1. How and when did you get into music and what were you listening to then?
I got into the mod/scooter scene at 15 years old. I bought my first scooter, a Vespa 50cc Special and joined a scooter club called High Moderation. I had an older brother and cousins who were into the Mod scene so I started to hang around with some Mods who were a year above me at school. Once into the fashion it was only a matter of time before I started to get into the music. I started listening to bands such as Paul Weller, The Jam, Small Faces and The Who. My brother had a big part to play in my musical taste progressing, as he was listening to bands like The Specials, Madness and was listening to lots of soul and Motown compilations, which exposed me to artists like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops and Martha Reeves.
At 16, looking slightly older than my age (not the case now), I was able to start going to clubs like Brighton Beach, local soul nights and the occasional scooter rally. This is where I was exposed to lots of new sounds. I was hearing records like Mel Torme – Coming Home, Sandi Sheldon – Gonna make me love you and Sam Dees – Lonely for my baby. As you can imagine I was blown away by these sounds and the exposure made me delve a little deeper into the music and vinyl records. I bought my first record from Boogaloo Records in Leicester when I was 17 for 6UKP and it was Ray Charles – Go on home.
2. Where was your first DJ slot?
My First DJ set was in Birmingham; by this time I lived for the weekends and was travelling up and down the country regularly attending mod/soul nights. Through attending nights on a regular basis Pid asked me to DJ along with a couple of mates Soggy and Gibbo. Dudley Steve was also on at the same night. I remember playing records like Joe Tex – You better believe it baby, JJ Jackson – Oh Ma Liddi and The Artistics – hope we have. I also remember playing a reissue, but this was before I was aware of the OVO policy! A couple of people looked amazed that they saw a young 17 year old lad behind the decks playing Bobby Adams & Betty Lou – Dr True Love…quite funny thinking about it now!
3. What was your most memorable DJ spot?
My most memorable DJ set has to be in Barcelona at the Boiler club. The city is amazing enough but the Boiler Club is how clubs should be, exciting, vibrant and a full on party from start to finish. I was deliberating weeks before about what I should play and selecting records for my play-box! I was pleased with my sets and judging by the dance floor so were the dancers, it was packed from start to finish… I even played a B-side by mistake and the dancers liked it, thankfully it was a very good B-side!
4. What so far, has been your worst DJ experience?
If ever you get asked to DJ at a wedding DON’T DO IT! I was asked off the back of running a club called ‘Shoutin the Blues’. One of the bar men liked the music and asked me to play at his wedding. At the time I was about 18 or 19 and thought that I could make a few quid. I made it clear that I only had Soul, Mod, R&B, Latin records and that he wouldn’t be getting the usual type wedding DJ playing music like ABBA, The Village People etc. He was adamant that he wanted something a bit different and that his guests would enjoy the music. I agreed to do it and for a price of £150, which I thought wasn’t bad for a few hours work! How wrong could I have been!
I was conscious not to play rare stuff, so I took more mainstream (to me) records which consisted of lots of Motown and dance floor friendly classics. Anyway to cut a long story short only 1 person danced throughout the whole night and that was towards the end of the night… funnily enough it was probably the rarest record I played all night ‘Billy Hawkes – Oh Baby’. Towards the end there were a group of lads who were sat at the back of the room, one of them came to ask me if I would play ‘You’ll never walk alone’, me being a Man United fan replied “I don’t play that stuff”, every record I played then was drowned out by a chant of “Who the f hell are you”. Shortly after that I decided to call it a night. I got my wages and left. Looking back now it’s pretty funny but at the time it was a nightmare!
5. Your favourite scene DJ’s and why?
Mik Parry – Forward thinking and so ahead of the game it’s unreal. It’s only now other DJ’s have been able to acquire records he was playing years ago. A) because the records are pure quality and B) they have seen his playlists. Check out his You tube channel ‘POW WOW MIK’
Karl Heard – Is what I call a proper DJ! This man has the ability to create an atmosphere like no other. Karl had a record collection to die for, but has now sold most of them off…not that I’m complaining! You think of all the big tunes – Volumes, Charles Johnson, Judy Stokes, Notations, Magicians, Harvey Averne, Johnny McCall AND Karl had or has these and loads more of this calibre.
