You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to view this site.

Test Pressing
INTERVIEWS / READ

20 Questions / 021 / Phil South / No Ordinary Monkey / Golf Channel

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel

Where are you based?It was Brooklyn New York, but we`ve recently relocated to Long Eddy NY, 140 miles north.

Is this your hometown?No, I was born in Guildford in the South East of England.

For some reason I always had you down as a Northerner, since you seem to know “The Mancunians”, Mike and Moon, pretty well. What was it like growing up in Guilford? I wasn`t so far away in Croydon, although we always thought of Guilford as “posh”, and couldn`t wait to get out. What brought you to New York?I went to college in Manchester and stayed. I met Moon in Eastern Bloc when Justin Robertson worked there and we bonded over a copy of Mechanix Enterprise. He did the lights at Most Excellent which was a weekly date for me. Mike was through Vinyl Exchange next door. We all just kind of got back in touch on the Google button hovering round them same rekids in 2003ish I’m guessing. I loved living in Manchester but was offered work in NYC and I think if you offered any English person a job in NYC they would take it.

What is your first musical memory?My brother getting annoyed with me for listening to the Bay City Rollers over and over again. Can’t remember what song though. I do remember “A Day In The Life” pretty early on and being pretty spooked by the eerie lyrics “he blew his mind out in a car” etc. Definitely very affecting. From the big blue double LP Beatles compilation. A lot of Simon & Garfunkel in the car.

My folks used to play, well most likely my Dad, a lot of Simon & Garfunkel, not in the car, it only had a radio, but when they`d have friends over for dinner. I`d be sent to bed early and hear it wafting up the stairs. If I never hear “I`d rather be a hammer than a nail” again it will be too soon. Were you also scarred or can you still do a bit of “S&G”?Dude! I’m a huge fan actually. I have his two most recent albums and I went to watch him live last year. He was incredible. “Graceland” I hated when it came out, it was a bit like the Pop album your mum and dad liked. Pre “Brothers In Arms”, pre “Dummy”, pre Zero 7. The great British dinner party LP lineage. Ha ha. But I fucking love that LP now. I bought one of their records so scratched in a yard sale a few years back for like 10 cents or something and I remember being so struck by the fragility and the size of one of the songs. A real classic, nothing obscure, I’m pretty sure it was “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme”. He has the voice of an angel. Still. And he writes thoughtful songs, cleverly and beautifully.

What was the first record you bought?I think it was either “Are Friends Electric?” or “Gangsters” by The Specials.

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel, Gary Numan, Tubeway Army, Are Friends Electric?

Were you a New Romantic or a Rude Boy?I’ll take “confused”, or should that be “enthused”? That was great thing about UK radio, and TV, then, those songs would be side by side. Both very unmanufactured Pop, from the gut, with feeling. Like it or not! Great songs in retrospect.

What was the last record you bought?A couple of Kristofferson 45’s, nice German House.

What inspired you to start DJing / the label?Carlos from Whatever We Want was a big inspiration. That and having access to music I could put out. It wasn’t that well thought out a move to be honest! Compulsion really, I guess it’s just a natural extension of the No Ordinary Monkey parties and DJing.

How did you meet Carlos? Is he involved in No Ordinary Monkey? Whatever happened to Whatever We Want?No one really knows. No Ordinary Monkey was, for me, originally about having Carlos play. He came and schooled us on the whole Harvey / Rub N Tug thing. Absolutely inspirational these people to me, the whole style of playing records, the attitude, the fuck you, the attention to detail, the sound, the intimacy. It was so next level to me coming out here at the tail end of the 90’s genre obsessed UK. I’ve run into him a few times the last few years just randomly in the street etc. He’s a lovely guy, I don’t know why he stopped the label…well…30 releases deep I can see why haha. He has a very busy day job and is super successful at that. He’s one of the most autonomous people I’ve ever met. I’d like to hear him DJ again. He understood it from the dancer’s perspective and the arc that was needed.

How long have you been DJing / running the label?Label started 2007 I think. I started DJing in around 1990.

Was the first release the Mark E / Janet Jackson edit? How did you come to hear this / pick it up? Can you remember your first DJ gig, and the kind of music you were playing?Yes, the Mark E. Rob J sent it to me not long after the “Scared” edit had been out. I put all these new songs I had on a CD and that one came on in the car and it was like “hello!” The first DJ gig I just played literally all the hits from the Balearic clubs `89-`90. I think I remember playing “Reaching” by Phase II with an accapella of “Someday” over the top hahaha.

How would you describe your sound / the label`s sound?Hopefully pretty eclectic. I wouldn’t say it has one particular sound.

