They are two of the legends from Manchester’s unstoppable music scene. She is the cat who learnt her trade at The Hacienda and has had residencies all over the world including Queen Club in Paris and Cocoon in Frankfurt. He is the dawg from Sprechen Records with more fingers in pies than Mr Kipling. We’ve loved his work at The Refuge, Electric Chair and End of Year Riot and cannot wait to see where this new relationship takes us on the dancefloor. World are you ready for Massey and Paulette? Let’s go…

 

Photos by Sebastian Manox

We begin with Paulette up close and personal with  Chris Massey…

What do you bring to the Massey & Paulette project?

Clearly it’s the looks and glamour and an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and clothes! What else do I have to offer??!

How was Sheroes for you?

The Sheroes EP came about from the meeting of musical minds of two like-minded people! I’d had a bass line from my 303 saved in my archive from a track I did with Emperor Machine which we didn’t end up using so I put it to use on what became the ‘Sheroes’ track. I’d like to think it’s a solid representation of all things I personally like in a tune, from the acid squelch to the spoken/semi-sung vocal along with some key drops & break downs. Overall though it’s a big salute to all music type people we both love & respect…the only downer was that we had to drop a few key people from the lyrics due to space! The video is still under wraps (though it might be live by the time this goes out!) so I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to end up looking! All I know is we had a great time shooting random but fun footage and delivered it with a brief of “make it look cool and like an Art Of Noise video from MTV”…so fingers crossed!

Collaborations and ghost productions…thoughts?

Collaborations can bring so much to the table from all people involved regardless of their studio, DJing or just general life experiences! Ghost Production? Can be debatable and the lines can often get blurred, all I’ll say is that I’m safe in the knowledge that anything ever released with my name on has been built by myself from the kick drum all the way up to the finished article (probably why it never sells, ha ha!).

Top 3 DJ do’s…

1. Keep your feet on the ground and your head out of your ass.

2. Watch your sound levels & keep out of the red, it really doesn’t make it sound any better to be sending a distorted signal to the master (which itself shouldn’t be hitting the red either!).

3. Try DJing naked sometime, it is indeed most liberating!

Top 3 DJ Don’ts…

1. Don’t cut off the previous DJ’s track as soon as you get on the decks…it makes you look like a massive disrespectful knob.

2. Don’t forget positions you have been in at some point in your career.

3. Try Ding naked sometime…the members of the Bolton over 60’s Annual Tea Dance didn’t take kindly to me dropping shellacs whilst stood in my birthday suit at a previous gig.

Rekordbox or Record Boxes?

I’m still not a user of Rekordbox yet…I just have a hard drive with folders on entitled stuff like “Face Melters”, “Camp Disco”, “Mid Level Chug” kind of vibes so yes, I do need to get into it. When I play The Refuge I do take my actual record box/bag which is packed full of £2 under the counter pingers bought from places like Clampdown Records & King Bee!

Mixing Techniques?

I try to be smooth and subtle but I do like some quick cuts & drops into tracks at the right moment. However I’m defo not a “keep twiddling the mixer buttons & not actually doing anything” kind of jock.

What was the worst job you did before getting sucked into the wonderful world of music?

Honestly I’ve never had a job I hated, although back in the day doing a paper round were stressful at times; especially on a Thursday when the Bolton Evening News came with the property guide which meant double thickness…awful when delivering to mountain type inclines on the roads round our estate. Only by having ‘Slippery When Wet’ by Bon Jovi on my walkman made those journeys bearable!

How do you follow that? Any successes or horror stories from when you followed on from another DJ?

I had fun at a festival last year when Mark XTC was on before me was playing some house type vibes when I arrived which was great for me to follow on from but after I got back from a walk around the site he was dropping warp factor throb style jungle and D&B! Luckily he powered down his penultimate tune and dropped Roy Ayers’ ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ which I thought “ah perfect, I can easily segue into this” only for it to then drop to a stuttered ‘sunshine-ine-ine-ine-ine’ style loop and then drop into a 160bpm D&B cover version! Mark is a top dude and his set was wicked, for me it was great fun to be thinking of the best vibe to go for. I think I just went straight in with the big diva voiced disco bomb Clouds by Chaka Khan.

