Brewster B

Melbourne boy Brewster B has been making a name for himself over the last ten years in Australian Dance Music scene for being individualistic and having a well-defined sense of fun. From remixing the theme from “Hogan’s Heroes” to writing a song about a bartender, his unique broken beats have rocked dance floors everywhere in Australia, except for, strangely, lil’ ol’ Adelaide. A complete oversight on behalf of local promoters I’m sure. Brewster has a great new tune on the new instalment of the great “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It Too” CD, a compilation of Aussie breaks which is sure to shine locally and overseas.

Being influenced by groups like Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, Devo, New Order and early 80’s Hip-hop and Electro Pop, Brewster is proud of his heritage. “I love my chilled groove a lot!” he says. “I guess you could say that’s my roots.” He was discovered by “playing chill-out stuff in my lounge room after a party shut down early and some other DJs were there. They liked what they heard and offered me a gig at their next party in the chill-out room because it was so different from what everyone else was playing.” It’s that difference which defines Brewster. “I play everything from ambient dub to weird hip-hop to soundscapes to the very left! Then there is the dance floor side of things. I love and try to play anything with broken grooves. From electro to breakbeat house to dirty dark nu-skool breaks in to the heavy rolling dark funk style side of breaks. Even DnB with bit of old skool jungle now and then! Basically if it’s broken and make’s me rock, I wanna play it out loud so the dancefloor wants to rock with me”.

His early influences play part in his productions and mixing, as he scratches and samples his name into his set, as old hiphop DJs used to do, “partly to take the piss and to let people know it’s a bit of fun. And if it says ‘Brewster’ won’t that make it clear who this record is by?” he laughs. Using a blend of both an old technology, “but as time goes on its more & more computer based” to make his tracks, Brewster isn’t afraid to work with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, such as DJ Ransom, Little Nobody, and an “ex-techno dude called Viridian. I think the key is to keep evolving. Stuff I was playing 2-3 years ago people are playing now, so it’s about finding new sounds and making new stuff so the crowds think ‘that’s rockin’ my world more that ever before!’”

The Australian Breaks sound seems to be doing very well overseas, and Brewster thinks this could be because “we have a sound all of our own, that will in time be recognized as a style of breaks. “Oz-Nu-skool” or maybe Oz-Skool?” he says cheekily. “But at the end of the day there only two real types of breaks – good and bad! The Brits make some amazing stuff and some of it is just fillers. Just like here there are toons and fillers. I don’t think it matters were it comes from… just make it rock!”

Fortunately, there are no fillers on the “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It Too” CD, which features such a diverse range of sounds and artists such as Infusion, Hybrid and Brewster pumping out great material. “Breaks seem to have a wider appeal due to some of it live elements,” Brewster says, “With an increased acceptance of electronic music, it’s brought people in to the sound of breaks from outside of the club and rave scene, which have not had it hyped up like in other countries. This has let it grow naturally. Plus I think there is one other key ingredient,” he proclaims. “It’s the climate in Australia. Breaks and warm weather go together just so well. Put it outside in a park on a nice 25c degree day and people will smile and dance for hours in and around the trees! Try that in grey ol’ England!!”

We are hoping that the release of “If it Ain’t Broke… Too” will see Brewster hit town soon. “I’m hoping to hear and see the Adelaide massive groov’n real soon. Its the one place I’ve never Dj-ed!” he cries. “I’ve played in every state at least once a year, and even Tasmania a couple of times.” He’s not sure why he hasn’t played here, but thinks, “maybe Adelaide doesn’t like phat funky dark rollin breaks, that make’s ya wanna shake what ya mama gave ya? I think you guys want to shake it?? Well do ya?!?!

If it Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It Too double CD, featuring tunes by Brewster B, Infusion, FNDA and remixes by Ransom and Nu Breed, plus a Mix CD of tunes from Volume 1, by competition winner Jeremy Judd, is in good record stores now thru inertia.

Lee Coombs

Lee Coombs is best known for the seminal ‘Perfecto Breaks’ CD, an awesome journey through breakbeat that seamlessly slices together old rave with new school hits. Coombs got his love of DJing from the early days of the warehouse and Acid House parties of the late 80’s and early 90’s. “I just heard the music and saw there was a little scene,” he says, “and wanted to do it straight away. It just attracted me completely, and I made it my mission to get hold of the music. I don’t know what it was, something in me said I’ve got to do that, and I did”. Coming from this background it’s no wonder he’s one of the leading lights of breakbeat. “I didn’t all of a sudden get into breakbeat, it’s always been that way for me,” he states matter of factly, telling the history of rave music from the original funk breaks, through house and the rave scene, right up to drum and bass. “I didn’t go that way though (into drum and bass), I’ve always been playing house music that has a breakbeat.”

