It’s 2013 and Coldcut duo Jonathan More and Matt Black are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Solid Steel radio show. To mark this milestone, a number of selectors have been invited to contribute a mix to the programme, its presenters choosing various artists and DJs they feel have had a significant presence at some point during the last 25 years. I regard it as a big compliment to be one of those approached, so was more than happy to oblige, the only brief being that they wanted us to weigh in with something that sits outside of that for which we’re generally known, which suited me fine – it was just a case of what?
It’s my 200th blog post, so, in contrast to my 100th post, which was about the club where, as I’ve previously stated, ‘I experienced my greatest DJ highs’, Legend in Manchester, this time I wanted to to share something that symbolises a time when the garden wasn’t so rosy, and I was struggling with life, both externally and internally. ‘The Monastic Mix’, from 1996, was a much needed catharsis for me, both an ending and a fresh starting point – it was the last mix I ever tape edited, putting it together on my original Revox B77 reel-to-reel, which I’d bought 14 years earlier, back in 1982, in order to record / edit my Piccadilly Radio mixes in my home DJ studio.
When my agent, Matt Johnson, booked me in for ‘A Night With…’, I hadn’t realised that it did exactly what it said on the tin, namely present just the one DJ for the full 8 hours the venue was open. I generally play for either 2 or 3 hours, with the odd 4 hour slot along the way – the only times I can recall playing longer (since I started out again), was a night at The Key in London back in 2005, and then the Credit To The Edit launch parties, both Sunday All-Dayers held at a couple of East End boozers (The Dolphin in 2005 and The Horse & Groom in 2009), so, as you can imagine, it came as a bit of a shock when the penny dropped and I realised that I’d unwittingly signed up for a marathon, but I quickly warmed to the idea and began to ponder the possibilities it presented.
Checked my stats on SoundCloud the other day – I hadn’t looked for a while, so it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find that my account has now generated more than a million plays. It’s quite astonishing how popular SoundCloud has become in such a relatively short period of time, I could never have envisaged such a remarkable response when I uploaded the first of many mixes (currently 66 on there) in 2009 – having just checked the date I’ve only just realised that this mix, from Café Mambo in Ibiza, was recorded exactly 3 years ago today – mad coincidence!
Great to see Todd Terje blowing up big time with his infectious ‘Inspector Norse’ single, a definite candidate for best new dance track of the year, it’s simple complexity the mark of somebody who very much knows what they’re doing, someone with an understanding of both feel and precision who strikes the right balance between head and heart. I suppose that by being a feelgood DJ with a sharp sense of irony, as well as having been a student of physics at Oslo University, Terje was bound to have his own unique angle, which, when applied to making music was sure to produce intriguing results.
As I mentioned in my last post, Detroit Hustles Harder, festival season is very much upon us. Next month’s Vintage is my first full-on UK festival of the summer (a weekend event, rather than a one day gathering, as with Love Saves The Day in Bristol earlier this month – a big success despite the lousy weather), which has found a new home within the scenic grounds of Northamptonshire’s Boughton House. Looking forward to seeing Chic there, with the great Nile Rodgers – I’d intended to check them out at Playground in Australia last March, but the festival, as I’ve mentioned here previously, was cancelled due to flooding (when it rains over there it really rains). Aloe Blacc is also on the bill – his progress has been of particular interest to me as he was one of the participants at the Red Bull Music Academy in Melbourne (2006), who was in the audience when I gave my lecture there. I met him the following afternoon when we were sat at the same table having lunch, and he really made a big impression on me – you could sense that this was someone who was destined to go places, someone who was down to earth, but with a strong sense of himself. I remember doing an interview when I came back to the UK, where I tipped him as ‘one to watch’, so it’s good to see that my instincts were correct. It wasn’t his music, which I hadn’t heard at the time, that had marked him out for me, but his unique DJ approach. The previous night I’d headed along to Revolver, the club where I was making my Australia debut that weekend, and was struck by a DJ who was, in an impressively understated manner, rapping and even singing along with the tracks he was playing – this turned out to be Aloe.
One of the defining moments of my DJ career took place exactly 30 years ago, on Monday May 10th 1982, when my first radio mix was broadcast on Mike Shaft’s show, ‘T.C.O.B’ (Taking Care Of Business), on Manchester’s hugely influential Piccadilly Radio, which played a major part in bringing black / dance music to wider attention during the ’70s and ‘80s – from Soul, Funk and Disco, through Jazz-Funk and Electro, and on into Hip Hop, House and Techno. I go into its rich legacy in greater depth here:
When the crew behind Manchester’s Electric Chair brought their monthly club night to an end at the beginning of 2008, they’d decided their next move would be from club to pub, opening a bar a few miles outside of the city centre in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, which they called Electrik.
I started writing this before I headed off on my travels to Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and back to Australia again (concluded on my return home, having made notes along the way). I’ve been very preoccupied with time, or, to be more precise, the lack of it – this is where my head was at:
You don’t know how happy I am to be able to tell you that, after months and months of chipping away, the new redesigned revitalized Electrofunkroots website is now live and kicking, having undergone a complete overhaul, with loads of new content added. Full menu here: