Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

We Love… Ibiza Spotlight – Guest Blog

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Words by Lydia Laws - Ibiza Spotlight

Team Spotlight at We Love...

I’m honoured to have been asked to write a guest blog, rounding up We Love…’s season through the eyes of Spotlight.

As a complete Ibiza Virgin who ultimately just threw myself in at the deep end, working for Ibiza Spotlight writing about music and Ibiza for the season (I know, what a chore right?), I’ve discovered that everything on the island is like waves in the Ibiza sea; you catch a great swell and it carries you through on the surface, then you face a storm from time to time. It always seemed to me however, that even in this ‘Year of Change’ and tumultuous clubbing terrain; this party and its reputation have seen nothing but smooth sailing. I found myself very much settling into a new Sunday night tradition, forgoing the Sunday roast for a substantially more filling and delicious experience (plus no washing up, always a win) of a constantly evolving diverse and eclectic array of acts including James Zabiela, Joris Voorn, Deetron, Bicep, Ian Blevins, Paul Woolford, and of course the huge Underworld (live) and Disclosure (live) to name but a few.

With 5 arenas in Space and around 25 artists and acts you find yourself spoilt for choice, but thanks to the We Love… team’s careful cultivation of set times you can confidently skip to and fro from each room and soak up as much music as physically possible.

Dixon smashing the terrace at the Innervisions Showcase

Time to be a little more specific. There are two We Love… nights that were so huge to me, they’ll probably stay up there in my Top 10 Nights in History (I’m partial to ‘Top Tens’, just go with it). They are the Innervisions Takeover on the Terrace, and the We Love… Closing. Pretty much every DJ I have interviewed for Spotlight has raved about Space’s Terrace being one of the best venues to play, and when one witnesses nights like the Innervisions takeover I can completely see why. The space is intimate, the tunes are huge and the crowd is made up of like-minded people who know their stuff. I love catching the eye of another raver also grinning profusely when one of my favourite tracks is dropped. Innervisions’ Dixon’s set on the Terrace was mind-blowing, and I can happily admit to having one of those moments of Dancefloor Clarity- I’m in Ibiza, surrounded by the cream of the island crop and I’m supporting a long-running forward-thinking night run by a fantastic team brimming with musical integrity. Life can’t really get much better can it? And with regards to the closing party, my night consisted of techno, disco, funk, soul, magic card tricks, dancing with Craig Charles and the We Love… team. Enough said!

Aslan. No Sorry! James Zabiela

And the main reason we love, er, We Love…? I think I can speak for all of Team Spotlight when I say that they were one of the first parties to take risks and have such a huge range of musical styles and names under one roof. They’ve also continued to care so much about the musical quality of their nights, supporting fresh and new up-and-comers and also asking back the artists who have constantly impressed this season, such as Zabiela. This British artist and producer is a real jewel in the We Love… crown (also winning my vote for Best DJ Hair, just check out those blond locks…) brings brilliant creativity and energy to the Discoteca every time he plays.

So the season has now finished, and has flown over faster than I thought even possible. From all of us at Spotlight, thanks We Love… for being such an integral part of a successful unforgettable summer!

Becky Rascal’s Guest Blog

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Always ones to encourage the creative masters of the future, we invited one of the latest members of the We Love… family to guest write a review of our party the week before closing. Welcome Becky Rascal – a princess amongst Scousers. This is her journalistic version of the night’s goings on…

As a We Love… regular raver, I have successfully this season managed to infiltrate the We Love… family, and had a behind the scenes insight into how the common DJ lives, in his natural habitat of DJ box and backstage dressing room. I have had the great honour this season of becoming firm friends with the We Love… crew from humble PR street staff right up to the powerful guest list enforcement team, so I was very excited to be asked for my services as a guest blogger and review the penultimate night of the season! In order to keep things in professional club reviewing journalist mode, I will strive to use lingo such as “revellers”, “club goers”, “cocktail of drink and drugs” “eclectic” and “crowd pleasing hits” at every available opportunity, as well as incorporating some hard hitting journalistic topics…

Andy We Love... displays a blatent disregard to the strict 'Solo DJs' law

Due to unfortunate social life/street cred destroying reasons, I am unable to attend the final We Love… of the season, which made the penultimate show all the more special for me. A final vodka, Fanta Limon toast to the Discoteca, El Salon, The Terrace, Sunset Terrace, and the backstage staff toilets!

Ibiza life has revolved around Sundays at Space, for veteran party goers, workers and first timers alike, this season has once again seen the We Love… family playing host to THE most amazing acts, from Joy Orbison, Ben UFO, Paul Woolford, Midland, James Zabiela and Bicep absolutely spinning our minds out (very much in a good way!!) at the opening party, to Disclosure pulling in record breaking numbers of ‘revellers’ to the main room a few gigs in, to the Space 24th birthday celebrations with Fatboy Slim and 2manydjs (possibly the most fun birthday party since the history of birth certificates) every week has been amazing and brought with it funnier anecdotes.

