Welcome to FunkyJ.com

So, here it is, the new and improved FunkyJ.com for 2016.

When I started writing for dB Magazine and inthemix in 2002, the web was nascent and you had to look hard for material on the various artists I interviewed. Nowadays with wikipedia and google it’s really simple to find information, and I hope this writing will be added to that pile, and be useful to others.

It’s a little laborious copying and reformatting all my old interviews, so it will take a while to get all my content online again.

However I feel my writing is still valuable, not only for myself as both dB Magazine and inthemix have changed radically over the last 14 years and some of my stuff has vanished, but I also hope it’s useful for anyone who may interview these people in the future.

Oh, and just a note about the articles – the wordpress publishing dates I wrote them – or at least the creation dates the computer recorded me writing them. Publishing dates would have usually been a week or so after the creation dates. There may be some errors with this and the articles in general, but I present them as I wrote them, not as they were edited.

The Freestylers

The Freestylers have been rocking dancefloors for years, but just lately they have absolutely blown up with their tune Push Up. It’s topped the Aussie music charts, is frequently heard on commercial radio and in television advertisements, and has been ruined by that William Hung wannabe, Australian Idols’ Flick. The success of their follow up Get A Life is evidence of their skills and talents, proving they’re not just as flash in the pan as they’ve also got two previous albums which have sold over 350,000 copies, and a string of remixes to their credit. They’ve been DJing for the last 10 or so years and I spoke to Matt Cantor earlier in the year just as Push Up was released. Speaking to the other half of the duo, Aston Harvey recently, I asked what kind of impact the success of Push Up and the album Raw As Fuck had made on them.

“It’s hard to take in because obviously we live on the other side of the world, and we only get told “Push Up is this number or that number’”, Harvey begins. “I get texts from friends in Australia saying ‘you don’t understand, your record is massive over here’. It’s a brilliant feeling, and sometimes its quite good when you don’t live in these countries and you’re getting this massive positive feedback. We didn’t set out to make a record that crossed over so big… You just make a record, and know that you like it, and put it out there. With the Freestylers, we’ve had record companies take this single and that single and do what ever with it, but this is the first time we’ve had one single do pretty well across the board.”

“We weren’t even thinking of making an album, when we decided to make Raw As Fuck. We just had done a load of tracks and put them together. Push Up went in the charts in England, but because we’re so dominated by house music and the money process, we didn’t get too high, but it put us back on the map in the UK. It’s been doing well in Europe, and I’ve just found out in South Africa we’ve got a Number 1 record!” he exclaims with a laugh. “You can’t really magically do another Push Up, but there will be something along those lines. Mat and I aren’t getting any younger, so there might be a track similar, try and get a pension going!” he laughs. “Not saying it’s going to be cheesy,” he quickly adds, “I think the reason why Push Up has done so well is it sounds like a commercial record, but it also sounds like a really cool record – it sounds well produced. It doesn’t sound like an amateurish pop act just out to make money.”

Whilst we missed the last DJ tour back over the Easter long weekend, the Freestylers band will be making it to Adelaide for the Big Day Out. “The band involves 6 people on stage, an MC and a singer, bass player, guitarist, drummer and me on keyboards, scratching and sampling. The MC is Surreal, who’s not on the album but has been with the band since the start of the year, and the other vocalist is Valerie M, she’s touring with Groove Armada at the moment, she moonlights between us,” he chuckles. “She sang one song on our second album (Told You So). And I’m hoping a girl called Julie Thompson, who does sing on the album (Too Far, Losing You), she plays guitar and I want to experiment a little with that, to see what happens.”

“I find having a band takes us to another level,” Harvey goes on to explain. “It’s really expensive to get a band together to travel, etc… It’s not like we’ve been five mates who’ve been playing since high school who split the profits or whatever. I have to pay all these different musicians to perform. And then there’s all the waiting around all day – sound checks and all that. As compared to DJing – just turn up with a box of records, you can be a bit drunk and that, it’s completely different. But I love doing both!” he exclaims. “Matt doesn’t do anything in the band… well, he and I were doing the same thing, and he decided he doesn’t really like touring with the band. Yet It’s worked out for the better, because it’s quite good to go away and come back fresher. Going away, getting ideas on the road.”

Like all Englishmen, Harvey loves Australian weather. “It’s looking a bit cold and drab here in the UK at the moment,” he laughs. “I’ve only ever played in Adelaide once, and we played in this really weird kind of club, it felt like a school hall,” he chuckles. He’s talking about the old Skylab, above Minke, about a gig that happened 3 or so years ago, and it was a mad night of Adelaide’s typical small but up for it crowd. “I’m sure we’ll go down pretty well!” For those who can’t wait to see them live can pick up Raw As Fuck with a limited Remix CD featuring mixes by Ronnie Size and Krafty Kuts amongst others, as well as pick up the Fabric Live 19 Mix CD featuring Surreal MC.

