Tag Archives: breaks

Statler and Waldorf

In the wake of Nubreed and Infusion, Statler and Waldorf, aka Dennis Gascoigne and Leo Hede, have come flying in to the Australian breaks scene with an amazing debut EP ‘Collusions’ and follow up album ‘Andronovavirus’. If you’ve heard the name before but can’t quite put your finger on it, Statler and Waldorf is the name of the two old balcony dwelling grumps from the Muppet show. “We actually prefer looking at the comic, cynic side of them rather than the grumpy side,” Dennis Gascoigne, or Statler, laughs. “It’s a name we thought we could grow into. If we are making music for 80 years it’ll become appropriate.”

Gascoigne has already been making music since the mid 90s, where he played in skate punk bands at a really early age. “So about ten years… long enough to know better,” he chuckles. Known for their exhilarating live performances, Statler and Waldorf straddle genres and mash all kinds of sounds together providing an interesting yet accessible sound. The name, ‘Andronovavirus’ is an abbreviation for Andromeda, Novation, Virus “which are the synths used the most on the album,” Gascoigne explains. “They’re not so much old school synths but more old school sounds. They’re not like the old Junos, which is probably a little too temperamental for our patient levels to be dealing with gear that old!”

I noted that their EP ‘Collusions’ had a rather different sound to their album, and I read that many people who saw them live were surprised to receive something quite different to what they were expecting. “We produced the EP with a lot of artists we admired and wanted to work with and it ended up sounding very unlike what we do live. People would come up after a live show and ask for our EP and we’d give it to them saying “this sounds nothing like us, what you’ve just heard”. Our aim when we made the album was to make an album to reflect where we were as live performers and as recording artists,” he clarifies, “so when people say ‘we like your stuff’ we can say this album will be their bag, you’ll like this.”

Their album is full of fantastic tunes, and an old school vibe. This feel comes partly from the equipment used, and also partly from the vocals. Duck ‘N Cover is an unabashed celebration of disco bickies and Saturday nights. The Resistance is resplendent with references to hackers and the underground. The vibe is very reminiscent of the mid 90s ‘cyberpunk’ sound. “Excellent!” Gascoigne grins as I say that. “We do a little DJing as well as our live show and one thing we guarantee is a lots of early to mid 90s everything, somewhere between the range 93 through to 98-99. As far as I am personally concerned they are the golden years of electronic music,” he states.

“It had the popularity yet the innovation. No one really knew how the gear worked and they just kept on making weird and wonderful sounds and making them work as popular music. Back before the Prodigy busted into the mainstream in Australia they were making really cool music. Even to the extent some of the rock stuff like Rage Against The Machine had a bit of that feel to it, and Pop Will Eat Itself had a great mixture. It just has a really good feel to it.” Here our conversation devolves into each of us saying how much we love the incredible PWEI, how great they were live, and I let him know that there’s a new album coming out. “I’m getting it!” he shouts excitedly.

Turning back to their music, I mention how much I enjoy Duck ’N Cover, but I had to wonder if the rock mix was put on their to appease the Australian, and particularly Queensland music listener. “Contrary to how we’ve got it on the album, the rock version was actually the original! The way it came about is the bassline, which gets a little buried in the mix, this funky synth bassline, only worked at 155 BPM, which is pretty fast. It’s pretty standard for rock, but you’re getting into your fast breaks, slower drum and bass, which we don’t delve into much. The only way it would work with the vocals, no matter how we squeezed it, was as a rock track. So we finished it as a rock track, and once we knew where it was going we slowed it down to the breaks mix. It’s really fun to perform,” he adds.

We wind up the interview talking about Statler & Waldorf’s gig at Earthcore, which they are both very excited about, but particularly Hede who used to be a hippy, and me lamenting that Adelaide’s breaks scene is still quite small. “The electronic scene in Brisbane is not so big either. You get your ‘weekenders’, guys who go to clubs and if it’s on they won’t leave,” he says, “but people who actively follow breaks and know all the DJs, other than Kid Kenobi who everybody knows, you’ll get a small crew of people but it’s not the scene you’d expect from our population.”

Bass Kleph

Twenty four year old Stu Tyson was just an 8 year old when he caught the bug for drum breaks. “They had everyone in the school band to write down a list of the instruments we would want to play in order of preference. Being 1988, the first thing I wrote down was obvious… Saxophone! But I didn’t have a second choice. So, I actually looked at the guy’s paper next to me, and saw on his “Drums”. I immediately added that to the top of my list of now two instruments,” and in a twist of fate in losing out to drums, from that moment on Tyson was hooked to the sound of sticks banging canvas.

