Beastie Boys article in Mojo

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I missed this last month but the March 2020 issue of Mojo did a feature on the Beastie Boys circa Paul’s Boutique and has asked me for reminisces from the time as well as a photo from the era. I didn’t realise they’d also asked the Dust Brothers, Bill Alder and Chuck D! pretty weird to see my 18 yr old face in that company, especially as I was a rabid fan at the age and would share a bill with the Boys a decade later on the London date of the Hello Nasty tour.

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And here’s the original that was taken from, my 18/19 yr old self photographed short after spraying the piece in the background on a friend’s bedroom.Kevin Foakes:DJ Food 1988

New DJ Food Mixcloud Select channel

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Given the times we’re currently in and the loss of gigs and jobs all round, it’s time to open the archives and let people hear all those tapes, DATs and CDRs that have been sitting there for decades. I’ve set up a new subscriber channel via Mixcloud SELECT – and I’ll be uploading exclusive, newly-encoded vintage mixes from my Solid Steel archive regularly for a monthly fee.
I like the Mixcloud model because over half the fee goes to paying royalties for the artists being played, Mixcloud take a cut for providing the service and then I get a bit for all those hours spent making the mixes in the first place. The fee is £2.99 a month (although you can pay more if you wish) and for that you’ll have access to mixes from my personal stash (some pictured below).

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These will date back to the 90’s and even predate Solid Steel occasionally, they’ll all be mixes that I’ve made or occasionally collaborated on. I’ll endeavour to make sure none of them are currently available anywhere else and include track lists and making-of details where I can. These will be exclusive to subscribers only for the foreseeable future, I’ll still upload free new mixes to my regular Mixcloud account but subscribers will also have some exclusive new mixes that I make specially for several months ahead of them being made public – sign up here

The first one is the complete session PC & I did for John Peel’s legendary BBC Radio 1 show 20 years ago this month, just before the release of our Kaleidoscope album. Only half of it was broadcast at the time and I’ve restored it from CDRs I found recently.

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Track notes: (Mixcloud’s word count is quite low for text so I’m adding notes here)

A restored version of the original session PC and I did for the late John Peel just before the release of our Kaleidoscope album. This was jammed out live on 4 decks in my studio at the time in Camberwell and then overlaid with spoken word later.
I think we were way too over-eager on the first half with all the scratching but some of it manages to be pretty humorous in places. It all gets way deeper once we calm down and I was surprised how ambient it got, listening back.
It’s very rough and ready but you have to remember that this is completely improvised on 4 decks with one of us ‘driving’ the mix and the other embellishing it in response at different points. This is how PC and I worked, I can’t think of any time that we rehearsed anything in the same way that DK and I did later for our 4-deck shows.

The intro and outro skits are from a great album called ‘Miniatures’, 1 min sketches and songs compiled by Morgan Fisher in the 80s, when we knew we were doing a John Peel session I thought it’d be a laugh to have ‘John’ introduce the mix. The Steady track, ‘Alarming Frequency’ is the first ever release on the Tru Thoughts label. The Leonard Nimoy read of Ray Bradbury‘s ‘Marionettes Inc.’ turned up in another form a year later on our first Solid Steel mix CD. The Spontaneous Sound gong record is actually an alias of Christopher Tree, a percussionist whose album I found in the US one time, it had virtually no info on it other than the title and the stamp of a drum shop where it had been sold.
I had to look up some of these tracks using Shazam and Discogs, both still twinkles in a programmer’s eye at the time this mix was made, twenty years is a long time ago but we’ll be going even further back soon…

John Peel session track list:

Norman Lovett – John Peel Sings The Blues Badly (Pipe Records)
David Shire – The Taking of Pelham 123 (Music On Vinyl)
Steady – Alarming Frequency (Try Thoughts)
Tortoise – Died (UNKLE Bruise Blood mix (Thrill Jockey)
Ray Bradbury read by Leonard Nimoy – Marionettes Inc. (Nonesuch)
RYU – Rhythm Asobi (feat. DJ Krush & Tunde Ayanyemi) (Cross)
Spontaneous Sound – Spontaneous Sound (Private Pressing)
Sun Ra monologue from Space Is The Place film
Rhythm Devils – The Apocalypse Now Sessions (Passport Records)
Fridge – Of (remix) (Go! Beat)
Kid Koala – Tricks & Treats (Ninja Tune)
Slowly – On The Loose (Autechre remix) (Chill Out Label)
Eric B & Rakim – Follow the Leader (acappella) (4th & Broadway)
Bushflange – Redokov (Hard Hands)
Child’s View – Shift (Blue Note)
Kid Koala – Scurvy (Ninja Tune)
DJ Food – Turntable improv
Major Force – Sitting On the Edge Of The World (Apeman Records)
George Duke – North Beach (MPS Records)
Morton Subotnik – Silver Apples of the Moon loop
Weather Report – Milky Way (Columbia)
Herbie Hancock – Raindance (Columbia)
Unknown breakbeat
Andy Partridge – The History of Rock ’n’ Roll (Pipe Records)

#LoveRecordStores

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I thought I’d jot down a few words to contribute to the Love Record Stores initiative launching today to send love and thanks out to independent record stores/shops that have a big place in the hearts of artists everywhere at this uncertain and troubling time. The idea is to tag indie record shops you love, show support and encourage others to check them out and shop online whilst their physical shops are closed. Here’s a list close to my heart:

The Book & Record Bar, West Norwood, London
This shop, more than any in the last few years, has been a very big part of my life. From my first visit on RSD back in 2014 to last week, Michael Johnson‘s shop has become a hub of musical and artistic activity including a radio station, party nights and much more besides. I’ve met so many people who I consider to be good friends through this place, including the love of my life, and even ended up lodging with Michael at one point a few years back when a house purchase was taking way too long. When we first met I foolishly offered to try and sort out his packed to the ceiling basement. It was like digging a hole only for the earth to keep falling back in, as soon as I’d clear some floorspace by installing shelving, it would be filled by more records or audio equipment.

