At the heart of winter, the SWEAT crew is bringing the heat to Dalston Superstore with a sun-drenched double bill! Headlining this takeaway edition alongside Sonikku, the Wolf Music and Phonica Records affiliate, Al Zanders, will be serving disco and trippy house in the laser basement. Sweat head honcho Pavliné caught up with him for a tequila sunrise, and to find out what to expect from him at his Superstore debut!
Hey Alex! First of all and for those who might not know you, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your DJ career?
I’m no salesman, but I make funky, deep and sometimes ethereal house music, as well as edits, all designed to be enjoyable on a dance floor. I tend to DJ a variety and don’t like to stick to one genre or style, so you might hear anything from techno to broken beat.
You’ve recently moved from Sheffield to London. How is the music scene there compared to here in London?
I’ve actually been living here 18 months already. I’d say Sheffield is more communal because of its size – everyone knows everyone. London is a very different kettle of fish.
We are a huge fan of disco edits at SWEAT and your edit of Tangerue ‘Doin Your Own Thing’ is truly amazing. You released it under the Lodger moniker, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Thanks! I personally don’t take a lot of pride in edits, they’re just for me to DJ with. Lodger was the first alias I ever made years ago – and I’m probably not going to release under that moniker again, as I’m too focused on my own productions as AZ.
Your latest EP on Phonica Records had an impressive reception upon it’s release. What was the idea behind the tracks?
Thank you – they were inspired by DJ Shadow, the way he layers samples together from vastly different areas of music into one song, creating an interesting blend. Like that beef custard Joey eats in Friends – wrong but somehow still works…
What does 2018 have in store for you musically??
An EP with one of my biggest musical heroes, the first release on his label in 16 years, plus some fun edits and a track I’m working on with a singer that I’m very excited about. So a lot!
What can we expect from your set at Superstore?
Depends what you guys seem to like, but I’ve been enjoying a lot of trippy techno recently so maybe some of that mixed in with my usual flavours.
Can you think of a track that you might slide into your set to fit the tropical and hedonistic aesthetic of SWEAT?
Finally, our classic Dalston Superstore question: if we had a time machine ready to take you to any dance floor, past present or future, where would you like to go and why? I’d maybe go to see the Co-Op guys at Plastic People, but they seem to be making a comeback now – so no need for the time machine!
Catch Al Zanders alongside Sonikku at SWEAT on Friday 5 January from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
Whether spinning euphoric disco sets at Le Bain or stripped-down techno in Berlin, Honey Dijon is always on top of her game. A DJ’s DJ with an encyclopedic knowledge of dance music, she currently divides her time between New York, Berlin, and a packed touring schedule. Ahead of Honey’s set at Fhloston Paradise, we chatted about the current state of New York nightlife, testing tracks on actual dance floors, and why it’s impossible to choose a single historical club to visit with a time machine…
So to be clear for those who might not know, you’re from Chicago but currently based in New York and Berlin, or just New York?
I spent the last three summers in Berlin, and I love the city. I’m just trying to figure out how to move there full-time, since everybody and their mother lives there. And I still work quite a bit in North America. I’m going for three weeks, actually, because I’m going to Tel Aviv to play The Block, then I come to London to play Dalston Superstore, then I play Homopatik, then I go to Ibiza. It’s just easier [to tour in Europe] if I’m there.
Since you’ve been involved in New York nightlife for such a long time, what would you say is the biggest difference between what it was when you first arrived and where it’s at now?
The biggest difference now is that I don’t see very many people of color at the clubs anymore. It’s not as culturally diverse as it used to be. Musically, New York doesn’t have a sound anymore. It was once one of the most influential dance capitals of the world, it had so many influential artists back in the day. There are party promoters who are very successful, like ReSolute, Blk|Market, and Verboten, but I wouldn’t say that there’s a definite New York sound. The only DJs who are really making an impression in Europe right now are Levon Vincent, Joey Anderson, and a/just/ed but I’d have to say they’re much more embraced in Europe than in the States. I mean, EDM is still quite popular here.