For the Perfecto compilation, Paul Oakenfold, impressed by Coombs’ ability, simply rang him up and asked him to do it. “I choose the records I wanted on there, then set about re-editing and remixing, and then I mixed it in pro-tools,” he said. “Records are best for playing in clubs I think, and while it does sound good when you do a mix on decks and record it to CD, I just wanted to have more precision than that, have it exactly how I wanted and make it sound all like one record.” This is not the first time someone has simply liked Coombs stuff so much that they just had to use him. Justin Rushmore of Finger Lickin heard Thrust One, one of Coombs earliest hits, and asked Coombs to join his little collective. “He absolutely loved it,” he says of Rushmore’s take on Thrust One. “He said he wanted me to make tracks for his label. I thought that he was genuinely into my stuff and I was the first artist outside of his collective to be recording for Finger Lickin. The people who owned record labels I had met before were businessmen, they weren’t necessarily into the music, it was all about money. And I thought ‘well, he’s into my music, and he’s prepared to put money into it, it’s gotta be a winner’”.

Coombs is well known for his remixing and re-edits, particularly of older tunes. Whilst there is a lot of quite average remixes out there, Coombs seems to add an undefinable edge to the music that lifts it above the garbage. This may be because of the reverence he holds for the tunes. He says of his edits, “they have a little bit of nostalgia, bit of memories,” and that’s why he likes doing them. “To be honest some of the old tunes were some of the best tunes ever made. It’s to do with the vibe they’re sending out. Music is about vibe for me, about the vibe it is giving, and I just love the vibe of the older stuff. It’s quite hard to describe, and explain,” he laughs. “Just about every rave record from back then influences me. It’s difficult to name names. You wanna name a real classic you’ve got Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash, that’s a big influence and shapes a lot of music for me. Todd Terry, Arthur Baker, lot of names, lots of individual artists you wouldn’t know who they were but made one record that sparked things off.”

Other DJs also appreciate his music, and he has a diverse range of DJs playing his music, from Pete Tong to Kosheen. “Great, fantastic, brilliant, it’s nice to be crossing into other genres,” he says about the wide range of DJs playing his work. “But to be honest, I don’t go with the attitude that I make breakbeat music purely for breakbeat people. I make music and it just so happens it fits in with breakbeat very well. I like to call myself an artist, but I can be breakbeat artist, I can make house, I can do anything really. It’s really nice that people not associated with what I do pick up on it.”

Coombs is happiest at home, as he doesn’t like travelling much. “It’s a bit of a worry,” he says nonchalantly of the effect terrorism has had on travelling. “Travelling is the downside, I do a lot of sitting around on my own in airports. People think DJing is really glamorous but it’s not. It’s hard work. I DJ out of the UK a lot, most weekends I’m somewhere in Europe. Going to the States you gotta do 11-12 hour flight, and obviously Australia is a whole day of travelling, and I’m not looking forward to it to be honest. I can’t wait to get there and get the travelling out the way.” Another reason he likes home so much is the shift in the direction of the scene in the UK. “It’s kinda going back underground, which is good, what I like,” he says. “The big superclubs have kinda had their day, they’re all shut in England now. You had Gatecrasher and Cream and that and they don’t go anymore. It’s all gone back to smaller clubs, which is better for the atmosphere and for taking it back to what it should be. You get people that are actually into the music and not there because it ‘is a club’. It’s no longer the name of the club that’s important, but the music that’s played there.”

Another place he loves is San Francisco. “It’s just a fantastic place to be, it’s just totally different from anywhere in the world,” he says. “It’s totally different from anywhere else in the States! They really get into parties; it’s perfect for DJ’s playing the right sort of music.” Again, his love of music comes out in the reason he loves San Francisco. “I was very influenced by some of the music that came out of San Francisco 4 – 5 years ago. They’ve been making house music on the sort of tip I play since house music began and it’s like a pilgrimage to go there.”

