Posts Tagged ‘Neville Watson’

Neville Watson talks

This Saturday the inimitable Neville Watson joins us once again in the laser basement alongside Bastards residents Wes db and Lucious Flajore! A regular on the Creme Organisation imprint and equally famed for his own productions as he is for his fruitful partnership with Bulgarian producer KiNK, Neville has worn many hats within dance music, including running his own record store, and holding a long-time residency at the sadly now defunct Reading based night Checkpoint Charlie. Ahead of Saturday’s party we posed a few questions to Neville to find out more about what we can expect!

It’s Record Store this Saturday…! Do you think you could ever do it again and open Mighty Atom Mk II?

No, being behind a counter all day is not for me I’m afraid. I had a great time running our little shop and I have the greatest respect, obviously, for record shop proprietors but I wouldn’t want to do it a second time around. Plus it’s too easy to get high on your own supply.

We imagine it probably helps that you can refer to all the amazing photos your brother, renowned photographer Gavin Watson shot to remind you of parties long since past. Is there a specific shot of his that takes you right back to that moment when you look at it?

The photo of the Flackwell Heath party, with all the speakers hanging from the trees. It captures the spirit perfectly.

 
Rave shot by Gavin Watson

You’re also known for your live partnership with the equally amazing KiNK- which other artist, if any (if it’s not too much like cheating!!), do you think you would work as well with in a live set-up?

Working together on stage with no drama, dealing with tech issues and travelling together takes a particular type of relationship, and we were just lucky that we got on and didn’t get on each other’s tits. Having experienced working well I’m not sure I’d want to risk trying it with someone else.

If you had a time machine and could visit any dance floor anywhere/anywhen, where would you want to go dancing?

High Wycombe Royal British Legion disco 1973.

You’ve played at a wide variety of parties, cities, venues over the years. Drawing from this breadth of experience, if you could design the ideal DJ booth, what would it look like and what tech would you equip it with?

You have to go a long way to beat the booth in Room 1 at Fabric, the choice of two mixers and enough CDJs and 1200s to keep you busy. Plus it maintains a healthy relationship between the dancers and the DJ – separate enough for the DJ to do his job but not completely cut off from the dancefloor. All this facing the DJ bollocks is rather dull. 

What’s the one track that NEVER fails to ignite the dance floor?

DJ Spen – Craze At Midnight

You have a pretty strong associate with Crème Organisation… what is that you think makes this relationship so special?

That I can always tell a weirdo when I see one.

Outside of DJs and promoters, the power of the resident is pretty under-appreciated. Having been a long-time resident at Checkpoint Charlie, what club or club night would you ever want to be resident at?

I really can’t think of any to be honest, all the obvious places like Panorama Bar, Fabric and The Rex all have such great residents. I would love to get in at the development stage of a smaller club so I could tailor it how I saw it.

What’s your starting point for making music? What do you need before you can start?

I don’t need a great deal actually, I often start things on the laptop at home and then transfer them if I need to when I get in the studio. My wife said to me the other night that she found it strange how I could just dip in and out of work when I get a spare minute, but if an idea comes to me I want to get it down straight away. That’s the beauty of the laptop.

Having said that when I’m in the studio proper I don’t want any distractions and if I’m working with someone else I expect zero fucking around.
 
Join Neville Watson this Saturday 18th April for Bastards at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.
 

The Sound Of Thunder

By Elles Pinfold

Miles Simpson and I go way back.  Well, by way back I mean about three years, which in London time is forever no?  Ok, it’s not, but you know what I mean. Seems like forever (in a good way). 

He got in touch via a shared love of venting about old house records and clubs of yore. His Beyond The Stars blog and my Legendary Children site had a lot in common; the vital difference being that he had actually witnessed some of this stuff first hand and our knowledge was gleaned through feverish trawling of the Internet and out-of-print books from Amazon.

When his night Thunder launched two years ago we were down the front with bells on. As it turns out over those two years Miles’ knowledge and passion (along with that of his co-hosts Rick and Joe) have translated into one of the best underground house nights in London.

The night is celebrating its 2nd anniversary this weekend, so what better time to pick Mr. Simpson’s teeming house brain on the seminal clubs that have influenced him and how Thunder is nailing it today…

It is well documented (amongst those that know you) that your visit to Sound Factory in the ’90s had a huge impact. I love hearing your stories despite possibly maybe teasing about it on occasion *ahem*. Tell us about it. Why was it so special?