And is that one of the reasons you’re interested in Europe at the moment, aside from the fact that it sounds like you’re booked so often?
Yeah, I think musically. Also, New York is such an expensive place. The best line that I ever heard about New York, as it is today, is ‘New York is a great place to sell art, but it’s not a place to make art.’ I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’m looking more to Europe. And it’s so funny, there’s such a resurgence in house music at the moment, and that’s something I’m very well versed in. They’re talking about how deep house is this next big trend, which is so funny because it never went away. It never went away, it’s just a difference face has been put upon it, if you know what I mean.
I definitely know what you mean.
Yeah. So I really feel more artistically free in Europe as an artist, so that’s one of the reasons that I would consider living there. But fees are not as high; it’s a trade-off. It’s a great place to live, but there’s a DJ every two minutes. And great ones.
And how do you feel about London?
I absolutely love London, I think it’s such a musically rich city. I mean, the music I find in London I tend to not find anywhere else. The record stores Phonica and Kristina are curated so well, I find such amazing things there. And they just really love music. Not just dance music; you hear all kinds of music in London. From jazz to pop to dub, you can hear anything. It’s very inspiring for me. But it’s mad expensive. And so vast. It’s not like the city of New York, where it’s expensive but you can sort of walk anywhere. it’s really spread out, the east is far from the west. But I absolutely love London.
And what sorts of records have you been playing out a lot lately? What can the crowd at Dalston Superstore expect on the 12th?
I’ve been playing more raw these days, more stripped-back, more techno-influenced, mixed in with classic things. But techno has been really inspiring, I don’t know if that’s coming from spending a lot of time in Berlin. I just listen for things that reflect my personality and reflect how I want to express music. I’ve been accused of being eclectic, and I’ve embraced that. Because when I was on Traktor for so many years, I found that I was more concerned with what I could do with the music instead of letting the music breathe. I realized I was a much better artist just going back to vinyl and using USB sticks and playing records. So I guess what they can expect is a more stripped-down version of house music. I don’t know what to call it anymore! The best word I can come up with is “soultek.”
So the fashion weeks are about to be upon us. You have a long-time collaboration with Kim Jones from Louis Vuitton and have DJed a ton of fashion week parties in the past. Are you playing this year or doing any shows?
Um, I’ve transitioned more into a personality.
So I’m going to more fashion events than actually doing after-parties now. The thing about fashion is it always has to be the next, the next, the next, you know, I’ve had my turn. The fashion crowd went to Ibiza this year for some reason, so I think you’ll be hearing a lot more house music and stuff like that. Now I just work with friends and do soundtracks for events or do soundtracks for shows more than I do parties. Which is much more exciting and fun, because you’re actually collaborating with artists and designers instead of being the after-party soundtrack.
Can you tell us anything about what you’re collaborating on this year or is it a secret?
I think the longest-standing relationship I have is doing the music for Louis Vuitton. There’s always research that goes into that show, that goes into that music, and every season I’ve worked with Kim, I’ve always done special edits of particular music. Last season, I did a special edit of Hounds Of Love. Kim likes really obscure things, so it’s really a matter of doing a lot of research and doing special edits tailor-made for the show. That’s always exciting and challenging and fun.
And do you have any new remixes coming out?
I just did a remix for My Offence for Hercules & Love Affair, I actually have two projects about to come out on Classic. I’m about to do a remix for DJ W!ld, I just did a bunch of original material that I’m shopping at the moment. So I have lots of little musical things on the go.
Do you think you’ll be playing your original stuff out while you’re DJing?
It’s so funny, I don’t even want to hear half the stuff after living with it. But yes, I slip things in. I have to, just to hear what they sound like. Sometimes you make a track, then you take it out, then you realize that the kick could be a lot louder, or the highs could have a lot more movement. You know, it’s one thing to make a track in the studio, but it’s another thing to play it out and get a reaction from the crowd. And sometimes, you don’t even think the stuff you’re gonna have a good reaction for gets a great reaction. So the trick about making music is just to make it.
