I thought I would post some of the old articles/interviews I did for traffic magazine in 2008, in the days when it was paper based before the swish new website was launched earlier this year. Articles include a review of Booka Shade live at Insomnia, a quick chat with Surgeon about his forthcoming gig in Leeds and an ace interview with Daz Quayle which I was pretty pleased about!
BOOKA SHADE LIVE AT INSOMNIA - NOVEMBER 2008
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Winding down with a post work can of beer after a tiresome shift serving cheap alcopops to students at an r’n’b event, me and a friend were partaking in a semi-civilised rant on how Booka Shade’s ‘Body Language’ had been savagely taken apart and had a rather tasteless vocal slapped on top of it, which the DJ had then played alongside the best of 50 Cent and Beyonce at the aforementioned night. To alleviate our woes somewhat, we pulled ‘Booka Shade – Live at Puckelpop’ from its DVD case and kicked back on a sofa whilst listening to the dulcet beats provided from their ‘Movements’ tour in 2006. Enthralled by their buoyant stage presence and the vibrant energy of the crowd, “I’d love to see Booka Shade live” was the general consensus between us.
Walking towards University on a wind swept September morning only a couple of days later, a large, bold poster jumped out at me from the advertising boards - ‘Insomnia presents Booka Shade Live at Leeds University’. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Fast forward around a month and I’m stood in a packed out Stylus, the crowd suitably poised for Booka Shade after an impressive warm up from the Insomnia residents. Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger take to the stage just after half past twelve, and play around with a quick dubstep intro for around thirty seconds before launching into Mandarine Girl for their opening song. For anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of witnessing the Booka Shade live experience, this is as close to watching a ‘real band’ as you are likely to come from two electronic music producers. Shunning the laptop and midi controller set up of a number of live dance acts, Arno takes control of a full sized midi-synced drum kit, while Walter stands at the helm of a wide array of different synths, everything tied together through a laptop running Abelton Live.
As well as the music that Booka Shade provided being absolutely brilliant, the visual element of watching two guys bounce around to their songs as much as anyone on the dancefloor really served to hype the crowd up into a frenzy. The energy levels both in the music and on the dancefloor never dropped once throughout their live show and a chorus of screams erupted every time they dropped classic tracks such as ‘Oh Superman’ and ‘In White Rooms’. As the performance lasted only an hour, Booka Shade continued to drop dancefloor bomb after dancefloor bomb, the music remaining at a constant crescendo. Some have criticised Booka Shade’s new album ‘The Sun and The Neon Light’ for being a little different to previous incarnations and not containing as many floor fillers as before, but the newer material fitted perfectly into the show tonight and was as equally well received as some of the older tracks.
Arno introduced their first ‘last’ song over his microphone, a rendition of ‘Put Put Put’, which was the first ever Get Physical release, produced by Mandy. Although a fine record in its own right, surely this wasn’t to be the last record of the night? Body Language, of course? Sure enough, after briefly disappearing off the stage, Arno and Walter took up their positions once again and the opening basslines of ‘Body Language’ filtered through the Stylus soundystem. A sea of outstretched arms pointed towards the ceiling, and as the volume was dropped just before the bassline kicked back in, the whole of Stylus hummed the chorus in unison as Arno orchestrated the sing-along on stage. Everyone was quite literally dripping in sweat by this point and I’d lost count how many times my feet had been trampled on but at times like this it seems to add to the experience and no-one in the audience seemed the slightest bit bothered. Booka Shade appeared back on stage on for one final encore and the crowd bounced around one last time as they finished off the show with a track from their new album.
With what seemed like every other person in the building, as soon as the live performance had ended we headed for the smoking area where we had to actually queue up to have a cigarette! After satisfying our nicotine pangs we headed into Pulse, where DJ’s from the Gouranga club night were knocking out some pretty decent house, minimal and electro. We got up to leave Stylus just before the allotted 4am finish time and the dancefloor in the main room was still absolutely rammed, which is a cracking effort for a school night.
My only major gripes with the night where that the system didn’t really sound loud enough if you were stood anywhere but at the front of the stage, but with an area the size of Stylus I guess that’s always going to be some kind of problem, especially in a University venue that’s unlikely to have the funds to spend on something like a Funktion One system. Also towards the end of the night in Stylus there was some rather dubious sounding fidget/wonky house being played which didn’t really seem fitting considering what music had gone on before but I guess that’s more down to my personal preference so I can’t lambast them too badly. Booka Shade were fantastic though; I’m a massive fan of their music and the way they interact with the crowd guarantees a real good time for everyone on the dancefloor. A very welcome addition to an already hectic weekend in Leeds.
