Posted by H.I.T.S. at 7:14 PM
Get ready to go on a little magical journey. Niles from Cosmic Disco has put together a splendid mix of obscure gems for us that will surely satisfy fans of good music. The mix is titled Magical Journey and it's our third mix for the season of Autumn. For those unfamiliar with www.cosmicdisco.co.uk, it's a music blog from Manchester that covers a wide array of great music. They also podcast all of their guest mixes which are definitely worth checking out. If you're in Bristol April 4th then head to the Ghettospheric club night at Start the Bus as Niles and Baggy will be DJ'ing up a storm. They'll also be DJing alongside Cosmic Hero Daniele Baldelli at the Futuresonic Festival in Manchester, May 16th.
It’s a collection of weird bits and bats that I’ve collected with Simon (Baggy) whilst we’ve been out digging in the wastelands of East Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. A little bit of Far-Eastern instrumental stuff, some cosmic chuggers, a healthy dose of Funk Rock and some synthy tracks. It’s the music Simon and myself have been picking up mostly on our travels recently.
You and a few other Mancunians run the always excellent Cosmic Disco blog. Who else is involved, when was it conceived and what was/is the motivation behind www.cosmicdisco.co.uk?
Mark (THP), Simon (Baggy) and myself (Niles) are behind the site. Mark bought the domain back in the late 90’s, I believe, as he was into the Derrick Carter mixmag mix of the same name. I met Mark through his legendary Soap Bar residency at Sankeys Soap and whilst we both spent the late 90’s and early 2000’s playing house we regularly talked about our passion for Boogie, Disco, Italo and Synth Pop (with the WBMX resident dj’s as our main focal point of inspiration). When my house night stopped and Mark began to get jaded with the Sankeys residency we started putting together a site to host the radio shows from our Unity Radio slot in podcast format. Around the time we started the radio show I asked Simon (who we knew from mutual friends El Diablo’s Social Club) if he’d be interested in getting involved and he became the third member. Mark is an all powerful internet wizard and ensures that we constantly have a spanking new, future proof blog. His technical input is invaluable as it’s ok having the content and mixes but you need to know how to present it all. (He’s also a pretty tasty dj and promoter and runs the much recommended www.cutlooseclub.com). Simon is the main contributor to the site and the best dj stalker you’ve ever met. His biblical length interviews (check out the Wally Badarou one) are the stuff of legend. I’m just there to look pretty, play bollywood tracks and add glamour to the site. I think. That and be a disruptive presence on the Podcast with Simon.
What was it like growing up in Manchester, music wise. Surely you've been to some memorable gigs worth a mention. The Hacienda?
Mark is a Legends fanatic and can spend hours waxing lyrical about the resident dj Woody and his low bpm Balearic warm-ups. Check out Mark’s mixes and you can see the influence.
Simon went to the Hacienda but I’m pretty sure it was to a funky house night and he went to perve on girls.
What is the music scene in Manchester like these days?
The Club world seems to be as healthy as ever with El Diablo’s Social Club, Naïve Melody, Cutloose and the occasional Cosmic Disco party providing everybody with their cosmic/balearic/disco/italo fill. There’s obviously the colossal Warehouse Project once a year where you’ll find pretty much every act worth seeing for a period of a couple of months and Sankeys is, whilst perhaps not to our tastes anymore, still something of a market leader on the ‘alternative’ dance music scene. Band wise, I’ll be honest, I’m not too sure. Obviously the Ting Tings would be the most famous recent example of a Manchester (Salford) band making it big. Everyone seems to be a dj though. But that’s always the case isn’t it.
As a record enthusiast, what do you foresee for the future of vinyl in terms of it's survival?
I’m a little fearful. One of Simon and myself’s most favourite haunts is under threat of closure and that would mean a mine of about 100,000 records (at least) having to be rehoused and a great source lost. The recession here is destroying our regular high street and the retail sector is a particularly wounded beast so I’d like to think the record shops would survive it as a collector but as someone that works in the Financial industry in the day time (I know - not very cosmic at all that is it?!) I fear for them. The thing that makes me think they might make it through and continue is that they have all been there and seen this before. No 2nd hand record shops ‘crop up’ from nowhere. Most of them are well established and have been going forever.
The internet hasn’t done them any favours though. Rather than go out, dig, get their hands dirty and ‘discover’ unhidden gems people are too happy to listen to a DJ Harvey mix, go ballistic over a track then spend hundreds of pounds to buy them. Harvey get’s his tracks from digging around in stinking basements of old record shops and you never know, go on a little digging trip yourself and you might discover something he’s never heard and really wants.
