Lee Jones crafts an understated mix of new and old on this week's RA podcast.
As the sole man behind Hefner and one half of My My, Lee Jones has had quite a career in electronic music already. But as he gets set for the release of his debut album under his own name, he seems to be feeling a bit pensive. How else do you explain away the slow and brooding start—and end—to his RA podcast? The end title to Cool Hand Luke? Consider these heart strings pulled.
Despite the moody bookends, Jones crafts a mix here that glides through modern minimalism with aplomb. Like his work with My My, this mix is understated, but the more you listen to it, the more you grow to hear the skill that guides it along its path. The same goes for that debut album, Electric Frank, which has been seeing tons of play at RA towers. You never seem to need to hear it, but everytime you put it on, it's mighty hard to think of any other album that you'd want to be listening to instead.
What have you been working on recently?
A bit of everything. New ideas for the next My My album, promotion for my album, preparations for my solo live tour, some music for a German television series and a few remixes including "Silver Screen" by Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin, in collaboration with M.A.N.D.Y.
Where and how was the mix recorded?
At home on my Macbook using Ableton Live.
Can you tell us a little about the mix?
I loosely tried to give the podcast a cinematic theme. It starts off with a mix of film soundtrack music with some edits or beats or very minimal tracks mixed in. Then it turns into a mix of new and old tracks which somehow have a cinematic feel, or are just plain funky.
How do you differentiate the work of Lee Jones and My My?
I don't really. My My tracks are done together with Nick Höppner, and stuff I do on my own comes out as Lee Jones. I guess I'm a bit more "experimental" on my own because there's no one else in the studio to approve or disapprove of what I'm doing. But there's no deliberate change of approach to producing. That approach changes with every new track I make, mostly because I'm still learning how to do it.
Will there ever be more Hefner material?
I feel stupid saying "yes, I am working on the second Hefner album, and hopefully it will be out next year" because I've been saying that for seven years. But, in fact, yes, I am working on the second Hefner album, and hopefully it will be out next year.
Tell us about the cover art to your album.
It was done by a dear friend of mine from University, Richard Wilkinson, who does illustrations for The Telegraph Magazine and tons of other stuff. His drawings are just remarkable. I gave him a carte blanche to do whatever he wanted after sending him a few tracks. I've no idea why he drew a zebra with red stripes, but it looks awesome.
What are you up to next?
Apart from a short break in November for recording new Hefner material, I'll be working with Nick on the new My My album and touring until the end of the year, a mixture of DJing, live gigs on my own, live My My gigs with Nick and DJing with Nick.
Kitty Bronx - Sacramento - Junior Margaret Dygas - Sail Away Jean-Michel Bernard - Golden the Pony Boy - Astralwerks Acid Pauli (feat. Master Saphi Band) - Euphonium - Bar 25 Jon Brion - Phone Call - Hollywood Records Oni Ayhun - OAR 1 - Oni Ayhun Records Jay Haze - The Warmth CSM - The Way - Reel Discs Warbgasm - Influenza (Plasmik Deep Chord Remix) - Hypercolour Untold - Kingdom - Hessle Audio And.Id - Sand On The Floor - Mobilee Plez - How Can You Stop - BBE Nicone - Una Rossa (H.O.S.H. Remix) - Stil Vor Talent Butch & Julie Marghilano - Last Tango (Daso & Pawas Remix) - Envy My Music Sideshow - 'If Alone' Feat Paul St.Hilaire (Château Flight Dub Mix) - Aus M.A.N.D.Y. - Superman (Reboot's 20 Cubans) - Get Physical Music Toasty - Like Sun - Hotflush Burak Sar - La Garua - Cécille Records Minilogue - Snake Charmer - Wagon Repair Patrice Bäumel - Roar - Get Physical Music Lee Jones - Weisses Kanninchen - Aus Gwen Maze - More Than Love (Anthony Collins Remix) - Supernature Lalo Schifrin - End Title (Cool Hand Luke Soundtrack) - Dot Records
Whether it be DJing, producing or mental nursing, Danny Howells puts the utmost care into whatever he does. Better, not bigger, is his mantra. RA's Todd L. Burns talks to the man to find out more.
A lot of people like to talk about nice guys in the electronic music business, but Danny Howells may just be the nicest. Howells was a nurse to the mentally ill—a career he gave up to pursuing DJing full-time after the success of his Global Underground Nubreed mix—and his essential goodness seems to endlessly radiate outward. Always mugging, always smiling, always having a great time, Howells would be the definition of a showman—if it didn't seem like he was already enthusiastic 24/7.
One of the reasons Howells seems relaxed is that he's recently taken a break from the DJ grind, focusing much of his energy on the production arena. It's the DJ's first extended foray into production and will see the light of day on his shiny new label, Dig Deeper. (You can hear some of those tracks on Howells' recent Renaissance - The Mix Collection double disc set.)
So will we see Howells giving up spinning entirely? Not quite. As RA's Todd L. Burns found out in a chat after his recent US tour, after 17 years behind the decks he's just gotten a bit pickier and his mind has started to wander to things like that career in mental nursing, Coldplay and REO Speedwagon.
You were recently in New York and played Love for the first time. How did you like it?
It was amazing. Every aspect from the opening DJ to the sound to the crowd. It was on a Thursday night, so there were a lot of people that I recognized. Sound-wise it was flawless. It was quite intimidating to DJ there, to be honest, as the slightest mistake is amplified. You hear every detail. It's interesting—you'll play your own productions on a system like that and you'll think, "Oh fuck, that sounds crap!" Or you play a piece of vinyl and an mp3 compressed at 320 kbps and you hear the difference immediately.
Traveling a lot, I tend to think that maybe my ears aren't working as well as they used to—because things don't sound good in clubs—but when you go to venues like that you realize that it's not your ears. It's that a lot of soundsystems really aren't up to scratch.
Speaking of your own productions, you spent a lot of time in the studio earlier this year. Are you happy with the results?
Absolutely. I just got off the phone a moment ago, as we had a remix done by Faze Action of one of the tracks and my computer isn't charged, so I was listening to the track over the phone and jumping around the room.
It's really exciting for me, because I've only released things very sporadically for years, but I really have been focusing on it for the last 16 months or so. I'm really pleased. There are about 15 tracks done, and out of those 15 there are about nine that I think I will release. Having this new label and being involved in all aspects of it from the design from choosing the release schedule to the remixes is really exciting. We've got Faze Action, a drum & bass guy and Future Beats Alliance all lined up for remixes.
It seems like you're covering a lot of bases with those remix choices.
Well, the label is called Dig Deeper—after my night of the same name—and I really want to reflect that. In a perfect world, a Dig Deeper night encompasses many styles of electronic music.
Starting a record label in 2008 seems like it flies in the face of everything that you should be doing from a business perspective.
[laughs] I've based my entire career on flying in the face of what I should be doing I think. But I'm not too worried about that. All I'm worried about is making sure that the quality of the releases is good. Obviously I'm not embarking on this completely solo. We have experienced label guys who are taking care of all the business things—which I don't know anything about—which leaves me completely free to make the music, make sure the artwork is good. The creative side.
It might be a bit of a weird time to launch a label, but the guys that I'm doing it with are very experienced and I think they got involved knowing that it was going to be a complete loss. I don't think anyone is going into it thinking that we're going to make money. It's just a way for me to have an outlet for the music—and to encourage me to make more.
I definitely don't think that I'm going to be traveling for five years or even three years from now the way I once did. I'll still be DJing, but I won't be running around the world like an 18 year-old because, well, I'm not 18 anymore. I'm 37 years old. And I really do see that right now that I want to be settled in at home and doing more production—no matter what kind of music it is. I think that the music will find its own path, and I'm sure I'll strike on something one day that I'm good at and that will open up for me. I'm very curious to see where it goes.
Is the DJing going to be like this year going forward, then? A little bit slower than in the past?
I think so. That's kind of how I've approached America, for instance, in the past few years. I'm not one of those competitive guys that set out to be big or a huge success. My focus is a bit different: I want to be better. I want to create quality music and quality sets and create something that I'm proud of, you know?
I just want to be happy. I don't feel the need to conquer those unheard of places in Middle America that mean nothing to me at all. I'm quite picky. I like doing the gigs that I know are going to work, as well as throwing in a handful of new places obviously. Being able to generate this much money or sell that many units isn't something that drives me. It's not rewarding for me to be dealing with numbers and things like that. Do you think that's why it's taken so long for you to do another mix? It's been three years since your last one.
