BOOGIE ( an essay written by the one and only GREG WILSON)

Posted in Boogie, GREG WILSON on July 7, 2008 by bangtheparty

Back in mid-80’s London, the term Boogie was used to describe a style of dance music, mainly from the early 80’s, but also the late 70’s, that was popular on the black scene. Many of these tracks had originally featured at the time of their release at specialist club nights in venues like Crackers and the Electric Ballroom, but had subsequently been revived during the Rare Groove era.

We never used the term in the North, although many of the same tracks had been massive with the black music audience following their arrival as US imports. We regarded them mainly as Disco Funk, or in some cases Electro-Funk, which utilised elements of the (then) new technology (Disco Funk being recorded in a more orthodox way, with drum kit as opposed to beat box).

It was also an unfamiliar genre name in America, where these records had originated. London DJ and collector, Sean P, renowned for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Boogie, plus other forms of dance music, recalls some friends going into record shops in the US and receiving blank looks when they asked for Boogie; the staff even enquiring if they wanted recordings about ghosts! This misunderstanding was down to the fact that what we call the Bogeyman in the UK is the Boogeyman in the States.

The word itself has a somewhat dubious background. Here’s something I found online about its origin and evolution, written by American columnist, Cecil Adams:

“Boogie” seems to come, via a circuitous route, from the Latin Bulgarus, an inhabitant of Bulgaria. The Old French term boulgre was used to refer to a member of a sect of 11th-century Bulgarian heretics, and “bougre” first appears in the English writing in 1340 as a synonym for “heretic.” By the 16th century, “bougre” grew into “bugger,” a practitioner of vile and despicable acts including “buggery,” or sodomy. “Bogy” (or “bogie”) first appears in the 19th century as an appellation for the devil; later it came to be used for hobgoblins in general. Hence, the bogeyman, which may be the source of the use of “bogey” and “boogies” to mean “Negro”. Shortly after these usages became common (in the 1920s), there appeared boogie woogie music, and I guess you can figure out the rest.

So it seems that, with regards to black culture, boogie was originally a racist slur, which was intended to demonise black people, before it was adopted in connection with music and dancing by those it was meant to put down. In this way it became a name used for ‘Rent Parties’ within US black communities in cities like Chicago, Detroit and New York during the 20’s, where musicians played in someone’s home and a hat was passed around the audience so they could put in money, which would help pay the rent. It was at such parties that Boogie Woogie emerged, a style that would have a huge influence on the course of black music (interestingly, Disco pioneer, DJ David Mancuso, cites the Rent Parties of 60’s New York as a major inspiration for his Loft parties).

The sub-genre of music that Londoners dubbed Boogie was, in essence, the direct continuation of Disco in its purest form. Many people have forgotten that the genre evolved from the Soul and Funk of black musicians. Later, of course, Disco would become increasingly commercialised, culminating in the blockbuster movie Saturday Night Fever, which elevated the Bee Gees, a white Pop band, to Disco superstardom, whilst a white suited John Travolta would become an iconic figure – the great white hope of the dancefloor. Disco went global, but its original audience, before Studio 54 stole the spotlight, knew that its true stars of the screen were afro haired black kids, who’d been busting all the best moves on Soul Train since the early 70’s.

Throughout the 70’s, the word boogie could be found in the title or lyrics of countless Funk and Disco records, but as the decade rolled on, it was beginning to sound increasingly cheesy to our British ears, especially when a Spanish holiday hit called ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ by Baccara, topped the UK chart in 1977. By the early 80’s a new low had been reached, with Children’s TV character, the robot Metal Mickey, further devaluing the word via his annoying catchphrase ‘boogie boogie’.

However, it began to claw back some of its former credibility thanks to huge underground tracks like Rafael Cameron’s ‘Boogie’s Gonna Get Ya’ and ‘Caveman Boogie’ by Lessette Wilson, plus the Gunchback Boogie Band’s ‘Funn’, and with the emerging Electro scene it’s recuperatation was completed (Extra T’s ‘E.T Boogie’, West Street Mob ‘Break Dancin’ – Electric Boogie’, Man Parrish ‘Boogie Down (Bronx)’ etc).

From a London perspective, the Boogie scene, if not yet born, was conceived in the late 70’s at the West End club, Crackers, where DJ George Power would refer to the dancers, regarded as some of the best in the capital, as ‘boogie boys’ and, as Crackers veteran, Terry Farley, informed me, would frequently use the word whilst talking over the microphone (as DJ’s did in those days). Power was a true pioneer of UK dance culture who has only received a fraction of the full credit he merits. Later down the line he’d be the co-founder of Kiss FM, originally a pirate station, which would play an absolutely pivotal role in bringing London’s dance underground to wider recognition.

But it wouldn’t be until after the Crackers days were long gone that Boogie gradually became a category in its own right. A young Sean P remembers going into a shop in Brixton, called Red Records, in the early 80’s and finding a ‘Soul/Disco/Boogie’ section. It struck him as odd that an old-fashioned word was being applied to such a cutting-edge music.

The sub-genre really came into its own around 1985, when Kiss FM (named in tribute to the seminal New York dance station) took to the air and DJ’s like Gordon Mac, Norman Jay, DJ Tee (Tee Harris), Desi D, Tosca and, of course, Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson began playing club tracks from earlier in the decade (along with other pirate radio DJ’s like Trevor St Francis on LWR and Lyndon T on JFM), describing them as ‘Boogie’. The word Disco had been out of vogue since the 70’s, with the music played on the black scene, pre-Kiss, usually coming under the blanket terms of Soul or Electro, but then a new movement of mainly black kids from South and East London began to refer to this post-Disco groove as ‘Boogie’. The sound was typified by Leroy Burgess, and the big labels included Prelude, West End and Sam, with club support coming from DJ’s such as Trevor Shakes, Dez Parkes, Cleveland Anderson, Henderson Yearwood, Fitzroy Da Buzz Boy and Derek Boland (aka Derek B).

Former Black Echoes writer and Kiss head of music, Lindsay Wesker, a noted black music historian, remembers the station, during its formative period, featuring as much Boogie as Rare Groove (which focused on relatively obscure 70’s Funk), making its way onto the playlists of now established names like Jazzie B and Trevor ‘Madhatter’ Nelson. It was such a big deal in London that Kiss would even release two volumes of their ‘Boogie Tunes’ compilation on Graphic Records in the late 80’s, making a number of highly sought after tracks available on vinyl at an affordable price (echoing Northern Soul, collecting Boogie and Rare Groove was both time-consuming and a drain on the pocket).

But, returning to the question of how the term Boogie came to represent a category of music in the first place, the first clue I could find was in a copy of Blues & Soul from September 1981. This was in an advert for the launch of Jazzifunk Club’s Saturday night at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. George Power, headlined, supported by Paul Anderson (who’d cut his teeth alongside Power at Crackers), Chris White, Colin Parnell and Boo, with the ad referring to the venue’s 2 floors, which proclaimed ‘Jazz On Top! Soul, Funk ‘n’ Boogie Down Below’.

During the early 80’s, specialist club nights would list the music featured as Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Soul, Funk, Disco, and later Electro or Electro-Funk, but never Boogie – the Electric Ballroom was unique in this respect. The only exception I’m aware of was a little known venue called ‘Gemas New Caprice Club’ in Watford, which, in London’s Groove Weekly magazine, advertised ‘Up-Front Jazz-Funk and Boogie’ in August 1982, having previously used ‘Jazz-Funk’ on its own). However, the trail came to an abrupt end at that point and I couldn’t find any further mention in either Blues & Soul or Groove Weekly during the coming years. It certainly wasn’t classified as a genre by the main London import specialists, like Groove, City Sounds and Bluebird.

I wondered if there was any direct link to Roller Disco, which had come to the UK, with limited success, from the US. Interestingly, a cash-in Hollywood movie called ‘Roller Boogie’ had highlighted the craze in 1979, and, by co-incidence, the Electric Ballroom would launch a mid-week Roller Disco night in 1982 with Paul Anderson as DJ. Andrew Mason, from New York’s Wax Poetics magazine, had told me that Danny Krivit, who both deejayed at New York’s legendary Roxy (which originally came to prominence as one of the top Roller Rinks in the country) as well being an accomplished skater himself, explained to him that the slightly shuffled clap / snare on the 2 and 4 (as opposed to a steady 4 on the floor beat) was best suited for skaters, who pushed off on alternate legs to that rhythm. Vaughan Mason’s ‘Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll’ is an obvious example, as is Chic’s classic ‘Good Times’ (which, of course, includes the line ‘clams on the half shell and roller-skates, roller-skates’).

So, basically, the best music to roller skate to, especially in New York, where the most impressive skaters were generally black or Latino, was funkier edged Disco, including many tracks that would later be regarded as Boogie classics in London.

Doing some further detective work, I checked with Danny Krivit to see if the term Roller Boogie was widely used in the US, and he informed me that it was only ever something people might say on a mainstream level, following on from the film, and definitely not how hardcore skaters would refer to the music. It seems that, just as over here, the word boogie was actually considered corny, rather than cool.

So, it wasn’t until a mainly black audience of dance music enthusiasts from London re-adopted the term, to describe the retrospective groove they were into, that Boogie reclaimed its credibility. “Nowadays”, as Sean P points out, “thanks to eBay and the general spreading of the word over the past couple of years, people from the US, Europe and wherever use ‘Boogie’ as a generic term, to describe early 80’s dance music of black origin”.

click below to listen

BRENDA TAYLOR – You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too (Greg Wilson edit)

DANIELE BALDELLI ( redbull academy interview)

Posted in DANIELE BALDELLI, Interviews, Soul/Disco on July 7, 2008 by bangtheparty

RBMA: »Let’s welcome Mr. Daniele Baldelli. In the ’70s, New York had DJs like David Mancuso, Nicky Siano or the early Larry Levan; in Italy there was Daniele Baldelli

Daniele Baldelli: »I started in 1969 in a club named Tana in Cattolica. But I think nobody called me a DJ back then. When people asked me: “What is your job?”, I answered: “I play records in this club.” I had no mixer, no headphones, nothing. Just 7″ records. I put one 7″ on one turntable, when it was finished, I started the other one. When there was silence in between, nobody cared. People were used to wait for me and the next record.

But still I tried to put the records together – even though the turntables didn’t have pitch control. At that time we had Lenco turntables. With them, you could adjust a level in between 33 and 45 rpm. So I had at least some kind of pitch control. As I didn’t have headphones, I listened to the needle on the record. And when I heard that ‘tz-tz-tz’ sound, I knew that it was time to start the other record.

As we had automatic turntables, I couldn’t just press stop. You had to push a button and wait for the tone arm to lift and go back automatically. Sometimes you were late. Then you had to wait for the tone arm to react. But we had these automatic turntables only for one year. The development of the equipment was very fast. When I started, I was just 16 years old. I used to go to this disco club in Cattolica where I lived…«

RBMA: »Cattolica is near Rimini, not far away from Bologna.«

Daniele Baldelli: »100 km from Bologna. Anyway, I just went to this club for dancing. The guy that was playing records had some problems with the boss. So one day, the boss asked me if I wanted to do this job. At the beginning I was like: “Oh no, not me.” But then I was very happy about it and started playing records there.«

RBMA: »You were fond of music. That was the reason why he asked you.«

Daniele Baldelli: »Of course, that was the reason why he asked me. It was very difficult to find records these days. I was DJing in Cattolica, and I stayed in Cattolica. The DJs in Rimini stayed in Rimini, those from Bologna stayed in Bologna. All the DJs bought their records in the same shop of the town where they lived. But I had the feeling that I must find something else.

