From the East
It’s nearly 20 years since I first started DJing, back home in Ipswich. I’ve always liked to play more than just the one kind of sound – and that’s as true now as it was in 1981; a typical playlist back then included names like The Peech Boys, A Certain Ratio, Gwen Guthrie, even Level 42. To be honest with you, I was more interested in making music than DJing back then. Like many DJs, I just did it for fun but over the next five years, I didn’t find anyone to work with that really sparked me and by 1987 I found myself working in a record store, feeding my vinyl addiction and realising that DJing was my dream job.
I started working at Reckless Records in Soho where a guy called Jonathon Moore worked – better known as one half of turntable cut’n’paste pioneers, Coldcut, and co-founder of the Ninja Tune label. Jonathan was also one of the founding members of Kiss FM. I was soon drafted in to do a show and now, nearly 15 years later and with Kiss 100% legal, I’m the only one left of the original crew. Sunday night’s the time to tune in to the Cosmic Jam on Kiss in London, from 10-12pm.
Any given Sunday
Getting the Kiss show helped kickstart my career. Gilles Peterson invited me to be a resident at Dingwall’s in Camden, North London on a Sunday – the Talkin’ Loud & Sayin’ Something sessions has had a major effect on left of centre that has rippled through to today.
I worked with Gilles at TLSS for six years, and though people still associate us, understandably, I’ve had my own career to pursue. One of the proudest moments was starting the acclaimed Rebirth Of Cool series for Island offshoot, 4th & Broadway. That started in 1989 and there have been plenty more compilations since, up unto the recent Off Centre 2 and Excursions 2.
Da Lata to go
Oh – remember at the beginning I said that I was more interested in making music than DJing? There’s been plenty on that front too. After meeting a guy called Christian Franck, we formed a band called Batu – we recorded for French label Big Cheese, played at Glastonbury and the Jazz Café, but it was exhausting. It was a seven-piece band and we decided to switch to a more studio-based project. We called it Da Lata. With a shared a love for Brazilian music and an eclectic outlook on the rest of music, it was Brazilian music with a twist. We got a guy called Lee Hamblin on board and from there it took off – we recorded for UFO’s label, Brownswood in Japan, but the record that did it for us was Ponteio.
Phil Asher was a big supporter of the record – we’d describe it as a blend of baiao and broken beat – but it was when Body & Soul’s Francois K and Joe Claussel got hold of it that it really took off. Words like “classic” were bandied around. Unfortunately, Da Lata once again was about to take a back seat as Christian became involved with Smoke City, whose big hit Underwater Love was supported by the likes of Gilles and myself. But we wouldn’t let it die, in fact, three years on, in 1998, we recorded a tune, Pra Manha, which rekindled the flame. We drafted in Liliana Chachian to sing and a guy called Toni Econimides who worked with Smoke City, and they helped take Da Lata in a new direction. The result? We signed to Palm Pictures, shifted 10,000 copies of Pra Manha on vinyl and our blend of Brazilian dancefloor gained anthem status, especially in Japan. The album, Songs From The Tin, cemented that position, I like to think.