Friday 7 June 2013

Video: Dying Days of the Paradise Garage

This remarkable 2 hour long video surfaced earlier. It seems to be made up of extracts from the last week at the Paradise Garage and some from the last night itself. I’ve spoken to a few longer in the tooth club goers in New York and none of them have seen this before. Little bits of it, but not all 2 hours! It really is a treasure, a window directly onto the dancefloor of the clubs that shaped the music so many of us love today. And there are so many magic moments. The queue, the famous ramp, the lone dancers wheeling away on the empty floor to ‘E2-E4’, the house music, the crowd’s reaction ‘Spank’, the even bigger reaction to ‘You Used To Hold Me’, the show-womanship of Gwen Guthrie, Liz Torres and Master C and J live on stage, Keith Haring on the dancefloor, the dancefloor unity during ‘We Are Family’, in the both with Larry as he drops Jeanette Thomas ‘Shake Your Body’, Adonis, the ultimate end of night moment of ‘Make It Last Forever’ and Ce Ce Rogers ‘Someday’ being played at the end. Twice. For me, it demonstrates that were Larry still alive today, he certainly would not be stuck in a disco time warp. But on a more basic level, it’s a probably 2 hours of the most fantastic video on youtube.

EDIT: the video disappeared from youtbe and Boiler Room put up an edited version. Kind of killed it, but it's all there is now...

You can also check out the Paradise Garage Top 93 as published innDJ Mag in 1993 >>here<<

Thursday 18 April 2013

Mix: Thunder Guest Mix for Pop Your Funk

Pop Your Funk is a San Francisco based podcast and blog dedicated to "delving into the deeper side of electronic music and its roots". It's a veritable treasure trove of interesting stuff, from record reviews to interviews to the excellent in house podcasts to the range of great guest mixes, which over have featured the likes of John Heckle, Aybee, Placid and John Tedaja, amongst others.

Some these DJs have played at Thunder with me, Joe and Rick too, so we were pretty pleased to get the chance to have a Thunder mix up alongside theirs on such a clued up website, and I was equally pleased to get a chance to do teh mix.

You can stream the mix using the player below the tracklist and if you want to download it, just to click on the link over to Pop Your Funk >>HERE<<

Have a look round while you're there, it'll be worth your while!

Hieroglyphic Being – Ancient Echoes (The Gherkin Tribute Sessions 2003)
DJ Rush – I Wanna (Miles' Thunder Edit)
Henrik Schwarz – Chicago
Juju and Jordash – Coffin Train Getaway
O B Ignitt – Oh Jabba
Innerspace Halflife - Edo Tensai
The Outerlimit - Dance In A Daze (There Version)
Project Democracy - Is This Dream For Real? (Psychedub)
Ernie – Black and Grey
Phuture – We Are Phuture
Sound Stream – Inferno
Delano Smith - What I Do (Reconstructed By Mike Huckaby)
Recloose - Electric Sunshine (Andres Remix)
Brawther - Asteroids & Stardust (The Classic Revamp)
The Vision РShard̩

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Interview: Marshall Jefferson

At the end of last year, I got the opportunity to catch up with the incredibly affable Marshall Jefferson, one of the true house originals. We discussed all sorts of things, including the story behind ‘Move Your Body’, the roll of cheap and easy credit in the development of house, how Afrika Bambaataa stole the idea for ‘Planet Rock’ from the Hot Mix 5, and, steamed cabbage. All very informal and via an iPad Skype session, so I got live dinner progress updates…

Let me just get you recording, cool.
Oh man, you’re not going to show my ugly face are you?

No! I’ve just got a little digital sound recorder.

Oh, okay. That’s good, don’t get the face!

Okay. Thanks for taking the time to speak to me. I thought I’d just outline how I thought I could do this and you cant tell me whether you think it works or not yeah? I thought we’d start back in the very early days because a lot of people are interested in that historical element of Chicago house and kind of work through that, working up to a present day what’s going on and stuff you’re into. Does that sound reasonable?

That sounds very reasonable.

Good stuff. How long have we got, have you gotta get off anywhere?

Nah, I’m fine. Check this out, what the hell is this? I’m steaming some cabbage. Isn’t that the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen in your life?

Looks great! Where are you?

I’m at home in Manchester. 

So have you got friends up there?


Alright, I’ll come onto that later! Is the cabbage safe? It’s not boiling over?

Yeah the cabbage is safe, it’s on a timer, there’s four minutes left.

Okay, well we can have a cabbage break if you need that?

I don’t need no break man.

So, you were considering as one of the first real stars of house music, international stars of house music anyway. I was just wondering how you got into house music originally?

Urm, okay, well I got into house music from listening to the Hot Mix 5 on the radio, seeing various house DJs like Lil Remix Roy and Lil John and Lil Louis and Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles. I started making house music when I drove my friend, who was a guitar player, to a guitar store, The Guitar Centre in Chicago. And the salesman tried to sell us this thing, it was a sequencer right? He said, “With this sequencer you can play keyboards like Stevie Wonder even if you don’t know how to play.” So my friend was like, “You can’t do that man, you gotta take lessons, you gotta practice…” Ya know. But, I listened to him and believe him right, so I said. “I wanna buy it”, I said, “How much?” He said 3,000. And I was like “I dunno man, that’s a lot of money”. He said, “Well you gotta job?”, I say, “Yeah”, he says, “Where?”, I say, “Post office”. So he says, “Lemme try and get you a line of credit”. So he gets me a line of credit, $10,000! I said, “Oh man I’m gonna buy it!” My friend was like, “Why you gonna buy that”, and I said, “Man I wanna play keyboards like Stevie Wonder”. So, bought that right? So the salesman says to me, “You don’t wanna have this sequencer without the keyboard do you?”, and I says, “No”. So I bought the keyboard. And then he says, “You don’t want the sequencer and the keyboard without the drum machine do you?”. So I says, “Ah yeah, you’re right”. So I bought the drum machine. He says, “You don’t wanna have the sequencer, keyboard and drum machine and not have a mixer to play it all through do you?”. And I was like, “Oh yeah, you’re right!”. So I bought a mixer, right? I bought a TB-303. And I bought an amp and I bought a 4-track recorder. You know, bought all kinds of cool stuff.

A whole studio?

Yeah! I run up 9,000 on the tab, right? So, I took it all home and about an hour later all my friends are over looking at all the stuff I bought. And man, they really took the piss out of me man. They really wound me up about it and made me feel two inches tall through with me. “What kind fool buys all this stuff without even knowing how to play it? AAAAARGH!”. You know, man. I wrote my first song two days later and the next year, hand on my heart, DJs all over the world starting hiring keyboard players and telling them to play keyboards like Marshall Jefferson. That’s the truth.

Had you made music before that? Because also, some of your productions are probably a little bit more musical than some of the other early Chicago house productions. So, were you making music beforehand or was this your introduction to making music?