The shop has a fine line in left field new releases and an excellent selection of used electronica, jazz, psych and the encyclopedic Michael to ask for any wants. In fact, if you send him your wants list whilst the shop is closed he will endeavour to find what he can in his stock and send you a quote – message him on the Facebook link below. To add to this the shop has many rare books, a very good used sci-fi section and a fully licensed bar, what more do you want? The shop’s Discogs page is here if you want to support while it’s closed.

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Big shouts out to Peter Williams, my Further partner in crime who was central to getting the Out of the Wood radio show started through the shop (fast approaching its 200th show). Alex ‘the Orb’ Paterson who I see in there most visits and who set up WNBC.London to broadcast his numerous shows, the weekly Thursday shop show and the aforementioned OOTW each Sunday between 12-2pm. Also to Dorian, the regular Sunday staff member and great anecdote-teller, who puts up with all our selections each week.
http://www.bookandrecordbar.co.uk/

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Rat Records, Camberwell, London
Still the cheapest, most regularly restocked record shop I know, my local, 21 years at this site, small but perfectly formed, a beacon of light in the haven of scum and villainy that is Camberwell. A used record shop in every sense, you won’t find new releases here unless it’s a fluke but you will find a small queue outside at 10.30am every Saturday when the New In racks are restocked from collections bought up and down the country by owner Tom.

Their policy of pricing to sell keeps stock turning over constantly and they will wait several weeks before putting a rare record on their Discogs page, (closed at the moment due to the shop being shut) preferring to let visitors and regulars have first dibs. They also do a fine line in extremely cheap CDs and have a record cleaning service. I’ve done several in-store DJs sets including a goodbye set for Pete on his last day working in the shop and also Philippe‘s 40th birthday party in the local pub after closing. But my favourite was when Jonny Trunk and myself delved into a collection of soundtracks the shop had bought, playing our favourite tracks after which the records were sold to punters who came to listen.
https://www.ratrecordsuk.net/

(Markey Funk below, waiting for the shop to open)

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The Music & Video Exchange, Notting Hill and Greenwich, London
The old M&VEx shops were the second hand Mecca’s of London, Camden, Soho, Shepherd’s Bush, and four or five shops in Notting Hill alone. Sadly only one remains in that location these days, the Dance & Soul and Classical shops being folded into the Rock & Pop premises over the last decade. The 80s and 90s, even part of the 00s, for these shops were digger heaven with bargain basements of records for £1 a pop (or less) that would take you days to get through and would always yield treasure of some sort. In the golden days of the vinyl promo I would save up several months of unwanted 12″s and take a full bag in there and wait whilst the staff went through them and quoted a price. “Cash of exchange?”, always exchange, which was double the cash value in vouchers to spend in the shops (including the book and comic ones). The trick was to have a few really hot current promos in there which would get you more than if you waited another month.

Back in the early 90’s I blew my first ever pay cheque from a full time job after I left college there. The bargain basement in the Notting Hill shop was the first time I ever saw a wall of Paul Young’s ‘No Parlez LPs, a foretaste of the ubiquity of that album which now enjoys its own account on Twitter. In the 90s I bought an original UK Stereo copy of Dudley Moore’s ‘Bedazzled’ from the Soundtrack shop, probably the most I’ve ever spent on a single record. I remember finding a Mike Oldfield 12″ acetate for £1 in the basement, it’s one of the only records I’ve ever ‘flipped’ on eBay, it made a lot more than a pound and ended up in the hands of an Italian fan.

Sadly those days are long gone although they do still buy and sell the same way, marking the records down by a pound each month or so until they’re eventually bought or end up in the bargain bin. The Greenwich shop has mysteriously survived and thrived over the years and every buyer will know the pain of trying to remove some of their old stickers, especially the burgundy brown ones, which would ultimately rip, mark or tear the covers of the records you’d just paid for, even if you used lighter fluid.
The Greenwich shop also has a really good Instagram account.
https://www.facebook.com/MusicandVideoExchange/

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Reckless Records, Sister Ray, Sounds of the Universe, Soho, London
Not much survives of the glories of Soho past, the original Sister Ray shop is gone to the developers, as has the M&VEx that was there, Groove, Cheapo Cheapos, Mr Bongo, Selectadisc, the 2nd Reckless shop, Unity, Quaff, Ambient Soho (my first job in a record shop) and a ton of other small dance music shops.
Plenty still cling on though within its square mile, Reckless being my favourite because of its used nature and the general scuzziness that still lingers from the old days. Both Sister Ray and Sounds of the Universe (formally Soul Jazz) have moved about over the years but are always reliable for new and old releases from specialist dance music to reggae to rock with everything in between. SOTU also has a great downstairs packed with books, DVDs and more music and the label puts out some cracking compilations.
https://www.reckless.com/       https://sisterray.co.uk/     https://soundsoftheuniverse.com/

DJ Food SOTU

Audio Gold, Muswell Hill, London
A specialist hi-fi retailer, hire company and repair shop with plenty of records to boot. I’ve only been a few times but loved it and my old mate Robin from Hexstatic works there. They had collector Shane Quentin and myself in for a special flexi disc set for the last RSD and treated us to free pizza afterwards – always worth a visit and the staff are lovely. https://audiogold.co.uk/

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The Diskery, Birmingham 
This is a dusty diggers paradise, one of the oldest record shops in the UK, it’s housed in a ramshackle building with back and upstairs rooms you can root around in to your heart’s content. Downstairs is the main shop with LPs, 45s and 12″s and the back rooms have boxes of 7″s to rifle through.

