Fest in L.A., which was one of the biggest crowds I have played in front of, a really intense energy so much fun.
I feel like Europeans tend to connect more with the music I personally love to play. I tend to have to change my sets throughout the USA depending on the crowd, which always keeps me on my toes but Europeans let me do whatever I want most of the time.
Which producers or contemporaries of yours do think are making particularly innovative dance music at the moment?
When it comes to dance music recently I have loved Mr. G’s new album ‘State of Flux’. I’ve been playing three or four tracks from it in some of my sets. I just love the energy of that warehouse vibe. Jimmy Edgar is another, his album was cool but I feel his production work since has really gone to the next level.
And who would be the dream artist to remix your own work?
Matthew Dear in his Audion guise. That would be all time.
Your love of acid house is evident in your music and most notably in the Moderation video- is it something you wished you’d experienced first-hand first time round?
Absolutely. I love the feel and rawness of that music. The limitations of one drum machine and one synth truly created some real classic records, and that’s what I like most- the simplicity. Also the parties and the original explosion of rave/warehouse parties would have been so exciting to be a part of. I think there is a real resurgence in that type of vibe at the moment too, which is cool.
The video is amazing, and so eye-catching. Any idea where the footage is from? You can’t watch it without wanting to go dance in a field…
Ha thanks, that was the desired effect. I was searching “’90s rave” on YouTube one night and I saw all that crazy footage. I didn’t really think that anyone had used it in a film clip before. I sent the footage and idea to a friend and it took about two weeks but it came together really well.
We read that you in between all the acid house, Chicago sounds and whatnot, you also really like hip hop. What kind of influence do you think this has had on your work in dance music?
When I was young it was all I listened to, exclusively, literally nothing else. It was only later once I got a bit tired of it that I started exploring more electronic music. I have noticed that there is always a ghetto style break and heavy use of classic drum machine sounds in my tracks which is probably a direct influence from all the hip hop I used to listen to. I love to sample and most hip hop is built around samples so there is a certain feel I think it can give a song, from a whole loop to just cut up drums, that is warm and classic sounding.
How dramatically would you say your working dynamic has changed since going solo as Light Year?
The main change is I don’t work directly with another person all the time. But Mikey (Jensen Interceptor) and I still send each other our demos and give each other feedback on stuff. I have a solid network of people that I send ideas and rough demos too. It generally takes me a session to come up with an idea and then I like to send it around to people/friends just to get feedback and extra ideas. I find that this helps with actually finishing tracks.
How did you come to remake DV8 for Strictly Rhythm?
A good friend of mine Danny (Wax Motif) was putting together a compilation on behalf of Strictly Rhythm and asked me to be apart of it. The idea was to go through the Strictly back catalogues and choose a track to remix/remake or edit. I had a lot of fun working on that remix and I like the way it turned out.
EDM’s global march aside, dance music… okay good dance music… still seems relatively underground in Australia. Do you ever feel tempted to decamp to Europe?
Absolutely. I’m currently tossing up whether to live in LA, London or Berlin next year. Haven’t decided yet though.
You called your mix for Ransom Note “sausage-fest techno”. What other genres can we expect to hear played at Dalston Superstore?
I play a lot of different stuff but it all falls under house & techno I guess. I’m loving this ‘warehouse’ type sound at the moment so I’ll be playing plenty of that. It also depends on the crowd and where they let me go. I’m really excited for the show though; I’ve heard amazing things.
Next week we welcome Perseus Traxx to join us in the Superstore lazer basement for our monthly Chicago house and acid infused Thursday night Society. Self-described as a man who makes “Machine Music using old hardware”, Perseus Traxx’s rich analogue sounds and early house influences make him an ideal act to sit on the same bill as Society’s legendary resident Robert Owens. We caught up with him to shoot the breeze about Greek legends, hardware and music that makes you smile…
What is it about the legendary Greek figure of Perseus that you empathise with enough to name yourself after him… beyond the obvious association of house artists named after mythical Greek characters?