That was my introduction into making music.


And, you know, basically, what the sales guy explained to me with the sequencer like that, out of playing stuff out of like 40 bpms and when I sped it up to 120, it sound like I was Elton John man! I mean, the power that I had was, uhhh, intoxicating. I was slowing this stuff down then speeding it up and I was sounding brilliant at keyboards! Oh man, I mean, it was great. A lot of my friends, I guess I’m not the most threatening guy in the world, so a lot of my friends saw me playing keyboards and slowing stuff down and speeding it up and they played it too, right?


It was this whole, “I’m smarter than Marshall, I can do better than that” you know? A lot of them started doing the same thing and it was, to this day, most of the early Chicago guys played all of their own keyboards. We couldn’t afford keyboard players because we didn’t have the big budget like the New York guys and stuff. That’s cool, everyone had their own sound and their own style and you could tell the difference between a Marshall Jefferson record and a Steve Silk Hurley record and you could tell the difference between a Steve Silk Hurley record and an Adonis record and you could tell the difference between a Jamie Principle record and a Larry Heard record. It was distinct! You could tell between all of us, it was wonderful really.

And everyone was doing the same thing then really? Playing things at a lower speed and then ramping it up?

I think everyone was doing it except for probably Larry Heard. I mean, Larry Heard was a real musician. Larry Heard could play all this stuff real speed, but the rest of us? We were all slowing the stuff down and speeding it up. But the thing is, we were all really confident in ourselves too. I tell people all the time with today’s technology they can play all their own instruments and do all that stuff and they STILL don’t believe me. You know what I mean? That’s confidence. I guess we all had big egos back then. 

Was there like a kind of sense of community as producers? You were all going to the same clubs and were part of the same scene, were you mutually supportive?

We were all like brothers man. Fighting and stuff. You know, we loved each other, like brothers. We’re like brothers to this day.

Are you still in touch with all those guys?

I’m in touch with everyone man. I’m still in touch with all those guys, they’re all still like my brothers. I gave all of ‘em work when I was working with the majors and stuff, so you know, it all worked out pretty good I think.
There was a discussion on Resident Advisor over the weekend about Lil Louis, was that you waded in there? In defense?

That was me man, of course! Somebody trying to destroy Lil Louis man, I say get outta here. He didn’t miss that gig on purpose man. 

That looked like some fairly unprofessional promoters, some strange stuff going on there… But you’re still sticking together after all these years?

Yeah, I’ve had arguments with Lil Louis too, but he’s another one of my brothers. He used to live a couple of blocks away from me, Fast Eddie was right between me and him, two doors down from me. Yeah, yeah man. I gotta defend him, even if Lil Louis won’t defend himself because it’s a pretty good thing he’s defending himself as well because he’s pretty arrogant. They’ll tear him a new asshole [on Resident Advisor], I’m serious. He’s a good friend, but oh man. Some of the things he says has me laughing for weeks. People with egos they defend some people, they make me laugh, but people with egos, he’ll say one wrong thing on there and, man… It’ll be heaven.

Isn’t there a story behind Lil Louis’ track Video Clash? Didn’t you have something to do with that?

Ah yeah, I co-produced that with him. And that’s all I’m gonna say about it!

You’re not credited for it though are you?

He doesn’t need any more negative press!

Okay, cool, we’ll leave that one there! A lot of your tracks have broken through in the clubs of Chicago, as opposed to you being signed up by labels and promoted that way, you actually promoted via tape directly via DJs. Were you going to the clubs and hanging out in the clubs back then?

Yeah, a little bit. I would hang out at The Music Box for music, The Copper Box for sex.

What was the music scene like in Chicago then? Was it varied, was it competitive amongst the clubs? Was there a sense of competition about who had the hottest unreleased tracks?

I don’t know… When I was… [Marshall tastes the cabbage] ooooh I put too much pepper on that… I don’t know! I had like 15 songs or so playing in the club and it there wasn’t really much competition, until the records came out. But in terms of having unreleased stuff in the club? That was pretty much monopolised by me and Jamie Principle I think.

You mentioned there about when the records came out, obviously things really blew up for you with House Music Anthem. Isn’t there a story about how long that took to come out? Wasn’t that doing the rounds off tape for quite some time before you finally got it out on vinyl?

That shit got all the way out to England and stuff man. Ron Hardy he played it six times in a row after first hearing it. And from there…

And that was off tape?

That was off tape. I gave him a cassette tape and he listened to it in the booth and was like, “Oh shit!” and I was like, “Alright! I’m gonna be a star, this is gonna be huge!”. Larry Sherman refused to put it out for me even after I gave him $1,500 to press up 1000 copies for me, he just didn’t like it. He thought it was house music and it wasn’t going to make any money. So, in the meantime, Ron Hardy had about a three month exclusive on it, hottest song in this club. Everytime he played it, it was like a stampede to the dancefloor. I had a friend Sleazy D and he used to get in the Music Box all the time, and everyone was like, “Hey Sleazy!”, you know. Sleazy wanted to get in Frankie Knuckles’ club The Powder Plant for free, so he gave Frankie Knuckles a copy of it, so Frankie started playing it. Somehow, it just so happened that Frankie Knuckle’s best friend was Larry Levan in New York, who played in The Paradise Garage, so Larry Levan started playing it. Somehow Alfredo from Ibiza got a copy and he started playing it in Ibiza. From there, somehow some British DJs got a copy of it, I believe the guy was Jazzy M, another man Oakenfold, maybe Rampling or Pickering, one of those, they started playing it in England, in the UK right?


And next thing I know, I’m getting calls about house music from England. Of course, I’m hearing an English accent and I think it’s one of my friends taking the piss. Man, they all flew to Chicago, everybody! Melody Maker, Mixmag, you know? All these magazines flew to Chicago to interview people about house music. So, one day, Larry Sherman’s bragging and all that, “I know all about house music, I’ll take you to house music clubs in Chicago”, and he didn’t know nothing like that. So he took a bunch of reporters to as many house clubs he knew, and every single club, they played Move Your Body and people went crazy. They played Move Your Body off cassette. So, what happened next, the very next day, he pressed up Move Your Body on Trax Records, and that was that.

Was it originally meant to come out your own label? Is that right?

Yeah, it was meant to come out on my own label, Other Side Records, and it was meant to be OS002. He scratched out that label and added his label, which was TX117. To this day, you can still get copies, somebody has copies, where he scratched out my label and added his label in the wax.

That sounds like a typical Larry Sherman story. He’s developed quite a reputation as being a bit of a character and I’ve heard quite a lot of people speaking in not too glowing terms about him. I’ve also heard Eric Lewis and Merwyn Sanders behind Virgo Four saying that actually, he was instrumental, because, even though he wasn’t shy of pulling a few fast moves, he put out music for people. He’d give people a little bit of money and actually, that’s what fuelled the scene. How did you find him? Did you have a good relationship with him? 