Yeah, I think so. I honestly never really enjoyed making them all that much anyway. Obviously I get really involved with it and really excited about it, but they're quite daunting, committing yourself to record.
The other thing is that the whole market for mixes changed in that particular time period. So the pressure was much less. I didn't have a manager or label telling me that I had to do one. It's quite nice having that breathing space actually.
Was that the case before? You had people telling you that you had to get something out mix-wise?
Yeah. The mix album market was very different and there were a lot of opportunities to be doing so—if you were willing to go along with that. At the time, I was much more keen to spend the time on a mix album than going into the studio. In the last couple of years my whole life has changed a lot. I moved in with my fiancée and moved away from Hastings, which had been a big part of my life. And it's taken time to reestablish myself in the studio, which is something that I'm at the first step on the ladder with.
Whereas, a few years ago, I would put out a mix album and then go around the world to promote it. The studio was the thing that you did when you had a bit of spare time between tours. Mix albums are kind of like…obviously you don't have complete control over what you do. You don't work for people who tell you what to do clearly, but at the same time you're a bit limited in that there is so much legal tape involved.
Certain labels are very, very fussy when it comes to licensing things—even today. To get your track on a compilation is a very good thing, in terms of promoting your label and producers, but you have a lot of labels out there that have sold a handful of copies of these releases that are stuck-up about letting people use their work. You almost have a better chance of licensing a Coldplay track than some underground house labels.
Changing gears, I was reading recently that you wanted to be a pilot when you grew up.
I did, yeah. It was like anything when you're young, when you have no idea what you want to do. That was the thing that I plumped for. And then I somehow fell into mental nursing.
Flying could be your second career after the DJing has died down.
I'd like to go back to my nursing career actually. I think about it a lot. And I think with a lot of people that do this type of work, there's always this fear of rejection or failure. There's so much focus on what people haven't got, as opposed to what they have got. So there's that fear of what happens when it's all over.
But realistically, I love the idea of my old job. Even though it's so different from what I do now, it's very rewarding in a different way. You are actually helping people and families to get their lives back together again in situations that are often uncontrollable. Even though I'm very successful in what I'm doing now, there's still a part of me that misses helping people in that sense.
How long did you do that for?
About nine years.
Were you DJing all during that time?
Yeah. I think I started nursing in 1990 and I got my first decks around 1991. It was quite crazy trying to combine those two jobs at the same time. At what moment did you decide that you couldn't do both anymore?
It was funny, because the people at the nursing job were so compliant. They knew what I did, and they were very lenient with me. Over in the UK, you're dealing with a big organization because it's owned by the government, so it's not very flexible, but I was very fortunate. I went to my boss and said, "Look, I've landed a remix of Robbie Williams that I need to do in four days." And he said, "OK, phone in sick and we'll sort it out—but you'll need to do some overtime next week to make up for it."
It's funny that your boss didn't mention the remix…just that you had to come in to do overtime to make up for it.
[laughs] Yeah. Remixes and DJ gigs were really picking up at that time, but it was hard to leave for me financially just because things were so unstable. It was only after I had done Nubreed for Global Underground that I had to make a decision to do one or the other. And I realized that I could probably go back to nursing in the future, but that this opportunity with music was only once-in-a-lifetime. So I made that leap. Although I do remember going six months later to do some overtime because I had to pay the rent, and had no other way of doing it right then.
Looking forward to Winter Music Conference next year, what's the big track that you have planned for your '80s-themed Pop Tarts party?
[laughs] I was thinking about this just the other day. I can't quite remember what it was. Maybe something by REO Speedwagon? I think the Pop Tarts phenomenon has crept out. They don't normally book DJs at Glastonbury two years in a row, and I had bought tickets to go because I love it, but my agent talked to them and they agreed—if I played for free and played a '80s set. Which I was happy to do. [laughs] If there is no interest from regular clubs anymore, it's nice to know that I have a back-up career in mental nursing and '80s music.
Words / Todd L. Burns Published / Mon, 08 Dec 2008
From YourNight.ie -- Techno luminary Laurent Garnier took a few mins out after wrapping up this year's D.E.A.F in The Village to have a chat with us about Ireland, DEAF and his new projects. Many Thanks to Donal Gorman for interview duties! Also featuring some v.nice footage from the event!
01. The Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy Hey Girl (Soulwax Remix Edit) 02. Zombie Nation - Forza 03. Tame Impala - Half Full Glass Of Wine 04. Tiga - Mind Dimension 2 (Ghent Version) 05. Mr Oizo - Pourriture 7 (Soulwax Edit) 06. Esser - Headlock 07. In Flagranti - Business Acumen 08. Flairs - Truckers Delight 09. MGMT - Kids (Soulwax Remix) 10. Das Pop - Fool For Love 11. Eine Kleine Nacht Musik - Feuerprobe (Rory Phillips Remix) 12. Mickey Moonlight - Interplanetary Melodies 13. Late Of The Pier - Random Firl 14. Ali Renault - Our World Is
I don't know what it is, but some tracks just grab me by the balls and don't let fucking go. The Rory Phillips Remix is doing it to me right now.
What up...it's been awhile since I've last done anything with this blog. Here's a recap: I had a birthday that was bonkers a few weeks back. Went to Los Angeles for a few days and Palm Springs for some R&R during T'giving w/end and got back last night. Listening to Laurent Garnier's Raw Works that I picked up at Amoeba Music right now.
Anywho, the reason for this post is to let y'all know about this:
As we are approaching the holiday season, please consider purchasing or helping to promote the forthcoming CD from Heroes of the Dancefloor, "Torch," released on INgrooves November 24th. Fusing old, new, and swing jazz with soulful vocals and mixing hip hop and dub influences, there is a little something for everyone on this album. In addition, every dime made will be donated to two homeless charities in New York City: ‘Picture the Homeless’ and ‘Coalition for the Homeless’.
"Torch," is the second in a series by Heroes of the Dancefloor to benefit the homeless. The sophomore album follows up the acclaimed, "Momentum" which benefited two homeless charities in San Francisco. The next album will benefit the homeless of New Orleans.
When the founder of Heroes of the Dancefloor witnessed a very pregnant and crying woman on the streets begging for money, he knew he had to do something. With his music connections and shear compassion, he gathered an excellent group of artists willing to donate their time and art for this worthy cause.
According to the annual report by the Coalition on Homelessness "New York has reached a new record for the number of homeless families living in our shelters. In this year alone the number of people living in homeless shelters has increased by 11% and the number of children has increased by 18% to over 14,000.
Please sample the single (and free download for your readers) here
PLEASE CONSIDER HELPING TO PROMOTE THIS CD SO THAT WHEN YOUR READERS ARE THINKING ABOUT HOW THEY CAN HELP IN THE COMING COLD MONTHS, THEY WILL CONSIDER PURCHASING "TORCH." PLUS, IT'S JUST DAMN GOOD MUSIC.
"Slumdog Millionaire", a new film by Danny Boyle, the British director who brought us my favorite movie of all time, "Trainspotting", comes out today. It's been getting solid reviews across the board, and I'm quite anxious to see this in the theater.
November 12, 2008 Orphan’s Lifeline Out of Hell Could Be a Game Show in Mumbai
By MANOHLA DARGIS Published: November 12, 2008
A gaudy, gorgeous rush of color, sound and motion, “Slumdog Millionaire,” the latest from the British shape-shifter Danny Boyle, doesn’t travel through the lower depths, it giddily bounces from one horror to the next. A modern fairy tale about a pauper angling to become a prince, this sensory blowout largely takes place amid the squalor of Mumbai, India, where lost children and dogs sift through trash so fetid you swear you can smell the discarded mango as well as its peel, or could if the film weren’t already hurtling through another picturesque gutter.
Mr. Boyle, who first stormed the British movie scene in the mid-1990s with flashy entertainments like “Shallow Grave” and “Trainspotting,” has a flair for the outré. Few other directors could turn a heroin addict rummaging inside a rank toilet bowl into a surrealistic underwater reverie, as he does in “Trainspotting,” and fewer still could do so while holding onto the character’s basic humanity. The addict, played by Ewan McGregor, emerges from his repulsive splish-splashing with a near-beatific smile (having successfully retrieved some pills), a terrible if darkly funny image that turns out to have been representative not just of Mr. Boyle’s bent humor but also of his worldview: better to swim than to sink.
