Butchy Bee Interview
Can you tell us about your background as a DJ and which other DJs inspired you to get behind the decks?
Well it probably wasn’t who but more what inspired me and that would’ve been early to mid 80s Hip Hop and as many will also reference, the Streetsounds Electro albums. I’d first started hearing Hip Hop trickling thru to the radio with ‘The Message’ and then a couple of years later, the iconic Bambaataa productions, I wanted to hear more of this futuristic sound. It wasn’t until I was introduced to those Crucial Electro mixes that my mind was blown!
Tie this in with a few years later, the cultural explosion of the Acid House/Rave scene and the touch paper had been lit. It was in 1989 when I first got behind the decks. I was doing a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering in Pompey (Portsmouth) and along with two other House & Hip Hop heads, we set up a pirate radio, Delta Force 107. (One of us had been paying attention in lectures!!). This obviously led to putting on our own dos, etc but after a couple of years, the reality of getting a real job had to be faced. This was around 1991/2 and although I still had the odd gig, I slowly drifted away from spinning!
I never fell out of love with music though and when the next big scene hit, ‘Big Beat’ I was inspired again though it wasn’t until around maybe ’97/98 that I actually bought my 1210s. Big Beat evolved into the Breaks scene and for a good 3 or 4 years I was back out in the wild spinnin’ at dos and parties around London though definitely not of a Superclub nature! By the mid 2000s due to becoming a parent and work commitments I was back in retirement and back to being a Saturday morning bedroom DJ. It was probably around this time that the 45 was starting to become more and more of a regular purchase, with Funky Breaks labels springing up and the Nu Funk scene picking it up as their format of choice.
Fast forward to our now new normal, Spring 2020 and 45s were now making up 60% or more of my purchases but I’d now turned into a collector and the maybe twice yearly mixes I was putting together were of the digital nature. Up to this point I’d always been quite anti social media but I’d had a minor op a few months earlier which had put me out of action me and my wife suggested I take a look at Insta as she said “I reckon you might like it”. Instantly I was like, damn my pig headedness, look at all these vinyl heads, graffiti artists, sneaker freaks-it was a hub of creativity I’d been missing out on but more importantly, it was a source to feed the habit!!
Early doors of Lockdown, Twitch became the buzz for deejays, no longer exclusive to gamers gaming, what I’d seen my teenage son watching a year earlier. I was immersed in it and people I’d been chatting with online, were now online spinnin’ their amazing 45s (don’t get me wrong I gave the digital guys plenty of time too but even if they were using dvs, it just wasn’t the same vibe as vinyl). I was very happy to just enjoy watching these amazing djs show off their decks skills but also highlight, that even though I have a decent collection; I’d either slept on some gems or they’d completely gone under my radar.
After a few months of great chat and banter, my free ride was over and an online campaign followed to get me streaming – I won’t name names but they know who they are! So come Oct 2020, like a seasoned and should know better heavyweight boxer, I came out of retirement again and that pretty much brings us to where I am now. I’ve still got to get back out in the wild and hopefully that’ll come – it has been a wish of mine for the best part of ten years now, to do a nice Sunday gig on 45s but finding a decent pub/restaurant seems to be like gold dust! The other thing on that dj related wishlist is to play on the same bill as The Alleregies!
One of the only positives I’ll take from the pandemic, is not that it rekindled my love of music but it rekindled my love of sharing it with others.
All of the above aside, even as a kid as much as I was fascinated by space, space travel, being an astronaut, I’d always wanted to dj and play music for other people. Needless to say, neither ended up earning me a living!
You collect vinyl on all formats but have a superb collection of 45s. Why do you like the 45 format and can you tell us about 3 of your most prized 45s.
Thank you-probably the best part of 40 years have been poured into my collection and it may sound silly but it is very much a document of my life. I only really started flying the banner for 45s two or so years ago but as I said previously; they had very much started to become regulars in my buying habits from the early 2000s.
