Where are you based? A little town called Stafford.
Is this your hometown?Yes.
What is your first musical memory? There are many. My sister learning to play the piano, my Mum and Dad` Bush record player, one of the ones you can stack about ten 45 singles on. There would be stuff like The Drifters, Elvis, Chris Montez, The Hollies, Swinging Blue Jeans, Dave Clark 5. Then some of my sister`s stuff, T.Rex, Bob Dylan, Frankie Valli, Stax. Then late 70s my brother started going to all the alldayers / nighters. He was also a mad Hi-Fi aficionado. Initially I remember him playing a lot of Funk, like Brick, Brothers Johnson, L.T.D., Funkadelic. I can remember him putting T. Connection’s “Do What You Wanna Do” on his Hi-Fi and me thinking “Wow, that is amazing”. All the drumming and how long it went on for. It was probably the first time I`d heard a 12″ record. Then he got more into Jazz-Funk, Azymuth`s ‘Jazz Carnival’, The Modern Sound Corporation`s “Safari”, Locksmith`s “Blackjack”, Stanley Clarke. He told me some great stories one about a club he went to called ‘The Studio’ in Nantwich which had an amazing sound system, Thorens turntables, big speaker rig etc., and going on to blues parties after. He came home with a badge with the words “I’ve been Studioized” on it. I was so envious, I still am, as he was hearing all those great records for the first time. Actually I have most of his collection now.
What was the first record you bought? “Gangsters” by The Specials. Yep I bought a 2 tone tie with the logo on it. I must of been about 12.
What was the last record you bought?A Glen Campbell`s “Best Of”, an original sealed copy off the bay. I love “By the time I get to Phoenix” and of course “Witchita Lineman”.
Have you ever made any music that wasn`t dancefloor-orientated? If not, is this something you can see yourself considering at some point? You have been producing dance records for a long time.Actually there have been a few things. Did you hear the Big 200 LP that me and Andy Meecham did for DC Recordings way back? Kinda oddball No Wave jams, that was fun to do, and the forthcoming Mind Fair LP on Golf channel may shock you. There’s some Blues, Folk, Psyche on there which was a great experience to do. I’m sure there will be more.
I know the Big Two Hundred LP well, part Dinosaur L`s “Kiss Me Again” and part Liquid Liquid. My favourite track though is “Doorstep Discovery” which reminds me of the Silver Apples. What inspired you to start DJing / making music / the label?DJing, various people from my brother to Grandmaster Flash, Froggy, Mastermind, Red Alert, Latin Rascals, Graeme Park, my first visit to the Hacienda. Making music, the Streetsounds Electro series, Malcolm Mclaren, Trax Records, Tommy Boy, Arthur Baker, Herbie Hancock, “Dancing In Outta Space”, Shep Pettibone, Francois Kervorkian, Larry Levan. I could go on. The label Rogue Cat Sounds is me and Ben Shenton from Main Stem. We just had all this great music with nowhere to go and thought we gotta get this stuff out there. So we did Rogue Cat Sounds. It`s a crazy idea these days, starting a label, I know. There wasn’t any real game plan.
So did you move from your brother`s Jazz-Funk, to Electro, then Hip-Hop, then House, and back to Disco? If so I made a pretty similar musical journey myself via a Techno detour.Yeah kind of. I think my brother’s collection has influenced me all the way through even when the House scene came along. A lot of those records took something from that stuff, whether it was sampling or the riffs, grooves and rhythm. I think that all that stuff is what keeps me wanting to create and produce music still today.
How long have you been DJing / making music / running the label?DJing About 30 years, making music about 28 years. The label is only in its second year.
You see I have you down as a producer rather than a DJ. I guess a lot of producers start out as DJs. Do you still get to play at parties and clubs?Yeah I probably consider myself more of a producer now. I think people see the DJ / producer thing as something that has happened over the last decade but that isn’t the case. There was Levan, Tee Scott, Shep Pettibone, Tony Humphries, and a lot more making the same transition. With regards to playing out, I do get the chance from time to time to DJ but it’s not so easy with family life and the time I do get I’d rather use it creating & producing music, although it would be nice to have a little residency, to bring our sound, our own party. A small intimate party with a nice sound system and maybe bring the Rogue family along.
How would you describe your sound / the label`s sound?My sound varies from project to project and who I am working with. Chicken Lips is me and Andy Meecham and we just jam ideas and see what happens. The Lips stuff has a certain spirit to it. The Rhythm Odyssey is just me, except when with Mr Eric Duncan, and has been very club based jams so far. Mind Fair is me and Ben Shenton, and is kinda more out there abstract workouts. The sound of the label is unhinged, lively, fun, and a little Rogue at times.
