Posts Tagged ‘Inner City’

Bottom Heavy

On Saturday, the Laurel and Hardy of Dalston and legendary DJ’s, Dan Beaumont & Wes Baggaley,  are joining forces to get you all bumping and thumping to some deep homosexual house with their brand new night: Bottom Heavy! Having both been prominent figures in London’s queer nightlife for over a decade and played some of the most infamous parties around the globe including The NYC Downlow, we are pretty sure that these two bottoms know how to throw a TOP party.

Despite their quite sickening resumés and having been pals for years, its actually the first time they’ve collaborated together! Don’t worry huns, this isn’t the only venture for the duo. Later in the year, Dan and Wes will be playing back-to-back at Farr festival alongside Prosumer, Tama Sumo and Lakuti! 

To get you lubed up and prepared for Bottom Heavy, Dan and Wes had a little chinwag amongst themselves! Read on to find out what these two legends think about the state of London’s LGBTQ+ Nightlife, their most played records and whats on the horizon for them both!

 Dan: Can you remember the point in your life that house music grabbed you?

Wes: I do actually. I was still at school and too young to go clubbing but I remember when Steve Silk Hurley’ ‘Jack Your Body’ and Raze ‘Break For Love’ were in the UK charts and on Top of the Pops. I remember the video for ‘Jack Your Body’ having a bucking bronco in it. Then there was the whole acid house /rave thing in the tabloids. I became mesmerised by it. I used to buy 7-inch singles every week with my pocket money from being really young and I remember buying ‘Jack Your Body’, ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ and Inner City ‘Good Life’ on 7inch. The first house music 12 inch I bought was Lil Louis ‘French Kiss’ in 1989/90 which I still have and still play.

Dan: I remember all those weird cartoon videos they threw together for those Chicago house records that became hits. Also remember thinking ‘who is Steve Silk Hurley and why isn’t he in his video?’ Then I got totally obsessed with Betty Boo.  

Wes: What inspired you to open Dalston Superstore? 

Dan: I met Matt and other Dan (DSS co-owners) when they were running Trailer Trash, and I was doing a party called Disco Bloodbath. As promoters, we often had problems with venues, and talked a lot about starting our own. Eventually we began looking in earnest and around 2008 we found the site that became Superstore. It had been empty for a couple of years before we found it. We just wanted to create a space where the people who came to our parties would feel at home, where the music, drinks and food were all good and our friends could be themselves.

Dan: What sounds are you looking for when you go shopping for records to play out? What are you trying to communicate through DJing?

Wes: That’s a tough one. I like a really wide range of different music and play various styles but when I’m looking for sort of functional dancefloor records I tend to be drawn to quite energetic stuff with lots of percussion. I’m a massive fan of the old Cajual, Relief and Dance Mania Records and always tend to gravitate towards that type of jacking type sound. I also like disco and I’m a sucker for a disco sample but I don’t like playing the same sound all night. I just tend to play what feels right at the time, could be soulful, disco, acid, techno, hypnotic deep stuff, jazzy stuff, ravey breaks type stuff, broken beat, African percussion.

Wes: You’re partly responsible for some of the best LGBTQ+ parties around at the moment including my favourite, Chapter 10. What are your thoughts on LGBTQ+ clubbing in London at the moment, especially with a lot of venue closures in the last 5 years? 

Dan: I personally think that LGBTQ+ clubbing is very inspiring right now. Adonis, Discosodoma, Homodrop, PDA, Femmetopia, Gay Garage and loads of others are all pushing underground queer music and culture to new places. Unfortunately the gay scene is still affected by misogyny, internalised homophobia, body shaming, transphobia and masculine bullshit, but it seems like more interesting voices are starting to come through, which means more creativity and more talent steering queer clubbing. Also it’s exciting to see groups like Friends of the Joiners Arms, Resis’Dance, and London  LGBTQ+ Community Centre (all rooted in queer dancefloors) disrupting the status quo.

Chapter 10 Dan

Dan: What do you think are the positives and negatives of LGBTQ+ clubs right now?

