About me, my interests and how it all started.
This page will be updated continueously as I remember interesting stories of the past so check back soon!
At an early age I knew music was special. Something about it made me feel good, I could escape and allow my mind to tune into something completely different. When my great grandmother gave me my first transistor radio, late at night I used to tune into Radio Luxemburg and hear a variety of completely different music. One of my earliest memories of music was listening to the radio in the kitchen surrounded by the ghastly purple, blue and yellow flowery wallpaper that could only be achieved by mixing my parents and the 70s. A local radio station would be playing Sylvia - Y Viva Espana or The Nolans - I'm in the mood for dancing. Not that I was into this music, but then the 80s made an appearence and that's where it all kicked off. While listening to the top 40 on BBC Radio 2 hosted by Simon Bates, I heard something different, it made me stop what I was doing and I remember saying to myself, what is that music? What genre is it? I'd never heard anything like it before and there it was, Steve Silk Hurley's Jack Your Body.
Right around the same time Kiss100 started broadcasting (legally) in London. Kiss started off as a pirate station broadcasting underground electronic music and hip hop. I then found out someone at school who lived about 1/2 mile from me was able to pickup the station some 70 miles away and made cassette tapes to distribute around the school. Now, being into electronics and having access to some long lengths of cable, I read some books about FM antennas and rigged up an elaborate run of cable that started in the back of my radio set, climbed up the wall, into a cupboard, through an air vent and then made it's way to the apple tree where it circled a few times. And there it was, a perfect stereo reception of Kiss. I still have some of those cassettes and will digitise them soon and place here. Some nights I jumped into a friends car and we headed up to a radio tower near Winchester where a crowd would have various sized sound systems tuned into Kiss. There were lots of DJs that started working for Kiss including Pete Wardman who launched PowerFM which was the mainstream radio station on the south coast designed to go head to head with Radio 1. Guy Hornsby hosted a show on Power called 'The Saturday Soul Club' which I religiously listened to and recorded each week - again I still have many of those recordings and have started digitising. At this time various local stations had their own dance shows and I remember tuning into weekly shows on 2CR (Bournemouth) and picking up a French station called NRJ. There was also the 'Hitman and Her' broadcasted from a nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning which got recorded on VHS tape. I chose this episode as it included a 12" single I played a lot during this time - A Touch of Soul - We've got the love.
Around this time, probably 1989, I started to 'roadie' for a mobile DJ. We were out most weekends, had a fairly large sound system and lighting rig and I soon picked up the ideas of mixing basics, sound and lighing setup and soon got noticed in the local DJ shop at the time called Wyminster Sound and Lighting. Every DJ in Southampton came through here at sometime either to grab a cup of tea or to catch up with all the other local DJs. They somehow figured I was good at fixing electronics but it was another guy who owned Movement Records that offered me a job. I started to install larger sound and light systems all over the south coast and started to hang out with several DJs who played in the big clubs. I started to go to club nights (and some on boats) and really started to get into the dance music scene. Movement became Movement Sound and Light (still operates as MSL) and I was working every saturday in the shop and DJing most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. At this time I got an agency to handle my bookings and although the money was OK I could never afford a pair of Technics (I have some now).
Rewind to the 80s and I was buying lots of vinyl, mainly 12" singles but started just as Cappella, Jack n Chill, TransX, Housenation and Whistle - Just Buggin (remember that?) were charting. I picked up a mixer from Maplins which only had 2 inputs for turntables. I found some old Garred tuntables, made some modifications, mainly electrical tape around the drive wheel to increase the platter speed and installed some Stanton cartriges and my first mixtapes were born. Friends would gather in my bedroom and we'd put together mixes on C90 cassettes and then listen to them weeks on end in our cars and the occasional school trip by rigging up a Binatone portable speaker system with a huge battery at the back of a coach. With these turntables I could not beat mix but I knew how to as the DJ I was roadying for had some so I would match beats when I could. I remember a girl on a trip saying why would anyone mix two records together because you can only hear one at a time..... 'nuf said. I also picked up a lot of other second hand 7" singles stretching back to the 60s so I started to DJ at house parties and then I got my first major gig at the local village hall for NYE 1990. Now, although I'd been around DJs and had a decent collection of music I had no sound system and no lighting. Using what I'd learnt, I built some light boxes, copied a circuit board from a friends light controller and went on a shopping spree to Maplins. I don't remember how much the controller cost me to build but it was cheap and it worked. Four light boxes later and a decent set of dual 12" speakers and amp (homemade 2 x mosfet 150w RMS) that a neighbor sold to me, and some Martin lighting effects from the shop, I was ready to go....and it was a success although my mic work required some improvement.