On top of recording tunes for Finger Lickin’, and DJing around the Globe, Coombs also has Thrust Recordings to keep him busy. “It’s my label but I’ve been too busy to do anything with it for the last year,” he says. “On my travels I’ve been picking up artists that I like, and from people whose records I’ve been playing I’ve been getting remixes, and tracks made for the label, and I’ve got 4 or 5 releases now and it’s all kicking off right now.” Some of the artists and tunes coming out are ‘Tribal Tensions’, Elite Force with ‘Double Black’, The Burns Brothers (Jem from Soul of Man & Coombs) with Machine, of which Coombs says is more house orientated. “There is an artist from Toronto called Paranoid Jack, and my remix of Dramattic Twins Mind the Gap,” he says. Not only that, but he’s also done a remix for Air Recording of Tony Faline’s Feel the Funk, which he says he is quite happy with, and has been collaborating with “Meat Katie, Danny Howell, Rennie Pilgrem, Elite Force, Dramttic Twins, there’s a little group of us where we’ll do our edits then swap things around, swap tracks and so on”.

Being the unassuming person he is, he expects “hopefully some really good parties, that’s all I can expect,” when he visits Adelaide next week. “I’m not expecting much weather,” he laughs. Despite the weather, I’m sure he’ll get a warm reception when he plays Traffic.

 

 

Julian Cram

Jayar

Julian Rutt aka Jayar is one of those rare individuals you meet and think, “wow, what a sincerely nice guy”. Returning to Adelaide after being in the UK for a few years, where he developed his passion for dance music and vinyl addiction, Rutt turned his hand at promoting from a position of “pretty much seeing what can be achieved, getting inspired by these guys I knew doing similar, and noticing a few niches that weren’t already covered here”. Rutt is “impressed in fact with the amount of nights and visiting internationals coming to Adelaide”, but felt a need to fill in the gaps. This resulted in events such as Altitude (smooth drum & bass) & DeepFried! (Nu-school breaks) parties at Minke’s Skylab, and in a scene that’s known for it’s “if it’s not hard it’s not dance” attitude this was pretty gutsy for a relative new comer, but he has an enthusiasm and energy for the dance music industry that is infectious.

His latest event, PEACEBEATS, will showcase the best DJs and performers Adelaide has to offer in an attempt to show the claim that the ‘rave’ scene is apolitical, hedonistic and apathetic that many outside the scene level at it, is in fact untrue. Indeed, look at any of the dance music web sites such as inthemix.com.au, Adelaide Massive and System 6, and you’ll find heated debate on the causes and consequences of the (Iraq) war, where other forums have simply banned discussion of anything related to it. For Rutt, “this war is something I feel strongly opposed to, and instead of just getting angry or feeling completely powerless when our Government can so easily ignore what seems to be popular opinion, I decided to do what little I could to voice my (and others’) opposition”.

Instead of being dismissed as trivial or pointless, Rutt argues that “sometimes you have to focus on something positive to maintain the morale to deal with the scary reality”, and this is indeed the point of this party – to raise our awareness and to show opposition to the Governments position, whist having fun. “There are dance parties going on around the world all the time, most of them being pure escapism – which is fine. But this one is acknowledging what’s going on, and trying to contribute some positive energy to the situation, and at the same time, give real support to those groups who are working hard to change things for the better. I’m not putting this party on thinking that it will single handedly change government policy, its just one more peaceful, positive event for another section of the population,” he explains. “At the same time, this isn’t a propaganda push, it’s a dance party & fundraiser”.

With many approaching Rutt before he even asked, all performers are giving their time freely, and Rutt is promoting the event for free. “All of the money earned (after expenses for printing and sound hire) will be going to the not-for-profit groups NOWAR SA, Justice for Refugees SA, Urban Ecology Australia and Tall Storeez Productionz – the group who made the indie film ‘Holiday Camp’ about the Woomera detention centre riots and breakouts last year. As these groups have limited budgets for their campaigns (people may remember the inadequacy of the PA system hired for the 100,000 strong peace rally a month ago) and often rely on donations, the money raised will help future campaigns or in the case of Tall Storeez, help in distributing the film to a wider audience.”

The party has had “a good cross section of Adelaide’s top DJs respond and offer their services, which has been great, and my aim is being able to have representatives of some of Adelaide’s top club nights involved, getting a great line-up and covering a variety of styles.” On the night Rutt says “Minke and Skylab will crescendo, starting the night on a more cruisey tip, slowly building in tempo and intensity till its completely going off at the end! The Souk room is going to be a dedicated chill out room all night with couches and beanbags, while playing anything from experimental ambient to dub reggae to tripped out beats – a good landing pad for those not up for dancing but still want some good tunes.”

