Welcome to our eighth monthly Deep Cuts article. EIGHT. The theme is Connection, its prompt question was 'what music represents someone / some group you want to stay connected to?'. As with last month's theme Bitter Sweet, we've been working on this since long before quarantine, but there's a gorgeous synchronicity there.
As always, tracks from each contribution are gathered in this month's Deep Cuts mix (mixed this month by the Sugar Glider), embedded below, the mix's tracklist is at the end of the article, all the Spotify-able tracks are gathered in this playlist here, and the illustration comes from Trav.
Massive shout-out to all the contributors, much love, enjoy x
Blue Lab Beats
Connections! Lock down has been really hard for us, we lost all our gigs from March-October and have literally just started working together again in the studio. Mr DM was sending keyboard parts over but it wasn't anything like bouncing ideas in the studio. It's been such an emotional time with family member's being really sick with Covid and people close passing away, on top of that the Black Lives Matter movement has shown the best and worst in people.
To us, keeping a connection with our friends (who happen to be the most amazing musicians) from the London live scene has been so important. We've texted, called and stayed in touch and listened to each other's music. As soon as things relaxed a bit and we could go out, someone in the scene (no mentioning names or location as we can't have it too crowded!) started a live jam in a park in South London! They took a generator, people travelled miles with their instruments, amps, drum kits etc and for a few weeks everyone has met up again, it's been the best thing.
We are jamming with Dylan Jones [of Ezra Collective], Dominic Canning [of Project Karnak], Benjamin Appiah [of Steam Down], Solaaris [whose track South
opens this month’s Deep Cuts mix] and many more incredible musicians. We can hear that everyone's chops have gone up to such amazing levels because of all the practice in lockdown. The growth is beautiful.
Everyone appreciates that the people that run the park have let us do this. The small crowd has to sit down and dance and socially distance. On the video you can see a group of musicians early on - listen out for the Star Wars theme tune! The only trouble is the English weather, NK-OK [half of Blue Lab Beats] travelled for nearly an hour and a half this week, it had been sunny all day and as he arrived at the park it started to rain, had a quick chat with everyone and then they scattered to all parts of London carrying their instruments and dodging the raindrops!
Blue Lab Beats are a prodigious, imaginative Jazztronica duo, check out their video for Oooo Lala if you want a smile. They are one of the best live acts Jemima Presland has ever seen, a kaleidoscopic experience that she described in our second Deep Cuts article, ‘City Hues’.
I came across Virgil Hawkins through just running my event and I’ve been introduced to so many amazing artists like the absolute angel that is Donalee and Scuti.
Nine8Collective is also going strong. I’ve had the pleasure to have Nayana play at my event and felt like I experienced a force of nature. Literally you left me speachless girl. [Nayana’s TTkTV freestyle appears at 3:09 in this month’s mix].
Reminds me of a time hanging around with my old friends in our mid teens, on the seemingly long journey to Croydon, blaring out music from our Sony Ericsson walkman phones on the bus *covers face in embarrassment*. The music drops when she screams out a high noted "woo!”, we recorded a video where one of us popped into the screen in sync with that scream, that was unexpected! That's what made the video/journey. It cannot be found but the memories are still there, those were easy fun times. A couple of my friends still remember this, we go down memory lane with it. [13:02 in the mix]
I must of heard of this song [4:27 in the mix] last summer around the time of moving. It was such a coincidence, someone posted about giving away their cat, which happened to be a fluffy white cat (as they say throughout the song), so this always reminds me about getting my little Coco, but the tune is so mellow that the band got me hooked ever since. Love the guitar riffs, drumming, mixed in such a beautiful way.
Bevna is a music geek.
It’s on the edge of losing hope, of letting go, yet it brings you back home after 7 lush minutes of indulgence in sadness and heartache. Somehow, and as cliché as it sounds, it reminds me that the truest connection of all is that with the self.
Connecting song [8:42]:
Sarah Kuhail is currently studying Digital Culture and Society at KCL.
Here are three tracks that remind me of those who I haven’t seen in a while but that definitely feel as if they strengthen my own connection to those people (well, haven’t seen properly at least).