Urrrrrm. Yeah I think so. I mean, he allowed me to do the A & R process for a good year. I got Mr Fingers – Can You Feel It  and Adonis – No Way Back and Phuture - Acid Tracks and Jungle Wonz stuff. So, you know, he let me pick out a lot of songs for him, so I would say so.

He kind of underpinned a lot of what was going on but not actually getting put out on vinyl? 

Oh yeah, a lot of that stuff wouldn’t of that stuff wouldn’t have got put out on any record label on the planet. He definitely deserves credit for that.

I heard a bit of a story as well about Boo Williams sitting in the basement of Trax, banging out the centres of old disco records so he could melt them down with sneakers and stuff to get those records out?

Hey, whatever it took. But he got those records out.

So, what was your first production? Was that the Virgo record on Other Side, was that Mechanically Replayed?

Nah, Virgo – Go Wild Rhythm Trax, that became Mechanically Replayed, I didn’t play the keyboard on that. Go Wild Rhythm Trax was something I played keyboards over, but I think it might have been David Cope, I’m not sure.


Vince Lawrence was involved in that wasn’t he?

Yeah, he handed me off. That was like a full album with instrumentals and stuff and he took off all the keyboards. 

Really? Why?

Yeah man, see Vince was, at that time, Vince knew how easy house music was to make. Him and Dempsey were the first you see. And Vince knew. So everybody that comes up trying to make a record, Vince would hand them off and make it seem like making a record was the most difficult thing in the world. I mean, with that record, he was telling me that you’ve got to have the right amount of dust on the console, you can’t have too much and you can’t have too little. Shit like that. He put so much shit on my head that I didn’t know up from down when he got through with me. I was about to quit the music business and give it all up.

So, what made you change your mind?

I went to The Music Box and I saw Ron Hardy play [Sleazy D] I’ve Lost Control and saw everybody lose control and I said, “Hey, I can do this”.

It sounds like back then Chicago was almost like the Wild West of house music, like that final frontier with a lot of stuff going on?

Yeah! It was wild, but it was still a family. But yeah, there was a lot of wild stuff going on.

Okay, well you’re back over in England for the Hacienda Thirty parties, but you first came to the UK for the House Music Tour in 1987, is that right?

That’s right.

Was that your first experience of the acid house culture phenomenon in England?

In 1987? There was no acid house then. The first time we went it was people in suits and ties man.


Yeah, the only places that got us, for the most part, people being like, “What the fuck is this?”, you know? In their suits and ties and stuff.  The only place, the only club, that really got where were coming from was the Hacienda. And there was another place. Our best gig was at this place called Rock City in Nottingham. That wasn’t even a proper club, but man those were the people that got us.

So a very different vibe in England from what was going on in Chicago at the time?

Right, but when I came back 6 months later after Acid Trax had come out, that’s when we found our place, T-shirts and all that shit. And I was like, “What the fuck is going on here?”. Aciiiiiied Aciiiiiied!

So in Chicago, no-one was aware that acid house had caught on in the UK and had exploded?

Man, they caught on pretty quick when they found out money was coming in, everybody started making acid tracks, and I was like, “I don’t wanna make any more”. I sold my TB-303 for $1000, I only paid 150 for it so that was a good deal. 

Do you feel at that point your sound developed in a different way. It was around that time you started to produce for more major labels on the east coast, is that right?

Yeah, that’s when I started working with Ce Ce Rogers and Ten City and Kym Mazelle, and you know, that’s when I really got deep into the live instruments.

So was that a big transition production-wise to go from home studios to, I imagine, quite big fully-blown studios.

Well it wasn’t as big of a transition as you’d think. I’d played this stuff on my keyboard and these new instruments felt like playing what I played. It wasn’t difficult at all, it was a natural transition.

When you were over here in the UK on the House Music Tour, when you came back six months later were you DJing at that point, or were you coming over as a performing artist?

I came over as a performing artist, I came over with Ce Ce Rogers and Kym Mazelle. Matter of fact, Kym Mazelle just rang me, I can do a three way call with her if you want. Right now.

Kym Mazelle, I think, is one of the first few house records I bought I think, ‘I’m Useless’? Is that right? 

Yeah, you wanna talk to her real quick? She’s a lovely, lovely lady.

Yeah, if you want!

Let me see if I can do it on here… No… That’s not it… Ah no, I can’t do it on my iPad. Ahhhh shit.

I was hoping I could get her to dish a bit of dirt on you there Marshall.

Ah man, it would be difficult to get her to dish any dirt on me, lovely person.

When did you start getting into DJing as well as producing? Were you always doing that or was it something that came later?

Yeah I was DJing first before I started making music. Like I said, that was the Hot Mix, Frankie Knuckles, Lil Remix Roy and Kenny Jammin Jason and Ralphy Rosario and Farley. 

Were you DJing in the clubs in Chicago or kind of at parties, or?

Nah man, I wasn’t big enough until my records came out, then I started doing it. But I was the world’s greatest bedroom DJ.

I thought that was me!

You shoulda seen me in my bedroom man doing all those tricks. Man, I was SENSATIONAL. 

So did you find that that kind of grounding in DJing kind of set you up for dance music production? Because some people find that sometimes DJs don’t always make great producers and great DJs don’t always make great DJs, even though some of the basic principles are the same, making people dance you know?

Right, I think you either have an ear or you don’t. I’ve seen guys with rock ears man, they can’t hear shit. Don’t know what’s going on, can’t feel the crowd, I think it’s something you’re born with. 

Production-wise, have you got much in the pipeline at the moment? Or are you concentrating on DJing at the moment?

Pretty much DJing at the moment, I don’t have shit in the pipeline. I don’t have shit happening. I have my little funky label, Open House Recordings, and I put something out on there every three months or so, but mostly I DJ and I pick up some cheques from songs I did 25 years ago soon. That’s all I do.

That pays the bills?

That pays the bills.

You don’t live in Chicago any more do you?

I just came from Chicago, but I don’t really live there. I go back and forth from the States to England. I live in Manchester, New Jersey and Chicago. Although my house in Jersey was completely destroyed by the hurricaine, Sandy.


Yeah, so right now it’s Chicago and England. 

Sorry to hear about your house. I’ve got some friends in New Jersey and their house is flooded out in Jersey City. Their house is kind of okay but the basement is full of water.

Tell them that they’ve really got to contact FEMA, because FEMA’s really on it man. They’re really very, very helpful. If they just call them and let them come over and see the damage they’ll send a cheque right over.

I’ll let them know!

I mean, they’re really on it man. I don’t know what it’ll be like know if they’ve waited too long or whatever, but as soon as it happened, my girl got right on it and she got help.