And then test it.
And then test it. But that’s the thing, back in the day you used to have residencies where you were able to test your stuff. But now, you just test it on the road. And you don’t get a chance to really hear, you know, have a place where you can go. I don’t know how to express it, like if you had a residency, you could test things and live with them and see the crowd’s reaction change before you release it to the world. But now, now you don’t have that. Unless maybe you’re a Berghain or Panorama Bar resident. Or a Robert Johnson resident. A club where you can have a residency to play that kind of music. I think that’s the biggest challenge.
Now for the classic Dalston Superstore question, which is: if we had a time machine ready to take you to any dance floor, past present or future, where would you like to go and why?
God, that’s such a loaded question because there are so many dance floors. Oh my god! I mean, you’re talking to a person who loves music. Okay, I’m just going to give you a list. I would have loved to have gone to The Loft to hear Nicky Siano, I would have loved to have gone to The Music Institute in Detroit, I would have loved to have gone to The Warehouse in Chicago. I would have loved to have gone to Berghain in 2004. The Mudd Club, 1978. Danceteria, 1979. The World with David Morales and Frankie Knuckles. Disco 2000. Um, of course Paradise Garage. Of course Ministry of Sound in the early ’90s. The Saint.
But also, there are so many clubs that people don’t talk about that were heavily influential in my development as a person and as an artist. There’s one called Club LaRay in Chicago, Rialto’s, Cheeks. These are all clubs that were in Chicago that weren’t talked about. They’ve sort of been erased from the dance music vocabulary because they were predominantly black gay clubs that were very underground. And back in the day, the most two famous ones were The Warehouse and the Power Plant, but back then they were really… you know, it was black and gay. Straight people went, it wasn’t like straight people didn’t go, but they weren’t the popular clubs. Like I said, there are so many dance floors around the world… God. It’s like, there was Fabric when it first opened, or Home when that first opened in London. Jesus Christ, I mean it’s hard for me to say which and when and what because yeah, there are just so many. DTPM, Trade. For me, it wasn’t about black white gay straight, it was about a movement of music. And I didn’t think there was one school, the list could go on and on and on. So if I had a time machine, I would probably go back to each and every one of them.
I appreciate the history. I had never heard of Cheeks before you just said it.
Yeah, Cheeks was actually a trans bar where Ralphi Rosario used to play. I’ve been going to clubs since I was 12, I don’t even remember what year that was, but it was definitely late ’80s early ’90s. But I was able to get a fake ID and go to these places, and I was friends with a lot of other DJs and I got snuck into clubs, too. It was a different time, you know. It’s so funny now how…you know, it’s funny to me, I don’t want to use this word to offend anybody because at the end of the day anybody who loves this kind of music and promotes this culture I’m all for, but I don’t see a lot of um, it’s still a very heavily male dominated industry. I don’t see a lot of people of color that are tastemakers. There are hardly any women of color. I don’t see any queer women of color. I just have a different reference point about it, I suppose. But I don’t want to insult anybody or sound like a victim or sound like I’m jaded or bitter or upset. I think you have to be very careful in how you word these things, because it should be about the music at the end of the day.
And do you feel, because like, as a female DJ I don’t usually like asking other people the identity question, but do you feel responsible as a public figure or as someone in the scene, for being…
For being representative, for doing a good job representing your viewpoint?
Well, I think you can probably answer this. You don’t want to be considered a female DJ, you’re a DJ.
You don’t want your talent to be pigeonholed by your gender. But having said that, I don’t think I would have had the experiences I’ve had if I wasn’t who I was. So I think it’s important for me to tell those stories and those experiences, because those stories won’t be told otherwise. So it’s not so much that I feel a responsibility to anyone, it’s more that I feel like I’m giving a voice to experiences that otherwise would not have seen the light of day. Being a trans person now has become en vogue, as we so care to say. It’s one of those things I don’t want to be put in a box because of, but at the same time, it’s a thing that also gives me the advantage of having had such a rich musical cultural experience. And being able to move between different worlds and being able to have different dialogues with different audiences with music. You couldn’t put a Chicago house DJ on the main floor at The Black Party, but yet they did, because I’m from Chicago, and I’m trans.