Swimming comes naturally to Jamal (the British actor Dev Patel in his feature-film debut), who earns a living as a chai-wallah serving fragrant tea to call-center workers in Mumbai and who, after a series of alternating exhilarating and unnerving adventures, has landed in the hot seat on the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Yet while the story opens with Jamal on the verge of grabbing the big prize, Simon Beaufoy’s cleverly kinked screenplay, adapted from a novel by Vikas Swarup, embraces a fluid view of time and space, effortlessly shuttling between the young contestant’s past and his present, his childhood spaces and grown-up times. Here, narrative doesn’t begin and end: it flows and eddies — just like life.
By all rights the texture of Jamal’s life should have been brutally coarsened by tragedy and poverty by the time he makes a grab for the television jackpot. But because “Slumdog Millionaire” is self-consciously (perhaps commercially) framed as a contemporary fairy tale cum love story, or because Mr. Boyle leans toward the sanguine, this proves to be one of the most upbeat stories about living in hell imaginable. It’s a life that begins in a vast, vibrant, sun-soaked, jampacked ghetto, a kaleidoscopic city of flimsy shacks and struggling humanity and takes an abrupt, cruel turn when Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar), then an exuberant 7, and his cagier brother, Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), witness the murder of their mother (Sanchita Choudhary) by marauding fanatics armed with anti-Muslim epithets and clubs.
Cast into the larger, uncaring world along with another new orphan, a shy beauty named Latika (Rubina Ali plays the child, Freida Pinto the teenager), the three children make their way from one refuge to another before falling prey to a villain whose exploitation pushes the story to the edge of the unspeakable. Although there’s something undeniably fascinating, or at least watchable, about this ghastly interlude — the young actors are very appealing and sympathetic, and the images are invariably pleasing even when they shouldn’t be — it’s unsettling to watch these young characters and, by extension, the young nonprofessionals playing them enact such a pantomime. It doesn’t help even if you remember that Jamal makes it out alive long enough to have his 15 televised minutes.
It’s hard to hold onto any reservations in the face of Mr. Boyle’s resolutely upbeat pitch and seductive visual style. Beautifully shot with great sensitivity to color by the cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantel, in both film and digital video, “Slumdog Millionaire” makes for a better viewing experience than it does for a reflective one. It’s an undeniably attractive package, a seamless mixture of thrills and tears, armchair tourism (the Taj Mahal makes a guest appearance during a sprightly interlude) and crackerjack professionalism. Both the reliably great Irrfan Khan (“A Mighty Heart”), as a sadistic detective, and the Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, as the preening game-show host, run circles around the young Mr. Patel, an agreeable enough if vague centerpiece to all this coordinated, insistently happy chaos.
In the end, what gives me reluctant pause about this bright, cheery, hard-to-resist movie is that its joyfulness feels more like a filmmaker’s calculation than an honest cry from the heart about the human spirit (or, better yet, a moral tale). In the past Mr. Boyle has managed to wring giggles out of murder (“Shallow Grave”) and addiction (“Trainspotting”), and invest even the apocalypse with a certain joie de vivre (the excellent zombie flick “28 Days Later”). He’s a blithely glib entertainer who can dazzle you with technique and, on occasion, blindside you with emotion, as he does in his underrated children’s movie, “Millions.” He plucked my heartstrings in “Slumdog Millionaire” with well-practiced dexterity, coaxing laughter and sobs out of each sweet, sour and false note.
“Slumdog Millionaire” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for brutal violence.
Opens on Wednesday nationwide.
Directed by Danny Boyle; written by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantel; edited by Chris Dickens; music by A. R. Rahman; production designer, Mark Digby; produced by Christian Colson; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 2 hours.
WITH: Dev Patel (Jamal), Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (Youngest Jamal), Freida Pinto (Latika), Rubina Ali (Youngest Latika), Madhur Mittal (Salim), Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (Youngest Salim), Sanchita Choudhary (Jamal’s Mother), Anil Kapoor (Prem) and Irrfan Khan (Police Inspector).
One of my favorite artists and clothing designer, Kaws, is currently having an exhibition of his works at the Gering & López Gallery.
Here's the press release from the gallery's website:
GERING & LóPEZ GALLERY is pleased to present the much anticipated solo exhibition of new work by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS. The artist sees his technique as a sieve of modern culture, filtering and re-contextualizing the images and information that he comes in contact with daily. Beginning as a graffiti artist in the 1990s, KAWS took an interventionist approach to the imagery on billboards and bus shelter advertisements, interweaving his own graphics. KAWS now uses the worldwide popularity of his familiar brand-like symbols to explore other methods of integrating his iconography into the global consumer culture.
This exhibition features the artist's most recent paintings and sculpture. Large-scale acrylic works on canvas incorporate his usual cast of characters set against abstract, chaotic scenes of geometric shapes. In this series, the subject is displaced and the focus is drawn to the bold coloration of the elements. In another group of monochromatic paintings, line work and treatment of the surface texture obscure the compositional focus leaving only the presence of the characters' emotive expressions in abstraction. Additionally, KAWS has produced a series of thirty-three uniquely painted life-size bronze sculptures of his own severed head. With this series, KAWS reinvents the age-old tradition of bronze casting by finishing the sculptures with playful candy coated colors. A sculpture entitled Chum stands as a larger-than-life rendition of a classic KAWS character.
Throughout his career, KAWS has explored different approaches to his artistic agenda. In 2006, he opened his own shop in Tokyo, OriginalFake, where new products release weekly in limited quantities. He has completed several collaborative design projects with such labels as Commes des Garçons, Marc Jacobs, Levi's, Nike, and A Bathing Ape. Through each of these ventures, KAWS has successfully blurred the line between fine art and mass-produced merchandise thus allowing his artistic vision to touch a far-reaching audience.
Born in 1974 in New Jersey, KAWS graduated with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has had international solo exhibitions at several galleries including Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami, FL; Bape Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; Colette, Paris, France; and the MU Art Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands. His work has also appeared in many group exhibitions such as Everything Else at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, NY; Ugly Winners at Galerie Du Juor Agnes B., Paris, France; and Beautiful Losers, a traveling exhibition that has been on view at Le Tri Postal, Lille, France; Palazzo Dell'Arte, Milan, Italy; the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH, among others. He was the winner of the 1998 Pernod Liquid Art Award and three monographs have been published about his work.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm. For further information please contact Lauren Cicione at 646.336.7183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
KAWS Exhibition at the Gering & López Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday | 10:00 am - 6:00 pm 730 Fifth Avenue Between 56th and 57th Streets New York, NY 10019 p: 646.336.7183
I heard that payback's a mother fuckin' bitch But I won't stress and I won't switch And I would not take my life Glory please, my God, the only thing on my mind Takes up all of my time And I said, ooh!
Running from a gun Or some brain that weighs a ton And my God, it hurts to get so low Searchin' through the cars Cold, still searchin' through the night I think I will run, to you But I refuse to fuss and fight
And God may find a reason Well I'm sure you'll find a rhyme Because it takes up nearly all my time He who stands for freedom God knows I've got the number But maybe I just use too much
I was sitting in that bar I'm sittin' in that stolen car Cold, still rollin' down the boulevard Saw you with a gleam And the microphone scene Think I will run, to you But I know I won't live for me Cause I know God's got both The reason and the rhyme Please tell me, why he takes up all my time I've been drinking, just like you And baby, you've got something I can use
Payback's a mother fuckin' blast But I won't stress and I won't blast And I would not take my life Glory please, my God, comin' from heaven above Takes up all of my time And I said
'Why must I feel like that'
Running from a gun And some brain that weighs a ton You know, I did that line for Flava' Flav But, all the DJ's do it All the DJ's use it I would run, I would switch But I wanna be the same And I know I'll find a reason 'Cause I always bust a rhyme Because it takes up nearly all my time The "T" here stands for treason The "D" hear stands for dove And maybe I just use too much Maybe I'm just used too much
I'll be celebrating my birthday on Saturday, November 15 by playing the opening set at Sullivan Room. Headlining is the super talented Justin Martin from San Francisco. I opened for him the last time he played at Sullivan Room, and it was a slammin night. It's sure to be more of the same, but a million times better!
You can hit me up for guestlist by emailing me at email@example.com
The fun kicks off at 9pm.