That’s good advice, thank you! Earlier you were talking about the close-knit sense of community amongst Chicago house producers back in the day. Do you think that’s gone in Chicago now? There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of house music coming out of Chicago at the moment. Off the top of my head, the only label that’s really prolific is Jamal Moss’ Mathematics, there doesn’t seem to be a lot coming out. Is that because people have moved on? What’s happening in Chicago these days?

Well a lot of music is still coming out, it’s just that nobody’s hearing it. It’s extremely crowded now, if Move Your Body came out today,  nobody would hear it. I wouldn’t make it if it came out today. If I did an extremely hot record that’s better than Move Your Body, I’d have a hard time getting it played because it’s so crowded. When I first started there were 20-25 new dance records a week coming out, now there’s like 30-50,000 new dance records coming out a week because everybody can make it. So you have that really long jam of new artists making music and I’m not so sure that I’m better than everybody else. You know what I mean?

Yes, well maybe not, but… There’s a lot of competition.

Yeah, there’s a lot of competition. So, that’s a problem. Just imagine what a brand new artists that nobody’s heard of has to go through to get his stuff listened to.

Are there labels still putting stuff out in Chicago that we’re not aware of then? I know that Gene Hunt is still doing stuff, but he’s putting stuff out in Europe, and some of the stuff on Mathematics, that’s from Europe. Are people just not really putting out records in Chicago any more? Or is it just that competition thing?

It’s that competition thing man, 100%. Everybody’s putting out records, it’s just too crowded. 

So, you mentioned the Hacienda way back when you first visited it, did you go back there more? Do you play there more regularly over the years? 

Fuck yeah man, that was like my home away from home. 

Didn’t you live in England for a bit as well, during the 90s?

I lived in England maybe 15, 16 years.

Was that in Manchester?

It was in London originally, then I moved to Manchester because the rent was like 5 times cheaper.

Is it good to be back in England, or do you feel like you’ve never been away?

A little bit of both. I’m glad of being back in England because I don’t have to dodge bullets. Chicago you have to dodge bullets.


Ahhhh man, it’s rough in Chicago. One of the highest murder rates in the United States. 

Sounds like a reason to be in the UK. Have you got anything special planned for the Hacienda parties? What should people expect?

Well at any Hacienda party, you got some really sensational DJs playing a really big variety. It’s not just house music. You can hear like New Order and Man Parish and Freeze and all these great, great dance records. Not necessarily house and it’s not formatted, so you can play everything you want. I mean, I played Kraftwerk 2 nights ago at the Hacienda party right? I played Trans-Europe Express and I had to blend it with Kraftwerk – Numbers for a good four minutes and I was trying to show people where Planet Rock came from. Because what used to happen back in the day was the Hot Mix Five used to do these DJ battles with Grandmaster Flash in there from New York and Kenny Jammin Jason whipped out that blend of Numbers and Trans-Europe Express and the crowd just went nuts. Every DJ in the city tried to do that mix, Numbers and Trans-Europe Express, and low and behold shortly after that Bambaataa came out with Planet Rock, which was Numbers and Trans-Europe Express.

So Chicago was responsible for Planet Rock?

Yeah! Think deeply now about just how many original ideas that group came up with. Just think. 

People were going crazy for that radio show back then weren’t they? I’ve heard stories about people skipping work and skipping school to record it.

It was the best mixed show in history. Those boys man, they would do scratching, back-spinning, phasing, just all kinds of cutting and all that stuff that you would never hear in a New York mix. It was absolutely the most brilliant mixing I’ve ever heard.

You think that the Chicago style was a little more energetic than the New York style of DJing. You think there’s a different style from the cities?

Well, a typical Hot Mix vibe mix would be forty songs per hour. If I was to listen to Shep Pettibone or Timmy Regisford, they’d get maybe 15 songs max in an hour. The Hot Mix Five would have duplicates of every song and they would do all kinds of tricks and in that minute and a half that each song had, it was unbelievable. You could get some of those long pieces out, you don’t hear anything like that any more.

You say you don’t hear anything like that any more, why do you think that happens? Because there’s a lot of discussion about technology in DJing, is that detracting from the skill of DJs or is it just things have moved on and people are less imaginative?

Part of it is, a lot of people how to get a lot of the things they did. I’m not saying there’s not good DJs now, because the DJs now combined with the technology, there’s some brilliant DJs out there now. I’m just saying that a lot of things they did, it’s a lost art. Things that just aren’t being done any more, like the phasing and having two copies of every record. Now, if a DJ does cricks, he’s got to do it with one copy of the record, not two because he doesn’t need it, because the decks have samplers on them and all that kind of stuff. So you can basically do with one record what they used to do with two. You know, the DJs are working with what they have. I don’t expect a DJ to play with vinyl because it sucks now, it sounds bad over a digital sound system, so they shouldn’t learn how to play vinyl, they should learn today’s technology and deal with that. It can be every bit as innovative as the old timers used to be.

Do you think that happens though? Because you mentioned that everyone’s making records now because technology has allowed everyone to make records. DJing technology allows anyone, if they’ve got the money for the right equipment, to be a DJ now. They might not be a good DJ, but anyone can be a DJ. Do you think that that technology, is it a force for good, or a force for mediocre DJing?

Both man. The good thing about it is you have a wider DJ pool than you used to have. A much bigger DJ pool. Out of that much bigger DJ pool you’re gonna have more good DJs. Somebody who would’ve played guitar 30 years ago is DJing now. Somebody who would’ve played drums 30 years ago is DJing now because it’s more accessible. You’re gonna have that big pool of talented people coming out, so bring ‘em on.

Is there anyone out there that’s particularly exciting you, or has caught your ear?

Man, I got a big ego man, I don’t wanna think of better people. There are a couple of DJs that I saw, Eats Everything at The Lighthouse, I really enjoyed listening to him. Virus J out of Lithuania, I really like listening to him. I’m not saying they’re the only DJs that are good, but there are so many good DJs that it’s hard to pick one out. 

Are you utilising new technology yourself these days?

There’s not much else to say about technology. There’s people who use stuff like Traktor and Serato and they’ll know much more about it than me. 

So what do you use?

I use CDs, I just don’t know how to utilise the performance aspect with computers yet. If I find out how to give a great performance playing with a computer, I’ll do it. I’m just not good enough at it yet.

So where will people be able to catch you playing on the Hacienda 30 tour? What’s next up?

Koko in London on the 15th!

That’s a great club, you might remember it as the Camden Palace many years ago.

I kinda remember that…

The Camden Palace was one of the first acid house clubs that I went to, 23 years ago, so I’ve got a soft spot for it in my house. Well it’s nothing like that now, it’s the same building but it’s a lot nicer now. You’ll have a great time, I might come along and check you out. I think that is just about it Marshall - so thank you very much for your time.

And thank you man, I really do wish I could’ve got Kym, but she wasn’t available.

It’s been a pleasure, thank you very much!

Alright, thank you, take care!