Wes: I also think it’s a very good time for LGBTQ+ clubbing at the moment. In spite of a lot of the recent venue closures there are great nights popping up in non LGBTQ+ clubs. Seems to be a sort of creative DIY culture happening which is great. There same is happening in other cities like Manchester with great nights like Meat Free at the White Hotel and Kiss Me Again at the Soup Kitchen. There’s some great music events and brilliant cabaret stuff going on at the likes of The Glory and The RVT. As you mentioned, the internalised homophobia, transphobia and misogyny needs to be addressed. A lot of the fetish venues have closed down and some of the bigger LGBTQ+ fetish nights in London are struggling to get venues. I do think this is a vital part of the culture that is dwindling. I reckon we need a LGBTQ+ fetish rave with good music. 

Dan: Good point about all the amazing queer parties outside of London!

Wes: Can you tell me some of your favourite producers and record labels at the moment?

Dan: Labels: Lionoil, Let’s Go Swimming, Lobster Theramin, E-Beamz/Hothaus/UTTU, Not An Animal, Ransom Note, Sound Signature, Stillove4music, Dolly, The Corner, Work Them, Mistress. Producers: Telfort, Powder, Mr Tophat & Art Alfie, Jay Duncan, Midland, Jonny Rock, LB Dub Corp, Stephen Brown, Garrett David, Steffi, rRoxymore, Pariah, and everything Luke Solomon touches. Loads more that I’ve forgotten!

 

 Dan: I love it when you find a record that you know intimately from the first bar to the outro, and it does a really long stint in your bag. What are your most played records over the past couple of years?

Wes: I’ve got a few of them. I’d say my absolutely most played record is Braxton Holmes and Mark Grant –The Revival on Cajual, which has never left my bag in 20 years. I actually need to replace it because I’ve almost worn it out. Also the Maurice Fulton Syclops ones, Where’s Jason’s K, Jump Bugs and Sarah’s E With Extra P are go to tracks but luckily he’s just released another album of gems. The man’s a genius. There’s Kinshasa Anthem by Philou Lozolo on Lumberjacks in Hell that came out a couple of years ago that I’ve played a lot, and then there’s that Danny Tenaglia remix of Janet Jackson – The Pleasure Principle that I’ve owned for many years but didn’t know what it was until I heard you play it at Phonox haha

Dan: I’ve totally stolen The Revival off you. It’s pure magic.

Russia Wes

Wes: Tell us a bit about the idea behind Bottom Heavy. What can we expect?

Dan: The main idea is so we can play together all night and I can steel your tunes! Whenever I’ve heard you play, I can hear a sound in between all your records, a sort of energy that I’m always searching for myself. It’s hard to describe, but it exists in the space between that jacking Chicago sound, leftfield Detroit stuff and tribal New York tracks. Plus also jazz, afro, techno, electro and disco elements. As we mentioned earlier, here are loads of great gay nights popping off, but I think what’s missing is a really great HOUSE all-nighter that joins the dots between all those sounds. 

Wes: Haha! Well there’ll be a lot of tune stealing going on because I’ve been known to have a sneaky peek through your bag as well. 

 Dan: Back to your earlier point about Fetish nights. Why are they important to the gay scene? Are there any you remember particularly fondly? If you were to throw a fetish party, what would the vibe be?

Wes: With the fetish thing I thing it’s important to have those spaces where you can dress up and sort of act out your fantasies and do whatever you want within reason. I’m actually not massive into the sexual side of it myself believe it or not, but I do like the spectacle of the whole thing and the dressing up and the fact people are free to express themselves sexually at those nights without judgement. Sadly a lot of the fetish nights are also men only parties that go hand in hand with the whole gay misogyny thing. 

 A few years ago me and my friend Lucious Flajore put on a fetish night at The Hoist which is now closed. The night was open to everybody, gay, bi, trans, heterosexual men and women. The soundtrack was dark disco, slow brooding techno and weird electronics in one room where we also had alternative cabaret and showed art house horror movies and in the other lighter room we played disco and showed John Waters films. 

