Turning the tables
Fiona Shepherd talks to Scottish DJ 3 who are helping dance music evolve by making their own.
The humble art ofthe club DJ is sprouting ever outwards. Not content simply to play other people‘s records, or even to indulge in a spot of cursory knob-twiddling in the pursuit of the perfect remix, DJs are increasingly involved in the production of their own material. And not happy to limit the fruits oftheir labour to club consumption, they‘re launching a penetrating assault on the mainstream.
The charts are littered with DJ creations. An edition of Top ofthe Pops wouldn‘t be complete without the appearance ofsome record deck supremo fronted by unsullied nymphette and/or ample disco diva wobbling precariously in front of the camera. Soul II Soul, S’Xpress and Bomb The Bass were all masterminded by figures already involved in running clubs; and with the Paul Oakenfolds, Mike Pickerings and Andy Weatheralls of this world securing recording contracts, the distinctions between DJ, producer and pop star are blurring rapidly.
However, with the exception ofTim Simenon (who‘s only half-Scottish and by no means based north of the border), Scotland has produced no chart contenders, and DJ output. commercial or otherwise. has been virtually negligible. Until now. that is. Now anyone who’s anyone, DJ-wise. seems to be muscling in on the act. Occupying hours of studio time has become a staple of the job, alongside building up your Orbital white label
collection and ﬂyposting over everyone else‘s pubhcuy.
Scott Gibson of Bomba in Irvine explains why. ‘It’s only been recently that DJing has been capable ofbeing a career. I‘ve been a full-time DJ for the past five years and the next stage of that as a career is producing records. I used to be in bands when I was younger as well. and DJing gives me the opportunity to do it myselfwithout having to rely on a band which I always found a hassle.‘
Gibson has no definite plans to release his stock of recorded material. but Pure‘s Andy Watson has already unleashed his ‘Rave Bunny’ EP. and predictably the Slam crew are shortly to release their debut gambit ‘Eterna‘ on their own label. Pretensions to broader horizons have obviously been gestating for a while. but why this sudden
I, concentrated flurry of activity?
‘I‘m surprised it hasn‘t actually happened sooner.‘ says Dave Clark. the voice of Slam, ‘because Scotland‘s had its fair share of good clubs for long enough now and people have been open to
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loads of influences for long enough now that surely they’re going to have their own ideas that they want to put down on vinyl.‘
Bootsy, DJ at Madisons, Galaxy and now Sugarhill, takes a wider view of the vinyl development. ‘lt‘s a reflection of the state of the Scottish club scene in that it has taken a long time for this particular type of dance music to take root in Scotland. It‘s only been in the last twelve months that things have really started happening. People putting on massive raves and going out and clubbing all night is a fairly recent phenomenon that has freshened things up in Scotland. People are enthusiastic and that enthusiasm is rubbing off on the DJs who‘ve got the confidence now to do something by themselves.‘
Janie B otSoul II Soul
So much for the wherefores. what of the whys? What is it that spurs a DJ on in his all-pervasive quest to further his notoriety? For many. it‘s just circumstances. Studio time or financial backing fall into their lap and are snapped up post haste. but it often runs deeper than that according to Bootsy. ‘In part, it‘s dissatisfaction with the bulk ofcommercial dance material coming from major companies, and also hearing what other people have done coming off the independent dance labels and thinking “I could have done that.“ ‘
Dave Clark agrees. ‘DJs that are listening to a great turnover of music and seeing how dance music can evolve want to take that step and help it evolve. You find a lot of people who run upfront dance clubs and who are always looking for something new. want to create something of their own because they have an idea ofwhat they want
to play in their club and perha aren‘t making it.‘
ps other people
True and noble motives all. but let us not forget that inside many a mild-mannered. essentially faceless club DJ beats the heart of a rampant megalomaniac. A successful record carries a certain amount ofkudos. More importantly. it can mean offers to DJ in exotic climes (like, oooh, Manchester) and the ability to make justifiable
extortionate monetary claims services.
for your golden
But finally, just how can a DJ bring said abilities to bear on the sensitive art of music-making? Surely the crafting of the hallowed vinyl requires a musician‘s touch? Strangely enough, Andy
Watson disagrees. ‘DJs know
what records are
going to make what sort of mood when they play them and a lot of performers don‘t understand that. That gives DJs a large advantage because they can set out to make a song that‘s going to have
a certain effect.‘ So there you go. Conclusive do it better.
ON THE FOLLOWING PAGES: DAVE ROSS'S FAVE DISCS
evidence that DJs
64The List31 May—13June 1991