So I took the train and went to Switzerland. In Lugano, there was a shop where you could buy imports from the USA. I was playing black music or rhythm&blues in the first place – records from people like Joe Tex, Rufus Thomas, Ann Peebles, Wilson Pickett, Etta James and James Brown, of course. I also played rock bands like The Stooges or Atomic Rooster. I played these records only on 7″. Going to a disco was something really new. So everybody wanted to go to discos.«

RBMA: »In Italy, public moral has always been an issue. Discos were regarded as bad places. At that moment, did you have to deal with prejudice?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, not at that moment. This started later.«

RBMA: »What about drugs? Were drugs common?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, not at the Tabù club where I played from 1970 onwards.«

RBMA: »So was it just about wine and beer?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Wine in a disco club? No. We had whisky. But back to buying records, I wanted to buy my own records. So I said to my boss: “I’ll buy the records by myself. Please give me a little bit more money.” He agreed. And that’s the reason why I own 60.000 vinyl records now (murmur in the auditorium).«

RBMA: »Today, the DJ is such an important figure. All the girls look at the DJ, was it similar in the late ’60s and early ’70s?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, I was only thinking about music. Now I know that I must have been stupid at that time.«

RBMA: »You met your wife in a club?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Yes, of course. Where else? I met her soon after I started DJing. So I didn’t have a chance to be a sex symbol.«

RBMA: »You did your job mostly in summer. How was it in winter?«

Daniele Baldelli: »In Winter, the club was open on Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and Sunday night. In summer, we were open every night from June until the end of September, from ten until three o’clock in the morning.«

RBMA: »It was just you DJing?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Yes, just me. Then, in 1974, something very important happened in Italy. The club Baia Degli Angeli opened near Cattolica on a nice hill near the sea. This club wasn’t like anything people had seen before in Italy. It topped everything. The club didn’t have psychedelic lights. It was all white. They played music from 12 o’clock at night until six in the morning. As DJs, they hired two guys from New York [named Bob Day and Tom Season].

Today we know that they weren’t DJs before they started at the Baia Degli Angeli, they turned into DJs here. Their strong point was that they had beautiful music – records we didn’t get in Italy at that time. The export/import business, as we know it today, still wasn’t existing over here. These guys had all the Philadelphia sound, disco, afro funk or afro disco. Nobody in Italy had listened to these records before. When they were about to return to the States, they introduced me the boss of the Baia Degli Angeli.

So I started working in this club. It was very, very, very very… The DJ booth was in a glass elevator. I could go up and down all night. This way I could see the dancefloor on the first level and the other three dancefloors upstairs. At the beginning, the Baia was a VIP club. But then it became more and more popular. About 4.000 went there every Saturday.«

RBMA: »And some of them were American actors visiting Italy?«

Daniele Baldelli: »In the early days, yes. But later on, the Baia was about common people from all over Italy.«

RBMA: »I remember a picture of Grace Jones in the Baia Degli Angeli.«

Daniele Baldelli: »She was there when her first 12” single was just released. I think it was La Vie En Rose. At that time, nobody knew her in Italy. But she was at the Baia Degli Angeli, and I have a photo of her and me.«

(we hear a short mix tape of Daniele Baldelli)

RBMA: »You are using the tweak that the Americans taught you about lengthening the songs by using two 7″ copies of the same record.«

Daniele Baldelli: »Of course. But then I became better than them (laughs).«

RBMA: »But the Technics decks with pitch control as we know them today, they still weren’t there. What kind of decks were you using? And how did you manage pitch control?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Normally, DJs are using these 1200s we have here. But I am still very fond about the Technics SP-15 turntable. At that time, this turntable was really expensive. You bought this turntable without a tone arm, it wasn’t included. So I bought a special oil damped tone arm. It made me crazy when using the tone arm lift caused the record to jump.

And then I found this tone arm in the UK. As the tone arm is balanced by oil, you can even move the turntable up and down – the needle won’t skip. I have four of these SP-15s at home. I didn’t like the turntables they had at the club, so I decided to buy my own and brought them when I played at the Baia Degli Angeli. The SP-15 has LEDs displaying the pitch speed precisely. The SL-1200 MK2 here has plus/minus 8, the SP 15 has a pitch range of plus/minus 10.«

RBMA: »And you could stop the records after queuing?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Yes.«

RBMA: »The mix tape we just heard demonstrated the typical opening of a night at the Baia Degli Angeli. Before you got to the decks, there was no music in the club. Is that correct?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Yes. Can I say one thing? I’ve been playing the same record for one year to close the night. At six o’clock in the morning, when I saw the sun shine, I’ve always been playing Ravel’s Bolero. While this was playing for 18 minutes, I mixed in Pink Floyd, Malinké chants, effects from Jean-Luc Ponty’s violin … Everything I could think of. People went mad, they were full of drugs.«

RBMA: »Which were the hits?«

Daniele Baldelli: »I’ve been asked this question before. My answer was: “Please don’t ask this question. If I mention just one record, thousands of others will be angry with me.” You know, I always care about my records. Some of the tracks I always played were Loleatta Holloway – Hit & Run, Miroslav Vitous – New York or Le Pamplemousse – Get Your Boom Boom.

Of course, many people asked for records that were in the charts. I didn’t like the top ten. So I always played something different. The b-side or something like that. I’m still buying all the underground music of the ’70s. Also nowadays, in 2004, I still find records I’ve never seen before. Somebody must have made them for me, and so I’ll buy them.«

Participant: »I am very curious about the mixing specifically. You had these turntables with the LED. But disco records aren’t staying exactly where you’re riding.«

Daniele Baldelli: »Of course not. The records 20 or even 15 years ago were not electronic. The drummer was a real drummer. Human people were playing. So the song would go up and down. It was terrible to follow a mix. In fact, I had my own idea – or paranoia: All day long, I stayed at home, played one record on one turntable and tried maybe 200 on the other one. Until I found the record I liked to mix in.

I even made notes for the mixing. Like 0.0 with the first record, the other one minus 5 for the first three beats, then plus 3, you understand? I wrote down all these notes, like a musician. Everybody told me that I’m crazy. Well, that’s true. So I always prepared my playlist at home. It was very hard. But it wasn’t that difficult because at that time you didn’t have as many records as you have now. When doing this nowadays, I go crazy because meanwhile there are 60.000 records. In the past, I had to choose only among 3.000 records.

Back in the days, the DJs used to cover the labels of the records. So nobody knew what the other DJ was playing. We were jealous of each other. Even the shops did that. They prepared stickers for the DJs to cover the label. Like this record here (Daniele Baldelli pulls out a record with a stickered label). They put a sticker on it with my name. But I find this terrible now. Because when I want to know what this particular record is, I can’t see anything on the label. So I can’t tell you the title. Sorry.

I made my money with mix tapes. Because the money I earned for DJing was spent for the records. Even today, I’m selling mix tapes to people that are 40 or 45 years old. They approach me saying: “I remember you from when I was young.” I say: “OK, come to me.”

Back in the days, my mind was free. I had no input from anybody. Today, it is rather difficult for me. House music is not exactly my feeling. So when I go to a club once in a while, I hear house music usually. All I can tell is that I understand nothing about house music. At that time, I didn’t know nothing. I just saw the records and chose them by myself for my playlists.

I didn’t know if the record that I was just playing was a top tune. I played it because I liked it. For me as a DJ, the situation couldn’t have been better. I could do whatever I wanted to do. This isn’t the case anymore, as far as I know. Correct me if I am wrong. Today, you have to make the people dance. Otherwise the boss will look at you: “What are you doing? The dancefloor is empty. What kind of DJ are you? Go back home!” Back then, I was free. I never had to be worried about a boss that might send me home.«

Participant: »When you were playing all night, how did you manage to go to the bathroom?«

Daniele Baldelli: »I was young. I could stay in the booth all night long. I could resist.«

RBMA: »The Baia closed in 1978. What happened to your life then?«

Daniele Baldelli: »I didn’t find a job for six months. Because nobody wanted to have the DJ from the Baia Degli Angeli – the club that was full of drugs. When I played somewhere else, the people, and the drugs, followed me.«

RBMA: »You are married. What has your wife been thinking about your job?«

Daniele Baldelli: »She was the girl at the cash desk. So I didn’t have problems. One day, a man from the Lago di Garda came to me and said to me: “I saw you at the Baia Degli Angeli. This Summer, I am opening a new club. I would like to have you as my DJ.” The name of the club was Cosmic. They took the Commodores’ logo and altered it. Stickers were a good business at the time. Everybody wanted to have hundreds of stickers on their cars. So the Cosmic stickers with that logo really sold well.

The Cosmic was another new and groundbreaking thing for Italy. The club was all dancefloor, no place to sit down. The equipment, soundsystem and lights, was incredible. Alcohol wasn’t sold. Only cola, orange juice and things like that. During the first year, I was playing all the music from the Baia Degli Angeli. Disco music, Philadelphia sound and so on. Then, in 1980, something changed in my mind. I started to discover records from all kinds of genres.

Today, I understand what I did and I can explain it to you. But back then, I just followed my instinct. So I played an electro track and mixed it with an African song, and then one from Brazil, followed by an electro record from Germany. This was mixed with a jazzy song and so on. The music was a melting pot. The people liked exactly this crossover of styles when a funk guitar was mixed with an electronic Kraftwerk beat.

The one thing I don’t like about house or techno is that you can put on any record. I don’t want to say that they are all the same. But it’s far too easy to do a mix. It’s always the same beat. I prefer to create my own music, combining the guitar of this record with the percussion of the other one. Or maybe the voice of this record goes down well with the voice of that one. My opinion is that you all should go the same way when mixing.

There was a famous shop in Rimini; Disco Più is its name. Every week, they received a lot of new records. Some of them, they had in a quantity of maybe a hundred, of others they got only one copy. Those were the records that nobody wanted to buy, so they put them on my shelf. “Baldelli takes everything,” they said.«

RBMA: »So you don’t go to the shop and listen to all the records?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, no, no. I listen to everything. There are good tracks in every kind of music. I also find good techno records, but I play them at 33 and not at 45. I just want to give you some examples of the records I played – or how I played them. Changing the speed of the records especially worked with dub records. (Signore Baldelli plays us a dub reggae record at the original speed of 33 rpm) This is nice. (changes the speed to 45) But like that it’s even nicer.

The next thing I want to show you is something I can do because I am Italian. Most Italian people don’t speak English. So we never understand the words of a song. And that’s why I don’t care when it’s sung in this way… (plays a reggae song with vocals speeded up to 45) For me, as a person who doesn’t understand the words, this pitched up voice is simply music. But I was also doing the contrary. Like this… (now we hear Alien Sex Fiend’s Ignore The Machine at 45) This is how it usually sounds like. But I played it this way… (Alien Sex Fiend slowed down to 33 rpm)

In Summer, when a lot of German tourists were at the Lago di Garda, there got furious sometimes, when I played OMD’s Enola Gay at 33 (laughs). I said to them: “Go back home to your town. I play what I like.” (next victim is a Culture Club record pitched up to 45) Of course, with instrumental music, this works even better.« (Daniele’s weapon of choice is the highly sought after 1979 Decca single Underwater recorded by Harry Thurman – slowed down to 33) This sounds terrible when played at the right speed (switches to 45).«

RBMA: »So most people didn’t notice that you played the records at the wrong speed? I mean, except of those Germans who didn’t like Enola Gay on 33.«

Daniele Baldelli: »At the beginning, people didn’t know this. But then they started to understand. They were used to going to the record shops with my mix tapes. Then they went to the guy working there and said: “Listen, I want to buy this record here.” So one day, somebody from the shop called me: “Stop to play the records on 45! I never understand what the people want from me.”

