Interview by Nicky Trax
One of Deep Into Soul’s favourite guests, what are you looking forward to most next week?
I’ve been playing for Deep Into Soul for quite a few years now and I don’t think there’s a crowd quite like it anywhere else in London. There’s always some really magical moments with their people and it’s always guaranteed to be a great party for me. My aim is to always play what I consider as quality dance music and try to go through different styles of house into disco and back again, to keep it interesting. I’ll be playing some new, some unreleased, some old, some well known, and some not so well known tracks. But I know I’ll be playing to a crowd of educated music heads, which means there’s much more freedom than some other gigs.
What DJ set up do you use?
It can vary, but generally I’ve gone digital for most events, just out of convenience. A normal setup is 3 Pioneer CDJ-2000s and and Pioneer Nexus mixer, as seems to be industry standard. Occasionally I play on a Bozak rotary mixer which is very smooth to play on. I still play the odd vinyl gig every now and then in my local city Bristol too. It’s fun to dig out through some old records that I sometimes forget about.
How have technological advances helped in your DJ sets?
Well now that I can link 3 or 4 CDJ’s together to 1 hard drive means I don’t need to have 2 or 3 copies of the same record to re-work tracks, like blending between vocals, dubs, instrumentals etc. I also use the Pioneer Rekordbox software to create a play-list of about 100 tracks that I might play, as I find looking through everything can get a bit confusing. It’s a bit like when using vinyl you would pick 100 records to fill your record box with and just take those with you. But this is even better because I still have access to everything else on the hard drive if I think of something I didn’t put in the play-list. It’s actually the best it’s ever been.
You have just released ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’ with Nathan Adams, a Donnie Hathaway cover on Tribe. Tell us about it…
Yes, there’s been quite a lot of releases this year already. ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’ got a lot of love from the soul heads, especially some early support from Louie Vega and Patrick Wilson in the US, and Vinny Da Vinci in SA. Another big release was the remix of ‘Let Me’ by Kenya on Z Records. That one has been getting a lot of radio play throughout the summer and support from UK boys like CJ Mackintosh, Rhemi and Groove Assassin. I’ve also recently started a label called ‘Good Vibrations Music’ and have so far released collaborations with Mike City and HanLei which have getting support from the likes of Mood II Swing, Ricky Morrison, Alex Agore, DJ Spinna, Ralf Gum and more.
What new projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’m working on some more collaborations with Dawn Williams, Cinnamon Brown, The Blak Beatniks, and Mr V, as well some EP style tracks. I also have some new remixes on the way for Atjazz Record Company, Quantize Recordings and Vega Records.
How did you first get into the industry?
I started taking an interest in production and buying music in the late 90s. I was listening to all kinds of dance music to begin with, and as a 12 year old living in a small town in South Wales, all I had access to was commercial music. But I started to listen to radio shows like Danny Rampling’s Love Groove Dance Party on Radio 1, which began exposing me to more US style house music and began buying early Defected compilations. When I was 15 I met a local Cardiff based DJ called Dave Jones who ran a popular US House & Garage night called ‘L’America’ who heard a mixtape of mine. He wanted to meet with me and helped educate me on the history on house music and offered me my first gigs in Cardiff. Then by finding some better record shops in Cardiff I met some local producers known as Southern Divide, who helped me further develop my production skills. Deli-G’s radio show on Bristol based Galaxy 101 was also a big influence on me which gave me a deeper education of the music right back to early disco and helped to broaden my taste. Over the years it felt like a natural progression of digging deeper and discovering the music that influences house music, like jazz, disco, latin, gospel, soul etc.
How is the ever evolving Bristol scene doing at the moment?
Bristol seems to be buzzing right now with dance music events overall. There’s a lot going on with a strong interest in disco and house music specifically. Some popular venues here are The Plough (which myself and Deli-G run our events at), The Love Inn, Motion and The Doghouse. Soulful House is gradually getting more popular here too and the people here are very open minded musically. They really enjoy quality house music with soul.
Was there a special moment when you thought to yourself ‘this is a career, I can make a living from this now.’
Honestly, I think I came along a bit late into this thing. It’s always been difficult to make a solid living off making music. It’s the reality of today’s industry for a lot of people now I think with record sales generally being very low. It’s now getting even harder with streaming becoming the more popular choice for getting music and it really doesn’t compare to sales. But I’ve kept up with it for the passion of making and playing music and feels more and more like a labour of love nowadays.
Are there any extra special nights that still make the hairs at the back of your neck stand on end?
Yes there’re a few parties that have that effect on me, but my standout is without a doubt my own Good Vibrations parties at the Plough Inn that I do with Deli. It’s such an intimate atmosphere and feels very intense when people respond. My favourite parties are always the intimate ones to be honest, like 100 people right in front of you going crazy. Another one that springs to mind are the boat parties at SunceBeat from this year; again, an amazing intimate atmosphere. Oh and not forgetting Deep Into Soul on the Terrace. What a vibe!
Which DJs have been inspiring to work with and who would you have on your dream line up?
People like Patrick Wilson, Karizma, Louie Vega, Mad Mats and Tony Humphries have all inspired me as a DJ in different ways – some for blending, some for creativity, some for programming and musical variation. I think I’d put all of these on my dream line up.
Are there any producers you’re particularly tipping right now?
I particularly like Crackazat (Ben Worsell) at the moment, ever since his releases on Local Talk. He’s got a great bouncy garage sound and is using his jazz musician background to do some really interesting chord progressions and arrangements. There are a lot of people doing 90’s style house now, but a lot of it doesn’t quite make sense musically and have elements that are out of key.Another guy I love is Opolopo who has such a unique sound with all the right blends of warm synths, keys and organic drums. Again as he’s a musician his music is really on point and interesting.
And lastly before we leave to head out to Deep Into Soul’s Summer Closing event what should we be listening to?
It depends how long you take to get ready I guess. But If you’re 2 hour type person then you can check this recent Good Vibrations Podcast to keep you going…
Or if you’re a 10 minutes type person, then check out DJ Spinna’s recent remix of ‘Breathing Underwater’ by Hiatus Kaiyote. It’s sure to get you in the right groove. This is a big one for me right now…
Sean McCabe headlines the Deep Into Soul Summer Closing Party alongside Fish Go Deep, Rhemi Music’s Neil Pierce & Ziggy Funk, Souldynamic, Sol Brown, David Bailey, Gary Gee on Saturdat September 17th at the Prince Of Wales, Brixton. In Room 2, check out Rap Saunders, Shaun Ashby, and DJ Fiddla and running from 5pm-5am.
All info on www.facebook.com/DeepIntoSoul