Z-Trip

You can hear the frustration in Zach Sciacca’s (otherwise known as Z-Trip) voice as he talks about copyright laws. Known for the incredible Uneasy Listening Vol 1 mix CD, done in collaboration with DJ P, this master of the mash and blend has become a pin up boy for the fight against the incredibly archaic copyright laws which has seen him get caught up for nearly a year trying to get tracks for a mix CD cleared. This is not about getting samples cleared – this is about getting clearance for mixing two songs together. It’s like being told you can’t play two certain songs together on the radio.

“The whole concept of having to clear something is limiting”, Sciacca explains. “If you want to put out something legitimate, something that you can sell and people can buy, it’s hard. I’m an advocate of people doing it on their own, doing it independently and getting it out, because that’s the most important thing – getting it out there. It’s such a shame that it’s like that,” he pauses. “There’s no way to make an album like the Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique for instance. That album, financially, could never be made. You couldn’t sample The Beatles – and they did – but people weren’t aware of it then. Now there’s sample clearance house business set up and you have to go that route.”

“Most of the stuff I’ve done until about now has been under the radar,” and this includes Uneasy Listening Vol 1, an amazing mix of 80s rock and electro. “People come to my shows, they tape it and put it on the internet, because people want it. That’s the funny thing, there’s such a demand for it that industry people should be more willing to allow things to be cleared. There’s money to be made if they want to make money from it.” The resistance comes from the record companies and their profiteering. In an article on DownhillBattle.org Sciacca states, “The industry is so old school in thinking, most can’t wrap their head around the concept of a work A and a work B coming together to form work C.” “I think artists are slowly getting into it,” he tells me. “At first they were a bit reluctant, but it’s starting to rise to the surface, become such a mainstream thing, that people are going to want to do that kind of thing. I did get to meet Barry de Vorzon, the guy who did the Warriors theme song,” which is on Uneasy Listening. “I met up with him, played it to him and he really dug it. At some point I would like to sit down and maybe collaborate with him.”

Sciacca has also collaborated with Del Tha Funky Homosapien in the past, and is collaborating with Lyrics Born on his debut album, due out next year. “Going through the route of trying to clear everything just takes forever, and I ran into a lot of stop signs from people who just didn’t get it, didn’t want me to use their stuff, so I had to a different route, and that was to produce an album rather than make one using other people’s music,” Sciacca says of the work he’s doing. “I don’t want to give too much up because I’m saving that for a surprise, but there’s some people I had to really search out to find, and some that were good friends. It’s a good thing though, it was a good process and I’m really happy with the way it’s turned out.”

But Sciacca is first and foremost a DJ. “I’m a DJ and playing to a crowd is my biggest pay off and also my biggest thrill. It’s what I enjoy the most and how I built my career and reputation,” he says proudly. “I don’t really worry too much about record sales or things of that nature yet, I guess I will when I put the record out, but my biggest concern is that more people come to the shows, and maybe buy a T-shirt or something, because that’s money I will see directly, versus going through the channels of me putting something out and the money gets spread out to all the people I’ve sampled, and then the record label, and at the end of the day I might get one or two cents”.

Sciacca will be hitting Australia for the first time next week, and thanks to Traffic we will get to see him perform in Adelaide alongside the Life Savas. Having downloaded a few of his DJ sets from djztrip.com, expect the unexpected from his performance. “It’s very dance floor based, I’ll be trying to rock the party. I like to be different from any other DJ you’ve heard, I pride myself on that. 98% of what I do is on vinyl, I do a few things off CD, but most of the blends and mashups I do are on vinyl,” he states, and having heard those blend I simply cannot wait to see him do it live.

Not only does he allow his sets to be downloaded for free, Sciacca is an active member of his forums, answering questions and giving his opinion on mixes and music in general. “The website isn’t really a big deal in so much as putting photos and such up”, he explains. “My main concern was to have a community where people could ask me stuff and I could interact with them. Sometimes it’s hard to speak to a fan or to someone who’s at a show when you’re packing up or just about ready to go on, so if I can answer things at my leisure, you know at 4 o’clock in the morning in my underwear, you know?” he laughs.

Lee Coombs

Lee Coombs is a quiet, unassuming, almost shy person to talk to. He doesn’t mince words and dribble on, which in some ways makes interviewing him rather difficult. I spoke to him the day after his birthday, and he told me he didn’t do anything big because he’s been too busy. Instead he just had a “quiet one”.

