Tuesday, 11 November 2008

There Is An Alternative To Statins

Dr. John Moran explains when it is really necessary to resort to statins.

1.8 million people in England alone currently take statins and they are the most widely prescribed class of drugs, and the most expensive item on the NHS drugs bill, costing over £700m a year.

Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke or coronary heart disease. They work by blocking cholesterol production in the body through inhibiting an enzyme called HMG-CoA. They may also help the body reabsorb the plaque which has accumulated on the artery walls, preventing the life-threatening blood clot which could lead to a stroke or heart attack.

One clinical trial concluded that statins reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease by around a third, if taken over a period of three years.

Sounds too good to be true? Some medical experts think so.

By blocking the HMG-CoA enzyme, statins not only deplete the body of cholesterol but also the beneficial natural substance, co-Enzyme Q10, an antioxidant and cellular energiser which is present in healthy hearts.

Statins also have potential side effects, ranging from the moderate to severe. Moderate symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, lack of sex-drive, and muscle aching; severe side effects are an increase the production of liver enzymes which can eventually damage the liver, and severe muscle pain and tenderness (statin myopathy).

In severe cases the muscle cells can break down and release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can impair kidney function and lead to kidney failure.

Last year, plans were outlined to make statins available over the counter from pharmacies, and in January this year, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommended that GPs prescribe statins to anyone with a 20 per cent chance of having a heart attack or stroke over the next ten years. Many GPs have voiced concerns over this suggestion, including Dr John Moran.

Dr Moran of the Holistic Medical Clinic in London’s Wimpole Street began his career in the early 1970s in dentistry, before moving to the Medical Commission in 1979. He then became interested in women's hormonal health and worked at Mary Stopes for seventeen years, training in psychosexual and sexual medicine. He has since become interested in the role of nutrition in health care, and last year finished his post graduate masters in nutritional medicine.

"I have concerns about people being able to buy statins over the counter without supervision, because I think in many cases there are much better ways to lower cholesterol."

"The patient won't have been given any advice from their GP, the pharmacists won't know their family history, and how can you tell what their blood pressure is? But, if people are in a high risk category - by that I mean if they are overweight, they smoke, have high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or a history of coronary heart disease - then they very much need to go on to statins because the track record of what they do is extremely good."

Dr Moran says it is people who have no high risk factor who should first try alternatives to statins.

"People with marginally high lipid profiles - by that I mean their total cholesterol is over 6 and their LDL is over 4 shouldn't necessarily resort to statins."

"The first line of treatment in my opinion, should be with diet and exercise. If this does not work, then they should resort to statins, but we should not be advocating them as the first line of defence in people with no high risk factors."

"My concern is not about the correct NRC guidelines, my concern is that people who do not have any of the high risk factors help themselves to a statin when they are better off looking at nutritional things that can help, in particular the Mediterranean diet."

"Statins have two reactions. They work in the liver by lowering the amount of cholesterol the liver actually produces. Their other is anti-inflammatory, stabilising unstable plaque in the arteries. But nutritional substances can also do this. Fresh garlic is one of the best natural anti-inflammatories, as are essential fatty acids such as cod liver oil and flax seed oil. Many natural antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory action, as do probiotics which help feed healthy gut organisms, oats and soya. As far as lifestyle is concerned, regular exercise and no smoking is very important."

"Often, gut health affects liver health. Your gut is the seat of your immunity so if you have an unhealthy gut, then prebiotics are in order. Prebiotics are foods such as asparagus, artichokes and onions. I know you can buy probiotics yoghurt drinks, but out of the millions of bacteria in these products, only 5% survive by the time they reach your colon, so either eat natural sources of prebiotics, or take a good quality supplement."

The other issue which Dr Moran doesn't think is being adequately tackled sufficiently is the evidence that statins affect the body's production of co-Enzyme Q10.

"If people do have to go onto a statin, they really ought to take co-Enzyme Q10, which is depleted when you take statins."

"It has been a bone of contention with a few people as to whether they is any evidence to show that co-Enzyme Q10 is depleted when taking statins. However, several studies have shown this to be the case, and the symptoms of a lack of co-Enzyme Q10 are muscle cramp and muscle pains, which are very common when people go on to statins."

"My wife has got familiar hypocholesterol and she is on a statin quite rightly, and she gets muscle cramps if she doesn't take co-Enzyme Q10 too."

"In Canada and the States, but in particular Canada, most stains are taken with co-Enzyme Q10 as a matter of course. In this country you can get co-Enzyme Q10 prescribed on the national health under its proper name, but patients will have to ask their GP about it."

Rachael Hannan: 2006

Published on 50connect.co.uk
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Bee Gees Robin Gibb Speaks Out

Robin Gibb explains why he believes a memorial to the Bombers of World War II is of national importance.

Bee Gees member Robin Gibb is playing his first solo concert in Britain to raise funds and support to errect a memorial in London to the forgotten heroes of the World War II’s RAF Bomber Command.

Here he explains why he believes the monument is of national importance.

“These guys have been heroes for me since I was a young boy,” Gibb says. “I’m passionate about this campaign.”

“I really believe that these young men who laid down their lives, and those who survived and risked their lives should be recognised. They are the only division of the armed services which haven’t been and I think they should be honoured with a monument or statue in central London.”

During World War II the RAF bomber command played a crucial role in Britain’s defences, targeting the industrial towns and cities of Nazi Germany, destroying ammunition factories, oil refineries and infrastructure.

The scale and intensity of the offensive put Germany on the defensive, shook Nazi leadership and was key to Allied victory in 1945.

Gibb, who has been involved since December 2007, is keen to assert that this monument is to honour sacrifice - not glorify war.

“We sweep these things under the carpet in this country. These brave young men, who laid down their lives were actually saving all of Europe.”

“It was not a war we were waging. Our backs were against the wall, civilisation was in the balance, and this country was in danger of being occupied.”

“I don’t believe in war, but I also don’t believe in dictatorships, and Germany today enjoys a freedom and peace which they have never enjoyed throughout all of their history, and that is because of the courageous actions of the Bomber Command. They bought peace to all of Europe, not just for us - and at the expense of their own lives.”

Nearly all the RAF Command Bombers were young volunteers aged 18-22, from Britain, the commonwealth and refugees from Nazi occupied territory. In total 55,000 men died and 10,000 were captured. Those who made it onto the ground in one piece are considered the lucky ones because the g-force of a whirling plane hurtling to earth prevented many evacuating the cockpit.

Gibb also hopes the monument will set an example to young people today, who he says, have no respect for authority.

“The crime rate shows there is a distinct lack of respect for authority, for political high office, and law and order. This is displayed in every facet of society in the country and it needs to be addressed, because it can only get worse before it gets better. “

“We have guys fighting out in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we don’t honour them enough as it is for what they are doing."

"Respect, honour and sacrifice are some of the things that should be brought to bear for young people in today’s society, and I think a monument is the first step in showing that we are not afraid to want to sacrifice, and that respect, responsibility, accountability and honour are still very fashionable human virtues, and not things that should be assigned to the past.”

“As long as we are dismissing the fact the Bomber Command monument is important, it will continue to become unimportant. We have to set an example. I don’t believe authority should be out of control or dictatorial, but there should be law and order and a feeling of respect for authority and political high office. I think this has been lost over the past 30 years – and we have to get it back.”

Our lost patriotism is something else Gibb feels has eroded British society.

“The American Bomber Commands have been recognised in Washington for their part in the European bombing war, and they are very patriotic over there about what their guys did, and what their guys are doing now. “

“We have to get a feeling for this country back, the same way America has for it’s own country. We have to get respect back for the office of Prime Minister and high office, in the same way the Americans believe in the office of president.”

The Heritage Foundation, supported by the Bomber Command Association need £2 million for the memorial. So far £160,00 has been raised.

Robin Gibb plays at Windsor Race Course as the culmination of the Windsor Golden Egg Festival taking place over the weekend of July 12th - 13th, in aid of the Bomber Command campaign.

Web Links

Bob Baxter's Bomber Command Index - http://www.bomber-command.info/

RAF Bomber Command Website http://www.rafbombercommand.com/

By Rachael Hannan: 2008

Published on 50connect.co.uk
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"Their Glory Shall Not Be Blotted Out"

"...for your tomorrow, we gave our today." An interview at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is a unique body, responsible for the monumental and perpetual task of commemorating those who died in the two world wars.

Of the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two World Wars, 925,000 remains were recovered, and their graves are marked with a headstone in war cemeteries in 150 different countries. Where the remains were not found, the casualty name is commemorated on a memorial.

According to the Commission's Charter, their task of maintaining and conserving the War Cemeteries is eternal.

They are also responsible for providing information to the public about the location of ancestors' graves or memorials, and take on an educational capacity, organising talks, attending family history fairs and creating CD Roms for schools. Their latest, About A Boy, tells the story of a 16-year-old, World War 1 soldier and has been distributed to every secondary school in the UK.

We went to their headquarters in Maidenhead, Berkshire, to meet David Parker and Peter Frances, to learn more about this fascinating organisation.