DAZ QUAYLE INTERVIEW - JUNE 2008
Daz Quayle’s musical CV as a DJ, producer and record label owner all spin a very similar tale. As both an individual and alongside Carl Finlow, Daz has released records on labels of the ilk of Modern Love, Klang Electronik and Touchin’ Bass, under pseudonyms such as Il-ek-tro, Scarletron and Black Labs. As a resident at Haywire and Superconductor, he has played alongside so many of the producers whose music he so tirelessly champions. With his own SCSI-AV imprint, Daz has quietly but confidently gone about putting out some of the freshest electro and experimental music around at the moment. Never a limelight hogger, if anyone in the scene can ever claim to be in it simply ‘for the music’, Daz Quayle is that person.
You started off the label SCSI-AV in 1998 and its reputation for putting out some of the best underground electro music still holds firm today. What got you listening to this type of music in the first place?
Daz: I started listening to early Hip Hop in ‘79 when the Sugarhill Gang released Rappers Delight. I was seven and it turned my world upside down. The Breakdancing/ B boy phenomenon had just really started kicking off and Hip hop was in its earliest stages taking influences from Kraftwerk giving the electro edge and Parliament and Funkadelic etc. with the funk edge. I was totally fascinated by this 'future music' and the whole B-boy culture. In the early 80's I used to listen to a UK Hip Hop DJ called Mike Allen. Mike used to play all the early electro such as Newcleus, Captain Rock, Afrika Bambaata and all those groundbreaking records that were around at the time - I got into breaking and it spiraled from there!
It seems the majority of UK clubbers want to go out and listen to 4/4 music. Why do you feel this is and do you think electro will ever have its turn in the limelight in the same way that minimal and electro house have been pushed to the forefront over the past few years?
Daz: I think the majority of UK clubbers don't give a shit what they listen to! Before I started SCSI I played a lot more techno until nobody was really pushing it anymore. Mills had started losing his edge and started doing Purpose Maker, UK techno artists such as Stasis, Kirk Degorgio, and Steve Bicknell were recording less and less and electro at that time had so much more variety. At that point the electro and techno fans had been spoiled by Drexciya who crossed the 2 genres perfectly, using 4/4 beats with mad electro sequences and sick strings that made you think of Kraftwerk and Bambaata but pushed it so much further while making it really heavy. I think we've seen a reverse situation over the past couple of years where the electro producers have run out of ideas and people are listening to techno again. It's just the usual 10 year cycle you see with any genre of music, things get boring and stale, they mutate, another genre takes and sub genres take over until the cycle comes around again. I think it's healthy, there were too many weak electro labels that were saturating the scene and it's killed it! It will come full circle again and people will start listening to Dopplereffekt records in several years and it will sound fresh to the next generation!
Which artists are really doing it for you right now?
Daz: I'm not really listening to many dancefloor releases at the moment, I rarely buy records as there's not much out there that I like! If I'm playing now I'm pulling out stuff I haven't played for a long time which is weird to me as a lot of people who go out have never heard a lot of early Detroit Techno and Chicago House records. Not the best example but people bang on about Richie Hawtin but have only heard closer or his later projects and it's criminal! Whenever I play Substance Abuse or even Plastikman I get punters and even DJ's asking what the record is but they are (apparently) Hawtin fans! The same can be said for many other current 'big' artists. I listen to such a variety of stuff at the moment, new and old. The best new project I've heard recently is Dem dyke stare, I don't think this project will be released until later in the year but it's the sickest shit I've heard for a long time. I've also been listening to various noise/experimental artists such as LCEDP and Shinjuku Thief, Hip Hop artists like Sensational and Clipse plus I'm always interested to hear what more 'commercial' artists are up to like Portishead and Radiohead. I just like people who spend time on their shit and do something a little different; it could be Folk, Classical, Electronica, Noise, Hip Hop or whatever. I'd say that Martes by Murcof is probably the best album I've heard in recent years but it really depends on my mood because it changes from minute to minute!
The term ‘Electro’ is overly misused to describe 4/4 music aimed at the more commercial end of the dance spectrum. Andrea Parker was once quoted in an interview saying she wanted to punch Fischerspooner for corrupting the use of the term electro music! Does the fact that the media, clubbers and even promoters constantly get it wrong annoy you?
Daz: Haha - I've had this conversation with Parker so many times! That was actually misquoted, she said she would prefer to poke her eyes out with a knitting needle instead of listening to Fischerspooner, although a punch in the face is also a pretty good idea! I've always had massive issues with the UK music press, 99% of them don't have a clue and they'll word shit up because it's popular and they 'think' they should be into it.
