The emergence of artists like Roxy Music and David Bowie was hugely influential though, and as a kid, I was equally enamoured of the less adventurous, but more simplified music/visuals of Sweet and Wizzard. The first band I was totally drawn to was Sparks. Seeing them on Top Of The Pops doing 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us' was a seminal moment - dynamic, melodromatic, and unique. I also remember hearing Kraftwerk's 'Autobahn' in 1975 (I think) and being mesmerised by the synthesized otherworldliness. Conversely I also got really into the progressive rock of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and, unsurprisingly, Pink Floyd. Aged 11, and living in London, the entire punk thing passed me by! It was the new wave/post-punk movement that really began to lead me into more active participation in the scene.
I had always kept an eye on the synthesized/electronic underground and I used to go to parties at the Chelsea Drug Store n the King's Road where Stevo (who founded Some Bizarre records) was the DJ playing underground electronica. This movement - we defined ourselves as futurists - ran parallel with much of the New Romantic movement but with less commercial attention. It really cemented my fixation with synthesizers, and exposed me to primitive drum machines. The other club that I went to around this time was the midweek Pyramid night at Heaven. As a teenager I played in bands at school as a drummer.
Musically these weren't original or much good but it was great experience. I tried to teach myself rudimentary piano and started writing very basic songs. I had no idea how to arrange them or perform them as access to the kind of sounds/equipment I wanted was prohibitively expensive. Eventually I met a guitarist called Steve Waddington and we put together a very early version of The Beloved in 1984.
We made demos using borrowed equipment- very simple synths and live instruments but amazingly got a session on John Peel's radio show after giving him a demo. We recorded that in January 85 and naively presumed it would all grow from there - I was only 19 after all... It didn't quite work out that way and in order to play live a friend of mine from college joined as drummer so that I could concentrate on singing. This line-up continued for two years and we released four independent singles, but it was taking us in a much rockier direction than had been the original idea for the band. At the same time (1985/86) we were being exposed to music coming from the States, most notably the freestyle beats of Mantronix. That was so exciting and seemed to be pushing the whole envelope of electronic music into new territory.
In late 1986 (Nude @ Hacienda) and 1987 (Flim Flam and Delirium in London) I heard early house played to little response, but again it was fresh and challenging. In 1987 we split The Beloved back to a two-piece, studio-only unit using sequencers and synths instead of bass and drums, and I went to New York for the first time, ostensibly to try and get a record deal on the back of our first 'dance' single 'Forever Dancing'. Although I didn't get the deal I was exposed to so much music (and pharmaceuticals) that it changed me hugely. I also came home with a vast collection of early house 12"s courtesy of a lovely guy called Kenny Ortiz @ Capitol Records. Back in South London in early '88 someone told me about these parties in a gymnasium in Bermondsey where people were 'going nuts to acid house records' and I found my way to Shoom. Nothing prepared me for the madness (and friendliness!) which was so overwhelming that I felt all the different things I'd been searching for musically had coalesced.
Danny & Jenni Rampling's parties have become legendary, and rightly so, because they acted as a catalyst for the entire dance/club scene that exists in the UK today. Something magical happened and I feel so lucky to have experienced it from such an early point. Nothing so exciting could stay underground for long but it touched so many people who wanted to express themselves musically. Established artists like ABC and Paul Rutherford used to go every week and made records that reflected their experiences. We had just got a major deal in the UK on the basis of demos done in late 1987 but we were already changing our musical ideas to accomodate what we were living through.
It was just a wonderful happy accident to have studio time to try and express ourselves and although our first house cuts were less than impressive we learnt fast. In 1989 when the whole scene began to go overground we were recording what would become Happiness'. In late summer we sent out promos of 'Sun Rising' and it all began to take off. The massive irony is that although it became an anthem at so many big outdoor parties I never went to any of them because I was always in the studio. It was also in autumn 89 that I met Helena who would become my wife and collaborator.
We met at a Boys Own party in a railway arch in Vauxhall - rave on !!!!! Through 1990 the band really took off and we spent a lot of time travelling and promoting 'Happiness'. It was great fun but hugely draining and, in truth, pushed me and Steve to a state of exhaustion. The best bits were the studio time and our remix album 'Blissed Out' is to my mind a better definition of where we could have gone with that line-up. However, we drifted apart after this and never recorded together again. Around this time I bought decks and taught myself to mix.
DJing seemed a good way to explore more creative paths with less focus on the individual than fronting a band. In retrospect perhaps not strictly true! My first attempts in front of people were just at friends parties and i was wracked with nerves but it's incredibly addictive and you keep going back. In 1993 The Beloved resurfaced, with Helena now involved. Our first single together, 'Sweet Harmony', proved to be the most successful of all Beloved records and the album 'Conscience' similarly so, althougn it's a more collaborative record with a lot of guest musicians, and not especially connected to the dancefloor. On the back of this my DJ career developed but I've always played quite deep house and I think a lot of my early bookings expected a more commercial sound.
Gradually I built up a reputation based on the music I was playing and when I began to play regularly at Ministry around 1995 I felt I really pushed on in style and confidence. The remixes we did of tracks from 'Conscience' really show the areas we were moving into. Whilst having crossover hits we were making club records for Junior Vasquez @ Sound Factory which had become so important to us. The nights we had there were the best I've ever experienced in clubs.
Total surrender to the DJ by a massive crowd of amazing people. His music would vary from the dark and brutal to phenomenally beautiful and then off again into percussive darkness... awesome. And so many fantastic vocal records like Industry 'Release Me' or Kristine W's entire early catalogue! Our next album 'X' tried to incorporate these elements into our sound with dark instrumentals like 'Crystal Wave' (another big Junior Vasquez track) or the single 'Satellite' but it failed to garner much attention at the time.
This was a blow to us because we really felt we'd finally made a record that represented exactly what we were into, but you have to accept these things in life and we're still very proud of the album. It must have impacted in some way though because we're still working on the follow-up! Over the last seven years I've concentrated on my DJ career and also made some more underground records for labels like NRK, Honchos, Junior, & Gourmet. Having my own studio now allows more creative freedom and means we can remix records for labels with smaller budgets as well as for majors. I've travelled all over the world as a DJ but realised that the most satisfying way to develop is through residencies [if possible]. I currently play monthly at Fabric in London (where I've played since it opened).
Other guest slots are fitted around these. I've also had two mix CDs released, one for NRK, and one for Fabric. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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