Following the Sheroes theme, what are your top 3 tracks by female artists?

This can change on a daily basis but I suppose all time’s must be:

1. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time

Cyndi Lauper- Time After Time

Amazing chords & pads on the intro & throughout which gives it an overall vintage yet contemporary feel. Pop music like this just doesn’t exist anymore and neither do the characters that sing or write them

2. Kate Bush – And Dream Of Sheep

Kate Bush – And Dreams of Sheep

It could have been any track from Hounds Of Love but this is a thing of sheer beauty and Kate Bush was massive in our house as my mum is a big fan. Stunning vocal (as always) and the piano structure is a massive tear jerker.

3. Janet Jackson – Pleasure Principal

Janet Jackson – The Pleasure Principle

It’s got everything…jackin, firecracker percussion, (I’m guessing) a Linn drum machine and also maybe a Roland 707 as well as an outstanding vocal by JJ with lyrics about being a strong independent women…years before Beyonce, oh and the video is a thing of pure excellence. A top level jam which I still drop in sets now whenever I get the chance.

Next up, Chris Massey in conversation with Paulette…

What do you bring to the Massey & Paulette project?

Chris is the geek – sorry genius and I’m here for the creative tweakery (and to learn like a Jedi at his side). Chris creates the base, the template – he’ll send me a skeleton or a solid arrangement and I’ll say ’yes’ or ‘no’. In the studio, I bring fresh ears (not pigs’ ears – that’s Hudson’s department) and ideas, adding lyrics, top lines, spoken vocals. I am good at arrangements, have a good ear for tonality, drama and what goes where. Chris is open and easy to work with, so bouncing ideas around is fun and I can speak my mind. If there’s an idea in there that I think doesn’t work, if I have written too many lyrics or if the whole thing needs to be pared down, I am a brutal editor and am happy to make cuts. In the studio, Chris makes the tea and I bring the treats which is a good analogy for how we work.

What’s Sheroes to you?

Chris and I had been waffling about doing something together for a while – so when he sent a handful of tracks over I was excited to write lyrics for ‘the one with the acid bassline’. Original title was ‘I Like Girls’ and lyrically I’d pegged it as a gender pay gap, my list is as good as your list, these are my icons – answer back to Daft Punk’s ‘Teachers’. Hudson (Chris’ handsome Vizla) was a puppy when we started recording the track but we both had a mad summer so by the time I finished the vocal, Hudson was in his dog teens and boisterous as fuck – hence my guffaw on the end of the track. The word ‘Sheroes’ came with rewrite number 4. When I dropped the ‘Sheroes For The World’ lyric we both agreed that ‘Sheroes’ was THE angle and a stronger hook. By rewrite number 10 I had the lyrics / verses sorted and names in place. It’s not just a simple list – it rhymes, the lines are balanced as are the names and comments. Chris polished the arrangement and we finalised everything together. At mastering, we realized that it was too long so we cut three minutes (which meant we lost some key players but tightened up the track) then we added extra keys, a few more effects and a bit of drama. It was a real team effort and a ‘girl power’ labour of love. ‘Violins And Things’ definitely benefitted from the hours spent getting ‘Sheroes’ right. Sebastian Manox shot a ton of film of us acting and wandering around key Manchester landmarks whilst wearing some of Brett Dearden’s shiny disco headwear.  Our brief for the video had Max Headroom and Art of Noise as our mood board. I’m hoping for a nice surprise when it’s finished.

Collaboration and ghost productions, thoughts?

I am all for creative / artistic collaborations – there’s nothing better than two people with completely different or the same opinions joining forces to make a blinding piece of work. I’m less into collaborations that are a ‘my people spoke to their people’ and hey presto here’s a social media merge and marketing ploy to get a billion streams on Spotify and Youtube and wring easy money out of easily duped punters. Having been asked to produce shows for people and advised to pay for a track to be made then put my name to it in order to scale the DJ ladder and get more work, I have massive issues with ghost production. I said ‘No’ each time. For me it’s a (Capricorn) principle / honesty thing. I couldn’t put my name to or promote something I had nothing to do with yet pretend it was all my own work. And I refused to put my time and effort into making something that I would never get any credit or real recompense for. I know that many artists, producers and DJs make good money doing this – some quite high up the food chain too – but I couldn’t sleep at night if I did that and I don’t know how they can. Ghost written tracks / shows should be publicized as such. Period.

