The original Hacienda DJ gets ready for the 30th Birthday celebrations in Manchester
Welcome to DMC towers Jon. A massive birthday month for The Hacienda is now upon us, not with us in bricks and mortar but with us in spirit nevertheless. Let’s go back to the early 80s and the music that first influenced your direction of DJing. Hip Hop and early Chicago House was all around us, what do you recall about that time, who were the artists that made an impression on you?
“Nice to be here! I see you’ve decorated since I was here last…Back to the 80’s…ummm…I started DJing really thanks to an article in a fanzine called Collusion Magazine by Steve Harvey, which interviewed all the New York DJs that were in ascendance at the time…Larry and Francois and Shep…it was a few years before I played there myself but I had an imaginary New York as inspiration, perhaps a more potent one that the real thing…certainly the anything goes music attitude often ascribed to the Balearic scene but very evident on the NY scene was a big influence…and then Chicago arrived big time, with acts like Mr Fingers and Adonis and the great Pierre…not to mention Marshal!!! It was music that had an edge of darkness to it, very often, that was fascinating…but I guess the strangest records then were the early Transmat 12″s…Nude Photo by Rythim is Rythim being the most restless and inventive and the possibly greatest our lord Derrick May produced…all these records have stayed with me in many ways…the genius of their simplicity is a touch stone for all I do in the studio.“
You moved to Manchester where you were swiftly offered the resident at the Hacienda’s Hot! night, a night that paved the way for millions of nights around the world. Your sets were legendary, you never admitted you were one of the first Balearic DJs in the UK, but you were. What were your big tunes from you at that time and what were those Hot! nights like…?
“Haha…ok, yes strange times those early Hot nights…I have a friend that assures me he saw people levitate during one of my sets…haha, may have been other influences! No I only deny the Balearic thing to wind people up! It was just a way of life for me or a mind set…you know you suddenly have this great space in front of you, this musical playground and people queuing round the block at 7 or 8 o’clock ready to listen to you playing BBC sound effect albums …haha…and some house music as well perhaps…it was the most exciting situation musically. But its true, I did enjoy the first hours of the night very much…when I got to play Can and dub reggae and flamenco…Yousou N’dor…finally when the first 4/4 kick drum descended on the crowd the place was electric…It was a time when so much changed for people in terms of their approach to clubbing. Clubbing became total musical immersion and not just a cattle market with music…New York had finally arrived in the UK and it was called the Manchester…I’m gonna regret saying that! haha…”
Who were the people on the stage and in the pool that later went on to make their own mark in our industry…?
“My guest list regularly had friends like Daddy G from Massive Attack on it, Orde, Dave and Stuart from Slam, James Baillie and James Barton, two of the greatest promoters of the coming era were wide eyed regulars also…some kid called Sasha….all the Madchester bands were baptised in that pool…plus the owners of the club were regulars, New Order…Barney in particular, had a good time in the club…”
A famous quote coming up… “I heard Jon Dasilva playing acappella first, he was the master of that stuff and I ripped his style. He was the one DJ at the Hacienda who really constructed a set and used a cappella and sound effects, mixed in key, built a set into a soundscape. He was the person who influenced me more than any other DJ.” – Sasha. …who then Jon were your early DJ heroes, who were you looking up to and taking tips from? Mike Pickering and Martin Prendergast did the Nude Night @ The Hac back in 86/87 as MP2 (squared)… the nights were a non stop feast of US imports and unmissable and Martin is credited with being onto the whole Detroit Techno scene years before anyone…
“I learnt to mix watching a guy called Chris…ummm, he was DJing under the name Mr C, though a Shamen he was not, in a club in Preston…just watched the way he used the deck, pitching and correcting the vinyl…he was a great DJ who has sadly disappeared from the scene years ago…There weren’t many other DJs around who were mixing at the time…seems strange now. I was hanging out with Laurent a lot…and when he left to do his National Service in France he very much lined me up to take over from him at the Hacienda…the job fell to me for other reasons I’m assured, but he had a creative attitude to mixing and we egged each other on in many ways to get better at our game.”
You were part of the Hac team trying to crack America in 1990 on the ‘The United States of Hacienda’ tour. I attended the New York leg of that trip across the States, the US were just not getting us back then were they? Why do you think it has taken them so long to catch on?
“Oh! Is that what we were doing there! haha…yes, we brought them “Manchester Music” which of course was from Chicago etc…nope they expected Joy Division and the Smiths…I think it is the size of the country really, you know you can crack a US city with a record, sell a few thousand but to crack the nation is a whole other story. One strange club record could sell the same number in the UK go to number one on the UK charts (Jack the Groove) and although it maybe seen as a novelty record by most, would sow many seeds as well…and the perhaps the racism evident in the musical apartheid of the industry over there…whatever, its cool for college kids to like Disco and House now, when 20 years ago it was “faggot” music, “druggy” music…which of course it was, and still is!!!”
You are living in Stockholm now, what red blooded male wouldn’t if given half a chance. What do you love and hate about residing in the capital of Sweden?
