Author Archive

A New Dawn……Sort Of

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Podcasts

In an attempt to have my mixes actually hosted on my own website, I’ve been working closely with my IT team (aka my Big Middle Brother) and we’ve come up with the below options, which should enable you to stream, download or subscribe to the podcast via RSS. It’s all pretty technical stuff and you may have switched off at IT but below is an exclusive mix that you can test out and that won’t turn up anywhere else.

This mix, is in effect, an update of a Todd Edwards tribute mix I done 15 years ago, when I was learning the ropes and annoying the folks. 15 years ago it was done on 1210’s to a TDK cassette. This time around a Pioneer controller to Serato. Times and equipment change, but funnily enough Todd Edwards sound has remained as inimitable today, as it was back then. It features the old, the new and the slightly obscure.

Click one of the options below and enjoy.

Download Link

PODCAST FEED

Fab Free Three #4

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Fab Free Three

Fab Free Image 3
Haven’t done an update for ages and haven’t done a Fab Free Three for a while but a bit of Bank Holiday free time (OK I’ll stop using that word soon!!) meant I could get on the case and bring you some nice tunes for you to download for GRATIS!!

Kicking things off with a bouncing bassy offering featuring the talented Jamie George, he of fantastic hair AND voice…..
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/136468254″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Movely swiftly on to this cool remix by one of Belfast’s finest, Jay Kay, who’s been grafting over there for many moons. He serves up a really nice remix of Dirty Vegas here…..
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/139465218″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Lastly here’s something seriously sexy and downtempo as Larse remixes rising talent Banks, who I recently saw in concert. This track highlights her emo R&B vocal leanings set to a groovy deep house drum track….
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146462618″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

All Aboard The Bandwagon……..or Going Back To Your Roots??

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Podcasts

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My busy little mind threw a question over to the Facebook masses the other night as it was buzzing around my grey matter on the way to football. It was along these lines: If you played a style of music back in the 90s and that style died and you moved on to another style of music, then that original style re-emerged and you went back to it, are you going back to your roots or are you a bandwagon jumper? I got several interesting responses from my DJ pals so I thought I’d elaborate on it with a blog entry.

Straight off the bat I’d like to ask you to list out any DJs that have played just one precise style of music their whole career? You can say someone has played House music their whole career but that sound palette may have moved 3 or 4 times through that period. You could say that David Rodigan has always played reggae all his life, true, but there are a variety of different types of flavours that fall under the Reggae umbrella. I’m going to concentrate on House music centric stuff though, as other areas like D&B aren’t my strong point.

 

The genre that mainly popped into my canister was Garage or UKG if you must call it that. Plenty of old guard Garage DJs are making some paper again as the scene has been re-energised with artists like Disclosure playing lots of the old hits but also producing new stuff that borrows heavily from days gone by. But what were a load of those DJs doing in the interim? Were they caught in the Ratpack trap where they were just playing ‘classics’ sets? Or were they playing House music? Or maybe even R&B? Now Garage is flourishing again, is it really wrong to go back whence they came?

Have you only ever bought one type of music? Of course you haven’t. If you ignore my very young GR weekly foray to Woolworths to buy a random 7” each week with my pocket money, you’ll find that I started off buying what used to be called Hardcore. Labello Blanco stuff, 2 Bad Mice, Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era etc and then moved on to buying Jungle and going to Blackmarket, Unity etc every week whilst at college. That led into House which was very piano led, which went off into US Garage territory and then I’m staring the UK House & Garage scene directly in the face and I started to get gigs and radio work and for me I classify that as my roots. Not the Hardcore/Jungle days as that was just record buying for fun, I didn’t even have decks then. When UKG got too MC/Crew led I was done with that sound and had always been buying House music along with my Todd Edwards, MJ Cole type stuff. I’ve been with House Music since but how often does the trend shift in House music? If you choose to just play a certain style of house e.g. Disco House and it’s out of favour, does that not mean you are not current and playing music that isn’t en vogue? DJ Lewi a DJ that has followed quite a similar musical path to me over the years, and who has had success with releases in various genres said this “Haven’t you got to keep up with the times so that you’re not left behind?”