"Worldwide we have 73,000 cemeteries. Around 2,500 of these are Commonwealth War Cemeteries which were constructed by the Commission after 1918," David explains.

"The bulk of the cemeteries we are responsible for are graves in other cemeteries, especially in the UK where there are over 12,000 cemeteries containing war graves, of which 600 are large plots."

"One of the nicest things about the Commission is that no one is distinguished by cause of death or creed. You could have won the Victorian Cross or been killed in a train accident, but you will still be treated in exactly same way," Peter says.

"Some people assume all the headstones are crosses, but they are specifically designed to commemorate any faith be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish. If you go to a cemetery, the main commemorative strain is Christian and that is a cross, but there are those that are non-specific headstones."

"Although the people who founded the Commission came from a very privileged background they had incredible foresight and liberal attitudes to the nature of this. When you look back at the principles the Commission was founded on, today they seem like common sense but at the time this was absolutely brand new. No one had ever done anything like this before and certainly, no one had decided to commemorate all their fallen men in conflict, without military or civil rank, or distinction. So it really is an amazing organisation."

The formation of the Commission, and its founding principles was primarily the work of one man, Sir Fabian Ware who at the outbreak of World War 1 was deemed too old for active service, so he arrived in France in September 1914 to command a British Red Cross Unit.

Amidst the battlefields, he realised there was no organisation in place to record the final resting places of casualties and became concerned that graves would be lost forever. He and his unit took it upon themselves to register and care for all the graves they could find. Within a year, Ware's unit had been given official recognition by the War Office and was named the Graves Registration Commission.

Ware began to worry about the fate of the graves once the conflict was over, so with the support of the Prince of Wales, he submitted a request to the Imperial War Conference in 1917. It was unanimously approved and the Imperial War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter on 21 May, 1917. The name changed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the 1960's.

After the First World War, debates raged about how the dead should be commemorated and whether they should be repatriated. On 4 May, 1920, the matter was finally settled. After a persuasive speech by Winston Churchill, it was decided that the Commission would build memorials which commemorated in perpetuity the sacrifice of the Empire's soldiers, and future generations would gaze at these in wonder.

Originally, three trial cemeteries were built and it was unanimously agreed that Forceville in France was the most successful. It was a walled cemetery with uniform headstones in a garden setting. There was a choice of headstones, depending on which faith the deceased originated, but each was uniform white, and the same size.

Since so many had died without a trace, numerous war memorials were built between 1923 - 1938. The largest of these, the Thiepval Memorial in France stands at over 45 metres high and carries the names of over 72,000 casualties from the Battle of the Somme.

When Ware first started his Unit, they received hundreds of requests from relatives for information or photographs of loved ones graves, and by 1917 had dispatched some 12,000 photographs to relatives. Sending photographs of the deceased's final resting place was one of the first public services offered by the Commission, and remains a key aspect of their work.

"The photo service we offer to the public is cemetery related, so we can supply the public with a picture of the final resting place of their ancestor," Peter explains.

"We have a digital and conventional photographic archive of the cemeteries stretching back to 1917, so there are black and white photographs of the very early battlefield cemeteries and of what we call GCU's, which are Grave Concentration Units. These are the men who actually had the task of going into the battlefields, trying to uncover and identify casualties, and then what we call concentrating them into the cemeteries. So if you knew your ancestor was a GCU, we probably have images of him at work."

"We hope to digitalise the photographs of the cemeteries and move to a digital archive, but this obviously takes a great deal of time and resources. Wherever possible though, we do try and show pictures of the cemeteries on the website."

"Actually, since we started publishing the photos on the website, we’ve had members of the public offering us their own photos as well. There’s a gentlemen in Orkney who has been going around photographing the isolated graves in his regional cemeteries and he's sent them to us so we can add them to the website. That’s a really nice interactive side."

"We also have photographs that illustrate the history of the Commission and it's work," David continues. "There is some historical ceremonial archive of the future King George V at the French cemeteries in 1922, with people like Haigh, Kipling and our founder Fabian Ware. We don't have photographs of various regiments, battles, aircraft and tanks. People should contact the Imperial War Grave Museum for that sort of information."

The hardest job facing the commission since it's conception and the task that still presents the greatest challenges is the maintenance of the cemeteries.

After the First World War, half a million headstones were required.

Besides finding enough high quality stone, engraving regimental badges and inscriptions was a time-consuming affair and at the time, there wasn't a machine designed for the purpose.

Horse and carts would go around the cemeteries, delivering masons who would inscribe the headstones by hand at the actual graves, until a Lancashire firm designed a machine for job.

Even so, masons and horticulturists would still travel to the cemetery, work for the day, then camp nearby. For reasons of economy, the Commission established its own nurseries, growing millions of plants to transform the cemeteries, and soften the seemingly endless rows of headstones.

"We are the world's largest horticultural organisation and today, most of our staff are horticulturalists. We measure flowers in tens of thousands not thousands, and headstones in kilometres not metres," Peter says.

"Increasing amounts of preservation and care are needed to keep the ageing cemeteries in the condition we and the public expect so the bulk of the work will always be the maintenance of the cemeteries."

"People forget that maintaining the cemeteries is ongoing and what the Commission needs to do now is pass the message on about what we do. We replace thousands of headstones every single year and engrave in situ hundreds of thousands more. It’s a mammoth task."

The Commission also has to deal with any newly discovered Commonwealth remains.

"Our main problem in what is usually described as battle-field archaeology is the discovery of remains. There are still around twenty-five new cases a year," David says.

"When remains are discovered they are reported to the local authorities who have to satisfy themselves that they are not dealing with a present day homicide. When they are happy they are dealing with Commonwealth remains, we are contacted and arrange for the remains to be recovered."

"Everything that is associated with them is noted down, such as map references and what exactly is found. War grave references are then passed to the member Government who make an investigation and determine if there is an identity for that soldier."

"Our responsibility begins at the end of that process, when the Government says, this is an unnamed man please bury him as such, or this is Private John Smith. We then bury them in the appropriate cemetery with a headstone, and when the funeral has actually taken place, that soldier is then in our perpetual care."

Today, the internet has revolutionised the Commission's services, and the speed at which it can deliver information to the public.

"The website has completely changed the way we work and emails have taken over. When we launched in 1998 we thought it would be popular but we were absolutely staggered by the response we got."

"The first week, you couldn’t even get a telephone line out of this building because we were inundated with people requesting the web address. In the first week it received 4.5 million hits, but today we find we have long visits of an average of 15 minutes," Peter states.

"Since we introduced the website, the number of letters we receive has decreased, but we've had an enormous increase in email enquiries, receiving in excess of 50,000 a year," David says. "People tend to email instead of writing a letter and as such, the nature of the enquiry is becoming more complex."

In 1995 the Commission put their records in the public domain and these can be accessed from their website, http://www.cwgc.org.

The database, known as the Debt of Honour Register, contains information about the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars, and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated.

The Commission's service is exemplary, and wherever information cannot be printed direct from their site, a hard copy can be requested and sent to your home address. Cemetery reports and cemetery plans can be printed from the website so anyone wishing to visit a war cemetery can easily find the grave of their ancestor.

It is also possible to print out a certificate of the deceased which contains the information held by the Commission about their death, where they are buried and a coloured photograph of that particular cemetery.

"We try and provide a service. The certificate which prints off the website is one thing people come back to us time and time again and say it's a nice touch because it's something they can give to their relative who might not be web literate."

A typical trace will include the casualty's Rank, Initials, Surname, Forenames if they are known, Unit, Regiment, Service Number if known, Age if known, Date of Death, Grave or Memorial reference and the name of the Cemetery or Memorial the deceased is commemorated.

"It a case of less is more," Peter says. "Try surname and initials first and see what it brings up. Then start to build up the other information and you will end up with a positive trace. Not everyone is comfortable with military and service records or even using a website, so we've kept it simple to suit everyone."

"One in twelve people who use the service may want more facilities than this, but the more complicated you make it, the other 11 struggle," David says. "If you try and search the database with masses of information, it won't work. It's best to use fewer search terms to return the correct set of records. Stick with the surname, then initial and gradually add details from there."

From a genealogical point of view, the information displayed on the Debt of Honour Register is all that the Commission holds for that particular casualty. They are not responsible for service records or regimental histories, so genealogists should turn to army records for this sort of information.

There are some differences in the records held for each of the two World Wars. For instance, there are no Cause of Death details for Second World War casualties, but there are for a limited number for First World War entries.

About one third of the Commission's records do not show details for next of kin because not all the "Final Verification" forms sent to the last known address of a casualty's next of kin were returned.

A further difference is the addition of Air Force and civilian casualties in the Second World War. When the Second World War broke out, the Commission had only just finished building the cemeteries and memorials from World War 1, but learning from the past, the Commission earmarked ground for cemeteries from the outset.

Ware also ensured the air force was commemorated in addition to any nurses or civilians who were killed as a direct result of combat.