Possibly his persistence and integrity, I’m unsure. He was put on the spot when asked what gift he would present to the King. Everyone said a horse was fitting, but he said nothing less than the head of Medusa. Next day he was ordered by the King to get the head of Medusa, otherwise the King would take Perseus’s mother. An impossible task, he had help from the Gods, but the King raped his mother. So he exacted revenge by turning the King to stone. He also gave away the Kingdom rather than rule in place of the King he had just killed. The films don’t tell this story, and even in ancient mythology there are two slightly different versions. I like the idea that he was kitted up by the Gods to perform an otherwise impossible feat, a mortal using the tools of the immortals. But that doesn’t really answer the question I’m afraid….
Do you think you could take Medusa in a fight like your namesake did?
Medusa was HOT but she lost her looks!! She was the only mortal of the three Gorgons, but I’d probably need the same amount of help defeating her, so Athena would need to show up and hold the polished shield. I’d also need the cap of invisibility to get away, and some trainers that make me fly. As the ancient Greek Gods seem to have retired, I think I’d be pretty much up the creek on this one.
You’re pretty vocal about your love of analogue and basic equipment and hardware. What’s your most loved and most used tool you utilise in your productions?
That’s quite tricky as I use everything equally, the MPC and the desk and effects units always get used, as does the Juno Alpha 1 and the MKS-50 (rack-mounted Alpha Juno). As a rule I write music to record with a mind to performing it, and so I use what I’m able to take out with me. Maybe one or two bits stay at home, but that’s it. I think though, the Juno’s are my favourite….
Why do you feel the need to have quite so many aliases?
It’s not a need as such. There have been different things for different moods. The recent stuff is Perseus, but appropriate sounds go with appropriate names. Nite Vision isn’t just me, N&N Tracks (Neville and Nigel) isn’t just me and Sir Leon Greg is all about edits and jams, so is an anagram (edit) of my own name. Underneath, it’s still me; the names are more about reference points for other people, which is why the first question was a bit tricky.
What one track has had the biggest influence on the music you produce as Perseus Traxx?
I don’t think there can be just one track.
Why is jazz awesome?
I like the moods, it lets my brain unfold and helps me relax and drift. I don’t listen to nearly as much as I should. Quite often I’m locked into what I’m doing and don’t get a chance to relax and listen to other things. I suppose the speed at which my brain races means I feel I have to be occupied to prevent thinking to much about things that otherwise may trouble me.
What do you think of DJs who don’t go to record stores?
I have no problem with that. There isn’t one in York so I can’t go but I can’t really afford much vinyl at the moment. I don’t have a problem with buying online. It’s a shame though; the decline in record sales (despite the recent upwards bump) has meant the closure of record shops all over the world. Though enthusiasts can still get music, a community is lost. Digging in crates and second hand shops has been lost to the “idea” of what the majority thinks it is be a DJ. This is evidenced by the rise of mediocrity and celebrity. The masses buy into it. That’s fine, it doesn’t effect me as I don’t go to those clubs or buy that music. Being a DJ is about searching for tracks, as much as playing, so whether it’s about going to a record shop or tracking down and buying online it doesn’t matter, it’s all about the obsession. This is what differentiates DJ’s from people who are just spoon-fed what they will listen to and buy, and are happy to just accept that.
What’s your favourite track of your own you’ve done?
I’m not too certain. They all have special resonance for me, and different memories and qualities. There are also 100 or more that are unreleased and some of those mean a lot to me too. It’s like asking a parent to choose their favourite child.
If you *had* to rid the world of one musical genre, in your opinion, what could humanity afford to lose?
Not sure if it has a true genre, but we could all do without the soulless, polished dirge the $wedi$h Hou$e Ma££ia and their ilk “produce” – oh I mentioned being spoon fed before didn’t I…..
What was the last piece of music you listened to that made you outright grin?