He found his way into numerous bands as a drummer, but like a lot of performers, found rock to be a little lacking, and moved into listening to dance music. “Initially, it was the drums that got me. Most of the dance music I’d heard was house and techno. I liked it, especially the production quality and mix style, as the drums were massive, but being a drummer, the old ‘4 on the floor’ couldn’t hold my attention for too long. It was actually drum and bass that got me first, and then breaks eventually took over. When I heard these huge broken beats and deep bass, I was hooked. See you have to remember; I was coming from rock music where that style is all about guitarists. Finally I’d found a style that was all about me,” he laughs.

Shaking the shackles of rock, Tyson began his career as Bass Kleph, which Tyson claims “is the medical term for leaving a watch inside a patient… and also a musical symbol to define all instruments in the lower frequency region,” he laughs. And his career has been on the up and up ever since winning the Triple J Australia wide remix comp of Downsyde’s El Questro. “Ah, Downsyde,” he muses with a smile, “that was so long ago. It’s so flattering that people still talk about it. It was great, especially for the national exposure. Before then I hadn’t released any of my original tunes, so being able to play a little bit of Bass Kleph (via that song) to the whole of Australia was a great introduction for me. I’m so thankful we have a national radio station that plays breaks!” he cheers.

Since the win, Tyson has burst on to the international breakbeat scene with a string of chart smashing releases; receiving rave reviews the world over. Wild Card was added to Triple Js daily rotation and since featured on Kid Kenobi’sClubbers Guide To Breaks 04”, Triple J’s “Home Grown” CD, “Future Breaks”, Ministry Of Sound TV commercials and more. His tunes with Boiling Point stable mate Nick Thayer Fucking The Groove and Fucking The Synth sold out in the first week in the UK, and their next release, the remix of Feelin’ Kinda Strange by Drumattic Twins, is soon to be launched on Finger Lickin’ Records. This came about from the Twins’ seeing how they used the vox from the tune looped in a set. “We’d just loop the breakdown, cut the bass and – instant acapella! They thought it was great and suggested we do a remix. There was never a guarantee it would be released, but we thought we’d give it a nudge anyway. Since then it’s blown up all over the world.”

Fantastic news for the Australian breaks scene, although I was surprised to hear that Tyson doesn’t have a club residency anywhere. “I play different places every week. There are clubs in Sydney I play at whenever I’m in town, like Hijack (which unfortunately was recently closed down), Kink, Chinese Laundry and so on, but I wouldn’t call them residencies. I prefer to take my music to as many different places as possible, and luckily for me there is enough interest to do this.”

Tyson is coming to Adelaide, so what can we expect? “I use mostly CDs these days, and still some vinyl. The CD players are so good now, and most of the freshest music I get is digital. Think about it,” he adds, “the people who wrote it are gonna have it on CD from the day its finished. It’s only on vinyl when it gets signed and cut.” I mention three decks, and he laughs, “buy me and drink and maybe I’ll do four! Trick wise there is plenty of stuff going on, but only in a musical sense. I’m only really into things that sound like part of the song, or sound like they are complimenting the song. As for scratching, I leave that to the professionals!”

Ils

Maybe he inherited it from the intensity from his hippy mother who named him from reading the Iliad, but Ilian Walker is intense and likes to talk. A lot. When we chatted he claimed he wasn’t quite ready for press interviews, but the man known as “the producers producer” talked my ear clean off with me saying nary a word. He was geared up to talk about his new album, Bohemia, his third studio album under the guise of Ils, he believes is his best to date, and I have to agree.

Part of the reason it is so masterful in production is that its working title was ‘Masterpiece’. I asked Walker why the change to Bohemia, and he explained that he didn’t want to seem too conceited. “A lot of people might not agree it’s a masterpiece, you know what I mean?” he laughs. “It was just a really motivational working title to push myself. “I found it useful and it did drive me to new levels. If you’ve got masterpiece written on post-it notes all around your house it constantly sets the bar higher and higher. When you’ve got like 30 tracks, and you’re trying to pick the best ones to finish, trying to give the whole thing continuity if in the back of your mind it’s “masterpiece masterpiece masterpiece” it really does affect your approach. I really thought I could do a really good job on this one, and it was just a working title to give me a kick in the arse,” he chuckles again.

Another reason the album sounds great is that it features some incredible vocal tracks, each of them deep and moving and sounding like actual songs, not just a beat with a vocal dropped over the top. “Developing a vocal tracks for me is really the next level,” Walker says. “It really is bloody challenging. I’ve mastered how to make instrumental music, I feel confident in myself I can make good instrumental music and tearing club tracks. I never really used lyrics in the past. I was a bit of an instrumental purist as a producer. I wanted to move toward lyrics for this album; it adds another dimension”. As to the content of the lyrics, he is, “very fussy about lyrics, for me they have to mean something. So those three songs on the album have a great deal of personal meaning for me. Cherish especially, it’s the summarisation of the human condition and if that song doesn’t touch you in some way you’re probably dead or something”, he laughs, punctuating with a “ya know what I mean? Maybe I’m just getting old and developing as a person or something like that,” he chortles.

“I think on an artist album, there’s always room for a couple of songs like that,” he continues, “otherwise it’s all very same-ish. If I was going to do a purely club thing I’d rather do a DJ mix CD, to get a clubtactic vibe off it. But an album should work on different levels. An album is a reflection of one’s self, whereas 12’s are DJ tools really.” He discusses his philosophical feelings behind his album, how it reflects his journey over the last few years, and normally I scoff at that kind of talk, but Walker told it with conviction and sincerity. “In all honesty,” he adds, “my ultimate goal for an album is longevity. In my head when I’m making an album, I’ve got my grandchildren, if they’ve heard of ‘crazy Grandpa Ils’, going up to the attic and finding the dusty CD and have a listen and go ‘fucking hell!!!’, you know what I mean?” he laughs, “something that will still have relevance.”

I note that the album is quite dark, with one song being written using the lyrics of Stevie Hyper D, his close friend and dnb MC who passed away in 1998, and Life Is Precious and Storm From The East, songs written about war. “I like quite atmospheric things, and that can be interpreted as a little bit dark, but I dunno,” he says “I didn’t set out to make a dark album. I’d say there’s a bit of a colouration in that direction and that often works well with breaks. I think it’s possibly a bit intense album in places,” he says stressing the word intense. However, it’s not completely intense or moody ‘listening’ material though, as Walker knows how to craft floor burners like Ill-Logic, Tiny Toy and the early Prodigy sounding Feed My Addiction. And we may be seeing some live Ils floor burning action later this year, as Walker hinted he may be coming to Australia in September or October, but wasn’t a 100% sure, so didn’t want me getting too excited.

Plump DJs

Lee Rous of the Plump DJs is a very down to earth person who doesn’t like to mince words. He’s very modest in his achievements, and very thankful for the lucky breaks thrown his way. Having had the very glamorous job of waiter, especially compared to partner Andy Gardner’s box factory job, before the two met and began making music, neither had any idea they would transform the dancefloors of the world.

“I don’t think we were ever arrogant enough to believe we were going to succeed in what we were doing,” Rous begins. “You can just hope people like what you do when you get in the studio. We count our lucky stars every time we get another gig – it’s the best job in the world and we’re lucky to be doing it.” But he’s not saying it’s easy. “This summer has been giving me a good ol’ punch up to be honest,” he laughs. “We’ve been touring massively all this summer, and been trying to work in the studio when we can, but I think me and Andy are feeling the heat a little bit at the moment. We’ve been doing lots of gigs and it’s wearing us down a little bit, but it’s all for good, and we’re looking forward to getting stuck into our artist album and having a little bit of a chill out at the end of summer.”

When not touring, the pair have been in the studio, recording some new material and preparing for their latest mix CD, Saturday Night Lotion. “All the records we’ve done since Eargasm are all dancefloor tunes”, Rous explains on why a mix CD rather than a full artist album. “They’re just uncompromising dancefloor records we’ve really enjoyed and road tested for the last two years. Bearing that in mind, and thinking about what an artist album is – an artist album to us should really reach beyond the dancefloor and be a bit more personal. I think we really wanted to provide a dancefloor album, so slipping other artists on this album from the Finger Lickin’ label seemed to be quite a natural thing to do. Those artists are really influential to us,” he adds.

Rous thinks DJing and production go hand in hand. “I DJed before I knew how to work the studio,” he states. “It is absolutely lovely making a nice record in the studio, it’s a superbly creative process and such a great feeling once you finish a track. You get so excited about having the opportunity to be playing the record to people. But then again you need to play the record to people to get the full effect.” Wondering if there was any chance the pair would go the way of Adam Freeland or Freestylers and get a band together to perform, I was surprised to hear they prefer the DJing thing. “We’re don’t really have the inspiration at the moment to take the Plumps live, we really enjoy the simplicity of DJing, of playing records and providing a soundtrack to the evening, and we find it works really well. We’re learning about what makes people dance and get in the studio and putting that to practice. I think when we make another artist album you could see a lot of experiments that are quite unusual to what people think the Plump DJs are, but we’ve got no real ambition to do a band thing at the moment.”