Aside from the massive main room ‘household name’ DJs, James Zabiela, Carl Craig, Groove Armada, Derrick May, Underworld Live etc etc We Love… have been totally on the ball week in week out with unbelievable atmosphere and “eclectic” line ups…including, but not limited to, Hot Since 82, Jackmaster, The 2 Bears, Dusky, Huxley, Heidi, Joris Voorn, Tiga, Simian Mobile Disco, and of course the bearded bear himself Mr Claude VonStroke.

No We Love… family night would be complete without our family favourites Jaymo and Andy George, the baby faced beauties took the night off to amazing start together with We Love… newcomer of the year Doorly going b2b on the sunset terrace delivering track after track of “crowd pleasing hits” shaking off the Saturday night hangovers from the crowd and getting them right into full on party mode! Its not often in a superclub in Ibiza that you can be fist pumping to Joy Orb then wanting to call your mum and tell her you love her as Sister Sledge “Thinking of you” drops in… (don’t call your mum from a nightclub, she will know you have ingested “a cocktail of drink and drugs” #ravesafe)!

I made it my mission at the beginning of the night to document my reactions to all the sets I saw incase they all merged into one in the Monday morning haze. Innervisions took over The Terrace, which in a word was ideal. The sign of an excellent night is when the DJs who you haven’t even booked that week are middle of the dance floor reaching for the Lasers. I took to the floor with We Love… newcomer and family favourite Jackmaster and a team of enthusiastic Glaswegians to fist pump the ceiling off to Dixon, Âme, Henrik Schwarz and Marcus Worgull. I noted in my iPhone notes that the DJ box position had been moved this week to face out to the back of the room which I very much enjoyed as this gave the illusion of maximum dance floor space…this obviously seemed like pressing journalism at the time. Henrik Schwarz’s set was a bit ‘emosh’ due to him being there on the opening and this, my We Love… closing, he provided what I will call ‘a moving soundtrack’ to this experience. My thorough review in iPhone notes of Âme was “Âme-zing” I’m unsure as to whether I wrote this as a disco dancing time saving method or if I was trying to incorporate a word spin… either way, excellent work Âme!

BREAKING NEWS: We Love reposition DJ booth in terrace

Onto the Discoteca… I wandered in on my own for a dance as I got lost coming back from the toilet… I was watching Derrick May “smashing it” for about half an hour from the side of the DJ box in awe of his DJ witchery, took out my iPhone journal to scribe a quick review, but was stopped in my steps as I was shouted at by Derrick and told to “put my cell phone away and dance!!” which I obviously immediately did! If a Detroit house legend tells you to dance, you should do it or you wont look cool #toptip. I have to say, was a big fan of the work of Deetron who closed the main room, I have come to be a strong critique of the Discoteca room closer rating their performance by how eager I am to go to an afterparty after the final set (Foamo being a firm favourite of mine in this department!)… a testament to Deetron’s performance is that I was outside Space until 8am locating the optimum afterparty, so well done Deetron!

Even though I am WELL clued up on all the best DJs and top tunes this season, I honestly have to say the best time I had was spinning people around the dance floor at PBR Streetgang and E.A.R’s (Eclectic Avenue Records) wedding takeover in El Salon! “Clubbers” were drawn like a moth to a flame into El Salon by the dulcet tones of Wham, Madonna, Whitney etc etc etc into the worlds best wedding after party, to spin their mates around under balloons and bunting whilst brandishing party poppers! My only cause for concern here was that the room was definitely missing cocktail sausages, 5000 frozen sausage rolls and pineapple and cheese on sticks. Other than that, probably my favourite El Salon session EVER!

Wedding guests left hungry with tired feet

After Dark as always was a world of wonderful weird fun, with DJ Yoda’s musical wizardry causing a room of fist pumpers to pull out a few sexy moves, including attempted grinding and twerking to hip hop favourites, Yoda-always a firm favourite at any night.

DJ Yoda goes minimalist with his new live visuals

Thank you to everyone involved with We Love… this year who certainly made my season an amazing one and I’m sure thousands of other “party goers”. Until next year! Viva la Fiesta!! x

dub Magazine

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The throwaway free mag scene is hugely over-populated in Ibiza with a higher advertorial to article ratio than a Sunday Mail supplement. There is one publication opposing the trend of flunky journalism and that is dub curated by our own in-house photographer Phrank and his partner in crime Andreas Simon. You’ll find insight beyond the usual night life sycophancy with a healthy dose of cynicism thrown in for good measure.

It’s by no means pompous however, and also serves as an outlet for Phrank’s photography work which stretches far outside his bread and butter made in the confines of the island’s superclubs.

A favourite section among the Ibiza locals is dub’s own version of the standard society pages. This painstakingly produced collage of movers, shakers, visitors and taste makers is inspected as soon as the magazine hits the streets to see which of the island’s scenesters have made the grade that month. You can be haughtily assured that most if not all of the team at We Love, from PR staff to resident DJs have appeared here on occasion

Alongside the lavish photography, editor Andreas Simon ensures a philosophical and inclusive outlook to the interviews, articles and poetry which makes up the bulk of the publication’s content. Every article (except the poetry) is published in English and Spanish with subjects chosen to capture a range of island life and opinion. You’ll find interviews with everyone from visiting superstars such as Derrick May and Ricardo Villalobos to uniquely Ibicenco socialite characters. Alongside this, Andreas’ own editorials are always on point and pull no punches with subjects ranging from music and drugs to critiques of the (mis)management of the island’s largest institutions.

