Last year Richard Hardcastle AKA Solid State celebrated 25 years of DJing. We asked him if he fancied doing an interview to talk about his experiences as we’ve always found him an interesting and humble chap. Check the results out below, fascinating stuff from one of Sheffield’s unsung heroes.
I guess the first and most obvious question is how did you get into DJing in the first place?
You can trace it all back to the early 80s when, like most people in Sheffield of a certain age, I frequented the Leadmill and Limit. There was a ‘Golden Era’ for Sheffield music in the late 70s/early 80s, but by the time I was going out from around 1983/4, things were definitely getting a bit stale.
Take the Leadmill; the first few times I sneaked in with my sister, aged about 13, it seemed like the best thing ever. By the time I was going regularly, though, they had changed the DJs and their discos were going rapidly down the pan. After a while it began to strike me that they always seemed to be playing the wrong tune at the wrong time and ridiculously over-playing certain tracks… Plus they were forever dropping incongruous, vibe-jarring clangers with no sense of programming or flow. I clearly remember thinking – perhaps it was after Divine had clanged into Glenn Miller or some such car-crash – ‘Jesus, I could do better than this’, even before I’d worked out what ‘good’ DJs should be doing.
By the time I was actually ‘clubbing’, I already been into gig and records a fair while. I was 11 when I saw The Tourists at Sheffield City Hall, me and my sister collected a few records like Blondie, Tubeway Army, Sparks, Roxy Music, the Banshees and stuff like that. My sister was also best friends with the younger sister of Stephen Singleton from Vice Versa (and later, ABC), so we got to hear loads of interesting music via him at a very young age; Vice Versa and the Neutron Records roster; Clock DVA, the Stunk Kites and I’m So Hollow, plus the early Human League and Cabaret Voltaire. My first experience of putting a record on very loud in public was at a school disco when I played a Vice Versa track and the kick drum nearly bust the speaker. That was in 1981… A taste of things to come!
Then when I was about 13, I joined a band playing the guitar, and we rehearsed in my mate’s cellar.
My first live gig was at the George IV pub on Infirmary Road in 1983 or early 84, in a hastily-assembled band, with a singer called Spen who literally made it up as he went along – he was actually pretty good. All I can really remember about it was we played ‘Killing an Arab’ by the Cure and ‘A Kick in the Eye’ by Bauhaus.
What was Sheffield like in the pre-house days in the early 80’s?
Pretty drab, on the whole. As with most cities, there was a massively long comedown from the Punk era and trying to be weird and dour was what many people did by default. Goths were rife. The indie bands of that time were pretty shite, on the whole, except perhaps Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths, Killing Joke and a few other honourable exceptions. The golden era of Sheffield music was over and there was generally quite a negative, edgy atmosphere, which something you could probably say about the country as a whole in the Thatcher era, with all the unemployment and general social unrest.
From about 1983-86, I got heavily into the Cabs, Chakk, Hula, The Box, Workforce… all the Sheffield industrial funk and electronic bands. Between 1985 and ‘87 I joined a band called One Stop the World, playing funky guitar and programming the Roland Drumatix. We were on the cusp of being something danceable, but not quite getting there because half the band preferred the Fall and Hula to Trouble Funk, whereas I was increasingly gravitating towards the latter. Looking back now, I can see there was a generational divide within the band, between myself at 16/17 and the others in their early 20s who still loved the Limit and Leadmill. We all agreed on the Cabs, Hula and ACR as a starting point, but they were more into the arty/ angsty side of that kind of music, whereas I began to see them more as a gateway into ‘proper’ dance music. When I started going to Jive Turkey, expecting to hear the Cabs and Hula and being gutted that it wasn’t really on the menu, the proper funkiness of the music they played made all that stuff sound pretty old hat, rather quickly.