There’s another nice story I’d like to tell you. Maybe you can even help me. I know for sure that some dub musician – Scientist, Yellowman or Mad Professor – wrote on the cover of one of his LPs: “To the fucking Italian DJ who plays our records at the wrong speed.” I want to find this record!«

(Daniele Baldelli presents a mix CD he recorded three weeks ago. The mix catches the original vibe at Lazise’s Cosmic club in the early ’80s. Moreover, some photos taken at the club are shown)

Daniele Baldelli: »Now I want to show you what I did 18 years ago. Please don’t laugh, please consider at that time, I didn’t have the machines you have today. You had to do everything by hand.«

(video screen: DVD shot at Cosmic)

»I remember the first drummachine, an old one from Korg. It was like a typewriter. I have bought a lot of keyboards and drummachines. Compared to today, these machines were really nothing. My sample keyboard, a Prophet 2000, only had four seconds of memory. So I bought three of them in order to have twelve seconds. Nowadays you can buy loads of memory for that money.«

RBMA: »So you had three decks and a sampler?«

Daniele Baldelli: »In that period, I drove to the club with my own van. I brought my mixer, my turntables, my monitor, my amplifier, three keyboards and two drummachines.«

RBMA: »The turntables were the same that you used in the Baia Degli Angeli?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Yes, the Technics SP-15. You’ve seen it in the video. The mixer was a Teac Model 3.«

RBMA: »Were you playing with these machines all night long?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No. It was for ten minutes every hour or something like that. Otherwise the people would have thrown vegetables at me (laughs).«

RBMA: »So this was like a live gig.«

Daniele Baldelli: »Yes, like a DJ concert.«

Participant: »Now we know that you are the master of this sound. But there were other DJs on the same scene as well. I think of names like Tosi Brandi, Loda or DJ Ebreo.«

Daniele Baldelli: »But, as I told you before, everybody worked in his own club. There were five clubs on this scene in Italy: Cosmic, Melody Mecca in Rimini, Typhoon (Gambara, Brescia), Chicago (Bologna) and I don’t remember the other one [Les Cigales in Bedizole, Brescia]. The DJs in these clubs played more or less the same thing.

But everyone had his own style. For example, Moz-Art, Claudio Rispoli, – who is now part of Jestofunk, maybe you know this group – was more fond of jazz. He played a lot of Weather Report, Don Cherry – this kind of music. Ebreo, Mauro is his real name, he played a lot of Brazilian stuff – Jorge Ben, .Gilberto Gil, Tania Maria and so on. Another one played more reggae. I played what people call cosmic style now, that is everything mixed together. My music was more electronic. The others went more in the funk direction. I played funk or Brazilian as well, but the matrix was electronic.«

Participant: »I have a question. Did you have much contacts with the other Italian artists who were making this kind of music? Do you think other artists decided to do electronic music because they heard you play?«

Daniele Baldelli: »At that time, we had a musical phenomenon in Italy which is known as Italo disco today. But I didn’t like Italian music back then. For me, it was all shit.«

Participant: »Was the music of producers like Mario Flores, Claudio Simonetti or Rago & Farina appreciated in Italy at that time?«

Daniele Baldelli: »They didn’t know me and I didn’t know them, sorry. Italian people are always looking abroad. I think this is still the case. 20 years ago, we were looking at the USA, the UK, Germany. Next thing I want to show you is a new project of mine – Funkadiba.

Next month another CD of mine is coming out. It is called Daniele Baldelli – My Funky Side. Twelve tracks. I used musicians: trumpet saxophone, double bass, keyboard. These people realized the ideas I had. In early 2005, there will be a Cosmic compilation. I won’t tell the name of the company. This will be a mix CD. This compilation will be released all over the world.

The label is about to clear all the licenses of the tracks I chose. A few of them I have here. One is by Richard Wahnfried, a project of Klaus Schulze. Do you know the label Innovative Communication from Germany? The track I’m playing you now was a big Cosmic hit. I’m playing it at the right speed, by the way.«

(music: Richard Wahnfried – Time Actor)

RBMA: »This was the first electronic record you played?«

Daniele Baldelli: »It was one of the first. I played many records from Klaus Schulze. He’s always been on Innovative Communication. And also the Sky Records label from Germany – they had a lot of electronic music. Now I can make my own edits of records like this with the computer and burn them easily on CD. Back then it was more difficult.

For example: there was one record I was playing at the Baia. I can’t remember the group. It was named Cosmic Melody. They were singing: “Cosmic, cosmic, cosmic melody, melody melody…” I liked only this part. And I thought this is something for me to play at Cosmic. So I recorded it with minimum speed and made it three minutes long with my Revox reel. Also with cassettes, I recorded electronic effects.

So I could play a record and effects on it. I used an equalizer, it was a GE-20. Today you can buy a lot of effects. There are so many machines now. I used only the bypass button, made a strange equalization and switched it on and out in the rhythm of the music. So I had this effect the equalizer can do. The effect depends on the frequency you use. In that time, this was really a fashion. And today, people tell me that they would prefer an old equalizer to all these modern machines.«

RBMA: »How long went the Cosmic thing?«

Daniele Baldelli: »It lasted for five years; from 1979 until the end of 1984. The club was built for thousand people. But outside, in the park, there were more than 3.000 people.«

RBMA: »Because it was so crowded that they couldn’t get in?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, I think they stayed outside for their drug traffic . The fashionable car at that time was the Citroën Diane. The poor people had a Diane or a Renault 4. Those with money owned a Citroën DS. So the people had these kinds of cars. They stayed in the park all night with their cars, which were plastered with stickers of Cosmic and the other clubs. The doors of the cars were open and the people played my tapes. They didn’t go inside. If they went, they did it to buy a cassette.«

RBMA: »So most of these people stayed outside on purpose?«

Daniele Baldelli: »The people who were using drugs, they stayed outside. They had to spend their money for the drugs.«

RBMA: »I suppose, Cosmic had problems with the police.«

Daniele Baldelli: »Of course, they closed the club twice. And then it was finally shut down in 1984. A strange thing about Cosmic was that the club opened at nien o’clock, at ten it was crowded and we closed already at one o’clock. Today, the clubs have many problems with the authorities.

They say it’s dangerous when people go out until the early morning, drink a lot of alcohol, take drugs and then drive back home. But back in the days at Cosmic, it was the same thing. It’s stupid to drive a car when you have taken some kind of drug. In Germany, people take a taxi. But in Italy, no. Here it’s like: “I want my own car because I am Italian and powerful.”«

RBMA: »What happened when Cosmic closed?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Again I was without work for six months (laughs). Then I returned to Baia Degli Angeli which was reopened as Baia Imperiale. The style was like in a Cleopatra film.«

RBMA: »It was a nightmare, believe me. The Baia was transformed into the scenery of an ancient gladiators movie with fake statues of Roman gods and so on.«

Daniele Baldelli: »…like a temple.«

RBMA: »So the original minimal style of the Baia, which was a trademark, was totally transformed into something like a theme park.«

Daniele Baldelli: »It was like Hollywood.«

RBMA: »Yes, the crap side of Hollywood. Like Hollywood trying to recreate ancient Rome.«

Daniele Baldelli: »At this time, I started to play a little bit of house music. These were the early days, I played stuff like Frankie Knuckles, really good stuff. But also in that situation, I was attracted by the b-sides. This may be the reason why I had no success with house music. I never realized that the a-sides included the good tracks, the ones that the people wanted to hear. I stayed at the Baia Imperiale for six years, from 1986 to 1989. Like I did at Cosmic, I was also using synthesizers, samplers and drummachines.«

RBMA: »So you had no success because people didn’t like what you were playing then?«

Daniele Baldelli: »It just wasn’t good enough.«

RBMA: »You had some relation with the blooming piano house scene in Italy at that moment. Did you know people like Black Box personally?«

Daniele Baldelli: »I know Daniele Davoli. I know all of them, of course. I have done a lot of productions myself, only 300 copies of each release. It was very hard to sell all of them. My mind was not ready to make a hit or create a beautiful song that people wanted to buy.«

RBMA: »At the same time you were doing Cosmic revival nights.«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, I had stopped everything. I started Cosmic again in 1992/1993.«

RBMA: »You were asked to play in Germany and Austria. How did that come about?«

Daniele Baldelli: »As the Cosmic club was at the Garda Lake, Austria and Germany were near. During the summer, a lot of people came to the Garda Lake for holidays. People from Innsbruck started doing Cosmic parties and invited Italian DJs. This has grown within the years. Every year, there’s a big festival named Afro Meeting in Innsbruck. This lasts for two days, 5.000 people and more have been there. The music on the Cosmic CD which I had played you before, people in Italy were used to call it Afro sound – for whatever reason. But this is not the correct term for my style because I have been playing electronic music.«

RBMA: »You have no idea why they have been calling it Afro?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Maybe it’s because I also played records like Manu Dibango’s Soul Makossa or Johnny Wakelin’s In Zaire every now and then.«

Participant: »Can I ask you a question? I’m from Ireland. I was never aware of the depth of history of Italian music, and your involvement in it. Have you ever thought of documenting your story so that the next generations of DJs can appreciate what you did?«

Daniele Baldelli: »I think this is going to happen because now I am here. I can also tell you about Maestro. Josell Ramos is the director of that film. It’s a 90 minutes documentary of the disco scene in New York also reflecting on the fact that the first disco DJs were of Italian origin: Francis Grasso, David Mancuso, Victor Simonelli. This film shows that nightclubbing was born in New York or how the first 12″ single was created. There are a lot of interviews with the people who were involved in New York’s disco scene.

One day, Josell Ramos came to Bologna and presented the film. We talked a lot, he knew about me and wanted to hear my story. He did an interview, and now I am in this film. I think I can be very lucky that I had the opportunity to experience that era. I have gone through everything – from the early beginnings, from rhythm&blues, soul, funk and disco until now.

A young man like you will know only nowadays’ scenes, of course. But if you are very fond of music, you will also be able to go back for sure.«

Participant: »In the video from 1984 that you were showing us before, you played that “fresh” sample on your synthesizer. Do you know what I’m talking about?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, I don’t remember.«

Participant: »It sounded like scratching.«

Daniele Baldelli: »This sample keyboard was a Prophet 2000 and it came with factory samples. These also included some scratch style sounds.«

Participant: »The reason why I’m asking is that what you did was very similar to early hip hop turntablism at the time in ’84. It really struck me that you were thinking about that the same way. This is cool. Did you ever think of scratching?«

Daniele Baldelli: »No, I can try that when I’m older (laughs).«

Participant: »Were there any scratch DJs in Italy at that time?«

Daniele Baldelli: »I have been to an Italian DMC competition back then. But the DJs didn’t really know what to do there. So everybody thought that it’s about playing as many records as possible within the time given. The one playing the most records was the best. But then, after one or two years, we have seen what’s happening, of course. I like that very much. Not because of the music. I like the skills.«

Participant: »I saw that you were DJing together with a drummer. For the future, could you imagine to play with a scratch DJ?«

Daniele Baldelli: »For the music I’m playing today, I don’t need a scratcher. From 1996 to 1999 I worked in a club where I played only funk and soul – from 1969 until now. There, I used to play with a saxophone, a trombone or even a quartet. On my signal, the drummer started to pick up the groove of the record and then the band played the song.«

RBMA: »Any other questions? No?«

Daniele Baldelli: »Go back home (laughs).«

FUNKY NASSAU : THE COMPASS POINT STORY

Posted in Compilations, Post Punk, Punk Funk, Soul/Disco on June 23, 2008 by bangtheparty

On the surface, this compilation is intended to be a broad rundown of a specific studio’s output– that of Compass Point, the Bahamian outpost established by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and manned by a who’s who of reggae session players including the ace production team/rhythm section of Sly & Robbie. But it might as well be a symposium on the polyglot tendencies that made the dance underground of the first half of the 1980s so unpredictably rich in ideas. Name a genre that either established itself or peaked in the late 70s or early 80s– electro-funk, disco, reggae, dub, post-punk, old-school hip-hop– and it’s represented in the music on this compilation, rarely without being comfortably fused to another genre to spectacular effect.