I was at a friend’s place the other week and she pulled out a copy of the edits of Don’t Take It by Armando Gallop. It’s the Thomos Edit that I particularly like and was on the Lets Pet Puppies label, which was made up of re-edits of unreleased recordings from back in the day. I don’t have a copy unfortunately and with the lowest price on Discogs being £20 it seems I’m unlikely to get one any time soon which is a cruel cruel shame! I particularly like the Sharvette’s voice on this. It’s just drums, subtle acid, some effects, and her voice. I love it. She sounds like the same person who did the intro of Drexciya’s Bubble Metropolis where a female voice announces, “This is Drexciyan Cruiser Control, bubble 1, to Lardossen cruiser 8-203X, please decrease your speed to 1.788.4 kilobahn, thank you, Lardossen cruiser 8-203X please use extra caution as you pass the aqua construction site on the side of the aquabahn, I repeat, proceed with caution.” I guess that’s the best reference point in terms of the sound of the vocal, though the content and context are very different.
What can we expect from your set at Society?
I haven’t planned a set as such, though I do have some nice bits, old and new, waiting to get played and am eagerly awaiting the postman’s arrival with some new releases. There will definitely be some Legowelt / Chicago Shags in there, maybe some disco. I’ll just have to see how it all goes….
Perseus Traxx plays Society Presents: Robert Owens next Thursday 27th September from 9pm – 2:30am and has a new split EP with Aroy Dee out now on Photic Fields called Hope.
If you’ve been frequenting dark basements round these parts lately you may have noticed the unmistakable sounds of Thunder. A quarterly party with an extremely selective music policy, Thunder has so far welcomed Sven Weisemann, Patrice Scott and Neville Watson into the fold for their dedicated crowd. A collaboration between a trio of seasoned London music heads Miles Simpson, Rick Hopkins and Joseph Apted, the next party is happening this Friday up the road at the Waiting Room. We spoke to them about things that go bump in the night…
Tell us about your introduction to house music – what clubs and records got you hooked?
Rick:Me personally, I got sucked in by the sounds of Chicago and early Detroit in ‘89. Wasn’t a club but a local DJ named Doug Osbourne, who was a Shoomer, a few years older than me, and listening to him force feeding music to us like any good DJ would, I succumbed to the House Sound. Pre 1989 I was really into my hip hop and you’d often hear early Trax records like Adonis – No Way Back or Raze’s – Jack The Groove interspersed in the early sound-system nights out and these records always stood out with the distinctive 808 drum machines and basic looped bassline that drew you in. Another one was Nitro Deluxe but too me that seemed like a combination of early freestyle and even earlier house productions. Club wise, we’d go to Dingwalls and hear Colin Favor spin rap along with house too, so Mr. Favor had a very strong influence on why and how the house and techno sound became so prevalent in my late teens and early 20’s. Where I live in the suburbs, we were only a stone’s throw from the smoke, so London’s influence was drip fed to us and by then you were looking at so called raving like an epidemic. Most, if not all, my friends were going out to big raves or clubs in town. We had a local boozer on a Thursday night that Doug Osbourne did and it was mayhem, and there was not much drinking which never pleased Peter the landlord, bless him, meaning we were pretty much going out Thursdays, Friday, a big do in Cambridge or in London on a Saturday then back down the pub on the Sunday with everyone proclaiming they were coming back up, those were indeed the days.