 

Cut Le Roc

Lee Potter, aka Cut Le Roc, is a funny guy to talk to, making lots of jokes and having a laugh. This is reflected through both the music he makes and plays. He doesn’t take it too seriously, but seriously enough to have a go at changing the perception of the dance music scene as being dull and dark and all about what you look like and what shoes you wear.

Potter first started DJing at the tender age of 12 years old. Rather than picking up a guitar, as he was in his terms “a real hiphop kid”, he went out and purchased “what we call ‘cake tin’ turntables, belt driven things with heaps of slipmats and plastic, anything to keep them going in time”. Skipping school, much to his Mothers’ horror he “basically spent every minute of every day just scratching records and trying to work out how they did things and work out new things”. This led Potter into collecting old funk records, looking for that prefect break, which got him listening to funk, soul and jazzy stuff in general, and amassing a huge record collection.

He developed a passion for dance music in a pretty usual manner “You’d go to a hiphop jam” he says “and it’d be full of blokes with funny hats on with their arms crossed. I’d rather be where the girls are with hardly any clothes on,” he laughs. “But that’s a big no no in that scene – you’re only supposed to like hiphop and that’s it. I found acid house parties quite mad – it still had that funky feel to it, it’s electronic, it’s got this really weird, annoying bird chirping noise, and there’s girls here!” he laughs talking of the Acid House parties his friends took him to. “I started to become more open minded about music, which was a really good thing to happen for my career because if I was still a hiphop kid now, I’d be making good little hiphop tunes in me bedroom, but not going anywhere.”

Something that gets brought up a lot is the fact that he’s listed in the Guinness book of records for playing on 8 decks, a true testament to his skills as a DJ. “I did the Future Sound of the UK (FSUK) 4 mix for Ministry of Sound, and they asked me if I could do something special they could base promotion around, and I said yeah, whatever. They came back and said ok, we’ll have you play on 8 turntables, Vestax have agreed to supply the equipment, we’ll do it at the Ministry, get the press and punters down to see it. Then they told me at the last minute that Guinness may not come down, after I spent two months practicing for it, because they were all out watching people eat beans or something”, he laughs. “But it was more of a fun thing, not something I wanted to be seen as me showing off or anything. It was just a good fun time.”

Now Potter is head of his own record label, as well as a producer and remixer. “I haven’t done a remix in ages, but the rule with me for remixing is I only do it if I like it, and if I think I can bring something to the mix. Not just cheeky samples they can get in trouble for, but even something subtle, like new drums or filtering. Something that brings a new element or vibe to the track.” This last statement is indicative of the philosophy behind his record label, Rocstar Recordings. “I left Skit over a year and a half ago, as I wanted to pursue some other avenues. There were a lot of things happening there, they were focusing on Fat Boy Slim, the Lo-Fi All-Stars, and Xpress2. I said to them that they didn’t really have enough energy to focus on me as they had for Norman Cook, and that’s cool, he was the one who paid for everything,” he laughs “They were cool with that, and we’re still all good friends.”

“I didn’t necessarily want to do my own label, because I know how much work it is and I’m a bit of a lazy bastard” he laughs, “but I sent my stuff to a few people I know who run big breaks labels, people who had put out stuff similar to what I’ve done in the past, and they came back to me saying “we like it and all, but it’s not really the direction we’re heading.” It appears that Potter wasn’t making the same sound as every body else. “Everyone’s doing this new school, tech-breaks, slowed down drum and bass sound. I thought people who ran record labels were like the guys at Skint – quite open minded to musical sounds. I said to them “wouldn’t you rather be at the cutting edge of something new, to turn people’s heads and make them say “that’s really good and new” rather than put out the same old same old? They’d bring out the old “the dance industry is in a real rut, and we’re not selling as many records as we used to”. It’s my opinion that if they’d put some different music out, get the people excited over new stuff, they might buy it”.

“So after about 7 or 8 rejections along these lines I thought, “fuck this, I’ll do it myself”. And what kind of music is Potter bringing out? “It’s just good, funky music. It can be hiphop, it can be house, it can be breaks, it can be disco, whatever. I have a real vast array of artists doing different things for the label. The whole thing is “funk and fun”. Everything is so dark and heads down,” he explains of clubbing in England at the moment. “’Have you got the right shoes on? Is your make up running? Get lost, we’re night clubbing.’ I’m just trying to re-introduce fun and funky music back into the scene, music that no matter what style / genre you like, you’ll enjoy listening to this too. We’re just trying to break out of the mould, do something different.”

