DJ Food In:Motion mix on Solid Steel

A week to go until our gig in Bristol supporting DJ Shadow at the city’s official Solid Steel 25th anniversary date. Myself and DK will be joining Coldcut, DJ Cheeba and special guest Benji B to rip it up at Motion on October 11th.

For this I’ve put together a more dance floor friendly mix of releases than some of my recent offerings, taking in Mark Pritchard,  Machine Drum, Om Unit, Reso and Drums of Death – the last three all of whom have appeared on the excellent Civil Music label who also have a room at the Motion gig too.

‘T is for Trapped’ mix on Solid Steel

Another mix from me this week on Solid Steel, this time it’s a continuation of the ‘O is for Orange’ mix I did some months back. You may remember that this was the Boards of Canada-inspired one for the night we did called ‘A Few Old Tunes’ that happened around their LP release.

Well, I had 30 minutes recorded left over from that initial mix so I’ve added to it to make a second part. I’ve worked pretty hard on this and there are a few moments in it that I think are among my best when it comes to placing music together. It’s probably going to annoy some BoC purists for several reasons, most likely because I’ve layered other elements over a pristine recording of the officially unreleased ‘XYZ’, of which I’m lucky enough to have a copy.

Unfortunately this time the set is not accompanied by a video mix of the same but I may get round to that later and the images above are taken from several tracks that I already have footage for.

‘Out Of The Future’ mix on Solid Steel

I’ve been in full on mix mode this week. I finished off a follow up to the Boards of Canada-inspired ‘O Is For Orange’ set from earlier this year called ‘T Is For Trapped’. This was already half recorded as I couldn’t fit everything into 1 hour before so had 30 minutes left over which I’ve updated and added to with other like-minded songs that have been patiently waiting their turn. At the moment I’d love to do a video version too but just don’t have the time, but it may happen as I have video for at least half of it.

The second mix, that I’ve literally just finished, is for the In Motion night we will be doing in Bristol with DJ Shadow, Coldcut, Cheeba, Civil Music and more. This set is straight up club material, unashamed four to the floor stuff and a load of ‘Amen Brother’ flavoured d’n’ b as well which will probably debut the week before the gig in October.

But firstly it’s another mix up on Solid Steel ‘Out Of The Future’ – in a similar vein to ‘T Is For Trapped’ it features lots of synths, spacey sounds and such. The title comes from an old ad for Micronauts toys that appears at the start and Gary Numan, The Simonsound, Four Tet, Scanone, Sinoia Caves and more feature. Late night headphone music… enjoy.

In other news I’ve just finalised a DJ Food library compilation of material with Jon Tye for his Lo Editions imprint. This will be music for TV and film and it features unique edits, instrumentals, reworks and even the odd bit of unreleased material. You won’t be able to buy it but I’ll put a link up in a couple of weeks when it’s online so that people can have a listen.

I’m also about to begin work on not one but two remixes for The Amorphous Androgynous (!) and write an album of new music based around samples from the Bruton catalogue in conjunction with Universal. There’s also the small* case of rehearsing the ‘Paul’s Boutique’ mix with Moneyshot and Cheeba and the usual DJ gigs…

*(not small at all)


DJ Shadow / Solid Steel 25th at Motion in Bristol

Very proud to be on this line up for our Solid Steel 25th anniversary gig in Bristol, first time sharing a bill with Shadow, another one ticked off the list.

There are also many more on the line up, not sure why they couldn’t fit them on the flyer? In the Civil Music room there’s: Om Unit, Débruit (live), Reso, Brassica (live) and Civil Music DJs. In the Inflect room there’ll be: EAN, Adam Elemental, Wascal, Daffy and Kensei
Get tickets here.

Posted in DJ Food, Gigs, Solid Steel. | No Comments |

Coldcut – 2 Hours of Sanity Pt.1: Love

It’s easy, in this daily avalanche of media, to hype something to the stars and proclaim it the greatest thing in the universe. People are paid to do it for a living regardless of the content they’re pushing but I will only feature items here that I truly think measure up.

As it’s the aforementioned 25th anniversary of Solid Steel, we’re pulling out a lot of the stops this year to bring the very best mixes to the show in the sea of free that is the web these days. We’ve had Coldcut meets The Orb, Kirk DeGiorgio embracing ambiance, classic albums by De La Soul and Public Enemy reconstructed by United States of Audio and DJ Moneyshot respectfully and that’s just the first half of the year.