In one way, what I love about them can also be a frustation as well. I do find the exclusivity/short runs of them very desirable but sometimes the lack of certain tracks being available is also be part of it’s downfall. Part of deejaying for me and it’s something that’s inherent across the genres from reggae, hip hop, Northern and beyond, is oneupmanship. Now I’m the first to admit I’m far from being a technically gifted dj but I do know a tune if I say so myself so having those unicorns is a big part of my arsenal. The frustration of 45s is there are only a finite amount of tracks available in the genres I play and sometimes adding them to your collection can be both costly and a long task. It is that chase though, hunting down those tracks that is the appeal! The final daily check on ‘cogs before you hit the sack, the sheer panic when you see that elusive pop up on your list – how much, UK seller (don’t get me started me on Brexit, VAT) & most importantly what condition? It must be bought now cause it won’t be there in the morning! I was recently super hyped when Jalenpo released Soopasole “Wild Mad Beat” on 45-this was always a massive track for me on 12″ when was released 14 years ago. It has been something I’d wanted to drop in a 45 set for a while now I can and indeed have on recent streams.
My 3 most prized 45s, the first one is very easy, it’s a double sided banger from not only 2 of the UKs finest but the finest in their fields, released back in 2014 on Wack Records, Smoove/Allergies-Bird Big/Heartbreaker. Pleased to say I did buy this on release but really could do with a spare. The second was actually my most expensive buy but it was no where the crazy prices still being asked on ‘cogs and not even close to 3 figures (need to add that in case the missus reads this and it was my birthday money), Young MC and ‘Know How’. Those in the community know this was my top want and I’d half hoped I’d bored them into submission of having a whip round to buy me a copy. Eventually the long game paid off, my offer was finally accepted and I had bagged a copy. One of the reasons I was so desparate for this track was I’d previously paired this with above mentioned ‘Big Bird’ for a killer mix. I’d actually discovered this pairing originally 5 years earlier while doing a 40th b’day mix digitally for my wife but not sure I’d recreated it with vinyl even with the 12″ version of ‘Know How’, let alone on 45s. The vinyl mix would make its first airing on my 45 Day mix and did on my next couple of streams, well I had to get my monies worth. My third would have to be Biz Markie “This Is Something For The Radio”, for no other reason that if that don’t move ya, you either deaf or rigor mortis has set in! I’m gonna have to be cheeky here and give to a couple of honorable mentions, the first is Fort Knox Five ‘The Brazilian Hipster’, which is a real unicorn and massive respect to the Forty Five King’s MrLob, who helped me snare that. And finally, Lionrock’s ‘RudeBoyRock’; which I only recently acquired on 45 but bizarrely I’ve never had on 12. I’ve absolutely no answer for this so let’s move on to the next question.
You are part of the Jazz Hobblers which play every month on the Bright as the Sun twitch show on the Forty Five Kings Channel showcasing Jazz 45s. Can you tell us more about the show and why you love Jazz?
Well I’m the latest recruit to the Hobblers, I think the Jazz Hobblers moniker should be self explanatory, the Hobbler part being the joys of hitting middle aged!!! November’s stream will be my 4th but the 6th month anniversary of the show. There are 5 Hobblers so depending if we can all make it out of bed for the show, it should be 5 hours of Jazz related 45s, in all it’s styles and fashions. The show has built up a core listener base and hopefully it can grow from strength to strength. I know as soon as you say Jazz some people may switch off but in so much music the jazz influence is very much hiding in plain sight. I feel if you’re musical preference is Hip Hop, then you should be listening without fail. I would say 75%, maybe more of what I have played in my sets alone has been sampled in many a Hip Hop classic & even some tunes more of a 4 4 nature as well. Personally for me, it’s an opportunity to share some of the tracks that are amongst my favourites and have had a massive influence on my musical journey.
In a way my finding Jazz is slightly reverse engineered. I certainly had an influence at home as my Dad was massive on Miles Davis but also very much the 70s Jazz Rock Fusion period. Names like Billy Cobham, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin , David Sanborn, Santana, Weather Report and the like were on my radar. In actual fact I remember him, after hearing me play Massive Attack’s ‘Safe From Harm’, grab me and play me Billy Cobham’s ‘Stratus’-“that’s what they’ve sampled son!”, this was 1991.
