Stuart King has been around dance music all his life. He has lived through the breakdancing era of the eighties, then the acid house explosion of the nineties, and now he is at the forefront with his own productions. As well as working solo on projects such as his new album Late Night Obsessions on Baroque Records, he also is one half of Sunday Club on the legendary Stress Records. Having played along side some of the biggest and best DJs in the game, he can more than hold his own and has an infectious and fresh sound that veers from house to disco to deeper stuff, always with warmth and soul. Here we speak to the main man about his roots, promoting raves in war bunkers and his new album, amongst much more besides.

Words by Rob Chadwick

Tell us about putting on raves in an old war bunker – what was that like? Who played them?
It was an incredible time, while it was all kicking off in the UK with illegal raves being held in warehouses and under motorways we were doing them in German Bunkers and Forts, there were a crew that put on the party’s and i used to help getting the equipment down setting up and then started playing my first sets in there.
They would usually start after the clubs as originally they were only open until 2am, but when the authorities started clamping down we were allowed 6am licenses to stop us putting on illegal raves. It was a crazy time, only word of mouth, these bunkers especially the one at “La Pulente” overlooked the sea, you could look out from the machine gun slots cut out of the concrete, the noise of a generator outside and acid house pumping until the early hours with local Djs Mikey Ashford, Paul Mack, Jason Skuce, Andy Manson, Mad Steve and Nelson, there were various crews doing party’s with the likes of Biko, Roger, Eric Powell from Bush Records and many others.
Do you miss those illicit days where ad hoc raves could happen without big corporate sponsorships and security and ticketing and stuff?
Yes there was a sense of freedom, these were purely free party’s, and because you weren’t supposed to be doing them that made it more exciting. The police were powerless back then as there were too many people coming to the raves, when they would come in to tell everybody to leave and turn the music off as soon as they left we would put it back on! But there was no trouble, everybody was flying, but then the “Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994” came into force, giving the police more powers to stop us partying, meaning if there was a rave being held and if it was predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats it could be shut down. My friend was arrested and served three months in prison and had his decks confiscated because he wouldn’t stop playing!
And you were there for the acid house movement right? What was it like? Will there ever be another movement as thrilling and exciting you think?
Those memories will never fade, it was an amazing time because it brought so many people together, I remember we put on a rave in an old rundown bar / hotel on the west coast. We had to break in and get all the speakers and generators into the building, it was a mission to get in there and there were holes in the floor and rats scuffling underneath. Our torch ran out of batteries when we were halfway into the building and we couldn’t get out, It took about an hour to find our way out with a lighter but then that broke!  We managed to get out and go to the club to direct everyone back to the party, I was DJing and suddenly just behind me this huge double pillar holding up the ceiling collapsed behind me because of the bass, we had to stop the music and get everyone out. It was an incredible buzz even though it was dangerous. The 60’s was the “Summer of Love” with the Hippies, Flower Power, Woodstock, and i would say Acid House was the second, we had a recession, there wasn’t much work in the UK and everybody just wanted to let go, to loose themselves in the music and to party. Maybe there will be another movement in 2020, who knows…
You were also a breakdancer – do you still do it? Do you think that dedication to proper dancing is missing in the modern scene?
It can happen, it depends what state I’m in! If I say to somebody that I used to Breakdance when I’m at a party they will say “go on, show us”. The last time it happened at an after party, I had been out all night and I started breakdancing and doing a windmill and ended up smacking my head against the wall and getting a big carpet burn on my chin! Yes I think it’s all changed, people still express themselves in a club but with Breakdancing it was a new world, like Acid house, it was exciting and as with any new scene it incorporated Art, Music, Fashion, Graffiti and Rap before it became mainstream. I think the breakdancing scene, particularly the DJ side of it led up to the Acid house movement, not the sound, but the skill of using the turntables, DMC Championships for instance, that played a major part in the momentum of DJ Culture, there were movies like “Beat Street”, “Breakdance The Movie” even “Flashdance” so dancing became fashionable. I have seen a lot of the new generation of clubbers incorporate the “Melbourne Shuffle” when they are in the club, which is now their way of being expressive.