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Monday 18 February 2013

Interview: DJ Harvey

Back in October of last year, DJ Harvey, or Harvey Bassett to his mum, played in the UK for the first time in 10 years when Red Bull Music Academy brought him to back to London to play a  single, specially arranged, one DJ party at the Oval Space in London, the town where he made his name as resident at the Ministry of Sound during the height of its success, as well as at his own nights, like Moist, Beautiful Bend and New Hard Left, all of which have become the stuff of legend.
Prior to the party, there was a lot of cynicism, on the internet mainly, about how it may all pan out, but fortunately it proved to be unfounded, online moaning. The space was great, the sound system was spot on, Harvey lived up to all expectations, playing a set that had people talking for weeks afterwards, if not months, and the crowd was like mass meeting of old friends from every strand of London clubland in the last 20 years. Smiling, hugging, and dancing with old friends were all order of the day, on what was undoubtedly the night life highlight of 2012.
Before all that though, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to chat to Harvey for the ever wonderful Ransom Note. I wasn’t feeling that great the night the call came but I dragged my man-flu ridden backside from my sick bed, got smacked up on Lemsip and Skyped the very accommodating Mr Bassett in LA to find out a little a bit more about he is all about.
Hi Harvey, thanks for talking to us.
No worries.

So, the London/Manchester parties, the excitement over here palpable now, there’s people who go out pretty much every week who are counting how many days there are before the night! Are you getting a feeling for that level of excitement where you are? And are you feeling slightly nervous at all about coming back to London and playing here for the first time in 10 years?
Erm, I think the fact that a 1000 tickets sold out in 24 seconds, or something really… it was a little bit of a shock actually, I wasn’t quite expecting that sort of reaction and it’s a good feeling you know… I feel wanted or anticipated as it were, so that’s really good, that’s sort of bigged up, it just… makes you feel good, if an event sells out in advance, that’s really cool. I’m a little bit nervous cause I wanna do right, you know what I mean, but I’m nervous before every show, I have the pre-show butterflies or whatever, and I feel you’re only as good as your last gig. I was nervous about the Berghain gigs, the Sonar and the last Sarcastic and stuff like that, as I do honestly feel you’re only as good as your last gig and I always wanna do well. This one I mean is particularly special, I suppose, because of what it is, you only come home or come back, as it were, or return from being 10 years away, kind of once in your career. It’ll be doubtful whether if I disappear for another 10 years whether anyone will give a damn in 10 years time, what I’ve been up to, but I think the climate… the way communication has changed over the last 10 years, you know, the proliferation of things… the internet, facebook and tweeting and all that kind of stuff has added to the, I suppose, [to] the legend... and to the momentum of an event like this.
You mentioned the legend there and also the internet - the legend has grown almost, exponentially over the time you’ve been in LA, have you got a view on why that’s happened? I mean, you were a pretty well-established as big name when you left but it just seems to have grown and grown and grown, do you think it’s just a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’?
I think, in some respects…. [mobile rings] Let me just grab this a sec, cause it’s probably someone asking me whether I’m speaking to you or not… [pause while Harvey takes an urgent call] Well I’m getting a haircut especially for the occasion! Haha, that was my hairdresser!
I actually I had mine done on Friday, but they’ve made a mess of it, anyway…
Where were we? Sorry about that…
The legend of Harvey has kind of grown while you’ve been away… why that is, if you had a view on why that is?
I suppose, to a certain extent, there is an element of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, I think, maybe things in the last ten years there has been a body of work, you know, there’s been; remixes, original productions, a couple of albums, mixtapes, all this kind of thing... and in many respects it’s only England that hasn’t really had me in the last 10 years, and the legend thing, I don’t know, anyone that has stories told about them is ‘legendary’ and you know, ‘the grass is always greener’ and things appear more glamorous when they’re sort of told second hand, stories are embellished and stuff like that… I don’t know, cause I haven’t been there when people were talking about me so I really don’t know what’s been said, I’m sure there’s some rather nasty things too…
I think I’ll touch on a few of those stories later… (laughs)
Yeah, go on, no worries. I think with the global communication, that’s obviously a factor, people only have parts of the picture to go on and maybe they fill in the gaps in between and if they’re leaning in my…in a positive direction for me then that bigs me up, you know, so if they see a picture from a club in Japan, or get a bit of a mixtape, or see/read a bit of an interview, they’re gonna have some idea of what I’m about and then they complete the picture themselves - and that makes the legend, if you like.
Why did you leave it so long? Why did you stay away so long?
Initially, I’d overstayed… I came out to America and was having such a good time, and basically overstayed my visa, and it took me, kind of, 10 years to really get my shit together, or sort of work it out. I hadn’t really thought about it, I wasn’t too desperate to go back to the world… you know, America’s a big place lots of discos, I had plenty to do, I was spending a lot of time in Hawaii, and it’s just gone and turned out that way. There was no big design of like, you know, it was really the American immigration process that really kept me away for 10 years.
So, what should people expect musically from you now? Kind of, ‘Harvey, 10 years on’, as you said, people have got snippets of what you’re about - reports back from Berghain and Panoroma, Japan, places like that but is there anything you’ve got especially prepared for London?

No, not really. I mean… I think those who will have heard me before and kind of know me will know nothing’s changed at all really. I’m still playing a very select, modern dance music and that’s basically it. I got a lot of music to choose from, lots of old stuff, lots of new stuff, and I haven’t got any mixes lined up or basic ideas. I can only carry a limited amount of vinyl, you know, a couple of hundred titles at the most, and I’ve got some cd’s, and stuff that isn’t on vinyl, remixes, re-edits, unreleased stuff, stuff that just hasn’t made it to vinyl, and I’ve got some cd’s with that on and I shall, you know, select from that selection to the best of my ability. In many respects, the people determine what is played, you know, I think, as I said before, I’m a bit like a sushi chef, I’ll put down one piece and depending on the reaction to that piece determines what I serve up next, you know. And then I might even throw in a little surprise, if they expect, if they know what to expect next, you know.