Going back to your first question before Hip Hop, the first music that more than pricked up my ears was the late 70s/early 80s Two Tone/Ska revival. Without a doubt it was the horns that draw me in, for many years the saxophone was my favourite instrument, now it’s the flute without a doubt. It was from Hip Hop the reverse engineering would start, the gateway so to speak. Once I had started deejaying on the Pirate radio and from meeting likeminded students who’s musical background were funk and jazz – I was pointed in the direction of that Ike & Tina Turner sample, that Herbie Hancock sample, too many Kool & The Gang samples to mention. I remember the first time my mate played me The JBs “Blow Your Head”, play it again & again I said like some toddler the first time they encountered what would be a favourite toy!
As an 18/19 year my mind & ears were being opened up to the sounds that were the building blocks to the only music I had had any time for, Hip Hop. In that golden period of 88-91, genres obviously existed but there were no rigid conforms and the clubs I was going to were a melting pot of sounds, one of those sounds was Jazz.
There were two compilation series from back in that day, that influenced me then and they still do to this day. One was the Acid Jazz series on BGP, some of the tracks featured on these, fill me with as much excitement today as when I first heard them 30 years ago. Pucho “Got Myself A Good Man”, anything by Funk Inc, Eddie Jefferson “Psychedelic Sally”, Jack McDuff “Hot Barbecue”, the list goes on & on, sorry that Buddy Rich track was on the Blue Break Beats series of comps so there were actually 3 series that influenced me. The other comps were on Luv n Haight Records out of San Francisco. They had a series of funk and jazz tracks but they also released a series called “Jazz Dance Classics”. The Blue Break Beats comps actually came about due to the amount of Hip Hop that had plundered their catalogue. If I’m ever asked by someone who wanted to dip their toe into an introduction to Jazz, those Blue Note ones are the ones where I say start.
During the last year a saying habeen coined “Doing a Butchy”. Can you tell us how this came about and how you feel about having your own saying?
Ha Ha! Could’ve been worse and a leg warmer question but we’ll leave that one on Twitch! Well it really came about, early days of Twitch, I was listening to so many streams and not paying any attention to the vinyl I’d been buying. A deejay would drop a track, I’d be in the chat, ‘ID pls DJ?’ “It’s such & such.” ‘Oh I bought that last week.’ I remember doing it maybe 3 times in one stream, think it was either the 24hr or Aussie 45 Kings stream, pretty sure it was JayBreaks Nonstop after my 3rd asking didn’t have the heart to give him my stock answer again, ‘oh yeah, I’ve got that’. Kinda embrasssing!! The main person who bore the brunt of this was Sam Tweaks and my revised stock answer was ‘Sam, guess what…’ “you’ve got it” Sam would reply. I realised I needed to start playing my records myself and at least if I was doing this, I couldn’t be embarrassing myself on Twitch. The first I heard I’d got my own phrase was I think on one of your streams. I’ve no idea who came up with it but if I was a betting man I’d say Tommy T. Can only be positive from having my own phrase, I’m the first to throw about a bit of banter and as they say ‘all publicity is good publicity!’
Can you tell us about some of the best record spots and venues to visit when in Essex where you are based?
Now this is the hardest question of them all! Must be honest even before the pandemic I’d become bit of an online digger and my nightclubbing days were getting less & less, ha ha! I’m actually based on the Essex/East London border so for local spots Crazy Beat Records in Upminster is always worth a look. A great venue locally for both djs and live acts is the Red Lion pub/Ballroom in Leytonstone. Greg Wilson, Norman Jay, Craig Charles are just a few who’ve played there in recent years. I’m only 25/30 mins from central London so obviously the choice there is endless. I’ll always recommend the Jazz Cafe and the Garage in Islington. As for record haunts too many to mention but this week I was back working in Soho for the first time in nearly 20 months. There’s already been lunchtime visits to Reckless, Sister Ray (both Berwick St) and neighbouring Sounds Of The Universe. Nothing bought as yet but I’m sure that’ll change sooner rather than later!!