Looking back to 1984/85, the charitable view would be that the clubs were very open-minded and musically varied. You would hear everything from the Cramps to Divine to Cabaret Voltaire to Glenn Miller and James Brown and Grace Jones in a night. Unfortunately, it was usually the SAME Cramps, Cabs and James Brown tracks, to the point where you could practically set your watch by what the Leadmill DJ was playing. It absolutely did my head in.
To pep things up a bit I would hassle DJs for 400 Blows ‘Movin’, ACR ‘Sounds Like Something Dirty’, ‘You’ve Got the Power’ by Win, ‘Sensoria’ by Cabaret Voltaire, ‘Fever Car’ and ‘Get the Habit’ by Hula, ‘Let The Music Play’ by Shannon and ‘You’re the One for Me’ by D-Train. But the crowds were as bad as the DJs and they fed off each other, creating a downward spiral of complacency that meant sooner or later something else HAD to happen… And eventually it did, when Jive Turkey started in November 1985.
Since I first wrote my answer to this question I found this clip on Youtube that captures going out in 1984 perfectly. Although it’s a club in Batley, as far as the music, fashions and dancing are concerned, this could be easily have been filmed at The Limit or the Leadmill. I can watch this with quite a sentimental eye now, but at the time… well, you can imagine, Spear of Destiny and the Cramps were all very well, but by 1985, this stuff really, really had to go!
Even so, if you plough through the whole thing you’ll find a really wide variety of music – something that was lost later on.
When and where was your first DJ gig?
August 1988. I’d been buying House and other dance records for a while and I came back from holiday to find I had already been ‘nominated’ by some mates to DJ at a new night they’d been planning called Kangaroo. They were into all types of good music but were quite punk/rockist at heart and used to slag off all the House records I played them for having ‘no ideas’ in them.
They changed their minds after visiting the Hacienda (‘suddenly it all made perfect sense’, I remember them saying) and decided to start their own dance night. I think they envisaged it as a kind of antidote to Jive Turkey which was omnipotent in Sheffield, as far as the dance scene was concerned. Although it’s still rightly venerated now, Jive Turkey was pretty specialist and a lot of people found it quite alienating unless they were seriously into the music being played; that was certainly the camp they fell into. The more accessible Hacienda vibe brought them onside, though, and through their sudden conversion to the cause I got started as a DJ.
We met with a surprising amount of resistance and complacency when we were out and about, promoting Kangaroo. The general attitude when people realised we would be playing the records ourselves seemed to be ‘why would anyone else bother DJing? We’ve got Winston and Parrot for all that’. It was almost the same resignation and passive acceptance of the status quo that had made things so dull and stale before Winston and Parrot ‘arrived’… In stark contrast, though, Winston in particular was very supportive and came along on our opening night with Rob Gordon. They were really encouraging and helped us clueless newcomers sort our sound out, lugging bassbins around the dance floor and messing with leads and plugs while we looked helplessly on. Apparently we had no bass on the dancefloor… we never even noticed, we were too busy trying to figure out how to mix records. But I’ve never forgotten how their attitude contrasted to some of their ‘disciples’ – they genuinely welcomed the fact that someone else was getting off their arses and having a go, and I took that as a big ‘fuck you’ to the people who thought we were wasting our time.
It looked like our night was going places for a while; we even made it into the NME as part of a Sheffield club feature, but problems at the venue and, ironically, a rival night drafting in Winston and Parrot, put it to bed within 2 or 3 months.
Graeme Park was my role model as far as mixing records was concerned. Older Sheffield House people will remember the Steamer, which was his night when the Leadmill finally got their act together in 1987/88. As I remember, it came out of an earlier night called Makossa Slam, hosted by Winston and Parrot. Having watched him at work I knew beat matching was the way to go and I understood how it was done – in theory!