"Some organisations, because they were viewed as organisations that had an increased risk of death because of the service they were in have war graves within the CWGC. Some strange organisations like the YMCA and Salvation Army have war grave status for example, because they were offering a service that was deemed to be of value to the troops."

"Often you find salvation army units running a little café for the soldiers fairly close to the frontline, or caring for the wounded, so any casualties they suffered have war grave status and are taken in and accredited."

"There are some very famous instances, particularly in the Second World War of nurses who were in the firing line, especially in the Far East such as the Australian nurses who were attacked by the Japanese forces at Singapore and all those records are included."

"There are two categories of nurses in a way; those that were definitely attached to the military forces and were in fact military nurses, and those who were civilian nurses. We don’t look after civilian nurse's graves but Ware did compile a roll of honour of civilians who died as a direct result of any action."

"His civilian list includes over 66,000 names and in 1956 was placed near St George's Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London where a new page is turned every day. So if you were a nurse and killed in the Blitz for instance, your name would be included in there, and your family would have been notified."

Although the Commission has been working for ninety years, the public are still unaware of the services they offer and the records they hold, which is why they attend family history shows and other public events where there may be an interest in their services.

"It makes the public more interested in what we are doing and the services we are providing. In fact, one of the nicest things happened to me when I was at Hampton Court flower show last year. We had the database there and this elderly lady approached the stand and asked if we could find something for her."

"We entered her information into the system and came up with the record of a young airman who was buried in one of the war cemeteries in Germany. When I told her, she started to cry. It took me aback, and she explained it was her brother's grave, and since he had been shot down over Germany, they just presumed he didn’t have a grave."

"This was the first time she’d ever found the information out. She gave me a big hug, and went and got her daughter and about 4 or 5 weeks later we received this note to say they had gone to the cemetery and it was most the wonderful experience. Experiences like this, make the work we do really worthwhile."

By Rachael Hannan: Interview 2004

Published on 50connect.co.uk
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Monday, 10 November 2008

Marc Vedo Interview

Marc Vedo is at the helm of his very own successful club brand, Koolwaters, and touring Canada later this month with Boy George. He's determined, ambitious and in it for the long haul.

You were under an apprenticeship with Northampton Town Football Club, but gave it up to pursue your DJing career. Any regrets?

No because I still play football all the time, all over Bristol and the South West. I play for two teams so I'm still heavily involved in football and sport. I do everything from tennis to long distance running, to going down the gym, sky diving and rock climbing. Anything active, I love it.

You're only 26 years old, but you've been djing since you were 18. Has it been a hard slog to get to where you are today?

Yes, very. As a DJ, I've struggled. I had a big success when I first started with Mixmag doing a review of a club night I was running at the time, and then they did a whole page spread which really launched my career. I was flying all over the country and I did all the Mixmag tours. I thought to myself at that point that life was plain sailing.

Then I did nothing for a couple of years. I didn't actively promote myself or help the people who were trying to push me, and I started to find that I was beginning to lose my bookings as a result. So from a DJ point of view, I got launched into this position and then lost it, then had to work my way back up again. But it's been a good test and definitely made me a more grounded as a DJ.

From a business point of view, I've gone bankrupt twice, I've made a couple of serious mistakes along the way with different companies I've had, but if I hadn't made those mistakes Koolwaters wouldn't be what it is today or doing as well as it is. We've just got so many avenues on the go at the moment, it's fantastic.

Dance music has been a hard industry to be in over the last couple of years.

It has, but I have to say Koolwaters is going really well. I've never been as successful as I am now, in the last year and a half. I've got a great quote which I always say, and I've always believed in. 'The kite rises against the wind,' and that's exactly what has happened. The company is making thousands of pounds and I'm travelling all over the place DJing, so I've no complaints.

I've been DJing eight years now. It's a seriously long time to be committed to one thing, but it's my passion, it's my love and it's what makes me who I am.

Many times I've thought about giving it up and moving on, but at the end of the day I love the fact that in two weeks I have to fly to Canada, and the following week I'm off to America and travelling around there DJing. The buzz of doing that and playing to so many different people is just great. That's why eight years doesn't seem that long. I'm planning on being a DJ until I'm about 45 so I'm in it for the long haul. So whatever happens, I'm definitely going to be around until I'm at least 45.

Tell us more about the setting up of Koolwaters? Why did you start it?

I started Koolwaters after I'd finished another night which was called As Oz. We had been going for two and half years and decided to go our separate ways, so I set up my own company. I started it with no money; I had to blag it the first night! I got it on credit and just opened the doors and hoped people turned up. I made enough money on the first night to pay everyone off and had enough money to spare for the next night, and it just grew from there.

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster with a lot of lessons, but I've been able to make a go of it and now I am in a position where I can comfortably look at the future and go, this is where I'm going and this is how it's going to happen. We've got albums coming out, a world tour, so many things.

What's been the biggest lesson you've learnt?

Complacency, without a shadow of a doubt. As soon as you become complacent you lose that spark. Once you lose that spark, you lose interest.

You've got a big deal going with Wella at the moment. How did it happen?

I'm getting free hair products for the rest of my life! (laughs). It's the first time the company has ever done anything like this. We've decided to have a CD made up to give away all over the country in Wella hairdressers, as a promotional tool to promote a new range of hair products called Head Games. It's a cool clubbable brand within the 18-30's market so they asked Koolwaters to do the album.

Originally we were going to buy in the tracks and I was going to mix them but eventually we decided that I would go into the studio and make them all myself, so that's what we did. I made the tracks, mixed them together and now I've got another two deals with them.

We actually produced 50,000 copies of the album so it's just a massive, massive thing. Most compilations never sell 50,000 so to think that many people have it, people in my core market with wacky hairstyles, is just fantastic.

It's the second biggest hair product company in the world and worth about £3 billion so to be asked by company of that size is very reassuring. It's just amazing and it's the sort of advertising you can't pay for. I'm so chuffed. There's also going to be another two of those CD's, so in another 6 months there will be 150,000 of my CD's out there!

How would you describe DJing style?

Very long mixing, I like to keep the records on for quite a long time and then chop into my mixes to add variety.

You've been compared to Sasha. That's quite an accolade.

Yeah. I really admire Sasha. As far as mixing standards go, if my mixing is anything below 85% I'll have had a crap night. I like to achieve 95-100% mixing ability every time I play.

You've played all over the world. Which continent / country is really happening at the moment?

Canada. It's awesome. Vancouver is a fantastic city; beautiful. The people there are really cool and the clubs are very trendy. And then Toronto has The Guvernment; you can't beat it. It's the biggest club in North America and holds 8000 people. Everyone in there is absolutely having it, it's fantastic, really good.

And Turkey, I have to mention Turkey. It's probably one of my favourite places. I've been playing in Istanbul for six years now so I've got a really big profile there and now when I go, I've usually got a big crowd so from that respect it's very enjoyable. I mainly play at festivals or big events in Istanbul but I'd say the first club to go to is the Repulic and then The Venue, which is a 4000 capacity club which is absolutely fantastic. It's right on the beach and really massive.

How do you escape?

Any of the sports I mentioned earlier, and chess. I love chess, the tactical side of it, breaking through the ranks of someone else's forces. I'm trying to find some more people to play against at the moment actually, 'cos none of my friends want to play with me anymore!

What makes you laugh?

Bottom! I saw it last night; it's hilarious. Total British slapstick. Also Naked Gun. That's just brilliant; so funny.

Name your three biggest influences?

World history, world music and people.

You've been voted one of the worlds top 50 most Eligible Bachelors by Company magazine, were the centrefold in The Sun's Top Ten Most Eligible Men and appeared on Channel 4's Gods Gift. How does that feel?

It was an experience! Definitely an experience, but it was shortly after being in Company magazine and on God's Gift that I got my residency at Slinky, so I was lucky. I got lots of fan mail through Company magazine which was really weird though.

Tell us something we don't know about Marc Vedo.

I was whacking golf balls out of my living room into the playing fields outside in the early hours of the morning a few weeks ago!

Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Work against inertia; inertia is laziness.

Find out where Marc Vedo is playing at http://www.koolwaters.com.

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2004

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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Graham Gold Interview

He was instrumental in helping Kiss 100 gain it's radio licence, he discovered Matt Daring and started legendary club night Peach at Camden Palace. Meet the one and only, Graham Gold.

You've got three record labels and discovered Matt Daring. Tell us more.

I started Relative really to put out my own stuff and do something on my own. We've only put out about 8 records, the biggest one has to be Corduroy, Sweetest Dreams, which Ferry Corsten remixed because he loved it so much and Van Dyke is still playing. Actually Van Dyke played two of my records on the radio last week. The other one was AIMAR. They're two lads from the south coast and the track is called Confusion. It's the kind of thing played very early in the set so that's really good.

My new one, Night Dive, has already had huge support from John Fleming and Christopher Lawrence, so we're ticking along quite nicely.

You've been DJing since you were 15. How did you get into it?