First shout is Pull Up by Abra [16:52]. The heavy 808 kicks and bass/dreamy vocals combo on this is unreal every time. Although the whole Princess EP is bang on the money, this has always been the standout for me (although the one minute intro track Come 4 Me fucking slaps to about the same degree). This is an anthem to me and many of my lot. To us Abra is an absolute icon. I’ve even gone as far as getting a bootleg t-shirt made as a gift for a like minded friend in the past, because I couldn’t find any legit merch that even referenced her at the time. Still have a very fond memory of seeing her play in a really strange sticky venue in the early evening during Simple Things festival in 2016. One of the highlights of that short gig being this track but also my friend being offered a polo by the person next to him which he then tried to lean down and snort from the end of the packet because he was that out of it. Classic antics.
Secondly I’m going with Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band. Put simply, this one just reminds me of doing karaoke with the Sheffield crew at Kallida festival, and I always associate karaoke with my friends who were born and bred in that city, who I met while living there (shoutout the daddy Ben M aka Spanish Caravan who did this as a duet with me there - def check out his radio show on Threads). I like how the lyrical content of this track is really light heartedly trippy rather than full on Jim Morrison “Ride the snake..” type trippy. It’s a level that’s actually a lot more relatable to most people I think, as a lot of people will just dabble and have a giggle rather than really push their mind to the outer rim in those hallucinatory circumstances.
Finally I’m going to just say anything from the label Globex Corp. The releases this label puts out are the exact incarnations of Jungle and Hardcore I want to hear when we all finally get back into the club. Right now I know I’ve got friends in every reach of the country who will be doing equal full beam grins the moment tracks off this label are dropped in front of one hundred plus people again for the first time in a nice big warehouse after the current situation with the pandemic. Fucking hope a decent crew of us are together then it all kicks off again, though I’m sure we will be.
(The embed above is a fan favourite from Globex Corp but like I say it’s all pretty much watertight tbqfh)
Joel is an OG Loose Lips crew member.
The premise of human connection is so fickle and unpredictable - you can be out of touch with someone for decades, and then as soon as you see them again the time warp, that is life, swallows up all those years like they never even existed. And sometimes you don’t speak with someone for a merely few weeks and you are already struggling to find the common ground for a conversation.
To say I stayed connected to everyone who introduced me to new music would be a lie. Over the years I listened to a lot of obscure stuff, stuff I wouldn’t have listened to otherwise, in an attempt to impress certain people, pretend like I knew my shit, or (surprise, surprise) find a connection. Some experiences were more successful than the others. One of the most memorable ones was being woken by a cranium-rapturing sound after a night of passion and one too many whiskeys. In the next few hours that followed, I found myself shouting over a noise made by a death metal band whose decibels could be rivalled only by the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969. Unfortunately the name of the band escaped my memory.
On another occasion I summoned all of my knowledge of the 70’s rock music, as I was preparing to sing in front of a packed bar to impress my flame. For the first time in my life I wished I had a normal middle class English parents who would have instilled the knowledge of the 70’s legends in me from birth, but alas it wasn’t the case. My brain could only think of two bands FleetFood Mac [Editor’s note: I’m leaving in the typo there, as I think it speaks to the story’s truth] and Rolling Stones, neither of them known to my parents. As I settled for Proud Mary by Tina Turner, I wanted the ground to swallow me.