So it’s a great moment when the creators of the show, Coldcut, step up with the first part of a new mix series – ‘2 Hours of Sanity’ – the first part being a mix ruminating on ‘Love’, and it’s up there with the best. This has been germinating for 3 years, I’ve heard it in various forms for at least the last year and it’s fantastic to finally have them share it with everyone. The word ‘masterclass’ has been bandied about a lot in the few days since this debuted and it’s used with good reason.

The art of the mix is about layering, combining songs, sounds and speech in new ways, in a coherent flow and creating something new from old and new. Many mixes are one song after another, beat-mixed into each other to form a perfect linear trip from A to B. It’s my opinion that the best mixes throw tempo, genre and linearity to the wind and travel from A to Z. You’ll know many of the tracks here if you’ve listened to the show over the years but you won’t have heard them like this before.

Not to forget show producer DK holding up the rear of the show with a solid (pun intended) selection and a rather tasty Bollywood Steel’ mix from collaborator 2econd Class Citizen.

Solid Steel radio show image by Andreas Mass

The Solid Steel team got this lovely message and set of images from Andreas Mass thanking us for our work over the last 25 years on the show.

“I’ve been listening to the Solid Steel Radio Show for many years now. You never failed to make my day, or at least make it a better day by bringing out a new mix.
To all who are responsible for managing the Radio Show and of course to every regular and featured DJ, big props for creating, evolving and keeping it running!”

Andreas is a graphic designer and 3D artist working in Cologne, Germany and you can see more images and his artist profile on Behance.

On a personal note it’s kind of crazy to think that I debuted on the show in the summer of 1993 – 20 years ago! I had just left graphic design college and was asked by Matt Black to guest under the Openmind name with one of my flatmates at the time, Mario Aguera.

Since then, having been asked back again and again, I became one of the team and have lost count of the amount of mixes I’ve clocked up on the show. It’s sometimes easy to forget that I have a platform at my disposal as and when I make mixes and that that platform has a growing numbers of fans every week. I don’t make as many mixes as I’d like these days but I spend much more time than I ever did on the ones I do to ensure they at least come up to standard with the rest of the content.

Posted in Solid Steel. | No Comments |

Trevor Jackson’s ‘Edit!’ mix for Solid Steel 25

DK takes the first 40 minutes then Trevor Jackson cuts up the Tape Edit Kings of the 80’s.

In his own words; “This mix consists of electro/freestyle/miami bass classics & bonus beat edits by the likes of Chep Nunez, Omar Santana & The Latin Rascals, how they did what they did with just tape, a reel 2 reel & a razor blade still defies belief  and continues to inspire me as much as it did when I first heard their work in the mid 80’s
There is no tracklisting & won’t be because I come from a generation when Shazam. Discogs, eBay & Google didn’t exist, when I first heard something on the radio in a club or a mixtape it often took me many months of desperate searching to find out what it was, I’m more than happy to inflict this highly satisfying laborious experience upon you, you’ll appreciate it in the long run.”

The second hour has an interview with Thundercat and DK finishing up with a tribute to George Duke who died earlier this week.

Solid Steel 25th Anniversary Party (London)

This promises to be a pretty unique event, you’re not going to get a line up like this every day. Even more so once the Very Special Guests (3 in total) are announced. The end of the 25th year will be seen out in style and Cheeba, Moneyshot and I will attempt to recreate the Paul’s Boutique mix we put together last year.

Tickets can be bought here and we should be announcing similar events in Bristol and Paris very soon.

Posted in DJ Food, Gigs, Solid Steel. | No Comments |

DJ Moneyshot – Solid Steel & the Hour of Chaos

This week we return to the Solid Steel birthday celebrations and share the cake with something else that turns 25 this year – Public Enemy‘s ‘It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ album.
To honour both occasions our very own DJ Moneyshot shows us once again why he’s the mixtape king with the career-best offering, ‘Solid Steel and the Hour of Chaos’.
Over 60 blistering minutes he takes in all the beats, breaks, samples and spoken word nuggets that made this seminal Bomb Squad production such an explosive release.
Amongst the vast stack of tracks in the mix, expect words of wisdom from Louis Farrakhan, exclusive interviews with Hank Shocklee, and all the soul, rock ‘n’ roll and early rap tracks that went into making up P.E’s (if not hip-hop’s) finest album.

