What track never fails to fill the dance floor/get the studio phones lighting up?
The one that always seems to get anybody dancing regardless of style, age or gender is ‘Hey Ya!’ by Outkast.
What’s the worst dance floor-clearer/howls of protest-inducer you’ve ever played?
Neat Neat Neat by The Damned. I love the band but for some reason their groove doesn’t lend itself to the dance floor – maybe it’s all a tad too frantic.
Is DJ-ing a science, or is it closer to being a curator? Or is it more instinctual and ‘in the moment’ than any of that?
I think it’s more of a feel or knack. I tend to play older track and it’s good to see younger people getting off on stuff from before their time. Just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s good and conversely just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s bad. I guess that I am a curator in that sense. You can’t play stuff without digging the vibe of the room though, so there is no plugging in my iPod and going to the bar!
As a musician, how does playing other peo- ple’s music compare with being on a stage, on in a studio, playing your own?
Well it is a different thing entirely but I guess the closest comparison is in understanding how a set list or running order works and that is something you can only get from experience. You have to be able to control the dynamics of your set.
Is DJing ever a lonely pursuit?
Not the gig in itself as you are the centre off attention but the traveling can be sometimes.
Who was the most influential DJ on you as a youngster?
There was a guy in the early days of Radio 1 called Mike Raven on a Saturday evening who played a lot of early blues and soul and then would introduce a few more interesting contemporary records towards the end of his slot. It was on his show that I heard Israelites by Desmond Dekker for the very first tine. I was enthralled and the next programme following was John Peel’s Perfumed Garden and that was it for me.
Do you think the age of courageous/maverick DJs to some extent died with John Peel?
No I think there are a lot of people on various smaller stations around the globe who are giving it a go. It’s just whether they have the wherewithal to stop their producers insisting on them spinning one more insipid top 40 tune to keep the ratings up.
Would you ever take (and honour) a request even if you weren’t personally that keen on?
Well it would depend on the track but it’s no bad thing to be able to put a smile on somebody’s face once in a while.