Isn’t variety supposed to be the spice of life? You look at DJs like Annie Mac or Jaguar Skills and they play right across the board from Deep House to D&B and no one bats an eyelid, but if you played a certain type of music and changed lane, you can get a right bashing. Skream was a high profile DJ that left Dubstep for Disco and House and he stood firm against the trolling and basically asked “Why can’t I?” Why are DJs not allowed to dabble? Does it come down to whether it’s done with integrity? Scuba left Dubstep too and settled in nicely with his Berlin living Techno tinged life. Neil Pierce hit the nail on the head with his reply “I’ve always played what I’ve loved……it’s about Passion not Fashion” the latter phrase he’d borrowed off Phil Asher apparently.

If I was a NOOB starting out DJing today, firstly I would’ve chosen a slightly sexier DJ name and probably stuck a number in it somewhere and join that bandwagon, but I wouldn’t choose one genre at all. I’ve always enjoyed doing my curveball Mysterious Vibes mixes where I cobble together stuff I can’t play out in one mix. But why can’t I play those tracks out? Because my bookings don’t have the dancefloors willing to accept them perhaps? Or that I don’t have the balls to play them? John Jones, long time collaborator with the Hed Kandi brand and boss of Yoversion records said “I think a DJ should never be afraid to play a record from any genre that fits into a set”. I wholeheartedly agree with that and think it’s a case of ‘Right place, Right time’. I finished a set in Belfast once with a bootleg of Enya vs Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, yes, I know it sounds awful but everyone went mental. Plus no one threw anything at me!!

I’m going to leave one of the parting thoughts with good old (well oldish) Andy Ward, Vocal Booth boss man, creator of my website and a man known for talking/writing even more than me, which I know must be hard to comprehend “The scene is awash with DJs and producers who jumped ship and started making rubbish music and are now back making music they become known for because it’s in fashion again. Fair play to them but they get no kudos from me.”

Who has the right to say whether it’s OK to move around genres or go back to your roots? I think if people are true fans of what you do they will support you regardless of your creative outlets. There’s a big wide world of music out there, embrace it as you see fit, but do it wholeheartedly and not on a whim coz it’s the in thing.

Are New DJs Still Geeks?

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Blog

geek_necklace
The discussion between the old guard and the new breed about ‘real DJs’ and all that “It was much better in our day” nonsense is a well-trodden path, that is repetitive and I think most would admit, is pretty boring these days (even though people bite on these types of threads on social media ALL the time). However there is no getting away from the fact that things are very different for the new DJ coming in to the scene. There are a multitude of different topics I could write about but the blog would go on forever, so I’m focusing on one thing for this blog: Are new DJs still Geeks??

Let me clarify what I mean when I write GEEK, as I guess it can mean various things to various people and I don’t mean you’ve bought a t-shirt from Topshop/Topman with Geek on the front and you’re wearing nerdy specs with clear glass in them. What I mean is – Do you obsess about Music? Are you extremely technical when it comes to your mixing and equipment? Do you collect anything? Do you over analyse your DJ ‘career’?

The reason I ask about collecting is that the old guard used to spend half their life in record shops, splashing the cash (or smashing the credit card in most cases) in search of the next club banger. As a DJ from the record shop days, I believe you were a Geek by definition. Most old guard DJs could flick through their record box and know tracks by their labels or covers. These days you can’t really do that, unless of course you are indeed a Geek and have all your MP3 artwork and are using the search method on the CDJ2000s that allows you to flick through tracks in a way that mimics the old record box flicking…..or of course if you are super trendy, have a beard, sleeve tattoos and play uber cool techno and then you actually are still flicking through a record box.