Potter is finally going to bring his fresh and funky beats to Adelaide. “Basically I’m going do what I normally do, and to hit you with everything,” he laughs “I’m not going to go too down tempo or hiphop, nor too dark, but take you from head nodding to having it large. Come down and say Hi, I might just buy you a Vodka” he laughs.

Speedy J

Speaking to Speedy J aka Jochem Paap is quite a refreshing experience. He has a practical theory behind his work but, unlike a lot of artists with theories, he is neither conceited nor arrogant about it. His work is varied and accessible, industrial yet containing human warmth often missing from this type of music. It’s apparent from just simply visiting his website that he has a different way of looking at the world than other dance music producers, and that this is reflected in his music.

I asked him about his website, as I found out he was interested in design, being an illustrator from a young age, and enquired as to why he constructed it in such a unique fashion. “It’s funny that such a young medium has such strict conventions”, he explains. “All websites have been laid out according to those rules, but there are many other possibilities that allow you to navigate through a chunk of data. I’m not saying that this is better way to do websites; just that this is another way. People just follow rules or mimic what’s already there without really reflecting on them. This also reflects the way I look at music, if something is not challenging it’s not really worth getting into. I think the website is challenging, but it’s not difficult”. This is also a prefect description of Paaps theory of music, both in the listening and producing of that music.

I asked Paap how, over a decade of producing and playing live, things had changed. “In the early days I really had to compromise with taking my equipment on tour, but these days you can get equipment that’s really small and quite technical and powerful. The dance music production tool market has really exploded over the last few years; there are dedicated “live” mixers and DJ effect tools that suit me well. Having all the possibilities in the world is not always the key to a great result”, he adds. “Having that limitation was a constant factor in making electronic music and no matter how much you can do you always want to do more, or something different, or you want to do it in a different way” he laughs. “The possibilities of the new technology inspire me, but on the other hand it can become a frustrating technical battle. The main thing is you have to get your head around something really logical to create something very emotional. You want to make music which is a really emotional thing and comes from the heart, and you have to overcome all these technical difficulties.”

With the music coming from his heart, I had to ask if the reason his latest release being a more dancefloor based and more “accessible” than releases like PUBLIC ENERGY NO 1 and A SHOCKING HOBBY, was because of any changes in is life. His response was a laughing No. “I’ve been making records for well over a decade now, and have been making all styles throughout that time, and with each new release I just focus one style” he says. “Even while making the darker, more industrial releases, I was making dance music at the same time, I just wasn’t including it on those albums because it simply didn’t fit. What you hear as an audience doesn’t necessarily give the whole picture, just a small segment of my work at that time.”

“Of course I’m influenced what’s around me,” he continues, now talking about his music in general. “All an artist does is give his opinion on ‘something’. My tool is music and sound, and what you hear in my shows and on my record is really my take on reality. I haven’t invented anything “new”, but rather been inspired by what’s already there. But all music is like that – somebody doing their own take on what is already around.”

I asked Paap what we could expect from him when his live show hits Adelaide in March. “What I do is DJ with my samplers.” he explains. “I don’t have a fixed set, but rather I have a huge amount of material to be played, and I choose my material on the fly. Some of the stuff people will know, but there will be stuff that is new and improvised. But whatever I play you can expect an hour or two of banging techno”.

 

DJ Hyper

DJ Hyper aka Guy Hatfield is one of those DJ’s who always seems to have his name associated with words like “seminal” and “ground breaking”. His ‘Y3K’ series of breaks set the formula for the successful ‘Y4K’ series, and ‘Bedrock Breaks‘, based on the back room of John Digweed’s Bedrock club where Hatfield holds a residency, is heralded as introducing the world to breaks. Holding residencies in 3 countries (the UK, Spain and the US), running a record label and writing for music magazines, considering he’s only been DJing “seriously for about the last 4 or 5 years”, is testament to his desire to spread breaks to the world at large.

