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Nov 28 2014

Jeff Soto

Nice to see Jeff Soto reintroducing some of his old characters back into more recent work, the Walker and the Box were what attracted me to him in the first place but he’s since largely moved on from them. Maybe one day we’ll get the Walker toy they were always going to do…

Nov 28 2014

David Vallade – new website

My good friend David Vallade has a new website, go have a look and commission him to draw something especially for you…

Nov 25 2014

Cold Rock Stuff- B-Boy Bionics / Dust 12″

Christ this is good! If you lovely real Hip Hop then this is as real as it gets. Cold Rock Stuff with Audessey and Oxygen from Soundsci, mixes by Daily Diggers and The Process, sleeve by Mr Krum. Get it here.

Nov 24 2014

Jane Weaver ‘The Silver Globe’ LP

Thought I’d mentioned this before but I don’t think I have. Jane Weaver‘s latest album,‘The Silver Globe’ is still on my turntable after a month of first receiving it. A rarity in this day and age, I would recommend this album to almost anyone as it’s all killer and no filler, each track merging into the next to form a complete work. Definitely going to be on the ‘best of 2014′ list in a month’s time. Buy it direct from Finders Keepers here.

Nov 24 2014

From Russia With Love

As we all know, the life of the international DJ is exciting and glamorous, which is why I was back up at 5am after a 1am bedtime on Friday morning so that I could get to Heathrow for an 8.40am takeoff to Moscow. Add a 3 hour stopover in the airport and another two and half hour plane ride to Yekaterinburg and I arrive at 9.30pm their time (lost 5 hours). I’m met by two mysterious girls in oversize shiny black army-style peaked hats who ask me where my space suit is, what I think about aliens and would I like to do a parachute jump sometime? So far so good.

We’re whisked to the Lynch Club, a warren of cleverly decorated corridors and small rooms at the top of an old cinema complex that smells of sickly sweet popcorn as you ascend the stairs. It’s named after David Lynch as I soon realise when being led into a recreation of the famous dark red curtained room from the final episode of Twin Peaks – the only thing missing is a backwards talking midget. They also have a thing about rabbits taken from Lynch lore, remember the rabbits.

Another room – the library is blindingly white with padded walls and a bookshelf full of design books from around the globe. I’m met by a photographer, Ildar Ziganshin, who has a book open on the table with my face on one page… It turns out that when I was in Yekaterinburg before – six years ago – I had been photographed by him for a project called Photorobot and this was part of the result, a book of faces, split across the middle so that you could flip and combine two different halves to make a third like a children’s book. He had made only 50 copies but saved one for me, still wrapped in its original hessian packaging from six years ago. See here for some examples, it ain’t pretty :) . We agreed to repeat the experiment later in his photo studio which is elsewhere in the building and I eat dinner in the white room whilst a beautiful but silent girl sits reading a book opposite and a couple lounge on the nearby sofa.

After a checking into the hotel I return and am led upstairs by the promoter, Stas, to find that the girls from before have transformed into aliens and are silently writhing around in the corridor, whispering in Russian to each other. They want to put me into a large bag, take me down to the dance floor as my guardians and then reveal me to the crowd before I start playing (I’m not making this up).

After initially laughing it off and then getting a little scared after realising they were serious (they had the bag and everything) I settled on a different plan – I would wear a plain face mask with my hood up and they would lead me through the (smoke-filled) room to the decks and do their alien thing in front of the crowd as I set up before revealing my face and letting rip behind the decks. It was surreal but fun and they had gone to so much effort with their costumes that I couldn’t not play ball.

The gig was great, tiny room, decks set up on a table on the floor in one corner, proper underground house party style and really great fun. One drunk guy who wouldn’t stop bumping into the decks with his crazed dancing was pinned to the floor at one point by another punter (thanks :) ) and I had to school another who wanted to stand at the front and tell me how to play half the night. After I’d finished, a friendly face appeared out of the crowd, Mr Armtone aka Anton Kibeshev, from St. Petersburg who had come all that way to check it out and was traveling on with me to also play in Samara the next day.