What are some labels/artists/songs that you have been particularly excited about of late?
I love Italians Do It Better. They are a label that is constantly on point. The combination of the ‘Nu Disco’ sound and the old Synth Pop sensibilities really appeal to me. And they all seem to be bands with really hot girls in as well which is always a bonus. Mike Simonetti is a great guy and I really hope that label continues to flourish. Bearfunk is always consistent and bringing through new artists as well which is great to see. The recent Max Essa LP is excellent and there should be a mix on a Manchester based music blog very soon from him :) I’m really looking forward to the new Phoenix album (Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix I think it’s called) that should be out in May. They were unbelievable when we caught them live a couple of years ago (2 drummers!). I got a great promo of a guy called Stax Dempsey last year as well. Really nice West Coast American rock 2 track it was. I’ll be keeping an eye out for him. And Canyons. They did a half decent EP I suppose. That got a bit of play from me.
Posted by H.I.T.S. at 8:29 PM
Posted by H.I.T.S. at 11:58 PM
You never know who or what you might run into walking through the back streets of Surry Hills, but seeing Chris and Johnny Ladd from the modular office out on lunch in their matching outfits was worth a photo.
Posted by H.I.T.S. at 9:34 PM
Sadly summer is gone for another year. And with the passing of summer comes an end to the summer mix series (until next year). What next? The Autumn mix series of course. First off the bat is a guest mix Canyons recorded on air a few weeks back while on Triple R's excellent radio show Noise In My Head. Do yourself a favour and tune in on Sunday nights from 10pm to Noise In My Head and let host Michael Kucyk take you on a seriously deep journey. As for the mix, it's a little rough here and there but the jams are hot and good times were had.
Posted by H.I.T.S. at 9:54 PM
Pretty soon HITS 004 will be hitting the shelves! It's a 12" by Melbourne's The Delicate Genius and features four sensational edits by the man. Head over to the HITS myspace page here to listen to a couple of the jams featured on this release. The exquisite artwork was done courtesy of Mr Steele Bonus who is also responsible for one of the recent HITS summer mixes. You can check his website here. We have some pretty special releases lined up for 2009 and The Delicate Genius 12" will be the first for the year. More info on the other releases we've got lined up will be posted here soon so stick around...
Posted by H.I.T.S. at 9:09 PM
You guys are working on an album. When's it due out, what should we expect and any clues on who will be releasing it? Will there be a tour to promote the album?
CB: Yes, we are busily at work on a 40 Thieves album, so busily that we have no idea when it'll be released. Hopefully before the end of the world, which we've slated for late fall. So yeah, late Summer would be ideal. We've had multimillion dollar offers from all the majors, but since we're both heirs to indescribable fortunes, we'll probably press up triple gatefold, goldleaf wrapped, 340 gram vinyl, a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 7 personal copies. Kidding aside we want to finish the record before we think about even pressing that many.
LF: The goal is to deliver the unexpected, artfully shoved up against the expected. As for a tour I guess it's a little easier to plan something like that around a full-length, but we've never done anything like that before so we'll have to wait and see. It would be great though to tour with the players we're using on the album and put on some sort of 40 Thieves live show together. On the other hand it's tough enough for promoters to fly 1 or 3 of us out to DJ these days so if we do it better be pretty smokin'!
As well as making music at part of 40 Thieves you also run Smash Hit Music Co. When was the label formed and who else is involved?
CB: We launched SHMCo. in late 2004 .
LF: With 40 Thieves we keep as many people involved as possible because it seems to serve the music well. The label is Corey and myself, as well as a silent partner named Ricki who floats back and forth between the West and East coast. Now that you mention it we could really use an intern or someone else to help out!
You've got the Gary Davis 'Chocolate Star' EP II coming out soon on the label. How did you guys originally tee up with P&P to organise these Gary Davis releases? Tell us a bit about the release.
CB: Through friends we met Mr. Chinn who was in regular touch with Gary and things flowed from there. Gary is still in touch with P&P co-founder Peter Brown but we planned the releases with Gary, who wrote all the new material along with Mr. Chinn.
