By |Published On: May 11th, 2021|Categories: Interview|

Have there been any positives at all from being at home the last year?

It was nice to sit down and see the wood for the trees. I was quite ill in February, possibly with Covid, when I got back from China. I was really, really tired. I did really need a break and that was a positive, and just having a bit more time to see family members.

Did you discover any new hobbies?

Yeah, how to almost go bankrupt by using Amazon too much late at night. I’ve been addicted to online shopping. I look back and think why did I buy that? It’s so easy. It’s so addictive.

 Can you can you think of the best and worst things that you bought?

There were no best things. The worst thing I bought was some of those nose hair trimmers. Because I kind of needed them. But I bought a six pack, and I don’t need six. They came and I opened them and I was like, wow, this is my life now.

But yeah, other little things like I’ve been able to get into stuff like 70s and 80s jazz and funk, rare groove stuff that I grew up listening to. I really enjoyed discovering a lot of that again.

Of course now the problem is, is it’s been so long. Everyone now has got anxious about, like, is Coronavirus going to come back? What’s it going to be like? We’ve got no idea. It’s been so long now it’s like I’m a pensioner. And playing in clubs is just something I used to do. Like I spend days looking back thinking yeh, I used to be a DJ. So you know, I’ve got to get ready to physically and mentally get back out on the road, which that in itself is not going to be easy.

And are you up for it? Are you ready to go back to the same schedule?

I’m thinking I really don’t want to do as much as volume of work. I’m going to probably just do a little bit less than I used to do. Because it’s pretty intense. Multiple gigs in a weekend, traffic, missed transport links, getting home at 8am, it’s hard work at 50. I’ve got to, you know, preserve myself and not get worn out.

Is part of that fasting? Goldie said you got him into it in an Instagram video he posted.

[Laughs] Nah! He must have been taking the piss. I was watching I’m A Celebrity and saying to my girlfriend I could never do this because the lack of food thing would kill me. I’m a ritualistic eater, especially at night. I just eat shit. And I actually really look forward to doing it so much. It’s a real highlight. Watching TV at night and eating a lot of shit.

So what is keeping you busy in the day, are you deep in planning for the Outlook Orchestra show you’re doing at the Southbank Centre?

It’s in early stages at the moment. We’re just developing a few ideas. I think once lockdowns and restrictions ease it will be a lot easier. It’s still pretty difficult to get loads of people together, so we’re going to wait until a couple of weeks then get moving properly with it.

Have you got plans for what you want the show to represent?

It will be all the classics, the well known jungle tunes that have stood the test of time. The ones that mean something to us and a lot of tracks that we broke, so it’s a mixture of all of those things.

There are so many, is it hard to choose?

Yeah, it’s really difficult. There are so many tracks in any sub genre. So, you know, liquid, speed, Metalheadz, there’s almost whole genres you could miss out. But I think with jungle classics it’s a lot easier. There’s about 30 or 40 tunes that are standard that you’ve kind of got to put in there.

It’s interesting that you say you’re going to focus on tunes that you guys broke. Do you think DJs can still break a tune these days, with everyone having such easy access to the internet and everything being shared so quickly?

Not as easily, no. We broke a lot of these tunes on radio. It doesn’t happen so much now that you get exclusives that people don’t have. Back in the day, I could have a tune that has since gone down in history as a classic for six months without anyone ever knowing what it was. Now with the release schedule, you get a big tune, they bring out a lot quicker because you don’t have to press vinyl, it’s a lot easier to just put your tunes out there.

People tend to forget big, big jungle tunes sometimes took eight, nine months to actually get into the record shops because it was a lot more difficult back then. Now, a big tune is out in the public realm within three or four weeks.

Are you still up for trying to conceal big tunes, like they used to cover up the labels back in the day. Do you miss that mystique?

I miss the mystique. The annoying thing is these days people give you a track and they tell you not to play the radio. Well, why? Because a lot of the time they give exclusives to non drum & bass DJs. Well, that doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. I just play them anyway or tell people not to bother sending me them. I don’t get it, I think it’s stupid.

But I grow accustomed to things. I’m not mad romantic about vinyl and shit like that. Yeah, I appreciate vinyl. But you know, you move on. I don’t really have that nostalgic feeling because it can be a trap. It can be dangerous if you think everything was better. It weren’t really. People always say raves were better. They weren’t, they were just different. When you start acting like that you show you’re getting older. To be honest, I miss the mystique and exclusives more than the vinyl.