My brother was a bit of an electronic wizard and in those days, dare I say it, you couldn't buy a mixer that had two turn tables, so he kind of built one. There used to be a reggae blues party so we just mixed up all this reggae. Back then, it was all based around a rhythm that would be popular for a couple or months, so we would just mix it all up, and that was it really.

My first gig was at the Byron hotel in Greenford. I won't tell you the first record I ever bought but I'll tell you the first record I ever swapped! It was Walk On By.

Can we be cheeky and ask how old you are?!

I'm the wrong side of 40. Oh ok, everyone knows how old I am anyway. I'm 50, but I don't feel it or look it so the wrong side of 40 is good. I'm young at heart and my girlfriend is only 24.

You've been at Kiss sometime now.

I did all the other pirates in London bar Kiss. They wouldn't have me because I could speak properly! (Laughs)

Actually I didn't like Kiss as a pirate and at that time, I was married to my second wife and she had this thing about when you get to a certain age you've got to conform. I'm much more radical now than I ever was which is bizarre really. Anyway, I was involved in the application of the licence and have been with them since day one, through all the changes.

Kiss is national on DAB and Freeview now. All new cars come with DAB and in three years time, consumer awareness of DAB is going to be much more prevalent. If you go abroad, internet listening is huge; outside the UK there's a massive audience. Since Kiss went on Freeview we've added 2 million listeners to the station so it's defintiely the future.

How has the industry changed for you?

For me, the UK is really hard and it has been very hard outside London and the South East. I think that's because all through the '70s and '80s I was really prolific as a DJ.

I used to present 'Sunshine' on Capital Radio, and DJ at the club, Gulliver, where people like Diana Ross, Mike Tyson and Mohammed Ali all used to come when they were in London. I worked there for nine years but then I made my worst career move ever and did the breakfast show on Kiss. If you do that, you have to play a certain type of music, and I've been stung with the cheese brush ever since.

I'm not like a Pete Tong. I'm not cool in my delivery because I enthuse about what I play because I get excited about it. I've never been perceived as the epitome of cool, but Slinky has always been good to me, Pacha too, but when I dropped trance in 2001, I got dropped by both of them. I was just bored with the trance that was coming out. It was just the same old, same old, but now it's got some of it's originality back and is brilliant again.

Everybody seems to forget that we're in this scene that's lasted thirteen years. Take the rave part away; forget '88-'89 and start from '90-'91 when this thing that we're in now started, the house music scene has lasted thirteen years. If you compare that to all the other musical genres like the New Romantics, or Punk, those scenes lasted two to three years. Rap, well that evolved into hip hop so that's different but house music has evolved into tech, breakbeat, dream house, hard house, progressive and all the other genres which is brilliant because its lasted, but at the same time, in the early days, you just played records because they were great records. Now you have to take a genre and stick to it, but I don't like that.

When you walk into a club, you want to hear something easy and then you want the music to build up as the night goes on, but none of the clubs are building now and that's the downfall. Now it's all just names playing their sets. Back in the day, I would leave my records out so the next DJ could see what I had played, so he wouldn't play the same thing for the crowd, and also so his set worked.

I always made an effort to get there early and stay as long as I could and that's where the DJ's get involved with the public, and get out there and dance. That's the way it has to be. If it wasn't for the punters having a good time, we'd be out of a job, and not going out and having a great time every weekend!

I never got into this for the glory or the money. No one saw the status DJ's would reach. I was working for 20 quid a night, driving from Harrow to Deptford every day, buying my own records and being left with 12 quid at the end of the night, but I've done it because I loved it and I was bloody good at it.

I am very clean now and I'd say I have rediscovered myself. I used to be regarded as a bit of a caner but that's because all the years I DJ'd before, I never touched drugs in my life. I was very anti it, but when you do, you get into it. Not now though. I was in Singapore last Wednesday for Slinky. I had 1 beer the whole night, did a three hour set and I was spot on! It was rammed midweek until closing time in the early hours.

I didn't do myself any favours when I used to get caned. I'm so passionate about my music and what I do, and because I've been around a while, I think that my ears are really tuned into what rocks. What is my good is another DJ's excellent, but I actually think I've reached my excellent stage. I don't mean this in blasé way, I just feel I've reached my peak.

Now I've mastered the DJM600 I'm really on form. I was in Brazil the other day and a guy wrote into DJMag, saying he'd seen Tiesto, Armin and Oakenfold but no one blew him away like I did, so I'm really on it right now.

I probably should have worked harder and got to know CD technology more a long time ago. I've worked hard all these years but I never got round to it or achieved what I wanted to achieve. You know, Jules says I probabaly could have made Radio 1. Instead I spent two hours a day, going to the gym when I probably should have been learning the DJM600 mixer. Actually I've learnt it and now and I'm very proficient on it so I'm looking forward to things picking back up again.

Peach finished at Camden in June. Have you any more nights planned?

I'm about to start a new night. We had to move out of Camden because the venue was sold so the new venue is in Brixton, at the Fridge so it's not bang in the middle of nowhere like Studio 33 was. I like Brixton too, it's got a similar sort of feel to Camden so hopefully the punters will like that too.

Like I was saying earlier about going back to '91, there weren't the genres and you just played great house music. Now you either go to a trance club, breaks club or a techno club or whatever, but this new night is not going to be about different genres. It's just going to be about bloody good house music. I'm going to call it Reach, not because its similar to Peach but I was thinking of reach up, reach out, you know. It's going to be held monthly, on the first Friday of the month so I hope to see you down there!

What's the best piece advice anyone has ever given you?

Be yourself.

You can find out where Graham Gold is playing at http://www.grahamgold.com/

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2004

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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DJ Yousef Interview

Radio 1 asked it's listeners to vote for their House Rules club of the year. They voted in their thousands and Club Circus in Liverpool took the number one spot. We caught up with DJ Yousef, it's resident and promoter to find out more.

Club Circus is only two years old yet it has won Radio 1's House Rules Club of The Year. Did you expect to win?

Its a bit of an odd one, really. We are such a small team that it seems really strange that bigger clubs with a whole office of staff didn't even get in the running. But maybe we should have won it from that point of view because we are such a small group of people and everyone puts so much effort into it. There's blood sweat and tears to get it together, and it is such a great party!

What do you think has made it so successful?

Musically, we pay such a lot of attention to the people on the dance floor and we really value their opinions. It's not a case of, if someone wants to see a DJ, we will get them - but at the same time, I made a hit list just before we opened Circus two years ago, and every single DJ on that list we've booked, which is brilliant.

Last year we ran a DJ competition, and the girl who won is doing really well with gigs in Liverpool and Manchester so that's great to watch too.

Tell us more about the Ian Brown remix, 'Time Is My Everything' which Pete Tong keeps talking about.

Pete Tong has played it 4 weeks in a row now as his 'Essential Tune' on Radio 1. At the moment, it might come off, but it might not. I've got a copy, Pete Tong's got a copy and that's about the size of it!

It's a track that I personally really, really like and I just got hold of the original, took it into the studio and came back four hours later with that. So it's just crazy that one of the tracks that took me the least amount of time, is doing really well, but that's the way it goes.

I'm glad people are appreciating it, especially Pete. To me it's good music, good fun and if it ever comes out great, but if it doesn't I'm still really chuffed. I'm expecting feedback from Ian Brown at the end of the week actually, so I am a bit nervous about that. For any record to get played as Pete Tong's Essential New Tune is a really a big deal, so hopefully Ian will like it, but he's been in New York, so who knows?

You are a bit of a Genesis fan. Which other bands do you like?

I've loved Genesis since I was about 8 or 9. Actually, I did a mini-mix for one of Annie Macs' shows on Radio 1 on a Thursday night. You have five minutes to squeeze in as many records as you can, so I just put in records like Prince, Tears for Fears, Lenny Kravitz, Public Enemy, Neneh Cherry; a real random mix and I didn't actually put any house music in there at all. I just like good music that says something generally. It doesn't have to be house music.

What inspired you to be a DJ?

I was just always into music. I didn't even realise until recently how much I was into music as a kid. I was always into things like break dancing, hip hop culture, the big beat box on my shoulder. It went from hip hop to acid house, to house music to the sugar club scene. I've just followed it every step of the way.

I really got into dance music after I saw the Prodigy at Shelley's in Stoke when I was 15 or 16. It was amazing and I remember just standing there, with Keith Flint just two feet away from me. It was mind blowing.

I'd never been to an all night club, and I was in strange city, listening to the Prodigy, and the funny thing is, I didn't come home until Tuesday!

Have you any more shows planned at Radio1?

No, I think my time on Radio 1 has finished. We both concluded that I wasn't into what they were about, and they weren't into what I was about. There's no animosity or anything, it's just that it takes a lot of time to do a show, and for someone who's pretty inexperienced, I had to put an extra day in to make sure it was all correct, when I could be working in the studio, making music.

Someone said to me once, you can be on the radio for 2 hours and it's gone, but you can make music and be on the radio for ever. So I think I'll stick to making music!

What's the best thing about living in Liverpool?

Probably the beach. I live less than thirty seconds away from the beach and it's just really nice. The city and the people are very friendly too, but the main reason I love it so much is that it's home, and I really appreciate it.