Saturday Night Lotion is also the name of a new pheromone based scent aimed at the clubbing market, and all the promo material about it claims the Plumps are the ‘obvious choice’ for the face of the cologne. “I’m not really sure what that was all about! Rous proclaims innocently. “It’s a funny website though. Not really sure why I was the ‘obvious choice’, maybe I’m just an ‘obvious’ person,” he laughs.

The pair had just finished performing the Glastonbury festival, playing with the who’s who of dance music. Booked to do three sets over the weekend, it seemed the English Summer had other ideas. “We tried to do 3 sets, one for this breast cancer organisation, but unfortunately their tent got struck by lightning and got washed away in the rain. But the other gigs went really well, we had a great time.” Another festival they really enjoyed was Field Day in Sydney in 2003, which they still count as one of their best gigs to date. “Yeah, Field Day 2003 was such a momentous occasion for us, a first realisation of our goal of wanting to get breakbeat heard at such a large scale,” Rous says fondly. So, when are they heading back to Australia? Rous wasn’t sure about playing Field Day this year, but did hint they boys would make it down to Adelaide for the Big Day Out.

DJ Friendly

The funny and funky DJ Friendly, known to his DJing mother as Andrew Kornweibel, was well loved in Australia for his quirky take on breakbeat music, but about 2 and a half years ago, having worked his butt off making a name for himself in Australia, his record label were “keen for an alternative direction for me” as he puts it politely, so he left for sunny England to seek a different path. “I managed to achieved what I set out to do, I put 12 inches out, play in clubs, and changed from live performer to DJ, managed to get by and the rest of it, and now I’m doing quite well,” he says.

He’s made quite an impression on the English scene, and won the best newcomer award at Breakspoll this year. “I thought it was funny I got the best newcomer – I’ve got three albums out and I’ll be dead a hundred years before I get the lifetime achievement awards,” he chortles. “I was chuffed, and from outside of Australia’s point of view I was the new comer. But I feel like I’ve been doing it for a long time myself,” he says, chuckling. “Living in the UK is a lot more global. All of a sudden people are booking me for gigs all over the world”, Kornweibel says of the move to the UK. “In Australia I found it very hard to break out of the Australian scene. I could get a gig anywhere in Australia, but I couldn’t get gigs outside, no one had heard of me at all. Over here I’m a lot smaller relatively speaking, but I’ve got a much wider spread and my music seems to go a lot further.”

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. “The weather is shit. It’s absolutely appalling. The people are grumpy nine months of the year because the weather is so bad. Everything’s expensive,” he pauses. “Are we going to workshop this? Should I pay you for this therapy if I pour my heart out to you,” he chortles. “There’s good and bad, London is a hard city to live in sometimes,” he continues, “the people can be really closed off and it’s got that big city feel about it, but at the same time it can be so inspiring. The competition is so great, and the media from the UK gets spread around the world, and you get up on your soapbox and people listen.”

Having run into a lost looking Paul Arnold, the head of Fat Records, in Sydney, he slipped him a copy of his demo and it became his first release on Fat, and the beginning of a close relationship. With Arnold now being Kornweibel’s manager, Friendly has become the resident at the Fat Records club night called ‘Chew The Fat’. “The people who come down for the night are music lovers, there’s no attitude,” he exclaims, “it’s all about getting down and having a really good time! We get heaps of girls,” he giggles, “and all sorts of people from all different backgrounds. Some of the other nights in London can be blokey, or ‘Laddy,’” he says in a really bad accent, laughing, “and at other nights it might be young pill taking clubbers who don’t even know what breakbeat is. I like to think we draw a nice line between being there for the music and being there for a great time.”

The first Chew the Fat mix CD is Friendly at his best, being fun and funky, a true representation of the night Kornweibel says. It’s got many of his own tunes on the mix, as well as a few remixes. “I think with any musical style you need to inject a soul into it,” he says of the mix. “I’m not interested in hearing music that doesn’t have a soul, and in all genres there’s that soulless stuff, including breaks, but you can add a lot of personality with a vocal. I play this way because they kind of end up being my tracks, my own exclusive re-working of that track. And because you’re going to be listening to it at home, what works in a club with the big bass system won’t necessarily work on your tinny little shelf system,” he adds, “so I think adding vocals / acapellas lightens it up and makes it more enjoyable.”