After that I started to DJ at some low profile gigs my firends were handing my way, mainly birthdays or social club nights. I added to my rig, upgraded the amp and speakers, got some pinspots, more FX to hang on the bars and finally 4 Martin 218 Roboscans. I also went through all the generations of Denon dual CD players starting with the DN-2000F, and paired them with a Citronix Predator mixer - the best money could buy at the time. I joined the Pioneer DJ pool and was receiving 8 CDs loaded with all the latest tracks every month - I also won a prize for suggesting they start the Classic Beats Series.Life as a mobile DJ was fun, I DJ'd in houses, on boats, guild halls, fields, closets, in tents (got noise complaints from 2 miles away because the band and I had a sound off), ran a sound system off my car battery and car amp during a power cut (later upgraded and modified for quick release), trips to France, Switzerland and the list goes on. Although I was a mobile DJ and catering for the commercial masses I was still buying the house and dance music and the million dollar question is why I never binned the mobile work and worked in clubs. By this time a had mastered mixing - and was (still am) as good as they get, I started to get more pub and club work through my agent but never made the switch or created any of my own music. Of course, that's all I want to do now but I'm 20 years late.....
The Conservatory where Boy George and Sasha and Digweed frequented with their legendary Renaissance nights.I started my vinyl collection around 1986 and have quite a few classic and rare 12" singles now including A guy call Gerald, Strings of Life, 808 State and LFO amongst others. I switched to CDs in 1990 my first purchase being Bomb the Bass - Winter in July. Like I mentioned earlier I started using just regular Technics CD players from a seperates system and then upgraded to a Denon DN-2000F which of course has pitch control but were a nightmare to use. Over the years technology got better with the introduction of jog wheels and then finally in the early 00s the first desktop CDJs made an appearence. Everyone seemed to want a part of it, even Technics had their own version but was aweful. I was working in NYC at the time and decided to visit one of the many Guitar Centers in Manhatten so armed with a pile of CDs and a pair of headphones I entered and didn't leave until about 4 hours later - with a pair of Denon DNS-3000 players that I actually still own. The reason I chose Denon? Because at the time I felt the features, platter responsiveness, sound quality (especially when scratching and using key lock) was far better than enything else on the table which included the first Pioneer CDJs. I still use the Denons occasionally when theres a call for an 80s or 90s party. I was living in Nottingham and employed as a software engineer but still driving to the south coast every Friday night with The Essential Selection blasting all the way (it started early back then!) and DJ'ed the weekends and travelled back up north in the early hours of Monday morning. While living in Nottingham I got to make some great friends and visited many of the clubs in the area including Progress, The Blue Note and
In 1999 I had the chance to move to America and was based in a tiny gold mining town (the silicon valley of TV) called Grass Valley. Within a few months of establishing myself and getting to know the 3 local bars and the fact that only one had a DJ booth I set my goals. Offering to play on one Friday night for free I learnt two things, Americans don't like EDM and house and I knew nothing about Hip Hop and Rap which was apparently all they danced to. A week later with a handful of Promo Only CDs, a fresh subscription to the Street Beats CD from Pioneer's CD Pool mentioned earler and a number of Hip Hop and Rap compilation CDs containing nothing I'd heard of apart from Eminem I was ready. It went well and I learnt the music the regulars liked to dance to and I introduced EDM to this tiny community with the help of the Matrix sound track containing a number of high energy tracks that I'd drop during the evening mixed up with other tracks such as Lock and Load's Blow your mind. Within a few months I had the Saturday slot and a friend who moved from the UK with me expressed an interest in DJing (or did it help with the 'girl' situation?) had the Friday slot. I started to network with some local DJs and through word of mouth landed an impressive number of gigs from these few small towns. During this time I was travelling extensively to NYC and actually lived in Jersey City and Hoboken for a number of years which presented the opportinity to wander the streets or the village and visit the New York clubs I'd been hearing to much about, Cheeta, Twilo, China Club and saw many DJs play such as Roger Sanchez.
More to come soon.