Where would you like to DJ that you haven't?

Id love to DJ in Cuba, or I think anywhere that is a good party. I love DJing in the sunshine, but on the opposite end of the scale, I'd like to DJ in outer space! That'd be amazing; but I'm quite happy DJing anywhere that's sunny with a great group of people, that's into the sort of music that I like.

Music downloads - friend or foe?

Friend. With music downloads people can download your music all over the world. It's cool in my books but then it's also putting some people out of a job. But you've got to reposition yourself and use it as a different tool, as opposed to working against it.

How do you chill out?

Generally, walking down the beach, doing nothing and watching those stupid property programmes. I'm hooked, so hooked it's ridiculous! In fact, even to the point where I've developed a crush on one of the hosts - Sarah Beaney, so I think I have to stop watching them!

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2005

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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Tall Paul Interview

He's one of the biggest DJ's in the industry, and we aren't referring to his height, although at 6'6 he could probably take that accolade too. House veteran Tall Paul tells us about the early days and his brilliant new album, Globetrotting Volume 1: Lima - Peru.

You started DJing in 1987. How different was it starting out in the early days?

When I started out in '87 I thought id missed the boat 'cos you had all these other DJ's playing like Grooverider and Carl Cox, you know, people who I was going out to see.

I was just pretty much making up tapes and going out to the clubs that I wanted to be involved in, but it was like a closed shop. Eventually I got a few breaks, then some records and it sort of went on from there, but I wouldn't like to be doing that now, going through the right sort of process of trying to get the exposure.

The markets pretty flooded; I don't think anyone thought the industry would explode like it did. At the time, we knew it was extremely good fun and everyone was loving it. You would sort of do the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday and then Friday night, the weekend had arrived and it just went crazy!

You made your name as resident on pirate radio station, Touchdown. Tell us about those Touchdown days.

Touchdown was around the same time as the Trade scene. It was just a group of friends who weren't hearing what we wanted on the radio. The big underground house scene was going on so a couple of mates who lived in tower blocks were willing to put certain equipment in their bedroom, unknowing to their parents. It was great fun, planting equipment up the top of tower blocks in the middle of the night. It was just very lads-own and a great laugh.

Besides making your name at Touchdown, you also got your first break playing at Turnmills. How did the scene there influence your style?

It definitely influenced my style. I went to Trade, saw the atmosphere, the roar of the crowd and how different the music was, even to the point where I went out and made records to suit that environment, and they happened to be the ones that really did well for me like Rok Da House, Camisra's Let Me Show You, and all the remixes which have sort of become old Trade classics if you will.

Tell us about that particular gig when you really thought, yes, I've made it!

Hmmmmm. I had a pretty overwhelming moment at the Gatecrasher 2000 gig. There must have been over 30,000 people in one tent just before midnight. I was playing some records and everyone was singing back and it was really special. It wont be happening too often!

How has the industry changed since you started?

The record side of it has certainly changed. Before, an aspiring DJ could make some records, put them out on their own label which always helps with your profile, and at the same time makes you a bit of money.

Now, it's very difficult to sustain a good level of business when it comes to the records. You have to be very financially aware 'cos it can send you under quite quickly with the market the way it is at the moment. It's very commercial and a lot of these independent labels set themselves up in big office,s with lots of staff, and people just aren't buying the dance as much as they are used to.

They are getting it from somewhere, but it's getting to that source, you know, with the net and stuff. The nets been a huge change as far as the industry goes.

For better or worse?

I think in the short term worse, but in the long term for the better, but only as long as it can be governed, so that the artist who dedicates their Monday to Friday making music can afford to live.

Are there any up and coming DJ's you are keeping your eye on at the moment?

Well I played with this guy a couple of years ago, Eric Prydz. He' got a massive track out at the moment, Calling, and on the DJ front he's going to do really well.

Which UK Club is happening at the moment?

Well I've been pretty spoilt really. I only really play at Turnmills and then head up north for Cream.

What about outside the UK?

I'd say America in general really, that whole continent. I really enjoy going out there and I've spent a lot of time there. Its just juggling the time that I have here. For me I'd say it's West Coast with a sprinkling of East Coast.

Tell us more about your new album, Globetrotting: Lima - Peru.

The album consists of the tracks that really served me well for that whole trip. I was out there for three weeks and it was hard work as far as days off go, and this set was just going down globally. It didn't matter where, there was no real change, it was these records that were just doing it.

People were really enjoying the tunes and wanted to know what they were and where they could get them so we thought, let's get the right deal so it's not going to cost a fortune to buy in the shops, and lets make it a really good package.

All the tracks that we've got on there, the artist understood what we were trying to do, the contracts weren't much of a problem and it all went very smoothly.

Is there a particularly memorable moment from that trip?

Yeah, that night at Peru was fantastic. It was a nightmare flight, it was delayed and then it was cancelled and by the time I got there I had had enough of the whole thing, but a couple of minutes into the set and that was it.

Word had got round the club about the nightmare I had getting there, and you know, it was like; was I going to be there, wasn't I going to be there. It was one of those gigs, but when I turned up they made me feel so welcome, people jumping around, giving it their all. It was probably one of the best moments of this year.

What is the most prized record in your collection?

I would say one of the first songs I got pressed up. It was a little white label that I went out and made a record of, after I had learnt from all the mistakes I had made the first time, and it actually worked in the clubs. It was called Love Rush and it became a little Trade hit on white label and that's how I met the guys at Defected. It was the first record I've ever pressed up.

What's the best piece of advice anyone has every given you?

What goes around comes around.

You can find out where Tall Paul is playing at his website http://www.djtallpaul.com/

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2004

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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Ratpack Interview: Lipmaster Mark

Mark, one half of the duo that is Ratpack, tells us about their latest album, his beat boxing roots, and a forthcoming Drum 'n' Bass version of Searchin' For My Rizla.

Was it hard picking the tracks for your latest album, Raveology?

In a way, yes it was because we've done some other albums that are out there so we wanted to pick a slightly different selection and cater for a more of a northern and southern selection, rather than just a southern selection as I normally do. On the first list we had close to 60 tracks, so we had to sift through what was a yes, and what was a no with the licensing.

You met music-partner Evenson in 1985.

Yeah, I used to do human beat box and my cousin introduced me to Evenson who was already a friend of his and we just clicked.

You were only 15 - were you the envy of your mates...!?

Not really. My friends and I were in a gang and used to fight the flats across the road and get into loads of trouble, so when I went off to do that, it was just a chance for them to take the piss out of me really!

When you are 15, you aren't allowed to go off and do others things; I was the ultimate snide!

You are nicknamed the Lipmaster because of your beat boxing skills. How come you were so good at beat boxing at 15?

Basically I used to go school with a boy called Sipho, and that is his real name. He and a guy called Yankee were doing quite well on the British hip hop scene as human beat boxers. They had battles with Fat Boys and Dougie Fresh and people from back in that era, back in '84, and I kind of heard it through them.

But beat boxing was always a thing I did from when I was a kid. I used to be running along after watching the Six Million Dollar Man, and I'd come out and be doing the theme music in my head and trying to run about 6 million miles an hour as well. I would just be doing the beats in my head when I was running with my friends, so it was a nice little progression to see someone doing it, but doing it in a different style, so I just copied them and got on with it.

It was all kind of meant to be in that way. I became more into DJjing so I didn't give it up, I just didn't give that much time to it really. Now the whole beat box craze seems to be picking up again. They are all going crazy for it, people are giving me offers left right and centre but I'm not too sure if its what I'm into really. I kind of do it for fun, but there's some kids out there that are really wicked at it, so they should just get on and have a chance really.

You and Evenson were the first MC / DJ tag team - that's quite a success story.

Yeah it is really, we are quite pleased with it. At the time, when it was all happening house music was just being born and when acid music was played in clubs you didn't have MCs; that was just taboo - you know, no one talked over the music! But Evenson has his own unique style because he used to be a DJ as well, and we used to call it a Sing-J - cos as he DJ's, he'd be singing over the tunes he was playing.

One night we had a spare set, filled it in and did a back to back thing. But he basically got on the mic and stayed on the mic, and left all the mixing to me, and that was it! The rest as they say is history!

We are bit modest about it, we don't like to say if it wasn't for us, or anything. I think it was a natural progression of what was happening. We were naturally progressing too - Evenson was naturally progressing from the reggae scene, I was progressing from the hip hop scene, both of which have rapping and MC's in them, so we just brought it into the clubs with our style and what we do.

It is nice to reflect on though, and then there were all those garage MCs and all the drum and bass MCs. It's just nice to see that when we were getting so much stick for doing it, other things have flourished from it.

Tell us about the Trip City days.

People used to squat in old buildings, and just take it over and do it up in their own way and have big parties there because of the Squatters Rights Law, which existed before the Criminal Justice Bill.

You could just get into a buildings, not break into it because that would be breaking the law, but if they'd left the door open then you could just walk in their and claim it as yours. If it was a place where you were living then of course you've got your rights, and if you want to invite a few friends over for a party then you can, and that's basically what happened - and we ended up doing it in all different weird places.