The magazine survives on sponsorship from local businesses and promotors (the likes of We Love and Cocoon being long-term supporters). Ibiza is a unique territory in terms of publishing with a readership looking for specific insider information on everything from a party calendar to cheap eats. There are countless rags doing just that, but dub stands alone in offering alternatives, and on an island sometimes accused of being homogenous and inward looking – this can only be a good thing.

dub is published monthly with a circulation of 20,000 in Ibiza and selected outlets Europe-wide throughout summer. It’s fast becoming a collectors item and fortunately for those not visiting or dwelling in Ibiza they have an online presence where you can download in PDF format. The last two editions are here and here (right click and save as).

Sunderland Echo Features Ian Blevins

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

A revamp of his website has coincided with an interview in the Sunderland Echo for Ian Blevins. Even if provincial, it’s good to see a more mainstream take on the usual DJ interview article you would get in a dance rag. Follow Ian Blevins on twitter and facebook. Click the picture below for full resolution.

Click for full size

London Hooligan Soul – Then And Now

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

The Ballistic Brothers might well be the quintessential London post-acid house outfit, combining the talents of the most popular figures in the scene. Ashley Beedle, Dave Hill and Rocky & Diesel pursued a hip-hop, house, jazz and soul crossover concept releasing on club staple Junior Boys Own, before going on to form their own imprint Soundboy in 1996. Phat Phil uses an interview with Dave Hill and liner notes from Ballistic Brothers’ debut album to question how political feeling shaped that album and draws some neat comparisons to our current dysfunctional political system.

Photo by Dave Hill

“In 1990, London felt the anger and passion of the people, Thatcher and her Tory party had instigated the Poll Tax and this was the last straw for many, it was the flame that ignited the blue touch paper and led to the ‘Battle of Trafalgar Square’…” Read more at the NuNorthern Soul blog.

DJ Pierre: Thinking (& Living) Outside the Box (interview)

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

By guest writer Jonty Skrufff

“I was lying in bed with my wife one night talking about how I was being boxed in whenever people requested me for gigs. They would ask for either an old school acid set or a more housey set and I’ve never enjoyed playing just one style all night.”

20 odd years after a happy accident with a Roland 303 led him and Spanky to inadvertently invent acid house, Chicago legend DJ Pierre found himself isolated and increasingly marginalised by the dance industry he’d helped create, hemmed in by the expectations his earlier success created.

“I remember we were talking about how hard it is to be me: being judged on the tracks I’d made, and how that meant nobody wanted me to venture too far away from what they knew me for. But I had grown as an artist . . . and no one wanted to hear that,” he sighs.

Three years on, his DJ- and production profile is higher than ever after he took control of his own destiny to launch Afro Acid, a label, promotion, radio and now merchandising company he’s happiest describing as a ‘movement’. (

“I thought about creating something that could benefit myself and other artists who were going through what I was going through: I thought about combining what I’m known for and where I came from musically. I thought about my roots,” he recalls.

“There is a certain soul that comes with deep house/garage and I wanted that to be a part of the concept. That is the ‘Afro’ aspect, representing the more housey, deep styles. Then I thought about what ‘acid house’ is and I just stretched it to include all the techno, electro, and harder house cats. So at that moment Afro Acid was born, in bed at 2am in the morning,” he smiles.

From dreaming up the concept, however, he faced more than a few initial obstacles including rejection from some of his closest up until then friends and colleagues.

Continue reading Jonty’s interview here

DJ Harvey – Interview with Finn Johannsen

Monday, November 8th, 2010

I think it’s been pushed into a very soft and drifty side of Balearic, where Balearic to me means anything goes that was played in Ibiza. Tracks by people like Nitzer Ebb, Industrial, slamming New Beat records, which is kind of a forgotten part of Balearic. People think of an Ibiza sunset, Café del Mar sunset sets, as being the ultimate Balearic. But if you would listen to Alfredo at that time he would be playing Chicago Acid tracks, the stuff that came out in 86/87, Garage music or whatever. It was a wide range that included some pretty heavy duty music as well as this sort of easy going stuff. – DJ Harvey

Harvey's heavenly home Hawaii

There’s an insightful glimpse into the mind of the semi-mythical DJ Harvey over at Finn Johannsen‘s blog. Tax exile? Innovator? Migrant? Expatriate? Balearic? You probably won’t get clear answers to any, but you will get sharp opinions on everything from genre definitions to globalisation. Always perceptive but often quite silly, quotes can range from the startlingly acute, “A lot of people just have what we call opinions. Who have really no stake in what’s actually going on. It’s like the squeaky wheel gets the oil. You got a guy who’s in a shitty job, who uses his job to complain about DJs on the internet. This guy has an opinion but he doesn’t dance, he doesn’t DJ and he has nothing to do except whine about his expectations not being fulfilled…” to the more frivolous, “You can drive a crowd insane with the volume control. You just turn it down and watch them get real upset. And then you turn it up again, and watch them get happy!”