There are other people who cross your path and they really make you think outside the box when it comes to music and how we consume it. And I really appreciate those encounters. One of my favourite results of such encounter was being introduced to Bad Brains' music. A bit late to jump on the band wagon but nevertheless [Ragga Dub appears at 19:22]
And then there are people who really shape your taste in music. People with whom you take your journey through life - from being groupies and casually ending up chatting to Pharcyde and Damian Albarn after their gig, to attempting to interview Sean Paul and failing miserably, to trekking across Holland to a tiny village just to catch a glimpse of our favourite jazz artist Pete Philly, to rapping Ass Like That by Eminem at every single karaoke night, to belly dancing whilst listening to a Moroccan 80’s pop cassette set. This track sums up all of the above:
I am very keen on silence. My ears hurt if there is too much endless noise in my day, musical or otherwise. And when I listen to music, or make music, my ears are reaching out from the sides of my head for every nuance, every little diminuendo or crescendo, every lift or pause. I want to be immersed in the music, engulfed by it, overcome to the point that nothing else exists in my sound world while the music plays or is sung. I want to experience the silences too, however tiny. If I get to experience music in this way it grabs my breath from me, flips my stomach, and pierces my protective layers to reach my heart and soul to the extent that nothing else exists in those moments. Serenity from O Magnum Mysterium by Ola Gjeilo [20:52] has this effect on me
I first heard Gjeilo’s work when I started singing again, after being ‘too busy’ with my career to sing. I joined a small group lead by Simon Davies Fidler and he introduced me to this fabulous music. I was pretty nervous to start singing again in my 50s, but I’d been off work for a year having cancer treatment and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life more closely connecting to music. So I took some lessons and joined Simon’s group.
It’s interesting to listen to this piece again in a world that is extensively locked down, a world that has largely stopped in its tracks. I used to use music to help me to feel calm, to focus, to be grounded and to help me believe in the beauty in the world. In our current pandemic I listen to music against the backdrop of real silence. Gjeilo transports me to my favourite place in the world, Scandinavia, to nights spent watching the Northern lights, and to days spent cross country skiing in crisp snow at temperatures of -15 Celsius. Silence is absolute.
For me to break a moment and silence and choose music instead, I seek musical skill, artistry, real passion in the piece played. I first heard Joan Armatrading on the day I left school, at a festival in Blackbushe. My closest friends and I blagged a lift with someone’s Mum and got dropped off at the gate. My first festival, so exciting. Bob Dylan was headlining so I got as close to the front as I could get. And then Joan Armatrading came on stage. She has so much musical skill. From her shy and introverted persona, she is able to share her passion for the story of the song with her audience. It’s an awesome skill and an education. This is one of my favourites.
Listen for the silence from the vocal part in amongst the music. This song captivated me. It took me to a basement in Brixton to have singing lessons, to try to learn the skill of capturing the listener’s attention by inhabiting the song and telling its story. I didn’t last long, I had too much living of my own to do at the time. Also singing really well is about learning how to be inside a song like that, to the exclusion of everything else, to the point where it grabs your heart and flips your stomach. That’s a great feeling, but one I felt too vulnerable to embrace in my early twenties.
More recently I have worked hard at being a better singer of classical music. I can be halted physically and mentally by a great classical performance. For me this includes great technique, repertoire that really suits the voice and great storytelling and passion in song delivery. The Cardiff Singer of the World bi-annual singing competition is a week of pure joy for me and others who love classical singing. Think of it as the Glastonbury of classical song. I have been there in person a couple of times, but if I can’t get there I have a whole week of nights at home watching each competition round on the TV. During the Song Final in 2019, MingJei Lei delivered an astonishing performance; such gripping storytelling and great passion. I am totally absorbed when I listen to this, I feel as though my ears reach for every nuance, nothing else around me matters. I get goose bumps now, even on the hundredth time of hearing it and I smile a very very big smile. (4:40 in the video below)
The feeling of being overtaken by exceptional music is beautifully explained in Daniel Levitin’s This Is Your Brain On Music (2007). How astonishing for our brain to be able to use so many parts of itself to process music. Our subcortical structures, our hippocampus, our frontal lobe and our amygdala all acting together to listen, to feel, to help us move in time to the music, to engage our memories. No single music processing centre exists, just huge neuroplasticity that enables each component to bring together our experience. No wonder when I choose to break silence with music I can feel totally overcome by it and absorbed by it. Huge thanks to my nephew Ben for giving me that book, always a favourite.