If you can no longer stand out because you haven’t got these secret tunes up your sleeve, how do you – or upcoming DJs – stand out and differentiate yourself?

Style. I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter what tunes you got, it’s the way you play the tunes. So you got to work harder in your selection. Having the exclusives is great, but only if you play them right. All the great DJs have a unique style I can recognise as soon as I walk in the club.

What is your own style?

I really don’t know. I don’t ever analyse or listen back to my sets. I don’t ever practice sets or mixes. I go out there and do it properly ad lib. I can play darker if I’m in that mood, or more soulful if I’m at Swerve. I don’t think I have a style – people say liquid funk, but they haven’t really listened to my sets from Coventry from Eclipse in ’92, I weren’t playing soulful back then.

I don’t mind being pigeonholed. You know, liquid funk is something that I developed. So I’ve got no shame about people using that tag. But I can morph well into any situation and I think that is something you have to do well as a modern DJ. You have to work with the crowd and not be up your own arse.

How does your status as a godfather influence how you play?

I’m not falling into that old school trap. As much as I love old school. I don’t want to be an old school DJ. I don’t want to be a DJ playing tunes that I’ve been playing for years. That’s the last thing I want to do. I enjoy new music too much. Old school DJs fell out of love with new music. They tend to just drift back into what they know. Which is fine. Absolutely. They’ve made a career out of playing music from 30 years ago. But that’s not for me at all. That’s not progression for me. I love drum & bass. I absolutely love it. I want to be pushing it. Drum & bass now is so broad. There are so many different angles to it.

So I guess that means that the work element of your job is keeping your ear in and making the effort to search out the new music and look in different places, and not just rely on what you know?

That’s just instinctive. It’s not it’s not a chore.

Do you set time aside to do that specifically in a week?

I do. I will listen to everything in one go. I find it easier doing it that way. So I listen to 300 tunes in one go and then pick and choose.

Is that part of the reason you have kept up the Rinse FM show so religiously during the last year, the quest for new music?

Yeah, especially now you’re not DJing in clubs. It’s very important that you get a chance to play new music. And, you know, radio has always been… you never have that pressure to please the crowd, you kind of do what you want. So you can play brand new music, music that you’re not really sure about, play it and test it and get a better idea of what it sounds like in the mix. Me and Groove started out on radio so it has always been almost as important to us as playing the clubs.

Does doing the show give you the same buzz that it did in the pirate days?

We didn’t know what we were doing then. It was exciting, we were younger, you had to be careful not to get caught in the studio by the DTI, who used to basically chase us around. When you did a night-time show sometimes you’d get a knock on the door, the place would get raided, and they take all the equipment. Every month they used to find where you were and take the mast down and you had to move and sometime you would be off the air for a couple of months.

You used to DJ on terrible equipment as well. So, you know, everything balances out. It was exciting but at my age now, I don’t want to be running away from the police and things like that. Those days are over for me. But at the time, it was fun.

I guess it was the same with the parties themselves, right, they were a little more wild back then?

I was younger, so you know that’s the thing about the romanticism of the old days. It was amazing. It was all new. It was the start, we were falling in love, getting the butterflies, but just cause we’re settled now it isn’t any less enjoyable. It was just a bit more unpredictable back then.

You also worried about it all coming crashing down and having to go and get a job, so you worried about your future more but were also carefree at the same time. You were young enough to know if it ended you had time to do something else. It was a voyage of discovery. We didn’t know it but we was making history. We had the Kiss FM and Radio 1 shows, we had Rage. We were only in our twenties. But the feeling is no different now. I still do gigs now that would make it into my top 10 ever gigs. I still get the butterflies before I DJ.

Is that the thing that you have missed the most in the last year, that adrenaline rush of being in front of a crowd?

Yeah. But also socialising. Not being around people is what I miss. Before the pandemic I was in China, America and New Zealand. It’s amazing meeting people from all different cultures and you know, you get taken out by people for dinner and eat amazing food you get looked after.

I’ve been going out since I was 15 and I’m now in my 50s so I’ve literally been going out every week. So being a soul boy when I was younger, I’d been into reggae and sound systems when I was 18/19 and then moving on to acid house and jungle. So it’s been a It’s been an amazing ride.

 

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