DJ Food Diskery
Upstairs, if you brave the rickety stairs and don’t go in the room with the ceiling about to fall in, is a lottery of broken audio equipment, soiled and sleeveless dance singles and more. Last time I was there I found a rare Universal Indicator 12″ (early Mike Dred/Aphex Twin) discarded and coverless in a pile for £1. They also occasionally offer tea or coffee if the shop isn’t busy and once I even got a mince pie at Xmas.  The Diskery Facebook page

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Kingbee, Vinyl Exchange, Piccadilly Records, Manchester
Kingbee is out in Chorlton, a few stops from the city centre on the train. Well worth the trip, it’s a packed-to-the-gills used shop with decent prices and lots of choice. I was once looking for a white label 12″ of A Certain Ratio’sGood Togetherand, seeing as I was in Manchester thought it was more likely then anywhere else, and there it was in the bargain bin for £1. https://www.kingbeerecords.co.uk/

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Vinyl Exchange is your northern equivalent of Reckless or the Music & Video Exchange, used records in every category you can think of, all a bit scruffy, some a bit pricey on the wall, tons of cheap bins, CDs upstairs, vinyl downstairs, just dive in. https://www.vinylexchange.co.uk/

Piccadilly Records across from Vinyl Exchange, is just one of the best records shops in the UK selling new music. Similar to the Rough Trade East model, they have meticulously worded/reviewed info on all the underground /independent titles with a depth of knowledge that only comes from working in a record shop and hearing everything and anything that comes through the door. Their mail order online is also excellent https://www.piccadillyrecords.com/

DJ Food Dig Vinyl

Dig Vinyl, Liverpool
Upstairs in the Resurrection clothes shop now (it used to be down in a basement when I first visited), Dig has an excellent, well-priced selection of random dance music and much more. I bought loads when I was there last time but spent very little. https://digliverpool.co.uk/

Rarekind, Wax Factor, Brighton
Rarekind is your hip hop-centric diggers shop with new independent releases as well as tons of used stock including jazz, funk, soul, library and soundtracks. Friendly and with loads to get stuck into, even my partner (who’s a hardened digger herself) had to go and get coffee last time we were there as I was taking so long. It didn’t help that there was a tiny techno shop upstairs too. https://rarekindrecords.co.uk/

DJ Food digging

Wax Factor is one of my dream shops, books and records combined, I remember it from the 90s and it’s still there, virtually unchanged. The amount of 7″s in the adjoining room is astounding, if you can’t find something you want in there you either haven’t looked hard enough or don’t have the time to sift through. They don’t appear to have much of an online presence unfortunately but the reviews here say it all https://www.yelp.com/biz/wax-factor-brighton

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Monorail, Mixed Up Records, Glasgow
Monorail is your quintessential indie shop, expanded out into the left field realms of avant garde electronica and soundtracks. It reminds me a bit of Rough Trade West in London but it has better decor, it’s also located in a very cool part of the city adjoining a bustling bar and restaurant and has an excellent mail order service. https://www.monorailmusic.com/

Mixed Up is further out in the Hillhead area, down a small side mews and is well worth the trip for used records, all in great condition at reasonable prices. I always come away with something from there and have been down on the floor rifling through the 7″ boxes many a time.  https://www.mixeduprecords.com/

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Island Vintage Vinyl and Vinyl Head, Ramsgate Island Vintage Vinyl is a father/son-run business with specialist hi-fi and audio equipment and used vinyl, super-friendly-service and tons of stock, especially good for dance music and vintage rock https://www.islandvintage.co.uk/

Vinyl Head is probably the funkiest looking shop I’ve visited in the UK, it’s full of cool design objects, mobiles and has a huge Octopus snaking its tentacles across the floor. A lot of the stock wasn’t priced when I went there which is a usual no-no for me but I found plenty of stuff. The shop’s Discogs is here (with prices, obviously) being that you can’t visit the physical location at the moment.

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DJ Food – The Mother Lode for Out Of The Wood, WNBC

Your MotherDuring Mother Nature’s current reminder that we’re mere tiny specks in the scheme of things it felt right not to go to the Book & Record Bar to record my guest slot for Out of the Wood radio. Seeing as the date for the set was Mother’s Day I thought I’d use this as a theme so here’s a mother lode of tunes to see you through and remind us that we should always respect our mothers.

Tears For Fears – Mothers Talk (Extended version)
Fun-da-mental – Mother India (Moody Boyz Spirit of the Tiger mix)
Ramsey Lewis – Mother Natures’s Son
Hodges, James and Smith – Momma
DJ Food – Your Mother
Goldie – Mother (excerpt 1)
Genesis – Mama
The Herbaliser – Another Mother
Funkadelic – Music For Your Mother
Parliament – Mothership Connection
Paul McCartney – Momma Miss America
Jonny Guitar Watson – A Real Mother For Ya
Pharcyde – Ya Mama (J Swift UK remix)
Roxanne Shante – Big Momma
Queen Latifah – Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children (The Infant Mix)
Lyn Collins w. The J.B.s – Mama Feelgood
James Brown – Mother Popcorn
Kool & The Gang – Mother Earth
Derek & Clive – Alfie Noakes
The Mothers of Invention – Motherly Love
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (excerpt)
Blue Pearl – Mother Dawn (The Orb Buckateer Mix 1)
Goldie – Mother (excerpt 2)
Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide is Missing
The Rolling Stones – Mother’s Little Helper
Can – Mother Sky
Jonny Zamot – Hey Mama
Lonely Island feat Justin Timberlake – Motherlover

Tales To Enlighten

a737d00b-026f-4839-bf1d-e66006e4b4d6Long term Solid Steel fan, Megatrip, has long also been a comic fan and our friendship has included his sourcing obscure US publications for me and sending occasional packages over from the States that would cost a lot more had I procured them from the likes of eBay. In recent years he’s also been writing and collating a project called, ‘Tales To Enlighten’, which has become a bit of a long-running joke in that it’s been ‘coming soon’ for the last 2 years at least. Well, it looks like it may actually arrive soon, in not one but two volumes due to the amount of material that it’s now grown to.