Before I take you back to Scandinavia I want to mention Jessye Norman, a world famous classical singer. She overcame considerable racism to become one of the foremost singers of her time. She died recently and I honour her authenticity, her ability to transmit her passion about each song. Her stage presence was extraordinary, she could grab my attention totally during the silence before the start of the song. Beim Sclafagehen from Strauss’s 4 Last Songs is my favourite. Tiny moments of lift or pauses inside phrases create a moment of silence to draw you further into her storytelling. Again, as with my first piece, the violin joins. Listen to the singing in the second part of the song after the string section – noting is more sublime – and in the midst of it a pause of silence. Her resonance and her breath control were out of this world. Listen to the link below at 9 mins 32 seconds:
Music-making venues of every description are silent at the moment. And yet there is an astonishing amount of music being made virtually. I have just uploaded my own recorded track of Eric Whitacre’s Sing Gently for his 6th virtual choir, the piece is due out on July 19th. It was a really exciting experience to be part of a virtual choir, but it’s just not group singing as we knew it, mainly because it lacks the emotional intensity of singing with others in a small group when you are in the same room together. I felt I couldn’t write this piece during lockdown without including some virtually made music. This is Voices of Hope singing Ola Gjeilo’s Northern Lights. Voices of Hope is one of the most sought after chamber choirs in the UK, and I am lucky enough to know the original conductor Simon Davies Fidler, and some of the singers as its based in Newcastle upon Tyne where I live. Thanks to Mark Edwards the current conductor for sharing this.
There is more emotional electricity when they are together, but this is such a fabulous achievement. It is so hard to sing choral music parts when you are alone listening to a tiny guide track. Working to overcome these difficulties and producing a lovely piece of singing tells me everything about how musicians are overcoming the silence in music venues everywhere with beautiful homemade music.
My dad once referred to himself as the ‘Forrest Gump of the Tech-House Scene’. He’d been present at all the big milestones in the up and coming future sound of the United Kingdom, but not a big player, though I see it otherwise. I recently sat him down for an informal interview / educational-chat-with-his-daughter, to talk about the life and times of his sound system travelling around the free party scene, why he isn’t famous today, and why chemicals + repetitive beats unlock our inner caveman. I’ve selected some of those milestones, and his words to go with them, as well as a song or two of his and my choosing. My parents were in the midst of the movement that changed dance music, and they don’t have to be superstars for me to want to hold onto it.
“We used to go to Stonehenge and put on a free festival there, the same people, the travellers, what Margaret Thatcher called ‘medieval brigands’. 1984 was the last year, and then by 1985 it had been going for 13 years, and would have been granted Royal Charter under ancient English law, so it was taken out. There used to be a little tiny blimp trailer that had one policeman in it, and that was the only police presence. We would be there for a month, and that was the only police presence… One time some dude in an ice cream van showed up and tried to sell heroin but the Hells Angels beat him up. They were like our bodyguards, they totally smashed him up… smashed his van up... There were NO hard drugs there, it wasn’t… there were no hard drugs in that scene at all- until the security services infiltrated, started making us take heroin, crack, meth and stuff. Like all scenes like that, because it gained a lot of traction, bad things started happening.”
“Early 1990 I came into a bit of money, and my friend, one of the guys I was working with called Scruff, we bought a sound system. It was a stage rig, it wasn’t like a PA for doing parties, it was like for putting on a band. Racks of amplifiers and two massive sound craft desks. We didn’t really know what to do with it. I was sort of hanging around with a lot of people I’d known for years from traveller sites. There were lots of free parties going on, here and there, and we got this sound system and one of my friends Spider said why don’t you come and we’ll set up this stage. Some guys had an old removal lorry and we were going to go to Glastonbury and put on a stage…. It was massive, proper full-on rig. Someone set up a dance tent and it just went off. We did like a week, put on about 35 bands over the official 3-day festival period. Sinead O’Connor asked to play on our stage but we had to say no because we had too many people, we were putting on Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles, we didn’t have time! Eavis [Michael] offered us 25 grand to leave and we said no. Lots of people were coming in through our fields and bunking into the festival. It was really hot and wet, it was mad. It was the best Glastonbury I’d ever been to.” [Pacific State appears at 22:22]
“I got out to Australia to see your mum, and I sat down at her hippy friend’s house, and we were chatting about the fact that I used to proper party, and this friend who was sat there was like ‘oh my god… oh my god are you Jake from Circus Normal’ and I was like ‘…what’ and she was like ‘we’ve all heard about Circus Normal and Glastonbury 1990’ and I’m like ‘how the fuck..’ and she was like ‘there’s a guy who lives in the woods here and he’s called Gary’ and I was like ‘is his name Gastro Gary’… Gastro was basically one of the guys that used to hang around with us… so he’d moved out to Australia, went and lived in the fucking forest outside Mullumbimby making DMT out of tree bark, became a bit of a legend. He started this cult talking about how Circus Normal had saved Glastonbury, and I got interviewed in Australia just like this, by some underground Australian dance music magazine. So you know, we may not have had much cred, but we were… we went out that summer, and after that Spiral Tribe, Bedlam… they did it much better than us, they did it in a consistent way, but I think if we hadn’t done that at Glastonbury that year I don’t think it would have kicked off the way it did.”