We got round the learning process, up to a point, by laboriously timing the BPMs of our entire record collection with my Casio RZ-1 drum machine. This worked surprisingly well as a stop-gap solution while we were learning the ropes. It was also a useful exercise in learning generic tempos for different styles of music that has stood me in good stead ever since. All my pre-1989 records still have the BPM stickers on them, before I realised they were all pretty similar depending if they were house, soul or whatever…
Before our opening night we borrowed £50 for new records. Our first big shock was that, even in those days, £50 goes almost nowhere when buying dance 12’’s – it’s a very expensive hobby. The first import we bought was a Bones and Musto record – ‘We’re Out Of Control’ by O.N.I.T., which sampled ‘The Sound’ by Reese and Santonio. I still didn’t really understand exactly what an import was and couldn’t get my head round it costing £5.25!
A few good things came out of Kangaroo, apart from the NME article. Some people found our music quite refreshing and we were noticed by local promoters Tiny and Martin, who were behind the best warehouse parties of the era. They began to use me for other nights. I played a ‘sound clash’ against Winston and Parrot on their home turf at Occasions in November 1988, managing ‘a draw’. Daft and inconsequential as the result was, it gave me a massive boost… I also got to play alongside them at one of the proper warehouse parties in a disused factory off the Wicker. This was the proper underground warehouse business and it was a massive privilege to get anywhere near it. Weirdly Winston and Parrot didn’t kick me off the decks for a while, even though they seemed convinced I’d just turned up out of the blue, uninvited, with a bag of tunes. They let me get away with maybe 45 minutes and then politely muscled back on… and I left very happy indeed.
I started my degree in 1988, staying in Sheffield and carried on DJing and promoting nights at Psalter Lane Art College. By 1990 there was just me left from the original Kangaroo trio left playing. Two of us had started using the collective name Solid State, but one night my sidekick, Tony Marshall, got pissed off with how competitive DJing was getting. At Psalter Lane we had younger crews, led by one Ben Rymer – who would come to our gigs and hassle us for certain records – trying to catch us out, basically – they were nice lads really but after a while Tony decided he couldn’t be arsed with it, leaving just me to carry on. I kept our name Solid State. It had started as a joke with my sister – I said that if ever we started a tacky ‘70s night, we would call it ‘Solid State’ in tribute to the crappy old cassette player we had as kids, which had ‘solid state’ written on the front. In my mind it was a byword for quaint, lo-tech electronic gear which seemed to fit with House Music even better.
As with other cities there seemed to be a boom in Sheffield in terms of house clubs in the 90’s, which ones stood out for you as a DJ/punter?
Yes, the 90s saw a massive increase in popularity for the House scene, which was good and bad. There was definitely a massive generational shift from 89/90 in Sheffield… The energy of the ‘bleep’ thing, mixed with a boom in recreational drug use helped to bring on board a lot of youngsters and the way it developed from then on wasn’t to everyone’s liking.
For myself, I had a massive issue with the music that began to filter over from the North West (via Belgium and Italy) which was obviously tailored to conspicuous drug use and seemed to lack all that we valued in House and Techno –depth, any degree of subtlety or sophistication… that sort of thing! With the flood of European imports, all that was being ditched in favour of cheap pyrotechnics – your screaming divas, overblown pianos or nasty stabbing noises, depending on its country of origin.
It’s honestly true that Sheffield was about 2 years behind in terms of the ‘E Culture’ you read about and saw on TV, it just wasn’t a big influence in Sheffield for ages. But when it eventually arrived, it left casualties in its wake – the main one being Jive Turkey, where it had all started.
I saw the Spinmasters (808 State DJs) play the Leadmill in 1990 and knew there and then the game was up for House as we knew it. Bearing in mind I was only about 21 myself, I remember the room was packed with real kids, who had clearly been bussed in from all over the North West, which judging by this, was another world entirely. As you can imagine, it was wall-to-wall curtains, ponytails and Joe Bloggs. Some looked no more than 14 or 15. But the main shock to me was that the cosy and familiar Leadmill suddenly resembled a warzone, there were bodies everywhere, kids were literally just passing out on their feet, completely bombed on pills… That, or dancing like complete lunatics with little or no sense of timing. This scene wasn’t about an appreciation of Black Music, it was all about ‘losing it’ on E’s and it jarred massively with what Sheffield’s indigenous House scene considered itself to be about – a real schism was about to happen.
