Chris Duckenfield is headlining the very first Rhythm Connection party at Dalston Superstore.
Rhythm Connection is a fortnightly radio jam on the fabulous NTS Live station hosted by Dan Beaumont & Nadia Ksaiba.
Chris is an extraordinary DJ with serious house heritage – an early affiliation with Sheffield’s game changing WARP led to his formation of SWAG in the ’90s and a string of awesome records for dancing to. More recently he invented the wonderful Popular People’s Front label; re-imagining secret classics for modern dancefloors. He also runs the exceptional All Ears vinyl record distribution company which is responsible for getting the output of independent labels (including Golf Channel, Merc, Noid, Disco Deviamce, Cynic and C.O.M.B.I) into discerning record shops around the world.
In his own words (i.e. cut & pasted from his biog) “in 1989 I got my first residency. I learnt the art of making people dance, and putting records together, a skill I have employed to avoid a day job for over 20 years now.”
Dan Beaumont probed him further…
DB: Why has Sheffield got such an affinity with electronic music?
CD: Anything but that question!
Right… sorry! You are resident at the superb Idiots Are Winning party. Can you describe the music you play there?
Depends what time of the night I’m doing really – but loosely speaking it’s the kind of set I’d pack if I was DJing in a little pub with the extended friends and family, mixed up with a handful of brilliant new things, some classics and a few swerveballs. I was very aware when I agreed to do it that I wanted it to be unpredictable musically, although having said that I listened back to me closing the last event and I’m doing a very convincing impression of a very predicatable, drunk acid house wedding DJ.
What does the name mean?
You’d need to ask Jake and Louis [Idiots Are Winning promoters] who do all the hard work for the party. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment is all I know.
Why do you think that analogue-sounding house music is making a comeback?
Seems fairly obvious that if you throw enough immaculately produced, soul-less and personality free digital dirge at people, they’ll start seeking out an alternative. Some of the naively constructed and early ‘trying to do disco on drum machines’ tracks coming out of mid-eighties Chicago are still the ones that people ask about. House isn’t – and shouldn’t be – too complicated.
‘I Really Do Believe’ and your collaboration with Luke Solomun on the rebooted Classic are big Rhythm Connection favourites… what other releases have you got coming up?
I tend to potter about in the studio less and less these days, the distribution company is demanding a lot of time, and I think I’ve always had the best results when I store up lots of inspirational samples, scribbled notes and ideas over, what have become longer and longer periods of time, then pull them all together in quick sessions. I’m in the middle of this process now, so might have something new done for next winter!
Favourite piece of studio equipment ?
Anything that lets you record and manipulate a sample – stealing is believing !
After a worrying dip vinyl seems to be making a comeback… Why do you think that is?
Hard to be specific as I think the reasons vary amongst different age groups and music enthusiasts. Certainly a backlash against the digital thing, in terms of club music I think people were made to feel like relics for buying records when the bigger digital download stores really took hold, but gradually the market has opened up again, not least because there seems to be more and more stuff that is vinyl only. There’s a financial imperative that exists when you’re releasing something on vinyl, which isn’t there for labels operating in a digital only world, this impacts quality control massively I think. When we set up All Ears five years ago it was at the time when larger distributors were going bust, everyone thought the writing was on the wall for vinyl, but out of sheer bloody mindedness and no business acumen to speak of, combined with completely unwarranted optimism, we made it work!
What was the last record you bought?
I pick up a fair bit, so er…recent goodies include new things on L.I.E.S & Future Times, the Shyam 10″ an old Black Moth Super Rainbow LP & Medicine Show 13
What is your favourite SWAG record?
If I’m totally honest I think our best stuff was the remixes…The Metro Area & Shuffle Inc ones are two that seem to endure.
Chris Duckenfield plays Rhythm Connection #1 with Ben Pistor (Disco Bloodbath), Rokk (Body Talk), Thomas Whitehead and residents Dan Beaumont & Nadia Ksaiba on Friday 23rd March.
We strongly advise you to purchase this brilliant SWAG care package from DJ History.
You can listen to Rhythm Connection on alternate Thursdays at 1600 GMT on NTS Live. Alternatively check the Mixcloud Channel which features content from Optimo’s JD Twitch, MK, DJ Harvey, Spencer Parker, Horse Meat Disco’s Severino and loads more!