I wanted to chat with a few DJs, ones that had DJed around five years and preferably ones I didn’t know, so that I didn’t have any idea on how their character is, to enable me to try and write this blog with open eyes. Obviously a handful of DJs isn’t a massively researched piece but allow me, it’s not that easy to get DJs to help you, without them wanting something from you!! The few that did respond were quite vocal in their responses, so I hope that it should still offer up an interesting view on how a couple of new breed DJs see themselves and whether they feel they are indeed Geeks?
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It could be said that you don’t miss what you never had. The new breed don’t really know music buying/hunting in any other way than grabbing MP3s/WAVs from a multitude of platforms, whether it be Beatport or getting the odd giveaway track on Soundcloud. But are you sniffing out music in an obsessive nature? Or do you just have a little look online prior to a gig and buy a load of stuff that’s riding high in the charts? Liam Beanie Smith is one of the DJs that kindly answered my call for fresh meat and he had this to say “Do we still hunt around on our days off for the next big tune to play in our sets? In my eyes yes we do, unfortunately not like the past walking into a record shop and speaking to the owner wondering what is out next week what is new in and what track is the hidden gem.”

I know how much of a Geek I am at times and can often obsess about putting together mixes. As a rule of thumb over the years the more I obsess, the more I’ve ended up NOT putting together that bang on mix I was after. And I’ve still not learnt!! Another chap, Demos Joannou kindly responded too and had this to say about obsessing over that killer mix “Obsessing about the “perfect mix” Often ends in frustration, however the time you fade out of the last track of a set and know it has gone flawlessly, the time spent, sweat and tears poured makes it all worthwhile”

These days, you don’t have Record Store camaraderie but you have a multitude of forums and a sliding scale of keyboard warrior depending on where you decide to put fingers to keyboard. Are you sticking your nose in several times a day? Refreshing that topic you’ve just left a smart arse comment on to see if anyone has replied? *Refresh* Nothing *Refresh* aha a reply. Are you mindful of building a network across these forums? With fellow DJs, who you could possibly work with in the future and, shock horror, HELP EACH OTHER out and also with your audience who may come and see you DJ?

Spending all that time on social media and reading tweets from international jet setting DJs can lead to envy, ambition and all manner of other thoughts for new DJs (and the old guard at times too) but this can lead to over analysation and plenty of procrastination. Demos had this to say on the matter “I think the problem now is not so much ‘are new DJ’s different to the older generation?’, more so of what is required of new DJs? It seems it’s as important how many people you are putting on the guest list, to ‘can you actually pull off a good night through your music selection and mixing ability?’ In that sense then I would say a lot of new DJs over analyse their DJ career and some careers probably never start due to this.”

Again drawing from my own experience of the past, I can look at times when I’ve got bookings abroad and got all hyped and visualised how the venue would be and how I’d like the DJ set up to be, but I’d never had any weight to insist on the riders you see these days and you turn up with CDJ100s (no that’s NOT a typo, that’s 100s not 1000s) and some mixer that’s been cobbled together from egg boxes and Lego. Does caring about the set up mean you’re Geeking out harder? Liam seemed to be a man after my own heart “My main concern turning up to a gig is the mess of a DJ box. If the previous DJ or previous night has left it in a state, I would have to make sure that the wires are neat and tidy running perfectly behind the mixer” in fact Liam’s taken it to a level beyond me, I think? I don’t see the issue there though, why should you not want to work in the best environment you can? Although most jobbing DJs know that beyond the big clubs, DJ booths across bars and smaller clubs are often an embarrassment.

Going slightly off topic I wanted to find out if any of these two guys collected other stuff? I think there’s a slight collective gene, or that’s what I tell people as I’m hoarding yet more trainers, goalie gloves and fragrances, that directly correlates back to DJing and collecting vinyl, or just music in general. Liam came in with a large sticker collection that would adorn his laptop. This would be the modern day equivalent of sticking them on your record box of course. Then Demos alluded to keeping all his old computer consoles along with hoarding all his old DJ equipment.