How did you filter all these things into your own sound, your own style, and what is that style?
I think you carry all this experience with you and it translates into your sound. It gives you more knowledge about the process of how you want to make music. My style I find hard to define, I started out DJing playing Old Skool and Italian Piano House, then through most of my career I was playing “Progressive House”, I worked in Ibiza for two years and was a resident at Privilege, the biggest club in the world and also at Space on Sunday mornings before We Love Sundays where I played for Balearic People. When I came back from Ibiza my style had definitely changed and was chunky, percussive and solid but still had that melodic feeling, emotion and vocals.
What is the art of the album these days – do people still listen to them, and how different must an album be form a 12”?
An Album has to stand the test of time and have a lot of different genres running through it. If it’s a DJ artist album and it’s just that one style that you would play in a club it can be quite boring. So when an Album comes along it’s got to have something different to excite peoples ears. That’s what I have tried to do with “Late Night Obsessions”, there is a track for everybody on there. Also I think people do listen to them, there are not as many DJ / Producer artist albums out there nowadays as the market is mostly swamped with compilation Albums.
Tell us about your new album, what inspired or influenced it? What did you want to say with the album?
I was always making music, and after returning from Thailand and Brazil last year I just wanted to make a body of work, something that would show my diversity. I didn’t just think, “I’m going to make an Album”, I just made a few tracks without thinking to hard about being current, just making music that I liked and it started to come together. I had nearly ten tracks finished and thought, “I’m nearly there”, I reached out to a few vocalists I had met and then it all started to take shape. There were twenty six tracks altogether and I had to to disregard the tracks that didn’t fit or make the Album flow. It took a lot of time and it was hard letting those tracks go, but they will be used as future E.P’S. With the Album I wanted to tap into peoples emotions, the story wrote itself really as a lot of the samples and lyrics do relate to certain points in my life, but that was never the idea, it just somehow worked out that way.
You have a guest vocalist on it – how hard is it to work with original vocals, its a very different skill to regular instrumental production right?
Yes Kinnoha is a great vocalist, I was really happy to work with her. To be honest I find it easier to work with vocals as you have a structure to work on from the start, obviously you have to be into the lyrics for the track to work, otherwise your just chopping it up and using the best bits or ad libs. I prefer it as you can strip the track right down, with instrumentals you can over compensate with not having a vocal and flood the track with too many parts, vocals give the track space to breath.
Do you produce tunes with your own DJ sets in mind? Are you looking to fill in the gaps, sort of thing?
Yes I start that way but then the track usually goes in a different direction, I rarely go into the studio with an idea of what I’m going to make, I just play around and see what I come up with, it depends on what vibe i’m feeling when I’m recording. Sometimes I find it difficult searching for the music I want to play in my sets, it takes a lot of time and a lot of it sounds the same or has just been regurgitated from the past, so you really have to spend hours and hours looking for the right tracks, new producers, and just make music that fits your style of playing out.

Late Night Obsessions – Baroque Records 
BARQDA214
1. Stuart King – Anvil (Original Mix)
2. Stuart King – Vision (Original Mix)
3. Stuart King – Circle of Eight (Original Mix)
4. Stuart King – Be Free Feat. Kinnoha (Original Mix)
5. Stuart King – Waiting (Original Mix)
6. Stuart King – Rojo (Original Mix)
7. Stuart King – Take Your Time (Original Mix)
8. Stuart King – Walking Street (Original Mix)
9. Stuart King – Afrikana (Original Mix)
10. Stuart King – Dreamscape (Original Mix)
11. Stuart King – Roots Feat. Kinnoha (Original Mix)
12. Stuart King – Searching (Original Mix)
13. Stuart King – Cielo (Original Mix)
14. Stuart King – Which Road to Take (Original Mix)

You can buy the album here –pro.beatport.com/label/baroque-records/56