He’s also got some interesting to things to say about his adopted home of Hawaii, “You can’t just go to Hawaii and put your foot down, you have to be accepted. It’s an island and there’s this thing called Aloha, which means hello, goodbye and love and is a way of living. And if you’re not prepared to live Aloha, you will not last long in Hawaii. You will be rejected like a bullet being pushed out of a body by its own organs.” Not unlike Ibiza then!

Read the whole thing here.

Interview with 2020 Vision’s Ralph Lawson

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

By guest writer Jonty Skrufff.

The one man stag-do

“It’s all about new ideas. Those with the best ones will win.”

Living his entire adult life in club culture and chatting to Skrufff just hours after finishing a three day long Balearic bender, 2020Vision chief Ralph Lawson might be expected to be more than a little grumpy though fizzing with enthusiasm and élan, he’s both energetic and remarkably lucid.

“The weird thing is I have always been able to stay up,” he chuckles. “I have massive adrenaline levels, in fact, I have far more problems going to sleep than staying awake.”

His latest trip to Ibiza has been to headline 2020Vision’s closing party for We Love Space, his last in a season of bashes that have seen him packing out the main dance-floor of the legendary Ibiza superclub each month. After each event, he’s handed out free We Love Space 10 / 2020 Vision mix CDs and label compilation he’s mixed with tracks from 2020Vision signed artists including Crazy P, Simon Baker and Audiojack.

The idea for the giveaway came from We Love (‘I jumped at Mark Broadbent’s offer for the We Love CD’, he admits) and is one of the new concepts he’s hoping will help his label prosper as music sales continually shrink.

“We pressed 11,000 copies and have around 1,000 left still to give out this week and next,” says Ralph, “For a comparison, in 2007 I mixed Fabric 33 which did 12,000 so it’s about the same in terms of numbers. Compilation sales five years ago were in a different league but those days are gone. Mix CDs are lucky to sell 2,000 (units) now. Why would people buy them when they can get podcasts for free? But you have to move with the times rather than get angry about it. It’s like King Canute ordering the sea to go back, it’s not going to happen,” he predicts.

“I gave out a bunch more after my set finished last Sunday and people were biting my hands off for them, if anything I could have done with more,” he laughs.

“I suppose we’ll only start to see the full effect over the next year and see if I am suddenly the next Luciano and We Love is bigger than God. Joking aside I have had amazing feedback both personally and on the internet so I am just glad if people are happy and have a memento of their night to keep for ever.”

Skrufff: What’s been your impression of Ibiza 2010 compared to earlier years?

Ralph Lawson: “I must say I have really enjoyed this summer. I have been lucky to have the monthly We Love residency and every single one has been great although June was perhaps slower due to the World Cup. Personally I love September, my favourite gig was my last one. The crowd are the real deal by this time of year, the hardcore. I went out to DC10 and Cocoon on Monday afterwards and both were packed, with good music as well. I ended up at Ibiza Rocks on Tuesday which was sold out for their closing party. I also played at the Underground in the summer which I love and we did a 2020Vision label show at Zoo Project which went great. So I think overall it’s still very positive for the Island.”

Skrufff: The last time we chatted in 2006, you talked about scaling back from 3 day marathon after-parties (“People don’t realise how much it takes out of you, when you’re partying, time is a different thing, hours pass like minutes and before you know it, it’s fucking Tuesday, then it takes you two days to recover, then it’s the fucking weekend again’): 4 years on, how much does it remain a temptation to get lost in party adventures? When was the last time?

Perfect vision

Ralph Lawson: “Ha Ha, it’s a bad day to ask me as I did go for a full three-nighter this week but hey it was my personal closing party. And yes I feel terrible today. I have been a good boy recently though and mainly concentrating on my work. I have a lot to do in the week. Everyone goes to Ibiza to let their hair down and I’m no exception, if there’s anywhere I will fall off the wagon, it’s there.”

Skrufff: How much has being work focused and less known for being a party animal changed the way people treat you? Have you ever felt not in synch with revellers: or uncomfortable by people caning it around you?

Ralph Lawson: “I think it’s hard to get rid of your reputation, my nickname in Ibiza is ‘stag-do’; because I’m the quiet one who is actually the worst when let out to play. Music keeps me very high. I still love it. As soon as I’m playing music, I’m in the zone and people know that, I don’t have to prove myself by taking every drug on the planet. I know which ones work for me and they are all the mellow ones. I need calming down not revving up. I really don’t mind what anyone else does at all though. The only thing that bothers me is if people try to shove stuff down your neck and get offended if you refuse. People have to respect personal choices.”

Skrufff: Talking about when you were DJing in the early 90s living in a farm outside Leeds, you recalled finding Hopefield Farm when you were homeless, splitting it between 3 of you for £400 in the 90s: sounds like you were quite happy despite being nearly penniless: how broke were you and how long did it take you to turn DJing into a lifelong career?