So there are all kind of stories about you turning down gigs in Britain that weren’t right for whatever reason, mainly around the soundsystem and stuff like that - but a lot of effort is going into the system and production of these parties. What are you doing for the London party, especially?
I mean it’s a very, very simple recipe. Again, I sort of… a food analogy… it’s like the best Italian food. There’s only three or four ingredients, you know, you’ve got like..garlic, olive oil, pasta and… lemon juice or something and it blows your mind how good it feels and tastes, and the reason why, it feels and tastes so good is because those ingredients are the best that can be found of those ingredients, and that’s basically what I’m putting together for the London show. A very simple, open space with a beautiful, monster soundsystem and a mirror ball with some spotlights on it and that’s basically it. And, all I’ve got to do is get the records in the right order. Hopefully the people will come with open hearts and open minds and actually, with one thing, when you go to a party ‘it takes two to tango’, you know what I mean, become involved as someone who’s going to the party instead of standing there expecting me to save your life, that’s basically it, you know. It’s a very simple recipe, where the ingredients are the best and the freshest that I can possibly found, so the venue’s great, it’s a very simple warehouse space but it has good bathrooms, smoking area, a cloakroom, car parking, stuff like that, you know. The soundsystem is just a soundsystem, but it’s the monster,best soundsystem probably available in England today.
You’re putting in the system especially for this party aren’t you?
Yes. I don’t know what they had in there before or whatever but I was given the opportunity to basically install my own system so that’s what’s happening basically.
I don’t think you have any worries about the whole party thing, because everyone I know who’s going, and that’s a lot of people, are going to party, they’re not going to stand round, like take pictures and stuff, that’s what’s exciting about it from someone who goes out fairly regularly over here, the excitement isn’t like a ‘this is a spectacle, let’s all look at the DJ’, everyone wants to go and enjoy what you’re about.
I think the DJ’s are very boring to look at, they don’t really do that… they just kind of stand there really…
And play records now and again!
I think, really, the key and the focus of a really good party is the crowd themselves. When you’re watching people really losing themselves in the music, there’s nothing better than watching a beautiful girl in abandon, you know, in orgasmic abandon over the music, and it turns you on and it turns her on and it turns everybody on and it’s fucking epic… you know.
Yeah, I’ve seen some of the pictures (see above) from the last Sarcastic Disco, and I’m not sure if we can promise you naked women in London... but you never know…
Well, it’s a bit chilly, I noticed, maybe their nipples will be slightly more erect, but, yeah I did a little weather report and I was, like, thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I should take a sweatshirt’ and then my buddy said ‘Hang on, it’s only like 15 degrees over there, you’ll need your fucking ski suit mate’
You need a wet suit at the moment. So, you left in 2002, if my maths serves me correctly?
I think so, something like that.
The scene you were involved in then, was kind of, the scene from which the Idjuts etc came, the New Hard Left, Leftorium at Smithfields , the 333 Parties & Tommy Touch and things like that, it was all building quite nicely and really developing its own identity around then and you left, so I assume it wasn’t for musical reasons, was it just the time to go?
It was a good time to go. Airline tickets to America were cheap after 9/11, I had a whole row to myself (hahaha) and I could stretch out; 4 seats for the price of 1. But, no, I mean I was actually DJ-ing all over the world and had the opportunity to live anywhere I felt like in the world, you know, and it was like ‘Shall I move to Shanghai? Naaa’ ‘Shall I move to Mumbai? Naaa’ ‘Shall I move to LA? Fuck Yeaaahh!’ The sun was shining, sun shines everyday, there’s surf, there’s pelicans, dolphins, raccoons, hummingbirds, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, all this, and these are just the creatures hanging out in my back garden. It’s amazingly tropical, pretty wild place, it’s the edge of the western world, on the pacific here in Venice Beach, with all the craziness with everything from Charles Manson and the Beach Boys and the Doors, and Little Feet, and you know the US punk movement with Agent Orange and Suicidal Tendencies, Dog Town, and the skate scene and hot rods and drag racing, you know, gangster-ism, you know original gang hip-hop crippin’, the list is fucking endless, you know, they’re all the things England doesn’t have, and I’m not saying… England’s got an awful lot, England’s wonderful, absolutely super fantastic, one thing I have found out is that the food and the weather is better in England than it is in Los Angeles, cause the sun shines every fucking day here, and it gets a little bit boring… I left thinking the food and the weather was awful in England, and ten years later, I’d appreciate some jellied eels and some rain.
Well, we’ve got plenty of rain to keep you going at the moment. So, LA’s keeping you busy but you’re looking forward to coming back, but you’ve been back before haven’t you, I’ve heard that you were knocking about Horse Meat Disco once not so long ago?
Yeah, I popped in briefly just to say hi to my mum, dad, couple of buddies, and just, sort of, had a little sniff around a little bit, you know, without having the pressure of having to do a gig or whatever, actually it was on the back of a European tour, and I had an absolutely wonderful time, you know, people were like: ‘Oh, you won’t recognise London, it’s changed so much…’, I mean Old Street Roundabout is still Old Street Roundabout, you know.. And I had some pie & mash and a curry and a kebab and things, and it all still tasted the same. The only thing I did notice more bicycles, that was probably… the places where I used to go and sort of, sniff glue, now have, like coffee bars and stuff, along by the canal in Dalston.
So, when you left that disco scene - I don’t want to use the term nu-disco cause it’s got other connotations now - but almost that disco revival, digging deep, finding old music from that era and that working itself back into a club context, was getting established in London again, and has kind of gone on to grow and kind of become a scene of it’s own, with labels like Claremont 56 and the Idjuts who I mentioned earlier, do you feel that you played a significant role in the formative years of that scene?
I would say yeah, but I’ve never wanted to be stuck in a scene, I’ve always played loads of techno music, and those mixtapes there’s techno and disco together, it’s always, just dance music to me. I don’t really feel… a scene is this and that… you know, from the moment I was DJ-ing, in the mid 80’s, I would play classic dance music which might be considered disco, and whatever the latest modern music which might be considered techno or whatever, you know. Scenes come and go and I’d like to think I’m just a man of the moment, and I try to be ‘on it’, you know what I mean. Maybe I was instrumental in that scene, but that scene’s got nothing to do with me. You know I don’t want to be stuck in… do you remember there was that awful thing in the late 90s called ‘Dad House’…
If you’re a well rounded DJ, you’ve always played what might be considered disco, and you’ve always played music that might be considered progressive, you know it’s a DJ’s job. The guys that are stuck in one sound often don’t last, until they become marginalised or whatever, you know what I mean?
Hmm, yes. They become associated with a sound and fashion passes that sound by and they are associated with something that’s no longer fashionable.
Yeah, I’m a personality DJ, and when I DJ you get my personality, nothing more. I’m not stuck in ‘Nu-Disco’ ‘Old Disco’ or any kind of disco. I play records, some of which, might be considered disco. [Harvey puases to answer door and let old friend Heidi in]. Just a mini case in point, back in those days, in the mid 90s, I was one of the few DJ’s, if not the only DJ that played on Friday and Saturday night at the Ministry of Sound. Friday being the opening nights with Laurent Garnier, Jeff Mills, you know, all the techno greats, and then I would play Saturday night alongside Tony Humphries and CJ Mackintosh and those guys playing the, what at that point, was probably called like ‘Jersey House’, or ‘Gaararge’ . So yeah, I’m just a DJ who plays a selection of grown up… I don’t know, not even grown up, just dance music, you know… happy, silly…
You’ve got a broad palette from which to draw from and you want to draw from it?
Yeah. People accuse me of all kinds of things. ‘Reinventing the re-edit’, ‘Relaunching cosmic’, you know, that whole kind of thing, if you want to get into more like than disco, the cosmic madness is something to touch on, you know you’ve got these kids that are claiming ‘cosmic’ and I hadn’t even heard that. We used to call it ‘Sleaze’ or ‘Balearic’ or, there was a couple of names, you know; ‘Funky’, what was played in the Italian clubs in the early 90s; what was left of the cosmic sound. Now you’ve got all these ‘Cosmic DJ’s’, the chin-strokers who don’t even know how to fucking dance. Absolutely ridiculous. You know, whereas there was actually, an awful lot of wonderful music that could fall into that category that’s actually being ruined by the category. I always felt that categories only really helped journalists describe….to make a sort of a relation to a sound to help describe in an article and as far as actually in the real world of nightclubs or whatever, it doesn’t matter.
So if you define a night or a sound too tightly, you are inherently limiting where that can go, do you think that’s right? It’s like you’ve fixed the boundaries around it, and that’s it.
Yeah, as soon as you say like ‘I am a techno DJ’ you’re wearing blinkers that are definitely cutting out the periphery of all the other fantastic music that you could incorporate.

