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.
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This weekend Colin Curtis celebrates his 50th anniversary as a DJ with a special event at The Exchange in his home city of Stoke-On-Trent. Colin started out in his mid-teens at Newcastle-Under-Lyme’s Crystal Ballroom, before making his all-nighter debut at Stoke’s hallowed Golden Torch, one of Northern Soul’s foundation venues, eventually becoming one of the scene’s leading figures as a result of his legendary ‘70’s partnership with Ian Levine at the Blackpool Mecca. Info about the anniversary date here:
I wanted to write in greater personal detail about David Bowie and the depth of impact his music and words had on me during my formative teenage years – this occurring when I was between the ages of 12 and 15. I’d uploaded a blog post once I’d heard about his death, but I’ve found myself needing to revisit what was a magical mystical part of my musical / life initiation, as much for myself as anyone else, both by listening through the records I loved, and still love, whilst getting it all into words somehow. Once I started writing this I couldn’t contain it – it was bursting out of all sides. So please excuse me for the tangents I go off on and the jumping about – there’s no easy coherent way for me to express this. For a period following his 6th July 1972 ‘Starman’ performance on Top Of The Pops, until 1975, when I began to disengage, Bowie ruled ok in my world.
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.
Got a big Easter weekend coming up soon that kicks off at Sankey’s in Manchester with the Haçienda Good Friday event, and rounds off on Easter Sunday with the Loft Studios All-Dayer in London, where I’ll be appearing alongside former New York Studio 54 resident, Kenny Carpenter. It’ll be my 3rd time at Loft Studios – it’s one of my favourite London venues, and was the location of my 8 hour ‘A Night With…’ session in 2012, as well as the memorable hook-up with Danny Krivit last year. More info here:
Last Monday, the latest film in the Resident Advisor ‘Real Scenes’ series was uploaded. Focusing on Tokyo, and how the ever-increasing implementation of an old morality law, known as Fueiho, which was originally aimed at curbing prostitution, is forcing dance music venues to close and, in the process, serving to dismantle Japan’s reputation as one of the club capitals of the world.
About 6 months ago I received an email from the extravagantly named Baron Von Luxxury, who’s based in Los Angeles. He told me he was launching a series of ‘dubby edits’, 3 of which he’d linked me to. There was a somewhat spaced-out version of ‘Hotel California’, which I really liked, so I asked for a wav and the Baron obliged.
Having just marked the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, I’ve now reached the 30th anniversary of when I cut out first time around at the end of ’83 – my last Wigan Pier appearance on Tuesday 28th December, before rounding things off at Legend the next night. During the same week my final mix for Mike Shaft’s show on Piccadilly Radio was broadcast. Following on from the previous year’s ‘The Best Of 82’, which had caused such a stir, ‘The Best Of 83’ did what it said on the tin, bringing together the biggest tunes I was playing that year. My successor, Chad Jackson (a future DMC World Mixing Champion) would continue the ‘Best Of’ tradition on Piccadilly, with the baton later handed on to Stu Allan – these end of year mixes continuing until 1992.
During recent times I’ve been intrigued to hear about the growing schism on the House scene here in the UK, brought about by the introduction, primarily by young black dancers, of ‘foot shuffling’ (aka ‘cutting shapes’), an increasingly popular style of dancing that has been met with much hostility in certain quarters, and, somewhat bizarrely, resulted in shufflers being banned from some clubs for dancing in this way. The accusation is that not only do they take up too much dancefloor space, but there’s a general ‘moodiness’ with regards to their attitude. Although it no longer seems to be online, there was even an ‘Anti Foot Shuffling Campaign’ page on Facebook, with some of the posts suggesting underlying issues of racism. As one person commented, “It’s not that all these people on here hate shufflers, they just don’t like fact that black people are into House music now.” Although this comment may be well intentioned, it’s also somewhat misguided given there are, and always have been, plenty of black people in the UK who are big into House – it’s just that their presence is usually to be found away from the mainstream, in more specialist avenues like the Deep and Soulful House scenes. Furthermore, some of the older black crowd are also resistant to this new wave of shuffling, so to present it as a purely black / white issue would be wrong.
The most talked about album in many years, Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’, is released in the UK today, and, as discussed in my post from the beginning of the month, ‘Disco Now Disco Then’ (//blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/05/disco-now-disco-then-2), it’s all set to blitz the charts worldwide.