After taking part in last year’s dissection of ‘Paul’s Boutique’ and US of Audio‘s trbute to ‘3 Feet High & Rising’ – can Moneyshot raise the bar? Of course he can. If you enjoy the mix, why not read his exhaustive feature on the album in the pages of this month’s Future Music magazine?
Power to the people and the broadest beats.

Solid Steel line up T-shirt 2004

Just found this, the special T-shirt we made after the first year of the Solid Steel night at Ruby Lo to thank everyone who played. Ruby Lo (short for Ruby Lounge) was a basement bar in London’s West End near Bond Street, down a side street by Selfridges. DK and I were the residents each month, the night was only £3 but we didn’t announce who was playing, you had to trust that we’d get decent guests. We really wanted to do a residency at a place where it was intimate, had seating and a DJ booth on the floor rather than a stage. As it turned out, the booth was in the middle of everything with a dancefloor on one side and seating directly behind so we were virtually in the round.

What a line up, 2005 was just as good, I need to find that list too. It would fill up with after work drinkers early on but they would clear out by about 9pm and our crowd would come down to see the set list pinned to the wall with who would be playing. I’m pretty sure this was Diplo‘s first ever London DJ appearance, he was playing Fabric the next night and we only got him because he wasn’t announced. For Luke Vibert‘s appearance he bought Aphex with him and for the December resident set DK and I gave away every record we played after we’d finished with it (pre-Serato days).

Posted in DJ Food, Gigs, Solid Steel. | 4 Comments |

‘O Is For Orange’ AV mix for Solid Steel 25

This week I decided to put down some of the set I made for ‘A Few Old Tunes’, the Boards of Canada-inspired night we did on June 20th. Because I’d edited so much video to go with it, I thought I’d finally get round to my first solo video mix too, so here it is.

(UPDATE: Vimeo closed the Solid Steel account that hosted this mix after three copyright strikes so it’s currently offline but some kind soul has uploaded it to their own ‘Solid Steel’ account here but I can’t embed it here)

‘O Is For Orange’ is the sound of weathered tape saturation, detuned analogue synthesisers, vinyl crackle and machine hum. It’s also the look of unfocused, flickering lenses, mirror image filters and blurry grain embedded into film. Unofficial fan films sit alongside experimental animation, public information shorts and even the odd official video. Material that BoC took inspiration from blends with their own work as well as many that they inspired.

I make no apologies for the quality of the vision here, some of it is only available via the web at frustratingly small sizes. In a couple of instances I’ve actually downgraded the look and quality of the image to make it blend in better and in others, even my best attempts at filtering can’t disguise the low quality of the source material. No HD or widescreen here, I’ve gone back to 4:3 for this one even though some of the clips were originally 16:9 or wider.

On the Vimeo page I’ve endeavored to list as many of the videos and their respective directors as possible alongside the track list. When we’ve done video mixes in the past we’ve repeatedly found that some film makers take exception to having their work used like this, whereas few artists would email you requesting that you take their track out of a mix. I can see why, especially if a promo they’re done for one group ends up being re-edited and bolted on to a completely different track.

Anyway, enough guff, thanks to everyone who inspired this mix, especially Boards of Canada, and everyone who requested that we recorded our sets for ‘A Few Old Tunes’ last week. Josh from Posthuman‘s is already up in audio form (here) and I’m reliably told that Tom Central has his waiting in the wings for next week.

African-themed Solid Steel with Melt Youself Down

This week’s Solid Steel has a definite African slant and I kick things off with a mix of music I call ‘Afreaka’. Percussion heavy funk with a tribal feel, from Madlib sample grabs to Malcolm McLaren or Eno & Byrne‘s imagined ethnic soundscapes. For part two we welcome Melt Yourself Down into the guest slot for a whole world fusion of flavours from Ali Hassan Kuban to the Mad Decent stable.

The band release their debut album on June 17th via the Leaf Label after a trio of killer singles that fuse post-punk Pigbag skronk funk with acid electronics. Catch them on tour across the UK right now with a must see live show that recently ripped Jools Holland‘s ‘Later’ show a new one. Check out their site for date, music and merch.