Hatfield got into breaks because of his “boredom with house music. I used to go to the FREE Parties, but then started to get into hiphop and experimental breaks, ‘Mo wax’ and DJ Shadow and the like, and progressed from there into labels like ‘BeatBox’ and ‘TCR’. I like playing breaks because it’s got the energy, it’s very diverse and it comes from all sorts of [musical] areas. It can be so varied and has so many different styles that it keeps fresh all the time. I like drum and bass, but about half an hour it drives me up the wall, it’s too hard and repetitive – all sounds the same, but I could just be getting old [laughs]”

Having been a forefather of the scene, I asked what Hatfield thought of the breaks scene, both in the UK and abroad. “In the UK the scene is becoming very strong, with lots of people putting out records, some good, some bad, some good club nights and a lot more radio exposure happening. More so on the specialist radio show level, and definitely still underground compared to other music scenes, although there is the potential for cross over in the likes of Terminal Head, [who are signed to Kilowatt]. In the US it’s great, the vibe is great, and its scene is growing. I do some pretty full on touring over there, I will be over for the Miami Music Conference, then back to London, then back to the US for a month. World wide the scene is getting stronger and stronger too, there’s people from Sweden, Hong Kong, America, Australia – Kid Kinobe & EK – and they’re all producing some excellent stuff.”

With the scene growing, and even dnb record labels jumping headfirst into breaks, I asked Hatfield how he will keep ‘Kilowatt’ distinctive from the other labels. “Putting out quality records and not putting out any old shit [laughs]. There are a lot of shit records out there at the moment. The key is not to worry about what anybody else is doing, but to put out good records, quality and not quantity. ‘Kilowatt’ is for artists, in that I’m going to have people I respect and like do albums, not one offs.” The line up is already looking fantastic, with Terminal Head, Stir Fry, Fatliners, and False Prophet being the first signings. Hatfield is not afraid of production himself, being responsible for taking the rather average Addicted to Bass by Puretone (Josh Abrams) and turning it into a stompingly beautiful piece of breakbeat genius. He’s also got a new single Catnip out on Timo Mass’sAcetate Ltd’ pressing.

Hatfield will be in Adelaide for the first time at Stardust Summer Edition, and I asked him what we could expect. “Quality breakbeat – not too dark, as a lot of people think breakbeat is dark, and that can cloud people’s vision of the scene, but I try to stay away from that. I play groovy, funky stuff, where people can have a good, fun time and not stand around the decks looking stern [laughs]”. “Mixing wise I’m a smooth, fluid mixer, or so I like to think, but don’t we all [laughs], blending the tunes rather than jumping around in the mix. And I am very, very fussy about what I play. I lot of records people go mental over I just think “they’re crap” [laughs] and that’s not to knock them down, I’m just really fussy about what I like.”

It’s that fussiness that has led him to be listed in Urb Magazines “Next 100” and put him in the “top 10 to watch over the next 12 months” in US Mixer magazine, as well as being voted the No 2 breakbeat DJ in the world in UK’s DJ Magazine. And it’s his reputation as being a unique and skilful DJ that has this interviewer counting the days to the release of Bedrock Breaks 2 out on Bedrock, and he plays the Stardust Summer festival.

 

The Scratch Perverts

The Scratch Perverts are Tony Vegas, Prime Cuts and Plus One, undoubtedly three of the best turntablists in the world. They’ve won more ITF’s and DMC’s between them than there are acronyms for DJ battle competitions. I interviewed Joel aka Prime Cuts, and asked him where how the name came about. “It was born out of names Tony and Theo from the Wiseguys were playing around with for a bit of a laugh really. I remember I really hated the name at first, but it kinda works and sticks in people’s minds… people don’t forget it too quickly.” And why didn’t Prime Cuts like the name? “It made me think of dirty old men in raincoats, and now I am a dirty old man in a raincoat, so maybe it is applicable [laughs]”.

They quickly became the UK’s premier crew expanding to an eight strong team that included names like First Rate, Killa Kella and Mr Thing, the latter of which was here recently with DJ Vadim on the Russian Percussion Tour. It was only at the beginning of last year that they decided to slim back down to the original members of Tony Vegas and Prime Cuts. This was partly done to keep the name synonymous with the absolute highest standards and partly because this year will finally see the Scratch Perverts record their debut album. The split is well documented on the web and in print, but I wanted to ask Joel if he had any regrets or is he just simply sick of hearing about it.