We found a public swimming bar once which was derelict so we had a big fat party in the empty pool which was quite a good one, but the day after at the after party, someone was so out of their head, they decided to jump from the gallery into the pool which was empty. That was the end of that venue because the fire brigade had to hoist him out with a crane in a crippled state, which wasn't good.

There were loads of great parties. I played in old warehouses with the roof ripped off and it started snowing, and there was snow on the decks and chill blains on your fingers and stuff, but whatever; it was fun!

Richie Fingers and Macy B who is now Bushwacka he used to be part of our team, but we had some good laughs in the old warehouse days. Then the police would come to raid them and they just couldn't understand it; what are these 2000 people doing in that empty swimming pool.

We used to get it done right, we used to get the fire brigade to come round and check the venue for health and safety even though it was an illegal party - but we were in a government building that would have already been set up for all that with the facilities, so it was all good.

Searchin' For My Rizla was number 1 in July 1992. Is it true you made no money from it?

Yeah it is, basically,because of the bad business of the guy who was putting it out. It was all bits and pieces that we did. It was just a song that we put into our set - everything in that tune then was what we did, so basically the beats I took from Congress - Fourteen Miles, mixed with the Dirty Kane beat that was being used in quite a few tracks. Bizarre Inc. was playing around at the time too, so I took the little rift out of that, and Evenson used to always sing those lyrics anyway.

We didn't end up making any money out of it, and the bloke badly invested things and I'd still like to find him now! After that we went with Fantazia which was a good combination and we did well by each other.

What have you got in the pipe line?

We have a couple of remixes of Searchin' For My Rizla which is killing the club sets now, and I'm not just saying that! It's a drum and bass remix by Rob D'Riche, so we will have that coming out very son. We are just finishing the summer season playing around the Mediterranean before we get back in the studio to finish off another album that we have coming up. I've had a hard drive nightmare so hopefully that5 will be out in the early part of next year.

You've been in the music industry two decades now. Do you see yourself there for another two decades?

Hopefully! I am totally not getting bored of it at all and if I'm not DJing, I will be producing it, and if I'm not doing that I will doing something else along the line. It's all I know really; I've been doing it since I was 15.

What's been the biggest change in the dance music industry for you?

I think it would be the birth of the genres all coming through like the UK garage scene and the drum 'n' bass scene when it burst into light. Also the way the house DJs really milked it all and robbed the whole public and started charging everyone big prices for a load of rubbish, basically.

The music was good, I'm not complaining about the music, but charging those sort of prices - that's why the house scene has plummeted. Basically it was good to see them all come up, and DJs exploiting it because you are only going to get one chance, but at the end of the day there was only one person who was going to pay for it, and it wasn't the promoter - it was the punter.

What your personal philosophy?

You can always chose which path you want to walk and don't be afraid to make your choice as long as it's what you want to do then go for it because no matter who you've got around you who loves you, they can't live your life for you. When you get slapped in the face, only one person feels the sting, and that's you.

Tell us three things we don't know about you.

I do oil paintings and used to do a bit of photography, developing and processing as well. I did have a dark room pre digital days. Im a vegetarian and have been for about 18 years now, and I also play the piano, drums and guitar.

For further information, visit the Ratpack's website at www.ratpackmusic.net/

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2005

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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Pete Tong Interview

He's been A&R man at London records for over twenty years, has hosted Radio 1's Essential Selection since 1991 and his name is even used as colloquial rhyming slang. Meet the man who has been instrumental in a generation of music, Pete Tong.

Not every DJ has their name used as colloquial rhyming slang. When did you first hear your name used in that context?

It came out of the rave days from a fan base around at the time, run by a mad bunch of enthusiastic clubbers and music makers. But I always say it was down to one guy in particular called Gary Hayesman. I ended up doing a record with D-Mob called We Call It Acieed, a loony, loony record which Gary did the vocals for. He was a real 'apples and pears' kind of guy, even though he wasn't a cockney, he was from Slough. All that group were from Slough, Staines and Windsor and were absolute hardcore! One of them was Andy Weatherall who went onto become a legendary producer, but it was probably down to Gary that the saying 'It's All Gone Pete Tong' came about.

Tell us more about the film, It's All Gone Pete Tong, due for UK release on 29th May 2005.

The producers of it are the same, or one and a half of the same team who did the film Human Traffic, which I did the music for a few years ago. They always wanted to do a follow up but never got round to it due to loads of problems. Eventually they came back to me and said they had decided not to do a follow up to Human Traffic, but a next in the series that would be in the spirit of Human Traffic and about DJ's.

About two years ago they asked if I minded them using the name. I said that I couldn't really complain because at that stage there wasn't a director or a script. I didn't want to dive into it and really work on it from day one and then end up not liking it and be stuck with the name, so I waited and waited, until a point when I was comfortable with it, which was the summer of 2003 when they actually started to film it in Ibiza.

So I became more involved then, but I wasn't soundtrack supervisor because they were a company already making movies so they had one of those. What I did was work with director Mike Dowse on a number of cuts and the soundtrack, because although I have made a pretty major contribution to it, I wouldn't put myself down as the guy that did the score or the soundtrack.

I've ended up with three cuts of my own and I introduced Mike to Schwab who did the opening track of the movie which I think is really powerful so there is collaboration.

Have you always been into music?

When I was born, my dad was a feverish record collector and well into music and my mum says that I was very aware of any music on TV and radio, and was always banging drums or strumming the air-guitar.

At school I tried to learn a conventional instrument but I never really had the concentration, staying power or discipline to stick with it. I ended up a 15-year-old with a drum kit, playing in a small bad rock band. Then one day I saw a DJ and I just went crazy about it, really immersing myself in it. Then as a teenager, I started running discos in village halls which I would DJ at.

I started from very humble beginnings, literally playing for anyone's party, wedding or barmitza - you name it! In those days, unless you were a mobile DJ wearing a bow-tie, going round in a transit van, everyone thought it was a hobby. Even I thought it was hobby. No one ever dreamed you could make a living being a DJ at that time.

The biggest DJs influencing me, people like Chris Hill and Greg Edwards, they all had others jobs, so I followed suit and got myself into a magazine, writing about music. It wasn't until 2001 that I DJ'd full time, and that's probably one of the reasons I'm still doing it, because it never became boring to me.

Tell us more about your job at Blues & Soul magazine.

Blues & Soul gave me a good grounding because it was a real hands-on-deck magazine, so even though I was a writer, I also booked some of the advertising. I was thrown into the deep end of the reggae world but it was a great time and a changing time for the club scene.

It was quite a worthy, serious publication when I started, but I was one of the first people to introduce a DJ club chart, and write about the club scene as a social scene. I actually stole what Paula Yates was doing at the time in The Mirror, you know a kind of gossipy, what's happening type of column. Before that it was; here's an interview with Marvin Gaye, here's an interview with Diana Ross. It was quite po-faced, but it was a good fun time.

You were instrumental in creating Ffrr Records in 1998, a label within a label at London Records, which hit the charts immediately with Salt 'n' Pepa's Push It. You and Ffrr Records went on to sign names like Orbital, The Brand New Heavies, Utah Saints, The Cookie Crew, Goldie, Asian Dub Foundation, Armin Van Helden and many others. In many ways Ffrr Records shaped a whole generation of music.

I was there to assist, rather than shape - that's a daunting word! It was probably part judgement, part luck, and partly good timing.

When I started the Ffrr label in '87 there really wasn't that much competition. There were only a couple of other labels I would be competing with for any record or band that I wanted to sign. Then before we knew it, we found ourselves in the middle of acid house, the rave scene and the whole explosion of dance music in the early 90's and that kind of ties in with me being taken from Capital Radio to Radio 1.

I arrived at Radio 1 when there was no club culture as such or dance culture awareness, and I was able to exploit that really, really quickly. Can you imagine arriving on the national stage in 1991 when no one else had really been writing about what had been going on all over the country for the last 3 or 4 years? I was doing it on Capital Radio but that was just London based, so Radio 1 and the Essential Selection was just good timing.

Any advice for aspiring DJs?

Don't wait for someone to knock at your door and invite you to do it - you've got to be driven, single minded and as entrepreneurial as possible.

We are in the entertainment business first and foremost and I think that gets lost sometimes. It's a virtuoso, not a sport! It's not about being the fastness or the quickest. I think young people get a bit daunted and think they have to be the most amazing technical mixer, or have the rarest or newest records. All of those things have a bearing but really, the best DJs in the world are the ones who know how to rock a room, and that isn't necessarily about being the best mixer or having records no one else has got. It's a melting pot which makes the best DJs in the world.

What is it that makes Ibiza so special?

Ibiza is just a Mecca for music-loving party people, and is one of the most inspiring places to DJ. I've travelled around the world and get to go to some amazing places, but I still see Ibiza and Pacha on a Friday night, as the best residency in the world.

