The Rattler Fest with Utah Saints

The UK’s festival season is upon us and where better to start at one of our most fun weekenders ‘Rattler Fest’ in Cornwall. DMCWORLD checks in with legendary dance music icons Utah Saints as they head down the motorway for some serious adult only fun…


Tim, Jez our paths cross again!

Hi Dan, Great to hear from you again! .

Well the British weather has finally turned a corner and everyone is rolling up their sleeves for festival season. I’m checking in with you guys thanks to your appearance at Cornwall’s Rattler Fest down in Penhallow in a few week’s time. A massive line up awaits us all…the south west always laps up The Utahs right? You must be looking forward to getting rattled…?

Absolutely! This festival will be a lot of fun – it’s right up our street – a diverse line-up of ace acts, weather looks like it will be sunshine, and it’s just great to be back doing what we love with such a great crowd!

Rattler Fest is an adults only cider festival with apres ski lodge sessions, a Mr & Mrs Rattler Competition, a Pool Party, Club Fromage and so much more – even a late night Gin Lounge. A little different from festivals back in the late 80s, what was the first festival you appeared at and can you remember how much you got paid? 

Yes – before Utahs started we played under a different name at a now infamous festival, also in Cornwall, called Treworgey Tree Fayre – we didn’t get paid, but took a crew with us, and the whole weekend was very edgy.  As for Utah Saints first festival, it’s a vivid memory –a festival in Slough, with an easy to remember name – “Slough Festival”. We took a big leap from near the top of the club circuit to the bottom of the festival circuit –this was 1992, and at the time it was unusual for electronic dance acts like us to play at festivals- pretty scary and we can’t remember how much we got paid, but suspect we lost money on it!

So the first time I met you guys was on a Mixmag event in Leeds, way back in the early 90s. Let’s take you back to that time, had you any idea that what you were doing at the time would be a career that stretched 10,20,30 years plus…?

That’s right! We met you at the beginning of rave! Thing is, both of us started DJing, promoting and playing in clubs when we were (independent of each other) at school. It didn’t occur to us to do anything else – we never really had a plan, but did have the goal of making careers somehow out of music. We’ve worked really hard, and had some lucky breaks – hasn’t always been easy at all, but we’re still here .

You have had an incredible time in dance music and remain two of the nicest people in the music scene. What have been some of your personal high and lowlights over the past few decades?

That’s very kind of you to say – the thing about being nice is that we try and understand that all of us have ups and downs, everyone has a story – we try not to add to anyone’s misery by being tw@s! Over 30 years there have been a lot of highs and lows. The main high would be being there, like you and DMC, at the start of rave, and managing to still be here and feel relevant to the music , 30 years on. Then opening for U2 in 10 stadiums remains a high, making tracks with legends Edwin Starr, Chuck D, Michael Stipe. Being on Zig and Zag (younger readers will have to Google that).We headlined Wickerman Festival about 10 years ago on the mainstage, with about 10,000 people there, and that was a really special gig. More recently we did a gig with a classical orchestra and Dave Beer from Back To Basics which was ace. To be honest we don’t take anything for granted, so every gig we play, every track we work on is a high – we really love the music!

The biggest professional low was the death of Keith Flint – we didn’t know him well at all – only met a handful of times, but he was such an important part of dance music, and we’ve always felt an affinity with The Prodigy – we started at the same time, playing the same raves, and Keith’s death was felt by so many – really sad.

You have hosted hundreds of your SugarBeatClub over the years, everyone from Zane Lowe to Mistajam has stepped into the spotlight for you. What are the next plans for the party?

We currently are really privileged to be able to curate and book a stage at Beatherder festival – we’ve done that since 2008, and it’s amazing as we have a really eclectic line-ups over three days, ranging from swing dance lessons to D&B, via disco and house.

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One dance music anthem you wish you would have made?

Probably one record that both of us can agree on here would be the 15 min version of ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer – The Patrick Cowley mix.  This record was so way ahead of it’s time and has still never been bettered. Even with all the advances in technology that we have in 2020, it would still be hard to beat that version if you sat down and tried to make it today. That record is 45 years old and still stands the test of time.

The best nightclub you have ever stepped foot in and why?

We would have to pick 2 here as the best nightclub in terms of location would be a club we used to play in Menorca which was in a cave on a side of a cliff called the Cova D’en Xoroi. It was the perfect set up and location. In terms of of atmosphere and some of our favourite nights, we would have to pick the Gallery in Leeds as that is where it all started for Utah Saints.

The best DJ you always love dancing to?

Again we would have to pick 2 here. For full on club and techno vibes it would be hands down – Jeff Mills. He uses the decks as they should be used which is as an instrument. For party rocking good times it would be Jazzy Jeff as he knows how to drop a record and rock a crowd.

The 90s and rave are so in vogue at the moment, big retro events are everywhere. What kind of crowd are you noticing from your stage view, are we getting the younger curious kids in having a bit of it?

Yes, especially at festivals with eclectic line-ups, we are seeing all kinds of people of all ages, at that point it becomes about the music , which has always driven us.

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We all loved seeing you on the 1991 Top of the Pops last week, this was your first TV appearance as I recall? It wasn’t all plan sailing though at the BBC studios?

You’re right, 1991 was our first appearance. Top Of The Pops was also a high point for us, and for the first appearances we felt imposter syndrome for sure -we had no stylist, dance routine or big PR machine behind us, just the track we made in a tiny studio in Leeds. Top Of The Pops were great, but we were all adjusting to the new dance acts coming through. For example, we didn’t have a singer – just samples. We refused to have someone come into mime – we were hoping to make the point that samplers were instruments too. As a result it was difficult for the TV people to know who to point the cameras at. In the end we just went for a chaotic approach with as much smoke as possible.

Oh and Lionel Ritchie ended up borrowing our guitar amps as we couldn’t fit them on our stage, we got told off for playing football with The Orb, met Def Leppard and saw the cast of Eastenders in the canteen, a good day out! We still had to keep it real though – straight after filming we had to go back up the M1 to Leeds and spend the night sticking reflective tape on the floor of the stairs of the Gallery (where our club nights were) as the fire officer was coming to inspect the place at 9am…..

And finally gotta ask, is there anything coming out the Saints studio soon?

We have a long story about that – we’ve spent the last 5 years, Jez virtual crate digging and Tim listening to new music – we now have a lot of samples no-one else has used, and only work on uplifting tracks, so yes, we think we have tracks still to come – our last release was 2012, so it’s about time!

Nice one guys. If you are ever in Ibiza hit me up!

Thanks Dan, thanks for the usual great Qs, take care! x

WHEN: 22-24 APRIL 2022