2 for 1 drink until 11pm.
Sullivan Room is located at 218 Sullivan Street b/t West 3rd and Bleeker.
A nice little 24 minute documentary filmed by the We Love people to capture the closing party of We Love Space Sundays last month in Ibiza, featuring extensive chat footage with Ben Watt and techno don, Jeff Mills.
Just watched the Palin Rap skit from last night's SNL. Is it me, or are the funniest bits on the show anthemit pseudo-rap songs? Who care though because I cracked up while watching this, and I actually kinda like Palin now...is that bad?
Here's the one that started it all on SNL, imo. Always a good time to go back and revisit after it's been awhile:
CMJ: Prime Time w/ Eamon Harkin + James F!@$%^ Friedman + special guest GREG WILSON
The infamous Prime Time party comes to Santos!
Greg Wilson has a pedigree stretching back to the original disco era. He first came to national prominence in the early 1980s as the first to champion New York's emerging Electro-Funk sound and he was the first DJ to mix records on national TV and in 1983, Greg became the first dance music DJ to become resident at Manchester's legendary Hacienda, then very much an indie and 'alternative' music venue.
Fast forward to 2008 and Greg is back with full force, turning in remixes for DFA, Rong Music as well as a sublime mix CD for 20:20 vision and the latest podcast for the influential Resident Advisor.
Armed with a laptop, turntables and, of course, his trusty Revox B77 reel-to-reel, Greg brings his alchemical mixing and customized re-edits to NYC to play Prime Time at Santos Party House on Saturday October 25th.
While New Yorkers have been consumed by the stock market meltdown, a tiny little pet store quietly opened four days ago at 89 7th Avenue between West 4th and Bleeker Street in the West Village of New York City.
There are no puppies or kittens in the windows here.
Instead, a live leopard lounges on a tree in the window.
Or is it?
In other windows, things get a bit more bizarre.
McDonald's Chicken McNuggets sip barbecue sauce. A rabbit puts on her makeup. A CCTV camera nurtures its young.
Once inside Banksy's pet store, you discover such things as breaded fish that swim in a large round bowl while hot dogs are living the high life under heat lamps in cages near the cash register.
This is the first time that Banksy has used animatronics, and the effect is absolutely amazing.
A clear departure form last year's behemoth show in Los Angeles, Banksy's first ever show in New York City (the others have been fakes) is being held in a tiny storefront that's less than 300 square feet and can't hold more than 20 people at any one time.
One of our favorite things about what Banksy has done is that the entire show is completely visible to the public both day and night through the store front windows. And unless you're a hard core Banksy fan, or until someone like us tells you, it's absolutely impossible to know that the work has been done by Banksy. There are no paintings or graffiti in the entire space.
We're sure that as soon as people start reading this, photos and video will be all over the web. But Sara and I don't want to give too much away. It's just too much fun to be surprised (and delighted) in person.
So here's just a taste of what you'll experience in Banksy's "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill".
Starting the moment you read this, until October 31st (Halloween), Banksy's pet store is officially open each and every daily from 10am until midnight.
One piece of advice - Bring a video camera as still images don't do the place justice!
“New Yorkers don’t care about art, they care about pets. So I’m exhibiting them instead. I wanted to make art that questioned our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming, but it ended up as chicken nuggets singing. I took all the money I made exploiting an animal in my last show and used it to fund a new show about the exploitation of animals. If its art and you can see it from the street, I guess it could still be considered street art."
It's important to sift through what's been said and decipher what's true and what's not. I don't have the time nor wherewithal to do so, however, FactCheck.org does a good job, so check it out if you care enough.
One-On-One With Sarah Palin NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2008(CBS) When CBS News anchor Katie Couric sat down for an exclusive interview with vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, she focused on the economy - but also addressed reports that the lobbying firm of Sen. John McCain's campaign manager received payments from the controversial mortgage giant Freddie Mac until last month. Couric asked for the Alaska governor's reaction to that. Watch Day II of the interview, on foreign policy, here. Sarah Palin: My understanding is that Rick Davis recused himself from the dealings of the firm. I don't know how long ago, a year or two ago that he's not benefiting from that. And you know, I was - I would hope that's not the case.
Katie Couric: But he still has a stake in the company so isn't that a conflict of interest?
Palin: Again, my understanding is that he recused himself from the dealings with Freddie and Fannie, any lobbying efforts on his part there. And I would hope that's the case because, as John McCain has been saying, and as I've on a much more local level been also rallying against is the undue influence of lobbyists in public policy decisions being made.
Next, Couric asked about the $700 billion government bailout of bad debt - and whether she supports it.
Palin: I'm all about the position that America is in and that we have to look at a $700 billion bailout. And as Sen. McCain has said unless this nearly trillion dollar bailout is what it may end up to be, unless there are amendments in Paulson's proposal, really I don't believe that Americans are going to support this and we will not support this. The interesting thing in the last couple of days that I have seen is that Americans are waiting to see what John McCain will do on this proposal. They're not waiting to see what Barack Obama is going to do. Is he going to do this and see what way the political wind's blowing? They're waiting to see if John McCain will be able to see these amendments implemented in Paulson's proposal.
Couric: Why do you say that? Why are they waiting for John McCain and not Barack Obama?
Palin: He's got the track record of the leadership qualities and the pragmatism that's needed at a crisis time like this.
Couric: But polls have shown that Sen. Obama has actually gotten a boost as a result of this latest crisis, with more people feeling that he can handle the situation better than John McCain.
Palin: I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who's more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?
Couric: If this doesn't pass, do you think there's a risk of another Great Depression?
Palin: Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it's been proposed, has to pass or we're going to find ourselves in another Great Depression. But, there has got to be action - bipartisan effort - Congress not pointing fingers at one another but finding the solution to this, taking action, and being serious about the reforms on Wall Street that are needed.
Couric: Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures to help average Americans keep their homes?
Palin: That's something that John McCain and I have both been discussing - whether that ... is part of the solution or not. You know, it's going to be a multi-faceted solution that has to be found here.
Couric: So you haven't decided whether you'll support it or not?
Palin: I have not.
Couric: What are the pros and cons of it do you think?
Palin: Oh, well, some decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded, of course.
Couric: By consumers, you're saying?
Palin: Consumers - and those who were predator lenders also. That's, you know, that has to be considered also. But again, it's got to be a comprehensive, long-term solution found ... for this problem that America is facing today. As I say, we are getting into crisis mode here.
Couric: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?
Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.
Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.
Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.
Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?
Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.
Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.
Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.
Amazon's recently launched vinyl store now has over 250,000 titles in stock. If you've ever compared the sound between a digital copy of a song to the sound of a record, you'd know why vinyl has made a resurgence in recent months.
Through those doors lies 12 seats along a counter that faces into an open kitchen...where a handful of cooks are preparing lunch and dinner for people who are logging onto the Momofuku Ko webpage and clicking away at exactly 10 a.m. I've realized that my work computer server is god-awful slow, so I'd never managed to snag a reservation during the weekdays. Finally, I managed to get my ass in front of my home cpu on a weekend morning. Last Saturday, I was able to get a reservation for Friday, September 12 for the 10 p.m. seating...but unfortunately I had a commitment that night...so I made sure to park my keister in front of my desktop at home the following morning at a few minutes before 10...and lo behold, I copped another reservation. So, I canceled my first reservation and readied my visit to Ko for the whole fucking week.
If you haven't seen the pics by now, that's what it looks like inside. The stool I sat on is fifth from the back...
Anyhow, the place has been reviewed ad nauseum in the few months it's been opened, but I guess I'll add my two cents since I promised to write more often.
With the meal, I had the $85 wine pairing option. Honestly, every pairing was spot on...like dick and pussy...each complementing one another...drawing flavors out...making other flavors linger. I wouldn't say any of the drinks were bold...rather, they were crisp and clear and none were overpowering.
Oh yeah...I forgot to mention...the 2nd song we heard that emanated from the speakers, as our amuse were being placed before us, was "Let Down" by Radiohead (one of my favorite songs)...so that was an auspicious beginning to the 2 hour trek my friend and I were going to endure and bask in.
Honestly, it'll be too tedious and I'm not in the mood to write about every course I had...so I'll stick to the standouts. The second amuse bouche were two mini-biscuits...and coincidentally, I had been fiending for a proper biscuit for quite some time. Sometimes, the world and I are on the same page.