How did you meet and come to work with Andy (Meecham)?Me & Andy went to the same school. We never new each other back then. We were actually DJ rivals at school. A few kids had our mixtapes and would blast them out on the school bus. Me & school friend, Mark Archer (Nexus 21, Altern 8), saw an advert for a new studio that had just opened and was looking for artists to sign. Me, Mark and another friend of mine, Gareth, were making these real basic tracks with a Casio SK5, 2 turntables & a 4 track tape machine. We played them to the guy thatowned the studio, & label, “Blue Chip Records”, Kev Roberts, who was a veteran Wigan Casino DJ. He liked the demos and signed us up and made us in house producers too! Gareth left and me & Mark formed Bizarre Inc. To cut a long story short, one day Andy was in the studio to interview for the position of keyboard player. He got the gig and then, when a few years later, after a couple of disagreements I split with Mark Archer I reformed Bizarre Inc with Andy, which eventually led to creating Chicken lips & Big 200 etc.
What about Ben (Shenton)?I knew Ben from when he used to come down to these nights we did locally called “Stoopid” with his crew. When we set up Lipservice he sent us some demos of the Main Stem stuff and I loved them. We released a LP & single. It’s a great album. I did a Rhythm Odyessy mix on the first single “Contortion dance” then we decided to do something together and Mind Fair was born.
Is Lipservice still running? Why not put the new music out there rather than Rogue Cat? And can you explain the hook up with Phil at Golf Channel? Again why Golf Channel and not Rogue Cat or Lip Service? How did you get to work with Eric Duncan?Lipservice is no longer releasing new material. When the riots in London happened and our warehouse with all the stock went up in flames it was hard to rise again, so at the moment it just holds the Lips back catalogue. I met Phil through Eric Duncan. I love the ethos behind Golf Channel: vinyl promos, great mastering, artwork, and the family vibe, etc. We have a lot of music and there certain things that we can’t do with Rogue so Golf Channel was the perfect set up, and Phil digs the music, which is nice. Eric did a remix of the first Rhythm Odyssey track “Move Groove” and we had some email banter and decided to work together and the rest history as they say.
Your work as Mind Fair is extremely varied. It seemed to be telling a history of New York dance, from Arthur Baker remixing The Stones, to Sha-Lor and Jomanda and then to Claussell and Body and Soul. The new 12 on Golf Channel has more Stones-like grooves, Italo, Afro-Cosmic, and Jazzy House. Something for everyone. What can we expect next? We have a second single already done with a special guest, Derek Holt from the Climax Blues Band playing on it. It’s an 11 minute Blues Rock Disco workout that I think you will enjoy. Then the album is ready to go which has some great artwork on there put together by Thomas Bullock. We have also produced the next Sundown Drive single for Rogue with Alex Bradbury tickling the ivories again which we are really excited about. It’s got a lush Philly vibe about it, ready for the summer.
Which production / release / remix are you most proud of?Production, all them really nothing leaves Rogue unless we are sitting back smiling. Remix, there has been many Chicken Lips ones over the years. I would say the Nigo remix was a turning point. Playgroup, Bellx1, Headman, and the first release we did for RCS “No Stress Express”.
I`ve told you this before, but your productions always leap out of any system. Every couple of weeks I burn the promos I get sent on to a CD for the car, allowing me to select music for the radio and review while driving the kids on a seemingly endless circle from school to clubs to home. It`s always your stuff that stands out production-wise. Like I say, leaps out. Your music sounds like it was made in a room, rather than in a computer. I mean “No Stress Express” for example sounds like a proper band. Are there any secrets you can give away as to how you achieve this?Well basically the computer becomes the tape machine rather than the sequencer and I try not to hold down the mix so much with limiters / gates / compression, etc., and to just do a little automation, kinda like the old production days, except you don’t need 3 people sitting at the desk. It keeps that lively feeling to our productions.
Which production / release / remix would you most like to have done?“No Way Back” by Adonis has got to be one of first real raw House records that made an impact on me. Remix, probably Donna Summer`s “I Feel Love”, and now any Theo Parrish remix always blows me away.