The most well-known cuts on Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980-1986 might as well be shorthand for this type of fusion– Tom Tom Club’s chirpy, blissed-out Caribbean/new wave/rap pastiche “Genius of Love”, Talking Heads’ jittery Afrobeat-inflected digital rave-up “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)”, and an extended version of Ian Dury’s BBC-banned “Spasticus Autisticus”, which retorted to Britain’s patronizing declaration of 1981 as “Year of the Disabled” with Spartacus-lifted shouts of solidarity, bitingly arch lyrics (“So place your hard-earned peanuts in my tin/ And thank the creator you’re not in the state I’m in”) and a vertigo-inducing bass/synth interplay. There’s just one baffling decision in the famous names department– instead of something from the superb Nightclubbing, Grace Jones’ tenure at Compass Point is represented by the digital reggae of “My Jamaican Guy”, and the combination of her flat singing and the gradual tedium of its seven-minute extended mix makes for an unexciting way to open the compilation.

But Funky Nassau gets better in a hurry, thanks not just to the usual post-punk suspects but also due to the fringe artists, obscurities, and ostensible novelty records (emphasis on novel) that fill out the bulk of the collection. There are two tracks that, thanks largely to house music pioneer François Kevorkian, prove to be the collection’s most surprising highlights. Cuban-born Guy Cuevas’ 1982 France-exclusive “Obsession” piles glimmering keyboards on top of a Bernard Edwards-caliber bassline and comes up with a late-disco gem that sounds triangulated between Havana, Paris, and NYC. And the Kevorkian mix of “Dance Sucker”, the 1983 debut single from Scottish obscurities Set the Tone, sounds like a uprocker’s take on a circa-1988 Nine Inch Nails demo, with a lead singer belting out sneering Reznor-isms (and the occasional Nic Offer-ism) over a packed wall of electro.

Where most of the tracks on Funky Nassau breathe free with loose-jointed smoothness, disco deconstructionist Cristina’s “You Rented a Space” is a claustrophobic slab of electronic dub where the percolating bass and the staggering but sure-footed rhythms practically corner you in a hallway and breathe down your neck. (Cristina’s decadently sly voice knows better, and aims directly at your inner ear: “Your lovin’ is as cold as the cold clasp of death.”) And then there’s Bits & Pieces– basically Sly & Robbie working under an alias- – cranking out a playful but heavy cover of Yarbrough & Peoples’ 1980 hit “Don’t Stop the Music”, replicating its fuzzed-out synth-funk faithfully but throwing in a subtle reggae backbeat and, for kicks, a few likeably daft rap lyrics about hairstyles. The Compass Point sound proved that the sound of the Caribbean could cover just about anywhere– and, at the same time, helped create music that couldn’t have come from anywhere else.

click below to listen

GUY CUEVAS – Obsession

TONY WILSON (1950 – 2007)

Posted in Interviews, TONY WILSON on June 23, 2008 by bangtheparty

Were you Manchester born and bred?

No. Salford. Yvette and I were guest editors of Building magazine. Along with everything else we do we’re regeneration experts now, and as regeneration consultants with a bit of a reputation we were invited to guest edit Building Magazine. In it I made the point that neither of us have forgotten our backgrounds – my partner comes from the Ribble Valley, I come from Salford – but by the mid-80s we came from Manchester. Now, until about 1980 when people asked where do you come from I’d have done what I did then, “I come from Salford”.

And people would go “Ah, Manchester”, and it’s “No, it’s fucking Salford.” Albert Finney would have said that to you, Ben Kingsley, Alistair Cook, we come from Salford, and there’s a real pride about it.

Suddenly in the early ‘80s, the word Manchester came not just to mean the centre of Manchester, it came to mean “the project”, being the rebuilding of this whole Northern place. I always say that in the early ’80 s when we built the Hacienda we thought we were idiots, just individual crazies for some strange obscure reason in love with our city and putting some of our money back into the city.

It was only by about ’84, ’85, that we realised there were a lot of other people doing exactly the same thing, also individually, on their own, separately thinking they were just the same idiots. Our city fathers, council leaders, were doing, and we all thought it was in isolation, and suddenly by the mid ‘80s were realised we were all doing it.

So I’m quite happy to say that I come from Manchester, even though for many many years I would have denied it completely.

What is it about Salford that makes you so proud?

Salford is what it is. It was the working class city. Manchester became the city centre as it were, although Salford is separated from the Manchester city centre by just a river. So Manchester and Salford are a bit like Minneapolis and St Paul, two sides of the same city. There is of course a romance about being working class.

Rock’n’roll is meant to be working class but it never is. Elvis Presley was working class, The Beatles were all grammar school boys, admittedly I have to accept that John Lydon – after he once had a go at me in a seafood restaurant in Malibu where we bought him 16 seabreezes for lunch – was actually working class, but Strummer was diplomat’s son and the origins of punk were in nice middle class intellectual boys having those idea. The fact that Bromley in Kent was the hub of it says it all really.

Obviously New Order were grammar school boys in certain ways, and then suddenly you get another burst of real working class rock’n’roll activity with the Mondays and the Roses, which is one of the reason why they’re not still around while the nice middle class work ethic boys of U2 and Coldplay do very well.

Why? Because they have better financial advisors?

No, it’s the work ethic. If you’re middle class you have a work ethic where it’s a wonderful job and you work at it and you make lots of money and take it seriously. If you’re working class in the music industry it’s like robbing the bank. Rob the bank, take the money, shove it up your nose and fuck off. I’m quoting Happy Mondays’ agent Martin Gallagher there.

What did your parents do?

My father was an out of work actor and my mother was a shop-keeper. The core of the family were German émigrés. My grandfather Herman Maximillian Nuffal arrived in Salford in 1900. He’d gone to America and the family said come home, but he said “No, I’ll come nearer home and move to Salford.” Although it sounds very weird – I always thought it was until I realised that if you’re the second son and the Kaiser is bringing in conscription in 1899 and you’d think fuck it, I’m going to America.

Fair enough, I can understand that. But coming to Salford?

Then about 15 years ago that I did a documentary about Haim Wiezmann, who was a Manchester German scientist (and first president of Israel). Of course, doing this film about Weizmann I discovered – which I should have known anyway when you think back about because Engels was here – but if you left Germany in the 19th century, you came to Manchester. Whalley Range, now our prostitute area, used to be called Little Germany, and all the large houses there were built by German émigrés in the 1870s, 1880s. The Halle Orchestra was of course founded by a German. The amazing thing I learned making this documentary was that the only language you would hear spoken in the cocktail bars during the interval at the Hallé was German.

So this was German town. This is why I always say there were two reasons for Manchester music, and the second was Manchester’s openness. Which city in Britain was welcoming Chicago and Detroit house music in ’86-’87? The answer is Manchester. I always remember even though I think (London club) Shoom!, which was an important part of acid house, probably preceded the Hot night at the Hacienda by about a month, which was April or May ’86, I remember Mike Pickering Djing at the Astoria in January and being bottled off stage and heckled because he played house music. But the history of rock’n’roll is the history of being open to influences, and that’s why things happen.

Anyway, my grandfather apprenticed himself to a jeweller and watchmaker called Mr Ranks. When he died my grandfather got some money out his family in Freiberg and he took over the shop as Nuffal’s. Then it became Nuffal Brothers as my uncles came into the business. The second shop was in Caddeshead, and then Karl the eldest took over the Salford shop and Edgar, who was my immediate uncle who I lived with for many years, had a shop in Eccles. So there were three shops called Nuffal Brothers and they were watchmakers and jewellers. My mother took the money she inherited from my grandfather and bought herself a tobacconist and card shop at the end of William Rd. She married my father in 1948. He was an out of work actor, who then began to run the shop.

When you’re at Oxbridge you know what jobs are coming and you knew your competition. There were two general traineeships at the BBC every year but they were cancelled the year that I left Cambridge, so there were six Thompson newspaper traineeships in Cardiff, two Reuters traineeships, two ITN traineeships, and there were six BBC news trainees. You applied for these knowing that there were 20 others from Oxbridge and maybe five from York or somewhere else, and I just got very very lucky. I went for my interview at ITN knowing I didn’t get the Reuters job, didn’t get anything at the BBC, and at my interview they said, “Was there anything that we could have done better”, and I said that I didn’t think much of their coverage of Jimi Hendrix’s death.

I said, “It might not matter much to you but from the culture I come from Hendrix is a very important person and it seems to me that you should be able to cover it with a little more insight and not treat it as something from the counter culture that means nothing to you.” About four days later a telegram arrived at my room in Cambridge and I’d got the ITN job. There are some core moments in my job and getting into Cambridge was a core moment, the ITN job was a core moment, and I have to say that very recently getting the second stage of the regeneration project we’re doing right now felt exactly the same.

What was it about TV that attracted you rather than any other media? (Wilson worked at ITV, then at Granada in Manchester where became a local celebrity thanks to music shows What’s On and So It Goes.)

It had words and pictures, I suppose, which rather excited me. I went to ITN which had just reinvented TV news with News At Ten which didn’t have people wearing bowties, and at that point in the early ‘70s the esprit de corps at ITN in Wells Street we were the second best TV news organisation in the world behind CBS News New York, just. If you put yourself up there with CBS New York and its traditions and way of doing things it meant you felt you were the top of the pile. I learnt so much in those two years.

The way you learned at ITN was by becoming a scriptwriter and I used to write the stuff that Andrew Gardner or Sandy Gall or Gordon Honeycomb or Reginald Bosanquet would read. It was a wonderful thrill and wonderful job, and you progressed to doing end pieces or the occasional small item, but I wanted to be a reporter, felt the need to go out on the road and do the next stage.

I have to say, and this is something important actually, that it never occurred to me that I would ever be famous. It never occurred to me to be on television just to be on television. I thought that to short circuit the process I would go to a regional ITV company on a local magazine show for two years, learn my trade on the road and come back to ITN a fully trained reporter. The very first advert I saw was for a different post in my home town of Manchester, but I thought I’d apply, and strangely, even though I completely screwed my interview up I got a job as a reporter.

Anyway, a friend said to me, “So you’re going to be a reporter? Oh my God, you’ll become famous.” I asked him what he meant, and he said, “My mate went to Central TV in Birmingham and he got a letter from a woman saying, Oh, I’d like to do this to you, and there was a drawing of a woman performing an obscene act on him.” I was utterly shocked. I hadn’t connected being on television with being famous. I had always wanted to be an actor, but when I went to Cambridge I discovered that I was either a shit actor or an OK actor, but I wasn’t a great actor, and the whole idea of being famous had removed itself from me. I really was surprised that by being a reporter I might actually be known. So I turned up at Granada to do two years as a reporter, and I got stuck.

So when did the magazine programmes come along?

That was a bit like Broadcast News. It opens with the title, and some guy says “Good evening, here is the latest report from John Thompson in Namibia”. Then it cuts to this incredibly exciting film of a reporter in the jungle dodging bombs, doing incredibly exciting things and pieces to camera and directs the whole thing, and it cuts back to the studio and this guy says, “Thanks, that was John Thompson, we’ll see you next week.” The guy who says “we’ll see you next week” is higher up the food chain than the guy on film. I was expected to be in the studio as well as being the reporter, but after my first summer there Granada, instead of making me the number two anchorman they hired someone else.