 The atmosphere was great but we had problems with the sound and there was no dancefloor to speak of then the venue closed. We also had a problem with heterosexual men complaining about gays (I know right? At the Hoist!). I am actually thinking about re-launching the party at a new venue and putting in a good sound system but making it more LGBTQ+ focused and making sure people know that women and trans people are more than welcome 

Dan: That sounds amazing. You need to make it happen!

Dan: OK last one from me. Who is your biggest DJ influence?

Wes: That’s really tough but I have to say Derrick Carter. I first heard him play in about 1995 and became obsessed. I loved the way he seemed to mix different styles with ease and mix the records for ages.

Dan: I used to go to his Classic residency at The End religiously, and would always try and describe tunes that Derrick played to people in record shops the following week. I never had any luck. I was probably trying to describe about three records being played at the same time.

Wes: And for my last one I’m going to fire that question back at you and also ask if you have any music coming out soon?

Dan: I’ve got a bunch of music nearly finished that I need to sort out. I’m going to lock myself away and do that. Arranging tracks does my nut in. 


 Catch Dan & Wes at Bottom Heavy Saturday 23rd June 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!

Gene Hunt

By Dan Beaumont

Gene Hunt was a protégé of legendary Music Box resident DJ Ron Hardy and had a front-row seat for the genesis of house music in Chicago while still in his teens. He is fiercely protective of Hardy’s legacy and personifies a distinctive style of DJing that dates back to the beginnings of club culture itself. Gene Hunt is a collector of dance rarities, producer of unique analogue house tracks, reel-to-reel edit specialist but first and foremost a DJ.

I met him from Heathrow and accompanied him to St Pancras for a gig in Ghent. He agreed to let me record him talking as we had lunch waiting for the Eurostar.

DAN: Can you share a Ron Hardy DJ secret?

GENE: I remember we were playing together, I think it was about ’87, ’88.

I played this track and he was like, “Why did you rush it out, why didn’t you play the rest of the track?”

I said “But the floor cleared.”

He said, “Let me tell you something: This is what you’re gonna do.” He looked in his bag and he gave me a couple of records. The first record was called Galaxy, by War. So I play this record and cleared the floor again.

He said, “Play it a couple more times.”

I said, “Tonight?!”

He was like “Yeah! Play a couple tracks, do that, then play it again.”

So I played it again. And the crowd stayed on.

He said, “Do you see my point? You have the power to break records. But you cannot be afraid as a DJ to let them experience what you experience. Now what do you think about this record?”

I said, “I love it.”

“Now, what makes you think they don’t? If a record is eight minutes long, play it! Don’t just rush it out or rush it in because the drummers and the singers don’t start getting into their groove until the middle or towards the end of the record. So play that shit! Don’t be afraid. See what you just did?”

“What I do?”

“I just let you break the record.”

And I was like, “wow, you tricked me.”

“I always trick you.”,

Y’know, Ron would give me these challenges or tasks when we’re live at the club. “Alright, c’mon, bring something in.”

I’m like, “I don’t have my stuff with me!”

“Use my stuff.”

So, that was the part about execution. That was the part about timing. That was the part about learning. It was not being afraid to express what you want to express. Give them what they want, but then also educate them.

DAN: Do you think that DJs play too safe now?

GENE: Yes a lot of them do. A lot of them choose their hot spots, a lot of them find more simplistic ways to work an audience without being as creative as they are in other aspects. Now, since you have Traxsource and Beatport and all that other stuff, it makes it very accessible for people to just sit there all day and just purchase shit. Back in the days we had to go to the shops. We had to go to Loop Records, we had to go to Imports, we had to go to Gramophone, we had to go to different places to look in the bins and get creative to find what’s hot. You could get Hot Mix 5 [house music radio show] or you could go to The Playground or the Music Box or Sawyers or what have you and you would just sit back and feel the vibe of what’s going on. You would go to the record store the next day with your tape. We had somebody to educate us, to keep music going on.

DAN: What is the Chicago sound to you?