Ralph Lawson: “I would never be so glib as to suggest being skint is fun. It’s not at all. We happened to get a great deal on the place at the time and made the most of it. I have definitely missed out on the big money some of my contemporaries have made as I’ve always been a resident at Basics where we started getting £30 a week and trying to get it up from there. I don’t think I’ve had a pay rise for over 10 years there. I think I was naive as to what other DJs were getting paid as I just wasn’t in that scene. Of course now I get paid OK when I guest and can’t complain. I have never had to work outside music since 1991 and I don’t plan to so it’s a constant hustle. Maybe I’ll finally be in the big money in the coming years, I actually believe I deserve it, especially when I hear some the guys who get paid up to 10 times more than me.”

Skrufff: What was the closest you came to quitting music and getting a straight job (was it ever an option you seriously considered?)

Ralph Lawson: “Yes I did consider this at times over the years though never for very long. Usually on days like today.”

Skrufff: What do you see the key role of 2020 Vision is these days: how much is it about marketing- and branding your acts as opposed to selling physical units (digital or otherwise?)

Get it while it's hot

Ralph Lawson: “Our key role is to put out great music. Our job now is to find ways of doing this that still create a revenue stream for the artist. For me it has become more about playing live shows and gigs as that is the only place people can’t steal your work. It’s you up there, doing it. Your experience, your skill, your music. There has always been bootlegging since records were invented but now we have a format that is so easy to copy it has got out of control.

It is possible that in the future someone will invent a format that is harder to copy but right now it doesn’t exist for public use. Until then we are focusing on building 2020Vision live. We recently did a sold out show at Village Underground in London for 1000 people with 300 unable to get in outside. That’s gotta’ be a wake up call that I am heading in the right direction with a good crew of artists.”

Skrufff: How much do you see yourself as a brand?

Ralph Lawson: “I was always uncomfortable with brands as such. It reeks of marketing jargon. I also think kids can see through companies that are all about their brand with no substance. Of course you have to build your name but substance has to come first. I prefer to look at it that way.”

Skrufff: How much do you believe in visualising success? Do you (and have you always) been- and felt- lucky? Well? Do you?

Ralph Lawson: “I was lucky at the start because I was in the right time at the right place with the right records. Everything since then has been hard graft. As I grow older I am more and more believing in the visualising idea you suggest. But what’s more important is not thinking or talking about it but doing it.”

Skrufff: What’s been the greatest mistake you’ve made?

Ralph Lawson: “Not signing Trentemoller when I had the chance. That still pisses me off. I should have listened to my instincts which were right and not the track he sent which was wrong.”

Skrufff: And what’s been the greatest obstacle you’ve overcome?

Ralph Lawson: “The deaths of my girlfriend and DJ partner in 1993.”

We Love Space Sundays 10 / 2020Vision summer 2010: mixed by Ralph Lawson is available from various outlets in Ibiza (and almost certainly at We Love’s closing party this weekend (Sunday September 26th).

If you are not one of the lucky ones being in Ibiza for the closings you can get the cd on beatport as well.

Ralph Lawson DJ Profile

Guy Williams; Black Rabbit, Disco and Over-zealous Party Police (interview)

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

By guest blogger Jonty Skrufff. Find Jonty on facebook here.

Starting his career at the Hacienda’s legendary queer night Flesh in 1983 in Manchester, Guy Williams has gone on to become a fixture of both the gay and straight global club scenes, holding high profile residencies at the likes of Ministry of Sound and DTPM and more recently at Ibiza’s We Love mega-parties at Space. Focusing primarily on house, he’s also re-embraced disco’s latest renaissance, playing predominantly classic tracks at his monthly Black Rabbit parties at We Love.

“Personally I’m really happy that disco has become big again because my musical roots are based in 80s music and disco and it definitely still is big today,” he enthuses.

“There’s also loads of really good nu disco being made which is more musical and warm and through these hard times we’re living in right now people need that. Though I still love good deep house and tech house as well.”

He’s also firmly attached to the concept of playing quality disco and house music loud, judging by a recent angry message he posted on Facebook hours after returning from spinning a high profile slot at London’s Lovebox Festival.

“Lovebox Nazi sound police take note- it’s a MUSIC festival!” he stormed, hours after the event, adding for good effect, ‘Dickwads’.

Today he’s decidedly more chilled describing the East London outdoor event as ‘an overall good experience’ and one he hopes to repeat next year.

“In general it was a good day at Lovebox but the Art Against Knives/Jezebel sound system where I was playing at kept being told to turn the music down,” he explains. “They even closed it down a few times and it really wasn’t that loud.”

Sound quibbles aside, he’s a no-nonsense, knowledgeable interviewee, reflecting his 17 year career working as a DJ, party promoter and experienced dance label executive, who though continuing to travel extensively, remains based in London for much of the year.

Skrufff: What’s your assessment of the health- or otherwise- of London nightlife right now; how does it compare to 3, 5 and 10 years ago?

Guy Williams: “Well as most people will know, partly due to the recession and partly due to people going to more live gigs and festivals and web related events quite a few clubs have closed down and nights finished in London. Three years ago was especially tough because three of the nights I’d played at for a resident for a number of years all finished, pretty much simultaneously. But there are still some great nights and parties on and a lot of pubs have become cool places to go with good DJ and cheaper prices so people will always want to go out and dance.”

