Producers/DJ’s may come and go but gay icon, model, and mild mannered electronic music creative genius comes but once in a lifetime. So when all three combine it’s moider and here our story starts of one boy and his love of the analogue synth.
Picture the scene if you will, the young golden haired boy wonder Henry Smithson a fresh faced sixteen year old student of Newcastle College’s Music Technology course and part time Resurrection rave-goer sets out to start his first shift at Newcastles legendary nightclub ‘Shindig’.
His apprenticeship starts when the doors to a magical world of house, hip hop and electronic music is opened to him. Record store salesman, guest list ticker, and flyer man jobs came and went until little Riton was given his wings in form of his first DJ residency position. Before long he is snapped up by Mark Rae of Grand Central Records. He zipped up his record bag, and wound up his headphones to take the long well trodden road to Manchester, city of eternal rain and musical dreams. Here his education continued working at the Fat City label/distribution/retail outlet - here the boy turned to man, cementing his desire to make music he signed to Grand Central and like a phoenix from the flames he grew to become Riton (pronounced Reeton, the French slang for Henry). The electroclash wonder that we see before us today.
His first release was ‘Communicated’ featured on the Grand Central compilation, Central Heating 2. At about this time Henry was starting his own label, Switch. Since then he has been busy crafting this journey through sound. After a handful of 12”s forming his own rules outside of the traditional Grand Central path and exhibiting his penchant for twisted beats, Riton dropped his critically acclaimed debut LP ‘Beats Du Jour’ in 2001.
And the crowd went wild, described by The Face as ‘Circling house music, electronica and weird beats, Grand Centrals non-hip hop debut rocks like a submerged volcano’ as ‘Charismatic, a profoundly funky sound from spare bits of house, electronica, jazz R&B, garage and God Knows what else’ by the NME and DJ magazine reckoned ‘Grand Central couldn’t have picked a better album to make history with. Music to make your soul grin’.
He was subsequently hailed by the underground as the ‘Producers Producer counting Laurent Garnier, Trevor Jackson, Richard Dorfmeister and Ewan Pearson (amongst others) as fans.
Outgrowing Manchester Riton continued his journey, this time heading for the golden paved streets of London. Where he grew, and he grew, and he grew to stand before us as Riton, one of Europe’s hottest remixers. Counting in his successes reworks for artists as diverse as The Scissor Sisters, Mylo, Chikinki, The Human League and Run DMC.
Just as we thought things couldn’t get much better Riton met Ben Fat Trucker and formed the Gucci sound system earlier this year and since then their dj partnership has rapidly been gathering momentum as Time out recently observed ‘Everyone’s talking about the Gucci sound system. We love Ben and Henry!
As a Duo they are able to bring much more to their sets. “We quickly realised the freedom it gave us to add other elements to our sets. We use analogue synth live, have various jingles, sound bites as well as our own edits of tracks’. In fact the partner ship is going so well they have moved into production together. It really is enough to make you cry.
They now enjoy a monthly residency at the 333 club in London and have their own nightclub in East London named ‘Druzzi’s Baltimore Rave Club’. Bringing the big guns in to a small cosy atmosphere. Weekly club line ups for this include Headman, Erol Alkan, 2 many DJs, The Rapture, Richard X, Mylo and FC Kahuna..
“We love the idea of putting on Soulwax in a 250 venue on a Thursday night for a Fiver, thats exactly what the Gucci Soundsystem is all about”
And so our story draws to a close with Riton’s brand new and second album Homies & Homos. joined by cohorts Lee Jones (from Howdi) and Luca Santucci (voice of Playgroup‘s ‘Number One‘) Riton has once again pulled it out the bag, the kind of immediate and exciting record that leaves you sitting bolt upright, staring straight ahead with a bit of dribble forming at the corner of your mouth. The songs take their subject matter from the seedier side of city living, lyrics for tracks like Square Eyes, Anger Man and Homeless fit seamlessly with Riton’s angular beats and bleeps and the choice of an all male vocal album adds to the griminess of the affair. Covering several decades in style and concept(the 80s and 90s especially in full effect) there is a cover of The Cure’s ‘Killing an Arab’ which fits cosily with Candy a sleazy affair sounding like the bastard offspring of The Neptunes and Blackstrobe. Create in you mind Ziggy-era Bowie in a seedy foursome with The Pet Shop Boys and Peaches and you’ve got it in a nutshell.
Now who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
Mirano Continental, Brussel
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Mirano Continental, Brussel