GENE: Basically, when house music occurred, I mean we had the disco era first, but when house music first came about, we had Chip E doing shit like Time To Jack, and It’s House. We had Jesse Saunders making On and On, we had Robert Owens and Fingers Inc and Bring Down The Walls and Mysteries Of Love, Ron Hardy doing Sensation, Frankie bringing out bring out reel to reels and tape decks to play the exclusive stuff. People didn’t have a Traxsource or a Beatport, you couldn’t just go there and buy something to sound and fit like everyone. The way they’ve designed the game now is you don’t have to go fish and find your music. We would take reel to reels and grab a razor blade and splice and do edits and make stuff go backwards, with the drum machines and outboard gear like Roland 909 or 707s or 303s and we would create our own stuff to play at parties that accentuate to make us different from one another. When Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson used to come down to the Box and bring the Rhythm Is Rhythm shit and strings of life. They would come to the Music Box and give us all that shit.

DAN: So what did you think of what was happening in Detroit?

GENE: Oh, they were really starting to break that edge. You had like Blake Baxter and Model 500, Metroplex, all that shit from Inner City, all that stuff they were doing, they had their own flavour. Like they took a certain element, they added their own attribute to it, and created a sound called techno. Like when I used to take a 909 track, I would just put basslines and make it real abstract, that would be considered as techno now. I would play that with disco, I would play that with house music because it was my rendition. Okay, what makes Gene Hunt so different? Tracks! He makes acid tracks with a 909 when Phuture 303 made that shit with a 707 and and the 727… he makes his acid tracks with the 909! Oh my god!

Everybody had a different flavor. Lil’ Louis when he did French Kiss and The Music Takes Me Away… I remember when he paid 300 bucks for an 808 drum machine, he started making French Kiss, got the deal with Ray Barney [owner of Dance Mania records].

DAN: Someone said that Jesse Saunders On And On track was important because it taught the whole of Chicago that anybody could make a house record.

GENE: All that stuff was being distributed by Larry Sherman who owned Trax Records. This man had a record company, a pressing plant, right in the back of a meat market! Everybody would come down there and get their stuff pressed up and they had different labels and so forth and we’d press vinyl. You would sit there with a hammer. Me and Ron Carrol would sit over by the garbage can. Ron Hardy would be in the other room doing the shrinkwrap. Steve Poindexter would be doing the typesetting and the labels. We would have all these old K-Tel records and shit and we’d have a hammer and break the records down so we could re-melt the wax. All those records that came out, that you would see on television, we’d break the records and tear out like the vinyl part of it and press records and you’d still see the old records pressed in the new records, oh it was gangster!

DAN: Was Larry Sherman a bit dodgy?

GENE: “A bit dodgy” wasn’t the word! Haha. Let’s try “total dodgy”! But we all learned. We would take the vinyl recording, get a good quality recording of it, go downstairs, make a plate of it, then press it up. The vinyl quality was shitty but back then it was beautiful just to be able to get a record that you couldn’t get. So, Ron would take personal shit out of his collection, record it, and then put it out.

DAN: Why do you love playing records?

GENE: If you’re playing records and the record skips or the record jumps or gets dirty, that’s the fun about it. You’re really up there doing it. You’re really conducting music in a sense, to make it realistic to everybody in the room. The warm sound of a good quality recording and the fidelity that comes out of those speakers, the sound and the feeling of it, it doesn’t sound processed, it’s a real live feeling, it doesn’t have a synthetic feel whatsoever. That’s the importance of playing vinyl. The tape hiss. That analogue thickness. That warmth. It’s different from some shit being processed and watered down. It sounds too perfect. It has to be a little dirty. It has to have a little dirt, a little grunge in it to get with the natural aspect, to make it more organic.

It’s like some broccoli, if you overcook it. You cook all the nutrients out of it and you lose that crunch to it. It’s soggy and synthetic. You want to have warm and organic attributes to get the natural aspect of what you’re doing. That’s why it’s so valuable to play wax.

[Gene is eating a forkful of broccoli at this point]

Dan: What is your state of mind when you’re DJing? Do you get nervous?