I’m thinking, How do I get in the studio? One of the guys had been doing What’s On, an arts round up one night a week, and the guy who’d been presenting it went off to write some novelisation of Blake’s Seven. I liked movies, I liked music, I was into the theatre, I had an arts degree, so I asked if I could do the arts show, and they said yes. From summer 1974 What’s On ran for about four years, and many things that people think were on So It Goes were actually on What’s On.

So for example when I wasn’t allowed to have Blondie on So It Goes because the producer thought they were crap, so I put her on What’s On and she did Rip Her To Shreds. Many north west kids remember, much the same as many people remember seeing the Sex Pistols on TV for the first time, me saying, and now a young singer who’s come up from London, he’s actually from Liverpool, Mr Elvis Costello. And we turned round and there’s Elvis with on a little podium with his electric guitar in his arm, and he’d got up there to do Less Than Zero, but he’d said that he’d written a new song two days ago and could he do that instead, and I said yeah sure, and he did Allison. Two days old, amazing.

What’s On was about getting me back in the studio, but it became a cult show because it was very whacky and we’d hang parrots around the studio, a camel once ran through the set, it was a weird show. I remember once having (creator of Spider-Man) Stan Lee on and he brought a Spider-Man costume with him and Clive James, who was a friend doing the show with me, spent the whole time walking around in the back of the shot wearing Stan Lee’s Spider-Man costume.

So you were given carte blanche to run riot.

Absolutely. It was a wonderful show. There were some wonderful producers there who just thought, “Why not?” It was anarchy and everyone loved it and let me do exactly what we wanted. The one night they didn’t let me do what I wanted I resigned and walked out. It was 1976. Granada decided to do a What’s On music spin off, hoping it would be a network ITV show to rival Top Of The Pops.

We did one pilot and they went, “Well, it’s not a Top Of The Pops rival but we’ll give you a late night series, and that was So It Goes.

Anyway, November ’76, the Anarchy tour, and my friend Roger Eagle from Eric’s in Liverpool rang to say that he had to cancel the Sex Pistols after Merseyside police had been round and told him his licence wouldn’t be renewed later that month if he put the band on. I had a graphic made up saying “What’s Off, Sex Pistols at Eric’s”, but my bosses said I couldn’t use it.

I argued that this was the most important thing happening, the greatest band in the world being censored and we had to say something, but I lost the argument. Being what I thought was a professional I did the show without the graphic then walked upstairs, tore up my cards and walked out the door. They got me back in about five days later and made me sign a piece of paper saying, “I’ll do whatever you tell me, because you fucking pay me.”

I learned so much from that. People who worked for me, I used to say, “You don’t like this? I understand. Start your own fucking company. The tragedy is that I pay your salary, so I can tell you what to do, it’s a tough life but you can also leave.”

So did you set out to make What’s On a whacky or funny show?

God no. I’m not a funny man, I can’t tell a joke. Recently I started telling a story about Steve Coogan, John Thompson and Caroline Ahern at a BAFTA thing and Coogan actually interrupted and shouted, “For fuck’s sake Tony shut up”, and told the story and it was hilariously funny. But I used to write jokes and one producer actually said to me, “You’re not a funny man, you can’t tell jokes, but What’s On is a funny programme, I’m astonished.”

Everyone else who went to see the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 4 June 1976 seems to have formed a band, but you started a record label.

No no, no I didn’t. My job was as a television presenter, and I went back the next day and screamed to my producer that we had to have this band on the show, it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen. They said OK, but I had to take Malcolm the researcher to see them to make sure he liked the band too. I remember bright blue skies driving from Golden Square in Soho to the Walthamstow Assembly Hall, and walking into the hall at 9 in the evening, still this bright sky, and into this completely dark hall, with 20 people watching in a semi-circle stretching across the whole hall. I soon realised that it was because John was gobbing and they were just out gobbing distance.

So a label didn’t enter your head at the time?

Not at all. That first series of So It Goes was pile of shit except for the last show when we had the Pistols on, before that we’d had Eddie And The Hotrods and Be Bop Deluxe and other safe middle of the road stuff like that, but the second series was brilliant. I would put Buzzcocks and Slaughter And The Dogs on What’s On through the autmn of ’76 and spring ‘77, but I was told I had a new series of So It Goes in autumn ‘77, and would wake up every night that summer in a sweat worried that someone else was going to beat us to it. It was a disaster.

We launched again and were able to put on Iggy Pop and Elvis Costello and the first Jam appearance, Magazine, all this great stuff, and we had it all to ourselves because the Old Grey Whistle Test only put on people who were accomplished musicians or had American accents. They had The Ramones and to my annoyance Patti Smith, but hey. Iggy caused all sorts of trouble by swearing during a rambling bit in the middle of The Passenger and my boss wanted to cut it.

So this was my hobby, my passion, my life, and suddenly I realised that I was clutching this thing had seemed so distant when I went out and bought Jefferson Airplane album and listened to it on the floor going nuts. You know, Elvis Costello would walk on stage and smile at me in the audience! Malcolm McLaren would give me a T-shirt and ask how things were going, even Lydon would grunt at me. Suddenly I was connected to my heroes and this artform, and I still feel it as an utter, utter privilege. Then I was told, that’s it, no more, but I wanted to stay involved.

Then on 24 January 1978, which is why several of our companies are called something to do with the 24th of January, I got a call from my best mate Alan Erasmus who had been managing a band for about nine months called Fast Breeder – since my stag night when we took Dutch speed and went to see them. There’d been a coup and he was thrown out along with a couple of band members. I said, don’t worry, we’ll form a band around the remaining guys, and that was the moment that got me into the music business.

Those two, guitarist was Dave Robotham and the drummer Chris Joyce, who later became Simply Red’s backing band, but we put them together with the ex-Albertos bass player and the guitarist from the Nosebleeds, Vini Reilly, and two singers and that was Duritti Column. We had a group, we needed a place to play, and Alan said I know a club in Hume that we might be able to borrow, so we went and met …. Blah blah

So, starting Factory in 1978…

The thing I remember specifically about starting Factory is that independents are set up to get bands signed to majors. Everyone thinks that punk was all about some anti-capitalist response to the majors, but it wasn’t at all. Malcolm signed the Pistols to anyone, The Clash’s first single came out on CBS, and Buzzcocks signed to United Artists the night I saw them at Electric Circus, which was the same night Elvis Presley died. It was all major label stuff until this wonderful distribution network called Rough Trade started, and also Pinnacle. Independent labels at the time were to get your band signed to a major label.

I remember interviewing Tosh Ryan from Rabid Records during the What’s On days and saying to him why did you sell Jilted John to EMI and John Cooper Clarke to CBS, and he said “Don’t be such a twat, living in this mythical past, that’s what independence is all about, getting your act signed to a major. Alan and I were doing what we thought was the right thing and trying to get Duritti Column and we managed to get Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark signed to Virgin after a bidding war.

I did two or three trips to London with (Joy Division and New Order manager) Rob Gretton to talk to Andrew Lauder who was the leading person to sign Joy Division to Warner Radar Genetic. Then one night at Band On The Wall in Manchester, Rob says to me, “Er, why don’t we do the first Joy Division album and then go to Warners?” I said, “Are you sure? How much will it cost.”

He said Martin Hannett had told him about eight grand, which was a complete lie. I didn’t jump on it because it was a complete surprise, but looking back on it that was the dawn of the British independent movement, all from Rob thinking, well the first single Tony spent £5000, we got £5300 back after paying all the costs and we all made £100. If we made an album we would make real money, which would mean, and I quote Rob here, “I wouldn’t have to go to London every week and talk to cunts.”

Also, being Rob, he then said, “Here’s the deal I suggest: 50-50, and you pay publishing out of your per cent. And that deal, done that day, is the most generous ever for a band, because I didn’t want to make money, and it applied to every Factory act ever, most particularly Joy Division and New Order. That’s why Blue Monday never made money. The sleeve and the vinyl and everything cost 79p and the average return from Pinnacle our distributor was 91p, so we made 2p a copy, which was 1p to New Order and 1p to us, and out of that we paid publishing at 3p a copy, which we had to pay.

Not the greatest business deal you ever made, surely.

No, but I’m a catholic, and the most profound moment of my life was as a young journalist, about 1977, I was asked by my newsroom if I wanted to interview the arch bishop of Sao Paulo. I went along, a good catholic boy to interview, and I was taken to the cathedral and met this rotund prelate. About 15 minutes in I realise this is Cardinal Arns, who was Mr Liberation Theology, in other words the man who put the shits up the Vatican for 30 years, the leading light behind liberation theology who ran the Catholic church on Marxism in South America.

Towards the end, and I’m a good altar boy and playing theology with him and all that, and I said, “But Cardinal, are you saying that to be rich of itself is a sin?” And he leaned back and said with a grin, “Yes my boy”, as if to say, “It’s only taken me 45 minutes but you’ve finally got it.”

If you believe that it’s very hard to make money. I’d love to have a yacht and a house on Lake Cuomo, but they’re numbers 98 and 99 on my priorities.

So was this around the same time you decided to sign a contract in blood?

Yes, We agreed the deal and a couple of weeks later Rob had his lawyer write it up and sent it to me. It’s not like the film where I write the whole thing in blood, but as a joke I think I just signed AHW to this formal contract in blood.

How do you actually sign with blood?

You just prick your finger and let it onto the page then take a dry pen nib and write through it. The central feature of the contract, which caused us disruption later, was the phrase “The musicians own everything, the company owns nothing, all our groups have the right to fuck off.” When Polygram and Roger Ames were buying us, it was going along very nicely until a meeting where someone said, “But you have no contract.” I said that we had a kind of a contract and they looked at it and all the faces on the other side of the table dropped.

Roger waved it at me and said, “Tony, don’t you understand, if you have no contract at least you own the catalogue because you paid for it to be recorded. That is, unless you have a piece of fucking paper that specifically says you own nothing.” Far from being the heroic moment portrayed in the movie, I just sort of went, “Oh well.”

So how did Factory make its money?

Selling enormous numbers of albums. We also didn’t market for the first two years. And although I’m accused of refusing to let us have a dance label, all I said was that to make money in dance you have to be a good businessman, and all we’re good at is finding bands no one else wants and getting them to sell a million albums around the world.

So even for overseas sales your 50-50 contract held?

Absolutely. Except that because we felt we weren’t doing as much to sell overseas, that split became more like 60-40, rising to 66-33.

You say Factory was about finding bands no one else wanted, who were the bands you didn’t want?

I don’t think we missed out on anybody, but the bands I didn’t sign that were successful were obviously The Smiths and The Stone Roses. I always thought Steven (Morrissey) was going to be our novelist, our Dostoyevsky, in fact I lost a one act play he wrote about eating toast in Hulme. But I got a phone call one day asking me to come over because he had something to tell me. I went to his mum’s house and he took me into his bedroom with a poster of James Dean on the wall, and he told me that he was going to be a pop star.

I had to stifle my laughter because I thought this was the last person in the world about to become a pop star. I had a conversation with Richard Boon, Buzzcocks’ manager and a mutual friend, saying can you believe he’d ever be a pop star? Four months later I went to either their first or second gig at the Manhattan club and being utterly stunned. I remember walking out and Richard saying, “Now do you believe me?” Obviously I did, it was stunning.

