I’d written most of this post at the end of last month on the flight from Lisbon to Salvador in Brazil, where I played New Years Eve at the idyllic setting of Biopeba Island in Bahia for the Mareh Music Festival. The intention was to post once I got back to the UK on January 3rd, but fate took a turn.
Soft lad here went and left his laptop on the conveyor belt at security in Salvador airport and didn’t realize until I was back over in Lisbon about to make the connection for my flight back to the UK. That feeling when you’re stood at security and go to take your laptop out of your bag only to find it isn’t there, as it played out back in Lisbon, brings on instant cold sweat and sheer horror! Thankfully my booking agents have an incredible lady called Anna Christofides who looks after their travel arrangements, and she was on the case immediately, managing to locate the laptop before making arrangements to get it back to me, which finally happened last week (following a whole heap of bureaucratic hoops we had to jump through to provide the correct paperwork).
So all’s well that ends well, although a few things, like this blog post, have been dependant on waiting to get the laptop back. Now I can finally make a fully-fledged start to 2016 having rounded up the loose ends of 2015 below.
I should add that Biopeba was a magical place to see in the New Year. As is customary in Brazil, everyone went towards the beach at midnight and jumped the 7 waves. I did so myself, and it felt special to share in this ritual before I played. The festival is destined for big things, having grown organically for a number of years, drawing inspiration from the Garden Festival over in Croatia, which, as I mention later, concluded last year (I had played the last 9 events of its 10 year run, and this is where the guys behind Mareh had seen me DJ). The festival included lots of other DJ’s I know, so it was great to catch up with people like Eric Duncan, Tim Sweeney, Graeme Clark (The Revenge), Pete Herbert, Dicky Trisco and Ray Mang. You can stream / download the recording of my NY set here:
So here’s what I wrote before man and computer were separated at the start of this month:
Here we are at the end of another year – it feels like Christmas came around quickly, yet so much happened for me in 2015. It was a full-tilt year, that’s for sure, where I crammed in pretty much as much as I could.
The year has been bookended by 2 festival appearances on different sides of the world, kicking off with Australia’s Lost Paradise Festival on New Years Day, and concluding in Brazil for the Mareh Music Festival. There have been so many highlights in between, including a US Tour, Glastonbury, the final Garden Festival in Croatia, our 12 hour Super Weird Happening at Festival No.6, the Glitterbox closing party at Space in Ibiza and a series of wonderful home city dates in Liverpool, culminating in my 40th anniversary weekend on December 5th / 6th.
Then, of course, there’s been the launch of the Super Weird Substance, which has taken a huge amount of my time – as I’ve mentioned previously, in setting up the record label, with all the attention that’s been necessary to do so, the blog has often had to go on the backburner. That said, I’ve somehow managed to keep things ticking over in 2015, averaging a post every couple of weeks, but I’ve been aware that a number of things I’d wanted to cover ended up either partly written or completely unwritten in a pending file whilst I had to focus on more pressing matters.
For example, I completely missed the 10th anniversary of my first Credit To The Edit compilation back in August 2005. This proved to be a major milestone for me, less than 2 years after I’d started up DJing again, and would be the catalyst for a broadening of my career, prompting offers of gigs overseas and resulting in my first European appearance since the comeback (in Berlin), quickly followed by my New York debut. Here are the album’s sleevenotes:
Hopefully I’ll be able to get a better balance in 2016, and keep more fully on top of things – the blog has become a key part of what I do and there’s so much I want to cover. In the meantime I need to round-up some of the stuff I’d hoped to write about in more depth during recent months.
Rewind to early November when our first album release on Super Weird Substance, which compiled the 8 tracks issued on vinyl and digital since June, was accompanied with various promotional engagements, including a trio of in-store appearances – at Phonica in London, Banquet in Kingston and Rough Trade in Nottingham. Great to meet everyone who turned out – the Phonica in-store was particularly memorable because, on a Thursday evening in Soho, it was more like a sweat box club than a record shop, with a packed room getting down to the Super Weird sounds.
We’re planning to release all the SWS tracks via the new Stems format in 2016. This is where the track is de-constructed into 4 separate audio files / stems (for example drums, bass, keyboards, vocals), making it possible for DJ’s to do their own live mixes. Just as I was about to look into this I received a request from Boiler Room for me to write a piece about the history of editing and remixing, taking things right up to date with what’s happening now. Further to this, Native Instruments, the company behind Stems, hosted a night at London’s Institute For Contemporary Arts (the ICA) featuring a panel discussion about editing and remixing, with the guests being François K / Kevorkian, Benji B and myself (Jonathan Scratchley of Gentleman’s Dub Club was a last minute stand in for Benji, whose flight into London had been delayed).