GENE: Not really. I know I have a job to do. I have to entertain a room full of people for a number of hours so I have to get everybody on the same page. So based on the way that I feel emotionally – If I got personal problems at home, or I’m going through some shit I’m taking my problems out on the dancefloor. So they’re loving it, and it’s helping me get through my problems. Because I’m unleashing the way that I’m feeling, I’m expressing myself to a room full of people. My car got towed, I got tickets, some shit happened, so I’m going to take it out on you guys and you’re going to love it. I like to tell a story when I play. I like to give you past, present and future. I want to give you aspects of where I started and where I came from. Let you know what’s going on in the now, and tell you things about where I want to go. It’s like a rollercoaster – you anticipate, and you go up, but you don’t know when the drop is coming. My advice is to never plan what you do. Because I want to enjoy it just as much as you want to enjoy dancing.

DAN: What do you think about EDM?

GENE: It has its moments. If you come from Chicago which is the Mecca of house music, obviously, you should have some form of education and history. You hear EDM stuff in a club – I went through this a couple of weeks ago –  I’m like, “Why would they put me on to headline and they got this person and that person” It puts me in a challenging state because here I am in a room full of people who don’t have a clue about what they’re dancing to – but it feels good to them. It’s a mind opener.

DAN: Would you play a disco record to an EDM crowd?

GENE: Yes. Most definitely. I wouldn’t hesitate. I’m relentless. “Alright, they’re digging that. Let’s try this.”

I still hear Ron in my head saying, “Don’t rush that record out, you better let that record finish.”

DAN: And back to Ron – how was it working for him?

GENE: Pins and needles. Out the blue. It was scary. You never knew when he wanted to take a break – he would just say, “Get on.”

There wasn’t a plan, like, “You’re going to play 11:30 or 12:30.”

He would just play a record and then go out the back and chill out. 

“Go ahead, get on.”

He’d be back there taking a nap.

I used to open up. If I was five minutes late and he gave me shit about it. At the very last Music Box – 2210 South Michigan was the very last one. I was like less than five minutes late.

“You have to be punctual, you gotta be on time.”

I’m like, “It’s nine fifty!”

“You should be here at nine thirty.”

He was in my ass because I was there at nine fifty. Subliminal mind games that just got me fucking rugged. And Frankie was the same way with me. I would pick him up – Frankie Knuckles does not drive, Frankie Knuckles does not drive a car, he’s terrified of driving a car. You have to drive him. I would meet him and he would give me music. “Give it to so-and-so, give it to so-and-so, don’t give it to so-and-so.” Specific instructions. Ron was the opposite. But they both respected one another and they were both training me.” They saw a young kid that was ambitious.

Gene Hunt

DAN: How did Frankie’s style differ to Ron’s?

GENE: Very similar and yet different. They both played the same music, they both played the same things. But the way they played them was totally different. Frankie was real sexy with it, real smooth. Ron was more aggressive. It was like passive and aggressive. But you wanted both aspects. In Chicago you couldn’t have one without the other.

DAN: Describe your style…

GENE: [smiles] That’s a good one. Once I get in the groove I want to stay in that groove. I don’t want to have any intermissions. I’m relentless. Once I get it going and once I get everybody into that mode. I keep that flavour going. I want to keep that room and give it bounce. We gotta have some vocals, we gotta have some live drums, we gotta have some groovy shit, we gotta have some sexy shit. I want to give you a four course meal of music.

DAN: Who are your current favourite Chicago DJs?

GENE: My girl Serena – CZ Boogie. She owns a publication called 5 Magazine which is like the house music almanac when it comes to parties.

Czboogie & guest Lurob on the 5 Magazine Show on CHFM by CZBOOGIE

We have a group in Chicago called The Untouchables – it’s me, Farley (Jackmaster Funk), Paul Johnson, a guy named DJ Box, Craig Alexander and CZ Boogie – so it’s the six of us.

How is the gay scene in Chicago?