The music, for someone like me who (bizarre as it might sound) prided themselves on never having visited the Hacienda, was also a massive culture shock. I remember Seduction ‘Groove Me’ was played – great, I was in my comfort zone with C+C – but the rest fell into that peculiar morass of Belgian, Italian and home-grown DIY Rave records that were totally of their time. Odd stuff like Science and Arithmetic that sampled ‘Something Better Change’ by the Stranglers, Italian screamers and noisy Belgian stuff… The Gospel According to DJ International was being ripped up in front of my very eyes. But without a doubt, this was a vision of the near future for Sheffield, just as it was pretty much everywhere else. Sheffield lost its individuality for a while, no question about it, when this stuff began to take hold in a large way.
Although, musically, I didn’t get along with a lot of the music the Spinmasters played, I was still quite excited by the fact that they were pushing things forward so ruthlessly. After all, 808 State were hugely respected in Sheffield yet seemed to be saying ‘yeah, we did all that stuff you liked – Nu-Build, Pacific State and wotnot, but this is how we roll now…. ’ ‘Something Better Change’, indeed… it was all quite punk rock in its way; completely disrespectful.
In Sheffield, from 89/90/91 the scene began to fragment somewhat. Jive Turkey at Occasions was still at the forefront in 89, but things were starting to change.
From 1990, you had the Palais which was where I played from 91-93, at the same venue as Kangaroo), which was the brainchild of Manchester ex-pats students. Then there was the pirate-radio-fuelled , early Hardcore scene which was based around nights like Creation at the City Hall Ballroom – even younger and even druggier.
Sitting somewhere in the middle of it all was Asterix and Space’s residency at the Limit that, to put it simplistically, used Bleep and ‘Hac Tunes’ as its musical starting point. So, wherever you turned, the Manchester model was prevailing and by 1991, Jive Turkey was dying on its feet. Quite rightly – if suicidally – for a club built on zero compromise, they didn’t reach out one iota to the student/young raver market that was flooding the other clubs. The attitude was that the Palais and others catered for that crowd – and they were welcome to them.
As I mentioned, I ended up playing at the Palais and considered it my duty to uphold traditional Sheffield standards as much as possible, but frankly it wasn’t easy. At the Jam Factory I was playing alongside Shelly’s residents Dave Seaman and Ralphy every Saturday to 1500 younger ravers and inevitably played along for a while with what I thought ‘the kids’ wanted to hear.
That ‘crowd-pleasing’ mentality came to an abrupt end in April 1992, when a mate of mine heard a mix tape I was really pleased with and said ‘shit, Rich, that’s really poppy, I’m surprised at you’. I was mortified and vowed to stay true to myself and to my Sheffield roots from that day forth! I’ve pretty much been ‘underground’ ever since, although I’ve always had a poppy and melodic side to my music. You can get a flavour of how I sounded back then on this pirate radio show from April 1992; my ‘commercial peak’ ha ha.
The rest of the 90s was an odd time, I felt that the best of it was definitely over by 1993 as far as clubs were concerned. But in true subcultural fashion, something new began percolating and I found myself sucked into the free party scene playing alongside Smokecreen (later Inland Knights) Callum (now in Ibiza with Space), and strangely Winston, who was co-opted by that scene at a time when he couldn’t get arrested in any nightclubs (if that makes sense)… then in October 1994, needing a break from it all, I went to Istanbul teaching English for 9 months.
On my return to Blighty in 1995 Anwar (who had run the Palais) was on hand with his next masterplan, The Republic. It was a hugely ambitious project, very consciously modelled on both the Hacienda and Ministry of Sound, and as history told, needed true heavyweights like Gatecrasher to make it a success. We tried to fill that massive club with people like Harvey, Ashley Beedle and Norman Jay, along with locals like myself, Parrot, Winston, Pipes, Greg Robinson, Pat Barry, Paul Ingall from Toko Records and Neil Hinde from Lisa Marie Experience. Ridiculous! But I gotta tip my hat to us for trying. We lasted under a year before the vultures swooped in and took over the reins, but at least me and Pat Barry got to play at the Edinburgh Festival with Rocky and Diesel in 1996 under the Republic banner.