Which production / release / remix are you most proud of?I’m very excited about the Spike LP that will come out later this year I hope. From 50 songs on his four LPs I re-mastered 26 and have cut that down to 16 for a killer selection that is sequenced really well, and will, I hope, bring him some well deserved recognition. It’s been a real journey to get to this point. The Nature LP is also very exciting, 9 fresh new tracks with none of the singles on it. There aren’t many acts that put out LPs this way so that`s pretty cool. Other than that it’s super exciting to put out some nice big hits. Justin V has been a big seller and deservedly so. I’m a huge fan of his music so it’s nice to be involved there. He’s one of the best DJs in the world and that is no exaggeration. It’s a mystery to me how he is not more widely acknowledged as such.

How did you find Spike? Meet Nature and Justin?Spike I met through Abel Nagengast who is part of the Red Light Records team in Amsterdam. He’s done edits for Black Disco and Noncollective and contributed to that amazing Concentration project that ESP put out. Also his mixes are amazing. He’s one of the world’s great diggers I can easily say. Anyway he found a Spike LP in a flea market or some such, then somehow found Spike himself through an ad he’d put out for guitar lessons. I caught wind of some of these Spike tracks and ended up getting the LPs from Abel. I was so taken with the stuff and through Abel we had access so I just asked, went to meet him, and he was into it. Nature was through my friend Nick Griffiths, who made the “Savage Reprise” video. When Nick lived in New York we would do parties together and we got Milo to come and play a few of them. So when I found out he was making music again I was very excited. I had previously helped sell a few copies of the “Live At The Cat Club” CD he had done, so it was a natural progression.Justin has always been a fixture at the parties since the !!! days. At one of the very early parties we got wind that there were a few guys from the band there. It was around the time of “Me and Giluliani”, their big hit, in fact Carlos used to play the flip, “Intensify”, a fair bit. Anyway I reached out to them about doing something together and we did a few parties where they played live. Justin also DJed at few of the `Monkey parties and became a good friend, so once he decided to leave the band and go solo it was just a natural fit. He didn’t want to release edits at first till he had original material, but I persuaded him as I just thought they were too good to gather dust. Hence the anonymity and the alias for the first release.

How on Earth did you finance that “Return Of The Savage” promo mailout?Well, I sell some of the promos to help cover the costs. The rest of the cost is not that bad when you think about the amounts you can spend on a proper PR campaign, crazy money. And I do believe it really helps, I’ve sold a really good amount of the Nature LP and we got a lot of good press. The video helped a lot too.

Which production / release / remix would you most like to have done?I love that “Spacetrips” EP from Yoav B from last year.

What are your favourite places to play / hang out in?Mangiami in NYC is a great place and always a good time. Gianfranco, the owner, is a legend. Also fun playing at Bellwether, where we have our awesome Klipschorn sound system in Brooklyn. 4 of them stacked on top of each other in 2 corners and Mark Levinson power. It sounds so good in there and is a beautiful room to play in.

I have played a couple of awesome parties over the last year or two that deserve a special mention. First off the Marcy Hotel, literally a 3 minute walk from my old house. It`s the old Wolf & Lamb spot and I was invited there by the wonderful Aik Safaryan. Festivities run from 12 – 12 and the dance floor was PACKED at 10am. I got to play records I’d always dreamed of playing. This is pretty rare in New York! The other one was Limited Edition in Portland, which is put on by these 2 guys Mike Mckinnon and Matthew Quiet. Mike runs what was Portland’s first and most successful line of food trucks selling french fries, really good ones, and Poutine. That’s chips with melted cheese and gravy. People like it after a few beers I believe. Anyway, Mike has a warehouse space for all his cooking equipment, etc, and a studio. They put a couple of Klipsch in there and every so often throw a party. Capacity is limited to 55 people who pretty much all know each other, tickets advance only so its totally private and only one DJ from 12-10am with everyone suitably refreshed and in the correct frame of mind for a lengthy journey through all forms of dance music. Everything you could wish for in a party.

What is your favourite place outside of a bar / club / record shop?Crystal Lake upstate New York is pretty special. Any nice English pub. Anywhere on the Mediterranean. In the mountains. New York has a lot of really nice restaurants, I like to eat and drink fine food and wine so that’s always nice.

Do you see yourself as part of any scene?Yeah I guess. There are lots of like-minded folk around the world that put on similar parties and put out similar records. I’ve made a lot of good friends over the years in NYC through going out to parties and DJing. There is a lovely community of awesome, beautiful people here. I don’t go and DJ very much abroad but when I do it’s so refreshing to meet fellow enthusiasts that come from literally all walks of life.

Can you give me any examples of like-minded people you`ve met / parties you`ve attended on your travels?The aforementioned Portland crew. All the lovely Bad Passion people in London, both the punters and the DJs. Wish I’d got to hang more with the Cutloose guys last time and go off quaffing ales…

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel, Spike, New Germany

Who does the label`s artwork?We collaborate, the artists and I. We may have a rough idea or an image but I always need someone to execute. Doug Lee has done most of them, he’s so talented. Recently the RO & Dunks sleeve was done by Chad at Activate in LA who is good buddies with Eric and Paul T, all those guys. It was pretty much all Eric’s idea, just needed tweaking to fit the format. And Andrew Potter from Populette put together the Nature sleeve featuring the awesome cover shot by my old friend Nick Griffiths of “& Son”. We added all the shots of Milo’s inspirational figures from Grover Washington through Martha Wash and Mel Cheren. All Milo’s idea.