His debut artist album Breakfast of Champions is all but quiet, and given the popularity of tunes such as Push Up by the Freestylers here in Australia, I will not be surprised in the slightest if it does exceedingly well here. Being extremely dancefloor friendly, it’s full of fantastic tunes that transcend genres. It also features collaborations with some of the breaks scene’s biggest stars, including Andy Gardner of the Plump DJs, Jem Panufnik from Soul Of Man, Christian J and Dylan Rhymes. “It’s named after a party in San Francisco run by the Space Cowboys,” Coombs says of the title, after I suggested it could be based on Roald Dahl’s book. “It’s a New Years Day afterhours party that happens once a year,” he goes on to explain. “It’s just brilliant, one of the best gigs I’ve done, and they’ve made me part of the crew, and I thought I’d name my album after it. It gives props to them.”

“Collaboration is always 50/50 with me, but if I’m in my studio I’m the one working the kit,” Coombs states. “Everyone was great to work with. They’re all friends of mine, we all DJ together and love each other’s production work. The reason I choose to work with them is because I knew it was going to be great, and it panned out nicely.” The remixes Coombs has included on the album “are bonus tracks really, just to add a bit of spice” Coombs states. “No one’s heard the Oakenfold remix before, and I thought I’d be nice to put that on there”. Plus Oakenfold gave Coombs a big break by letting him do the critically acclaimed Perfecto Breaks album in 2002, and is no doubt once again Coombs giving ‘props’. “The New Order is a bit of a favourite of mine, a bit of an anthem, and it was nice to go over it again. I think my production has gotten a lot better since I made the original, which I made four or five years ago now. It’s just a bit of a treat for people.” The blend of genres is subtle and understated, but each track sounds perfect both in itself and in the sequence of tracks. “It’s music I absolutely love, that’s why it’s all in there. I can’t make music unless I’m really into it. Really feeling the electro vibe at the moment.”

When not working on the album, Coombs has been really busy touring the world DJing. “I’ve been touring all over the world basically, just got back form Hong Kong and China. It’s quite an experience over there!” he enthuses. “The music is new over there. The scene of “breakbeat” doesn’t exist as such, but it’s what they all seem to want to dance to, as though it’s a natural thing. It’s the first time they’ve had the opportunity to have clubs and international DJs and breaks seems to be what they want to go off too. It’s great!” He compares it to Australia a few years ago. “Yeah, it’s a little bit like Australia, but they’re into the more electro sounding stuff, not so much into party breaks.”

Not content with just touring or DJing, Coombs wants to concentrate more on his record label Thrust Recordings. “It took a back seat when I finished the album off, but now I’m getting back into it. I’ve got strong releases lined up. It’s something I really want to be pushing in the future,” he says. “I’m pretty much doing everything, apart from you know, the real office type work, but all of the A&R, all of the coordinating of the artwork and press releases, all of that. The next release is a re-release of one of my old tracks called “Oscar Goldman – Thrust 2”. It should be out in December,” just in time for Christmas!

I recently heard that Coombs was interested in opening his own club back in England, or possibly San Francisco. “That would be nice, but I don’t remember saying that!” he laughs as I explain I read it on a Polish music scene website. “I’d love to have my own club and control the music for a night, make what I do really work as an event. It would be nice to get people to come because they like it on a weekly or monthly basis.”

Tayo

It was perfect summers day when DJ Tayo, the head of Mob Records, also known as “Dread at the controls” after his successful KISS FM radio show, and one of the leading new school breaks DJs last played Adelaide. With his biggest crowd he rocked the Beach Party in Semaphore with an incredible blend of hard breaks and funky melodies, infused with a dub mentality. “It was the first time I did a good show in Adelaide,” he states truthfully. “It’s always been hard work in Adelaide, the breaks scene has always been a little slow, but Blake’s (promoter of traffic nightclub) stuck by it, and he’s kind of made it happen a bit.” In that time we’ve had but a few new school breaks DJs visit our shores, much to my chagrin.

Now following up his new album, Beats & Bobz vol 3 Tayo is set to make a much welcome return to Adelaide in the new year, and I hoped that he hadn’t gone the progressive route of many of his contemporaries such as DJ Hyper. “Ewww… it is not progressive… ewww!” Tayo laughs, discussing his new album. “It’s definitely harder, it’s got it’s own type of flavour as it’s very dub orientated. It’s got a few of my own productions; two with Acid Rockers, and it’s got people like ed209 and Sons of Mecha. It may surprise a few people as I’ve never had that stuff on compilations before, but that’s kind of where my head has evolved to. Doing a compilation is a way to stick your head out and say here’s where I am at now.”