Jon More fills the Solid Steel 25th slot with a mix of African music proper. Over the past quarter of a century, if there’s one continent that has been well represented since day one, it’s Africa. Coldcut have always dug deep into it’s rich musical heritage and Jon More displays another fine selection of Afrobeat and African inspired music. There’s Bala Miller from Nigeria, Alemayehu Eshete from Ethiopia and Julien Babinga from Congo, plus music from Ocote Soul Sounds, Shina Williams and Troubleman.

Peter Serafinowicz mix on Solid Steel

A very special mix went up yesterday on the Solid Steel Soundcloud, something we’ve been angling for for months now and finally the stars have aligned perfectly. On the eve on the release of Boards of Canada‘s new LP, Peter Serafinowicz, actor, comedian, musician and voice of Darth Maul himself, has provided us with a BOC-inspired mix including some of his own compositions as well. It’s a beautiful collection of tracks and a perfect accompaniment to the albums which is hitting UK letterboxes all over as I type.
Also not to forget DK opening the show with his usual style and grace and another lovely guest mix from First Word artist Yosi Horikawa on the eve of his album release.

Hexstatic’s ‘Clinkmix’ for Solid Steel 25

We went back to ’89 last week for United States of Audio‘s De La Soul ‘3 Feet High & Rising’ tribute mix and this week we slip another year to ’88 with Robin from Hexstatic. For this week’s Solid Steel 25th guest mix he takes us on a trip to Clink Street in London Bridge, here’s why…

“1988, 25 years ago, and the ‘Summer Of Love’ in London, little did I know how much this street would come to mean to me. An explosion of new music, new headspace, new ideas. The birth of Solid Steel on Kiss FM. It is highly coincidental that driving from the suburbs up to the infamous Clink Street raves for the first time we were listening to that exact show on the radio. To Borough, and down a side street,… at the time nobody went to this area. You could park your car on a double yellow all weekend and not get a ticket. And so into Clink Street, the RIP nights, run by Mr C and his merry cohorts. The sound here was always a bit ‘darker’, heavier beats, stripped down music and decor, the strobe and smoke. This place was definitely about the dance, couldn’t really hear anything but music and see anything but your hands in front of your face :) Evil Eddie and Kid Batchelor were my favourite DJ’s at the time and I’m pretty sure Coldcut played there too? Little did I know. The Jungle Brothers even came down once to do a PA of ‘I’ll House You’. They looked pretty bemused. There’s a video of it on Youtube somewhere, with Mark Moore jacking at the end. Skip forward nearly a decade of dance and I’m back in Clink Street, Winchester Wharf, a few feet opposite Clink prison, at Ninja Tune HQ, talking to Matt Black about animations for their forthcoming album. Who’d have thought it. I spend a fantastic few years there and later teamed up with Stuart (Warren-Hill) as Hexstatic, we hire our own studio in the building and embark on the task of making an AV album with a couple of pocket calculators. The building was great, full of music and arts people coming in and out all the time, (David Byrne and Jean-Jacques Perrey just dropped in once!) I was signed to a label, travelling and working with people who I greatly admired. I go past now and again. It’s luxury flats and a bloody Starbucks now :(