It was from 1995/96 that Pat Barry and I began getting more and more into production, and we collaborated on material for Chris Duckenfield’s Primitive label, Sheffield’s Toko and most excitingly of all, Guidance Recordings, a bona fide iconic Chicago House label.
I also did some solo releases and most of what we did shows up on Discogs:
The rest of the 90s… Wax Lyrical was a grassroots ‘Sheffeeeel’ night based around Pipes, Winston, Ashton from 10 Denk, and the Sumo crew that embraced the Drum and Bass sound spearheaded by Metalheadz. Precious Materials etc alongside Hip Hop and Soul… very influential. The other clubs that stand out in the memory from about 1998 onwards are NY Sushi and Scuba. NY Sushi came out of a student hip-hop-orientated night called The Old Skool and was a very concerted exercise in widening people’s musical horizons. They were preaching to the converted but also reaching out to people whose ears, by that point, had been pulverised by Rave music for way too long and offering an alternative. It made a great impression on many people in the city and was a healthy influence that came at the right time. They’d have James Lavelle, Roni Size, Chris Duckenfield, Wall Of Sound, a crack team of local DJs all on the same bill in various rooms. The other biggie was Scuba, a kind of back to basics (no pun intended) House night that really helped get things back on the right track as far as House music in Sheffield was concerned. It also provided a platform for old hands like Winston to show his mettle to an appreciative younger crowd. I was lucky enough to play at both these nights on a regular basis and both were great nights.
Do you feel that the role Sheffield has played in dance music culture in the U.K has been overlooked down the years?
I definitely used to think so, and it was a massive irritation to me for many years. When Bill Brewster played at Scuba one night around 2000-ish, I remember drunkenly ranting that he had left out Jive Turkey from his book ‘Last Night a DJ Saved My Life’. He probably heard a similar thing wherever he went about local DJs and clubs being omitted, but anyway, he sorted it out for the second edition. I helped him to get in touch with Parrot for an interview, and that inclusion was really important for people’s perception because that book is almost regarded as ‘the definitive story’. If it’s not in ‘LNADJSML’, it’s almost like it never really happened…
Another example, not so long ago – Greg Wilson giving Sheffield props in his article about the Northern cities which were at the forefront of House in the early days. It was quite a controversial article – condemned by some Londoners as an over-simplistic, ‘North v South’ polemic, but again, it is important for perception and still welcome from a chauvinistic Sheffielders’ point of view!
For my own contribution, I wrote an article for Faith Fanzine about Parrot that many people said helped in terms of explaining Sheffield’s role and position, especially in the important 85/86-era when things were just starting to rumble.
So, overall, I think the situation has been remedied over the past 10 years or so, with various books and articles helping to set the record straight. In the wider picture, I think everyone with a bit of pop music knowledge is aware that – for example – The Human League, Heaven 17 and ABC came from here. But for many years, Manchester and Nottingham always seemed to get all the credit for introducing House in the North, and that used to wind me up massively, seeing the same half-truths trotted out in every article. Touch wood, it’s far less likely to happen now.
As far as early UK House history goes, you could make a very good case for Leeds and West Yorkshire as being a neglected piece of the jigsaw. The (Leeds) Warehouse was incredibly important in the pre-House and early House era and formed a strong part of the ‘school’ that eventually brought us Nightmares on Wax, Unique 3, LFO etc… the very backbone of the sound that is still synonymous with Sheffield, but if we’re honest, really belongs there.
How do you rate the current scene in Sheffield?