“So then we took the sound system and did these crazy little festivals. Spider had christened us Circus Normal, and we were the first rave circus, predating Circus Warp by probably a couple of months, and then Spiral Tribe turned up after that. I’m not saying we were better than them, we were different… We’d advertise on local radio stations and put on a little festival every weekend. The farmers would turn up and spray shit on us. Then they cancelled everyone’s dole and I had to go to court, but I had a showman’s license, I was legally allowed to be doing this. They got their dole money back... We did another festival at a place called Moreton Lighthouse, and it was brilliant the first year, DIY came and played with us. The next year it was proper dark, someone died. It was on the Wirral, proper bleak with a concrete beach, and the old bill came to take us away but all the locals came and sat on the wall and they went away.”
“The sound system then came back and became ‘the peoples sound system’. Spiral Tribe borrowed it et cetera... we, put on this huge, epic party in Camberwell with Spiral Tribe, and our mate George took too much LSD and if you find someone who went to this party and ask them if they remember George… We were in the weird position that night where the police were actually keeping crowds of people out of the party, we had shut the huge gates that blocked it off from the main road… and at the same time we were trying to hide George from the police.”
“The chemicals had a lot to do with it but it wasn’t about the chemicals, it was about what the chemicals unlocked in you. It was the fact it gained such huge traction in society. Everyone started loving each other. If you’ve taken a couple of E’s and you’re listening to really good music, you don’t wanna fight anyone. The drug thing is cited as being what killed off the dance scene. Ecstasy is probably the safest drug in the world. And the problem is, especially with things like LSD, that these things open doors. That’s what… the same people that are locking us down now, saw that back then, and started locking us down. Because the enlightenment of society is the single biggest thing they’re scared of.”
“I’m gonna get a bit metaphysical here, but repetitive beats and good music trigger something in your physiology that connects you to your primeval self, to your core id… which is absolutely, intimately… brings out a caveman instinct in people…the universe is all one thing, it’s a continuum. Once people realise what it’s all about, life becomes a lot simpler.” [Sound System (Underworld Mix) appears at 42:12]
This song [26:12] was perhaps the longest standing ‘get your shit together, we’re leaving’ song of my time at university. An anthem to announce the departure from one part of the night, and the entrance into another. The rushed preparation of a journey juice, the ever required phone/wallet/keys pat down, assurances that someone had gum on them and that everyone had enough change to get the bus. Reflecting on this song, I think it particularly represents a time in my life when I urgently and desperately sought to be part of a greater whole. A time when I was surrounded by individuals I cared for and still care about greatly, and yet I couldn’t help but shake that feeling. Invisible, intangible barriers of my own construction preventing me from realising how good I had it. The moments of belonging, those when I was not preoccupied with my own thoughts, were those when I was surrounded by these same people, a time in my life I still yearn for at times, despite knowing I wouldn’t want to return to that version of myself.
I can’t say that I know what the song is about, and to be honest I’ve never sought any deeper meaning from it. I am sure it will fail to elicit the same hair raising, spine tingling effect that many other Deep Cuts selections will, but that’s OK with me, for me this song is the sound of belonging and the warm embrace of unquestioning inclusion.
Haig Binnie is a support worker who makes jewellery, embroidery and music in his spare time.