Miles:I can remember hearing house on the radio in the late ‘80s, things like Nitro Deluxe – Let’s Get Brutal, Sterling Void – It’s Alright, Kym Mazelle – Useless and then Inner City – Big Fun on Pete Tong’s Friday night show on Capital, but not even really being aware that some of it was house rather than just dance music, especially the more soulful stuff. I didn’t really catch the house bug properly until I went to my first acid house party at the end of 1988 in The Dome in Tufnell Park. The party was called Space, there was lots of smoke, a strobe and even some lazers – all of which are still dear to my heart! I started work in a shop on the Goldhawk Road in Shepherds Bush literally a day or two later, and that was opposite Discount Records, which sounds crap but was one of the best record shop in west London! So as I immersed myself in the north London rave scene of 1989, at places like Silver City, Labyrinth and Camden Place on a Monday, and the supporting pirate radio stations, like Centreforce, Sunrise and Dance, I could pop over the road and hum the tunes to them and then buy them. 1989 was such an amazing year for year of records, as it felt like the world was changing around us …
Joe: I’m a bit younger than Miles and Rick and grew up in rural Angus – Scotland, so it’s safe to say I didn’t have the same influences. I lived a fairly sheltered life until the age of 15/16 at which point various clubs and parties just seemed to explode in our area. It was the summer of 1992 and the little town that I went to school, Forfar, suddenly had a regular Friday night club and was bringing up DJ’s like Steve Bicknell, Evil Eddie Richards, and Michael Kilkie every week. It became really popular, really quickly, and at one point had buses coming through from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, etc, all to go this mental little club in this little town they’d probably never heard of. To say it was an eye-opener was putting it mildly, I was 15 sneaking into an over 18’s night and it literally was a case of one week I was going to a youth club, drinking cheap cider and trying (failing) to pull girls, and the next week I was dancing around in dry-ice to Chimo Bayo, having the time of my life and wondering how I could afford a Destroy jacket. That summer was my introduction to that scene and I absolutely loved it, it was a whole genre of music that I hadn’t been exposed to, clothes and fashion I hadn’t seen before and the fact that most people were much older just made it ridiculously exciting. Music wise, I’m not going to get into revisionism and pretend I was dancing about to Underground Resistance records aged 15 as that wasn’t the case. The tunes that stick out are things like the afore-mentioned Chimo Bayo – Asi Me Gusta Mi which just sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before….it hasn’t aged well and sounds very euro-cheesy, but to me, at the time, it sounded sleazy and exotic. The other tune that’s ingrained in my brain was Age of Love – Age of love, which again sounded so exciting and different to what I’d been exposed to previously. The next year, 1993, a local guy called Shawn Moir started a night called Aphrodisia in another nearby town called Kirriemuir, it was in a completely lawless, anything-goes little venue called The Og. It had zero security, was filled with smoke, had a wild crowd and was extremely debauched. That was our ‘clubbing home’ for the next few years and was probably the most fun I’ve ever had.
Why do old house records sound more relevant than ever?
Rick:They don’ t sound any more relevant now than they did back then it’s just they were records produced by people who loved what they did and were affected by the clubs they were going to and I guess tried to recreate sounds that they the music makers were hearing. A good record will always last the test of time. Producers will always try and hark back to the vintage sound of early Chicago records because essentially the productions were so raw with a sound quality that matched, certain labels vinyl presses had that earthy sound because it was old vinyl melted down and reused for newer wax. All this combined just sounded, without being too clichéd, totally mind-blowing, hence the massive influx of younger producers trying to recreate ‘that’ sound with tape recordings, analogue equipment, etc. But, house music isn’t just about a 707, 303, 727 or 101, in my humble opinion. It’s whatever feels right at the time so long as it’s good and the dancers react.
Miles:House records have always been relevant to me but I guess the cyclical nature of music means they haven’t necessarily to most others. If you listen to one thing for too long it can become tired. And whilst house has always been evolving in one way or another, I think a lot of younger people switched off to it after the mainstream boom in the ‘90s. And why wouldn’t they? Mainstream house became the sound of Mecca discos in the suburbs, girls dancing round handbag, blokes in shiny shirts on the pull and shit pop remixes. All the sort of stuff any teenager with an ounce of sense would run a mile from. But now that’s been forgotten, things have moved on and young people are engaging with it again, because as Rick says, good music stands the test of time, and there are literally thousands and thousands of amazing house records people under the age of 30 will have never heard. And with that new blood comes fresh ideas and suddenly people are rehashing, reinterpreting and reinventing, but in an exciting way. There’s a nod to the past but it’s not derivative blandness, so you can play a 2012 Joy Orbison tune next to a 1995 Prescription record next to a 1990 Nu-Groove record and it works. It’s great, because as a DJ that’s been buying house for years, it gives you such a broad palette to draw from.
