And it is a trip. A legend back in the groove
Interview by Dan Prince
Mr Mark Moore continues to light up dancefloors this summer and beyond with his Excursions EP on his own new imprint NEEDLE BOSS RECORDS featuring reworks of three S’Express classics brought bang up to date by I-Robots, Punks Jump Up, Vanilla Ace and The Superman Lovers. ‘Enjoy This Trip’, the long-awaited new collection of remodels, remixes, and remake too is due to land soon with the Excursions EP offering a glimpse of the splendour to come. Let’s get it on…
Mark a huge welcome back to DMCWORLD…where on planet earth are you today?
Hey Dan, lovely to be back here with you, my dear clubbing amigo. I’m currently in DeBeauvoir which is in between Islington and Dalston. I defected from the West a few years ago. West London that is. Had many nice years there but it was just too quiet. I’m currently DJing at select places that I like. Which means anywhere from Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco to East Bloc & Vogue Fabrics in Hoxton and Dalston. Also doing my own night called Private Life at The Victoria in Dalston where I play music from or inspired by the downtown New York clubs of 1979-1984 (The Roxy, Danceteria). I’m recording some new music as well as getting more releases ready for my Needle Boss label which I just started so I can put out my S’Express ‘Enjoy This Trip’ album. An album of remakes, remodels and re-rubs which includes people like Tom Furse from The Horrors, Chris & Cosey from Throbbing Gristle, Horse Meat Disco and more. Should be out early next year.
What was the first piece of music you heard this morning after rolling out of bed?
I put on Lonelady’s ‘Hinterland’ album. It’s got a Factory Records post-punk feel and I’m loving it.
Really exciting news for you right now with the forthcoming release of your Excursions EP on your new imprint NEEDLE BOSS RECORDS, reworks of three S’Express classics brought bang up to date by I-Robots, Punks Jump Up, Vanilla Ace and The Superman Lovers. Please talk us through the EP and why these producers were chosen to rework your musical babies…
All of them are people I’ve either worked with, so friends, or people I wanted to work with. Basically anyone whose music I’m quite excited by and believe me I’m very choosy. I-Robots takes the rare-groove, proto trip-hop ‘Funky Killer’ and speeds it up to a downtown NYC Danceteria vibe. Punks Jump Up house up ‘Hey Music Lover’ with a nod to a certain wonderful band that were inspired by the S’Express name. Vanilla Ace gives a lovely, late night, dark basement take to ‘Theme’ while The Supermen Lovers gives it a Balearic feel with some Chic type guitar.
What are the plans for the label?
Needle Boss was created mainly to put out the ‘Enjoy This Trip’ album but now I’m in the frame of mind of Record Boss I may put out a few things by other artists. So watch this space!
Okay let’s rewind for a moment. How important to you back in the day was the Ze label, it was too clever for many of the disco lovers for a while…?
Love that label. Yeah the Ze label was way too ironic and dumb and intellectual all at the same time for most people. Especially genuine disco lovers at the time. Were they taking the piss? Is this supposed to be funny? People didn’t get it but the new wavers totally got it. Cristina’s first album is still one of my most loved albums in my collection. She wasn’t the best singer and it’s as camp as fuck but the whole thing is like a sick twisted movie. Her take on the Peggy Lee classic ‘Is That All There Is’, re-written to become even more New York nihilistic, was banned by Lieber & Stoller the writers who were outraged. Not everyone can listen to that album and bare it let alone get it but it’s a great litmus test for finding out if people have the same off-key humour and taste as you.
True or false? You used to hide a lot of your record collection when your mates came round fearing some piss taking?
I was a punk rocker and when my punk friends came round I would hide my disco records and things like my Blondie records (which were considered too pop). You have to remember disco was a very dirty word back then. It no longer had much connection with it’s fabulous gay roots and became more associated with wife swapping parties in the suburbs and corporate dross. One day I thought, ‘Fuck it. If they’re not going to talk to me because I like disco then they’re not worth having as friends.’ I came out the disco closet by putting on a Chic album and there was an audible sigh of relief as all my punk friends said, ‘Thank God! I love disco too! I was too scared to say anything.’ Yeah when you’re 14/15 you’re quite dumb and insecure about your place in the world but then you just say ‘Fuck it. I’ll do what the hell I want.’
I once asked you why you became a DJ, you told me that you couldn’t figure out anything else to do if it wasn’t for your amazing record collection you’d have never got that foot in the door at the MUD Club. So, cards on the table, if you hadn’t have become a DJ, what do you think you’d have ended up doing with your life?
I reckon I would have become a writer…or an actor! Or run away and joined the circus! In fact there’s still time to do all these things.
You started making records under your S’Express guise because you saw a gap in the market so to speak. After hearing the hip hop dudes making tunes sampling old funk n’ soul tunes, you realized that nobody had done it with disco records?
Hip-Hop and electro was a huge influence on S’Express. Just as much as Chicago House and Detroit Techno which were still underground at that point in time, give or take a couple of top 10 house hits which were promptly filed under ‘novelty’ and dismissed as ‘faggot’ music. I just thought let me try the principles of hip-hop and looping breaks, married with the sampling mayhem of Double Dee & Steinski, to something that hadn’t been done. Which meant applying them to Disco which no one was taking seriously after the Disco Sucks era. I also was influenced by the spirit and ideals of Punk Rock which meant sticking your fingers up at the rules and conventions you were expected to adhere to and trying to annoy people for your own amusement. After I made ‘Theme From S’Express’ with Pascal Gabriel I knew the track would be huge at my Pyramid nights in heaven and also at The Mud Club where I played but I was fully expecting to be crucified by the music press for bringing back disco. It felt very punk to be doing that even though ironically you were using disco, which is something most punks hated.