“It’s a beautiful city, and yes jammed packed with the most beautiful women…but err..ahem yes, there’s lots of water around… which is nice! Need to buy a boat! The club scene in Stockholm is village – small but when you’ve lived in Manchester for 20 years or so, you get a little spoilt…they do Summer parties everywhere though which is very cool…a very liberal attitude to these things here…and Gothenburg is great too…more relaxed than Stockholm and more like Manchester in that respect…there is sooo much good music coming out of Sweden and Scandinavia and has been for a long while , its great to be amongst it all…downside is the Winter, but you knew I was gonna say that…still there’s nothing else to do but stay in a make music…”
I’m told you’re working with a bunch of labels and have a collaboration coming up with Maceo Plex this Summer…
“Yep I’m right in the middle of finishing mixes for the Jon Dasilva and Maceo Plex track “Love Somebody Else”, for his Ellum Audio imprint…it’s already causing quite a stir as a demo and we start promoting it in June at Sonar where we are playing back to back at the Get Physical Records party. I have to say he’s proved that being the hottest DJ/Producer on the planet and being a genuinely humble and generous person are not necessarily mutually exclusive! I’ve been writing an album with music partner Jonas Nilsson and his fiance Christine Deckhert which is at the mixing stage and have started writing a “House” album as well…”
One of your old band projects The Virgo Mechanically Replayed had their album out late last year, ‘Factory Fatigue’…and you have some new remixes swinging our way in June. Talk us through them…
“That was my first band in years…since before I started DJing…and the album was a re introduction to the ways of writing I’d forgotten about really so it was great for me…and now we have the remixes. I gave one to old friends the Eskimo Twins who came up for a corking, psychotic little house version of Bowie …and one to a new friend, Jonny Bubba who I’ve been having comms with for the last few years thanks to his brilliant releases but whom I have only recently met…he has taken on Punk Face and done a remarkable funk filled job…”
When Park and Pickering came to the floor with their Nude night on Fridays, Madchester exploded. Literally. Was there ever any resentment on your part that all of a sudden they were taking the limelight at The Hac?
“Nooo, it didn’t feel like that. You know the UK scene was very small at the time and Fridays I was usually to be found in the Hacienda myself, ranging round the place and making a nuisance of myself…The fact that Tony ALWAYS forgot to mention me in press situations as my name “didn’t begin with ‘P”! was a piss off, but he made amends in later years and I guess quotes from people like Sasha help to heal the wounds…(sobs)…haha…”
Can you remember the moment you started to recognise the gang culture taking a grip on the club, how did that feel watching this club you had help build being slowly taking apart every time the doors opened…?
“I remember saying to one of the directors that it was getting out of hand in the club in terms of the dealers…it was like they were selling vegetables on a market stall…!! Wasn’t long before it got heavy and the fights started…it was soul destroying to see it happen and the thought of the people involved still scares me now…so lets move on! It has to be said though that unlike the Liverpool police who backed up Cream with full para military like support on the door of the club, Manchester Police and the Council turned their backs on the place…still it shouldn’t get to that situation in the first place really, should it…”
The 30th Birthday celebrations are upon us with some amazing events spread around the city. Manchester is buzzing again thanks to a new breed of clubs in town. What do you think are the biggest foundations The Hacienda has provided for clubs around the world?
“The Hacienda wouldn’t have been the Hacienda had it been in London. Period. Its important for people to have great spaces to hear and dance to music in and it doesn’t matter if its Leeds or Los Angeles, you can do it now, its a dream that has become a reality…DJ and promoters left the Hacienda, back in the day, determined to do the same in their own town, it wasn’t a London thang or even a New York thing… but it could be your thing.”
What are your all time Hacienda dancefloor Top 10 records…
Nude Photo – Rhythim is Rhythim I Need A Freak – S.L.Y Voodoo Ray – A Guy Called Gerald I’m Going to Go – Jago Slam – Phuture I’m In Love – Shalor Virgo Mechanically Replayed- bootleg Rock This Party Right – Coolhouse Wild Time (Derrick May Remix) – Delite Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation
And the big Fac Records Top 5…
Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division Ceremony – New Order Lips That Would Kiss – Durritti Column Waterline – A Certain Ratio Digital – Joy Division
Looking back, what were some of the greatest nights you ever enjoyed on Whitfield Street?
“God!!! too many blurred memories…we did a great party in the basement of the Hacienda, after New Order played the G Mex across the road…it was called The Disorder Party …I remember coming out of the side entrance the next morning and everyone was completely covered in grime from the basement floor and all looking very dazed…”
I used to drive up the M1 with Dave Seaman which used to take six hours sometimes, but it didn’t matter – we were happy just to get in for half an hour. What Hacienda worship stories can you remember from the Hac faithful?
“You know Dave Haslam used to get all the DJ box action…if you know what I mean…hehe…he’ll deny it of course but he was adored by the indie girl fraternity…”
And finally Jon – did you put a bid in for any of the Hacienda building before it was demolish
“I didn’t feel right at the time…but I kind of regret it. After one late night session in Rob’s record’s office, I did nearly make off with some of the traffic bollards that were being stored by the doors there…would’ve been a little difficult to explain I think…Hooky’s now got em in his bathroom or summit…hehe…rock ‘n’ roll, eh?!”
The Haçienda 30th Anniversary Celebrations X1 – Haçienda 30 @ The Haçienda Apartments Car Park 113 – 115 Whitworth Street West, Manchester 21st May 2012 To Benefit Nordoff Robbins. 7pm to 12am X2 – Haçienda 30 @ Sankeys, Saturday 2nd June 2012 10pm to 6am Laurent Garnier L.B.S. Show Justin Martin, Oli Furness and special guests
X3 – Haçienda 30 Classics @ Sankeys, Monday 4th June 2012 10pm to 6am Kevin Saunderson, Graeme Park Allister Whitehead, Tom Wainwright Hot – Jon Dasilva, 808 State DJ’s, Peter Hook, Mc Tunes Temperance Club – Dave Haslam, Dave Booth, Jason Boardman Sankeys, Radium Street, Manchester, M4 6AY