Tayo has stepped down from the “label boss” position in recent times in order to focus on his own and collaborative productions, as well as to concentrate on DJing. He says that he lost something being label boss, and by stepping back he’s become excited about it all again. “I’ve never really enjoyed the boring but necessary things. I don’t think it helps your creativity or enthusiasm for things, you know? Sometimes I was getting a feeling of going to ‘work’… I’d have a pile of promos sitting there I’d have to go through. Now, I was slightly upset that with a pile of promos sitting there I was thinking of it as a chore, and that’s not supposed to happen,” he says matter of factly. “But I’ve got excited again. I’ve been trawling through websites, hearing tunes, contacting producers, and frankly doing their heads in until they contact me,” he chuckles. “There’s some brilliant music around, Aquasky, Sons of Mecha, the Breakfastas, have got my interest up again. Plus my own productions with people like Acid Rockers, Aquasky, I know what I want to look for in a tune, I know what I want to look for in a set, so it’s refocused me a bit.”

Part of the rediscovery of this excitement is the fact that Tayo has started making his own tunes with his refocused energy. Although he has worked with Aquasky and Acid Rockers and used their equipment, he finds himself being able to just use a computer to compose his tracks. “I’m fairly new to the production process, so when you start it’s a lot easier to start on computer rather than the outboard gear,” he says of the equipment he’s using. “If you start tomorrow it’s easier to spend 1200 quid on a Mac or PC, and 700 quid on Logic, rather than outboard stuff which is going to cost thousands and thousands. There’s a beauty in using the analogue stuff,” he muses “but for space and practical reasons, you can do it all on computers now.”

Another reason Tayo’s making his own music stems from his quest for finding good an new music, no doubt a hang over from his record boss role. “If you rely on what you get sent, what’s in the post or what’s in the shop, you’re not pushing yourself. My job as one of the main breaks DJ, if you will, is to stay fresh. My job coming over to a land of trainspotters like Australia,” and he jokes, although he is spot on with this assessment, “is to have stuff that you lot don’t even know about! I like to have stuff that’s not coming out for 3 or 4 months, so when the trainspotters are peering over the decks to see what I’m playing they have absolutely no idea; that’s kind of my job.”

Steinski

Winning the Tommy Boy remix competition with their “Payoff Mix” of G.L.O.B.E & Whizkid’s Play That Beat Mr DJ in 1983, little did Steven Stein and Doug DiFranco realise they would become two of the most important names in hiphop, whose production techniques would span all genres of popular music. “I was fairly old… early 30s I guess maybe,” Stein begins. “We didn’t know if everybody made mixes like that, and we didn’t know if it was anything special. We just did it in a weekend, we liked it and said ‘OK, lets send it in’. It was a contest, and we hoped we would win, obviously,” he says humbly, “but we didn’t know. As it turns out they knew heard once they heard it!” In fact, the organisers left it for the judges to hear last, and they broke out in spontaneous applause once it was played. Steinski and Double Dee became an instant hit on urban radio.

The Payoff Mix was a mind numbing mix of hiphop, pop culture samples and sound effects, and soon became known as Lesson One. Lesson Two: The James Brown Mix featured the now infamous sample “Lesson Two” ripped from a dance instruction record was released in 1984. Lesson Three: The History of Hiphop features a whole heap of breaks that were common to hiphop, and strongly featured Herman Kelly & Life’s Dance to the Drummers Beat arrived shortly after, although none were released at the time due to copyright laws.

“Boy, are you asking the right person!” Stein laughs when I bring up the subject of copyright laws “I feel somewhat constrained by them,” he chortles. “But at the same time there are two sides to it. On the one hand, the idea that musicians should make money from their records is something that is close to my heart these days. What I don’t agree with is the sweeping nature of the laws and the enforcement as it is happening now. I feel constrained by copyright laws because I would not make something that was obviously illegal with intent to sell it… I wouldn’t not make it, I just wouldn’t sell it”, he smirks. “It’s kind of stupid; the whole attitude is so corporate. They don’t see it as art. It’s frustrating in that respect, but I can make a legal album,” he concedes. “The album I’m working on currently is all legal, and I feel much more confident about that than I did in the 80s.

In 1985, the pair split amicably. Stein went out on his own, and produced the chilling, evocative And the Motorcade Sped On. “Douglas and I had decided that we weren’t going to make records together for a while,” Stein begins, “and here I had this challenge – I wanted to make another record, because I liked making records it turns out, and I wanted to do something that had a very emotional impact. I took my own money, and it took me a while because I was working with a guy that was good, but who I had never worked with before, and it wasn’t a partnership, it was really just me steering the fire engine. At the time, 20 years ago, the Kennedy assassination really had a lot of impact; there were a lot of people around even younger than me that remembered it. In the same kind of way that September 11 was a shock, that had a big impact in the United States, and hearing those sounds gave people an electrical stimulus.”

“I did a 9/11 piece,” he begins when I ask if there’s any subjects or samples he wouldn’t use. “I used audio from one of the plane to ground communications that was released after the investigation, and it’s really intense. I wouldn’t be playing this out at a party for a variety of reasons – first of all there’s no beat in it, it’s a ballad essentially, and the other it’s REALLY depressing and slow moving, it’s not really something for a party. But there are lots of samples and issues I wouldn’t touch. If it turns my stomach or if it violates someone’s privacy, I wouldn’t touch it.”

