WeeG – Interview

When did you first fall in love with the 45 format and why do you still spin 45s?

Hi, thanks so much for inviting me to do the guest mix for you and the interview. I’d also like to thank both you and Rob (Mr Lob) for all the things you have been doing to bring this community of like-minded 45 lovers together.

Music has always been in my life – I grew up in the 70/80’s so going to ‘Woolies’ all you saw were lines and lines of round black things with small and large holes in them. This fascinated me as my Dad had a record player but not many records (Later on in life, I learnt the reason for so few records… my Mum had given them to a jumble sale… oooft… happy to say, they are still together)

Over the next few decades, I spent many hours in hospital beds and convalescing at home, with the radio and my Walkman for company. I had now become obsessed with music; during convalescence I would set up a small radio station in my room – 2 tape decks, an amp, a dodgy mic, and plenty of imagination and passion.

I ended up at Hatfield Poly aged 21, healthy enough to know I had no more surgery for a good 10 years. I grabbed it with both hands. I got involved in campus radio – United Groove was born (One Love – George, Chris, Dom, Ben, Liz, Claire!) and DJing at the Campus Student Union followed. I didn’t have records at the time, I borrowed records from mates’ collections – I had left mine in Glasgow, thankfully not anywhere near my Mum. Wall Hall Campus not only opened my ears to a whole new world of music and the styles and genres to be found, it also introduced me to lifelong friends who had incredible records, especially on 45s.

Amazing Sound Systems and a blossoming free party movement during the nineties made it an amazing time to delve deep into music. After training at Guildford School of Acting, I moved to London, hanging around recording studios, free parties and meeting some incredible people and DJs (you all know who you are) I was hearing music that was so different to the stuff I’d heard in bars and clubs on the rare occasions I went out in Glasgow. At the time, no internet meant I couldn’t just find out myself what these amazing tracks were. Instead, it fostered a culture of reaching out to the DJs and artists directly to find out more. This introduced me to people who I love dearly and regard as an extended part of my family. We are all still in touch regularly after nearly 30 years; in fact, 2021 will be 30 years since I started my proper journey into music, theatre and performance.

Once I returned to Glasgow, I got involved in Fusion Radio, thanks to a link from Glen, owner of the record shop across from Queens Park Goals (big up Glen & Iain H) From there to Interface.pirate-radio.com, as far as I’m led to believe one of the founding stations online doing Pirate Radio Style Broadcasting. This was a platform to DJ weekly to listeners worldwide along with DJ Funkydog. Eclectic Beats For Eclectic Peeps!

Stints volunteering at Radio Clyde, Radio Scotland and then Pulse FM. As well as DJing I was also still performing mainly in Theatre and Festivals. One year I spent a week doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival during the day and then going and DJing every night in the back room of the Bongo Club on New Street – Curios? Collective/Out Of The Blue as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after hours Cabaret. My favourite place in the world to play is a back room or after party as you get to explore with music.

I love the whole process that is involved with the 45 – the fact that the artist/band/DJ/producer took the time and the effort to get their sound recorded onto wax, the history behind it. Thanks to people like Stewart Cosgrove, David Haslam and Peter Guralnick and the vast number of excellent biographers, bloggers, DJs and musicians, the journey into 45 vinyl began.

After early 2000, and more surgery and recovery, I started to buy 45s seriously. This was in part due to convenience but also, having mental health issues alongside the orthopedic ones, playing 45s keeps me busy when DJing, either at a house party or pub or club. In the early 90s I always was very much more into Breaks, Funk, Reggae and Soul and I loved going dancing, especially to the sounds of House, Techno, Drum & Bass. For a while, my body allowed me to do all that. As the years went on, I had to find a slightly different way to get that same level of involvement with music. 45s give me that intense focus on the tunes; it requires an active connection to the set that I find irresistible.

I continue to play 45s and I will always – it’s a part of my name and it’s a part of me-they are small after all!

You are based in Glasgow which has a brilliant music scene. It’s in lockdown at the moment but can you tell us about some of the city’s best venues and DJ’s.

Let’s not talk too much about the L word. As everyone knows, it’s having a major impact on the Performance, Nightlife, Music and Entertainment Industry in the UK. Not only that, in Scotland, we have also been hit with the no music rule in Pubs/Restaurants that have re-opened. It’s safe to say that this is the direst time in our lifetimes and the actions we take now will affect not just us but generations to come. Obviously, the most important thing is to protect people’s health and lives – lockdown and the subsequent safety measures since then are helping do that – but we need to ensure that we as artists adapt to fit the current climate and beyond. Although things are grim at the moment, this could represent an amazing opportunity to launch new ways of engaging in culture and making our community accessible to more people long term. As someone who’s had lots of experience of being housebound, I must admit the fact that people are starting to think about how we can take live entertainment into people’s homes is thrilling, and something I hope continues as we move forward.   