Top 3 DJ do’s

Do treat the warm up and closing with the same reverence as the main set. Your mission is to create a great vibe from the get go and send people home with a smile on their face. Always and only take your A-Game. If you’re feeling ‘off ‘ or even when punters are teeing you off – still aim for your A-Game but don’t take it to heart if you don’t reach it. It’s music not brain surgery. Be decent, create a good vibe in the booth and on the dancefloor and connect with the DJ that is due to follow you before they play. Remember the DJ booth etiquette and if they want the booth clear, clear the booth.

Top 3 DJ Don’ts

Try not to play any of the productions of the DJ playing after you – they will never forgive you for it. Whether through excitement, stupidity, inexperience, under stress or lost in the moment I’ve mistakenly done this and it makes me cringe / wince remembering.  This is a ‘dig yourself an enormous grave’ level DON’T.

If you’re warming up for someone don’t crank it up to 133bpm – at 8pm – in a bar or at 10pm in a club. It scares people off the dancefloor (and it pisses the  DJ following you off before you have even said hello!).

Try not to take out the wrong USB key or stop the wrong deck – if you’re really not sure which is which,  wait or ask the DJ to play another so you know which deck is clear.

Rekordbox or Record Boxes?

My current weapon of choice is USB and Rekordbox. When I started DJing in 1991 you could only play vinyl in clubs. I carried vinyl and CDs to gigs until 2009 – but phased out buying vinyl when most of the good record shops had closed down in Paris. Online shopping was becoming commonplace (although the internet was not high speed) and downloading from Beatport and Traxsource (and all the record labels) was much more common and convenient.  I remained a vociferous ‘vinyl sound quality is unbeatable’ bore off though – blah blah WAVS were expensive, took an AGE to download, AIFFs weren’t really on offer and mp3s were lo res and scrappy. I was a slow adopter for USB only making the transition to Rekordbox and Traktor / Serato in 2013 after I moved to Ibiza. My studio set up was in storage and Rekordbox made my life instantly easier. I have no time for snobbery of any form (OK I lied – there’s good and bad of everything) but to me the vinyl / USB argument just gets old. I don’t have my entire vinyl collection in digital form, I wish I did and I wish I’d made the transition earlier. Rekordbox all the way. No more osteopathy bills or bursitis and tendonitis treatments for me, suckers! I’m happier carrying 8 USB keys that weigh nothing yet put thousands of tracks at my fingertips than lugging two 23 Kilo record boxes of joy that, whilst they look infinitely more stylish, are impractical, get scratched or damaged if you play them on beaches, need baby bumpers around the set up if you are playing outdoors and good luck to you if your record box falls off a chair onto a concrete floor. Most times vinyl sounds flat, hissy and lo-fi on club / bar systems that don’t invest in the top of the range sound required or at least replace their styli every month.

Mixing Techniques?

I like to take firm control of the mixer, using smooth blends and tight cuts but going easy with the loops, effects and the equipment. I don’t aggress the knobs although I do dance around behind the decks.  I tweak the sound and mess with people’s heads with effects when I am playing house / techno. I don’t understand people who fiddle around and flip their fingers off the knobs or dials like they’re red hot – what’s that all about? and I have a theory that people mix like they have sex. Make of that what you will.

What was the worst job you did before getting sucked into the wonderful world of music?

Double whammy – I worked for the CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) as an 18+ Management Trainee where I was trained around various groups and disciplines in Personnel and Training. Travel, supermarkets, retail and banking was fun, but my secondment to Pollard Street Food Manufacturing Group working on Industrial Tribunals was four months of pure, isolated hell. I resigned after that placement. I followed that by working in the Piccadilly Radio 261 record library. Again it was like solitary confinement – a room with four walls, a security door and no windows. I was supposed to send all the playlists by TELEX (fore-runner to the fax machine) to PRS every Friday evening and I could never get the machine to work so I binned them and pretended I’d sent them. The lazy presenters took advantage on the daily and never completed their playlists or refiled their records and I spent hours filling in the playlist / PRS forms for every show from their dumped stacks of vinyl and then filing, filing, filing. After six months it got to me, I had a total meltdown, trashed the library and resigned.