Steinski is touring Australia in December with the Nextmen and DJ Signify, and promises to offer something new to all those who go to see him. “I’m learning a new software package for when I perform in Australia. I’m not going to be DJing records. I am a really lousy live DJ and this is going to turn me into a good one!” he chuckles. “I’ll have a lot of digital material that I can play and mix live, pre-recorded material, whole records of tracks, plus I’m going to be performing with DJ Signify on the turntables, and we’re going to be doing his material also. So it should be a gas. Right now it’s theoretically a wonderful idea,” he chuckles, “and we hope to see soon if it’s a good practical idea.”

I let him know that he’s playing at a rave, and he is stoked! “Really?! Oh no kidding!” he cracks up laughing, “What’s the date like man, that’s something I haven’t experienced!” I explain to him how Enchanted Forrest usually works, and he becomes as enthused as I am. “Oh boy, are they going to be surprised at my stuff! I’m kinda of new to playing out, this is all news to me. I’m really interested to see this!” He’s a little concerned that people may find him a little slow. “My stuff is very hiphopish, so if you’re listening to stuff which is hard house, or drum and bass which is 140 to 150 or more BPM, my stuff is going to sound like doped out reggae compared to that… That sounds interesting,” he muses, “that will be fun! Really? A rave an hour and a half outside Adelaide… Cool!” If Steinski’s set is as fun as this interview was, then it’s going to be a corker!

Crackpot

It’s a bit of a strange thing that a band can be signed to a well-known label, have over twenty tracks licensed for various compilations around the world, been played by throughout Europe and the UK via Gilles Peterson on BBC1, but still be relatively unknown in their home country. Crackpot’s debut album Shelf Hypnosis is about to change all that as the funk-fuelled threesome bring their unique sense of music and humour home to Australia.

Each of the members of Crackpot; Martin ‘Moose’ Lubran, DJ Phil Ransom and Jade D’Adrenz, have had stunning careers. Lubran composed and produced music of some great Australian TV shows such as The Late Show, Funky Squad and films such as The Castle. Ransom has 2 DMC championships to his name, has performed at many of the major Australian Festivals, and toured, at the request of the Beastie Boys, with all Grand Royal acts visiting our fair shores. D’Adrenz, the singer-songwriter of the group has worked with acts such as Groove Armada, The Mad Professor and Tim ‘Love’ Lee.

Speaking from Melbourne, D’Adrenz talked of how the band formed a little over 6 years ago. “Moose and I had had been writing some tracks together and were programming drums, and couldn’t find the right sort of sounds. We’d been trying to find drum machines that sounded like old 50s Jazz kits with 70s subsonic kick drums,” she explains “and everything sounded stilted and programmed. Then one day we hooked up to write some tracks for another artist, and we met Phil (Ransom) and fell in love musically, and been together ever since,” she giggles.

The first thing you notice about Crackpot is that not only are D’Adrenz vocals beautiful, but very quirky. “Quirkiness comes naturally,” she enthuses. “The thing about Crackpot is all three of us had been frustrated previously about where we fitted in musically, so the whole point of crackpot is that we could all do whatever we wanted. But because of the way we all were, we didn’t offend each other too much in doing so,” she laughs.

Along with this come some quite outrageous samples, provided by Ransom. “If the song has a certain theme, I’ll talk to Ransom about his samples and have my input, but part of the fun is to let him do his thing… He often surprises me and I find them all funny!” she chuckles. On the album you’ll hear bizarre samples from people like physicist Steven Hawking. Being so strange and identifiable, I had to wonder if they any problems clearing them. “Tummy Touch takes care of the sample clearing, that’s their domain, so we have no problems at all!” she laughs. “We’re actually using less and less, and sampling ourselves… sampling our voices, and moose plays 10 instruments.”

Speaking of Tummy Touch, it’s quite a sweet deal they gained, as Tummy Touch is very well renown. “We didn’t really go banging on doors looking for deals,” D’Adrenz mentions. “We just were offered one about the time we were looking for one. It’s all been a fairly effortless ride as far as that sort of thing is concerned. We’d made a short list of 5 companies that we thought had put out a cool product, had a diverse and interesting music, and good packaging, and that kind of thing. We were delighted when Tummy Touch approached us!”

Their other projects have now become side projects, well and truly. “Crackpot’s always been the main thing for us, we’ve just been waiting for it to become the main thing in other peoples minds,” as D’Adrenz laughs. “We’re all pretty committed to it. We’ve had vinyl out overseas, and that’s kept us going. We had 27 tracks licensed around the world. We’ve played in Melbourne, but we’ve played interstate, ummm… never I think! I think the live scene is very important in Australia, but we’ve managed to stumble along our way, and yet still feel appreciated”, she chortles again.

