Niamh Lynch is based in North London, UK. Available for weddings, bar mitzvahs – you know how it goes. I used to be resident at Sophisticated Boom Boom years ago when it was a regular club at the Garage, Islington and then the Water Rats in Kings X.
She took some time out recently to talk to Dr. Robert @Nutsmag.
1. How and when did you get into music and what were you listening to then?
Does anyone remember when they first got into music? Does singing along in the kitchen with the radio when you were 3 count? I liked contemporary pop music and 60s music (nothing rare – I used to watch all the old 60s films on TV and loved the style and music) up until I went on holiday to Wexford (Kilmuckeridge) with a friend when I was 14 and we met up with some lovely mods. For some reason, those handsome, well dressed young men had an influence on me. So, I started exploring the music they were listening to and got dragged in. When I went to my first ever club in Dublin (the beautiful CIE hall), I got to hear all those old soul and RnB classics and spent the night open mouthed staring at all the amazing clothes. There was no turning back after that experience.
2. Where was your first DJ slot?
My memory on this is pretty poor and it is a toss-up between one of two. I think it was at the Dirty Water club in the Boston Arms having hassled PJ for a slot. It was a fairly shambolic poor effort but clearly didn’t put me off (probably put him off booking unknowns..) and I persevered. The other potential first spot was at a club called Track and Field in the Betsy Trotwood pub in Farringdon. I had bumped into one of the organisers, Steven Drew, in the Dublin Castle in Camden. I was drunk enough to be cheeky and ask for a slot. He was drunk enough to agree. He forgot about it but I didn’t and brazenly turned up with my records and guilt tripped a sober Steve into honouring his drunken promise. That was the slot that got me hooked as the dance floor was full and people even came over and thanked me after.
3. What was your most memorable DJ spot?
I am not sure I can single one out! I have had so many fantastic nights out over the years. There have been many iconic nights where I have felt truly honoured to have been invited:
6ts Rhythm and Soul at the 100 Club; The Mousetrap in Finsbury Park; Capitol Soul at the Dome in Tufnell Park, Middleton RnB room for Joe Dutton and, of course, rallies like Euro YeYe; All Saints; Two Men from Linz, The Italian Job; New Untouchables Brighton Weekender – all brilliant and all organised by enthusiastic dedicated people, which is what makes them such an amazing experience.
4. What so far, has been your worst DJ experience?
I think I could pick any of my early dj spots, purely for nerves! I was a very nervous dj in the early days. The first time Rob gave me a chance at Hipsters in the Pleasure Unit, I worried about it for a week beforehand, got my set in running order so nothing was left to chance, then got on and put on the first record, on the wrong side. Doh! Moved on swiftly to the next record (with Rob’s help) and then discovered that the headphones didn’t work. I had very little knowledge of the equipment and, to cap it all, the BBC were down filming for a documentary at the Pleasure Unit that night. I was desperately trying to line a record up using sight only with a camera in my face getting a close up while I let loose a string of four letter words.
Another good one was at Fab in Clipstone Street. Rob’s famous turntable that used to become possessed when it was on the correct speed (had to be +ed or –ed to work ok). Of course, no one told me and I put it on the correct speed only to have the record deck speed up in the wrong direction.
All character building experiences!
5. Your favourite scene DJ’s and why?
Again, there are quite a few contenders for this accolade: the classics, who come back year after year with great tunes – Ady Croasdell; Roger Banks (a complete entertainment system is Roger); Alan Handscombe. And there are many others who I enjoy Warren Boogaloo; Mik Parry (the abusive dance floor filler! I have never heard anyone else manage to abuse a crowd on to the floor, his amazing stomper tunes help of course); Nashee for her left field choices; Carl Willingham; Joe Dutton and there are plenty more who have influenced me; made me reach for my phone to get a photo of the awesome tune they are playing and who are just all round good guys (and girls) who have a passion for what they do. I think the people with a passion for what they are playing are the ones who generate the atmosphere as it translates to the crowd. There’s nothing better than seeing the dj having a ball singing along (and dancing if there’s room) behind the decks.
6. What has shaped your DJ sound and why?
I collect a wide spectrum of sounds but when I collect to dj, I like tunes that have a good strong dancing beat. I have tunes that I play at home that would never get to a club but when djing I want people to dance and enjoy themselves so I try to play danceable tunes with the odd unknown thrown in, always with a good beat in the hope no one notices (or cares) and carries on dancing.
I have also had the good fortune early in my collecting days to make the acquaintance of Ty Jesso, a dj and collector/ seller from Providence, Rhode Island. I met up with him in London after contacting him through a Yahoo group (the old Mods list) and listened to loads and loads of his 45s and bought about 30 straight off. We kept in touch regularly, he would send tapes of what he had for sale and I would send tapes of the sort of sound I liked. He twigged my taste very quickly and used to do compilation tapes and send them over with prices. And if he didn’t have time, I’d ring and he’d play his latest suggestions down the phone. I can probably attribute quite a large chunk of my early collection to Ty’s diligence and great prices (another £10 due to me there I think).