I guess it was special because it was like nothing I’d ever experienced in London. Not only was it fantastic, it was incredibly exotic too.

There was a simplicity, a rawness, an energy and a communal experience that was unlike anything in London. There was no warm up or guests, just Junior Vasquez, his crowd, his children and they had a special bond.

Some of those parties I’d been to in London had great production, grand stairs cases to the DJ booth, film set props, dress code themes, etc, but the Factory was just a big brick walled warehouse space, iron pillars, a massive sound system and a lighting system based around one, huge disco ball. And that was it, save for a juice bar (the venue was dry), a spotlessly clean chill out area and a drinking fountain.

The music wasn’t that clichéd big room tribal sound, that came later, it was a real mixture of US stuff, MK, Murk, Def Mix, Strictly Rhythm, and maybe slightly harder edged UK stuff like X-Press 2 and the Farley and Heller’s mixes of DSK and Happy Monday’s ‘Stinkin Thinkin’.

I think it opened at midnight but didn’t warm up till about 3am with things really firing by about 6am. At that time in London you were usually asleep on someone’s sofa or on a night bus.

The crowd was raw too. Subsequently the Factory became associated with New York ‘club kids’, all showy in a ‘look at me’ way but in 1992 it was still quite natural, almost entirely gay, very black and Hispanic, with the banji boy look prevalent because people came dressed to dance not pose. There was this thing around 9 or 10am when transvestites, who were seriously these beautiful men, started to have catwalk vogue battles down the side of the dance floor, but it seemed to happen organically rather than in a contrived manner. Nothing about the club felt contrived.

One of the Factory moments that will always live with me was when Junior eased a thunder storm in the mix. Slowly, the rain got louder and louder and eventually overwhelmed the music which gradually disappeared. As this happen the club sank into total darkness, illuminated only by strobes placed across the ceiling that went off every so often in a series that gave the effect of lightning streaking across the ceiling. So I’m standing in the middle this New York warehouse, in the pitch black, in a thunder storm, with 2000 gay men, every person there is screaming and hollering. You could almost feel the rain. And then, after what seemed like an eternity, this vocal cuts across the rain, “It’s gonna be, a lovely day, for you and me” (the at that time, unreleased S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. record, from acetate) and then as the first beat kicking in, every single light in the pitch black club hit the disco ball, and the sun dropped into the room. I’m not doing it justice, it was like an explosion of pure energy, and the place went absolutely bonkers. I’d never seen or heard anything like it and I doubt will again.

I get goose bumps just thinking about it and I must admit, I do like talking about it, mainly because I wish I could go back.

Do you think any of those aspects have translated to the way you do things at Thunder?

I think I run the risk of sounding very conceited if I make any sort of connection between Thunder and the Sound Factory! But if there’s something I learnt from that experience it’s about importance of basics and staying focused on those. The music, the sound and the people. 

Ultimately, the nights you really remember, the nights that stay with you forever, are the ones where good music sounded great, you were surrounded by good, like-minded people and there was some sort of communal experience, even if it’s as simple as being a good laugh. Those qualities are not unique to the Sound Factory though, I guess they’ve been present at every great party ever. But that’s the stuff that makes me excited and that feeds my enthusiasm, to the point that it often gets the better of me!

I suppose Junior is also responsible for my penchant for a bit of drama too. I love a dramatic intro or even a period of silence. He did this thing where he worked this long, unreleased intro of the Sounds of Blackness – The Pressure for about 10 minutes at 6am. That was peak time, the dancefloor was heaving and then, 10 mins of accapella gospel. Every time you thought the beat would kick in, it didn’t, the tension mounted, people started actually crying, and then after he’d built the pressure to point you could almost feel it in the air around you, he let it go, the beat kicked in and dancefloor exploded.

Thunder is about to celebrate its 2nd birthday- for me the party’s always had a special vibe. Having DJ’ed for you and been a stalwart attendee I am probably hugely biased, but whenever I’m there I chat to people who have similar experiences and yet it’s their first one and they don’t know any of you lot other than what they’ve heard… What do you think is its magic formula?

I genuinely don’t know but I might be the wrong person to ask?! Luck maybe?! But you’re right, people do seem to like what the parties are about…

As I mentioned earlier, the basics are important to us and focusing on them has worked quite well. The music is what we can influence most of all; we’re all competent DJs, well Joe and Rick are anyway and we all come at house from slightly different angles too, so I think we complement each other.