No doubt Crackpot will surely endear itself to the Australian audience, as their clever lyrics, quirky samples and infectious beats travel across Australia Crackpot to follow up their debut. “For this tour we’re hooking up with a drummer, Leroy from Plutonic Lab, because we don’t want to play with too many backing tracks. It’s pretty hard for Phil (Ransom) to be laying down all the beats as well as samples and doing backing vocals. At times we’ve put our beats on vinyl and he’s cut them in, but it’s pretty exhausting. So it’s going to be good playing with a drummer and a bass player.”

Infusion

Infusion has been rocking Australia since the mid 90s, but has found their star rising ever quickly skyward, first being signed to Thunk Recordings and then their tune Dead Souls being picked up by Adam Freeland’s Marine Parade label. The Wollongong trio of Frank Xavier, Jamie Stevens, Manuel Sharrad are the current leaders of Australian Dance music, holding the torch proudly high as they tour around the world, performing blistering live shows to packed houses. I spoke to Frank Stevens after a quick tour of Argentina and Chile, and the big UK festivals.

Their most recent big date in the UK was Glastonbury. “We had two shows at Glastonbury, one which was live to air on Radio 1, and then we had another gig in the Glades tent, which is a bit like the Boiler Room tent at the Big Day Out, and it was really good. We had about 5000 crazy English people jumping and going crazy,” Xavier laughs. “Creamfields Argentina was amazing,” he gushes of last years’ festival. “We played for an hour and a half, and when we started there was about 150 kids there, and by the end of our set there were about 18,000 people there! We played Argentina and Chile this past weekend, and that was just incredible. I don’t know how they’ve found out about us, but news just travels fast around that part of the world.” Infusion is also big in Japan. “We’ve played Tokyo about five times, and the last time we played was in a club called Woo, to about 2000. The Japanese really love their music, will really give people a chance.”

Although they were featured on Triple J and played the traps in Australia, it took some time before they got a wider appeal. “We’ve been playing around Australia since, well I joined in 1996, and it wasn’t until 2001 that we went overseas. It helps when overseas people rate us, and we play some of the big festivals over there, then Australia goes ‘Oh, hang on, they’re doing quite well over there, let’s give them some more attention.’ Steven’s is quick to point out that’s not the whole of it, and is very loyal to Infusions early fans. The fan base that Infusion have crosses borders and genres, most obviously because the band refused to be pigeonholed. They combine breaks, techno, trance and progressive, and there are influences and similarities between them and a wide range of groups, from Icehouse to Pink Floyd. “Every band has influences and ours is from the late 70’s and mid 80s. I was into Depeche Mode, Beach Boys, Japan, Bowie, but we all listen to a lot of different things and I guess when we all get together there’s such a big range of differences it becomes a big melting pot.”

Another contributor to the wide fan base is the internet. “Even though I’m not a big fan of forums, forums have really helped us a lot,” Xavier states. “Kids from all different countries posting ‘you’ve really got to check these guys out’… the news gets spread around. We’ve just released the album in Argentina, Chile and Canada, and with the push of the bigger record label it’s just been getting bigger and better for us”. But Xavier isn’t so keen on File Sharing. “A lot of people seem to download the Radio One BBC files and I don’t really mind, because it’s on radio in the first place. Radio One is a promotional tool for us, so that doesn’t really bother me. But with the album we checked to see if it was on soulseek last week, and it’s not there yet, so lets hope it remains like that!” he chuckles “But it happens with every band, you can’t avoid it. It’s killing the industry, but what can you do, it’s going to get worse and worse.”

I mention to him that another person I interviewed had a similar view, and that they though file sharing would force the price of bands upwards so they could recoup their record sale losses. Xavier disagrees. “It won’t force the price of bands up; it will encourage bands to tour more,” he says. “It encourages them to get off their arses and not sit back and wait for people to buy their records, but get them out there and earn their money the good old-fashioned way,” he laughs.

Infusion has definitely shown they can earn their keep, with vibrant live shows that equal rock performances in energy and vibe. “With a live band there’s a whole lot more energy than what you can see on stage with a dance act. If you see people like Underworld and Chemical Brothers they’re stuck behind keyboards twiddling knobs,” he says, “and although it sounds live and it’s ‘big’ sounding, it still doesn’t have that appeal of when you have a drummer and guitarist going at it, there’s a few mistakes here and there that leap out at you, and people get a lot of energy from that. The way we play is quite similar, with got a vocalist, and the sounds and way we mix are quite live, and the energy as we’re all jumping around… we’re not sitting behind laptops and twiddling knobs.”