But that point in time, there are three stories. The Smiths’ story is that Wilson was a cunt, blah blah blah, there is my version of the story which is that I had James and Stockholm Monsters and couldn’t sell their singles, and Factory was two and a half years old and a dinosaur. Not marketing and being weird had worked very, very well, but suddenly it had grown old and stale. I was very depressed at the time.
Why wasn’t it working?

I think that when everyone is promoting like mad and you don’t promote there’s a two year window when that works fantastically well, when not promoting is the best promotion there is. But then it all… I was extremely depressed about Factory at the time. Movement, the first New Order album, had sold extremely poorly, and I felt that I couldn’t sell the first James single or the first Stockholm Monsters single, and thought my company had lost something.

I didn’t know what it was we’d lost, but I wasn’t going to saddle Steven with a shit record company. Now Rob Gretton, who was more significant within the company than me, was wandering around Manchester telling everyone that The Smiths were the new Beatles, but he was telling The Smiths that their demo was shit, and I’m not signing you until you’ve got a good demo.

But whatever, The Smiths have their own version of the story, and Steven is a nightmare to work with. Historically though, Pinnacle went bust, and I probably lost about £150,000 in that, but if The Smiths hadn’t gone to Rough Trade that probably would have gone bust too, and the British independent movement would have ended right there, never lasted beyond the mid ‘80s.

The Stone Roses, I hated. I’d seen them in the early ‘80s when they were a goth band and badly dressed. By the time they started spreading their names all over Manchester they were managed by my ex-wife, my ex-business partner Martin Hannett, my ex-protégé from the Hacienda Tim, who’s now Ticketmaster, and the guy who used to run the Hacienda, Howard Jones. So everyone who was an ex in my life was involved with the Roses, so I completely ignored them.

One night I was at home, about to crash out in front of the TV, and the Mondays were playing Chester in the small basement of a pub. I had the strange feeling that they were about to break, I don’t know why because we were releasing the third version of Wrote For Luck, but I thought this might be the last time they played a small gig, and indeed it was.

Anyway, I went into the dressing room and the drummer Gaz Whelan goes, “Hey, Tone, listen to this”, and put something in the cassette player, and the cassette plays and I’m like, “Fuck that’s fantastic, what is it?” The whole group go, “Nyah, it’s the Roses,” because they all knew I hated the Roses.

But I always say that they were a rock’n’roll band. That Stone Roses album, along with Guns N’ Roses, were the great rock albums of the ‘80s, but now we remember them for Fool’s Gold. What people don’t understand is that there’s no Fool’s Gold and no Loaded by Primal Scream without Happy Mondays changing music.

Shaun Ryder once said to me, “I bet you wish you’d signed The Stone Roses.” I asked him why and he said, “They sell more records than us.” But I said to him, “Shaun, I only wanted to sign the most important groups, and you were the most important group.”

One of the reasons that I got involved with the 24 hour party people record is the Mondays. Joy Division and New Order are regularly regarded among the 50 greatest bands of all time, and the Monday are not. Over the years, particularly the last four years, people have come to accept that, but it’s only because they were working class and in the words of some writers looked like the kind of people who’d steal your stereo, they were one of the great groups.

Historical perspective will always win through.

True. In many ways Shaun didn’t do himself many favours, a rock star posing with scrubbers in a hot tub and so on, but in the end people are realising the quality of his work. The Manchester cancer event recently at Gmex (on 18th January 2006) with Andy Rourke, Doves, Elbow, New Order… someone rang me up and asked if Shaun would be interested. I was a bit shocked because Wrote For Luck has become quite electronic these days performed by Happy Mondays, and this was a much more guitar thing, but it was a thrill to see my two singers on stage together.

The two American producers of the Joy Division movie were at the show and they said, “Tony, we don’t understand, when Shaun came out the audience were already excited but they raised to a whole other level.” Well, number one, Shaun is the singer of one of the five great Manchester groups, Joy Division/New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Oasis. Second, everyone knows Shaun has taken more drugs than almost anyone else, and this is a drug town and people respect that.

When I went to the Peruvian jungle to take (psychoactive drink) Ayahuasca for a Channel 4 documentary I couldn’t wait to get back and show off to Shaun. I said to him, “I’ve been taking this amazing stuff in the jungle, Ayahuasca,” and he just goes, “Fucking great, in’t it?” I couldn’t believe it, “How could you know?” “I’ve fucking taken it.” And I’m, like, “I went to the far corners of the fucking rainforest to take it, how could you have had it.

And he goes, “Oh, Bez brought some back from his holidays.” And he described this Peruvian jungle hallucinogen in more detail and more eloquently even than the 60-year-old shaman I’d been working with in Peru. He said that it did change you, and that Bez was a totally different person for six months after taking it until it wore off, and I guess I was too.

The third thing, actually, is that in Manchester we know that Acid House was as big a youth explosion as punk, and was as colourful and wonderful and exotic. In terms of acid house everyone is now slowly beginning to understand that Shaun Ryder is the Johnny Rotten of acid house, and that is a major cultural thing, and that is why people went nuts when he came on the stage.

I always say that my two main groups – notice that I say my groups, I even say my songs even though I never wrote any of them which is a bit cheeky – both achieved something very rare: they both created classic timeless albums back to back. I’m talking about Unknown Pleasures and Closer and Bummed and Pills N Thrills And Bellyaches. The rarity of that in the rock pantheon is that normally groups have to go through one or two, even three transitional albums to get to something new, but they got it straight away.

Why Manchester?

It’s been Britain’s immigrant city since 1200, and that openness is essential. But the other reason is a guy called Dave Ambrose. He was a famous A&R man, but I only recently found out he signed Duran Duran so I should have shot him. Anyway, Dave Ambrose signed Duran, and about 1990 I saw him in Deansgate and I asked what he was doing back here, everything was signed. No one was left, but he said he was back because Manchester kids have the best record collections.

And that summed it up. When he said that I immediately flicked to a squat in Hulme in the early ‘80s, ACR’s place or somewhere similar, and there on this floor with no carpet and little furniture, will be 200 albums. And in those albums will be the entire Parliament, Funkadelic catalogue, and 20 Brazilian samba albums, and German metal noise albums. In a Liverpool falt you’ll find the entire works of Love, and The White Album. Tra la la. Also, Scouse bands tend to sing with an American accent and that’s just wrong. Listen to Arctic Monkeys. They’re the least American sounding band ever, you could cut steel with those accents. It’s that broadness that we’ve lost over recent years because we suddenly closed ourselves and became dance snobs.

Could Factory have thrived in today’s market?

Well, the bright group of the 21st century will always sign with an indie and grow with the label. Ryder always says the Mondays signed with Factory because no one else would have them, but in the 21st century there is a very real choice. And this century the two most significant bands so far, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys, have both chosen to go with an indie.

Style and not being afraid of wealth seemed a big part of factory and Manchester in general.
Well, I used to have this 13 year cycle theory that British youth culture exploded every three years. It wasn’t much but I noticed that the Beatles happened in 1963, then punk in 1976 and ’89 was acid house. Then someone pointed out that if you go back 13 years from ’63 you get teddy boy.

Anyway, it suddenly made some kind of sense. I thought that in normal British youth culture fashion we would take North America, invest it with English style and wit, and I thought that would happen with nu metal. Sure enough, someone did, and there were Lost Prophets and Funeral For A Friend who came out of the Rhonda Valley, who I thought were fantastic.

They are wonderful, but there was nothing to it. I went to a Funeral For A Friend gig a couple of months ago but it was only music. The was no drug, there was no politics with a small “p”, there were no clothes, nothing that goes with a cultural explosion. And that’s why in Manchester all those other things went with it, the drugs, the loose fit look all of it.

MAURICE FULTON ( BANG THE PARTY & 7TH HEAVEN PRESENT ON APRIL 3rd, 2008)

Posted in 1 BANG THE PARTY events, MAURICE FULTON on June 11, 2008 by bangtheparty

Andycapp & Maurice

PHOTO ALBUM Springtime Dance Competion 2008

Posted in 1 BANG THE PARTY events on June 3, 2008 by bangtheparty

THEO PARRISH ( redbull academy interview pt. 3 )

Posted in Leftfield House, THEO PARRISH on June 3, 2008 by bangtheparty

RBMA: »So you have to describe what it sounds like.«

Theo Parrish: »Y’all know what that sounds like. everybody knows that song. So I play some real fucked up shit that I did instead. Just some fucked up shit, some stuff that just fell out of my head recently. It has no rhyme or reason and that’s precisely the point. That’s the other lesson: the more that you try to make it, it eludes.«

Theo Parrish: »At this point, I’d like to open up if anyone has any questions about the production process or anything like that, you can ask me anything. Nobody has anything to say?«

RBMA: »They’re scared of you.«

Theo Parrish: »No, they’re not.«

RBMA: »But to give them a few minutes to think about their questions, how is Detroit these days? You know, there is all this myth about Detroit, the abandoned city.«

Theo Parrish: »It’s cold, it’s snowing a little bit (laughter).«

RBMA: »I meant in regards to the music scene.«

Theo Parrish: »It’s pretty much how it’s been the past twenty, thirty years. And it’s a chunk full of the most talented people you will ever meet when it comes to music and that’s a consistent thing. It’s consistent with a region and that’s Ohio, Chicago. I call it the ‘rust in the water’-syndrome. That area in the States seems like the core of music as we know it today originated out of there and I think it’s remarkable. I mean, I really do thing it’s because of the high iron content in the lakes, the great lakes.

All that rust, all that steel, back and forth, all that stuff. It goes all the way down to St. Louis, we got everybody from Miles Davis to Quincy Jones, all these greats that spent significant time there. The Jacksons and not even getting into all the Motown, the obvious stuff. But just to answer your question, I think Detroit specifically is the home of contemporary music making and production today. And that’s coming from someone from Chicago. I think the original ideas that come out of the people there are just totally and completely amazing.

Most of the time, when I hear music from other places, it usually sounds like something I’ve heard. Maybe I’m biased, that’s a possibility, that’s a likelihood actually, but just listening out there and seeing it, it seems like a lot of stuff is coming, is not necessarily an echo from there, but you hear Jaydee and then you hear the Sa-Ra guys, you see the call and answer. Like: “Wait a minute, that’s gonna come back around.” I just know it, see it go out and come back. You see Juan Atkins and you see the Burial Mix, back and forth all the time. In terms of the community, it’s pretty much everybody knows everybody else. Everybody knows everybody else in some way, shape, form or fashion.

Or one of the many students of arts that go along there ’cause there’s the Funk root, that’s everybody and anybody that played along with the P-Funk guys and everybody that’s coming out of that ilk. From Brainstorm down to Amp Fiddler, down to… do we need a pause? Then you got all the people coming from the Hip Hop side of things, all the different cats coming out of there, Jaydee most likely, and all the guys that are put in a strange/’other’ category. There’s so many different angles to talk about Detroit, it’s almost impossible. ‘Cause really there’s more qualified people when you talk about Detroit. (turns to Rick Wilhite sitting in the audience) Rick, do you want to talk about Detroit (laughs)?«

RBMA: »He’s hiding.«

Theo Parrish: »He’s not hiding, that guy can’t hide.«

RBMA: »What would say about all this talk Detroit being an economically-abandoned place, does it feed creativity?«

Theo Parrish: »I’d say that’s an accurate description. To say it’s economically deprived is a big deal, but I think that has a lot to do with the whole ‘do or die’ attitude of the place. It’s like you get to be what you’re about or you get to faking it. Usually, if you fake it, you never make it, so it’s real simple. You do the best you can and what you got and you try your best to be as honest as possible.«

RBMA: »Realism?«

Theo Parrish: »Realism, yes, realism, it’s no joke. You see, it’s a strange question when you go: “What’s that place like?”, ’cause you almost do a disservice by putting it into words. (to the audience) Come to the Detroit Electronic Music weekend, I’m not going to say ‘festival’, ’cause we never know whether there’s going to be a festival ’till the day before. So, come to the weekend, there’s something going to be on. Come to Detroit first-hand, there’s rumor out there, there’s word out there: “It’s this and it’s that”, put it like this: everybody who is doing stuff, doing a performance there, you’re going to get the best performance you ever see from them.