Its become much more of a weekend place than maybe it used to be with more direct flights from the UK making it easier and easier to get to. So now you get people coming in and out a number of times in the season, whereas back in the day, you would wait and wait for your summer holiday. You'd do your one week, go crazy and come home.

It's also very international. If you DJ in South America, South East Asia, Russia or America or wherever, there's the different crowds, different parties in amazing cities and at amazing clubs, but nowhere gets the mix of people, cultures or languages that you get in Ibiza.

I think people feel more and more that it's the place to be. Not necessarily for the whole season; you get ebb and flows throughout the 24 week summer, but I think early August is becoming just as magical as St Tropez or destinations like that. The opening in June and the closing in September is as fantastical as any of those hot spots and holiday destinations around the world; the atmosphere is just great!

Which countries would you like to DJ in that you haven't?

There's still a couple of places around the world I'd like to play, such as India and China. It's opening up very quickly and I'd like to be able to say I have truly played everywhere.

Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Don't worry too much. I am one of these people who constantly thinks, you never do enough, or you should be doing something different, or it wasn't worthy enough. The older I get I realise it's such a waste of your energy, and the more relaxed I am, the more good things happen.

Find out where Pete is playing by visiting his website http://www.petetong.com/

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2005

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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CJ Macintosh Interview

He's been in the industry over twenty years, and City Limits, his current residency at Turnmills is becoming legendary. Meet the one and only, CJ Macintosh.

You started DJing when you were 15. Did you always want to be in the music industry?

I wanted to be a DJ from the age of 11. I had no idea why, I was just really into music. When I went to secondary school that's all I wanted to do.

Who was your first music hero?

Roy Ayres. My brother got me into his music when he was buying his stuff in the late 70's, then I made it my job to buy every album he's ever made. Musically, as a musician playing the vibes, he's just amazing.

Tell us about your first residency at Film Flam?

Film Flam was in New Cross, and it was 1985 when I first got that residency. Jonathan More from Coldcut used to run the club. They had a guy scratching but I knew I could do better, so I hassled Jonathan for about a month and in the end he gave in, gave me a slot, and realised what I did. Einstein, a local guy used to rap over my stuff, getting everyone up and dancing, and from then on Jonathan booked us in every Friday.

Pump Up The Volume by M/A/R/R/S was a ground breaking track. How did you get involved?

Basically I met Dave Dorrell in '87 and he started managing me. He knew Martyn and Steve Young, the brothers who were Colour Box, and AR Kane who made up the group M/A/R/R/S. He knew Martyn and Steve because he used to go to school with them. They had that instrumental thing going but they didn't know what else to do with it, so they asked Dave and myself to come down with some records, do some scratching and try and get some ideas going, and that's how it came about.

The first mix we did was very basic; it was just a bit of scratching with the sample Pump Up The Volume. Then we went onto remixing it, adding everything else on there and loads of other samples. We never really saw it as a groundbreaking track, we just got loads of samples and made a tune out of them. We were just experimenting, messing about and getting some ideas going. We never expected it to do anything to be honest with you!

You went on to remix tracks by Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston and De La Soul – there are some big names there.

Yeah, I did remixes for them in the late 80s, early 90s. When I first started, I used to do everything with Dave Dorrell who was my manager stroke remix partner. I think we were the first UK guys to remix a Janet Jackson track and at the time we were doing hip hop, house and a mixture of stuff.

We also did a remake of Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits. Dave went to LA to record the vocals but I didn't actually get to go because I had to do a remix back here which was gutting at the time.

How has the music industry changed over the last twenty years?

There's less money. The whole CD and download thing has become the problem and people aren't buying as many records as they were back then, so there's not as much money in it. I suppose if you have bands with huge hits there's money, but with the dance thing, I think it’s pretty difficult out there.

I think music downloads are good and bad. They are good if you are doing it legally and most tracks are only 99p to download, but lots of people are sharing things and that has absolutely killed it, especially dance music because people just aren't buying records anymore. I did get into it for a while, but most of the time I already had the tracks and the quality is just awful. I don't particularly like MP3s because I can hear the sound difference.

You DJ'd at Ministry of Sound for seven years, three of which you were resident. What was it that kept you there so long?

I DJ'd there from when it first opened, up to '97. It was just so new and the sound system definitely kept me there; playing on that system!

In the early 90s all the music that was coming out was so fresh, the house scene was moving on so quickly, but now its gone into a bit of a stale mate, it's stuck. Every kind of dance style is stuck there, or that is how it seems to me. But back then it was just new things, people experimenting musically, instruments coming out with new sounds, so it was always moving on. The crowd there was great back then, and definitely that system always helped. You could play a lot of stuff you wouldn't ever play anywhere else, and if you did, it wouldn't sound that great but at Ministry it always sounded brilliant.

Tell us about City Lounge, your regular night at Turnmills.

City Lounge is on every two months now. We are in its fourth year now; it had its third birthday last October which was when we decided to change it to every two months. It's definitely peaking but we didn't want to kill it, so we decided to space it out.

I just did last Saturday actually with Bob Sinclair, David Yasser and Martin Solveig. It was absolutely packed, a great night and that's probably because we've put it every two months. If we'd kept it monthly these things can get a bit stale. I think a lot of people are surprised its been going on that long because not a lot of nights last as long as that, but I feel we're very lucky with what we've got and the crowd we get down there are regulars, and we always try and keep it fresh and interesting.

You turning 40 later this year, have you a big night planned?

Yeah, don't mention it! My plans were to just go away, maybe Australia. I've been to Perth once, but I'd like to do Sydney. It would be better to go away I think, rather than everyone asking; 'What you doing? Where are you going out?'

Do you still see DJing as your future?

I always said, I can't be doing this when I'm nearly 40, but here I am, still getting the gigs and still enjoying it. Age is less irrelevant these days when you look at some of the American DJ's - Humphrey, Tenaglia and all those guys who inspired me have been doing it a lot longer than I have, so they must be hitting the 50 mark.

It must get to you in the end though. Now I've got two kids I do find it hard sometimes. I don't sleep as much as I used to and I do find it harder during the late sets. Saturday was 12 'til 2 which is perfect but sometimes I do 4 to 6 and it’s hard to stay up. I've tried the bed thing but that never works. I just wake up feeling rubbish, and you've got to go to a banging club, it's smoky and you've got to play music loud! It can get tough, but no, I'm still enjoying it although I don't know how long it will last. Maybe another 5 years.

What music do you describe yourself playing?

I suppose vocal house but it depends where I play. If I go to Italy I have to play a bit tougher. In certain parts they love the vocals, in other parts they don't, so you have to be quite diverse now.

I suppose with the whole CD thing now you can take a lot with you, but you've got to cover yourself and read the crowd. I hate playing fast, I never play fast and I tend to play more vocals. If I had the choice id definitely play more vocals.

When did you really feel you had made it as a DJ?

I suppose it was probably when I got the residency at Ministry of Sound in '94, but before that I played hip hop so then it was probably in '87 when I won the DMC Mix Championship, but I didn't want to scratch for the rest of my life because it was something I found easy to do. I could just do it. Obviously it got more complicated but then I was offered remixes in the studio so I decided to do the studio stuff instead.

Then at Ministry I was playing with Masters At Work and Tony Humphreys, so playing along those guys, I thought blimey; this is it!

You are DJing at Park Live this year. Who are you most looking forward to seeing there yourself?

Obviously Joey Negro, and I'm good friends with Dave Lee so I always look forward Dave's set. And Tony Humphries, I think he is on after me. I always look forward to hearing Tony because he was such an inspiration to me in the early 90s. Listening to him, getting his mixes from America, going to America and listening to him play at his club Zanzibar, in New Jersey.

When he was resident at Ministry for a while I became quite close to him, so I always look forward to hearing Tony because of the way he plays music, especially house music. He can play records that I actually don't like, but he can make them sound good. I'll be listening to his set and think; this is good, what's this track? I'll have look and realise I threw that one out last week, but it sounds good tonight!

How many records do you own?

Now, probably about 50,000, but I've sold quite a lot. I've been selling stuff on Ebay because obviously it has moved over to CD, so I've recorded a lot onto CD and don't really need the vinyl anymore.

I've probably got rid of about 50,000 over the years too. My friend used to run a record shop, Time Is Right records in Chapel Market, he lives in Ibiza now, but I just used to give him all the promos and everything and he used to give me stuff for free when I went into his shop!

It's a nightmare. I've got one room and it is just packed. There's boxes everywhere, in every corner, here and there. But that's what I've been trying to do over the last few years, just sort them out!

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Just never stop trying really, to get bigger and keep going. Sometimes I feel that I've given myself the best advice. I've never been too big headed and I've always tried to compromise on what people want to hear when I play out.

You know, people want to hear something they know and if you play it, it gets them going. Even Tony [Humphreys] told me that. Every half an hour, or if it's a two hour set then maybe every 15 minutes, play something the crowd know. Then play what you want to play, then play something they know. That's the way of keeping them there, and I took that advice and it always works.