Andy Smith

Andy Smith is the DJ behind one of the best mix CDs ever recorded, The Document, and it’s follow up, the Document II. He’s also one half of the incredibly upbeat and funky Dynamo Productions with Boca45 (Scott Hendy), and in a little unknown group called Portishead as tour DJ and sample finder. On tour recently to promote the new Dynamo Productions Get It Together, which features remixes of their finest tunes as well as a few new ones, I managed to catch up with Smith after a very successful Melbourne solo gig. “We’re not going to Adelaide or Brisbane,” he laments. “I asked the promoter why how come and they didn’t really give a good answer, so I don’t know why were not going!”

“I did a Northern Soul night last night in Melbourne,” he states, “It’s a bit of a hobby for me,” he claims of the Northern Soul music. Relatively unknown in Australia, Northern Soul, called that because DJs in the North of England in the 70s would play this rare American pre-disco soul music, is regaining popularity in the UK. Smith got into it by digging for records. “If I found a label that was interesting I’d listen to it on my portable turntable and I guess I must have heard a few things… like the uplifting vibe on this one, or the fantastic voice on that, or it had a piece of music that was just amazing. I’ve started up a monthly club in London, and that’s become one of my favourite club nights, it means I can go a bit deeper, do something a bit different.”

Deeper and different is what Andy Smith is all about. From the sombre sounds of Portishead, to the upbeat tempo of Dynamo Production, to making mix CDs that feature James Brown, Cut Chemist and Kate Bush, Smith has a diverse and interesting musical knowledge that he clearly wants to share with people. “Basically my role within Portishead was finding samples, obviously I’ve got a big record collection. Before I met Jeff Barrow, (the main producer behind Portishead), I was a DJ… obviously I still am,” he chuckles, “and when I met him at the youth club, in Portishead (the city from which they got their name), I was cutting up funk and hip hop, and he was one of the few people around who understood what it was all about. The whole Portishead sound is from Jeff, utilising the bits of the records I was finding him. When they went on tour, he was keen to help people realise the origin of the Portishead sound. That’s why I did the warm up set playing original breaks and hiphop and a crazy kinda scratch mix before the show, to show people where their sound came from.”

Given that both his mixes and the Dynamo Production stuff is so upbeat, I wondered if the being the Portishead DJ had its drawbacks. “Depending on where I am in the world,” he says “Some places in Europe, I’ll go to a gig, someone will come up to me and ask me to play a Portishead record, which annoys me really,” he grumbles, “as they don’t know about the Dynamo productions, but by the end of the night they will know. The Dynamo stuff is more me,” he pauses. “I like being in a club and rocking the crowd, seeing the smiling faces and people having a great time. Doing the Portishead thing is great because I get to play my stuff to a different environment, but week in week out, I’m a club DJ.”

The Document II was an astounding mix, and testament to his skills as a DJ. “I have a rough plan, but it all comes down to what you can get cleared (by the record company)”, he says of his mixes. “I might submit 20 tracks and get only 6 or 7 back. So I might have two tracks that mix really well, but one might get rejected, so I have to go back and put them together the best I can. I was really lucky to get that Kate Bush track,” he laughs. “I really wanted to do a mix that had a totally different intro, to make people go “wow, it’s got Kate Bush on the intro”. Some people don’t understand why I’ve got Kate Bush on there at all, they’re like ‘what’s that got to do with it?’ whereas others think it’s something really special, but as long as people talk about it, I really don’t care!” he chuckles, “but I was really lucky to get that and the track that hiphop track that mixes into it. I think Kate Bush has done some fantastic music, and if someone picks up that CD because it’s got Ultramagnetic MCs on it and then think ‘oh, I actually like that Kate Bush track now’… it’s all about opening up people to the music.”

Smith loves the scene in Australia, and he and Scott Hendy seem to have a rapport with Aussie artists, having done remixes for the Resin Dogs and Katalyst. “We did those remixes because we come out here a bit, and the Resin Dogs were kinda into what we were doing and simply asked us. The link with Katalyst is through the label (Invada) and last tour. The scene out here seems pretty good for what we do; our album did better in Australia than anywhere else in the world, which comes down to the promotion invada gave it really, and the crowd here seem to be into what we’re doing. In the UK if there’s no scene for ‘that thing of the minute’, people might pass it by, whereas over here people just listen to it, they don’t really care what they ‘should’ be listening to. The UK press tries to tell people what they ‘should’ be into, but here people listen to what they want, which is a lot healthier really.”