Beyond that, we put a lot of thought into guests. They have to be booked on the strength of their DJing rather than productions. There’s a balancing act to be done with budgets and who we want, but we try to push that as far as we can. We managed to book John Heckle before he had an agent, convince Sven Weisemann and Patrice Scott to play a 120 capacity venue, and brought Gene Hunt over from Chicago for the first time in 20 years. 

We’ve also been lucky with our crowd. From the outset we had people who love the music and have been supportive of the parties. They spread the word, brought friends and friends of friends, and it’s snowballed. We try to make the atmosphere as inclusive possible, but to a certain extent it’s out of our hands, people either like it or they don’t. Fortunately for us the people that do like it are lovely, so the vibe is great. That’s really down to them, not us – they make the party what it is.

The final jigsaw piece is the sound. We lucked out massively when we moved to Dance Tunnel because not only is it a great space, but they are committed to making it sound better than any other club that size in London. We’ve also resisted the temptation to do more regular parties too, which hopefully keeps it feeling like a special event and also saves me from battering everyone on Facebook to death with spam. So yeah, mainly luck.

Thunder at Dance Tunnel

You always have great guests, but actually the three of you are strong as residents too- which is something you mentioned about the New York clubs back in the day also. Would you ever consider going balls-out ‘residents only’?

Residents-only nights are something I don’t think London ever got its head round. Whereas New York was built on that. On that first trip there was Vasquez at the Sound Factory, Tony Humphries at Zanzibar, Knuckles at The Roxy, Troy Parrish at Sugar Babies and before that you had all the disco legends, Levan, Gibbons, Scott, etc. But guest culture seems to reign supreme in London. It would take a brave person to go residents-only but it could be great, I’d love to do it… if anyone bothered to turn up! 

Finally, what’s in store for the Thunder birthday extravaganza and Year Three  for you guys?

We’re having two guests play at our birthday party, something we never normally do. Rather than try and get in some big name, who has no existing connection with the party, we like to try and celebrate our birthday parties with our friends. As you know, last year it was the Legendary Children, who provided all sorts of support and encouragement in our first year, this year it’s Neville Watson and Domenic Cappello.

Neville was the guest at our first ever party, he’s well known for his productions but he’s an even better DJ, one of the best we have ever had play for us. He’s also a good friend now and it’s possible that without him kicking me up the backside every couple of weeks, we’d have never got Thunder off the ground. So his influence has played a big part in us being here now.

Domenic has been resident at the Sub Club in Glasgow for almost 20 years now. Not resident in the in the once-a-month way or resident in the fitting it with his touring schedule way but playing there every single Saturday for 19 years. And the crowd up there are absolutely rabid, which is great because the atmosphere is so intense but they are also really demanding, so there’s no room for error. But that’s fine, because Domenic is one of the most gifted DJs I’ve ever heard. When he played for us in July last year the night bordered on being a religious experience, well, for me anyway. Like Neville, he’s become a good friend too.

As for year three, well you’ll just have to wait and see! We love it at Dance Tunnel and as its reputation spreads, we think more and more DJs will want to play there, so we intend carry on trying to twist agents’ arms and shoe horn in DJs wouldn’t ever normally get to hear play in a venue that size. Some of the DJs we’re already well down the road with getting onboard are simply jaw dropping. So, fingers crossed and all that!

Join Miles and the rest of the Thunder team down at Dance Tunnel tonight, Friday 6th September from 10pm to late for Thunder’s 2nd Birthday. 

For more of Elles’s work follow her on twitter: @e_l_l_e_s

Neville Watson

DJ and producer, former label and record store owner, occasional KiNK cohort and purveyor of deep, raw and jacking house, the illustrious Neville Watson joins us for the upcoming Big Thursday which will kick off the long bank holiday weekend in style. He’ll be deep down in the laser basement for Disco Bloodbath’s 6th Birthday with Bloodbath residents Ben Pistor and Damon Martin, whilst upstairs Shay Malt and Nick G takeover the top bar for raucous party times. 
 
Ahead of what is sure to be a totally mental party, we caught up with Neville to find out more about his rave past, what Myspace means to him, creative muses and more…
 
If you could go back to any dancefloor you’ve ever danced on, where would you want to be dancing?
 
Checkpoint Charlie at the After Dark club in Reading, 1994-2004. I walked in to that club as a punter and would eventually become a resident but in all that time the energy on that dancefloor never let up. A Jamaican social club down a dark alley with a thumping sound system and 300 baying lunatics. Magic.
 
