Chris Bird, - on 9/5/12
Having been with house music from the very start, there are few DJs as qualified as Colin Dale to give an education in early house music. This Thursday, he'll be doing just that, when he plays for Bushwacka! and Richie Fingers' monthly Roots party at Basing House (tickets and info), a party celebrating house music's origins primarily from 86 - 90 (Info here). Chris Bird spoke to the original Kiss presenter about pirate radio presenting, the summer of love and his vinyl collection.
You're going to be at The Roots on May 10th. Are you looking forward to digging through your classic records for the night? Yes definitely looking forward to it as I’ve been down there before and the place has a great vibe and a really knowledgeable crowd. It’s really great to see a night like this happening, there seems to be a big buzz about every night so far. I can’t wait to dig out some classics, only problem is finding the time to squeeze them all in on the night.
With a lot of the music coming out of the States, was it easy to get hold of? Well I worked various record shops for a total of about ten years from 1985 so I was always able to get hold of American imports. Also since I was into rare groove / disco before I got into House music I was well used to sourcing hard to get hold of tracks. Working at Kiss FM back in the day was also helpful in getting hold of tracks as I used to contact the labels direct, there was a time when I was getting US import promo’s from most of the good U.S labels.
Are you still an avid record Collector? I wouldn’t actually still call myself an avid record collector in comparison to what I was getting before but I do still collect them. A few years ago I had so many records that space to store them started to become an issue so I started to prune the collection. Also although I still do and will always have an affection for vinyl I was one of the early adopters of the digital realm.
How were you introduced to music and Djing? Were there any definitive moments? Music has always been a big love, at school I played violin and French horn (I was at the back of the list when it came to choosing instruments) and also played alto sax for a few years. Around the age of 17 I really got into radio doing a few local pirate shows and going to radio presentation school.
The big break for me was when Tim Westwood gave me my first gig playing soul and boogie at Gossips in Soho (Fabio, my brother Trevor and I used to be in a dance troop and used to dance there). Definitive moments are my first gig abroad, which was Mayday festival, which totally blew my mind. Other moments that stick in my mind are the long running “Abstrakt Dance” radio show on Kiss and also playing the summer of love festivals circa 1988 – 89.
Also there is the time I had an interview with Mad Mike and all 19 members of Underground Resistance in the studio. I felt truly honoured.
Can you explain how the growth of Acid House affected London and also you personally? The effect that Acid House had on London, in fact the whole world was huge. It’s still one of the biggest youth cultures to date and still continues to grow to this day. It manage to break down barriers as well, you had people of all cultures, colours and ages coming together on a mass scale and all dancing to the same beats. Of course Ecstasy had a big part as well.
How do you think the media and tabloid attention affected the scene? I remember seeing the headline’s but all they did was fuel the fire. Looking back I remember some terrible headlines in The Mirror / The Sun but it made the scene spread like wild fire. There was even a time that the Radio 1 tried to ban the playing of Acid records, a spokesman from Radio 1 was quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror “It’s all over the for acid house as far as Radio 1 is concerned”how things have changed eh? As a response to the headlines there were also some draconian laws such as the criminal justice bill and the Bright bill but it just drove the whole thing more underground.
You held a show on Kiss FM way back when it was still a pirate station and had an almost ‘who’s who’ dance music. How did you begin the show with Kiss? I knew Gordon Mac well as I used to go to night he used to throw a club night in south London and when he started Kiss he asked me if I was interested, as I had a good collection of records and had done a few bits of pirate radio before. I started back in 1985 playing rare groove, New York disco and the early electronic sounds that were coming out, even back then the show was called “Abstrakt Dance”.
Are you happy with how the scene has progressed in recent years? Definitely, for a start I’m still here and the scene shows no signs of letting up. It continues to mutate and grow which has to be a good thing.
Are you still promoting your own events? I’m still promoting events and currently running a night called “Incognito” which we do once a month @ Electric Social. We’re also still doing Wildlife events but they tend to be one off illegal warehouse parties; we’re looking to do a couple this year if we can find the right space. Also in negotiations at the moment in regards to doing a monthly around Brick Lane area, watch this space.
You have numerous releases and mix compilations under your belt. How are things in the studio? I spend a lot of time in the studio, in fact just sent the Roots guys the last track I’ve just finished. We’re kicking off the Abstrakt Dance record label late June – early July and also around the same time will be releasing my first sample / loop CD on Loopmaster’s subsidiary “Monstersounds”. Also doing a few remixes due in the coming months as well.
We know you still have the passion for discovering new music. Which artists and labels are working it for you at the minute? Far too many labels to list but new artist I’m really into are James What, Zod, Gregor Tresher, Burnski, San Soda, Shlomi Aber, Simon Baker, Area, Mark Fanciulli, Anja Schneider, Matador, Kiko, Seuil, Azari & III, Freak 7, L.A. Williams, Saytek, Miles Sagnia, Jules Dickens……. I could go on for days.
What do you do to relax away from music? To be honest the whole music thing really is a lifestyle so there’s not much time that I can relax and get away from it but when I do I love gadgets and can be a bit of a geek sometimes and build high spec computers from the ground up. Also I like films, eating out, travelling, the occasional stint on PS3, photography, current affairs and just hanging out with friends.
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