‘Sometimes you need a catalyst. A space to hold and be held. A space somewhere in between the then, now and future. A space somewhere in the middle between both headphones. A place to waste some time’
This was something I wrote late last year when reflecting upon my own relationship with music. You can read this in the piece I wrote for the fourth edition of Deep Cuts: ‘Wordless Tone’.
In another life (so it seems) I worked as a support worker, in various charities, supporting people who had suffered greatly and experienced such adversity. In my last role as a support worker, I provided emotionally, social and practical care alongside engagement with music projects. What is it about music that continues to enable people to adapt and grow even in the midst of struggle? It is impossible to overstate the value of the arts during times of stress. This applies to all art forms, but I’ll speak particularly about music. Music promotes social cohesion, harmony. If you’ve felt the unity of another at a sweaty rave, witnessed the spontaneous singing from the balconies in Italy during the initial hit of the Corona Virus or the doorstep concerts throughout, music has a universality which is so valuable in times of difficulty.
During the last few months we have realised our own human innate need to foster and nourish interpersonal connections, within the constraints of quarantine and social distancing. I created a radio show during this period that was aired as part of a Sisu ‘Take over’ live stream on threads radio in June [Sisu is an female DJ collective, of which Lauryn is a member]. Its title was Connected Frequencies.
The show was something that had been buzzing around my head for a while. When the opportunity arose to create it, it sort of all fell into place. I started to write an overview of what I wanted it to be about, making sense of some of the things I’d been thinking about for a while. It went something like this:
‘In an age where individualism is celebrated. Where polarisation is at its all-time highest. Where corporate organisations are fighting for our attention. Where ‘social distancing’ is the most common term heard. I wanted to explore what happens when we stop to connect and listen. Music has bought joy to many, especially through times of adversity. It also connects people like nothing else, joining people from all walks of life. Where ever we are, whatever is happening in our lives or the world: Together, we pause to explore our relationship to particular music. We ask the questions - How has it served a purpose in our lives, what meaning particular songs have to us and what have they have taught us.’
Before the pandemic, most of us spent much of our time rushing from A to B. Never having the capacity, money, time or consciousness to prioritise stopping and listening to ourselves, to others, to what’s around us. Unknowingly, I was already realising this and trying to create space in my own life. The societal pause just made that happen. My friend Thami was on board straight away. She had been working flat out as a domestic violence support worker, we hadn’t seen each other properly for months. We were both in need of some light relief.
I remember our first day as colleagues, working for a domestic violence helpline. That day, we spoke about Richie Hawtin outside Tower Hamlets tube station. She later said that she had noticed me walking into work with a pair of headphones she really liked. We both just knew that we would be friends.
Just before we recorded the show, we realised that throughout the years of knowing each other, we had never properly sat down and discussed exactly what we loved about music. We had shared tunes, related to one another’s favourite artists, been to live events and shared looks to one another when the beat dropped. Even though much of our friendship was forged by our love of music we had never officially discussed it. So we sat down during lockdown and spoke for around 8 hours, unpacking 5 songs each that had some form of meaning to us. We shared our stories and connected. I tell you, it was a looooonggg process getting it down to two hours but the experience was priceless. I could not have done it without my dear friend, she offered so much knowledge, vulnerability, history and of course, music. I felt honored and grateful to have such a special person in my life.
We covered so many topics like: Thami’s Tamil heritage and the barriers, privileges and dynamics within Kollywood & Bollywood music. We discussed many other artists we were inspired by, celebrating their lives, stories and music. We delved into musical archeology, how different genres inspired other genres/ artists to evolve. She shared her work as a domestic violence support worker, how the pandemic had impacted this and where victims could get support.
I discuss Lauryn Hill’s Everything is Everything [32:22] in the show. This song represents the epitome of connectedness to me. The recurring lyric’s are:
Everything is everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually
Everything is connected. Everything is really everything. The world, our experiences, eachother. We will inevitably experience struggles in our lives. We cannot change this. We cannot control this. What we do know is that seasons pass. Things change. Our lives continue. Music, guiding us throughout. Music is an omnipresent language. A language like no other. Sometimes the words we cannot speak, the connection we long for or have forgotten. Music is our history. Our stories. Our paths.