The new Dynamo Productions album features remixes by Katalyst, One Cut, Krafty Kuts and Jimi Ently Sound. “I’ve known Krafty (Martin Reeves) for quite a few years. We’ve always thought about getting him to do a remix. Most of the people we remixed we knew, and offered to do their remixes, so I think we owe a few people some remixes,” Smith laughs. “The Jimi Ently Sound were a band that used to play at Holiday Camps in the UK in the 60s. Someone found a master tape of them doing a version of Apache (originally by Cliff Richard and the Shadows), which then got put out on a 45… But it’s a scam,” he admists with a laugh”, it’s Jeff Barrow and Adrian Utley from Portishead who wanted to do some things under a different name without people buying them because they were Portishead. It now says “produced by Portishead”, but originally it was going to be a quiet sideline,” he chuckles again.

For the future, both he and Scott have a lot on their plate, and the continued collaboration may come to an end. “ I’ve got a Northern Soul mix out in October for BGP records, and then maybe I need to make a few more phone calls, send a few more emails and get working on Document III,” he says. “Scott’s done a solo album, out on invada, under the guise Boca45 called Pitch Sounds which is also out in October, so he’ll probably be doing promo stuff for that for a while, and if that goes well he might want to continue the solo stuff… but I think we’ll probably at some point get back together and do something, I’m just not sure when,” he adds optimistically.

Hooligan Soul

The Hooligan Soul boys Grif and Pab have been causing havoc around Adelaide for a number of years now, DJing around town at various venues with various amounts of success, as well as playing live with some of the most important drum and bass DJs to visit our shores. These bad boys of beats look like they’re about to take off both figuratively and literally, with the continued promise of a new album, a possible tour of Hong Kong, Singapore and South America and with Pab just coming back from a successful tour of Bali with Aphrodite and DJ Rap.

We caught up with them fresh from an exhaustive night at Mojo West at the surprisingly popular Hooligan Jam. “Yeah, it’s going pretty smooth, the last vibe was absolutely rocking!” Pab enthuses. “It’s the only place in Adelaide you’ll hear proper UK Garage, and the last one we kinda got a bit adventurous and dropped a bit of Grime and 8-Bar in there too, and the crowd dug it! Nice and busy, it was cool.” Their other gig, Wednesdays at the Cumby, is also going along strong, and both the boys hope that this will continue over the summer months.

The boys have been hard at work on the album, due out soon through 618 records, out soon. “We’ve been promising it would be out for god knows how long now, but we SWEAR this time we mean it when we say it’s almost ready”, they vow. “Other then that, we’ve been pretty busy with shows and what not. We got our Wednesday night thing at the Cumberland, Mojo, Rukkas as well as various shows at Traffic. On top of that, Pab’s just come back from Bali, and we’re both going back in a couple of weeks, and Griff’s just recorded the new Beat Smugglers album, and they’re on fire at the moment as well. We’ve remixed Mobin Master recently, and we’re also working out a remix for the Jungle Brothers. We’re in the process of sorting out shows in Hong Kong and Singapore too at the moment, PLUS Pab is sorting out some stuff in South America. So yeah, we’ve been pretty busy lately.”

The Hooligans describe they’re sound as “Our own”, to raucous laughter. “I guess it’s a kind of like the link between the smooth, rolling “Liquid” stuff and the harder, gutsy sound. I know it’s a cliché but we don’t want to be classified as one thing. Guys like Marky, Stamina MC, Moving Fusion, Grooverider, Marcus Intalex, and Calibre, they’ve all given us really cool feedback, saying our sound is really unique. And I don’t mean in a “um… yeah… wow guys, that’s really… umm… unique” way, when people just say that because it’s shit,” they laugh. “I think Marky’s been playing Runaway, and apparently Rider was battering a tune of ours we handed him at Winter Enchanted last year. To be honest they probably don’t play much of our stuff though cause we’re too slack to send them new stuff!” On the local front, it’s a little different. “Some play our stuff, some don’t. Skyver & D-Jon play our stuff, Mark 7, MPK and Patch play it a bit… but it’s kinda weird. We guess they got their own tunes they want to play, cause they complain we don’t give them our tunes, but when we do they play them fuck all!” they laugh.

Their sound, like most performers, has developed as they’ve grown, and now they even dabble in a little hiphop and 2-step. But the boys claim that the main thing to change “is the sound quality. Our first tunes were musically watertight, but they were mixed like utter poo. We’ve got the mixing part sorted now; it’s just so much cleaner! That’s the only real thing really, our style has probably changed in subtle ways, but we’re still the same team of village idiots making what we like to make.”

The boys, and Lexy, the lead female singer, are looking forward to playing interstate and overseas. “I just returned,” Pab states. “I had two shows in Bali which I found out were the best two shows Bali has ever had, and they’re up for Event of the Year awards there. I represented Hooligan Soul, and the entire Adelaide Massive”. But the boys won’t be lugging their equipment around, as was so common in the past. With CDDJs, it has become a thing of the past to see Grif lug in two mixers and a PC. “It’s too much of a headfuck, and to be quite honest, we both like DJing and MCing more.”