OK, so on the evidence of these two newer DJs the answer to my initial question is a resounding YES, both have admitted it right off the bat. Personally I don’t think that the majority of new breed jocks are Geeks, but it excites me that there are new breed DJs out there fiending for new music and handling their business in the right way. Or should I say, how I think is the right way to conduct yourself. I’ll leave the parting shot to Demos with a quote that really resonated with me and I hope it does with you too “Some people love to mix no matter what, career or hobby, for fun or competition, those people are ‘DJ Geeks’ whether old or young, new or a veteran in the industry. I think we are all cut from the same cloth. I think there is an underlying intelligence that all DJs hold (some hide it incredibly well) and there is a respect given to one another no matter what genre a person may be into. Manipulating sound through technology is the essence of what it’s all about and if that doesn’t make someone a geek, then what does?”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. I’ve gotta send a big thank you out to Liam and Demos for taking the time to end over their thoughts and if you’d like to check out their mixes you can click away here DEMOS LIAM

What Would You Do?

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Blog

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I was in bed nearly dozing off and a thought came to me after I had seen two DJ pals write pretty much the same thing on the same day on Stalkbook (albeit on Blue Monday, the day in which the most amount of people look for new jobs – and also chuck their partners) and yes, they both typed “I need a new job”. Both were serious about looking for something else, probably to subsidise the DJ income, but it made me think: What does a DJ do when they hang up their headphones? How many DJs can really do it till you are in your 60s and do you really want to be doing it then?

Firstly, we’ll look at a few high profile DJs who have looked to shift away from life in sweaty clubs. Danny Rampling ‘retired’ and then went on to try and open a restaurant that was unfortunately plagued with issues, which eventually never opened. He then wrote an book entitled ‘Everything you need to know about DJ’ing’ (I’ve not read it yet, but I’d like to) and eventually he began DJing again. Then you’ve got Judge Jules, who has gone to pursue a career in law (whilst still DJing on the side). He got his ‘Judge’ name as he had studied law before his DJ career took off and he has refreshed his law qualifications and gone to work for an entertainment law firm. Danny Tenaglia wrote an emotional ‘resignation’ letter (which you can read here Tenaglia’s Resignation) and that lasted about two minutes, before he came back to do his thing. I’m pretty sure the two Dannys wanted to ‘escape’ but something pulled them back. Money? Ego?

Twenty Thirteens Best Bits

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Blog

new-years-meme
I’ve seen a lot of waffle online, talking about “It’s been a vintage year” blah blah blah. It’s the same people saying that same shit every year. I’m not going to candy coat anything and try and pretend it’s been that for my goodself. 2013 hasn’t been an Anus Horribilis but it has been the year I got round to giving my website a facelift and in turn really found my groove with my writing. It’s a creative outlet for someone that has a 9-5 in the City, in a suit. 2013 has also been the year that I’ve not really fitted in those suits as well, as I seem to have put on weight all over the shop.

You’re probably tired of all these lists and general ‘end of year’ bandwagonning but allow me, yeah? I’d just like to round up things that have made me happy or that have garnered my interest for longer than the usual seven seconds.

Top Ten House Tracks
 

Toyboy & Robin – Jaded
This tune is just instant energy for the floor. I’ve rinsed the granny out of it and due to its cracking intro was great for set opening. Also gets top spot for using an R&B vocal (Jade ‘Don’t Walk Away’ if you were wondering) and NOT pitching it DOWN (although they have on their VIP Remix).

Route 94 – My Love
I tweeted earlier this year that this tune gives me feelings and Skream concurred with my findings. It’s mostly the keys but that topline by Jess Glynne is like the icing on a pretty bloody tasty cake.

Wez Saunders – Fire (Grant Nelson Mix)
I’ve definitely played this tune the most in 2013. The legendary Mr Nelson turns in a killer remix for this track on his own label and all things considered this could’ve crossed over if certain stars had aligned.

Duke Dumont featuring A.M.E. – Need U (100%)
Talking of crossover, this tune actually hit the top of the hit parade, which in turn kind of highlighted what a good year for House Music it was. A huge hit that still sounds good even if it’s been rinsed.