After a quick drink in the library it was up to the photo studio to have some more snaps taken for Ildar’s next project. Finally one of the girls appeared and asked me to come upstairs as there was a final surprise waiting (yeah, I know what you’re thinking, glamorous international DJ life). As we made our way upstairs into the tungsten lit corridor above the dancefloor and rounded the corner I was confronted with a life size rabbit, standing silently against the wall, waving. It’s now 4.30am, I’m coming down from the high of the DJ set, the sleep deprivation is starting to kick in and I’m seeing a Donny Darko-like apparition in front of me. There was only one thing to do, hug the rabbit, grab a quick selfie and head for bed. I made it back to the hotel and checked my watch, 5am, I had to be up at 8.30 to grab some breakfast before leaving at 9 for the airport.

Anton arrives for breakfast, feeling like death from the night before (too many cocktails) and we grab a ride with his friend whilst checking out his latest toy – a telescopic stick with a camera holder on the end which enables you to take photos from over a meter away. The iSelfie stick was used all weekend in various ways and became the source of much amusement, I predict it won’t be long before they’re everywhere. Anton is feeling really rough and sleeps on the flight with a sick bag at hand and when we arrive in Samara we have to wait an hour in the lounge as the pick up had the wrong time of arrival. The taxi drivers there are like vultures, hovering in packs as you come into the baggage area from the runway, muttering ‘taxi?’, ‘taxi?’ and working the crowd. Eventually Basil and Alex arrive to pick us up, apologising profusely, we are nearly dead from lack of sleep (and alcohol in Anton’s case). Alex is the designer of the excellent poster and flyer for the gig which he tells me has been made into some 2m x 2m posters too. This is one of the best flyers I think I’ve seen for one of my gigs, promoters take note, this is the standard to beat from now on. They offer to take us on a sight-seeing trip of the city but we have to decline as we will surely die of sleep deprivation if we don’t get to the hotel rooms soon.

It’s good to travel and visit new countries and cities but sometimes you don’t see much of them, half of Saturday in Samara was spent asleep in the daytime and we were a little more refreshed by 8pm by which time it was dark. Actually Anton wasn’t feeling refreshed at all, in fact he was really feeling bad, so bad we had to pull over on the side of the road to let him out on the way to the gig a few times. Then he complained that he couldn’t feel his hands and we realised we had to get him to a doctor before anything else. Close to 2 hours driving around to find someone who could help (the first hospital refused, apparently common in Russia) and we finally got him some medication and headed to find food. I had a nagging travel headache which had started in my shoulder, worked it’s way up one side of my neck and was making its way to my left eye but I tried to keep it in check. So, we’re not in great shape but the venue is as they have a huge screen for the AV show and we meet the promoters Vadimir and Alex (DJ Proton) who has bought some records to trade.

Anton was, by now, feeling better and played first, rocking it with a great mix of garage and UK Funky (joke Anton) :) – definitely taking his cues from classic DK sets and with top quality visuals too. By the time it’s my turn to play it’s 2am and my head feels like it’s about to take off my headache is so bad, but I build up to a thundering drum n bass set which the crowd lap up. By 4.15 I’m fit to die though, the headache so bad that I can hardly think (sometimes it goes but not this time) and I step down so that Alex can take over. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many people asking for photos and autographs after a gig than in Samara, it was relentless for about 10 minutes, a pretty great end to the night even if I did feel like death. Eventually Anton and I are in a taxi by 5.15am speeding towards our out-of-town hotel with some of the worst RnB rave pop I’ve ever heard playing on the radio.

Next morning at 11am we’re met at the hotel by Alex with a bag of records and a Soundburger portable turntable for an hour of listening and music trading. He gave me some excellent 45′s and an LP and I traded a couple of albums for a 45 by a band called Modo which has three killer funk / jazz /psych cuts on it.

At midday it’s the start of the long trek back home – 3.30pm flight to Moscow, change for London and arrive at 7.15pm (bear in mind all the hours the clock went back during this journey). Unfortunately I ended the trip by leaving my laptop on the plane but luckily realised before I was too far back into London on the tube and was reunited with it within the hour thanks to the excellent BA baggage staff.

Finally got home at 10.15pm Sunday night, phew, what a weekend, seems like half of it was a dream which is why I felt I had to write this all down. The final words from Boney M‘s disco classic ‘Rasputin’ echoed in my head more than a few times over the course of the weekend, “oooh, those Russians”. Except in my mind I always had it that he said, “ooh those ‘crazy’ Russians”, which would be very apt for what turned out to be a weird and wonderful weekend.

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