How did you feel about knocking The Pet Shop Boys off the top of the chart with Theme – they were one of the few people around at the time pushing disco, albeit in a more electronic form…?
I always felt guilty knocking them off the number 1 spot. I loved that record ‘Heart’, I used to play it at Shoom. I almost wrote them a letter of apology. I would much have preferred to knock something crap off the number 1 spot, not something good. We reprobates must stick together.
Is there any truth in the rumour that originally you had put a Donna Summer / Giorgio Moroder sample into the break in the track and played it at Heaven one night on cassette, but heard a boo from the dancefloor and promptly took it out?
Yes I’d sampled a tiny bit of her singing ‘Our Love’. The first time I played the track as a rough monitor mix, the crowd were really getting into it, then I heard a single, solitary boo at the Donna Summer bit. Donna had been accused of saying vile things about the gay community after she went born again Christian. Allegedly she said that ‘they got what they deserved’ when asked about the AIDS crisis. Maybe she had a crazy ‘Hail Jesus’ moment and said something that was taken out of context but I don’t think she actually did. It’s not for me to judge people and jump on that knee-jerk, mob mentality band wagon, especially if I don’t have the proof and facts. I met and worked with Donna on a TV show and she was just fantastic and a lovely human being so I don’t believe she did it and she denied it. Anyway, I took the sample out. There was a gap on the record which we thought we would fill later on, only we forgot and that gap is still there! I now think of it as a few seconds of drums and silence in memory of Donna Summer whenever I hear it.
Looking back at those early days of Acid House – what were your thoughts on hearing Farley Jackmaster Funk sampling Isaac Hayes for ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ and Steve Silk Hurley nicking First Choice’s ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’ for ‘Jack Your Body’?
It all seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Hip-hop was sampling, looping or recreating bits of old records while jazz was always about taking someone else’s popular riff and expanding on it. Meanwhile I felt like we were creative pirates plundering our music collections and transforming old snippets into brand new creations. When Black Box ripped off my original bass line from ‘Theme From S’Express’ for ‘Ride On Time’ my record company wanted to sue. I told them not to. It just wouldn’t have been Acid House to sue.
“I will be warming up for the delightful Ms Billie Ray Martin at East Bloc on July 10th. I used to be her fluffer back in the days when we made adult movies.” Discuss…
Haha! I met Billie Ray Martin under the strobelights at Shoom and we’ve been friends ever since. Those adult movies haven’t made their way onto youtube yet. Haha. But seriously, I really did try to do a soft porn video with the S’Express girls back then. They all declined but now they have all told me that they regret not doing it. In fact Billie Ray Martin’s song ‘Je Regrette Everything’ was about not doing the porno video. It would have been done in the best possible taste of course and all in the name of art.
Another funny wee post you shared with us on Facebook last week was mentioning the afters you had back at yours after Private Life when a load of people “raided my snack cupboard and emergency pizzas”. Dude. What happened to the days of dancing on the kitchen table until dawn drinking cooking sherry and pumping up the volume?
I’m sherry free at the moment and have been for a while. It’s quite hard when you first do it and you feel like your brain is going to implode and your innards are all being eaten by bugs from an alternate dimension. But then after a few months of torture and psychosis you find you no longer need to be grasping for the cooking sherry for a good time. If the place I’m in has great music and great people with a good energy I find I just get a natural high. You may well still find me dancing on the table at dawn.
What were some of the big tunes at Dalston’s finest that night, I hear Grace Jones and Talking Heads got an airing?
So many! Grace Jones ‘Warm Leatherette’. Talking Heads ‘Slippery People (Live Version)’ + ‘I Zimbra’. Marcel King ‘Reach For Love (New York Remix)’. Cristina ‘Poupee’. Quando Quango ‘Love Tempo’ and … wait for it …. Madness ‘Our House (Mark Kamins US Dub Mix)’! To name just a few!
You were one of the many thousands down at Hyde Park in June for the big disco extravaganza…what were your highlights of the day?
Being forced to go onstage with Chic for the stage invasion was hilarious but made you realise just how lucky you were to be surrounded by so much great music and great musical people over the years. Then seeing Grace Jones age 67, topless, rolling around on the stage, falling off the stage, then getting on a bouncer’s shoulders and riding him into the audience were the icing on the cake.
What do you make of the whole new Nile Rodgers explosion?
Nile Rodgers deserves every minute of it. Maestro.
What are the 5 big tunes in your box this weekend…
– Punks Jump Up & Earl Grey – Call Me Up
Nice jackin style track with early Chicago vibes. Love these guys.
– Jonjo Jury – ArtBucket
Throbbing disco prowler from the Lovely Jonjo.
– The Chemical Brothers – Go ft. Q-Tip
Party time with some rabble rousing rap!
– JPW – Don’t Be Scared Of Yourself
The return of John Pleased Wimmin with a joyous piano vocal number.
– In Flagranti ft. Craig Yamey – Double Talk
Funky summer tune with delicious vocal and Andy Butler remix.
Are you still loving your DJing? Where are some of the places you’ve enjoyed this year?
As long as you have great music to play and brilliant people to play it to it will always feel good. Loved playing at Jonny Woo and John Sizzle’s venue The Glory in the Kingsland Road with full drag mayhem and performances going off all around you while I slipped in less obvious things like Grace Jones singing ‘Send In The Clowns’. I love that the so called ‘alternative’ scene has such a great sense of humour about itself. Also playing Pam Hogg’s after fashion show party which was a tribute to Steve Strange was a very beautiful and poignant occasion. We miss Steve but I’m sure he’s having a ball wherever he is.
And finally young man – 3 bucket list adventures you wanna do in your lifetime?
Lion Taming. Parachute Diving. And a Macramé Class
Love it. See you soon Mark…