Can you remember when you first heard “No Way Back”?Yep. It was at a club called “The Place” early `86 / `87 in Hanley. In the basement there was a DJ there called Trevor “M”, not a great technical DJ, in fact he used talk between tracks, but he had some great records. It was just after that time when Sleeping Bag Records had all those biggie’s: Class Action, Hanson & Davis, Joyce Sims. Then I heard, I think it was probably “Jack Your Body” by Steve “Silk” Hurley. “Jack, Jack, Jack Jack Ya Body”. Me and my mates were like “What the fuck is this music!!!??”. Then on came “No Way Back”. I think it was the great 808 drum programming and that bass-line. Wow, so fresh at the time and still sounds ace today.
What is it you like about Mr Parrish`s productions? Lots of friends, whose taste in music I highly respect, love Theo, but I still don`t get it.Well for me it’s the way his productions have a sense of freedom, no strict format, but can make you dance and there is that Jazz Fusion thing going on but in true Theo style. That Phil Manzanera remix he did is amazing.
What are your favourite places to play / hang out in?I Don’t DJ a lot these days. “Electric Chair” was great. There’s a super little old record store near to me where I have found many gems over the years.
What is your favourite place outside of a bar / club / record shop?Cornwall to relax with the family.
Do you see yourself as part of any scene?No.
Is that problem? Would it help to have a network of supportive like minds?Not really. I suppose there are like-minded people that enjoy what I do but I don’t think there are any real “scenes” anymore. Everything is very fragmented.
Who does the label`s artwork?Sam Piyasena at Billie Jean, he came up with the logo.
Who is the lady in the mask?That will be 21st Century Fox aka Lauren Faulkner. Look out for her, such a great talent. New material planned soon on Rogue.
Is a visual identity important?Not always but I think it can inspire you and slowly tell a story.
Can you give any examples to illustrate this?I think it’s a product branding thing. Maybe at first you can just have this logo and maybe not think so much about it and then with the music that little logo can develop the sound of the label. Perfect examples I suppose would be 2 Tone, Trax, Ze, and on a major level, Island Records with that little palm tree. When I see that I think of Marley, Tom Tom Club, Grace Jones.
Which artists are you currently working with?We have some amazing singer’s and players. Lauren Faulkner who sang on the 21st century Fox single, Alex Bradbury who played keys on the Sundown Drive record, Clover Ray, Carl Akuku who is one hell of a percussionist, and Derek Holt from the legendary Climax Blues Band to name but a few.
How did you meet these people?Derek Holt I know from Blue Chip Recording Studio, a local set up, from way back and most of the others through Ben.
Which instruments do you play yourself?Well I can play keys a little. Enough to get me by and the drums too, although I haven’t played drums for a while and with being surrounded by some great session players to work with I play more of a producer / mixer role.
What does Ben play?Bass, keys, guitar. He’s pretty mean on the harmonica & ukulele too.
How does the collaboration with Eric Duncan work?Well a lot of file sharing as he’s in NYC and I’m based in the UK. It can start with a beat from Eric then I will lay some synths, start arranging the track, etc. It’s been great fun actually working with Eric. We have just finished Rhythm Odyssey & Dr Dunks #5. Sounding heavy.
Who would you most like to work with?I`ve really been a fan of Maurice Fulton’s projects over the years. That would be great.
Does playing and making music pay the rent?Times have changed for sure man, so not so much these days.
What sites, if any, do you regularly check on-line?Test Pressing of course. Piccadilly Records, Inventory magazine
What was the last book you read?A Morecombe & Wise biog.
Any revelations? Not really, but a damn good laugh, and I didn`t realise that their career’s on TV took off so late on.
What was the last film you saw?Looper. Probably Bruce Willis’ finest moment.
What is your favourite film?Quadrophenia.
I used to associate closely, too closely, with Jimmy. Why “Quadrophenia”?Same here a little I suppose. It’s teenage rebellion. We can all relate to it at some point. Partying, living for the weekend and all. I did have a silver Vespa gs150.
What is your favourite piece of music? If that`s too difficult, what`s your current favourite piece of music?Current piece would be Spike`s “Orange Cloud Nine” LP forthcoming on Golf Channel.
Can you name 3 records for sunset / sunrise?Surely there is only one, Manuel Gottsching’s “E2-E4”.
Can you remember the first time you heard this? Was it “Sueno Latino” first?Yeah it was actually. In fact I was pretty shocked at how much of it they sampled. Great record though.
Can you name 3 records to start a party?These can work a treat.
Cloud One / Atmosphere Strut
Moodyman / Tribute (To The Soul We Lost)
Lil` Louis / Y U Fall (rare sax version)
An EP from Mind Fair, and two 12s from Rhythm Odyssey & Dr Dunks are due for release on Golf Channel some time very soon.