“For me it was a very necessary step in the evolution of the Scratch Perverts. The crew is now a three-man outfit and it will be that until the end of the scratch perverts. Legally, the name is owned by all three of us. And I’m hugely confident in this crew.” Originally the crew was cut back to Tony Vegas and Prime Cuts, but now Plus One has been added to the line up. “It never felt like we were adding a third member, he was always a part of the crew. He’s a good friend and really dope DJ. He has an incredible musical brain and maturity, and we just felt it is the right time (2 years ago) to make it official.” I had to ask if he thinks they’d do a big ‘Reunion’ tour ala The Stones in 20 years time “I’m not sure we’ll all be alive in 20 years time [laughs]”

Being from the UK, and wining the DMC’s in New York, the home of hiphop, I wondered if Joel felt there was a difference in styles across the Atlantic. “Every area brings its own influences. In UK we have a lot of different music. I don’t think you get the mix of music you get in London anywhere else in the world. The UK in general has a lot of different kinds of music; it’s very multicultural, very integrated. The States are a bit little more isolated and I don’t think things mix together so much. We’ve got forms of music that’s been born from that [multicultural mix]; chiefly drum and bass, which is a reflection of a lot of different music forms and cultures coming together to form a completely different sound.”

“And that’s something we really try to embrace as the Scratch Perverts – the music we are surrounded by at home, to just to be “us” and what we know, and what we’ve absorbed over the years. There’s no point us trying to do a real heavy New York sounding hiphop album because that’s not us, we’re not from New York and that’s not what we’ve experienced.”

Hiphop culture seems to be on the up and up. You see DJ’s in advertisements selling anything from juice to cars. Joel says “that it’s all good. You’ll go to a local bar in London and there’ll be “Nothing” by Noriega playing, and you’ve got Missy Elliot in the charts, and I think it’s fucking great. It’s a wonderful thing and it’s a music people can get their teeth into a lot more than some of the dance culture which is there for you on the night and that’s it. I feel there’s a little more substance to hiphop. It’s got a cultural background and history that other styles don’t have.”

I asked him what impact he thought the Scratch Perverts residency at Fabric has had on the UK hiphop scene. “I’d like to think it’s drawn some people into it” he says. “You get a real mixed crowd down there; you get the crowd that’s there to see us, and then you get your club crowd, and then you get those from out of town. I get a real kick out of playing records that I know a lot of people there won’t have heard of, and watching people leap around and go crazy to it. One moment really sticks in my mind where I played an old school tune “Rock the Bells” by LL Cool J, something that I don’t normally play out. I played it and people went crazy. We actually got a remix off the back of that night because Howie B came up and loved it so much.”

Having said this, I had to ask him what he thought of the commercialisation of hiphop, specifically through MTV giving the Best HipHop Artist award to Jennifer Lopez. ‘I don’t really fucking care to be honest. The whole kind of awards thing is bullshit anyway. Who are MTV to say ‘you now are worthy of this’?” he asks. “For me if you’re a creative and honest person when you put something out there hopefully a lot of people relate to it. That to me is the awards ceremony right there on the street, where people embrace your music or they don’t. You don’t need a panel of judges made from nobodys, has beens and wish-they-were’s to say, “Yes, you are now Hiphop”. The fact that they chose J-Lo shows they have no fucking idea anyway.”

Being one of the most talented DJ’s in the world, I was wondering what he thought the most difficult aspect of Djing was. “Allowing yourself to have the confidence to be completely original” he says frankly. “When you first start djing it’s natural to mimic the people that you like, and I think it’s quite difficult to have the self-confidence to branch out and do something totally mad original. I was DJing for years before I did any original stuff that was really my own, and it takes a while to build that confidence”.

With DJing becoming more popular, and technological advancements in sound reproduction, and innovations such as CD Mixers and Final Scratch, I wanted to know where Joel saw this all heading. “I don’t see that Final Scratch and CD mixers completely revolutionise the turntable per se, as they basically do exactly the same job. The nice thing about them is you can burn your own sounds and tracks and then manipulate them. I see those things as a studio based tool. I don’t see them replace the turntables in a live environment because what’s the point? The turntable is already a better equation. It’s a fucker taking 200 records to and from a gig, but I’d rather that than a laptop into a sweaty club spinning mp3’s that doesn’t sound too clever.”

“As far as a studio thing they’re incredible. I have one of those pioneer CDJ1000’s and I love it, its an amazing thing to have. It means you can cut your own sounds. You can burp into a microphone and scratch your own burps, whereas before to do that you’d have to cut a dubplate and they’re not nice to cut and scratch.”