Gav Arno – I always say it but it’s true, he’s a dark horse! Every time I hear him behind the decks and also when I have a look through his playbox he surprises me with what he has. Gav has a passion for unearthing quality unknown records, he finds tomorrow’s big records today!
6. What has shaped your DJ sound and why?
The three DJ’s I have mentioned in question 5 have helped me shape my taste, especially Karl Heard, over the last few years. Another is by regularly attending club nights and hearing DJ’s spinning new (to me) interesting records. The thing I love about Mod nights is you get such a varied taste of music from Soul right through to Jazz.
The internet is also a great way to hear new records and other DJ’s from around the world. Shows such as Jester Wild and YouTube channels are a great way to hear new stuff. Over the years I have collected all sorts but now I am much more selective about what records I buy.
7. What was your best ever find/discovery?
Tough question…my best discoveries are records I have recently posted on YouTube, Lil Archie & The Majestics, Leave my Girl Alone & Victor Lane, There’s Something About You. I have had them for about 4/5 years now and have been searching hard since but have never come across other copies. That is the reason why I have put them on YouTube to give them more exposure but also to see if other DJ’s/collectors can unearth copies…good luck!
8. Who was your biggest influence musically and your favourite artist(s)?
I honestly don’t have a favourite artist, I really like Marvin Gaye but not sure I could call him my favourite. I would relate this back again to question 5 and say that in my time as a resident at The Pow Wow Club, Mik and Gav were massive influences over me musically. The stuff these guys were playing was unreal! Imagine being 19/20 and hearing The Jokers, Jonathan Capree, The Fads, Young Jessie etc. Both well ahead of their time and two great DJ’s.
9. Do you collect specific labels/artists/genres?
Not in the slightest, if it’s good and I like it I’ll have bid/buy it. I don’t just buy records for DJ-ing with though. If I hear a record that I like but is not right for playing out, depending on cost, I will still by it for Sunday afternoons relaxing at home, listening to a few records.
Although I do like the Soul Brother Records label. It can be found here.
10. Where can folks currently catch your DJ set?
I am not currently a resident or running any club nights but I get asked to guest DJ quite a bit, so if you keep your eyes peeled I’m sure you will my see my name on one or two flyers. In terms of running my own night… watch this space!
11. What is the record you would most like to own?
Another tough one, it would have to be either Eddie Parker, I’m Gone on Awake or The Hopkins Bros, Shake Cherri on Magnetik. I can remember when I first heard both of these records for the first time and thinking Holy smoke!
I first heard Eddie Parker in Sweden at the Soulastic All-nighter when Ginger Taylor was playing. When the first few notes came in the atmosphere was something I had not experienced before at a soul all-nighter and something I will never forget. That night we all went onto an after party and one of my friends had what I thought was a copy of ‘I’m Gone’ and the only difference between his copy and Ginger’s was that my mate’s was a boot (the look-a-like boot). I wasn’t aware of the value of the record at this point and I thought he had a copy, he then explained it was worth in the region of between 5-7K, needless to say, it was hammered that night and played probably about 30 times at the after party… oh what good times!
I first heard Andy Dyson play The Hopkins Bros at Lifeline a few years back and again the place went crazy. Only a handful of DJ’s had it at the time, all the big boys such as Dyson, Butch, Ian Wright… I’m not even sure if Mick H had one at that time!? Shame that it has been booted now! It’s still record of the night every time I hear it out, but I hate that I can now go online and buy a boot of it for £10, it has to be OVO!
12. Please give us a top 10 all time favourite’s and a current top 5 spins?
Top Ten Favourites:
1. Eddie Parker – I’m gone
2. Hopkins Bros – Shake Cherri
3. Jonathan Capree – I’m gonna build me a mountain
4. Carol Anderson – Taking my mind off love
5. Ray Agee – I’m losing again
6. Billy Hawkes – Oh baby
7. Volumes – I ain’t gonna give you up
8. Otis Lee – Hard Row to Hoe
9. Parisians – Twinkle little star
10. Tobi Lark – Sweep it out in the shed
Top Five Spins:
1. The Sacred Four – Somebody watching you
2. Ray Agee – I’m Losing again
3. J T Parker – If you want to hold on
4. Judy Stokes – Real Man
5. Charles Simmons – Save the World