You touched on your formative days as a DJ, I suppose that was back with Tonka, is that right? Was that were you really cut your nightclub DJing teeth or was it before that?
Hmmm, I’m not sure exactly when my first actual, kind of, nightclub DJ gigs were…Erm…there used to be a place on Oxford Street, god…what was it called [calls out... Hey Heidi, what was the spot on Oxford St where Wet was and where Rakers was?]
I think that’s where Plastic People ended up, in that space isn’t it?
I think Plastic People was in Dalston or Hoxton last time I was in town…
Yeah, I think it started there in Oxford Street before it moved. Anyway…
Yeah, so my first club gig was in Spats in the mid to late 80s, playing…I don’t know… I don’t think I played disco music to be honest. I had breaks, sort of like, when hip hop was disco, you know. Playing, stuff, it was called ‘Raaare Groove’ (laughs).
Was that your sort of introduction to that sound then?
No, no I first danced to disco for 24 hours in 1978 at a sponsored youth club dance to raise money. You went round knocking on people’s doors going “excuse me if I dance for 24 hours will you give me 5p an hour?” And you have to sign in and then you’d go round and collect the money afterwards... and then you don’t give the money in, you spend it on Fanta and Embassys... (laughs).
Did you dance for 24 hours?!
Yeah, there was about 3 of us that made it all the way through. I think there was about 50 who started but only 3 of us made it... me and the DJ’s brother and the one black girl in the village...

Ha! So that was the beginning of a long and slippery slope?!
Yeah, that was the first time I’d been awake for 24 hours actually.
So, eventually you were playing with Tonka - Tonka sprang to mind the other day and I was going through some crates in a second hand shop the other day and I pulled out an EP and it had a picture of Choci on the front at a Tonka party, surrounded by people dancing, his top off, soaked in sweat everyone going mental, and it just looked amazing. And it got me thinking back to my early days as nightclub goer. I was up in North London, those parties wereinaccesable to us and kind of mythical - we’d heard about the nature of the parties and the massive soundsytem. What were those parties like?
Ummm... Pretty epic really! Y’know, every one was a winner. We had a great bunch of people around. The idea behind Tonka was that we wanted to create, it sounds kind of cheesy but a ‘sound-system collective’. Instead of just the DJ getting all the glory to have an identity like a Jamaican sound-system. To have that record played, there was like 5 or 6 or 10 people involved. Y’know the guy that drives the van, the guy lifts the speakers, the people that are plugging stuff in, the lighting guy, all this group of people and other DJs that go to make the group identity of Tonka. There’s was a guy that’s now famously known as Tonka Roberts who actually owned the soundsystem. He’d inherited some money and went out and bought a marquee and a Turbo soundsystem... virtually no-one,, I don’t think there was a Turbo Soundsystem in civillian hands at that point. Turbo was originally built for Glastonbury... they’d work in a storm on the beach in Brighton. They were built like a brick shit-house. The parties themselves, there’s little snippets of stuff online, a few youtube things. You can see everybody’s totally immersed in the music, the vibe, the whole. It was a very exciting time. People these days are trying to get jobs so they can go to parties back then people were giving up their jobs so they could go party more. It was a fantastic time. I’m not saying that now isn’t a fantastic time, I think now is really, really good but it was just an exciting period in mine and dance music’s history.

You touched on things as they are now. In London there seems to be a little bit of a house music revival. House had been a bit of a dirty word for quite a while, probably flowing out of that Dad-House you spoke about. That’s enough to kill any genre really. But there’s a lot more vibrancy around the music now. Not necessarily great big parties like there were in the late 80’s and early 90’s but lots of small parties and yknow 19/20 year old kids are getting into Strictly Rhythm b-sides and stuff like that. Has that renaisense touched you out in LA at all? Or is it a London thing?
I think it’s a natural progression. My girlfriend was born in 1988 and she’ll hear a house record and she’ll be like “Why don’t you ever play this?” and I’m like “Well that’s been rinsed out”. And she’s excited by it. There’s a whole couple of generations that haven’t heard this sort of music. Luckily I’ve got all the records! As with any type of music that’s good, it comes round and round again. There’s young producers that get turned on by maybe a Nu Groove record or a Strictly Rhythm record and they’re like hey yeah I wanna make a record like that. The were producers in the late 80’s, y’know the first 200 house records were just disco based records made with synthesizers. You take something like Love Can’t Turn Around, till I discovered the Isaac Hayes original I thought was an original piece. The flashback as it were happens all the time. As time marches on, music that may have been lost or not so happening is revisited by a new generation. I hear a record from a new producer that sounds like it was made in in 1991. And I’m like well, that’s what’s going on...