Skrufff: I’ve read that many gay pubs are closing because people are meeting over the internet and via web 2.0/ mobile phone apps: how much do you see a difference in the strength of the gay scene compared to straight clubs?

Guy Williams: “I’ve long thought the gay scene has been a little on the slide for quite some time due to both the reasons you mentioned and also because of the fact that being gay is no longer underground and has become almost predictable. Though there are still great parties like Horse Meat Disco and various warehouse parties, thank God.”

Skrufff: You grew up in the Manchester suburb of Cheadle Hulme: what were you doing between school and starting DJing in 1993?

Guy Williams: “I left school in 1986 and after leaving I went straight into a telesales job which I did for a few mind-numbing years before landing a manager’s job at a clothes shop aged 19 which I did for five years. I started DJing in 1993 and when that started to really take off in 1994 I left the clothes shop job and concentrated on DJing. I also then started working for PWL – Pete Waterman’s company looking after promo for Eastern Bloc records, his dance label, before moving to London in 1997.”

Skrufff: You became a resident at the Hacienda’s legendary night Flesh in 1993: how did you land the first gig?

Guy Williams: “I had been going to Flesh since the very first one in 1990 so when I started DJing in 1993, Paul Cons, the promoter gave us a slot. When I say ‘us’ I used to DJ with a guy called David and we went under the name of Planet Janet. It was definitely one the highlights of my DJ career as Flesh was such a seminal night.”

Skrufff: Peter Hook’s recent book on the Hacienda (‘How Not To Run A Club’) is full of tales of hooligans and gangsters packing out the club and regularly causing chaos, how much did you have to navigate/ interact with those kind of characters?

Guy Williams: “I started going to the Hacienda when I was just 16 years old and it was very much a student / indie kind of club until 1988 when dance music started creeping in, as did the gangster element. I used to go to a Wednesday night called Hot, Fridays called Nude and sometimes on Saturday as well; all of them straight nights and by end of 1989 it was definitely getting rougher. The gangsters eventually started appearing at Flesh too, which was a gay night. To be honest, the gangsters ruined Manchester’s club scene. By 1993 loads of venues and nights were closing down simply because it was just too dangerous, and that was partly the recent I left and moved to London after experiencing a few dry years.”

Skrufff: Danny Tenaglia booked you for a couple of his renowned Be Yourself parties in New York 2002, how did that happen and much difference did his support make to your career and profile?

Guy Williams: “Danny was a bit of a DJ hero to me in the early nineties and I basically became friends with him and his manager Kevin. When they first asked me to play it was one of the most flattering and daunting opportunities I’ve experienced though luckily a group of friends accompanied me to New York and the gig in the event was amazing, Danny came into the booth about an hour before he was due to play and asked if I would play for longer. And to get invited back a second time was ace.”

Skrufff: Do you ever go back to your hometown of Cheadle Hulme or any old school reunions?

Guy Williams: “I never really go back there but have driven past my old house, which I loved a few times. And there have been a number of reunions which I thought about going to but didn’t quite make it.”

Guy Williams – Soundcloud

Black Rabbit – Myspace

Jonty Skrufff’s Blog

Danny Howells – DJ Requests, DJ Snubs & DJ Tips

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Another fine article from our guest writer Jonty Skrufff, find him on facebook here. Click the record stickers to listen…

Digging deeper

“Fellow DJs take note – if you end up stranded in some country due to an airline fuck-up, find your own accommodation or sleep in the business lounge – you’ll thank me.”

16 years after he started his career spinning warm up sets at John Digweed’s fledgling Bedrock nights in his home town of Hastings, Danny Howells knows more than a little about travel snafus including his latest incident which saw him missing a headline slot at Ibiza superclub Space last weekend.

“It was a complete fuck-up and I’m gutted,” says Danny.

“I was flying in from Tunis, via Nice, and my outward flight was delayed by almost four hours. There was absolutely no other way of getting into Ibiza therefore I ended up stuck in Tunis for the night; in a -2 star hotel provided by the airline that was so vile I had to sleep with my shoes on. Stuff happens like this sometimes that there is absolutely no control over and it is an absolute pain in the arse,” he complains.

“On this occasion, it was my only Space gig for 2010 so it’s even more depressing,” he complains, “I’m not really an ‘Ibiza DJ’ and I probably don’t draw many punters to the club so I doubt I’ll be getting booked again next year after this.”

Grumbling (and false modesty) issues aside the progressive tech-house star is endearingly down to Earth reflecting his first job working as a psychiatric nurse in a semi-secure ward treating patients suffering from serious psychiatric disorders, including some who could be violent. 16 years on though, all is forgiven, he smiles.

“Whenever I go back to Hastings, I always bump into at least one of my old patients. Some of the younger ones always tell me how happy they are for me, that I managed to get out of nursing, or that they’ve bought one of my CDs etc,” he says proudly.

“There’s even one that I once made a mix-tape for, and he always tells me that he’s gutted that he lost it, and can I make him another one. That’s really nice, and I’m always so happy to see them all doing well. There are a few who on occasion threatened to kill me if ever they saw me outside, but now we see each other and have a hug and a chat. I’ve never ruled out the possibility of going back into that profession one day – I won’t be DJing forever, and doing something like nursing is so rewarding, even though it can be so stressful.”

