Telling stories through music, Edinburgh house music and multi-genre stalwart DJ & Producer, Craig Smith, is helping celebrate Househead Presents That Perfect Beat’s 1st Anniversary on Saturday June 17th at Aures in Waterloo. With a longstanding career behind the decks and in the studio, Craig is not one to stand still always working on a new project. With the Suncebeat Festival coming up in July in Croatia, and new releases under his 6th Borough Project collaboration on Jimpsters Delusions of Grandeur imprint, Craig is also readying the second EP on his new label, Beyond Tomorrow.
With a lengthy catelogue of releases across the genres Craig has produced under his own name as well as The Soul Renegades and Sound Signals for labels such as s Defected, Atjazz Records, Restless Soul,Soul Heaven, Yoruba Records and his own label, Fifty Fathoms Deep. He’s also remixed tracks for artists such as Roy Ayers ,Moloko, Robert Owens, Cevin Fisher, Roland Clark and Hercules & Love Affair. Craig has also released an instrumental hip hop LP as Sound Signals on SFSB records, with big support from BBC 6 Music’s Craig Charles.
As 6th Borough Project with collaborater Graeme Clark (The Revenge), they’ve releases 3 albums and many more remixes and productions since their first release in 2008. Heavy hitting support for their music comes from heavy hitters including Kenny Dope, Gilles Peterson, Moodyman, Simbad, Jimpster, Danny Krivit, Joe Clausell, FK and Todd Terje He’s also a regular on the airwaves too and find his Fifty Fathoms and Find Your Rhythms shows on Soundcloud.
Hi there, it’s good to catch up with Craig, one of Scotland’s stalwarts of the house scene and known for your DJ sets and 6th Borough Projects and can you tell us about your latest releases and projects?
Next up I’mreleasing the 2nd EP on my new label Beyond Tomorrow due to drop mid June and there’s a new 6th Borough EP coming out early July as we return to Jimpsters Delusions of Grandeur imprint.Also working on a couple of remixes for Atjazz and Local Talk which should see the light of day mid summer.
Festival season is upon us and what have you got planned for this summer?
I have few national gigs in the next two months July then it’s off to Croatia for Suncebeat Festival July 20th-27th
You’re also coming to London to play at Househead present The Perfect Beat on Saturday June 17th and do you get excited coming back to the smoke and you must be looking forward to playing for the rising Househead crew?
I always enjoy my gigs and yes I’m excited to play for the Househeads crew for the 1st time as I love their energy and enthusiasm for the scene.
Where do you see the music scene at the moment and do you think it’s open again with DJs playing across the genres?
I think it’s fairly positive with the amount events that are being put on but I am wary that DJs these days don’t get enough time in their sets. This means the art of warm up/the resident DJ (which to me is more important than the headliner in a lot of cases) is being eroded. I also think a lot of the bigger names aren’t taking enough risks when they play but I do think when it’s presented correctly the people are open to all sorts of good music.
You also do regular radio shows, Fifty Fathoms & Find Your Rhythms and how important to do you think it is to stay connected via the airwaves and mixes? Do you play different kinds of sets in your radio shows?
I think its really important as it’s a great way to show your true personality through your choices without feeling the need to compromise for a dance floor. As a lover of a wide range of styles I try and also incorporate that ideology into my club DJ sets anyway but it’s even easier to express that via radio shows.
Based in Edinburgh there’s always been a great music scene there and known as one of the key cities for House music, how did it impact you growing up as a teenager in the middle of it. How significant was House music at that time and did you have a eureka moment about it?
I’ve been involved in the Edinburgh scene since the mid 80’s and seen a massive changes, both good and bad, over the years. Living through those “golden years” I don’t think you really appreciated how amazing that period was until after.
What inspired you to want to become a DJ and how did you start?
I never really wanted to be a DJ. I was always a music lover & vinyl collector from the age of 14 and was always out at clubs. DJing wasn’t really on my mind until I was asked to fill in for the residents at the club I went to every Saturday, The Hoochie, so they could have a break. From that moment I was hooked.
Who or what influenced you at this time and were there other elements of Soul, Disco, Hip Hop and Funk in your early sets?
The party I went religiously every week and had my 1st gig at at you would hear a modern soul track played next to Jazz dance track, next to a hip hop joint, next to early house music. No barriers just the best music. I try to live by that ideal as much as I can to this day.
What was your first big break and how did it set you on your way?
I suppose it was that 1st gig as it made me realise how much I enjoyed sharing music with people and how its was a great form of expression for myself personally.
What was the major turning point in your career as a DJ and where did it lead?
I don’t think there was a specific turning point.. just a great journey so far with loads of ups and downs. As a working class boy from Scotland my passion has given me amazing experiences, taken me to places I would never have dreamed of going to and meet people I would never have met before.
You also started producing in ?? and talk us through your first release and what happened with it?
My 1st release was in 1995 for In Demand a label that my good friend Craig Wood started in Edinburgh. I didn’t do too bad considering what a rookie I was. I look back now as to how naive I was with the whole process but even to the present “everyday is a schoolday”.
From there you started producing regularly for different labels and can you tell us about some of your favourite productions, collabs and your proudest moments?
There has been far too many moments to name one. When you start you have goals. If I can just get a record out , if I can just get so and so to support and play it, if I can work with this label or this producer. Every time you tick one off there’s another goal to fulfil right at the back of it. I’m self taught so everything, no matter how “green around the gills” when I did it or how different I would do it now it I’m proud of it. I suppose my 1st record I released was exciting, signing my 1st LP was exciting, getting to work on productions & mixes with the likes of one my heroes like Roy Ayers or having my music on a film score. All of these were some sort of landmark in my career but I don’t tend to dwell on these and try to keep on rolling.
With a prolific live and production career, are there any future plans you’re excited to share with us ?
I’m pretty lucky in that because I’m known for playing a wide variety of styles I get a regular amount of gigs that are musically varied so now and into much of 2024 it’s fairly solid gig wise. Production wise I’ve got another 3 or 4 releases to come this year on my new label Beyond Tomorrow, which will focus predominantly on my solo work and also some new up ands coming artists. As I mentioned before 6th Borough Project, which I do with Graeme Clark (The Revenge) have just resigned to Delusions Of Grandeur so there will be new music from us and also new material from my collaborations with Ricky Reid (The James L’Estraunge Orchestra) as the Soul Renegades and with Saleem McGroarty as Sound Signals.
5 Hot Tracks
1. “Nuits Sonores” Ron Trent Remix – Trinity Various (Floor Records)
This man never puts a foot wrong for me from the 1st production I picked up of his in 1990 till this very day.The rhythm and the sonics he provides is second to none and the emotion and soul he squeezes out of every thing he touches is incomparable. This is how you do a remix.
I know I might be biased on this one but this forthcoming release on my Beyond Tomorrow label is ticking all the boxes for me. Deep, emotive electronic soul just the way I like it.
Craig Smith headlines Househead presents That Perfect Beat 1st Anniversarywill open from 9pm at Aures, 18 Leake St, Waterloo, SE1 7NN, on Saturday June 17th. The full line up features DJs Johnny Reckless, Rap Saunders , Deli G, Steve Parr and Nick Standen