Also, I've always tried to be reasonable with my fee. I've never tried to out price myself like some DJs do, that probably aren't around anymore because people didn't want to pay that sort of money. You've got to do people favours. With little clubs, you've got to play for what they want to pay you, and then the people who come down appreciate it as well, which is nice for the punters.

Considering you've been in the music industry for over twenty years you tend to keep yourself to yourself a bit more than other DJs. People know your name but they don't know an awful lot about you. Would you agree?

Yeah. Always. I did the magazine interviews when I had to do them, but I'm more interested in what I do when I DJ, and people can see what I do. It's the same when I do remixes, people know what I can do.

In some ways I'm shy, but I'm not that shy, I just wanted to get on with it. I'm not interested in the fame side at all, I'd much rather be unknown and get on with it than be all over the place. Some of the big guys get hassled all the time but a lot of people still think I'm black and American! I still get it now, they'll ask me; 'How long you in town for?'

I'm looking forward to Park Live. It's the first big thing I've done for a while and generally, I'm not into big events, but when I saw the line up I thought, that makes a change.

Usually, at these sort of things you see the bigger names like Digweed, but here you've got all the soulful house DJs playing together which makes a difference and never really happens. You hardly ever see any soulful house DJs or US house DJs playing at these festivals anymore. Maybe ten years ago but not now, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2005

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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Groove Armada Interview: Tom Findlay

Groove Armada's Tom Findlay on making music, playing live and Lord Byron.

I know you and Andy [Cato] were introduced by his girlfriend. Did you guys just hit it off straight away?

Yeah, we did. I remember he played on my bass guitar; he's a very good musician so I was quite impressed but slightly annoyed because he was playing my guitar better than me! But yeah, I had a better record collection and he was good at playing instruments, and I think we were both mutually impressed by that.

Are there any funny stories you can tell us before you two became Groove Armada as you are today?

I just remember running clubs and losing a lot of money! We used to run a club night called Captain Sensual At The Helm Of The Groove Armada and we booked Dave Seaman and lost our shirts on him, so that was good. It was the same time as Euro '96, and we booked Dave Seaman to come and play on the same day England beat Spain, and the headline coming out on Sunday morning was Seaman sinks Armada which made me chuckle. So we got sunk by David Seaman, us and the Spaniards on the same day!

How do you and Andy work? Do you write the music and lyrics together, or do you do separate parts and put it all together?

We work together really. I think writing lyrics is quite a personal thing and we do that separately although having said that, I See You Baby Shakin' Your Arse isn't that complicated! We tend to work on the music and arrangements together, and on lyrics separately.

I heard that I See You Baby Shakin' Your Arse was written after a stint in Ibiza?

Yeah, it was the first time we ever went out there as a DJ duo and we wrote the song when we got back. Ibiza was mad; a real eye opener. Things went on there that I wouldn't even tell my children! Nothing that I did though, I kept my nose clean the whole time!

We'd been resident at the Manumission Hotel for a couple of weeks and that's where we met Grandma Funk. So afterwards, she flew into London and came to Tottenham where we wrote the track and drunk a lot of Red Stripe!

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I've got a lot of respect for our contemporaries. I always keep an ear out for what people like Bassment Jaxx are doing because they are always worth a listen, and the Chemical Brothers. I really love the Mylo record, also Plantlife and Bugz In The Attic, all of which we've got on at the festival and part of the reason they are there.

There's so many good producers around at the moment it's kind of weird in the sense that everybody says its a bad time for dance music because it probably is, commercially speaking, but I do think it's a more interesting time than maybe it has been for a long time.

There's a lot of music I love. I'm really into a lot of the re-edits that go on for labels like Gam records and 20:20 up in Leeds, and looking back, bluesy black music and classic artists like Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Prince. You know, the sort of people you really wish you cloud be, but the reality is that you know you're never going be that good!

All of your tracks are pretty diverse and encompass many different genres of music. Do you decide how it's going to sound before you start or does it just evolve?

We often start a tune with a sample and I think you begin to assume a bit of the character of whatever sample you use. Purple Haze is a sample from a really old Status Quo record, like an old blues record, so you kind of go with that a bit because that's the sound. The same with At The River which is from an old 1960s song, so you kind of take on that mood.

We usually have an idea of where we want it to go and the kind of edge we want it to have, but it just pops out from somewhere. I don't really know where it comes from, to be honest with you!

Tell us more about Lovebox Summer Weekender, your only live summer gig.

An opportunity came up on Clapham Common but we are now doing it on Victoria Park which is a brilliant site, right in the heart of Hackney, where I live, and where a lot of the artists who are performing live. There's a lot of festivals around at the moment, and most of them are run by the really big players like Clear Channel, the FJM's and Metropolis', so I do think it's good that there's an independent music festival out there because I think that's important.

It is a kind of a vanity project, but in the best possible way. We could make a lot more money signing up to Mean Fiddler and doing a festival they had funded, but we are doing this because we believe in the artists we are booking, and the people we are working with.

It's just one of those weird sort of things that happened by accident and its picked up a momentum of its own really. A whole set of relationships have come out of it which I can't really turn my back on it.

We definitely aren't in it for the money. We probably wont make a penny out of it when its all is said and done. We genuinely do do this for the love and it's great for us. This sounds lame, but there's an element of putting something back into where we came from, and the artists we've booked are the kind of people who have been our peers like Chicken Lips and Bugz In The Attic. They were all sort of new when we were coming through and its nice to give them a leg up as well.

What is it that you love about playing live?

It's the immediacy of it. It gets you away from the music press and I think there's something to be said about putting yourself in front of a group of people so that they can make a decision, rather than having to be filtered through other people's eyes all the time.

You know, this is us, it's real, it's is raw and if 60,000 people love it, then that just feels so much more special than if you sell 60,000 albums.

There's definitely something about playing in front of a crowd and having that emotional connection with a group of people, and that's the best bit about making music. So if you get crap review in NME, you think you can't be that bad if you can do what you did at Glastonbury last year.

You and Andy both play musical instruments. Do you think that gives your music an edge?

I think it certainly does in translating what we do live. I don't think there's many bands that can do it, but because we were brought up in that background so we understand how to take stuff off screen and put it on the stage.

In terms of production I don't think it helps at all. In fact I think it can almost work the opposite way and you can get a bit noodly! But I think you will find with most live acts who have been relatively successful, there will be someone there who knows their middle C from their F sharp. Like Bassment Jaxx for instance - Simon out of Bassment Jaxx is a really good musician too.

I read that At The River is used on 3456 coffee table albums. Is that really true?

I think that's somebody being a bit weird, but it's definitely on quite a lot. It was a pretty ubiquitous record a while ago, that's for sure. The thing with stuff like that is you basically get into a situation where you either let your music be used by other people or you take the Massive Attack root, which I totally respect, and don't allow anything to be licensed on any compilation at all.

The problem is, once you start being selective you can spend all day doing it, so you do end up on more compilations that you would of liked. Sometimes I see something in a service station off the M6 and you think bloody hell! I can't believe we are on that [laughs]. We are on a few Now albums which is a source of shame, but they are a good payer.

Is it true Superstylin and My Friend were used on a Brazilian soap opera?

Superstylin is on a Brazilian tampon advert and My Friend was used on a soap.

This Brazilian soap did a series of episodes around a story on drugs, a bit like with Grange Hill and Zamo, and My Friend was used as the soundtrack when this girl was taking heroin, which is a bit weird, but anyway! They don't have a massive record industry in South America, and you don't sell a huge amount of records so it's just a good way of getting exposure. We've gone onto play quite big gigs off the back of our Brazilian tampon ad which is strange but great!

We played in Sao Paulo, in the middle of an enormous race track with Goldie. They love drum and bass out there, absolutely love it! For Paul Oakenfold read Goldie - he's a legend out there!

What's your personal favourite Groove Armada tune?

There's quite a few really. I really like Chicago, from the Vertigo album. Superstylin and At The River changed my life in different ways so I owe them an enormous debt as well. At The River is the song that broke us and Superstylin was kind of the song that kept us going so I'm really fond of them in their own ways.

I always forget we wrote At The River. I was in a record shop the other day and they were playing it and I just thought; what a nice song. And every time I play Superstlyin I'm usually DJing, and everybody just goes mental, and you can't really argue with that, can you?!

Which DJs first inspired you?

For me it was a guy called Harvey who now lives in LA, but he lived in the same town I grew up in. I used to go and listen to him play at the Zap Club every Monday in Brighton. He was probably my first hero, but the first DJ who is relatively well known was probably Francois Kevorkian. He's probably the best DJ I've ever seen; just head and shoulders above everybody else.

You're having a party, who dead or alive is invited?

I think I'd be a bit random and invite that poet, Lord Byron. I'm sure he'd just make me laugh, or we could just get high together, so yeah, me and Byron.

What would you say Andy's best quality is, and what would he say yours is?

Andy is always there for you when you really need him to be, and he never lets you down. And what would he say is my best quality? Probably my left foot, because I'm good at football and a big West Ham supporter.

Rachael Hannan: Interview 2005

Published on urbanplanet.co.uk
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