Death threats aside he has no immediate plans to retire, however, despite admitting he’s been suffering from an unusually intense bout of writer’s block.

“This year has been a strange one so far, gig-wise it’s been pretty fabulous, but production-wise I’ve been in a bit of a six month funk. I produced so much stuff over the last few years, and kind of worked myself into a block, so to speak.”

“But it’s a cloud that really does has a silver lining, as it’s given me the chance to open up the Dig Deeper label to producers other than myself, and right now I’m buzzing over some of the forthcoming tracks that I’ll be releasing. We put out a message for producers to send in their demos, and honestly it was quite overwhelming, both in terms of the quality of the material that was sent in, and the love that some people have for the label.

I never really think that many people are paying attention to what I do, but then something happens which comes as a shock – for example, finding out that Juan Maclean was into the label, and was going to use my “Laid Out” track at his DJ gigs was amazing.”

Laid out

Jonty Skrufff: You mentioned being gutted about missing Space, though chatting to Time Out’s Steve Swindells about your gig at the (tiny) Notting Hill Arts club last year you said about playing in superclubs, ‘it is sometimes difficult to maintain the interest over a longer period with larger crowds, and can feel forced into playing more uptempo than you want to’, what prompted that comment?

Danny Howells: “I think these comments stem from my own insecurities, as playing to large crowds definitely does scare me. I have found in the past that it can be difficult to hold the interest of a large crowd over a long period of time, especially as a lot of my peak-time music is so dark. But sometimes things happen that can change my own perspective of what I can do. Bonnaroo was a great example, because due to various circumstances I ended up playing the final four hours, which is very long for a festival set as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think I did a bad job to be honest. It worked out a lot better than when I had to follow David Guetta at Creamfields last year – that was harder for me than when I had to follow Dave Clarke or Jeff Mills.

Jonty Skrufff: In the same Time Out article last year you reminisced of the joys of ‘chatting up birds, and being rejected’ at the club, whereas the last time we spoke (in 2005) you’d just fallen in love and were talking babies and a shared passion for easy listening gods the Carpenters: what happened, are you still together with the same girl?

Danny Howells: “I still love the Carpenters . . . our relationship didn’t work out though, sadly, but we’re still the very best of friends. I think our continued friendship comes from a shared loved of animals. After the break-up she ended up with one cat and two guinea pigs, I held onto one cat, three guineas and a bunny (rabbit), who sadly recently passed away. I don’t even vaguely consider going into another relationship now. My relationship is with my pets; in a non-sexual way of course.”

Jonty Skrufff: How much of a problem is it meeting girls who want to be with you for you as opposed to ‘Danny Howells- international DJ’?

Danny Howells: “I’m so aware of that whole thing where people who would never look twice at me in normal situations suddenly want to hang out – that whole side of DJing is so fake and I’d rather stay celibate for the rest of my life than shag some bird who likes me because I play other people’s records. That was one of the key reasons my last relationship lasted nearly five years – she thought I was “OK” as a DJ but was so far from being a fan. I did try and seek her approval at times, but we would never have become serious had she been a fan.”

Jonty Skrufff: Space chatted about James Zabiela being swamped with psycho groupies at his recent gig: how difficult is it to resist temptation night after night, year after year?

Danny Howells: “He’s much younger and better looking than me and the girls absolutely love him. Even I can’t resist grabbing his dinkle whenever I see him. I have never really noticed many females stalking me though, either I’m completely oblivious to it, or I’ve just never been a heart-throb. I think the latter is probably more accurate.”

Jonty Skrufff: Have you ever encountered problems from jealous boyfriends?

Danny Howells: “No, because I have never put it about. That’s just not the way I was brought up. When I have spare time on tours, I’m on my laptop trying to get ideas for tunes, or trying to find new music for my sets. I really try and get my full amount of sleep whenever possible too – not very rock n’ roll, but I’d rather sleep than shag right now.”

Landing on planets

Jonty Skrufff: Wikipedia says ‘At performances, he is well known to interact personally with the audience’: have you ever had problems from drunks/ people competing with you? (e.g. over-pushy DJ request people?)

Danny Howells: “Oh definitely. One of my earliest DJ memories was in the early-mid 90s, down at the Crypt in Hastings. Some girl was banging on at me to play M-People and I was really kindly telling her that I didn’t have any. I went to mix the next track in and she grabbed me by the T-shirt, yanking me onto my back and snapping my headphone cable. She then told the club manager that I’d been rude to her, so I ended up being threatened with the sack. I still get it now, people approaching me, being really friendly and after I’ve given them a beer out of my rider, they come out with “You got anything harder?!” Please, dearest, piss off!”

Jonty Skrufff: Looking at your tour schedule you’re playing every two or three weeks as opposed to two or three gigs a weekend: have you taken a conscious step back from playing so much?