7. What was your best ever find/discovery?
Back in the 90s Channel 4 ran a series of dodgy b-movies season called “Exploitica”. There were many great films shown but one that struck me (and I taped on a good old VHS tape) was Teenage Gang Debs. Filmed around the Bronx in New York and using real street gangs, it was a very dark story about the rise and fall of a gang leader’s girl. The title tune by Lee Dowell was “Don’t make me mad”. I loved it and was desperate to get the record on 45. When eBay arrived on the scene and helped locating all those records overseas, I used to search it. Then Ty Jesso sent me a link of one for sale on eBay (one of only two I have ever seen for sale in all my years collecting, and I still have the search in to this day) and I went for it. I didn’t pay big money for the 45. It was a long time ago and I got it for less than $100. However, it was in the days when you could see who was the highest bidder on records and it was the only time I have ever been inundated with people after telling me to name my price. Which, of course, made me treasure it even more! It’s a good fast soul/ RnB tune and the b-side isn’t bad either! I played it (by mistake again) in Boston when djing at Vinny Nguyen’s club (cannot remember the name of the night) and left it to play through, though it’s very fast. It’s called “Be a black belt” and there is a dance in the film that goes along with it. Innes and I tried to master the dance but could just never get it right..
8. Who was your biggest influence musically and your favourite artist(s)?
I have to say that I started off with the Motown beat and moved on from there. I love Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson as all round soul singers. Their voices have lovely tones. And I am a total sucker for a female vocal, bubblegum; bad-ass; group; torch singers, the lot. A guy once said to me at the 100 Club that he didn’t think women could sing soul. I have never spoken to him since. Ha!
9. Do you collect specific labels/artists/genres?
No. I am definitely not a record label nerd. I don’t even catalogue by label like a lot of collectors/ djs. I rang a seller looking for a record once and told them the artist and song. The response was that they couldn’t check whether or not they had it because I didn’t know what label it came out on and they filed by label. That to me is a bit nuts as a buyer is far more likely to know the song/ artist they are after than the label!
It broke my heart when my collection got too large and I had to split it by genre. So all my garage and beat had to be weeded out and stored separately. And then further broken down to a play box and the rest. I liked it all when it was one big family but I got to the point where I couldn’t find anything and half the time couldn’t even remember if I owned it!
10. Where can folks currently catch your DJ set?
Next clubs spots listed below! It all comes in fits and starts and I’m happy that way. I don’t want to be out every weekend running around the country.
11. What is the record you would most like to own?
At the moment? I would love to own a copy of Jonathan Capree: Gonna build a mountain on Oxbow. That tune is such a builder and never fails to get me on the dance floor.
And there are some great classics I would love to have in my collection – to own if not to play:
That’s not love: Holly St James – nearly brings me to tears when I hear it…
Can’t we talk it over: L Allen – got it all, echo, de-tuned piano and it sounds like the master tape was worn/ stretched. All the faults just add to the atmosphere of the tune.
12. Please give us a top 10 all time favourites and a current top 5 spins?
Top 10 Tracks of All Time:
- Wheels of Steel: Saxon
- Run to the hills: Iron Maid… Oh. Sorry. That sort of top ten..
My top ten is unapologetically full of well known tunes. Tunes that were popular for good reason. The tunes that make the hair stand up on my neck when the first few notes echo out over a big hall and make me shove people out of the way in my haste to get to the dance floor.
- L Allen: Can’t we talk it over – the only thing that makes hearing this tune even better is if Kavel Rafferty is there to dance with me. A favourite of Ms Rafferty’s too.
- Ritchie Adams: I can’t escape from you – rolls along at such a rate. Never get tired of dancing to it
- The Majestics: I love her so much it hurts – Those horns!
- Wallie Hawkins/ Rose McCoy: Switch around – first heard this played by Roger Banks. Female backing to die for
- Jonathan Capree: Gonna build a mountain – an amazing tune that builds
- Holly St James: That’s not love – so much atmosphere
- Joanie Sommers: Don’t pity me – always loved this but to see her singing it live is enough to bring anyone to tears
- Fire: My Father’s name is dad – love this for the snotty youthfulness
- The Eyes: Rowed out – more snotty yoof
- Castaways: Liar, liar – this tune will always remind me of the old days at the Frat Shack and early Mousetraps. My first few years in London when I had started earning proper money and used to go out all the time to all the great clubs that flourished thanks to Britpop. So many happy memories and this tune brings them all back.
Current Top 5 Tracks:
- The Invitations: watch out little girl
- Voices Incorporated: Thinkin’
- Barry White: Tracy
- Lee Dowell: Don’t make me mad
- Plas Johnson: Downstairs
Next Club Spots: Nuts 17th Anniversary at the Phoenix, Cavendish Square, London - November 8th 2014 17 years! Who would have thought it? I remember the first one.
Teen Scene at the Hideaway bar, Tufnell Park – 21st November 2014
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