On the point of genres, It makes me feel violently sick to hear the term 'Electro House', I've heard electro house records and they have zero elements of electro and very limited elements of house! These boys just sample records, destroy them and then hijack two perfectly respectable genres and destroy it all! What's wrong with writing your own basslines? Since electro house was born, I've had so many emails from desperado's who make electro house sending links to demo's. They're so thick that they must just look up electro and house labels and spam everyone with the same monotonous shit! Yeah, it does annoy me because these wankers just steal ideas from people who've put years from hard work in, sell the music as their own and take all the credit with no skill whatsoever! I could go on for a while about this one!
Room 237 is the one night really pushing electronica and electro in the city and you play down there quite regularly now. How are you enjoying it and how do your DJ sets differ from what you would put out for release?
Daz: I think Marcus who runs room 237 is a great promoter; He always makes sure the sound system is good and the DJ setup is spot on! This is always the main priority with Room 237 which is a breath of fresh air! My DJ sets have always differed from what I release - I rarely play SCSI records out because I've done my bit releasing them and it's nicer to hear other people play them cause it shows that people like them. I love electronic music and many aspects, I used to love playing main slots in techno clubs and banging it out but I really like playing early now. It's probably because I'm past my sell by date haha! I like playing early because I like playing records that I like listening to at home, starting off with really sparse records and building up to the main act. It's nice to play to people coming into a club to get a drink and then getting the bastards on the dancefloor!I I've never really been one for playing to a crowd or been bothered what anyone thinks of my set, I'm selfish and I play records I love and want to hear, if anyone else likes it, it's a bonus!
As a resident you were heavily involved with Superconductors 5 year reign in the city and it was a big disappointment to me that they stopped putting on parties. As well as showcasing a lot of the older ‘big’ techno DJ’s they brought a lot of electro acts to Leeds that would otherwise be rarely seen such as Andrea Parker, Claro Intelecto and Transparent Sound. What happened and how you feel about it?
Daz: I think their downfall was putting Transparent Sound on to be honest haha! No I think it went tits up when I started playing there! I wasn't involved in SC from the start, I'd play at their birthday parties or NYE parties but quite soon after I started as a resident they booked Jeff Mills and had to put it on at Mission due to the interest. Mills turned up and had lost his records and couldn't play so 1200 people were left with a bad taste in their mouth and it never really came back from that. It was the worst DJ they ever booked who could have lost his records at the airport. He had been paid a massive amount in advance and I'm not sure if he got his full fee but he was paid an astronomical amount. For promoters of that size, shit like that can wipe you out and they kept hold for as long as they could but no longer had the budget to book the names that would restore the faith in the night! It's a real shame because it was the first proper techno night Leeds had seen since the Orbit and people were begging for it!
What does the future hold for Daz Quayle as a producer, record label owner and DJ?
Daz: I've been so busy with other projects that SCSI has been really quiet, it's not a great time to be releasing electro and I don't have time to put into at the moment! I know that sounds defeatist but after doing something for 10 years you need a break. I'm working on a noise project called Broken Bone with Tony Snowden who's a very old mate of mine, well he's younger than me but he's my longest standing friend! I got to the point where I was really bored with going to clubs and listening to dancefloor records but still wanted to get out and have a laugh. The only electro I still really loved was Bitstream and Ultradyne as they were still pushing the boundaries but I wanted to push it further and Tony came to me with the project and we started working together! We have a record due out in the next few months called 'Coma'. I'm working on several really interesting projects which are taking up most of my time but they'll surface when they surface! SCSI will be back when I have time and DJ'ing isn't my priority right now, I left my records in the back of a cab the last time I played at Room 237 which had a lot of very personal records in there so the very thought of DJ’ing at the moment is distressing! If anyone happens to find a bag of records with 2 bottles of rum inside and some Sennheiser HD25's let me know because I'll pay a lot of money to get those back!
I know I've gone on far too long already but one thing I'd like to add is that DJ's who play downloaded music need to stop calling themselves DJ's and start buying music! People don't go into record shops anymore and grab hold of shit that actually means something to them. Apart from Andrea Parker, DJ miles (From Modern love's Pendle Coven) and Surgeon nobody ever plays anything that makes me want to listen. The music industry is so fucked because music is so disposable and those who are talented can't afford to make it because all the labels are so fucked so the quality is really low. Anyone who plays an MP3 out should be shot!
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