In terms of various crews bringing great DJs to the city the scene is amazingly good, and the ‘name DJs’ being attracted here are now the right kind of names. 10 years ago we did a night called Society and the types of DJs we booked back then seemed very much out on a limb with very little profile in Sheffield. Even someone like Daniel Wang attracted more out of towners than locals. We had Greg Wilson played only his second gig for us since his ’comeback’ and felt the need to I write a 7-page booklet to explain who he was and why they should care that he was playing in Sheffield. I think now, any one of a dozen nights might book those kind of DJs and pack a venue, which is great.
The quality of the venues, guests and resident DJs is top notch now in Sheffield’ The other thing worth mentioning is that there is a refreshing spirit of co-operation and far less pointless rivalry between crews than I remember for many years. Sheffield is more ‘on the map’ today than for ages, which is absolutely great.
Similar story with producers, there is lots of talent getting proper recognition further afield, it’s very inspiring. Huddle, Cargo, Hope Works, Kabal, thatmanmonkz, Loshea, Pipes, Parrot, Itchy Pig, Funcshn, Shabby Doll, Squarehead, Winston back on it… damn, I need to up my game!
You brought the likes of Greg Wilson, Daniel Wang, Al Kent, Balearic Mike & Recloose to the Steel City through your Society night, any standout memories from those parties?
Loads… I’m still very proud of Society and what we were doing at a time when many DJs on the emerging Disco scene couldn’t get arrested. It wasn’t even CALLED the ‘Disco’ scene at that time – that was a later fudge, because no one could agree on a name for the kind of nights that were coming up. Greg Wilson even suggested ‘the scene with no name’! Liam O’Shea commented that Society were ‘massively ahead of the curve’ as far as supporting disco in Sheffield was concerned. Hard to imagine now, but in 2003/4, people like Al Kent came to us for gigs, as there were so few like-minded parties around at that time.
We started at almost exactly the same time as Horse Meat Disco in London and slightly ahead of El Diablos in Manchester – imagine what we could have achieved if only we had a clue! Ha ha! But yes, we had many superb nights…
A couple that stand out are the Greg Wilson gig in Feb 2004. That was only his second gig and came about because I’d been involved in the warm-up at his comeback .a couple of months before, so we were the first club to book him straight after that. Daniel Wang at the Under the Boardwalk was also a classic. Daniel Wang and Greg Wilson are both great DJs to play with; you always find you raise your game in their company!
We also started the Society Recordings label that was an outlet for some edits I wanted to do and we swiftly moved onto original material, releasing Red Rack Ems first original EP as Hot Coins and the tracks from Bozzwell and Hiem. Then I split off and came up with All Out War, putting out edits by myself, Al Kent and Greg Wilson.
Here’s our full discography:
As far as the night itself is concerned, Society will always be associated with Dulo, which was run by the great Okie Dulo, who we are still in shock about losing over a year later. RIP OKIE.
What nights over the past 25 years stand out for you?
Kangaroo in 1988 didn’t really have many real standout nights, but it led to a couple. Around November 1988 on the strength of Kangaroo, we were asked by Tiny and Martin to play for them alongside Winston and Parrot at one of their warehouse parties off the Wicker. This was incredible as I’d been attending their parties for 2-3 years and they were the absolute bollocks. I rocked up and played all the biggies before they had chance to – a cardinal warm-up DJ sin ha ha. Winston is convinced to this day I gatecrashed the booth with my records and always gave me credit for doing that – as a sign of my determination to get on as a DJ, maybe – but no, I was definitely invited. Credit to Winston and Parrot for not just telling me to fuck off as they didn’t know anything about me playing until I turned up.
