When I was over in Australia last November I was interviewed by Gilles Peterson for his series ‘The Psychology Of DJing’ as part of the Sydney Electronic Music Conference. It was an interview that covered many aspects of my career, much of which I’ve spoken about on numerous occasions previously. However, there was a different context to this – most of the time the interviewer is much younger than me, so they didn’t personally experience the times I’m talking about and the way things worked back then in the specialist areas of black music, whereas Gilles comes from the same roots as me, part of the next wave of DJs that followed-on from the Jazz-Funk era, when I first emerged on the specialist scene.
I was over in Amsterdam last weekend for ADE, one of 300,000 visitors to the city from countries all over the world for its 18th, and most successful, dance music festival / conference to date. During recent years the Amsterdam Dance Event has superseded the Winter Music Conference in Miami as the main annual gathering point for the dance music industry to schmooze and network – it’s a destination where the dreams and schemes of a multitude of DJs / producers are prevalent, as they arrive in the hope that they’ll meet up with someone who can give them their big break, or at least help them along their career path.
A couple of months ago, when I last played in Brighton, I was talking to Paul Budd, the promoter (and DJ Pablo Contraband), about how things were going with his Unity Agency (a man of many fingers in pies is Paul / Pablo). He was really excited about just having added The Reflex as the latest addition to an increasingly impressive roster that also includes the likes of Late Nite Tuff Guy, Rayko, Social Disco Club and Fingerman. The Reflex is London based French DJ / Producer, Nicolas Laugier, and it wasn’t just his work that impressed Paul, but his overall persona. Paul told me;
Exactly 30 years ago today, on 25th February 1983, I appeared on Channel 4’s influential music show, ‘The Tube’, demonstrating mixing for the first time on live TV in the UK – just my luck that the very point I was encapsulated in a cultural moment, it coincided with a brief phase where I looked like an extra from the Hair Bear Bunch, but that’s the way the mop flops. The footage is nowadays fondly regarded as part of British dance heritage, illustrating how the New York innovation of mixing was finally finding favour on this side of the Atlantic, where the microphone was still a key component of the DJs approach. For a full account of how UK DJs gradually put down the microphone and embraced mixing, check out ‘How The Talking Stopped’, an in-depth step by step account of its British evolution:
I did an interview last July with James Thirkettle for a documentary project he’s working on called ‘How Do You Listen To Music?’ He’s just uploaded it to YouTube, where he describes it as follows:
Thanks to the Ranking Maz P for making me aware of this wonderful short film documentary about DJ Derek (aka Derek Serpell-Morris), filmed 4 years ago and directed by Jamie Foord. Watch here on Vimeo in 2 parts (not sure why it’s not online as a complete item, having a total running time of less than 19 minutes):
As you’re no doubt aware, Manchester holds special significance for me, dating back to my fruitful association with Legend in the early ’80s. I talked about the return to my ‘spiritual home’ to reactivate my DJ career in the recent Music Is Better Re-Edited Highlights post: //blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/09/music-is-better-re-edited-highlights
Just heard the sad news that record producer Martin Rushent died last Saturday, aged 63. His best remembered album, the electro-pop masterpiece ‘Dare’ by the Human League, issued in 1981, was a runaway success, becoming an international best seller and winning Rushent the Best Producer award at the 1982 Brits. Apart from the Human League, Rushent produced artists including The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers and XTC.
Most of the interviews you do throw up the same type of questions, but every now and again someone takes a completely different approach, which can be very refreshing. One such occasion was a few years ago when I received a request for an interview by Berlin based DJ and writer Finn Johannsen, who told me he was doing a feature series for the blog ‘Sounds Like Me’ in which he asks people to chose a favourite record that has strong personal associations. Once I’d informed him of my choice, ‘Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)’, a key single of my formative years by The Temptations, he came back with a whole heap of insightful questions that really caused me to get deep into my reasons behind this selection, including my views on its socio-political relevance, the role of the protest song, and the innovations of its producer, Norman Whitfield.
On January 20th, I did something I’ve never done previously. I stood before an audience and, for close on an hour, talked about my musical journey – from when I was a child in New Brighton, right up to what I’m doing nowadays. I’ve been in similar situations before, where I was being interviewed, or I was interviewing someone else, but I’ve never stood alone and spoken for so long.