Another standout was the pasta course...which were raviolis (I think it was a ricotta filling) with sweet corn and a whole bunch of other awesome stuff that I can't remember, as I got pretty hammered and didn't feel like writing down everything I was consuming. I did manage to get a list of the drinks I had, and next to each listing is the dish that accompanies it. It goes a little something like this:
I have to say, the soup was the the most underwhelming stop in the meal, though the sake that was paired with it couldn't have been more spot on as a complement. My only other complaint is that I could've gone with one more savory dish...preferably the famous short ribs that had been on the menu for awhile...but alas, I was at the whim of the chefs...and it's not like I didn't walk out the door full.
Other than that, truthfully, every course was exceptional, barring the soup. Truly exceptional. The foie gras was otherworldly...no joke. I've never had anything like it. It was something fit for a king. Believe all the good things you've read about it...
Oh, and instead of the halibut, it was a scallop course (straight up, I had been in the mood for biscuits and scallops for quite some time...and it was baam baam that I had both in this meal) that was superb. For reals...damn good.
And for my posterity, the Glenlivet was awesome as well.
All in all, I wish I had more hands because I'd give Momofuku Ko 4-thumbs up. Good times...good memories.
Delightful...enchanting...sweet...funny...cute; these are some of the words to describe Son of Rambow, a movie that I think flew under the radar in the States - at least for me.
Set in 1980's Britain, the film is a comedy-drama that pairs two boys who are evidently different by their actions and demeanor, but who couldn't be more alike within. Directed by the talented Garth Jennings who's done numerous music videos as well as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, he tells a story that captures an authentic coming-of-age that's unforced and honestly endearing for this viewer.
I have to say, I really, really enjoyed the movie...and it's been awhile since I have (probably due to the fact that I pretty much watched all five seasons of The Wire straight through for the past few weeks). In any case, the film holds up because it's honest. It's got a bit of a Michel Gondry vibe to it, for what that's worth (which is a lot for me).
The soundtrack's chock full of goodies as well. Oh...and a bit of trivia...Stanley Kubrick's grandson has a part in the movie as well.
Born and raised across the river Mersey from Liverpool, Greg Wilson is one of the key figures responsible for the development of the early '80s electro-funk scene in clubs across the North of England before it spread throughout the country. Borrowing from formative experiences at an early age in England and continental Europe, Wilson introduced British club audiences to the revolutionary dance music coming out of New York City. Both reviled by traditionalists and praised by those hungry for something new, Greg Wislon helped shepherd the evolution of dance music in the UK from the soul and funk sounds that dominated the '70s to the emergence of house and hip hop in the late '80s. He retired from DJing at an early age in '84, but has returned to DJ work in recent years and received the hero's welcome befitting his role in the history of dance music.
Red Bull Music Academy, Melbourne 2006
For years Greg Wilson was the headz DJ – the pioneer of the '70s and early '80s dance scene in Northern England, when fresh new styles were developing every six months. Back then, the notion of the club DJ mixing records together seamlessly was practically unheard of, and the art of DJing was strictly in the selection, the programming, and the words on the mic. But as if to prove that all styles move in cycles, Greg has been back behind the decks more recently, as interest in the golden era of electro funk, its resurgent influence has again shifted into the forefront of the public taste. Greg takes us on a time travelling journey, explaining the different scenes, the clubs, the dancers and, of course, the tunes. Get ready for the lesson.
RBMA: »You’ve been a DJ for most of your life?«
Greg Wilson: »I was a DJ from when I was 15 in 1975, then I kept doing it until I was 23 in 1983. Then I took a 20 year break. I started doing it again in 2003.«
RBMA: »What was DJing like in 1975?«
Greg Wilson: »From the UK perspective the main difference was that DJing was microphone-based. You announced records, there was no mixing. That was a New York thing, that was not something we were aware of until around 1977 or ‘78. Then we started getting an awareness of New York culture. We wouldn’t really get a full awareness of it until the early 1980s. In 1975, the dominant kind of dance music being played in clubs was soul and funk and it was also the start of the disco era. Obviously, you had the Philly sound around 1973/'4 but Donna Summer’s hit Love To Love You was at the beginning of 1976 so that kind of ties in with that period. At that point in time disco music wasn’t yet a genre, the term ‘disco’ referred to soul and funk because that was the music played in a discotheque. Later down the line it evolved into its own genre. When I started out I was in my home town called New Brighton which is a small town just across the river Mersey from Liverpool. I was a jobbing, DJ which meant I worked five, six nights a week playing all kinds of music. I always wanted to be a black music specialist, that’s where my heart lay with music.«
RBMA: »Were you playing Northern soul?«
Greg Wilson: »There is a kind of misconception that in the North of England in the mid-'70s it was all Northern soul but that was an underground scene. In Liverpool, the Northern soul scene never took off at all, Liverpool was a much more funk-based city. The kind of music I would be playing was contemporary stuff at the time – maybe Kool & The Gang, Ohio Players, James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic – that was the music that was popular in Liverpool.«
RBMA: »Can you explain Northern soul to those who don’t know much about it?«
Greg Wilson: »To put it in its context, Northern soul was, at the time in the mid-'70s, a retrospective form of black music, it was derivative of Motown, the people who were into Northern soul they’d never let go of Motown. They loved that music so much they just wanted to dig deeper and deeper and find rarer and rarer records with that kind of Motown feel. Motown was successful in the '60s and at the time there were loads of musicians in Detroit trying to make Motown sounding records, the original musicians on the Motown records were also moonlighting on other people’s music. The Northern soul scene started at a club in Manchester called the Twisted Wheel earlier in the 1960s when they were playing contemporary soul music, but as they moved into the '70s they keep digging deeper for rarer cuts of the same type rather than moving with the times. It was all about finding old record and rare records. The main clubs on that circuit were the Blackpool Mecca and obviously Wigan Casino, also the Torch in Stoke and the Catacombs in Wolverhampton. A huge underground scene developed, but you know, it was a predominantly white audience into black retrospective music, whereas at the same point in time the black kids in the UK were not listening to old music. There was all this great contemporary music like Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, all the funk bands. Northern soul was not actually a scene that black people were much involved with because they were more into the newer black music. Around Liverpool, where I lived, Northern soul was not the dominant force. This is a Northern soul track the original version of Tainted Love by Gloria Jones. As a juxtaposition to that, the sort of stuff we would be playing was this Shack Up by Banbarra.«
RBMA: »The scenes didn’t mix?«
Greg Wilson: »I personally played more commercial music and then perhaps I would play a tune like this, but the scenes as a whole didn’t really mix. In Liverpool at the time, when I was 16 I went to a club called the Timepiece and it was real education for me. I heard about the club before hand and there was a legend about this DJ - a man called Les Spaine. He was a guy from Liverpool but born in Sierra Leone. He lived in an area called Toxteth, which was one of the main black areas in Liverpool. Liverpool at the time was quite a segregated city and quite a racist city. This club was in the city centre and it was a predominantly black audience. I was taken there by some older DJs that I had got to know and I was from New Brighton, a town which had very few black people. Going into that environment was very unfamiliar to me, I remember feeling, 'Am I going to be alright in here, am I OK?', but the music instantly made me feel at home. I was introduced to the DJ who was playing what we called upfront music, which means imported music that was unreleased in the UK. At the time there weren’t 12” singles so it was a matter of 7” singles or alum tracks. So you know what was happening in there, what I could see was everything I wanted musically. The dancing too was on a different level, people were seriously into it. It was almost at that second in time that I saw the light and thought, ‘This is where I want to be headed.’ Every DJ aspired to be Les and was around his DJ box making notes and trying to read the labels of the music he played.«
RBMA: »He didn’t try to cover up the labels?«
Greg Wilson: »No, he was very open about it. His attitude was it doesn’t matter if you know what I’m playing because next week I will have something different again to play for you. He had that confidence in his ability. He was a wonderful DJ. He went on to work for Motown, when Motown opened up in the UK he went to work for them and he still works in the music business today. I was very fortunate that a few years down the line, in another five or six years, I ended up in Manchester with a very similar audience and a very similar vibe to what I saw that night at the Timepiece. In the meantime I was learning more about building a crowd and trying to fit more tracks in my set like those I heard at the Timepiece. First and foremost, I saw myself as a professional DJ. I did it for a living and this was at a time when if somebody asked: “What do you do for a job?”, and I said: “I am a DJ,” they would say: “No, what do you do for a proper job?” When I started I earned only six pounds a night. I was happy with it. I was earning good money for someone my age, doing five or six nights a week. Eventually, I took over a club called the Golden Guinea in New Brighton and it was a very commercial club, but gradually I started playing a few imports and pretty soon I managed to evolve what might be called a scene.«