To the music. We start with Nitro Deluxe and a track that bridged the gap between eclectic clubs like the Opera House and the start of Acid House, a few years old but was still getting played years later on the scene. Cultural Vibe’s ‘Ma Foom Bey’ had such a heavy slow sound, coupled with the African chanting it was the first time I’d heard a mix like this,..early Tony Humphries on the cut. Next up Sueno Latino, the first ‘Balearic’ track I came across, it would always send the floors into a trance wherever it was played. ‘Voodoo Ray’ was arguably the first UK ‘Acid House’ record, it sounded so fresh when it came out, fusing an almost ‘electro’ sound with the 303, people would always dance a certain way to that record, freaky like. Another UK record and Baby Ford’s ‘Oochy Koochy’, this was the straight up sound of the early scene to be sure. Next, one of several from Todd ‘The God’ Terry in his ‘Black Riot’ moniker. I loved this record so much I danced to it in a car park in Kingston once. ‘Big Fun’ was termed ‘techno’ on release,..seems funny now,..but it was also a big hit in the UK, Inner City even shot the video in London to capture the vibe of the time. Fallout’s ‘The Morning After’ had that lovely, slightly melancholic vibe that always felt refreshing, especially early in the morning. Think Tank and WestBam, were those freaky records that would spin everyone out,..turning to a friend with a massive grin and gesturing,..”what the hell is this?!”. Jungle Brothers get their ‘House’ in order next and then into more Todd product with a reworking of the classic ‘Weekend’. Next, the all time hands in the air anthem of anthems, ‘Let The Music Use You’ just brought a super smiley, almost spiritual vibe to dance floors,..I think most DJ’s tried to judge the ‘peak’ moment to drop it,..matey :) Next up, probably my favourite proper ‘acid’ track of all time, Bam Bam’s ‘Give It To Me’,.. 25 years later I still can’t decide if it’s pure genius or complete rubbish, followed by two more ‘Acid Trax’ classics from Charles B and the mighty Adonis. Stakker next and the video game sampling ‘Humanoid’, another track with that distinctive UK sound, fusing break beats with acid and crazy samples that later spawned FSOL. KC Flightt bringing a hip hop vibe to house without the cheesy ‘Hip-House’ tag and into another mix of ‘UK centric’ elements with the Afro Acid mix of Mory Kante’s ‘Yeke Yeke’,…and we finish on the upbeat sound of Longsy D and the reggae acid of ‘This Is Ska’,..yes mate.”

This era (or slightly later) was highlighted by Vice magazine in a surprisingly non-smug fashion when Clive Martin wrote an article on the YouTube comments made by partygoers under classic rave anthems. Read the comments under his article as well. We didn’t think about it at the time, same with music in the 90’s, it was just everywhere, classic after classic release, week after week. All of these tracks stand up there with any of the acknowledged Rock and Pop classics we’re constantly bombarded with on radio and in the press. I wonder when the music magazines are going to wake up and start writing features on these artists and their legacies rather than recycled the smallest piece of information on the Beatles, Stones, Who, Dylan, Hendrix et al into features for eternity?

De La Soul classic dissected by United States of Audio

“Now waaaaaiit a minute!” People are really pulling out the stops for the Solid Steel 25th year anniversary guest mixes at the moment. Last week Gilles Peterson not only made a Brit Funk mix but also a special video promo to go with it.

This week though, sees the return of United States of Audio aka Dave Trigg with what I’m already calling ‘Mix of the Year’. Riffing off the same idea as our Paul’s Boutique’ reconstruction last year, he takes on De La Soul‘s  classic ‘3 Feet High & Rising’ LP. I’ll turn it over to Dave for the explanation:

“Several years in the making (well it’s an idea that’s been knocking around for a while anyway!), and including around 100 tracks, this is my personal tribute to De La Soul’s ‘3 Feet High and Rising’. Using original sample sources, album tracks, interviews and rarities, ‘How High’s The Water Mama’ tells the story of one of hip hop’s most influential albums.

When De La Soul’s debut album dropped in 1989 I was ten years old. Yet, by some stroke of amazing good fortune a cassette copy of ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ found its way into my hands thanks to my best mate’s older brother (though I’m pretty sure said brother had no idea of this fact!). The music was a revelation and had a significant influence in shaping my musical tastes – in fact I can’t think of any other album that has had such a profound effect on me as this one. Thus ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ holds a special place in my musical affections. Now, some twenty-five years after its original release, it’s time to pay my respect to Pos, Dove, Mase, and Prince Paul…”

The pace and flow of this mix is a masterclass in how to put songs together and the ease with which he balances the sonics of a huge number of vastly different genres can only have meant hours of mixdown time. The reconstruction of the ‘Cool Breeze On The Rocks’ section is worth the price of admission alone (with a great nod to Solid Steel too). It gives a fresh take on ‘3 Feet…’ and reminds you of how many great songs they recontexualised within it. It’s also a history lesson, with interview segments where the band talk about the making of the album, the hippy tag and the sample lawsuits.

This is the one to beat in 2013. Also, in a bizarre coincidence, the latest issue of Wax Poetics features De La talking about the making of the very same album.