One of the most amazing initiatives I know of is Stream The Scene. This is the brain child of Glasgow’s Disco King Mr Al Kent and a couple of guys from an old club night in Glasgow called Hi Karate. Each week they stream a top Scottish based DJ’s video set uninterrupted. I spoke to @Colin McMillan for more details and here is what he had to say:

“Stream the Scene have been putting out a set from local DJs every Saturday night since the start of August.  Born out of lockdown and a general dissatisfaction with the quality of live streams across other platforms, the goal was to raise the bar in production, to film DJs in actual clubs, and to create as close to a real clubbing experience in your home.  With no funding, but huge support from club owners, DJs and promoters and creatives, STS has become a full production and streaming collective, doing their level best to keep the club scene alive. Some guest they have showcased so far – Disco deviance, Ali Ooft, Craig Moog and of course Al Kent with his Million Dollar Disco, to name a few. It can be found at www.Streamthescene.net”

Can you tell us about your own radio show AYE (Appreciate Your Ears).

AYE on www.Vault-radio.com came about through a number of different projects I was involved in and the fact that for my own Health and Wellbeing I have to play records- that’s when I can completely escape the pain, the anxiety and the stress- it’s been particularly helpful during the last few months!

My very good friend and main music bredrin @scratchandsniff Dan – mixcloud.com/scratchandsniff or soundcloud.com/scratchandsniff – those of you who love a reedit will know who I’m talking about, the ‘erection section specialist, especially on 7’, lol – initially bonded due to an introduction by Paul Mulholland, another legend, in the Glasgow DJ scene. Our friendship grew through our community radio show ‘The Funk and Groove Show’ on Pulse 98.4 – www.pulseonair.co.uk, which we then transferred on to  www.soundcloud.com/funkgrooveshow. Unfortunately, family commitment, work/life balance, health, and then a pandemic meant that it became increasingly difficult to regularly produce a show.

This was when Scott Sommerville got involved. We met as a result of me DJing for @Rogue Village along with my Edinburgh Bredrin – Jim Bathgate (who I also DJ with as Koh Jum Rotary Club) and Simon Hodge (Chakalaka Funk Edinburgh) – we initially played alongside Chris Knight (astrojazzknight) as Four Corners at The Bongo Club in Edinburgh. Scott and I began using his mixcloud page- Mixcloud.com/therebirth  for the Isolation Station project. We invited like -minded DJs to contribute a mix of genres that reflected the mood, feel and experience of their lockdown. Some absolutely amazing mixes from around the world started to arrive in Scottie’s email box. I then heard that Vault Radio in Edinburgh were looking for mixes for their Station.

I like to have projects, so I created a spin off called Appreciate Your Ears, a chance for myself and other likeminded DJs to go way deep into their vinyl collection, not just their 45s, and create a soundscape. It’s a monthly concept so it’s in its early stages, but it keeps my mind active whilst awaiting more surgery. If any readers are interested in providing a mix for this series then please reach out- Check out my mix cloud page – Mixcloud.com/weeG or Mixcloud.com/Vaultradio.

You have recently launched That’s All Right a monthly live stream on Twitch. Can you tell us why you set this up, what you are promoting, and what DJ’s you have had play for you and who you have coming up.

That’s All Right on www.Twitch.TV/ThatsAR was set up to try and do a number of things.

Firstly, as a result of having been in and around the entertainment industry, theatre, film, tv and music, lockdown hit me hard; I realised that, especially, during current times we needed to come together and help each other out to promote what we love to do and hopefully create positive vibes. It’s taking the Brecht concept of Ensemble. I would find it hard to believe anyone if they were to tell me that, this current society and way of life is the way forward for us all, especially us creatives.

On twitch.tv/weeg70, I’ve started a weekly set called Serendipity every Monday 11pm-1am. This is an eclectic selection of my collection that I would rarely get to play in pubs and clubs. It’s more mood music – especially good for dealing with pain and insomnia. I’m finding twitch a good way to connect to others and express how we’re feeling. I’m also looking to feature guests or mixes in the future.

Throughout my 30 years in and around this world of creativity, I met so many talented people, especially males, who couldn’t reach their true potential due to being held back by issues, experiences etc that have then in turn triggered issues with Mental Health.

We all must change – I’ve lost 3 people very close to me as a result of the above, I know at least another 20 who all suffer one way or another with Mental Health issues. Hopefully, if I can find time, I’m gonna write an article about it in more detail for Forty Five Kings Newsletter.

So, in addition to Serendipity, I established That’s All Right specifically to raise awareness of men’s mental health and mental illness, and aim to raise money in particular for a charity called Chrisshouse.org. The main motivation for taking this approach with That’s All Right was the news of DJ Andy Taylor taking his own life. 