I’ll write more about this when the logjam of my life clears a bit, but in the meantime you can check out the piece I did – ‘From Segues To Stems – A Potted History Of The DJ Manipulator’, which I must say was wonderfully illustrated by Boiler Room:
Here’s the footage from the ICA – some proper history from François, I was in my element discovering bits I never previously knew, and great to meet Jonathan, whose band I’d recently become aware of via my son, who’d been to see them play in Liverpool, just a few weeks previous):
So, with the promo on the album ongoing I geared up for another event that would generate further online content – the anniversary of my first club appearance, back in December 1975, which we celebrated over a weekend in Liverpool. I managed to blog about it here – the post includes links to my 5 hour live mix from The Garage plus the following day’s talk at Jacaranda Records, which was filmed:
The anniversary brought in further media interest, including a request from The Guardian to pick 10 tracks and write a bit about each. As always with these top 10’s I could have picked a completely different selection on a different day, but I think it worked out pretty well as a representation of my career span as a DJ, taking in James Brown, Doobie Brothers, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Undisputed Truth, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa & The South Sonic Force, A Guy Called Gerald, Happy Mondays, Hercules & Love Affair and Todd Terje. The full lowdown here:
There was also a mix I did for Vice’s Thump channel, which kept things deep and downtempo, all tracks included being below 100bpm. Thump called it a ‘gloriously gooey guest mix.’ You can find it here, complete with tracklisting:
One of the biggest highlights of the anniversary was a tweet that popped up from none other than George Clinton, the P Funk mainman and one of my great musical heroes. It said: ‘This past week it was the 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF “MOTHERSHIP CONNECTIONS” @djgregwilson on the album’ and linked to my Living To Music blog post from a few years back, when we featured the Parliament classic ‘Mothership Connection’. This seminal album was celebrating its own 40th anniversary in December, and it was something of a mindblower for me that he’d connected the two anniversaries. I replied: ‘Wow! Now that is cosmic. Blessings George – that album rocked my teenage world. It was a proud moment to DJ for you in Perth’ (this appearance was in March 2013 during my Australian tour that year – the poster, which includes my name as support, is in a frame at my home and the occasion is deeply treasured).
For its main creator to reference a piece I’d written about one of my favourite albums is something I could never have imagined all those years ago as that glorious vinyl blew my young mind. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself!
Moving further into December and I got the news that DJ Magazine, in their end of year Best Of British awards, had named me ‘Industry Icon’. I was invited to play at the famous West London venue Heaven, as part of the awards ceremony,: collecting my gong earlier in the night.
The following day I posted a photo of myself with the award on my Facebook page, not expecting anything more than the usual type of feedback, but was staggered by the response, which way outstripped anything I’d put up previously with well over 1000 likes and 100 comments within 24 hours. It reminded me of when the BBC put my Essential Mix online after it had aired in January 2009, and the overwhelming reaction completely caught me by surprise. It was really warming to receive so many messages of goodwill and congratulations.
As things worked out, 2 days later I was at the BBC for a live lounge appearance for B.Traits, who was broadcasting her Christmas party on Radio 1. The resulting half hour mix could be streamed online for a period, but is unfortunately no longer available.
So onwards into 2016. I’m taking things easier in the first few months of the year in order to re-charge my batteries and plan out the next moves for the label (we’ve already commenced recording the Blind Arcade album and are about to start on new tracks for The Reynolds)– so I’m limiting my club appearances prior to Easter, with the intention of putting together a UK tour in the Spring. My only gig in February is on Friday 5th when I return to The Nest in Dalston, London. However, the festival bookings are already coming in thick and fast, with Further Future in Las Vegas on April 30th and Lost Village in Lincolnshire on May 29th already confirmed as the openers.
It’s a whole new chapter for Croatia this year, with the Garden Festival calling it a day after an incredible 10 years, in which its Adriatic influence has chimed with a new generation. I was a fixture for 9 of those years, with main stage and boat party appearances the norm for me during much of that time. Now it’s all change, and I’ve decided to play at Electric Elephant in 2016, which is held on the same site, where I’ll DJ at the closing party at Barbarella’s on July 11th. This is a first for me and, having heard so much about this fantastic outdoor space, it’s something I’m really looking forward to. All the info is here:
So that brings things up to speed, and now my prodigal laptop has returned I’m ready to fully embrace 2016. Wishing you all the best for the year ahead – hope to see you at a club or festival in the not too distant.