From the mail out blurb: “Volume one of TALES TO ENLIGHTEN is a 150-ish page story, titled “Shredding Through the Multiverse” with art by the amazingly talented James Edward Clark!  also featuring a hilarious back-up story by my good friend Dave Gordon… AND two fistfuls of tremendous pin-ups by the likes of Erwin Papa, Ben Mara, Jim Mahfood, Ken Landgraf, Mike Hoffmanand WAY more!

the story: Satan’s Grandson and a reluctant killer robot murder their way across the multiverse in an effort to reach Enlightenment. Satan’s Sado-Cult tries to intercept the duo and Amazon Warriors seek revenge…  Enter a Cosmic DJ / Space God that teaches them a better way of life through Peace, Love and Universal Brotherhood”

errrrr, please tale my money – he continues…

“TALES TO ENLIGHTEN volume two is another 150-ish pages with 16 stories by 15 artists (Tony Sedani pulls double duty!)… prequel stories and sequel stories.  A children’s story about the murder of a 15-fingered dj. A wrestling story about a dimensional title match for all the marbles…  and story about Satan’s Sorcerer, Doctor Outlandish and his Demonic Direct Drive Engine!

Artists from all over the world… Slovakia, Russia, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark and Baltimore!”

If you want to know more you can follow Tales To Enlighten on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or sign up to their mailing list here

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The Bureau of Lost Culture

Bureau of Lost Culture

Stephen Coates is a busy man, aside from his The Real Tuesday Weld recording project and his X-Ray Audio talks, exhibitions and book he also has his hand in radio with The Bureau of Lost Culture alongside co-conspirator Paul Heartfield. This takes the form of interviews with people who were present and took part in corners of the counterculture who may not have had their stories heard. First person accounts can differ from the accepted narratives and everyone will have personal experiences associated with events and times that have gone undocumented.
One such example is Nick Laird Clowes, musician and composer with The Dream Academy among other talents, who gives some quite extraordinary experiences in the first part of an interview with Stephen. Recounting going to the Isle of Wight festival at just 13, hanging out at Oz magazine and tales of the underground London scene through the eyes of a fresh-faced young teen, his tales seem to flow endlessly and will make some yearn for simpler times.

If you want more of the same then there are plenty of past shows archived on Soundcloud. Ranging from groupies to psychedelic visions, punk, flexi discs, mescaline and much more.

Update: Part 2!

Contrøverse – Liquid Love/Solid State EP

Contraverse LP

Love this cover for the Contrøverse – Liquid Love/Solid State EP on InFiné.
“The Barcelona-based producer, former member of the experimental duo Downliners Sekt, is back with a solo project and 2 new deceptively simple tracks made for the dancefloor, stitching together his myriad influences. 
As an appetizer, listen to his Broken Mojo Mixtape taken from his own new material, blending together vintage African and South American patterns and flavours with a touch of haunting full analog synthesizer modules. EP available on all digital platforms now.”

Brian Eno fan art

Brian Peano Universalcollage

The things you find on the internet whilst trying to avoid things you really should be doing… Universal Collage posted his image of Brian Eno as Schroeder from Peanuts today and like all the best mash ups it’s a lovely, simple collision of two worlds that would most likely never intersect. I wondered what else was out there…

The Brian Eno Book 1973 by Chris Wright aka http://www.turbo-island.co.uk/ did the rounds a few years back .
70’s era Eno at the keyboard again, this time in the style of the Bash Street Kids (could have been his backing band had The Winkies not got the gig).

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Feather boa and synth Eno seems to be a popular choice with this excellent rendering by Steve Scott from Jelly.

eno_stevescott Jelly London
This oddity below was on Etsy, I have no idea if it’s new or old but he is a Taurean so it could be a 70s relic that someone has dug up.

I’m sure most people are familiar with Adam Buxton’s take on what could have happened in Berlin whilst recording Low, if you’ve not seen it then it’s one of the funniest and affectionate takes along with his Cobbler Bob sketch.

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Below is a comic illustrating one of my favourite vocal Eno songs, Blackwater, by Lyall Wallerstedt. It contains the line, “ooh what to do, not a sausage to do”, followed by, “ooh what to do in a tiny canoe” , which always makes me laugh.

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There’s also an Eno cartoon from 1996 by Tom Hart that is very odd, the context of which seems to be lost in time.

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Anyway – that’s an hour of my evening wasted, to round it off here’s a mix of the funkier songs from his back catalogue that I did 10 years ago. The Soundcloud version has over 17,000 plays but the Mixcloud one only 200 – weird, huh?

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Acid Valentine mix for 45 Live

To mark the release of the excellent new Type 303 release on 45 Live RecordsSticky Disko / Analogue Acidbath – I was asked by label head and fellow acid 45 collector, Pete Isaac, to make a promo mix to celebrate. ‘Acid Valentine’ is my love letter to both old and new acid on the 7″ format, showcasing a lot of contemporary releases as well as a clutch of old classics too.