“I definitely enjoy writing my own tunes for the simple fact that it takes me probably as long to do my own tunes because I generally totally re-work a remix”, he says when I ask if he’s got a preference for remixes or original tunes. “Some people just take existing beats and put the sample over the top, or simply shuffle it about, where as I will turn down remixes if I feel I can’t do anything with it, turn it into one of my songs. But remixing is important, because you do learn a lot using other people’s musical parts and you can get a wider audience. I’ve just done a remix of Positiva,” he adds “and I’m really happy about that. It’s a different market and I hope I can reach out and convert a few more people to breakbeat.” He’s not afraid of having his own work remixed either. “I’m happy with what Krafty Kuts has done with Bump and Grind; he’s turned it into a bit of a monster,” he laughs.

Freq Nasty – Video Nasty

Darin McFadyen was sick of the way the world was treating its population. “We know you’re sick of these companies trying to sell you sex, respect and a six pack of cool in a can. Like working 6 1/2 days a week to buy a £200 pair of trainers is gonna turn you into Busta Rhymes. I’m not buying this bullshit and I know you’re not either”, his webpage screams. Littered with anti-corporate, anti-war sentiment, dripping with irony and unique style, this isn’t some indie left wing kid ranting on his Blog. This is Freq Nasty’s Video Nasty web portal, offering a glimpse of what the Video Nasty show is all about. It’s a two year long project of extensive Audio-Visual appeal combining the music of Freq Nasty with custom made graphics, 3D character animation and bold political undertones, described by McFadyen as “the visual equivalent of Michael Moore and Public Enemy getting pissed on the set of Monsters Inc. during an anti-globalisation riot.”

“The idea behind the Video Nasty Experience is to encourage a little bit of critical thought about what is going on in the world around us at the moment,” McFaydyen begins in his softly spoken manner. “I think it’s very important that in spaces like clubs, and the arts in general, that people react to what is going on in the world at times like this. When the idea of any kind of dissent is being discourage by the government I think it’s a good idea to get out there and inspire each other to question what’s going on out there. The idea isn’t necessarily to hammer any particular viewpoint into people’s heads, just to help people realise it is ok to express a viewpoint,” he adds. “The goal isn’t to preach to anyone, it’s more ‘hey, here’s my viewpoint, what’s yours, and what are you going to do about it?’”

Combining visuals, text and sound, the Video Nasty experience has toured all over Europe, including Russia. “I kind of wondered how well the show would work over there, because I wasn’t sure how many people would speak English,” he muses. “A lot of the show is typographically based,” meaning viewers would be exposed to large amounts of text in English. “However, it seems that generally everyone of a clubbing age speaks a little English there, and with the graphics as well, it illustrates the points we are trying to make. And if they didn’t understand they all got into the music, which is good as well I guess”, he adds, chuckling.

The show will soon hit Australia, although sadly not Adelaide. “It’s quite expensive to drag about the place. We have to bring a down sized version to Australia, but in Glastonbury we had 60 screens and projectors, so when you cost the price of hiring them and the attendants it can be quite a lot!” he exclaims. “But all the visuals we’ve had in the Europe shows we’re bringing to Australia,” he adds.

As he’s been on the road, McFayden hasn’t had time to write new music, but he is just starting to ease back into it. The sounds and influences on his last album, Bring Me The Head Of Freq Nasty have now gained momentum in the breaks scene, being copied and replicated by many producers, whereas when it first appeared it was very much on the cutting edge. “I dunno, I might go retro with this next album, make some disco breakbeat record or something!” He laughs “I’m just mucking about with stuff, doing whatever I’m feeling at the time I think will come out,” he explains on the process of writing music. “The whole record develops and gains shape the further you get into it. It’s difficult to see what it’s going to come out when you start an album, but once you get the majority of it, it clicks.”

McFayden is looking forward to playing in Adelaide, as he’s never played the same gig as Japan’s DJ Krush. “That will be wicked!” he exclaims as I tell him. I mention that he and Krush are two DJs who I’ve seen numerous times, but are never the same twice. “Yeah I do try and shake things up in some way when I come over,” he agrees, adding, “This time it’s a bit more difficult because more and more people have the same tunes. But I try to add a different flavour, find a different angle.”

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.

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.”

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.”