LF: The release itself is actually an interesting story. It's a little known fact that Richard 'Groove' Holmes was Gary's uncle, and shortly before he passed a few years ago Gary recorded him jamming out on his organ, no drums or anything. He probably got about 10 minutes worth, and enough to build a song around them. He laid down more tracks including vocals by his wife, Sonia, and the resulting song was called 'So Good'. That along with some other tracks Gary had recently written with Mr Chinn were the real impetus for EP II. From there Gary reached out to James Pants and knocked out another tune, "Sticky Situation", which James co-wrote and sang on. At the time Greg Wilson was in the mix from his remix of 'Professor Here', so Gary asked him to turn in a version of '1 Lifetime' for EPII.
Then, the drama hits. Shortly after we locked down the track list for the EP there was a call from Groove Holmes most recent wife, claiming rights to his estate and threatening Gary with a suit if he used RGH's name in connection with the project. Apparently this song may be the last thing he recorded before his death, and that's not what the estate wants the official story to be. We had to change the name of the song and not give credit where it was most certainly due, but in the end Gary owned those recordings and the entire family supported his decision to release them except for her. Hopefully it won't come back to haunt us, but this is really the only place we're mentioning it...
What other releases have you got in the pipeline for Smash Hit?
LF: Next up- a ditty by a band of youngsters outta Utah called Return to Sender and the song is called 'Dutch/Boyz/Dance Floors'. The band is really just a bunch of rockers but this one song on their last album really struck me as cool in a post-punk disco way, so we licensed it from the label for remixes. Of course this isn't news to you since Canyons are one of the remixers but we've also got one from Anthony Mansfield as well as an in-house number from Corey and myself aka Ruffy & Tuffy. Gotta say, your mix is right on the money, really great stuff!
After that we're going to help re-introduce the disco world to one Johnny Dynell, NYC circa 1983, who 's probably the coolest human I have ever met. We're doing a re-issue with remixes of 2 of his Atlantic hits from '83, 'Jam Hot' and 'The Big Throwdown'. Looks like Ilija Rudman, DJ Spun of Rong Music, Clouded Vision, Tensnake and Johnny himself will be on remix/edit duty there. A couple of other bits are in the works, but yeah, we're actually slacking a bit there. Demos are welcomed! hahaha
As someone running an independent label, what are you thoughts on digital vs vinyl releases etc? Will Smash Hit continue to press up records?
LF: I should say first I work a 9-5 at a digi distributor, so my views may be slanted. It's clear to most people though that digital music is the direction things are headed, and if you try to avoid interacting with that side of things you're probably missing out on more and more opportunity. As a label you're constantly struggling to balance what you want to do versus what's going to keep you in business, so every label has to pick a plan for themselves that works. We all love vinyl and wish it were feasible to press and sell 3000 copies of every release but it's just not the reality anymore. SHMCo. hasn't officially given up the waxy format, but we've released our last few as digital-only and licensed the tracks to Rong Music for the 12", which has worked out nicely for everyone. Chocolate Star EP 2 and the Johnny Dynell are both slated to be pressed up this year.
What's the scene like in San Francisco at the moment for the sort of music 40 Thieves are producing/DJ'ing?
CB: As Producers, we're getting a lot of love and encouragement in SF. The so-called New Disco sound (you jokers know what I'm talking about) was partly conceived and developed in San Francisco. Folks dig how widely we range, musically and stylistically.
We've had some great dj experiences here, the people who come out to hear us are real music-heads: they SERIOUSLY know what they like. It's really gratifying to have them boogie-ing at our gigs. They know the house, they know the disco obscuro and the freestyle and the boogie.
LF: Musically there's always so much going on in this city no matter what scene you're into. The scene here is still very much club/house-oriented so to get the freaky shit you gotta pay attention! SF is also one of those places with a long list of local heros who have been keeping things truly burning for years. Im talking about Gunclub, Green Gorilla, DJ Jeno, Pacific Sound/Sunset, Honey Soundsystem and lots of others. That's the true SF only people who live here or come here get a chance to know. We're also really lucky in the respect that promoters and clubs are constantly putting themselves out there to bring talent into the city. There's always a great party to go to on the weekend, and usually some type of after-party if you want to rave out.
And lastly, a few artists/labels/songs that have been doing it for you of late...
Well Canyons' mix of Dutch/Boyz/Dance Floors is really doing it for us right now and Hole In The Sky is just the business! Some other artists/labels that we think are putting out interesting music- Throne of Blood, Whatever We Want, Kranky, Permanent Vacation, Tirk, our bros at Rong, Maurice Fulton (relentless as-ever), Norwegians (in general), Optimo, Bumper, Toby Tobias, Mock N' Toof, really digging the latest In Flagranti stuff!
Posted by H.I.T.S. at 11:36 PM