Off the chain. It’s off the chain. We got a night on Sunday called “Queen” at Smart Bar. It just so happened that the person who does this night owns Gramaphone [legendary Chicago record emporium] – Michael Serafini. The night is explosive. Frankie’s birthday was ridiculous. You had Louie Vega, you had David Morales, you had Derrick Carter. All star lineup. You couldn’t move in the place.

Join the Chapter 10 group: here

Christopher Ennis

Christopher Ennis, one of the heads behind irregular London party New Family, joins the wax-obsessed Drop The Needle team to celebrate their 1st Birthday tonight! DTN resident Sanjay tells us “We’re excited to be playing with Chris for his superb work behind the decks and with his extensive knowledge of house music – he never fails to impress! When he’s not been working on motion graphics Chris had been running his New Family parties sporadically over the last few years cropping up at various venues around east London, which has been a great showcase of his and his fellow residents music tastes and skills.” 

Ahead of tonight’s festivities we caught up with Christopher to find out more about his vinyl-credentials…

What’s your most treasured vinyl?

Well, of course I treasure lots of my records so it’s difficult to pick just one, but if I had to choose it might be one of the more expensive records I’ve bought, so I’ll choose the Mood II Swing remixes of Crustation’s track Flame. Crustation were a ’90s trip-hop group which I don’t know much about, but being the ’90s, trip-hop groups had house remixes (see Armand Van Helden’s mixes for Sneaker Pimps). The Borderline Insanity Dub is stripped back and the vocal mix (which I tend to play more often) is more positive.

Do you primarily play out on vinyl? CD vs Vinyl debate aside, if so, what do you enjoy about playing records?

Yes I primarily play records just because that is what I’ve done since my teens. I play a few CDs here and there when I haven’t been able to find the record or it’s too expensive on Discogs. The main thing I like about vinyl is you feel you really ‘own’ a piece of music when you have the record. CDs tend to break over time or get lost, and hard-drives full of files are not much fun. However, I’m now trying to back-up the records I buy onto CD because so often when you play pubs or bars they have dodgy booths and haven’t set the decks up properly or whatever so the record skips about all over the place. In those situations I wish I had a wallet full of CDs instead.

What’s the best piece of gatefold artwork you own?

They’re not gatefold but the Mandré albums on Motown have amazing sci-fi artwork that inspired Daft Punk’s visual aesthetic. Mandré Two is my favourite. Also the music is amazing which helps. 

Mandré artwork

One record you’d save from melting if your house was burning down?

That’s a situation I’ve often worried about but would rather not think about. I really couldn’t say.

What’s your earliest vinyl memories?

Yeah I’d love to say it’s something really cool but actually it was the first record I ever bought in 1990 from Our-Price which was Do the Bartman (I was 6). I won’t be bringing it with me on Friday don’t worry.

Is there much of a vinyl approach at your own party New Family?

No not really, I mean Ryan and I, (the other guy that does the party with me) both play vinyl mainly and so have most of our guests so it might look that way from the outside, but I really don’t think it makes a difference if someone wants to play CDs or Serato, so long as they play good music for the right reasons- that’s all we are worried about.

When can we expect another party from you guys?

Yeah I get asked that quite a lot. Soon hopefully!

Three records that never leave your record bag…

Sundiata O.M and Ron Trent – Paradise (instrumental) Ron Trent is my favourite house producer. I must have about 30-40 records produced by him. Ron’s catalogue is huge so there are many I could have chosen but I picked this one because I’ve never heard anyone else play it. I normally use this record early on to gear-shift from warming-up into more of a peak-time atmosphere. 

François K – Hypnodelic. No-one has more credentials in underground dance music than FK, and here you can really feel what all that experience moving dance-floors sounds like. This never fails to give me goose bumps when played at the right moment. 

Inner City – Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin’ (Def Mix). David Morales and Frankie Knuckles mix of a Kevin Saunderson cover of a Stephanie Mills track produced by the guys from Mtume (I think that’s right). I love the downtempo Def mixes and I’ve finished many a night with this record. 

 
Join Christopher Ennis tonight at Drop The Needle 1st Birthday from 9pm – 3am at Dalston Superstore.