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I’ve been getting into B sides a lot recently, going back to the well-worn bangers of the day and turning them over for dubs, forgotten tracks or alternate mixes seldom played out. So you get Arcade Fantasy from A Guy Called Gerald rather than Voodoo Ray, the Suck Mix of Bam Bam‘s Where’s Your Child and the Dub Mix of Longsy D’s This Is Ska instead of the overplayed A sides.

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Of the newer releases, most are recent or from the last 5 years or so and pressing runs are way lower than back in the day. DimDJ’s Aerotrak was only produced on flexidisc in an edition of 50 from Greek label Kinetik and Chevron‘s Smud 7″ wasn’t even sold, just given to DJs who had supported the Balkan Vinyl label. All that to say, the scene is in rude health and 7″s both old and new are still turning up, I thought I’d pretty much grabbed everything from the classic late 80s era but there are still a handful out there to find…

To grab a copy of the Type 303 7″ just go here

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Andy Vella design interview

R-76722-1356639563-9261.jpegA few weeks ago I posted a selection of sleeves from the acid house era of Desire records‘ releases which, for a brief moment, showcased some of the best house music to come out of Chicago. The uncredited designer, Andy Vella, was tasked with wrapping these releases in a distinctive house style and, curious about how they came about and who made them, I did some detective work and tracked him down. He is best known for his work with The Cure for the Fiction label (of which Desire was a subsidiary) and I fired him a few generic questions first, to give context and history:

Where, when and what did you study?
I studied at various places, which to be honest were less than effective, however, luckily I ended up at The Royal College of Art and my creative life started to fly.

What was your first notable design that the public would have seen?
The first bit of work the public would have seen was the 60×40 fly poster for the cure’s ‘Primary’ single (it got to number 44 in the charts 1981), I do remember being 18 and walking down Oxford street thinking, ‘that looks familiar’, then realising I had worked on it.

The Cure Primary poster

How did you come to work with the Cure and Fiction Records?
Pure fluke really….and as luck has it I am still working with them.
(From the biography of Andy’s website: “It all began when Andy, then a teenage student in Worthing, had a chance encounter on a train with Porl Thompson, some-time guitarist in the Cure. The pair would go on to form the Parched Art design company, but not before Andy’s photographs had caught the eye of the Cure’s front man Robert Smith who asked him to design the covers of the album Faith and its single Primary.”

Looking you up on by name on Discogs, there’s a gap between 1981 and 1988 and this seems to be the golden period of your collaborative work with Porl Thompson for the Cure under the ‘Parched Art’ banner. Obviously it’s not a complete list of your work though as you aren’t credited for any Desire sleeves at all. 
I went through a phase of not putting my name on lots as I thought it was uncool.

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Whose decision was it to start releasing dance music on Desire, up until the mid 80s it had been sporadically releasing indie rock I think?
Chris Parry, he was also the manger of The Cure and supremo A&R maestro.

Where you into the music? Did you go clubbing in those days?
I loved it. I used to go and hang out with all the guys in Chicago Trax (Chicago of course), they were great and so accepting of me, Fingers Inc, CAN YOU FEEL IT…Yes, Ben Mays, Bam Bam, Destry, Lil Louis was always hanging about.
I remember Chris gave me £20 and an ecstasy tablet and said go to the Café de Paris and design me an album sleeve (In the Key of E) it was great, changed my whole world, shame as later that night ended up in Harry’s and DJ Fat Tony and his mates esp. some bloke who is now a famous author (I should name him) kept referring to me as a rent boy with total hatred in their eyes. Glad I had had the mitsibushi tab otherwise I probably would have thrown them out of the window, homophobic DJs and posse for you.
The world will come and eat you up boys.

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You used photocopying extensively for those early sleeves, not just for distorting type but also for texture too, What influenced you?
Being experimental was always key in my design, trying things out.

You were working in largely uncharted territory with very little except the smiley logo and the early DJ International graphics from the US as any kind of look for the genre, were you left to interpret the music in your own way?
Always like a challenge, recently I designed a book for Glen Matlock about the Sex Pistols (Filthy Lucre tour) and like then, coming up with design/art that does not follow the cliche known style is what good design should be.

Were you working in isolation or did you have assistants? Were you aware of what other designers were doing in the field like Trevor Jackson at Champion and Gee Street or the Designers Republic at Warp?
At this time just working on me own and the artists in Chicago, they loved this stuff.

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You had a thing for type wrapped around curves, I’m presuming this is was all pre-computer and hand-cut and pasted?
Sure was, its so easy now, every letter cut out and pasted down.

There seem to be several releases that re-use old sleeves folded inside out, was this a money-saving exercise?
It was me being really early into re-cycling, this was in 1989, the printers throw this stuff away, I hated the idea of this, so re-purposed it and used it inside, my fav is ‘In The Key Of E’ printed on the reversed board with the Desire house bag on the inside.

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The Charles B ‘Lack of Love’ release has multiple different covers in different colours, was this to distinguish different versions or because of printing errors?
I can’t remember that, maybe I liked the idea of the sleeve forever changing, I did used to swap the printing plates about.

RMC Humanity

Double Trouble and Rebel MC (both together and separately) were most prominent on the label after ’88 and both hugely successful. The licensed US releases stopped, and your stretch lettering and snakeskin look with them. Why was this?
Not sure, guess it was because it was way more commercial. Later on I designed all the Rebel and his Tribal Bass label and created very nice roots-based paper cut-out graphics, based on African art.