RBMA: »Because you played there almost every night you could develop and educate your audience?«
Greg Wilson: »I find that a very high term to use because music is such a subjective thing. As a DJ you bring your personality in terms of music into play, but by saying that you are educating people you are presuming that you are somehow better or at a higher level. But I prefer to see that you are working on a level with your audience, you need them as much as they need your music. I don’t like to play above the heads of the audience, thinking you are really clever by playing them new tunes but actually missing the target completely with it. Actually, it is far better to empathise a bit. For instance, I am playing at the weekend at Revolver – but I have never been to Australia before, I have an idea of what I would like to play but I can’t nail anything down until I am in the venue looking at the audience that is there. That is kind of an old way. When I started, I used to do mobile visits taking a disco to weddings and 21st birthday parties. The rules that you learn within that were exactly the same as when I went to work at Legend in Manchester and worked with a predominantly black audience, who totally know their music and were a totally upfront audience. The same rules apply, you look at your audience and you cut your cloth accordingly to suit who’s there. You have to weigh up each environment and play accordingly. When I went to the Golden Guinea club I had a period of time when I could slowly, bit by bit impose my personality onto the night and gradually the nights I were doing there were regarded throughout the Merseyside area as some of the best places to hear black music. The main magazine that reported on black music in the UK was called Blues & Soul and it was like the DJs bible at the time and it was a great moment for me when they eventually came to my small town club and did a piece about it and recommended it. So that was working on a local level, I loved that scene I knew all the people, it was my hometown and I was working there until 1980. In the meantime I had been to Europe, there were a lot of English DJs working out there. I went to Scandinavia, Denmark and Norway.«
RBMA: »Why were English DJs popular in Europe?«
Greg Wilson: »It was because of using the microphone. The English language was seen as the language for DJing. What was funny was that the record announcements would be in English but if there was an announcement that someone’s taxi had arrived then that would be in Swedish or whatever. Mixing culture was just starting to have an influence in 1978 but the microphone culture was predominant. When we first heard about mixing, we didn’t have the equipment to do it, we didn’t have turntables that could vary in speed in order to mix together. We couldn’t really get records to run into each other except for maybe a bar it would work. So it didn’t really take off. Initially, a lot of DJs tried it and it was flavour of the month but then people just went back to the microphone. It was seen as an American thing that would never cross over.«
RBMA: »Did you go to New York?«
Greg Wilson: »No, I never went to New York until last year, actually. We would play like three records in a row, most DJs would do like a Motown spot but there wasn’t mixing as such. I remember the first two records I ran on top of each other were both the Jackson Five - ABC, and I Want You Back. At the start of ABC there was a section that was similar to the middle of I Want You Back so I would run them together but I never saw it as mixing. Later down the line, I would do things like switch between Thelma Houston’s version and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes version of Don’t Leave Me This Way. Probably, if I went back in a time machine, it would sound awful. It wasn’t until I was at Wigan Pier and Legend and I had the right equipment to work with that it all started to make sense from a personal level. I would say from a UK perspective the majority of DJs were not mixing until the back end of the '80s, until house, really. The first time I went to Europe in 1978 I intended to stay but it didn’t work out. I ended up back home and spent a couple more years playing at the Golden Guinea and there was a guy who was more into pop stuff who took the room upstairs. He was in his thirties and he’d been at this club for ten years. I began to see myself in him and thought, ‘I don’t want to be here in ten years time.’ So I decided to try Europe again. I went to Denmark and then I went to Germany. The club I worked at in Germany was the first one to have SL-1200s and there was a club in a nearby town called Essen a club called Librium and it was a really compact club with really great lighting and the DJ there was just constantly mixing. It made a big impression on me. The first guy in England to mix was a guy called Greg James, an American who knew some of the people from New York. I had seen him in the Embassy in London but it didn’t make the same impression as this guy in Essen. I have a feeling it could have been Peter Römer, but I am not sure. He did some work in that club around that period but I’m not sure - I don’t remember the name directly. I had originally gone to Denmark but I crashed my car when I was over there, I had to return to England to change my car and while I was there I re-met a guy I knew from Norway who was now working in a club called the Wigan Pier. This club was absolutely phenomenal for its time. It was the first club in the UK to have a laser system. The DJ box was in this 15 foot fibre glass frog, it had a light controller in the mouth of the frog, the DJ worked at the side, there was a monitor system inside. All of this we’d never seen the like of in the UK. The DJs equipment was usually an afterthought. The look of the bar was more important than the soundsystem. This club was designed around the DJ and it advertised itself as an American-style disco. I thought it was a wonderful club and the same company was just about to open a new club called Legend and Nicky, my friend, was going to be DJing there, so there would be a job opening at Wigan Pier. The owner said: “Why don’t you audition?” Everyone wanted the job at this place. I said: “I have to go to Germany.” I didn’t want to take the risk of not returning to Germany just because of an audition, but I asked him if I could send him a tape. I sent it to him and they got in touch with me in Germany and offered me the job. I was blown away, I actually wept I remember, I couldn’t believe it. This club was a dream club and now I was the four nights a week resident. One of the nights was the specialist black music night based around the jazz/funk scene at the time, the other three nights were more a mixture of the more famous jazz/funk tracks, the futuristic stuff like Human League and Spandau Ballet, the new romantics and at the weekend we played more commercial black music like Shalamar and Michael Jackson. On the jazz/funk night we would play tracks like Donald Byrd - Falling Like Dominoes.«
Greg Wilson: »They heard of me at Legend because of the success of the Tuesday night at Wigan Pier. Legend had its own jazz/funk night on a Wednesday, which had been going OK. But then the DJ they had there left to run a rival night and it basically wiped it out there. The first night I played there were only about 70 people when the club was designed for about 500. It was looking a bit threadbare. When I went in there was one big difference from Wigan Pier, which was out of those 70 people probably 69 of them were black. It was an audience that weren’t really into a DJ on the microphone making announcements. They weren’t into the verbals of it. It was very much music-based. This was when I put the emphasis on the mixing. I didn’t put the mic aside completely but when I took over at Legend I put the emphasis on mixing. One of the main things about the scene were the ‘all-dayers’, which happened on a Sunday or a bank holiday Monday. You would have all these people coming in from different areas. The ‘all-dayers’ would run from 2 o’clock in the afternoon to midnight. You knew that you were making it as a DJ when you began to get booked for the ‘all-dayers’. When I had been DJing for about six months at Wigan Pier, some of the promoters started to book me to go on the ‘all-dayers’. Originally, I was way down the bill and gradually I came up the bill. When I was at Legend I would use the mic to tell people about events like that. If there was an ‘all-dayer’ at Birmingham, if there was a coach taking people down there, when and where it was leaving, stuff like that. Even though I didn’t announce records any more I was still a great believer in sharing the information about the record which I played. I thought it was important to keep the scene moving on, to keep it pushing forward. When I decided that the mixing was going to take centre stage I was worried that without announcements people would never find out what I was playing so I made an information sheet every week called ‘What’s Going On’. It had a floorfillers chart. It had a new releases chart. It had an information section saying what ‘all-dayers’ were happening. It was handwritten! I had a template for it and just wrote it out each week and had it photocopied. So when people would come up to me and ask me what I was playing I would give them the sheet and they would go straight to their record shops and buy the record. That solved my dilemma. Later down the line I was asked to design a DJ booth and I included a special function. I always thought this would happen in clubs and it never happened – you know one of those LED read-out screens where information goes along, that was part of my booth design. I thought you would type in what you were playing and people would be able to see what you played but it never happened. I thought it was important that this information was shared. Some DJs like to keep it all exclusive but I can’t really see the point. The music doesn’t belong to you – you are a channel. The Northern soul scene was very much about secrecy and gaining an advantage over other DJs by finding a rare record, covering up the label and calling it something else, giving it a completely different title and artist from what it really was. And other DJs were getting caught out because they were putting these records in their charts – and they didn’t even exist. That happened quite a lot. It wasn’t like that in our scene. It was a real love of moving the music forward and sharing it. We wanted more people to get into it. Making this decision to place the emphasis on mixing brought more and more people in and gradually a style of music began to emerge which was more suited to this kind of mixing which was electro funk.«