Joe:I agree with what Miles and Rick both say, I think back then people were trying to be innovative and original and that comes across in the records even now. Since then people have tried to copy and regurgitate that style as it’s drifted in and out of vogue but it never sounds as fresh so people keep returning to the original tracks. That’s not to say we should all be playing old music, but new music should offer something new, rather than just trying to sound like vintage Chicago house, in my humble opinion.
What are your current favourite labels?
Rick:Aesthetic Audio, Sistrum, Curle Records, Clone and all the little offshoot labels, RushHour, Fit Records, FXHE, Delsin Records, Pampa Records, Smallville, 7th Sign, Sushitech, MikroDisko, M>O>S, Workshop, Dekmental, Ferris Park, Uzuri, Sound Signature – the list is endless.
Miles:I try not to get too hung up on labels but I’m generally a miserable failure on that front, because I get hooked too easily, especially if the artwork is cool, or they’ve got those little cloth swatches that Mojuba use or they’re nicely hand-stamped like Workshop!
Joe:Boring answer, but I don’t have allegiances to any labels – I couldn’t name a single label where I like EVERYTHING off it, or even 50% of it, so my collection is a magpie-like selection of bits and bobs from the labels mentioned already and others.
Where do you buy your wax?
Rick:Mainly online from Juno, Vinyl Underground in Northampton, Interstellar Sounds from Leicester, Delsin shop in Amsterdam, Rub A Dub up in Glasgow and Phonica, as opposed to a few years back when I was in Soho constantly every other weekend circumnavigating the shops from the pre house days in Groove Records, Hitman Records, Red Records in the magic Soho square mile and Spin Offs over in Hammersmith. House wise I was purchasing vinyl from shops like Luton’s Soul Sense Records, Hardcore Records in Stevenage and in town Fat Cat Records, Atlas, Eukatech, Rough Trade below Slam City Skates, etc. The odd occasion I can get into town on a Friday or Saturday afternoon I have a rummage through the racks of Phonica and Sounds of The Universe and always manage to find something decent.
Miles:I use online shops a bit but as I live and work in London, I try and get along to physical records shops most weeks. I can walk to Phonica in about 20 minutes after work, so I’m in there a lot. The staff are cool and Nick in particular always seems to be able to pick out at least one record I love and that I would have never thought to listen to otherwise. Whilst in Soho I try to check out Blackmarket too and always pop into Sounds of the Universe, to see what’s on offer there, and have a chat to James, another massively knowledgeable chap. Kristina in Dalston is bloody great too, fantastic records and the guys in there know their shit, so their second hand stuff is HOT. We also did a pre-Thunder in-store party with them and Patrice Scott, which was cracking and they were great to work with. Hopefully it won’t be the last one either.
Joe: If online I use Hardwax, Rub-a-Dub, Juno etc, and if I’m lucky enough to escape suburbia and actually make it into London, then I love an afternoon mooching around Phonica and second hand places.
Why did you decide to throw Thunder parties in this neck of the woods?
Miles:When we were originally looking for a venue I was convinced we needed to be in the Dalston area. It’s just buzzing, maybe like Shoreditch was 15 years ago, but with added genuine local community, which will hopefully act as a bit of a safety valve and stop the area being taken over by dick heads. I remember first visiting the Superstore and being blown away not just by the venue but the crowd, and the feel of the area. And since Superstore blazed that trail, that buzz has spread to other local venues. But it’s still got that rough edge. I love it, on a summer’s evening, at the weekend, the atmosphere is electric. I don’t think there is anywhere in London like it right now, not Hackney Wick, not Peckham, it’s just right and it’s basically the place to be if you want to throw a good party and have people who live for good parties turn up. That’s why we’re there.
What is the combined age of Thunder?
Miles:You should know a lady never tells… but we are actually all in our teens, we’ve just, erm, had hard lives.
Your guests have been pretty special – what do you look for in a headliner?
Rick:Someone we all admire musically whilst trying to bring in folk who you may never get to hear in such intimate surroundings.