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Did you work for any other labels around this time (aside from Fiction) or do other work for dance music like flyers, posters and T-shirts we wouldn’t have seen?
On the back of working with Rebel MC and creating the drum and bass rootsy style, Island records snapped me up and later I worked with many companies and designed all the paperback book covers for Bloomsbury publishing.

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The rest of your work seems to have been more in the indie rock sector, was Desire a case of being in the right place at the right time?
Just love designing and creating.

Are you aware that some of those early releases are now considered classics of the genre and worth a lot of money?
That’s nice, eh?

Do you have any favourites from this time, both musically and design-wise?
All of them, I had a blast and still am. I guess ‘In The Key of E’, it’s a great compilation too. Roger Dean of Yes fame always loved ‘In The Key of E’ and asked me to send him a signed version of the cover, I was flattered beyond belief as he was the hero of every school kid when I was growing up, so nice!

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Andy’s website is here with an extensive gallery of work, you can see him reference the eye from his ‘In The Key of E’ LP cover above at least twice.

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Zoetrope test designs

#1 in a series of zoetrope* elements I started work on last month for an electronic artist’s album project that didn’t work out. I won’t go into why it didn’t happen but I got burned and these are going to sit on a hard drive forever unless I do something with them. So, in an attempt to salvage something out of the process, I’m going to be posting some of my favourites daily (there are LOADS of variations) in the hope that someone will chance upon them and want something similar done.
These are just animated idea sequences, not the full finished pieces and they work with a turntable and viewer to animate like the clips here when rotated. I’m currently developing another zoetrope release with a major artist for later this year and if you want something similar for yourself, band or label then get in touch.

*technically it’s actually a ‘phenakistoscope’ but people find it easier to say zoetrope and explaining the difference is a bore.

 

Detuned vs Touched Music

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The final phase of the De:tuned 10th birthday releases (or is it?) is a collaboration I’ve been hinting at for a while with Touched Music. To mark World Cancer Day 2020, Detuned and Touched have created a limited number of ultimate box sets for fans and collectors. A handmade, laser-etched wooden slipcase to house all 10 releases from the recent Detuned 10th anniversary DE:10 series will be offered with a variety of options including a full set of finished 12″s, a full set of test pressings and black or silver versions of DE:10.10. All options come with a unique tote bag colourway and sticker sheet and they are VERY limited.

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What goes on? Well…

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It’s been a bit quiet on here as I’ve hit the ground running after a very refreshing New Year break and am ploughing into several graphics jobs that include albums, cassettes, zoetropes, x-rays, laser-etched boxes, stickers and probably more, it’s hard to keep track and there are many unknowns to work out. Music: I want to make some pretty badly but have to pay the bills so the graphics come first and the accounts also need doing. There’s a short video to edit too, left over from last year, a track to make for a compilation and another two audio projects to find time for.

I played a set of fave tracks from 2019 on Jan 5th on the Out of the Wood show which you can hear here (excuse the shoddy mixing early on) and appeared on the Big Mouth podcast a week later talking about the film 1917, the BBC’s new take on Dracula and The Rise of Skywalker among other things. You can hear that here.
I also just dug out some mixes from 2000 from Solid Steel and tweaked them for Edzy from Unique 3’s 99.9 Emergency FM station, they’ll be scheduled in soon and I also found something quite special while I was at it. That’ll get an upload in March on its 20th anniversary if I remember.

This Saturday I’ll be in Lisbon at the Kalimodjo 18th birthday party, playing a drum and bass set with AV accompaniment, should be fun. Then next month I’m down in Hastings presenting my Kraftwerk AV mix at the Sonic 2020 festival alongside Mr Thing, Tim Exile and more on the Sunday session. After that I only have one more gig in the diary, which is slightly worrying so, if you or anyone you know needs a versatile DJ for their gig, party, festival or opening then please get in touch. I’ve still not managed to secure a London date for the Kraftwerk AV show and a fan in Belgium wants to see the Boards of Canada one pretty badly too so any leads in that area are appreciated.

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Desire Records covers

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The Desire Records sleeves I mentioned Pete Isaac referencing on the new 45 Live release were a brief series at the end of the 80s when the label switched into the dance music genre, most specifically, acid house. Artists like Adonis, Bam Bam, Corporation of One, Fingers Inc.,Charles B and Dolbie D all got the snake skin and twisted Xerox type treatment. Desire was a subdivision of the indie Fiction label, most known for releasing The Cure. The design for these sleeves is uncredited but I believe them to be the work of Andy Vella, at least he did the ‘In The Key Of E’ LP cover and a lot of work for Fiction.

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Type 303 new 45 Live 7″

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Double whammy from 45Live to kick off the new year – Type 303 with a double helping of new acid on 7″. Both sides kick, black and super limited psychedelic & clear vinyl. Seriously good on both sides, a heavy swung skacid A side that will get any party going and a deeper funky acid killer on the flip. Nice nod to the old Desire Records sleeves by label owner/designer Pete Isaac.  Order now

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PS: in case you missed it, the 45 Live 100th episode radio show special was up on Mixcloud, iTunes and other platforms over Xmas, where the whole crew got 5 minutes to do whatever they liked. My mix comes last but one but the whole show is worth catching as there are some real standouts.

2019

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What a grim end to the year and the decade, good riddance to the last four years at least. Writing this on the morning of Friday 13th as the results and fallout of the election come in, it’s hard to muster the energy and will to rejoice in anything when the turkeys have voted for Xmas. I used to be largely ignorant of current affairs and politics, back in my youth, I thought it was dull and boring, why would I be interested in any of that? But you grow up, you have a family and these things start to matter because they affect your life whether you like it or not. Back in the first half of December it felt like there was still hope, a chance to pull things back from the brink, but not now when the country has voted overwhelmingly for Johnson’s government in the belief that he will fix things that he helped engineer in the first place.