RBMA: »How would you define electro funk?«
Greg Wilson: »A lot of the stuff being played around 1981 we would now call boogie but back they we called it disco funk. It was still a disco vibe but it had a funk edge. Boogie was a term that derived later on in London. The boogie scene was also retrospective music. With electro funk new tracks were emerging utilising the new technology, drummachines, synths, later samplers. This was underground black music predominantly from New York.«
RBMA: »The records were designed for DJing?«
Greg Wilson: »It was drummachine-based, so it was much easier for mixing whereas anything with a live drummer has much more scope of going out of time. One of the early tracks, which was like a premonition of electro funk was D-Train - You’re The One For Me. Now a lot of people see this as a disco classic but when this track first came out it sounded different because of the way it uses synth and drummachine. With a lot of the stuff we played only the instrumental mix or the dub mix. There was a real '70s Jamaican influence coming into the remixing. Another pioneering electro funk track was called Time by a group called Stone, which came out on West End. The labels behind this new sound were Prelude, West End and Emergency. One early track called On A Journey was by a band called Electrik Funk. At first we called the music electric funk but then the word electro became popular after a track by Shock called Electrophonic Funk. At that time a lot of specialist black music DJs would play one or two of these records in their set but then one record came out that split the scene in two – everyone went against it and I went for it. I was basically seen as a heretic for playing this record.«
(music: Afrika Bambaataa - Planet Rock)
»This was the record that changed everything. Probably one of the most important records of the popular music era. It was a revelation. Born of pure open-mindedness. Afrika Bambaataa from the Bronx had the vision to be open-minded enough to listen to other styles of music, like Kraftwerk. They started playing it at parties so people who wouldn’t have previously seen that as their kind of music were listening to that early electronic sound. I heard that the English new romantic sound was popular in the Bronx, too. Afrika Bambaataa came with a totally new sound using a TR 808 and Arthur Baker production. Planet Rock was a revolutionary track, straight out of space. Dance music changed completely as a result of that track.«
RBMA: »Your peers did not like Planet Rock?«
Greg Wilson: »They said: “Why you playing that shit? That is not black music, you are polluting this scene by playing that music.” I was 22, I had just arrived on the scene, I had these two great clubs Wigan Pier and Legend. It was going well for me the crowds were coming in. My ego wanted a pat on the back and all of a sudden my peers on the scene were totally critical of the new direction I was taking. They thought it was a one minute wonder and that it would be here and gone and I would look stupid for having played it. The record shop I bought it from, Spinna, the manager was the guy who was most critical. He probably laughed at me walking out of the shop. At first I was really on the defensive. I was into it and what was more important the kids that came to my club were into it. Then it occurred to me properly what was going on. The people who was saying: “It’s not black music!” were white people in their thirties who seemed middle-aged to me at the time. I was like: “Who are you to say what black music is? Ask the black kids what they are into? That is what black music is. Not only is this black music, it is the cutting edge, it is where it’s at.” They thought this was going to kill the scene whereas really it was the music that was going to revive the scene. They were hanging on to the whole soul thing and they were into Luther Vandross and Alexander O’Neal. Great singers, great production, but everything was too perfect, there was a blandness about it. I loved soul music, it was my first love but that was Otis Redding tearing it up. Planet Rock was raw, it had more in common with those early soul records than contemporary soul at the time. It changed things in me and almost put me on the offensive. I became proactive and it was a rocky road for a time, but eventually I was proved right by the fact the whole scene eventually moved in my direction. My two clubs Wigan Pier on a Tuesday and Legend on a Wednesday got voted first and second by Blues & Soul [magazine] in the North West Club category and I got the best DJ award. So it was a clean sweep that all of a sudden I was in a position of power in the scene. What was happening in my clubs was dictating the whole of the scene in the North and the Midlands. You find yourself in these positions - you don’t plan it. I was lucky. I found myself in the right clubs, I made the right decision to move towards mixing, I was doing something that none of the other DJs were doing, so even if they had the music that I had, they couldn’t compete against the whole idea of mixing. At the same time I’d been asked to go on the radio, on Picadilly Radio, Manchester, which was the biggest commercial radio outside London at the time. It was quite a big station. I was putting mixes together for them. I was reaching a wider and wider audience.«
RBMA: »Radio was still very powerful then?«
Greg Wilson: »That was the highest ambition of a DJ back then, there were no superstar DJs. It wasn’t about travelling the world, it was about getting on the radio. These mixes I was doing were the first of the type in the UK, it was all new. I was asked to demonstrate mixing on a TV programme called The Tube in 1983 and that was the first time I had been on the TV. At the same time all this electro funk was coming through. It was a combination of all these factors that gave me such power in the scene. But don’t get me wrong, I was always completely realistic about the situation because I knew it was always by the grace of the audience that I had a job. I felt amazing being this young white guy from New Brighton who had grown up with a love of black music and all of a sudden was in a club with a really on-the-ball, hardcore black audience who really knew their stuff. I loved that they loved what I was playing. Skin colour wasn’t a topic from black people to white, but it was the other way round. We were still in very racist times. To put things in a historical context, the year before all this happened in 1981 there were race riots all around England. In Liverpool, in Moss Side in Manchester, all around Houndsworth in Birmingham and St Pauls in Bristol. The generation of kids that were coming to these nights, their parents generation had tried to toe the line and fit into what was going on and they’d just been abused for that. But this generation of kids was different. They were like: “We’re here. We’re staying here. You better get used to it.” Their attitude was different. They weren’t going to take that shit anymore and quite rightly so. That whole generation were really given a bad time, there were laws that allowed the police to just stop people on the street and search them and these laws were used to abuse young black people. A lot of young black people smoked marihuana, there wasn’t a drinking culture, but this meant that it was quite easy for them to get picked up and get in trouble for drugs just for having a little tiny bit on them. They were hard times and these nights allowed them to forget about it all.«
RBMA: »They lived for nightclubbing?«
Greg Wilson: »In a sense yes, it was a hugely important thing. The atmosphere in a club like Legend was intense. It was serious, it was amazing, I will never experience something like that again.«
Greg Wilson: »A new club had opened in May of 1982 called The Hacienda and it wasn’t doing very well. Its audience was mainly white students who were into indie and alternative music. It had a decent Saturday night but for the rest of the week they were struggling. It was held together by a band called New Order, who were behind the club and who were ploughing money into it. They had a vision for the club. They had been over to New York and had seen clubs like Paradise Garage and even more importantly a club called Danceteria.«
RBMA: »Which was Arthur Baker’s club, right?«
Greg Wilson: »No, Danceteria was… I don’t know.«
Greg Wilson: »No, that was The Funhouse. The DJ at Danceteria was a man called Mark Kamins who worked with Madonna early on. I think Madonna did her first ever gig there supporting a Manchester band called A Certain Ratio. The people at The Hacienda wanted to bring a bit of New York to Manchester. They realized what was happening down the road with the black scene and they asked me to come and work with them to launch a Friday night. It was a struggle because it was a membership club, you had to pay a lot of money to become a member, and the kids that came to Legend, the black kids, didn’t have money. A lot of the time people ask what kind of drugs were done on the scene. People had a smoke but you couldn’t really do that within a club environment because it would be smelled, and people didn’t want to get thrown out of there. They would either do it craftily in a corner or not at all. So there wasn’t much of a drug scene, and certainly not alcohol. There wasn’t much alcohol at all. A lot of the time kids only had enough money to pay for their admission in and then they would drink tap water. The drug was the music and the dancing. Something like The Hacienda was set up totally differently. You had to pay a ten pound membership or whatever it was. It was Manchester licensing laws at the time, Legend had found a way of getting around it but The Hacienda hadn’t. The regulars at The Hacienda just didn’t like dance music, they thought it was inferior, they liked bands and thought that that was proper music. They thought dance music was lower. So it was difficult to get anything started at The Hacienda. We had some good nights, but sometimes I would play a Friday and then they would book a band for the next Friday so there was no continuity. It never really took off, but a lot of seeds were planted in that time. One of the main things that happened was in the summer of 1983 breakdance culture started to burst out of the black scene. It had first come through in Malcolm McLaren’s Buffalo Girls video, which was first shown on British TV the beginning of 1983, although I had a promo of the video in the end of 1982. By this time I had stopped doing four nights a week at Wigan Pier and I was completely working as a black music specialist. I did a night in Huddersfield