The Idjut Boys. No one could take you seriously with a name like that. Well, not unless you’re Dan Tyler and Conrad McDonnell that is.
Idjut Boys call themselves stupid, yet their music is anything but. It’s a world away from the dumb productions that usually proliferate dance music,that’s for sure. Tracks where they grab disco, dub, electro, funk, house, hip hop and rock, then fuse the lot into the kind of groove that leaves dancefloors reeling and their peers speechless.
So why on earth do they then lumber these little pieces of nightclub magic with titles like ‘Frogs Arrrse’, ‘Tea Tray Formerly Known As Coffee Table’ and ‘Gurner’s Choice’?
“It’s just us doing what we do,” offers Conrad, lighting up in their hackney based studio. “Maybe we use daft names to lighten the mood a little. So many producers take what they do too seriously. All we want to do is give people a good time and maybe put a smile on their face while we do it.”
Entertaining people is something Conrad and Dan have been doing since they met each other, in Cambridge, at the end of the Eighties. “It’s that type of town,” explains Dan. “The type of place that everyone knows everyone else. Conrad was working, bizarrely enough, as a life-guard during the day and either working or hanging out in bars at night. I’d been studying in Manchester and was back in Cambridge for the summer. We were both into the same sort of music and both travelled to Brighton to check Harvey dj’ing at the Tonka events. It was inevitable that we’d hook up at some point.”
From there, the pair moved to London and started throwing their own U-Star parties. Inviting New York legends like Hector Romero and Ted Patterson to compliment their own twisted disco sound. Against a back-drop of hands-in-the-air house and tiresome techno, their fresh approach was bound to get noticed. They secured gigs everywhere from Stockholm to San Francisco and it was only a matter of time before they made the move from the decks to the mixing console.
In 1994, their first label, U-Star Records, was born. “After we released our fourth twelve inch,” Conrad remembers. “That’s when I knew for sure that we were on the right track. I was down at the Ministry to see François Kevorkian play and, right at the peak of his set, he started mixing up two copies of ‘Not Reggae’. I was freaking. I mean if what we were doing was turning someone like him on. Someone who’s been producing since the late seventies and worked with everyone from D Train to Depeche Mode. Then it was definitely worth it.”
Since then, they’ve rarely stopped to draw breath.
Their eclectic DJ sets have become legendary, consistently winning them new fans the world over as a new generation of clubbers find that the best music is made in the margins. They’ve remixed here, there and everywhom in house. They’ve released 2 much treasured volumes of their DJ mix series, ‘Saturday Nite Live’. Their debut album, ‘Life – The Shoeing You Deserve‘, released on the much missed Glasgow Underground, received critical acclaim from all corners of the music press on its release in 2001.
Currently they own and run 3 highly acclaimed labels, purveying new work from themselves, producing new sounds for their friends.
U-Star, the first of the three, pushes a more organic live house sound. With long out of print early productions now changing hands for £400+ on E-Bay, U Star are amongst the most collectable in British House Music history.
At the other end of things is Noid. Noid is reserved for your more, ahem, unofficial, under the counter re-edits and straight up dancefloor bombs. Look out for a fresh album of Noid cuts sometime in late 2005.
Finally, and most excitingly, there’s the newest of the labels, Cottage. Cottage, like say Environ in the USA and Feedelity in Sandinavia, pushes a hybrid sound of disco, dub and electronics. Supporting and releasing artists such as oddball legend Maurice Fulton and Norway’s Lindstrom, Cottage is one of the most acclaimed labels of the minute.
Alongside this they’’ve just finished a re-edits project for Tirk, the new label from the people behind Nuphonic. Featuring 17 exclusive re-edits -compiled, tweaked and twisted by Idjut Boys. ‘Press Play’ is breathless, eclectic mix of future heroes (Jackson), lost gems (Tantra), cult classics (Harry Thuman)…..and, er, Haircut 100 (honest, it works).
Of any release ‘Press Play’ probably shows the Boys at their smart arse, fun loving, rule breaking, sheer joy for music! best. A collage of current favourites and influences, it’s a classic compilation from 2 people who, though know what they’re talking about, are still looking to buy new, different, unheard records.
If anything 2005 see’s the world turning back to meet the Idjuts. Eclecticism, musical variation, the underground, those margins where the true music enthusiast thrives, it’s all back and anything is possible.
The collapse of mainstream house is not unlike the post disco scene of the early eighties; a time the Idjuts championed when almost no-one else gave a damn. With dance music out of the spotlight it’s a fertile time for people excited by experimentation. And its that fuck it, anything goes, just as long as its quality, spirit of creativity which drives them – just check the range at work on ‘Press Play’ for starters.
“There’s one thing you learn the longer you do this,” adds Conrad, as he thinks to the future. “There’s nothing you can’t do. The only thing that limits you is your imagination.”
Knowing these two, that means the possibilities are endless. So listen up, there’s (more) exciting times ahead.
click below to listen