How do you follow that? Any successes or horror stories from when you followed on from another DJ?

I have a few funny horror stories LOLs – Radio FG party at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysees, Paris – 2000 people were crammed in store. These parties were normally amazing and I was happy to be following Hakimakli and Tristan Garner BUT during the event I was aware that the sound system had been misbehaving with crackling mixer channels and constant feedback during the PAs. As I took my position in the booth, Tristan told me that only one deck was working. OK. When I plugged my headphones in ALL 4 CDJS were on strike. Nada. Zero. No replacement equipment to hand. No technician to fix anything. People started booing me. The PDG of Radio FG suggested that I sing. I said ‘no’ plugged my headphones out, stood back and let him explain whilst taking the boos. I wasn’t offered another live event with FG for months after that as my refusal to sing was seen as ‘mauvaise foie’ (sour grapes). I regularly played after David Guetta whilst in France – through the days of vinyl / CDs and USBs. Each time I had to be super on the ball as he tends to play at least 30 minutes over time. You have no access to the booth to cue up unless you’ve made a record with him which generally meant my having exactly 1 minute to 30 seconds before his last track ran out and the crowd stopped cheering (then started filing out in droves) to cue up and start. It taught me how to keep smiling as if everything was in hand, to be sharp and ready quickly and to start with the energy turned to 12. Mike Pickering accidentally pulled out my USB at The Rex recently as my last track was playing, which just goes to show that it happens to us all.

Following the Sheroes theme, name your top 3 tracks by female artists?

Today I’d like to focus on ‘collaborations’ and nominate some of my favourite house divas.

1)    Barbara Tucker – I Get Lifted – (Go To Church Mix) – Strictly Rhythm

Barbara Tucker – I Get Lifted (Go To Church)

I could have said ‘Beautiful People’ or Hardrive’s ‘Deep inside’ or ‘Precious Love’ but ‘I Get Lifted’ makes my waters rise and baby hairs stand on end every time I play it.  It’s a timeless Louie Vega / Barbara Tucker classic that I play with (and gives me) as much joy today as I did when I received the original white label promo from Strictly Rhythm. Barbara is wonderful friend and a beautiful human being too.

2)    India – Yemaya Y Ochun – aka River Ocean – Love & Happiness

India – Love & Happiness (Strictly Rhythm 1994)

I heart India for practically everything she does – ‘To Be In Love’, ‘I Can’t Get No Sleep’, ‘Backfired’ are all perfection to my ears but ‘Love And Happiness’ was my first real girl crush moment for that sparkling, crystal clear voice of hers and this is the ultimate feel good house track and vocal. She sounds like she really enjoys using her voice and exploiting her full vocal range throughout.

3)    Jocelyn Brown – Nuyorican Soul – It’s Alright I Feel It – Talkin Loud

JOCELYN BROWN with NUYORICAN SOUL. "It's Alright, I Feel It". 1997.12" extended version.

I had the luck and honour of promoting the Masters At Work Nuyorican Soul album project to the UK National Press. It is a highpoint of my career. I’d worked with Jocelyn on Incognito and Todd Terry and fangirl gushed that she is one of my favourite disco divas. She was so humble – such a lovely woman. Jocelyn’s vocals always bring the sun out and touch my soul. It was a close tie with Ministers De La Funk ‘Believe’ which I also still play but ‘It’s Alright actually moves me to tears every time. ‘Let Nothing block your way, cos this could be your day…all you got to say is…Stand Up…It’s Alright’

MASSEY AND PAULETTESHEROES EP‘ – BLACK RIOT RECORDS

Traxsource Exclusive: 4th June

General Release: 11th June

Video teaser to Sheroes:

MASSEY AND PAULETTE – SHEROES – TEASER VIDEO 1

Video teaser to Violins And Things:

MASSEY & PAULETTE – Violins & Things Teaser – BLACK RIOT RECORDS