Osunlade – Dionne
Let’s face facts, you’re always going to get a Defected tune in most House DJs round up of the years tunes, and rightly so. Their quality control is next level as is this Dionne Warwick sampling disco tinged beauty from Osunlade.


Fab Free Three #3

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Fab Free Three

Fab Free Image 1
Whilst you’re potentially waiting for a new mix (and one has been done, honestly) I’ve rounded up a nice selection of tracks you can go and download for ZERO pennies.

First up is one of my fav tracks of this year. £1.26 if you can tell me what the sample is?
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/122291208″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Next up is this thing of beauty. Xander milne has done a variety of ‘Tributes’ over on his Soundcloud and this is my pick of the bunch and features in my latest mix.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/116850219″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Last but by no means least is this futuristic bass tinged edit of Sohn by XO (whoever that is?)
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115763006″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Dry Your Eyes Mate

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Blog

crying_baby
It’s been a hot minute since my last internet ruck (is there an actual name for these? It’s separate from Trolling really as it’s a continuous argument…what about ARGU-NETS?) Anyway, we digress, already! So, as per my usual drill, I can’t punch these people in the face, so I write about it.

At the weekend we held a DJ Competition to find a new resident DJ for Kinky Malinki. We had received plenty of entries and we whittled it down to seven DJs. Each DJ had answered a few questions to get a bit of an idea of their character too, as we were interested in taking on a DJ that was fun and professional to work with, especially if we’ll be working with them for a minimum of twelve months.

Each DJ had fifteen minutes to do their thing. Admittedly not a lot of time, but the idea was to create a live club environment, which we did in the new Glass Room in Pacha. The thought process was that if they handled themselves well under that pressure, then they’ll do well, full stop. Paul Kinky, myself and a randomly selected person (who was called Jade) from the KM FB group, were judges.

Fab Free Three #2

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Fab Free Three

Fab Free Image 4

Here we go with another instalment of great tracks that the artists have out there for you to download (or just stream if you like) to your hearts content, for FREE. My initial offering may have been a little laidback but there’s nothing laidback about this next selection…….

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/114840205″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

First up is a rolling instrumental from the ever so talented Ben Westbeech aka BrEaCh. This has been put out there to coincide with a new Sony Walkman. Of course these days you don’t need to use a pen to rewind cassettes to save on battery usage!!

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/114358672″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Next up is a VIP mix of the Renegade Master sampling track from new hot property Friend Within. I’ve still no idea who Friend Within was in a previous incarnation but he has pals in high places with this being signed to Disclosure’s new record label that run’s through Ministry of Sound.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/114719196″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Last but by no means least is this lovely vocal number from Linden Jay expertly remixed by Cause & Effect who I keep seeing pop up on many a remix atm.

The Running Man – Chester Marathon

Written by Grant Richards. Posted in Blog

Running Man
Since re-launching my website earlier this year, I’ve gone ‘off-piste’ a few times with my blogs. There is only so much you can write about music and the clubbing scene and when putting together the ideas for my new site I was adamant that I actually wanted it to be more than just that. Running is now a big part of my life and I’m sitting in bed writing this, aching pretty much everywhere after completing the Chester Marathon, so I thought I’d put fingers to keyboard and write about it.

Let’s give you a little bit of background first. I took my first tentative steps away from the gym treadmill and out into the dark, cold place they call Croydon – I’m not saying Croydon is a dark, cold place all the time, it was actually night time and really cold. I completed just under three miles that night, back in March 2010. I remember it vividly. Where I ran. What I wore. How I felt – I was blowing out of my backside, by the way, but I’d made a start. Quite soon after that one of my best pals, who is a Territorial Army member and regular marathon runner, had me signed up for the Dublin Marathon. Fast forward a few years, a few thousand miles ran and a few thousand quid raised for The Adolescent Childrens Trust and Nordoff Robbins Music Charity (at the Dublin and Amsterdam marathons respectively) and something in me tells me it’s time to tackle another marathon.