Just before that, I played in a sound-clash in Occasions (the Fez) against Winston and Parrot and it was declared ‘a draw’. That was a huge thrill for me, aged 19, to come out creditably playing ‘against’ my DJs heroes on Soundlab decks only about 3 months into my Djing career! I’m sure they just thought it was a bit of a farce, but hey…
We had some truly INCREDIBLE nights playing at the Palais from 1990-93. If you weren’t around to see the ‘E’ scene at its height there’s not really a modern comparison, the best idea I can give you is to look at the Quadrant Park videos on Youtube. Although for full-on manic energy Quad maybe had the edge on most places (scary as fuck according to mates of mine who went over) this is basically how the Palais looked at its peak. The atmosphere was unreal. Our resident guests Dave Seaman and Ralphy also played at Shelley’s alongside Sasha and in their opinion, for a few short months in 1991/92, the Palais’s atmosphere trumped even that hallowed E-turf.
A few great gigs that spring to mind are the Jam Factory New Years Eve 1991/2, warmups for Sasha in ’92, then playing with Tony Humphries at Sheffield Hallam University in ’93, Daniel Wang in 2004 and many, many Scuba sets, hard to single out particular ones… Capetown and Johannesburg in 2000 was AMAZING, unforgettable.
I recall couple of sets at Scuba where I played solo all night and managed to achieve the coveted ‘silent crowd’ effect. No, I don’t mean the crowd fell asleep, it’s that thing you get only occasionally in a packed club when the crowd is so zoned in that you can hear a pin drop in the quiet sections – everyone is completely focused on the record and what its about to do. Much as DJs enjoy a whooping, clapping crowd, that’s the reaction I value the most as it shows people are really paying attention to the music and not just reacting to a beat! I’m suspicious of rabble-rousing DJs who try to get the crowd whooping and clapping for the sake of it, the records should do that all by themselves in their own good time.
Hupendi Muziki Wangu with Kelvin Andrews in Stoke was ace from that point of view and I remember I got the silent thing going there, too (2005)… The Secret Society nights at Stag Works after Dulo were modern warehouse party classics, and more recently I had a great time at Delve Deeper playing my ’25th Anniversary’ set.
I absolutely LOVED playing at the Garden Festival in Croatia in 2012… the system I got to play on and the general vibe of the setting were amazing…
My 25th Anniversary year 2013 was a great year for DJing, a small but select group of gigs, like helping out on the warm-up for Nicky Siano. As well as Delve Deeper, another date I remember very fondly was Wildstyles, run by Benson from Asterix and Space, where I played a pre-1992 House set to a small but appreciated crowd and loved every minute, proper crate digging session.
But the highlight of 2013 definitely came right at the end in December, when I was asked back to play with Danny Webb at Greg Wilson’s 10th Anniversary gig in Manchester… such a brilliant night from start to finish, the crowd was great and Greg Wilson, needless to say, marked the occasion brilliantly. I recreated my mix from the night when I got a chance and you can hear it on soundcloud along with the Delve Deeper 25th Anniversary set and the Fantasy FM show, amongst lots of other goodies.
You’ve included several warm ups in your standout gigs, do you think the art of the warm up is dying out nowadays?
I would say it’s been on shaky ground for as long as I can remember but people are definitely getting the hang of it now! The rules are fairly straightforward – don’t try and steal the main DJ’s thunder by getting there first with the biggies and make sure you stamp your own musical identity while being respectful of where the main DJ is coming from – in other words don’t try to copy their style, just try to get the crowd ready and in the right frame of mind for the main event. All in one smooth, natural motion!
But the other thing to remember is that ‘warm-up’ records can also be the stand-out bombs at peak time if you pick your moment. Peak time sets shouldn’t be all ‘peak time’ records! If Sasha taught us anything, it was that.
What have you got coming up in 2014?
The All Out War Radio show is now monthly on http://www.funcshn.com and the main focus for me at the moment is new studio work, the results of which will be unveiled in good time.
I’m also on the lookout for a new bar residency, a place to kick back on a monthly basis. If anyone reading this can suggest a place to play my vinyl where it will be appreciated by open minded folk, please let me know!
I’d like to say a massive thanks to Huddle for all you’re doing for the quality end of Sheffield dance scene and for giving me this chance to speak… apologies for the monumental wait for the finished piece!