Sometimes I wish I was ignorant again, as ignorant as those who didn’t vote or voted on personalities, believing the lies and propaganda peddled by the media. But you can’t just turn that tap off, not once you’ve understood how the system works and see the soap opera play out. You CAN however blot it out for a bit by reading, watching, visiting or listening to great art made by your fellow man, or woman or non-identifying person. There was a lot of it this year and here’s some of the favourite ways I blotted parts of this year out.

LPs 2019

Music / podcasts –
way too much new music to keep up with only so much time and money, I probably listened to Adam Buxton‘s shows from the archive more than anything else this year:
Pye Corner Audio – Hollow Earth LP (Ghost Box)
Various – Corroded Circuits EP 12″ (Downfall Recordings)
Chris Moss Acid – Heavy Machine 12″ (Balkan Vinyl)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishes LP (Flightless)
Pictogram – Trace Elements cassette (Miracle Pond)
Vanishing Twin – The Age of Immunology LP (Fire Records)
Big Mouth podcast (various) (Acast)
Beans – Triptych LP (Gamma Proforma)
Roisin Murphy – Incapable single (Skint)
Ebony Steel Band – Pan Machine LP (Om Swagger)
People Like Us – The Mirror LP (Discrepant)
Coastal County – Coastal County LP (Lomas)
Adam Buxton podcast (various) (Acast)
Ghost Funk Orchestra – A Song For Paul LP (Karma Chief)
Jon Brooks – Emotional Freedom Techniques LP (Cafe Kaput)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Organ Farmer (from Infest the Rat’s Nest LP) (Flightless)
Jane Weaver – Fenella LP (Fire Records)
Polypores – Brainflowers cassette (Miracle Pond)

Seemed to acquire a lot of tapes this year too…

Tapes 2019

 

Designs 2019

Design / packaging – so much good stuff out there, Nick Taylor goes from strength to strength, Reuben Sutherland‘s work for Sculpture always inspires and Victoria Topping continues to do great art for On The Corner Records:
Pepe Deluxé – The Surrealist Woman lathe cut 7″ (Catskills)
Various – Science & Technology ERR Rec Library Vol.2 (ERR Records)
DJ Pierre presents ACID 88 vol. III LP (Afro Acid)
Mark Ayres plays Wendy Carlos – Kubrick 7″ (Silva Screen)
Tomorrow Syndicate – Citizen Input 10″ (Polytechnic Youth)
The Utopia Strong – S/T LP (Rocket Recordings)
Jarvis – Sunday Service LP (ACE records)
Andy Votel – Histoire D’Horreur cassette (Hypocrite?)
Sculpture – Projected Music 5″ zoetrope picture disc (Psyché Tropes)
Lapalux – Amnioverse LP (Brainfeeder)
Hieroglyphic Being –  Synth Expressionism / Rhythmic Cubism LP (On The Corner Records)

films 2019

Film / TV – I really don’t watch too much TV or get to the cinema as often as I’d like to:
Sculpture – Meeting Our Associates (Plastic Infinite)
This Time with Alan Partridge (BBC)
Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel)
Imaginary Landscapes – Sam Campbell (Vinyl Factory)
What We Do In The Shadows (BBC2)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Books 2019.2

Books / Comics / Magazines I read constantly, all sorts of stuff, a lot online, I found less interesting new comics this year or there were fewer that made an impression. Also many of my regular reads came to an end so there was less to consume on that front.
Beastie Boys Book – Mike Diamond & Adam Horowitz (Spiegel & Grau)
Cosmic Comics – A Kevin O’Neill Miscellany (Hibernia Books)
Electronic Sound (Pam Comm Ltd)
Eve Stranger – David Barnett / Philip Bond (Black Crown)
Bicycle Day – Brian Blomerth (Anthology Editions)
Moebius – 40 Days In The Desert (expanded edition) (Moebius Productions)
Rock Graphic Originals  – Peter Golding w. Barry Miles (Thames & Hudson)
2000AD / Judge Dredd Megazine (Rebellion)
Silver Surfer Black – Donny Cates/Tradd Moore (Marvel)
Help – Simon Amstell (Square Peg)
The Scarfolk Annual – Richard Littler (William Collins)
Wrappers Delight – Jonny Trunk (Fuel)

Gigs 2019

Gigs / Events – I spent a lot of time in Café Oto, socialising to the sights and sounds of Jonny Trunk & Martin Green or watching groups that featured Cathy Lucas this year:
Vanishing Twin @ Prince of Wales Pub, Brighton
Stereolab @ Concorde 2, Brighton
People’s Vote march 23rd March, London
Wobbly Sounds book launch @ Spiritland, London
Confidence Man @ The Electric, Brixton, London
Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival, Moseley, Birmingham
Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank, Manchester
HaHa Sounds Collective play David Axelrod’s Earth Rot @ Tate Exchange, London
School of Hypnosis play In C @ Cafe Oto, London
Palace Electrics, Antenna Studios, London
The Delaware Road, New Zealand Farm, Salisbury
Breaking Convention closing party, Greenwich, London
Jonny Trunk & Martin Green’s Hidden Library @ Spiritland, Southbank, London
Negativland / People Like Us @ Cafe Oto, London
HaHa Sound Collective plays the David Axelrod songbook @ The Church of Sound, London,
Sculpture, Janek Schaefer, Mariam Rezaei + the 26 turntable ensemble @ The Old Baths, Hackney, London Vanishing Twin & Jane Weaver’s Fenella @ Studio 9294, Hackney Wick, London