Together or apart. How precious, to share.
If anyone listening or reading would like to collaborate on the next show, please email me ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauryn is also a Sisu member. She has recently released a fresh DJ mix, and her debut track Forgiveness is part of Shifting Spheres, a compilation whose proceeds go to Southall Black Sisters, which also includes Deep Cut alumni Jazzi Bobbi.
I set up a blog named Quarantune at the start of the lockdown in March at home here in Dublin. I left London a few days prior due to the uncertainty of what was happening in the world. I was scared, paranoid and highly anxious about everything. I needed to keep my mind busy and I wanted to stay in touch with all the amazing heads I had met in London’s music community, many of whom I count as friends. They’re a vibrant bunch so I figured out a way to celebrate their talent and fun memories from London. I created Quarantune to compile all these memories in one place along with a chat to go alongside, along with one image. More artists from Dublin, Berlin and all over have since featured. It’s basically a grid of my music taste and a diary of sorts as it’s an amalgam of people I’ve met, seen from afar or heard play online and in real life. Moving forward, I’m also going to feature music journalists as well as DJs, producers and promoters. I love everyone ha!
I heard this beauty in Venus Guy Trap’s set on HÖR. I had never heard of her but my friend Josh linked me her livestream. He’s a big techno snob so I was surprised he sent it over; it was a change from most of the HÖR sets which were predominately techno at the time. Anyway he sent it because the mix is whopper and I can confirm, the mix IS whopper.
I will always associate Venus with the Short Dick Man tune now, probably my favourite track from the set. I also loved reading Venus’s dream day out in Berlin which she described in her Quarantune feature here.
Cailín featured on Quarantune a few weeks ago and her quote ‘life can put you on your arse whenever it pleases’ will stay with me for obvious reasons. We can all relate to that in some ways at the moment.
On a more positive note, Cailín finished out her first ever Dublin Boiler Room set with this euphoric banger by The Hypnotist [40:32] so I’ll always associate it with her and that rowdy set.
My friend Kalli played this crusty dinger [Editor's note: 'crusty dinger', daym that is a fantastic term if I every heard one] during THEM’s party in Corisca back in May 2019. Manni Dee was there too and I recall him saying something along the lines of ‘might be a bit early for this!’ when Kalli played ‘E Come Alive’ in Room 2. I completely disagree with Manni - it’s never too early for jungle. This track reflects Kalli’s personality and generally mad taste in music. You can read Kalli’s chat over on Quarantune here - it’s a gas one. I imagined him speaking in his thick Manchester accent throughout it.
I associate EBM and menacing techno like this Qual remix with LISSA. The reason being that I saw her play in Tresor and her set was exactly that. I also associate her with the club’s New Faces night.
During a trip to Berlin in December last year, I was given the unexpected news that I would be playing for New Faces in February 2020. I decided to go down there while I was in town so I went myself at around 1 am and saw LISSA play. I had never heard of her and it was clear she knew her sound and how to work the room; the audience being a mix of enthusiastic, leather-clad guys and young studenty types. I came away from LISSA’s set feeling less terrified and inspired about my own set in February. If she could play Tresor with such confidence, so could I.
LISSA played a palpable set of EBM and gothy techno, it was the perfect warm-up before Gegen resident XIK came on and banged it out. I loved slipping into Tresor and soaking up the atmosphere that night. So I had to feature LISSA on Quarantune and she described her own solo and slightly bizarre trip to Japan to see her favourite artist play. I like people who do random stuff like that and follow their gut without overthinking.
I had not seen or heard of Viscerale last year nor had I ever heard of this Aphex Twin track. I went alone (again lol) to an event curated by Damien aka Dark Trax in Dublin which took place in the small but high-ceilinged surrounding of Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar. Schacke, Luna Vassarotti & more were on the bill but I only got to see Viscerale play. She closed the night with this complete masterpiece and afterwards, I was dying to know what the hell is it was. It made me feel like a jellyfish on speed.