‘Cause they know it’s one of the few times out of the year that we get some kind of attention, besides the music we get out to you via other channels. We know that people don’t come to Detroit, we want that to change. We need people to come and realize, that it’s a beautiful hot bed of talent and it’s there. We need it and that’s a big part of it. Once you come through there there, you’ll see guys you never heard of play the best sets you ever heard, play the best songs you’ve ever heard. You get the performance of people’s lives out of them during that week ’cause they know it’s time to put up a show during that time.«

RBMA: »And you get to see Theo Parrish, too.«

Theo Parrish: »Oh no, you don’t get to see me. I’m going to stay out at the side like everybody else and watch. I tend to pull back from it these days. Originally, when the first one went off, I did. But these days I’m much more interested in independent parties because there’s plenty of people to play on the stages or the festival, there’s not a lot of parties that make the kind of meat and potatoes of like, say, after the performance is done: “Ok, let’s go over there, catch a step somewhere.” I’m much more interested in participating in that aspect and those sort of things develop, but that’s the place to come. Everybody, please, come.«

RBMA: »It’s in may, right?«

Theo Parrish: »Yes, memorial day weekend. Everybody knows when memorial day is here in the States. For those of you not from here… Memorial day, what is the celebration of memorial day? What is it about? Is that just a miscellaneous holiday in the States? Does anybody know where that came from, memorial day? It’s like dead veterans day?«
(inaudible comment from audience)

Theo Parrish: »That’s what it’s about? My whole life I’ve never known what the hell that’s about. But, yeah, (laughs) memorial day weekend, come to Detroit. There you go, come through.«

RBMA: »Any questions?«

Participant: »I wanted to ask about signature sounds because when you hear a Theo Parrish record, you can tell pretty quickly that it’s a Theo Parrish record, in my opinion. Whether that’s Rotating Assembly or the older stuff that you did with a SP-1200 and I guess the question is: did you ever had a kind of list in your head going: “Ok, this is how I want to make this record. This is what I’m going to leave in, this is what I’m going to leave out.”? And how did you translate that sound to the live band as well.«

Theo Parrish: »A lot of that comes down to the mix, a large part of it. It’s far more intuitive than any plan or concept I could write down and come up with. It’s basically the idea recording a bunch of sounds, isolating those sounds and being able to work the sounds in between them. I really deal with the relationships between sounds, sonic conversations.

So, if you got a drum and that drum has a lot of mid in it, and you got a snare, and then you got a hi-hat on top of it, what’s going to be the best balance with those three elements and what are they going to carry over to the song, depending on the song? I don’t know if you’re familiar with Sound Signature number#4, where the timing flip-flops. I had no idea that I was going to have it flip-flop like that, it just ended up being a glitch that happened in the mix.

This track that I’m talking about, Sound Signature number#4, everything is played on the off-time, so you got the foot and everything else comes off (demonstrates off beat). Now, there’s a break in the middle where it goes (demonstrates straight beat) and you lose sense of where your timing is at that point. Happy accident, you know? And those sort of things, that kind of intuitive idea, I leave it alone, I don’t try to mess with. I try to keep my mixes as fluid as possible.

Now, since that song, there have been a lot of different changes in the studio. I’ve come across this wonderful piece made by Roland called the VS-880. I love that machine, I’m addicted. They made other incarnations of it, the 1880 and the 2480. I’ve upgraded to 2480, that’s when the band became really easy to work with ’cause I could isolate everybody. And once I got the main recording, I got that intuitive feel in the mix and that’s what I think you are talking about: the drop-out’s, the isolation and the change of the sonic relationships.«

Participant: »I’m wondering how you go about [mixing down], especially the early stuff like ‘Moonlight’ or something like that, where it’s kind of like a Dub thing where you got the channels running out of the sampler going directly into the mixing desk and you bring them in and out and it’s a one-drop kind of thing? Do you see what I’m getting at? I don’t know if it’s too difficult to explain.«

Theo Parrish: »No, I understand what you’re talking about. Yeah, it’s very much like that, where you have everything isolated running into a main board and then the main board is running it down to something that you record on a master. Simply, I mix it until I get it right. If it takes twelve times until I like the way it goes, it takes twelve times. If it’s the first take, which usually it is, the first mix is usually the one, I will put that one out. But yeah, it’s usually each channel isolated and track starts, if I like the beginning and I just follow the song as it goes. Does that answer your question?«

Participant: »It does.«

Participant: »Mr. Parrish, you mentioned at the beginning that you knew several DJ’s in the early days of House that you considered to be very good DJ’s and yet they didn’t make a name for themselves. How would you describe the difference between the ones that did make it and the ones that did not and what advice what you give to us?«

Theo Parrish: »Some of it is luck, plain luck. The rest of it is hard work, diligence and dedication. You can never go wrong having hard work, diligence and dedication in your ethic. Lazyness is probably one of the most common human traits worldwide, second only to fear. And if you can challenge those two things with what you do, then I can’t see how you couldn’t be successful no matter what as long as you stay on what you’re doing and remain true to your decisions.

That’s another big part. You see these guys and you’ve known them to be out there, if you talk about the selection process. Some guys are only interested in DJing and the point that they are making is: “Why would I want to put a record out if all I’m interested in doing is playing records?” Not making them, playing them. Because right now it’s such a move for career advancement, if you’re DJing, then: “Hey, I’m gonna make a track.” You can be pretty much sure that people are going to pay more attention to you. I would suggest: keep it solid, keep it pure.

Which one is tugging you the most? If you’re a DJ/producer, which one are you really interested in? Not which one you’re good at. Fuck what you’re good at! I mean, really, fuck what you’re good at! Because what you’re good at will come to you again. You don’t have to worry about what you’re good at, you’re always going to go back to what you’re good at. What are you being tugged at to do? That’s what you need to hone ’cause you can get good at anything. All of it is time, dedication and diligence once again.

So, if you say: “I want to be a producer”, that’s great. Are you good at it? Yes, ok. Hone it, great. What makes you live? What would you die for? Ask yourself that question. Would you die for a handful of records? And if you can’t answer that question honestly with a ‘yes’, then you need to think about the company you’re keeping when you’re around individuals that have answered that question for themselves already.

That’s the sort of thing. I know a lot of guys in Chicago right now that have been playing longer than most of the name DJ’s we know and would tear them a new asshole in a battle. But the point is, they stayed true to what it was they wanted to do. They knew that all they wanted to do was to play at those parties and they continued to do that. They might have dabbled in production but it was never anything that tugged them in another direction. So, they kept on living, they have families, they got regular jobs, but they keep doing it. So, it is really a personal choice. Being organized helps a lot.

Making sure that you’re not only a good selector but you’re a proficient purveyor of sound. It’s one thing to say: “I play all these great songs.” Who cares? Do you do those songs justice? Are you quick to give a person who asked you about the song the album cover, so they can read it, see what it looks like? Are you one of these guys that covers up the record so nobody can see it? That’s difference. Do you want people to hear it and share that or are you all about keeping it for yourself?

And that’s the double-edged bag again ’cause in the most times that’s a transition. You go from one to the other. You start off as a guy that marks off all his records with a marker so nobody can read it because you got your ego involved, but then over the years you start realizing it really doesn’t help anyone but yourself. And who gives a damn if that night you didn’t play that record well? At least this way (holds up a record sleeve) they know who to look for, they have an idea, they might have seen it before.

At least they’ll remember the name or something. You ain’t got to stop your set to have some guy who’s been trainspotting you all night and give them the proper nod, you ain’t got to do that. But, if you’ve got a minute, give them the album jacket and keep on stepping if they want to know the song. I mean, I’ve had guys taking pictures of the damn records that I played. “Come on man, give me a minute.” But the argument would be: why don’t you want him to know? It’s a little invasive, he can just ask me after I play.

But again, to answer your question, diligence, hard work, dedication, all with the promise of no money. Deal with that. Take five records and mix those records for a whole CD long. Just those five records, so that you know those records in’s and out’s. ‘Cause you know them under any circumstances, pitched up, pitched down, you will know it and knowledge of your tunes is more important if you’re talking about the combination of a doing a really good jock. It’s not about being able to play what’s hot now in a decent fashion or being able to mix two records seamless.

Who gives a fuck? You can train a monkey to mix two records, but can you tell a story? Can you tell a story and give enough monkey talent there to make it palatable to people? That’s the other part of it is making it listenable so people aren’t just running out. Because you still have to make converts of people who may show up. They’re used to hearing somebody go just ‘tck, tck, tck’ (same beat) all night. Robot. And they come in and they’re having a birthday party and they come to your party and you got a couple of stumbling transitions, they’re ready to leave.

But if they hang around longer, they might just get something from it. So you don’t want to make it too rough for them. Other times you may just go: “Fuck you, I’m getting down. Who cares? Not mixing nothing tonight.” So, double-edged again, but diligence, hard work and practice, practice, practice makes everything. Mix stuff that you’re not supposed to mix, learn how to mix. It’s not just about the beat, it’s about where sounds start and end in the apex of their frequency and where they’re going. All that type of shit you learn in mixing over and over again.

Now, making the transition into production, I think that’s a personal choice. I think that you’ve really got to be called to do it and do it well because eventually one of the two is going to be yanking and walking that line is even more difficult ’cause the pressure has changed. Go to Amsterdam for a weekend and have a ‘never-been’ being American. We’re not used to that kind of freedom, so we’re not even talking about all the different things that can assault you.

You’re sitting there getting you got all these things coming at you from different directions and you never have been exposed and you still have this talent you are working on as a work in progress. You really have to hunker down and really have to know what you’re doing in terms of the visceral part of it knowing these records. Know your records. Know ’em. And I say records, not songs, know them. It’s all based around that. I hope that answers your question. Thank you.«

Participant: »I want to go back to your DJ style. I know that you like to tweak the EQ’s and as a dancer usually 90% of the DJ’s messing with EQ’s, I just want to tell them to leave the record alone. How do you make [EQ] tweaking sound good?«

Theo Parrish: »Again, it’s a razorblade sort of thing. You’re walking it, you play a song and you also know that tweaking a little bit of the EQ, you can change the energy of the song. The danger of it is to EQ every song all the time for ever and ever. Sorry, but you’re just not going to be that interesting all the time. And another thing too is to tune into the song.

Do you know that song well enough to have it send chills up and down your spine while you’re playing it and have it so that the audience doesn’t even know that you’re EQing it or that they don’t notice that much? It’s really a balance ’cause sometimes you play out and you be EQing too much and then you stop EQing and the crowd doesn’t care anymore.

At that point you start being a selector, now you’re being an entertainer. Now people want to see you hop around and that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about putting on a show, it’s about communion, it’s about sharing. Some people argue that it is about a show, that’s fine, that’s their philosophical take on that. Mine is not that, mine is: let me share this with you.

Now, if in the process of what I’m doing is good to look at, makes you excited, great. But I could give a fuck. I’m more interested in people turning around as opposed to facing the DJ booth, head towards the speaker or find somebody to dance with. ‘Cause there’s a whole thing that goes on now where you’re going to see somebody DJ and you think that you’re going to a concert. You’re not going to a concert, you’re going to hear some records. So, go look at the speaker.

