THE MASTERS AT WORK put in a live double headlining DJ set this fortnight. Johnny Regan catches up with one of house music’s seminal figures.
isposability is central to dance music culture.
Think of the number of acetates punched up on
a weekly basis. the amount of vinyl weighing down shelves the world over. and the life span of most of the records being played. It‘s no great tragedy to accept that the culture sucks down ephemera and enjoys the essence of it for the eight or so minutes of enjoyment that it affords on the dancelloor.
Masters at Work. then. are a remarkable proposition: an abiding edifice in a world of throwaway pleasure. The collective has released consistently interesting. inventive records since the start of the 90s. They‘ve pushed the envelope in the world of soulful house under the MAW license. redefined jazzy electronica with the legendary NuYorican Soul project and kicked pop up the arse with things like the Bucketheads album. the remix of St Etienne‘s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart' and the seminal ‘Love and Happiness'. which must have undergone more remix surgery than most other dance tracks since the dawn of the genre.
So where are ‘Little Louis‘ Vega and Kenny ‘Dope‘ Gonzales at now. as they gear up to appear in Scotland as a collective for the first time in seven years‘.’ Dance music is in a funny old state right now. so how are the Masters reacting to the new landscape? Vega speaks with the assurance of someone who has observed the cycles of fashion and taste for some considerable time. ‘I feel good about what we've done for the last 14
years. because we have put out a great number of
records that will be remembered.’ he says. ‘We still have all these people who travel hundreds of miles to hear us spin. and that means a lot. I met a woman who said that she and her boyfriend fell in love to our tune ‘To Be In Love'. and now it‘s going to be the big song at their wedding. How can that be bad'."
‘WE STILL HAVE ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO TRAVEL HUNDREDS OF MILES TO HEAR US SPIN, AND THAT MEANS A LOT'
Musically. the collective seems robust. and this has been the most prolific year for MAW yet in terms of the number of mix CDs they‘ve released. Their Edinburgh appearance is part of an eight-date tour to celebrate the release of a mix album on funky house label Defected. Masters at Work are still booked at a scary rate at venues all over the world. so someone forgot to tell them that dance music was in a state of decline. Not that it would matter much to Vega if it was. His position has always been that of the outsider. however frequently popular culture has aligned itself with their sound over the last decade and a half. ‘Everybody seems to be looking for something right now. and that‘s not what we‘re into.‘ he explains. ‘You should just make the music that excites you and forget about all that. We explore all of the music that has influenced us. and right now we’re looking at doing something more in the rock vein.’ 1 ask him which guitar acts have particularly affected MAW. proffering the Clash as prime candidates. He needs no such suggestion to start him off on that band’s merits: ‘They were amazing. In fact. I have just put ‘The Magnificent Seven’ on my Choice CD as one of the tunes that really means a lot to me.’
Vega‘s voice has the ring of authenticity. This is a guy who hasn‘t just seen it. done it and bought the T- shirt. but probably designed the T-shirt and programmed the soundtrack. He enthuses about the Edinburgh date: ‘Kenny and l are both excited about playing up there. It ain‘t the warmest place in the world. but we‘ve had some dark. sweaty nights in that town.‘
Masters at Work join Audio Deluxe, the Honeycomb, Edinburgh, Fri 28 May (Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzales goes solo at the Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow, Thu 27 May).
The latest club news
IT’S GOING A BIT FESTIVAL crazy at The List as the season is ﬁnally upon us. The biggie up here has to be Coloursfest, 5 June, Braehead Arena (see feature p20). If, like us, the big draw for you is the Soma Sessions (on top of a few other cracking DJs and live acts, of course) you may be interested in a few set times to plan your day. Percy X 4pm—5pm; Green Velvet 5pm—6.30pm; Ewan Pearson 6.30pm-7.30pm; Silicone Soul 7.30pm-9.15pm; Master H 9.15pm-10.30pm; Tom Middleton 10.30pm-midnight; Envoy midnight-1 am; Stacey Pullen Iam-2.30am and Kevin Saunderson 2.3Oam-43m. MEANWHILE. THERE IS MORE
for T in the Park as the Bacardi Bbar has announced its line—up. Loads of local favourites (such as Harri, Billy Woods. Gareth Sommerville. Geoff M and Andy Unger) are joined by international stars Kerri Chandler and DJ Gregory to mix it up a bit.
IF YOU JUST CAN’T WAIT THAT long the season’s ﬁrst fest, We Love Homelands, kicks off in Winchester on 29 May with the likes of Faithless, the Music and Scissor Sisters. Go to www.welovehomelands.com for full details.
BACK TO INDOOR DANCING AS the Carling Academy Glasgow announces two big club dates. First off we have the ever so saucy burlesque night Club Noir going large scale on 12 June. It's followed by Tidy Events making their first trip up north on 26 June with Yoji Biomehanika and, of course. the Tidy Boys. among others. FINALLY, SOME BAD NEWS. Glasgow Gay institution Bennet’s, suffered a massive ﬁre on 18 May. While fortunater no one was hurt, the future of the club and the building as a whole may be in jeopardy. More news as we get it.
27 May—10 Jun 2004 THE LIST 77