The cyclical nature of dance music, maybe? On the subject of old records, there’s a remix of a Planet Funk record you did ages ago called ‘Sleepy In Ibiza’, that is pretty close to my heart and reminds me of a fairly special holiday up in hills of Ibiza a few years back. Did you spend much time in Ibiza back in the day?
Initially you couldn’t have dragged me to Ibiza in the mid-80s. I had absolutely no interest in going there whatsoever with a bunch of Euro trash and English hooligan types to put it politely. It wasn’t somewhere I had any interest in at all. I don’t know what I was into, I was into Heroin. I was busy catching Hepatitis. So I didn’t get there until like 1990 and then I was gutted. I was like damn, this place is fantastic. And they were like you should’ve been here like 10 years ago mate before it was overrun. And I was like oh shit... so then I went there every season for 10 years during the 90s, DJing and thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s a special magical place. And I went back and played this summer and played at DC10 and none of the things that I liked and enjoyed about it has changed or disappeared. I stayed in Pikes, it was wonderful, hung out with Tony Pike, talked story. Sa Penya is not overrun with lunatics. Went down to D’Hort, which is like a beach where Jules Vern was inspired to write 20,000 Leagues. Everything that I enjoy was still there. (laughs). I rented a Harley Davidson and raced the sunset and went down to Cafe Del Mar as we used to and walked round to the Cafe Del Mar and they’ve built this boardwalk all the way round and there was like ah there’s like 5000 people here when there used to be 500 or whatever and reached the Cafe Del Mar and it was completely empty. And I was like blown away, people have no idea. they’re all sitting on the front there, seeing and being seen and they’re missing out on this little gem. So I sat there on my own in the completely Cafe Del Mar and I watched the sunset and ordered myself this chocolate milk on ice and spoke to the waiter about how I was friends with Jose Padilla and how we used to drink brandy and chocolate milk... and it was magical. And all those people out the front staring at the sun, were looking in the wrong direction not seeing behind them that there was this absolute jewel of the Cafe Del Mar absolutely empty except for DJ Harvey who was having a whale of a time!
The last time I was there they didn’t have that boardwalk. It was still packed though.
Change is good though. If things didn’t change, they wouldn’t become how they used to be. But everyone there was happy. It wasn’t a shit show... there was lots and lots of people there but everyone was having a really nice time. Which is OK in my book.
On the subject of change, what did you think of DC10?
I never went to DC10 in the early days. I’d heard about it. 10 years ago, 12 years ago it had only just opened. An old friend of mine Charlie Chester took it over, I think he’s still involved. I had a great night. It was packed out with people. I got two sit downs! Which was something I was unfamiliar with. There was this breakdown in this track and I was going through my records and everyone had sat down. And I looked over to this dancer and said is that a good thing or a bad thing? And she was like oh it’s a really good thing, it’s a mark of respect. And that happened twice during my set. And I thought to myself how the fuck did that become a custom? And I thought it must have been when breakdowns had become so long, that people just go tired and sat down for a couple of minutes and waited for the beats to come in... but it was good to see, it showed unity in the crowd and it was quite a beautiful thing.
Funny you should mention Charlie Chester and Ibiza. I heard that you DJ’d on that infamous Flying trip to Ibiza Charlie organised, which probably would’ve been about 1990? I heard that you turned up with like two bags, one filled with music and the another platsic bag with just your pants and toothbrush... you DJ’d and just buggered off into the hills!
That was basically it. One pair of clean jockeys and a toothbrush... (laughs).
What did you get up to in the hills?
I have no idea how long I was there. There was a band called The Farm that came up and I dunno we just had a 3 week long orgy of excess I think!
Right, so you disappeared into the hills with The Farm?!
Well they came up and visited from time to time. We had this finca on the top of a mountain. It was pretty hedonistic to put it politely! There’s actually a photograph, I’ll see if I can send it to you of me and another lad on the roof of that villa... I’ll try and send it to you. You might get some idea of the exploits... [Disapointment Ed: he couldn’t find the photo... but we found this, erm 'groovy' youtube] 

Fast forwarding a bit... New Hard Left, you kind of established yourself playing 8 hour sets and kind of where you got that sort of reputation. You’re playing for what 9 hours is it when you’re here? Does a DJ need to play for that long to really express themselves or can they pack it into and hour and a half?
Umm... I mean 9 hours might be a bit excessive! I wouldn’t say I need 9 hours to express myself but an hour and a half isn’t reaaaly long enough to express myself. I could sort of play 5 or 6 records which would take up an hour and a half. 4 or 5 hours would probably suffice as a good time to, y’know. Few people would dance for longer than 5 hours before their knees start to give in, they dehydrate and fall over. But y’know 9 hours, I’m not sure how long it is.
It’s actually 7... my math’s is useless. I’m going to blame being ill and not being able to add up.
Seven’s great... that’s not asking too much of the crowd. And it gives me plenty of opportunity to get through the warm up section and to go through a range of emotions and styles without having to rush too much. An hour and a half is more like... a lot of the festival appearances can be an hour and a half but that changes the dynamic of the way I would play. I becomes more of a show. The music would become more sonically intense, more ups and downs...
Do you think that, that kind of short set culture, jam DJs onto the bill kills the art of Djing? You’ve spoken in the past abbout what Larry Levan taught you in terms of playing - he was used to playing long sets toos. Do you think that’s kind of dying off a little?
To a certain extent. Basically I think that originally started with promoters trying to get bums on seats. Every DJ has 10 mates, so if we have 100 DJs a 1000 people will show up... and that’s really what spawned those long line-ups and also nights ending early there wouldn’t really be these long sets in these warehouse parties. You’ve got your resident DJs and you’ve got your guest and there’s really no time for the long sets. But that can be nice to end early on a high, rather than playing till no-one can stand it anymore. So I just think it changes the dynamic of the way people play. It’s not the end of DJing. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon.
My friend [Wil from R$N] he reckons that at Smithfields when you did Leftorium, he had to tidy up pints of piss from behind the decks at the end of the 8 hour night. Have you got a portaloo on your rider and if you haven’t, can we bottle it and get it on ebay?!
I think bottling some Harvey piss and getting it online might be good. It cures warts! That might be fun. I have pissed in DJ booths. I remember actually Nicky Holloway having a urinal installing one in the booth! Usually though, if there’s a toilet nearby I’ll make a couple of toilet dashes sometimes tho I just sweat it out! If it’s hot in there I might not piss for 7 hours. (Laughs) a very Zen approach to taking a piss. The danger of pissing in pint pots tho is that you’ll piss more than a pint!
Or make a mistake later in the night when it’s all a little blurry.
Or someone else makes that mistake... “this lager’s warm mate” (laughs)
Now you’re back, are we gonna see a little more of you on these shores?
I really think that how these gigs go will determine the frequency of my return visits to England. If people express an interest and seem to be having a good time then that’ll give me a good enough reason to come back.
I think you’ll be happy with those gigs... the vibe seems to be right in London. If we do see you again will you be playing smaller gigs like a Horse Meat Disco or something?
I saw on Resident Advisor there were people moaning that there weren’t enough tickets. I mean 1000 people is hardly an intimate gig. But I think I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that want to go. I thought I might have been taking a risk, that there might not have been enough people who wanted to come. But anyway, who knows... maybe I’ll take on a week long residency at Plastic People! You can still come and see me in Manchester next week too!
You’re flying out to Amsterdam to DJ with Mr Weatherall aren’t you?
Yup, I’m flying out the next night to do that. I saw Andy in Mexico last weekend and we discussed it loosely. Sort of start slow and see where we go really... Andy’s a great DJ and we’ll have a lot of fun.
It will go well, I’m sure. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to us anyway.
Thanks for having me...
Good luck on Friday. Look forward to seeing you there.
Come down the front and give me a wave, throw a rose! (laughs)
For more interviews, the inside track of on decent clubs, tickets and the latest taxidermy based news, be sure to check Ransom Note on a weekly basis – or sign up to their mailing list.
Check the full set of Sarcastic Disco pictures HERE - and they're well worth a look too.