Turn the lights off and dig on that. That’s when that becomes the communion part. Now once you start adding, bring the high’s and the low’s into it and changing the sound dynamic, you can totally play songs that were meant for other settings into something else just by mere juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is the meat and potatoes of EQing. There’s no sense to EQ everything that comes on if everything is linear. Let’s say I’m playing a standard House set and everything is ‘boom-tss, boom-tss, boom-tss’ all night, if I EQ all the songs all the time and they’re all similar songs, what is the fucking difference? No one is going to care, no one is really going to get excited about that.

But if I pick my points and there’s a foot and I know the foot’s been going on for a while now and I’m feeling that, now some people want to count all the time: “Oh, the beat’s going to drop. One, two, three, four, boom. One, two, three, four, boom.” No. That’s fine, if that’s where you’re at, but if essentially you want to get some kind of an emotive thing going, you’re going need to know that song, this is going to touch you, right there at the spot and that simply just won’t do if people come up with all types of stuff while you’re spinning.

You got to be in that moment, you got to cut everybody out, you got to turn people away, you need to put that drink down, put that cigarette out and get to work. And really get to communion and make sure that those energies run through you. And that was the importance of what I as saying about that Stevie Wonder song ‘As’. When Lil’ Louis played it, I always associated it with mellow Sunday’s at home with my mum. When now it’s this banger. I’m like: “Wow! How did he do that?” It’s through juxtaposition, it’s what he played before, after and how he worked that song. What are the songs before and after what you’re doing is another part of EQing, it’s not so much the technical part of dropping the low’s, bringing the high’s, which EQ to use.

Personally, there was a mixer made by Numark. Hey Rick (talks to Rick Wilhite), is that the PPD with the 7-band? Alright, PPD 7-band Numark mixer, you have seven bands of EQ’s across. It wasn’t like a crossover where you have mid, high’s and low’s and you could just drop those, you had sub’s, mid-low’s, low’s, low-mid’s, mid-mid’s, hi-mid’s, mid-hi’s, hi-high’s and then high’s, all these different levels you can mess with. The idea of just the bass and just the mid’s and just the high’s, that’s more or less to me a new concept. When you work with a 7-band you have all these frequencies you can mess with and you can totally could tweak somebody out and it’s a lot more complex than the regular type of thing. So, when I would go out and I would hear these guys drop the EQ’s real simple, I’d be like: “What is he doing? That’s boring, I’m asleep.”

Over time you start realizing if I incorporate these two methods, then it changes everything. So keeping in mind that the selecting process, the spinning process is a work in progress, you’re going to grow, you’re going to change. It’s never going to stay the same, as long as you grow, as long as you’re into it. It’s never going to stay the same. The competitive part of it, you go through that the first seven years in my opinion. You’re worrying about everybody else’s transitions, their selection and the EQ work.

You want to be better than all of them, but after a while you start to realize it has absolutely nothing to do with you and your competitive streak in your ego. Nothing. That’s more to do with these individuals. Now that happens when you get to autopilot. Autopilot is when you start picking out records without even knowing what the fuck they are. Where you got a record, it’s wonderful and then somebody says: “Play the next song.” You’re grabbing that song and you end up playing it right at the right time that the record’s over and you have just enough time to bring it in and everything is just moving in a great line.

That’s called being ‘in line’. Being in line is beautiful. If you can get to that point, you’re in a really good shape, but those are very rare places. That type of selection makes EQing very, very easy because then all you’re doing is in a moment, in a flow, nothing is being held up. You’re mind isn’t stopping the process and that’s very, very difficult. Especially, if you got Serato or some shit.«
(inaudible question from participant)

Theo Parrish: »Well, the point was initially I was hearing these edits when I was younger… Oh, you know (flicks through his records), I got some of these edits with me.«

RBMA: »So we can listen to them.«

Theo Parrish: »Yeah, we’re going to hear a couple of these edits. I’m going to play a couple of these (holds a CD). I heard these edits when I was younger and they just weren’t around anymore. The closest I heard were a few on R&S, but nothing really amazing. I mean, R&S records, the repress, the old school one. I think what Danny Krivit did a lot is melodies, mainline stuff. Those were seminal, really serious pieces that Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles all these old Chicago jocks would play a lot.

You realize that this whole edit culture was something that’s underground in Chicago going from tape to tape to tape, all the time. Everybody was trading edits with everybody else. They’d never come out on vinyl. Now me, I would come across a song and I knew that: “Damn, I miss those edits. Fuck it, I’ll make one.” And I basically made them for me and my friends to play. I just put them out, small numbers, no big deal. And I figured that I got this one coming up and there’s another one, too and I got this remix I did of Jill Scott. I said: “Well, let me put it on it. Maybe they’ll pick it up, I don’t know.”

I was flirting with majors, thinking I would get some kind of response from them ’cause I did that remix with out any separated parts or anything, it was all done off of stuff on the album. I was like: “Well, they’ll pay attention to that and if not, they’ll be just an edit for the other side. We’ll just roll from there and just do a thousand copies and call it a day.”«

Participant: »Does she know about it?«

Theo Parrish: »Yeah, she knows about it ’cause I sent it to her. Well, I hope she knows about it, I really don’t know if she knows about it. But I sent it to her manager.«

RBMA: »She didn’t call?«

Theo Parrish: »She did call, but that was having to do with me going to a concert. I went to a Jill Scott concert in Detroit and I through a package on stage after the show. It went over the little barrier where they keep people away, landed on the stage. The manager grabbed it and threw it back at me. And then she started talking to the manager: “What as that all about?”, and I threw it back up there again. The manager came over and grabbed it, started to throw it back, she stopped him and grabbed it, grabbed the music. And the music, it was real simple.

It was the Sound Signature sampler and a couple of things I was working on that time on a CD, the remix wasn’t on there or anything like that. And so, she gets the package, I guess, she says ‘bye’, I just walk away and I go home. About a month later, I go to my answering machine and it’s some message from Jill Scott saying: “I got your music. I appreciate it, bla, bla. Thank you, never mind my manager Bill, he’s just trying to look out, bla, bla, bla. He’s very concerned about my safety. I’ll call you when I get to LA, that’s the next place I’m going, bla, bla, bla.” So I was like ‘oh’. I got this ‘Slowly, Surely’ and I heard that Hidden Beach was looking for remixes on it. And so I said: “Well, I do a remix.” Did the remix, sent it to her, got a call back but they weren’t interested.

But I thought it was funny later on that Jazzy Jeff had a remix and his got to listen to. That’s alright, Philly holds it down for Philly, that’s cool. But they said they weren’t interested, so I said: “Well, I’m a start a little shit, I put it out and if it does something, maybe that’ll make them to give it a second listen and give me a call or something.” So I put it on the other side of the edit. I never thought they would do anything, I never thought the edit thing would go anywhere. It was basically for me and my friends and just putting out a couple of tunes that we knew needed an edit, they weren’t around anymore and they were classics. It was the equivalent to any other Salsoul joint that you would hear or something like that.

And I said: “Shit, I just edit up some stuff.” Did it, people liked it and I charged an exorbitant amount because I knew the potential of them was A1: I didn’t want to rape the original people too much. A2: Also I knew that I had generate enough if they did come calling me to give them something. A3: I didn’t want everyone to have it. I didn’t want everyone to really go for. I wanted it to be something that if you really wanted it, you pay what you had to pay to get it. Because nine times out of ten you’d say: “Yeah, man, I remember that, let me get that.” Or: “Damn, that’s sweet, I want that.” And then your friends go like: “Man, that’s expensive.” “Yeah, but I don’t think these are be coming out anymore.” Little did I know there were monster waiting in the wing to boot[leg] my shit.

So they’re booting my unauthorized edits of these pieces. That was a big problem and it really pissed me off. This whole idea of doing these was to put give some kind of fun into this again ’cause at the time everything that was coming out was boring, everything was the same. I think at that point this whole (hums a walking bassline) was taken over. I don’t know where the hell it came from, but it took over, everything sounded the same. I was like: “Alright, that’s enough. I had enough of this. We need some raw shit out here, we got to do something. I got to have fun. I’m missing the fun. Where are the little pieces where you go to the store and you know you’re the only one around who has this?” You know, the ego kind of took over. “I want that, just for me.”

And that’s the other part of it, you can’t get away from too much of your ego and at the same time you’ve got to keep it in check. It’s a balance, everything in moderation. So that coming out, it was just basically, if people dig it, dig it. It wasn’t meant for everybody and I wanted to make something rare. ‘Cause once I knew I do 1.500 copies of each one, it was cut, discontinued, you can’t get them no more. That was it. These fools come and boot me. Now, there selling 2.000 copies on top of the little 1.500 I was doing. Now it’s raped, everybody’s got them, they got fake covers and jackets made up on them.

My point was, I wasn’t even going to put a stencil on it. It would be just these white labels that came out and they just be what they just be. People grab them and that’s that. But it wasn’t when people started booting that’s when I got to differentiate. So that’s when I started to use these stencils. I would get the records done, hand draw ‘Ugly Edits #6,#7’. I got a couple of them hanging out here. And I would write on them. I would write on a piece of cardboard and then cut it out and then spraypaint and put a stencil on each record, so you the original ‘Ugly Edit’ if you got paint and stencil. It’s only on one side, it has never any printing and I just spraypainted each one. Handmade in Detroit. People started to boot them and I could complain, but I couldn’t do anything about it. So you got a couple these little unreleased joints, stuff that I thought was interesting.

Maybe not an original production, just stuff that I thought needed a little bit of light. You play it and it’s not just your standard version of it or an extended Disco mix. It does a little something, it changes the arrangement, but it still be identifiable as ‘Slick’ by Willie Hutch. And it’s a little b-side cut on one side of an album called ‘The Mack’. But that’s the whole point behind it, I did ten. I got more edits than ten, but there’s one I will play later on that’s going to send everybody on a christmas vibe.

That was supposed to be ‘Ugly Edit #10’, but I changed it because I wanted one for myself. That would be just for me, that nobody could boot, nobody be charging another ten dollars. It’d be sweet if they booted it and they cut my price or something, but they go for the same. It was just a ‘mack’ move, somebody just tried to get me.

Every time you turn around somebody’s chopping up an edit, puts the song out, man, don’t buy those, buy them only if they mean something to you. Don’t waste your time or your energy on them if it’s just a retake of what happened and how it worked. You see that a lot in this overwhelmed technical field of dance music. Everybody’s quick to bite the next guy that does something original and turn it around and say they did it first. That’s the scariest thing about all this technology, it’s becoming more increasingly difficult to become and remain original.

Anyone can come and bite your shit and have it plugged up and hooked up and selling it as their own. That’s the problem and on top of it you got downloads. The copy of a copy of a copy. Yo, pay for the downloads. Pay for the records, more importantly. Get the records, invest in this. If you’re doing this, invest in this, it’s an investment. If you’re not willing to make the investment, don’t fuck with it. There’s plenty of other ways to make money in music, we have no shortage of that.

But if it’s something that means something to you, and you’re interested in able to do this independently, and keep the creativity that comes along with that, watch that shit. Fine, if that’s the way the world is going, I know that, but you got to have a balance to make sense of that shit. Anymore questions from you (points at Gerd Janson, the interviewer)? ‘Cause I got one more edit.«

RBMA: »Let’s hear it.«

Theo Parrish: »Alright, this is the last one. Any other questions about production or anything like that from anyone out there? If there are no more questions, I play the last one and pack up my shit and I’ll take it easy. That’s it? Ok, thank you very much for listening to me rave for a minute.«

RBMA: »Thank you very much for being here.«

Theo Parrish: »Thank you very much.«