I think my quote unquote ‘gender experience’ has allowed me to navigate different worlds, which has given me the opportunity to have a rich musical cultural experience that I get to share with other people. I can’t control what other people say about me, but I can control what I say about myself. I don’t define myself by my gender, I don’t define myself by the music that I play, I don’t define myself. I just define myself as Honey. I’m Honey. And all of these experiences have made me who I am as a person. So if I have to communicate that to other people, that’s the best answer that I can give, that I’m fortunate in a way that I’ve been able to navigate different worlds, because I’ve been many different things. I’ve been able to go from straight to gay, gay to straight, whatever you want to call it, black white straight gay bi purple trans, and each has its own language and vocabulary, and I’ve been able to incorporate all of that into my expression of music. Not a lot of people get to do that. Most people you know have only been to one, they’re comfortable. Not comfortable, but if you’ve never had to question your identity and you’ve been able to be successful in one lane, well, there’s a whole freeway out there.
Join Honey Dijon for Fhloston Paradise in the laser basement and Whitney Weiss in the top bar for Nancy’s this Friday 12th September at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.
This Saturday sees two of our favourite parties come to Superstore for an excellent team-up taking place over both floors. The basement plays host to Hot Boy Dancing Spot, where special guest Rory Phillips, fresh from a US tour that even took in a celebrated Beats In Space appearance, will join residents The Lovely Jonjo and Hello Mozart. Meanwhile, upstairs, vinyl-obsessives Drop The Needle return for another journey through the depths of their record bags.
We caught up with DTN guest Goncalo Pereira aka ZNTN from record label and mixtape series How The Other Half Lives to quiz him on all things wax ahead of the party…
Why the cassette tape limitations on the HTOHL mixtapes?
As I didn’t want people to try to use obvious dance music genres or edits I thought that referring to it as a mix-tape would help to put it in perspective. No mixing and a short amount of time will make people only get their favourites and not care if a track is easily mixable or not. Also making a reference to cassettes might bring back memories of old tapes.
Is there much, or any, crossover with tracks that feature on them, to what you play out?
Depends on the night. It’s a great way to find new tracks and I’ve had a couple residencies that worked around the same sort of music selection and mixing style, but I’m mostly booked for more of a club type of night. I do try to mix it up a bit if it’s early enough and bring some weird gems through the night but I suppose this project is an outlet for music I don’t usually play out.
Which one do you find yourself coming back to more often that not?
I try to go over all of them every now and then and my best-of keeps on changing, I think some of them take a while to get to you. I’d suggest as a starting point the mix-tapes by Ivan Smagghe, Bennedict Bull’s four part mix-tape, Romain BNO, Scott Fraser, Justin Robertson, JD Twitch…
What can we look forward to on the record label for the rest of the year?
I just released a couple weeks ago a double 12” by The Draughtsman (Alex Egan), that includes six original tracks and remixes by Cosmo Vitelli, Tim Paris, Daniel Avery and Roman Flugel.
Currently I am working on release number four which includes a new project called Herman Brahns (Unlikely and Medlar) with remixes by Scott Fraser and DMX Krew.
Plus getting back on guest mix-tapes and more of my own original material.
What’s currently on your stereo?
Currently on my stereo or piled next to it are Office Of Future Plans, The Asphodells, Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean, Yo La Tengo – Fade, Macadam Mambo 003, Anthony Naples – Moscato, Rogue Edits 003.
What’s your favourite record store ever?
Embarrassed to pick favourites but I make a weekly visit to Rough Trade for my ‘rock’ collection and to Phonica for my ‘electronic’ collection. Kristina and Sounds Of The Universe are also unmissable. Back in Lisbon I’d pick Flur as a mandatory stop.
What was the last record you bought?
You can never buy just one and you can tell how divided I feel about my collection which prompted the mix-tape project.