It’s pretty well-documented that you met your frequent co-collaborator KiNK via the now mostly irrelevant Myspace. What do you think exists now in terms of social media to connect artists in the way you guys did and is it as important nowadays?
 
It is just as important, and it’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you can reach out to pretty much anyone instantly, a curse because it makes it that much more difficult to let things build slowly and get more of a lasting foothold. To be honest I quite miss MySpace; it felt a bit more anarchic and a little less micro managed. I’m fairly active on Facebook but I’ll be glad when something else comes along. Soundcloud is also massively important to what I do and is a real godsend. 
 
You’ve had Kim Ann Foxman guest on a track of yours and KiNK- are there any other vocalists currently on your wishlist to work with?

There isn’t really anyone particularly famous that I have a burning desire to work with but I’m always on the lookout for someone with a unique voice and interesting take on lyrics, and it’s much harder than it seems. One of the best vocals I’ve heard on a house track in the last few years is Lakuti’s on Portable’s Deeper Love.  There is someone I’m about to approach but I’m keeping it under wraps for the moment.

What can we see of your own music in the next few months?

The single One Four Green gets a re-release on Teng Records with new mixes from Deep Space Orchestra, Perseus Trax and Johnny Aux. A remix for your very own Dan Beaumont forthcoming on Disco Bloodbath. My main focus right now is the release of my album, Songs To Elevate Pure Hearts which comes out on Crème Organization in May.

What one piece of hardware, maybe not necessarily your favourite, could you not make music without?
 
If we’re talking absolute necessity, then as a machine I guess it would be my Mac. Sorry, I know that’s not very sexy but it’s the truth. I love my machines but if they all broke down tomorrow (I don’t really want to think about that) then I could still make shitty, faux “deep” house in the box. 
 
You were for a long time, the muse of your brother, the photographer Gavin Watson… who would you say was your own creative muse?

My wife, Stephanie. Without doubt. 

What is your favourite photo from the book you did with your brother, Raving ’89?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. There are so many good ones in there. It would either be the guy with “Go!” printed on his t-shirt, he looks like he’s been fired out of a canon and splatted into a patio door. Which pretty much sums up how it felt back then. 

Gavin Watson image from Raving '89

Or the one on page 108-109, it’s like some weird renaissance tryptych. Everyone in it looks completely disconnected from the other, and the weird ghostly floating head floating above that guy’s shoulder just pips it for me. We were surprised when doing the book how much of a dark vibe the pictures had, in our heads the memories of that time are really positive and uplifting but some of the pictures are almost Dante-esque.

Gavin Watson image from Raving '89

What’s your best moment or hijink from that era that you can remember and that wasn’t captured on camera?
 
My favourite moment will always be the local football team moment, there is a picture from it in the book but not of the best part. For those who don’t have the book, my friend’s were in the local pub team and they went straight from a party to the game; all high as kites. Basically they were in no fit state to be upright, let alone play football. The rest of us pulled up in the car beside the pitch, got out and started dancing to the stereo, summoned one of our friend’s in the team from the pitch to come over and make a jazz cigarette. Which he gladly did, abandoning the game. But my enduring memory is of my friend, Stuart, in goal doing the acid house goalie dance (feet spread out hands out in front) and watching the ball just go sailing past his head in to the back of the net. Much to the distress of his team mates who’d all had a good night’s sleep, and the utter bemusement of the other team. 
 
What were the first and last records released on your now sadly defunct record label Mighty Atom and what do they mean to you?

Good grief, you know about that label? I didn’t think anyone was taking any notice! The first one was Mono Tracks – Gabes Groove and the last one was Lovejuice – Acid Love. What do they mean to me? I’m not sure. Obviously they represent a particular time in my life but I’m not a particularly sentimental person, so once I put something to bed I’m pretty much done with it. That said we did put out some great records on there and I still play a few of them out on occasion. 

Taking into account the fact Mighty Atom was also a record store, what are your current fave record stores having previously had your own?

In the real world Phonica in the West End, Hardwax in Berlin and Alan’s Records in…. actually I’m not telling you where that is, you’ll have to find out yourself. Online, Juno for the customer and speed of light service. 

What one track prompted your first ever rave epiphany?
 
Reese & Santonio – Bounce Your Body To The Box
 
 
Join Neville for Disco Bloodbath’s 6th Birthday on Thursday 28th March here at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4:30am

Perseus Traxx

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.