“That isn’t to say I’ve been sitting here burping and scratching for the last six months” he adds, laughing. I asked if he has a preference for either DJing or producing, and, as I suspected, he enjoys both. “I like the insular aspects of working in a studio and creating something, then handing it over to Tony Vegas and Plus one and seeing what their reaction is, and I get a great kick out of it when they really flip on something that I’ve done. And I love Djing because it’s there and then and I like the atmosphere and the party vibe when it’s a mad night out. I imagine that for the first half of next year there’ll be more producing than djing, but once the album is out we’re going to hit the road again.”

Their up-coming tour of Australia will see them doing some larger festivals and some smaller club gigs, and asked him what he thinks about this. “It’s nice when you have the intimacy of a close club gig, but for me it’s all about the atmosphere – if you can created the same atmosphere you do in a small club in a huge venue then that’s even more incredible. When we played Sydney last year we played to 1500 people, which is a pretty large venue, but the atmosphere was unbelievable – I would site it as one of the best gigs I think we’ve ever done, of all time. The atmosphere was at fever pitch and when it’s like that it just drives you to perform better.”

My final question was what was it about DJing that’s kept him going, what does he like best about it. “I suppose the lifestyle – getting the chance to meet and see people you wouldn’t normally have, the chance to travel to places like Australia and get payed for the pleasure of doing it and seeing people have a good time. It’s something we never lose sight of, we have one of the best jobs on earth, and we try to break our balls and work as hard as we can, improving what we do so everyone enjoys themselves as much as possible if they’re kind enough to come and see us.”

And luckily Adelaide will not miss out on seeing this awesome act, as they’ll be here in Early January next year.

The Dub Pistols

The Dub Pistols’ Barry Ashworth is a mainstay of English Dance Music. He has been around since the first summer of love in 1988, when he started two seminal nightclubs “Naked Lunch” and “Eat the Worm”, as well as forming the indie band “Déjà vu”. They were a “dance music band signed to Cowboy records, similar to Happy Mondays and the like,” he says in a typical South London accent. When asked if he’d ever do it again he says that he doubts it, but “you can never say never – two years down the road you end up making music you said you wouldn’t”.

Recently the English music press recently heralded that the past (English) summer was the next “summer of love”. Ashworth says, “If it’s your first time out, then yeah, it probably is the same, but back then things were different from anything else and now electronic culture is a world wide thing. Back then people did it for the buzz, now there’s a whole business / industry surrounding it.”

Ten years down the road, after the disbanding of Déjà Vu, Ashworth formed The Dub Pistols in 1997. The name is a response to the scene at the time, with people being quite purist about electronic music. Combining punk ethics with dub mentality he and Lee “Einstein” Spencer caught the ear of Jon Carter, who asked them to remix the Monkey Mafia track “Blow the Whole Joint Up”. They did, and the result led to them being signed to deconstruction imprint Concrete, home of Lionrock and Death In Vegas.

With these and other seminal breakbeat acts such as Ceasefire, The Dub Pistols helped reshape the breakbeat sound from the formulaic bigbeat into what would become nu-school breaks. “Every sound changes, mutates and moves on” Ashworth says. “Triphop, Bigbeat, Amyl House, Nu-school breaks, Future breaks… but it’s primarily the same thing”. He’s also done a fair bit of work with other people, including working with Busta Rhymes on the Blade II soundtrack, Terry Hall of The Specials, and Horace Andy of Massive Attack of which he says “were big moments for us”. When asked with whom he’d like to work with, he says “Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is someone we’d like to work with… Chuck D (Public Enemy) and also Mike James from the Clash”.

His eclectic taste has seen him push the breaks sound to it limits again, The Dub Pistols’ Y4K release, surprisingly Ashworth’s first mix CD, continues the great tradition of this wonderful series. The album is quite funky, with the emphasis on FUN. This CD is not “me djing in club, people are going to listen to it in their cars and at home, so it needs to be a little more accessible” Ashworth says of it. Not only does it feature the leaders of the breaks scenes such as Layo and Bushwacka, Adam Freeland and Australia’s own Infusion, but also features exclusive Dub Pistols acapella’s by Planet Asia, all mixed seamlessly in a groovy, energetic, head-bop inducing manner.

Energy is what Ashworth is all about. He was kicked out of a club for being too “energetic” once, and his DJ sets reflect this energy and passion. He’s coming to Australia at the end of November (but unfortunately not to Adelaide) and says that while he’s never been here before “He’s heard nothing but good things about us”. For a taste of what he can do check out the latest Y4K breaks mix (out on Distinctive breaks), and if you’re lucky enough to live in the eastern states go catch one of his shows.

 

Written 10/11/2002