Art 2019

Exhibitions – there was so much art to see in 2019, I managed most of it but London does spoil you sometimes and you can’t see it all. Just a stroll round the Brick Lane area of east London will delight with the free art painted, stuck or sprayed on the walls for all to see:
Sister Corita Kent @ House of Illustration, London,
Augustinbe Kofie @ Stolen Space, London,
Victor Vasarely @ Pompidou Centre, Paris,
Mary Quant @ V&A Museum, London,
Stanley Kubrick @ The Design Museum, London,
Tim Hunkin’s Novelty Automation Museum, London,
Keith Haring retrospective @Tate, Liverpool,
Nam June Paik, Tate Modern, London,
Takis @ Tate Modern, London,
Shepard Fairy @ Stolen Space, London,
Damien Hirst ‘Mandalas’ at the White Cube, London,
Bridget Riley @ The Hayward, London,
Museum of Neo-liberalism, Lewisham, London.

Openmind 2019

Another year over and what have I done? quite pleased with this lot this year:  
Become by own agent for the first half of the year (not fun)
Designed As One’s ‘Communion’ LP sleeve for De:tuned
Toured my Kraftwerk: Klassics, Kovers & Kurios AV set
Contributed to the Wobbly Sounds book on flexi discs published by Four Corner Books
Performed a 30 minute reimagining of Kraftwerk’s ‘Radio-Activity’ album
Appeared on Big Mouth, Out Of The Wood, Jonny Trunk’s OST, Dusk Dubs, Mix-Ins, 45 Live, Mostly Sounds podcasts / shows
Continued the design for De:tuned’s 10th anniversary with a 10th volume, poster, tote bag and more
Built a modified turntable with three extra floating arms for future performances
Designed a fold out 3″ CD Xmas card for The Real Tuesday Weld – more to come in 2020…

For no other reason – Badges, along with the cassettes it’s like the 80s never stopped

Badges 2019

RIP: Daryl Dragon, Ron Smith, Ken Nordine, Peter Tork, Mark Hollis, Keith Flint, Magenta Devine, Hal Blaine, Scott Walker, Quentin Fiore, Dr John, MAD magazine, Vertigo comics, Rutger Hauer, Ras G, Peter Fonda, Richard Williams, Pedro Bell, David Cain, Patsy Colegate, Clive James, David Bellamy, Phase 2, Gershon Kingsley, Emil Richards, Dave Riley (Big Black), Vaughn Oliver, Neil Innes, Syd Mead.

Looking forward to: – not much to look forward to except a year of Brexit, economic downturn and US Presidential campaigns but these might lighten the mood…
Paul Weller and Plone on Ghost Box
A Touched Music special release in conjunction with De:tuned for World Cancer Day – 4th Feb.
The second Revbjelde LP, ‘Hooha Hubbub’, from the Buried Treasure label
More designs for The Real Tuesday Weld…
The next Group Modular album, released on a UK label
The Castles In Space label releasing a remastered vinyl version of Clocolan’s excellent 2019, cassette-only, ‘It’s Not Too Early For Each Other’ album.
The return of Slow Death Comix
45 Live releasing their first acid 7” with Type 303 in Feb
Ian Holloway from The British Space Group’s new label, Wyrd Britain – the first release will be his own ‘The Ley of the Land’.
The Amorphous Androgynous album, ‘Listening Beyond The Head Chakra’ and album-length single, ‘We Persuade Ourselves That We Are Immortal’ around Easter
Ninja Tune’s 30th anniversary in the Autumn
An exhibition about electronic music at the Design Museum featuring Kraftwerk, Jeff Mills, Ellen Allien, Jean-Michel Jarre and BBC Radiophonic Workshop among others
The Masters of British Comic Art book by David Roach in April
The return of Spitting Image (we really need this)

Happy New Year x

RIP Syd Mead

8213311102_fc032ff5ce_zAnother graphic giant leaves us – fittingly just as the date of the original Blade Runner film has passed into history. Syd Mead was just on another level in terms of vision,

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technique,

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execution,

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colour choice,

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lighting and perspective.

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I love how figures play a part in his work but they frequently face away from the viewer, have their heads cut off or are in the distance, the tech is the most important part.

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He also did the best reflections in chrome

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…and the most incredible detail in backgrounds with splashes of abstract paint that bought the stillness of his images to life.

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All of his tech was believable and his interest and work in the car industry showed in many instances that his concepts could be buildable too. He was visually ripped off many times – snow walkers for AT-ATs,

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a red racing bike for Akira,

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a party goer’s helmet for Daft Punk… but fans know the sources.

His Gundam robot designs were unique,

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his Spinner car design for Blade Runner is an all time classic

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and he did the best Xmas cards. What a legacy he leaves…

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RIP Vaughn Oliver

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Very sad to hear of the death of Vaughn Oliver yesterday – undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and unique designers to emerge in the 80s. His early 23 Envelope work with Nigel Grierson and V23 studio with Chris Bigg and others produced so much stunning work it’s hard to know where to start. His whole aesthetic and typographic techniques were so influential for me when I started out and I used to buy records purely for his sleeves. He should quite rightly be remembered as one of the great designers of his time.

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In the mid 90s I occasionally visited the Beggars Banquet offices and would always come away with posters, promo cards or leaflets and would get a glimpse of the space where some of the designs took place. I never met Vaughn but just to be that close to where the work was created was enough.

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I pulled out one of my archive books and took some quick shots of some of the ads, promo invites and the like that I’ve collected over the years, including an original PMT used for a Clan of XYMOX advert, given to me by a friend who worked at the office for a while.

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