Miles:Like Rick says, someone we are really into and admire, not just as a producer but as a DJ too. Neville Watson, John Heckle, Patrice Scott, Sven Weisemann and our next guest, Domenic Cappello, are all very accomplished producers, but you know what? They are all at least as good, if not better, behind the turntables as they are in the studio. That is important to us, because there are plenty of ‘hot’ DJs out there, whose hotness is based primarily on cobbling a couple of tune together on a laptop. We are after greater authenticity, because that’s what Thunder is about – real people doing stuff they love for the love of it.
Joe:I’d say the primary thing is, can they properly rock a party, as opposed to just turning up and playing a few tunes. The other thing is someone who takes a bit of pride in their craft who has gone to some effort to look out a really exciting, unpredictable selection of underground house. Every guest so far has played pure vinyl, so it couldn’t be further removed from the laptop DJ playing the latest Beatport anthems… there has to be a bit of love and care about what they do.
What is your fantasy Thunder line-up?
Rick:Personally love to get Derrick May down for an evening. That would be special.
Miles:Blimey. If I had a time machine, then it would have to be two rooms – the first would have London club legend Breeze warming up for 1990-93 vintage Tony Humphries and then the Junior Vasquez of 1991-92 see us through to lunchtime. Room Two would have Walter Gibbons, Tee Scott and Jim Burgess, who are basically my disco heroes.
But in the absence of a time machine, maybe Chez Damier and DJ Nature? Or Joy Orbison and Sven Weisemann back to back – that would be nuts. Actually, Derrick May is a great shout. With Theo Parrish and Kenny Dixon Junior warming up… in the original Sound Factory, with the Milk Bar bolted on as a second room and the roof terrace from Pacha stuck on top. Although I’d settle for DJ Nature or Joy Orbison though in our little basement though.
Joe:I’d borrow Miles’ time machine and have a two room club as well; Larry Levan playing a happy hardcore set in one room with, DJ Rush & DJ Funk playing back-2-back in the chill-out room. I’d also have “Blocko and Peasy” doing the cloakroom just for the jolly japes they’d get up to – bloody nutters.
Miles:Right, let’s bin the time machine plan then…
What does the future hold for Thunder?
Miles:Well in the immediate future, we have a party on 20th July with Glasgow house superstar, Domenic Cappello. Then the weekend after we’re playing at the FARR Festival in Hertfordshire, with loads of other great DJs, like you (Dan), Hannah Holland, JD Twitch, Bicep, Terry Farley and Trevor Fung and two days before that on Thursday 26th, we’re playing a FARR warm up party at the Dalston Superstore. All very exciting! Beyond that we want to continue to build on the parties we’ve had so far and throw more great parties continue to play music we love and that hopefully other people like too, work with a diverse range of DJs that we admire, and most importantly, have lots of fun we people like. It’s not much of a master plan but it seems to have worked out okay so far!
Rick:That we all remain sane and continue to move and grow in the right direction that we want. Think we’ve achieved that thus far so we’ll continue moving forward, onwards & upwards as they say.
Joe:I won’t be happy until we’re as big as Swedish House Mafia. Only when we’re playing to 70,000 people at Milton Keynes Bowl with Rick banging out loads of old Relief records will I think we’ve achieved our goals…
Miles, Rick and Joe play Society’s warm-up party for Farr Festival on Thursday 26th July at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am and on the R$N Vs Society stage at Farr Festival on Saturday 28th July.
London legend Andy Blake returns to Superstore this week for monthly Chicago House dance party Society. With three record labels, a residency at Warboy’s night SOS, his own party World Unknown and a reputation as a DJ’s DJ with a vast musical knowledge and taste, we managed to catch five minutes of his time to talk to him about his many projects and fascinating career…
You’re playing at Society- what gems can we expect from someone with as diverse and broad music knowledge as yourself?
I reckon it’ll be a bunch of house from ‘85 til now and maybe a few heavy disco and euro bits that got played in late ‘70s/early ‘80s Chicago when there was house music but no house records.
This is not the 1st time you’ve played Society. What do you like about their parties?