Last week includes Crackboy – Crackwood, Doubleheart – Roots, Brassica – Temple Fortune, Jawbreaker/Jawbox split, Husker Du – Everything Falls Apart…
Why is wax still so important?
If you’re paying for something it has to count – I completely understand the necessity for digital for it’s portability and accessibility but digital-only releases are disposable. If you’re willing to release a vinyl record or to pay for one then there’s more effort involved and that will keep the quality on another level. The records you buy on vinyl will most likely be your favourites. Plus the obvious higher quality and amazing artwork! Having said that I love when albums come with voucher for digital.
Discogs or crate digging?
I have to say it’s usually Discogs, I do some digging but mostly trying to track down records I’ve missed or are out of print. There are also a lot of American labels that I admire which don’t seem to do particularly well in the UK so it’s impossible to find them in second-hand shops.
And what’s one track we can expect to hear from you at Drop The Needle?
Can I pick two? An upper and a downer?
Fader – Fortunate Alpha
Sophie – Nothing More To Say (Jackmaster Dub)
Join Goncalo in the top bar this Saturday 23rd February for Drop The Needle. Downstairs plays host to Hot Boy Dancing Spot with special guest Rory Phillips.
Next weekend Phonica Records store founder Simon Rigg joins us in the upstairs bar for PAG vs B(e)ast and will be sure to be digging deep into his own vast vinyl collection for some actual musical gems. Superstore boss Dan Beaumont pinned him down ahead of the party for a chat about a subject dear to both their hearts: records, record stores and more records…
How and why did you open Phonica records?
I opened Phonica in 2003. I was managing another Soho record store at the time – Koobla, and the guys who run Vinyl Factory and Fact Magazine approached me to open a shop for Vinyl Factory. So I left and brought Heidi and Tom Relleen from Koobla to run the place with me. We had a blank canvas and a great space on Poland St, so we designed it how we wanted our ideal record store to be.
How has Soho changed since you opened?
Soho is still thriving- a few years back, it was thought the beating heart of London was moving east and Soho would lose its character and its buzz… but it’s still there!
Why are record shops more important than ever?
Record shops are more important than ever because they are social places where people can gather and share a common interest, where you can be introduced to new music you haven’t heard before (or that would be suggested by a computer / Spotify / iTunes Genius), where staff might know what records you like (if you come often enough) and where you can meet like-minded people. Downloading records on a computer and trawling through Beatport can be an empty, unenjoyable experience but going to a local record shop can be a rewarding one.
What are your top three sellers of all time?
We don’t sell as many copies of the big records now as we used to five or six years ago. Before downloads, both legal and illegal, many people would buy a 12inch as it was the only way to hear THAT track they had heard at the weekend… our biggest sellers have been Bookashade’s Mandarine Girl, Tiefschwarz’s remix of Spektrum ‘Kinda New’, Villalobos’s version of Depeche Mode ‘Sinner In Me’, definitely around the minimal ‘era’. Nowadays, the new Bicep release has been flying out along with the Kon & Amir edit of Cerrone.
What are your favourite labels at the moment?
I’m a big fan of Sushitech, probably the most consistent house label out there. L.I.E.S. are on a roll at the moment too… alongside Permanent Vacation, Resista, Firecracker / Unthank, Cocktail D’Amore, Golf Channel, Andres’s releases on La Vida, too many to mention.
My favorite club as been Robert Johnson in Frankfurt – it’s small, perfectly-sized with a great sound system – it’s just like playing at a mates house party but, of course, with a much better system. I played alongside Ewan Pearson all night for 9 hours. I also really like playing downstairs at Watergate as it has such a great backdrop with the Spree behind, especially when it’s iced up in the winter.
Tell us a secret about Phonica…
My favourite Phonica Birthday Party, which always happens around autumn each year, was the one at Corsica Studios with Four Tet, Henrik Schwarz and the first appearance from legendary Chicago house producers, Virgo Four. However, it almost didn’t happen – only a few hours before, I got a call from Merwyn from Virgo Four, who was stuck in an interview room at Heathrow as the guys didn’t have the correct work visa and with all their keyboards and guitars, they were clearly here to ‘work’. It took a lot of pleading and after a few hours, thanks to an immigration guy having been to one of our parties, they were let in for 24 hours!!!