Free Comic Book Day-themed mix for Solid Steel

Tomorrow (May the 4th – oh the irony) is this year’s Free Comic Book Day and readers of this blog will find it no surprise that I’ve chosen to celebrate this with a mix based around songs mentioning comic characters for Solid Steel’s 25th celebrations.
So, we get the obvious ones like Prince – Batdance, Queen – Flash, Black Sabbath – Iron Man (even though it isn’t about THAT Iron Man). But we also get Elton John singing about Dan Dare, Anthrax‘s ode to Judge Dredd, I Am The Law and, my favourite, a 1977 track by Cliff Richard praising Spider Man (who knew?). This took ages to do because all the styles of music were so different and making them set naturally together was a real labour of love.

FCBD is a bit like Record Store Day except there are – as the title suggests – FREE comics to be had if you turn up early enough. Besides encouraging people to get out to real shops there will be various signings, happenings and such at your local comic store as well as a wealth of specially-released titles. I’ll be trying to grab a copy of 2000ad‘s annual special which has a special Henry Flint cover aping classic Marvel and DC first issues but twisting them into an alternate future. I’ll also be picking up ongoing issues of B.P.R.D., the new Abe Sapien book, Brandon Graham’s Prophet and more.

Old School Hip Hop mix on Solid Steel

This week on Solid Steel I put together the best of a set I made for the De:Tuned party in Antwerp the weekend before last with the I Love Acid crew. They asked for an old school Hip Hop and Hip House set (I think I probably own about one Hip House record so it’s more heavy on the electro to be honest). Anyway, it’s a trip back to the 80’s but with an added bonus for Solid Steel that the Antwerp crowd didn’t get. The first seven and a half minutes consists of selections from the first mixtape I ever made in 1987, extracted from an old TDK AD90 cassette and unheard by virtually anyone for 25 years.

Let me explain a little about the mix, it was made over many months in various sections once I traded in my first mixer (a Tandy model with no crossfader) and bought a Soundlab model – hence the name, ‘The Soundlab Mix’. At the time I had very few records, maybe less than 100, I had no parental collection to raid as they never had a record player and my younger brother had none either. So, I was forced to use what I could find alongside the few import 12″s I could afford and the limited UK releases of US Hip Hop that were available. People forget that a lot of early rap never got released in the UK in the first half of the 80’s, we were mostly forced to survive on Streetsounds Electro compilations and the few ‘hits’ that the Sugarhill, Tommy Boy and Def Jam labels produced until the rest of the industry caught up.

This meant that my early mixes have tracks from 7″ singles given away free with music papers, carboot soul and funk compilations and even a flexi disc I had found attached to a magazine in a paper recycling shed at school. As you will hear, the mix is massively influenced by Double Dee & Steinski‘s ‘Lessons’ series and Grandmaster Flash‘s ‘Adventures On The Wheels of Steel’. Kicking off with the Thunderbirds theme, the idea to mix well known soundtracks over beats seemed like a no-brainer but I’ve spared you the 007 and 2001 themes elsewhere on the tape. In the spirit of the aforementioned ‘Lessons’ I decided I needed an ‘old’ song to mix over some beats, similar to the ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’ section in Double Dee & Steinski’s masterpiece. For this, I used the flexi disc which happened to contain, ‘The Inquisition’ from Mel Brooks‘History of the World Part 1’ film, not very politically correct by any means, sorry, I had to use what I get my hands on.

Anyway, I wanted lots happening rather than having to mix live and change records so I would record a short section of two records, wait until one had finished and pause the tape on the beat. Rewinding to the best point, I’d cue up another record and jump back in at the appropriate point, sometimes for as little one line of dialogue. Neither of the decks were Technics 1200‘s and only one had a pitch control so each record had to be pitched to beat mix before the next section. Actually the ‘pitch’ control wasn’t anything of the sort, it was a tiny screw next to the tone arm that I found, if you inserted a small screw driver into it, you could fine tune the deck speed faster or slower. At times I would have to release the pause button and start scratching immediately so a lot of it is a little shoddy, also, occasionally the initial edit was sloppy so I had to rewind and do it all again until I got a clean join between the two separate recordings. It was a learning experience and I would record small sections with what I had and slowly build on it as and when I got new records so that the side filled up over the course of about a year, eventually ending with some chart acid and dance music in amongst the beats, rhymes and film snippets.