Somebody mentioned it was an Aphex Twin tune so the next day I went through loads of his tracks until I found it. For this reason, Viscerale made an impression on me so I featured her on Quarantune. I wanted to hear more of her stuff so I listened to her 2018 Herrensauna set which almost brought me to tears. It’s real whirlwind of swirly and screw-face techno. She’s now focusing on coding and tattooing as well as some music bits. You can check her out on Quarantune here.
The photos above were taken at a free instore instalment of my favourite event series 'On Loop', wherein the organiser Moxie DJed alongside Peach and Saoirse, at the briefly existant Bleep store in Dalston. It was a 6-9pm weekday event without club lighting, but, as always, the sets were punchy, classy and sick. People loosened up quickly, shaking off their jobs and their public transport awkwardness. My favourite moment was when Saoirse dropped Gypsea’s Seekers [46:22], exactly the kind of perfectly poised positivity that I treasure in a DJ set.
My first On Loop night was at one of the UK’s punchiest, sweatiest clubs, Edinburgh’s one-room, 100 capacity Sneaky Pete’s. It was Halloween, I had attempted to paint myself as a zombie for my Social Anthropology course-mates potluck, ending up looking more like a guy who just got stabbed. Later on, as Telfort (wicked euphoric local house DJ) warmed up the dance floor, I approached Josey Rebelle (your favourite DJ’s favourite DJ) and made her jump a bit, as it turned out she hadn’t even considered the date. A handful of enormous balloons floated above us in the fog, as Rebelle took to the decks and guided us into the storm, playing the R&S classic Plastic Dreams, before whipping us up in with DJ Shark’s Space Beach.
The closing set began at about 1:30 (Scottish clubs finish at 3am), from Moxie. It was SO GOOD. I didn’t and still don’t particularly love Disco, but she finds tracks with such intensity and drama, mixed in with richly saturated, head-melting beats. My potluck mate had come dressed in a Lilac wig that she swiftly handed it to me, ‘I’ll probably never wear this again’, unknowingly sowing the seeds for my femme music persona ‘boyDrama’, and additionally my slightly femme-er public persona. Over the last track those balloons around the heads, and I knew this was the place to be.
I’ve been to a handful of On Loops since then, be it as a lone traveller in Amsterdam, or a crew-organiser in London. It’s been a place I feel comfortable visiting alone, or accompanied by someone new to ‘edgy’ clubs; my younger brother’s first edgy night was an On Loop, crested by Avalon Emerson dropping her delicious edit of Shamir’s On The Regular. I remember yabbering in his ear that this vocalist is actually male, unaware of their tweet ‘to those who keep asking, I have no gender, no sexuality, and no fucks to give.’
Certain types of dance music attract people with certain temperaments; extroverts and adrenaline junkies for drum’n’bass, 24/7 head-to-toe wearers of black for industrial techno, cheeky lads for tech-house. On Loop’s DJs play and produce sonically colourful, tonally ambiguous strains of House and Techno, open music for the previously uninvited.
In his 1988 article Let’s Play House, Jon Savage wrote that ‘the new 1980s House records concentrate on melodrama or, post-AIDS, abstract this sexuality into the mystery of love… it translates contemporary sexual tensions into an irresistible beat.’ I love this idea of translating tension into music, music that speaks to people who have felt the tension of being at odds to their surroundings, and in doing so facilitates new surroundings where they can connect, to eachother and to their self. Soon come.
Will is Deep Cuts’ Mama. His wifi was on the blip at the time of publishing this, so he spent about 6 hours with his laptop in a nearby hotel, ordering a pint of Estralla to carry him through the last hour of formatting.
Solaariss - South
Nayana - TTkTV Freestyle
Khruangbin - Mr. White
Mirale D’Hwange - Amentia
Mary J Blige - Just Fine
Abra - Pull Up
Bad Brains - Ragga Dub
Oja Gjielo - Serenity
808 State - Pacific State
Johnny Dangerous - King of Clubs
The Notorious B.I.G - Hypnotize
Lauryn Hill - Everything is Everything
OMD - Red Frame / White Light
The Hypnotist - This House is Mine
Drum Club - Sound System (Underworld Mix)
Gypsea - Seekers