at a run-down, ramshackle old place called the Stars Bar. It was completely different to Wigan Pier and Legend, which were really state-of-the-art clubs. When I was there they had a video screen and I put on the promo of Buffalo Girls and the first thing that struck me, we now know that there are four elements to hip hop but back then rap was the only one that we’d heard from our side. The other three were in this video: graffiti, scratching and breakdancing. The funny thing was that it was the World Famous Supreme Team scratching on the video and the record they were scratching was a 7" single. We were all asking: “Does it have to be a 7"?” The breakdancing did it, this guy spun on his head and it was bizarre. It couldn’t have been more bizarre if a martian had walked in and announced himself. The first time I took that to the club at Huddersfield there was the usual predominantly black, very hardcore crowd, an unruly, rawkus crowd and I played the video at about 1am, when the club would close at 2am. I understood at that point in time the meaning of the term culture shock because the crowd couldn’t properly take in what they were watching and straight after I played it they wanted it played again. I went to the microphone and asked them to sit down so the people at the back could see and they all sat down on the dancefloor. For the whole last hour I just played the video again and again. There was no point in going back to a normal night because what people had seen had changed everything. It was shown on TV the following month. It wasn’t like everyone was immediately breakdancing, but people were at home practising. They were in the kitchens on the lino, bit by bit, they were getting the moves together. The movement didn’t really start until the next summer. Speaking to some of the guys that did it, one guy said his elbows were just bleeding with trying to get this move, he kept banging himself and banging himself until he eventually got these moves together. So it got to the early summer and a group from Hudderfield were the first to do a breakdance show at the Wigan Pier. As soon as they showed it this Manchester crew came in as well. Another group called Broken Glass in Manchester took to the streets and I got heavily involved with them and ended up in a kind of managerial role for them. They did a lot of the TV. One of the guys was the first guy who was photographed for a national publication spinning on his head in the streets of Manchester. I happened to know a guy called Kermit who was a jazz fusion dancer who became one of the early breakdancers. Later down the line he became a rapper with a band called the Rap Assassins that I managed and further down the line again he took up with Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays and formed a band called Black Grape who had a number one album in the '90s. Other people who come from that scene include A Guy Called Gerald, he was one of those people who used to come to that scene at Legend when he was 15. He used to put this big trench coat on so he’d look older. He was a hip hop DJ and a dancer first before he started making dance music. This early hip hop scene was fantastic, the breakdancing was so visual to watch. One of the first things I did with Broken Glass was I arranged this street tour of all shopping centres throughout the North of England often in areas where there weren’t many black people. There were two white guys in Broken Glass and there were about 16 black kids. It was the same thing in London at Covent Garden. The original b-boys were mainly black. I was very aware being white myself of the dynamics of what was going on. The local white lads thought it looked like a gang of black kids were coming into their area – it was a recipe for trouble. Or at least it would have been 12 months earlier but now these kids rolled out this lino and pulled out this ghetto blaster. It must have done so much for race relations, because all of a sudden these young white kids, who had probably never spoken to a black kid before, were coming over saying: “What is this? What is this music?” There was this dialogue that was going on. By the next summer there were breakdancers all over the country. The influence was now felt in all areas, not just black areas. It became like it is today, hip hop culture is everywhere, black culture is everywhere. We don’t notice it anymore, it’s just the way that people dress and the way people talk, it is seen as normal. But at this point in time it was like seeing it happening at its very root. It was a great time. The joy that it brought seeing even old people watching breakdancing and being blown away by it. If we go back to The Hacienda, to the Saturday night, which was the only really happening night at the time, it was a kind of mishmash of everything from rockabilly to dance music but to try to get people into what I was doing on a Friday they got me in to do an hour on the Saturday and I was playing electro funk and stuff. The normal audience wasn’t too much into this kind of stuff but Broken Glass would come and dance on the stage when I was playing so the visual aspect of it impressed everyone. Everyone loved breakdancing, it was the freshest thing about. They became like celebrities at The Hacienda. Their presence there gave the club a credibility, a street credibility with a black audience that it never had before. As it began to move towards the 'Summer of Love' in 1988. We still have five years to go but the house scene would start building up in Manchester and people forget, because it is not very well documented, but that was also a predominantly black crowd. I stopped DJing at the end of 1983, but…«
Greg Wilson: »Breakdancing had something to do with it. At first it was fantastic but pretty soon people were fed up that as soon as anything remotely electro was played then there was just a ring of people around the dancefloor watching a challenge going on. Especially the girls weren’t happy because all of a sudden there was no dancing space and it had become quite a macho situation. So I could see that there was a split going to happen there. It was the start of the hip hop scene emerging on the one side and on the other side there was a bit of a retrospective move towards street soul and eventually the house thing came through there. There was never a separation between types of music at that time, all the best black music was played together on the same night, when I was playing electro funk I was still playing jazz breaks and disco or boogie-type tracks and even funk. The tempos ranged from downbeat to uptempo and every mood inbetween.«
RBMA: »The opposite happened with the emergence of house music?«
Greg Wilson: »When the first DJ International house music tracks were played they would fit inbetween hip hop and electro tracks in a set. The freestyle thing had started. The Miami bass thing had started. Before The Hacienda played house in Manchester there were already several other clubs playing house: The Playpen, The Gallery, the Berlin, Legend after I had gone, all Manchester clubs. Mike Pickering and Laurent Garnier, who was a DJ at The Hacienda before the rave scene, he worked there before it all exploded. Then he went back to France to do national service. Before he went he said the house crowd was mainly a black crowd, when he came back it was mainly a white crowd.«
RBMA: »Why did you start DJing again?«
Greg Wilson: »During the '90s I just felt lost. I felt older than I do now because a lot of things were changing. The original house explosion was amazing and in 1988 the Hacienda would play hip hop and downtempo records – it was still a good mix. Then it all started to close down to just these four beats and I couldn’t understand. I remember speaking to a DJ at that time and I asked them about a certain downtempo track and he said he never played it because it was too slow. We used to vary the tempo, perhaps slow it right down suddenly to create a real impact moment and all that had kind of gone and it got into the straight 4/4 beat. Then there were all kinds of different types of house but in tiny subdivisions. One DJ would play happy house and another would play dark house, whereas before we would mix all the moods together. The reason was the drug taking in the scene. In many respects the music was no longer leading, the drug was leading. From my point of view I couldn’t grasp what was happening in the '90s. I was also struggling financially and on a personal level and my friends could see this and they said: “Get back into DJing, you can make big money, trade on your reputation, your past, you will do alright.” It sounded great until they said: “You just have to figure out what style of house you want to play.” I didn’t want to play house. I couldn’t do it and I am so glad I didn’t do it because it would have been soul-destroying for me. It was against everything I believed in. I was always involved with musical projects. Rap Assasins was a great time, we did two albums for EMI but it was a very up-and-down life. Sometimes things were going well and sometimes they were really hard, smoking too much dope in the meantime. I was just living by my wits in many respects. I would still walk into studios with my reel to reel and look like a DJ fossil. I would record a lot of sounds on tape and as I was spinning I would be putting sounds over the records and adding textures to it. I still do that in DJing.«
RBMA: »Are you using it for edits still?«
Greg Wilson: »No, I use digital now. But at the time I was a real technophobe. Younger people were coming along it was second nature for them to use new tools. Whereas I just felt really behind the times. I would think to myself, ‘I was doing alright at one time, what happened?’ I think I just lost the plot. Where did it all go wrong?«
RBMA: »What makes a good edit?«
Greg Wilson: »Knowing when to stop. I don’t know. I only edit for what I feel and I like. It is subjective. Take out part of a track, whatever you get off on or extend something for the dancefloor. I will play an edit from before I started DJing again. I put this out on an independent last year. It sold well, a lot of the DJs I’ve met in New York had a copy, which surprised me. I made this at home. Once I made this move and decided to use the computer, I made these sketches and everything was loop-based in what I did. This friend said to me: “I’ve seen this programme that is you.” It was a programme called Acid, a loop-based system. I am not a musician, my work is very much editing-based. I like to work with musicians sometimes. This programme Acid allowed me to sit on my own and make my own tracks. Whereas before I needed an engineer and a singer, I could do this on my own. I called this I Was A Teenage DJ.«