What are your favourite record shops in the world?
Well, there aren’t many shops left – especially those for crate digging and I seem to have most things I want now, so I don’t really go looking anywhere else now. I really like Dope Jams in New York for its no nonsense attitude, Discos Paradiso in Barcelona for the great service and decent selection and Rotation in Berlin!
Simon Rigg plays upstairs at PAG vs B(e)ast with Borja Peña, Tom Peters and Avihai Partok on Saturday 6th October 2012 from 9pm – 4am.
You can listen to the new Lord Of The Isles EP on Phonica Records right here
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.
This Saturday get down to your local record emporium and show them some love. Our record shops are a cornerstone of London’s musical heritage – not only are they stocked with amazing sounds they are also full of amazing specialist knowledge and a personal touch that you will never get from iTunes. Saturday April 21st will be the UK’s 4th annual record store day – virtually every independent record store (or shop as we say on this side of the pond) will hold special events and sell exclusive music that you will only be able to get on that day.
Here are 5 local favourites….
Our favourite vinyl neighbours – Kristina sell amazing music across the board from serious disco originals and seminal rock’n’roll to serious upfront house wax. No bargain bins here; if it’s on their shelves then you can bet it’s an essential.
For Record Store Day they’re opening at 10am with loads of second hand stock and DJs playing all day including Auntie Flo and Veronica Falls.
House, house and more f******* house! If you like your plastic to go boompty boomp then this is your place. Blackmarket is a London house institution – they’ve been serving up house of all persuasions since 1990.
Black Market have Ron Trent, Jimpster, George FitzGerald and more performing throughout Record Store Day from 12-8pm.
Horse Meat Disco’s Severino will be hosting his ever-popular party here at Superstore, aptly named Severino And Friends. He’s joined in the lazer basement by the mysterious house duo Waze & Odyssey whilst the upstairs bar sees Italy’s Kinki Bros take over. We caught up with Severino for a quick chat about his night, his new mix for Phonica and most importantly, what he’s getting us for our upcoming birthday!
You’re part of the legendary Horse Meat Disco… what’s been your personal highlight over the years and what are you looking forward to most as part of this disco behemoth?
HMD is such a great adventure that we’ve been having for more than 8 years now. Soo many highlights: DJing all over the world, DFA parties, fashion shows… too many; but the most important is at The Eagle every Sunday, still having fun with cool friends and open minded crowd.
Your night Severino And Friends features Waze & Odyssey- what is it about them do you feel represents the type of music you like to play?
YES. I’ve always been playing house music over any kind of genre. Since I moved here in 1997 I’ve seen the UK garage/speed garage/funky house/tribal/electroclash etc… It’s all about house music now and there’s lots of great stuff and producers (young and not). I think Waze & Odyssey represent a kind of old skool US ‘90s house but with a modern twist.
Fellow Italians Kinki Bros are playing upstairs- do you think between you guys you represent the best of the music of your mother country?
There are so many good Italians around who live in London and especially understand this city. It’s not an easy capital to live in (some Italians complain about weather/people/stress) I never complain because I LOVE it here. Nico de Ceglia (my half music partner for my HYENA STOMP project) is one the respectful ones.
You’re playing our birthday party next month- firstly what amazing presents are you getting us and secondly what musical delights have you got for the occasion?
OH LA LA. I still have to think of the pressie. Music-wise I will say some house classics but maybe some GABBA too HAHA.
Tell us a bit about your Phonica Mix- what are your favourite tracks on it and what are the more unusual gems?
That’s a difficult question because I like all the tracks I put on it. I try to put them all together in an accessible way to listen and maybe dance. Sometimes it’s a deep journey but also with a bit of vocals and revisited classics like from Bucketheads to Nick Harris in a more modern way.