Is a visual identity important?Yes, very. I didn’t really realise how much till I started doing it.

What made you realise?I guess growing up in vinyl’s heyday I took artwork for granted. Not that I didn’t love and study it, but it was just always there. So once I started with a blank canvas for my own stuff I was all of a sudden very aware of the possibilities that were out there. And a kind of responsibility to do the lineage justice. That said, and I won’t rant too much, I do feel the artwork thing has gone a little bit mental last couple of years e.g. hand woven sleeve individually come on by the artist himself, etc, etc. It doesn’t improve the record itself!

How does this reflect your own likes / inspirations?Very much. I think of the LP sleeves I’ve liked or didn’t like and have very much an idea of the kind of thing that works and what doesn’t.

Can you tell me sleeve you do like, and one you don`t?People have made some really lame double LP gatefold spreads last few years. All that real estate and you just whack a pixelated jpeg on one side and mirror it on the other, really? Or 24 blank inches and a psychedelic doodle in the bottom corner…pffft. I like the high concept ones from the 70’s. Three personal favourites would be “Exile On Main Street”, “Maggot Brain” and “There’s A Riot Going On”. I’m a sucker for a photo collage. “Surf’s Up” with the sad horseman. The centre label of Joe Smooth’s “Promised Land”. “The Best Of Parliament” was I think the first time I bought an LP for the cover alone, the surfing on dolphins shot. Of course Factory / Peter Saville. From the Acid House era the Boy’s Own logo and the balearic / Spectrum eye were pretty iconic. I love the Heroes of the Galleon Trade one that we did.

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel, Rolling Stones, Exile On Main Street

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel, Sly & The Family Stone, There`s A Riot Going On

Which artists are you currently working with?Spike, DJ Nature, Heroes Of The Galleon Trade, Ghost Note, Juju & Jordash, Gala Drop, Tiago Miranda’s new band based project Alma Picada, Justin Vandervolgen, The Rhythm Odyssey and Dr Dunks, Mind Fair.

Who would you most like to work with?I’m pretty happy with my little roster. Hoping to do stuff with Yoav B, he’s a goddam genius I think. I’d love to work with someone who makes really modern Soul. Not like actual modern Soul but proper Soul with a modern sensibility, not throwback style. Curtis Mayfield is a massive hero of mine so someone who carries that torch.

A 21st Century Curtis Mayfield could save the world right now.

Does playing and making music pay the rent?Are you kidding? It’s fucking 2013!!!

What sites, if any, do you regularly check on-line?Facebook! Instagram is fun. Test Pressing!

Thank you!

What was the last book you read?“The Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick.

What is your favourite book?Recently I really enjoyed the latest one by Michel Houellbecq, I love him. “The Map And The Territory”. I’d say an all time favourite would be “Gravity’s Rainbow”.

I loved “Atomised”. I have a “travelling library” of touchstones and that`s in there. Don`t think I`ve read anything since “Platform”. Never read any Pynchon, though I might start now. Do you read a lot?No. I’m shit at reading these days. If I was two hours on the train to and from work every day it would be a different story. But I just don’t have the time. Plus when I go to bed I really never get anywhere with reading, too tired, too late. “V” is a good start for Pynchon. He has a very unique worldview that is so inclusive and sees history from such an amazing perspective, I find him very inspirational. Plus breathtakingly beautiful at times, the guy loves life, you can just tell. When I read something I don’t wanna be dragged down by a writer’s neuroses and pig headed arrogance. I want something to transport me.

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity`s Rainbow

What was the last film you saw?We watched “Lawless” on New Years Day. Not really an NYD kinda flick and horribly violent. Written by Nick Cave so you can imagine….bleak. Some good tunes though!

What is your favourite film?Oh god I don’t know really. “Blood Simple” is a good one. I generally like all the Coen Brothers movies. “Enter The Void” was fucking AWESOME I thought.

Test Pressing, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Phil South, No Ordinary Monkey, Golf Channel, Enter The Void, Gaspar Noe

What is your favourite piece of music? If that`s too difficult, what`s your current favourite piece of music?I’m gonna go with the original mix of “Come Maddalena” by Ennio Morricone. It’s just beautiful. Maybe for 3 minutes of Pop beauty “Waterloo Sunset”. I love The Kinks.

Can you name three records to start a party?DJ Nature / Dance (Jazzy Sport)

Barry White / Playing Your Game

Velvet Season & The Hearts of Gold / Camel Toe Central

Can you name three records to chill to?Tase / Analyze

Ultramarine / Find A Way (version)

Analog Roland Orchestra / 1984

Sign up to the Test Pressing newsletter