Danny Howells: “It’s actually a lot more than that, but I think part of the problem lies in the fact that I don’t keep my online diaries very up-to-date. I am, however, making a very big effort to take more time off, as I honestly enjoy it much more when I’m not touring relentlessly. There a other guys out there who are much older than me and can stay away from home for long periods, but I really find it hard. There’s no point in me being away from home for 3-4 weeks: I’m not promoting a major record, I’m not chasing fame or looking to build up my bank balance.

I get so homesick when I’m away for too long, and my body doesn’t cope with lack of sleep any more. Age affects us all differently, and I really can’t go on pretending that I’m 24 when I’m pushing 40. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and I know what I enjoy, and I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I can be a bit more picky about how much time I spend away from home. The whole airport-hotel-car thing takes it’s toll on me so I have to take things a bit more gently now.”

Jonty Skrufff: There are thousands of tracks released each week now and more and more all the time: how much is information overload a problem? what do you think are the implications for DJ culture longer term?

Danny Howells: “I have my own routines for sourcing music. I check my promo inbox all the time, and there are always a few nuggets in there. I also rely heavily on Juno too, for finding all the really deep and more eclectic bits. I still buy vinyl from there, but not as much as I used to. As far as long term implications go, well the scene has definitely changed a hell of a lot. Seeing someone like Deadmau5 headlining Ultra in Miami over Orbital goes to prove that. There’s a lot of very disposable music out there which outsells everything else, but I’m pretty hopeful that there’ll always be a little niche for old fogeys like me.”

Jonty Skrufff: What made you leave Hastings a few years ago for London?

Danny Howells: “It was when I moved in with my then fiancee. I actually was living outside of Hastings, in a remote village with nothing but a pub and a village shop/post office. She’d moved over from Amsterdam and I couldn’t make her live in a place like that. I loved that whole village life-style, but I love being in London now – even though I’m still pretty reclusive.”

Jonty Skrufff: What do you make of British society today: is it in any way noticeably more dysfunctional than 15 years ago? Does it cause you any alarm? (eg the ubiquity of binge drinking?) What should be done?

Right off

Danny Howells: “I haven’t got a clue what should be done – I’m a DJ not an MP. As far as drinking and drugging goes, I think we’ve always been a bit off the hook in Britain. I doubt that the crowds in the 60s going to Pink Floyd and Hendrix gigs were exactly sober. I find the knife/gun culture more alarming, rarely a week seems to go by without some horrific news. The whole instant-celebrity thing is so annoying too – so many people who are famous for absolutely nothing other than shagging some crap footballer. Please, fuck off!”

Jonty Skrufff: How important is it for DJs to personally keep up with Facebook/ Twitter today; how much time do you spend on it?

Danny Howells: “I am a Luddite as far as technology goes – my DJ technical rider is so straightforward, my Nan could be my tour manager. I think the whole Twitter/Spacebook thing is really important now. I have someone who does my fan page for me as I cannot do that whole ‘come to my show’ stuff. I can’t bring myself to big myself up and re-tweet things like ‘your set was so great’, which so many other DJs do non-stop. I think it’s actually fun to chat with people on Twitter though – it’s my way of interacting with people, now that I don’t have a message board. It’s good for the banter and I love stalking the (TV show) Dragon’s Den crew on there – Bannatyne is such a legend. I try not to follow people who just use it for self-promotion though – you know the people who have 10,000 followers yet don’t follow anyone themselves. What’s that all about? The whole status-updating thing is rubbish to me, but the whole talking bullshit element is a lot of fun.”

Jonty Skrufff: You mentioned on Twitter being rejected by a superstar techno DJ recently: did/ do you take it personally?

Danny Howells: “A little bit, I suppose, yes. I’m always so happy to see another producer/DJ reach out to me, regardless of their genre or how cool they are. There are definitely some people out there who have a raised opinion of themselves, and don’t want to be seen to be connecting with some supposed old “progger” (progressive house DJ) like myself. Yet there are others who show true warmth and appreciation for the fact that I play their records and support their labels etc.

The techno DJ in question, I was actually trying to get in touch as I’d re-edited two of his tracks which have been a regular staple of my sets over the last ten years, and I wanted to give them to him. That was all. I’ve been playing his tracks for nearly twenty years, and have nearly everything his label has put out on vinyl. But at the same time, I got a personal message from Keith Chegwin, thanking me for bigging him up on Twitter – a true legend in my eyes, and he’s still taking the time to thank me. Thank you Cheggars. I love being able to connect with random people I admire .. Dragon’s Den stars, Eastenders actors, Big Ben clock etc – so I always reciprocate and take the time to connect with people that admire me.”

Jonty Skrufff: I haven’t asked yet about cosmetics: when was the last time you wore eyeliner? How important is image for DJing these days? More or less than before?

Danny Howells: “I have a certain identity crisis right now – my image has gone stale and I always feel so old when I walk into a club full of 18-24 year olds. I should tart myself up more and would definitely benefit from a bit of slap, but I don’t really have the confidence right now. You should style me!”

Jonty Skrufff: How about ditching the stubble?

Danny Howells: “I can’t shave! It makes me look like Freddie Mercury; just before he went!”

Thanks to both Jonty and Danny find their respective official websites here and here.