The broad mix of people is excellent; it’s the single most important element of any good club or party. If you’ve got a roomful of people of all different ages and backgrounds all getting on and getting down together you’re in with a very good chance of having a great party.
How did you come to be a resident at SOS?
I used to play at Warboy’s previous night Caligula and I guess it just seemed natural to us both for that to carry on at SOS. I love having a residency at a really pumping house night at a great venue in London and working with people like Warboy and Wayne Shires. None of us may be spring chickens any more but we seem to know what we’re up to and give people a great night out, and we all still have a huge amount of fun doing it.
How do you find time to run both your record labels as well as DJing?
There’s actually three including the World Unknown label. It’s easy enough really and a lot of fun too, especially as I’ve got some good mates mucking in and sharing the load. All I really have to do is keep finding the music and it all rolls on from there.
Tell us about your Boiler Room takeover on the 7th June…
It’s going to be a Cave Paintings and In Plain Sight session. We’ll be getting all the mad South London lot from World Unknown and the other parties round our way to come so it should be a brilliant atmosphere. Myself, Semtek, Joe and Amy will be DJing and we’ve got youngTEE playing live too and that’s always a very special thing.
What was the first record you ever bought and the most recent?
I think first that I actually bought myself could have been a compilation of rock n roll classics from the TV show Happy Days when I was about 6 or 7 – purchased from a branch of Boots if my memory serves correctly.
As for the most recent one, I’ve just got home from a weekend on patrol in Brazil and in the pile of record mailers awaiting me there’s a bunch of DJ Duke records so it’ll be one of those I guess.
What do you prefer putting on- daytime or nighttime parties?
I love going to, playing at and putting on all kinds of parties but there’s definitely something very special about ones with a daytime element, especially if there’s an outdoors. There’s an element of free-spirited transgression to daytime partying that’s not often there at nighttime parties any more.
I haven’t put anything on in the day for ages now but I’m just starting a new thing called Dance Cafe with some mates from Peckham who DJ as Bahamian Moor. The first one is this weekend taking place inside and outside at a local art gallery and we’ll be doing one per month at various interesting South London venues. There’s also going to be a World Unknown daytime free party in an amazing venue very soon as well.
London definitely needs more daytime and 24-hour stuff. Berlin has loads every weekend, summer and winter, so why haven’t we?
You’re playing on the MS Stubnitz at Pleasure Gardens for Bloc- what’s the most unusual venue you’ve ever played and what do you make of Bloc’s venue change?
On Saturday just gone I played at a floating club on a man-made lake in Brasilia. That’s got to qualify as one of the maddest places I’ve done so far and it was a cracking party too. Playing on the Stubby will be loads of fun and the whole Bloc/Pleasure Gardens site looks like it’ll be pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to having a stumble around it in a heightened state of awareness.
What’s your biggest non-musical influence?
All my amazing friends I guess, they’re a very inspiring bunch of people. That may well sound a bit corny and incredibly unhip but it’s 100% true. I can pretend it’s some obscure TV program or a certain length of trouser if you prefer.
You can catch Andy Blake alongside Robert Owens this Thursday 31st May at Society from 9pm – 3am.
At Dalston Superstore we are lucky to host one of the true legends of house music, Mr ROBERT OWENS, who holds a residency with SOCIETY on the last Thursday of every month. Thanks to Robert’s magnetic presence behind the decks and inimitable live vocals (not to mention visits from top-flight guests like Terry Farley and Neville Watson) this midweeker is becoming an essential date for house music lovers.
We asked Robert for five inspirational records to beat the January blues…
“Here are five tracks that reminded me of a time when I was young, wild and carefree. A time in the early 80’s when music showed me how to live, survive and enjoy my musical journey in life.”
Al Green – Love And Happiness
Loleatta Holloway – Hit and Run
Tavares – It Only Takes A Minute
Chambers Brothers – Stealing Watermelons
Fingers Inc – Nerver No More Lonely
Society feat Robert Owens with special guest Ali Renault is this Thursday 26th January with residents Class Of 808 DJ’s, Josh Caffe, Joshua Ford, Jamie Walker and Alex Wale.