I joined forces with Andy mid 2000s, and we immediately had a connection-mostly due to a love of music, but also an understanding that we both found life difficult to navigate. We shared a massive passion for all different kinds of music, we both loved DJing but most of all we loved playing records together and chewing the chat, no competition, just pure proper genuine passion. Andy was like an encyclopedia regarding the mass number of genres he was so passionate about-Latin, Reggae, Afro Beat, Jazz, funk, soul- you can hear all the influences in any of his releases on Wack, Resense and numerous remix duties for other superb producers/DJs and musicians within the scene. Whilst having a few beers in Blackfriars we got chatting to John the then manager, next thing you know we are launching Pass The Peas @ Blackfriars basement. Many a good night was had and the family started to grow- Andy’s own band The Hook & Slingers, Mosa Funk Club and Federation of The Disco Pimp, Cafolla, Paul Smith aka Krashslaughter, insanely good b/b/dancing from the Jalapeño posse. It was a room full of love, good music, guest DJ’s but most of all, lots and lots of laughs.

After his death, I asked Andy’s family how best we could help. A number of his fellow Producer/DJ mates on the scene had already done the superb Comp – Songs For Andy (A Collection Of Re-works, Re-Edits & Tributes To Andy Taylor). Here’s what Monkeyboxing.com had to say about it –

‘The ten-tracker, has been assembled by Mr Bird and features contributions from Smoove & Turrell, Lloyd Wright, Daytoner, Kid Felony, Dedy Dread, The Rebel, Krash Slaughta, David ‘Renegades of Jazz’ Hanke, Andy’s band The Hook & Slingers and Mr Bird himself. Everyone involved had either previously worked with Andy in some way or been remixed by him and the tracks themselves are a mixture of re-works from stems of Andy Taylor tracks, remixes of Taylor tracks, or brand new tracks and tributes and take in funk, soul, hip-hop and reggae and even David Hanke’s Vangelis-like remix of Tryfan as the closer. In summary then, a collection crafted with love for a well-loved guy. All proceeds from the sale of album go direct to Andy’s family’

So, through the help of the community formed by Rob and yourself, I was able to set up ThatsAR. We launched the Monthly – Last Sunday sessions in September but we have had some great guests already involved in one off events we have been doing on The Forty Five Kings/Queens Stream on Twitch.

Andrew Divine – The man behind the longest running club night – @Divine and a Glasgow institution.

Panos aka Dj Snafu The man behind @Bankrupt Europeans/No One Buys Records

Hustlin DJs – “Hustlin’ DJs – a force within the Glasgow funk/soul scene, Stevie Watt… ran the long running Freeform club night and is well known Face and regular guest DJ on the soul scene, and Malky McKenzie… part of DJ Wayne Dickson’s Big Break Records team and previously part of the labels Adventures In Paradise club night”

Funkydog – My brother from another mother – Forever the Groove will remain United.

DJ Scot Void – Curios? Collectives representative in the USA check out what Scott and his crew get up to @salemfunkclub

Sideshow Maule – A regular at PTP and Break Dance Glasgow Legend and all things Flying Jalapenos.

Future guests include, your good self, Andy Smith, Chrispop, Sam Tweeks, Mark Lancaster, Anthony Sturgeon, DJ Dee and Frankie Forty Five.

Exciting times are ahead with this project as we now have 2 other crews involved in programming the Sundays – Reggae Fire, Sideshow & Co and ThatsAR……more details to follow about this very soon.

Your ThatsAR events always highlight and raise money for Chris’s House. Can you tell us more about the charity and your links to it.

Chris’s House is a registered charity (SCO45583) set up by Anne Rowan, following the loss of her son Chris in 2011. It’s a ‘Centre for Help, Response and Intervention Surrounding Suicide’

It is the first 24 hour, non-medical crisis centre in Scotland offering integrated support. It provides a safe environment where people in crisis can receive respite. Individually tailored programmes are created to offer support for those in need. They work in partnership with other agencies to ensure the best care is provided.

Their motto is ‘Let’s Talk’ and I do think that’s an incredibly important first step, but an incredibly difficult one. In the midst of crisis, it can seem impossible to understand what you’re feeling, let alone put it into coherent words, especially if you feel there’s no one there to listen. Loved ones making the first step to open up dialogue can be useful, but it can still feel insurmountable. That’s why it’s so important that we don’t just leave it as a neat soundbite- talking is great but action is vital. Supporting organisations such as Chris’s House means that real people can get the advice and support they need to move through their own crisis, or support a loved one through theirs.

Hopefully That’s All Right will help raise vital funds for this incredible organisation, but I do also truly hope that someone experiencing crisis may just remember about Chris’s House when they need it, and get in touch for the support and love we all need. They can be contacted on 01236766755 or at info@chrisshouse.org. They are located at 2-4 Belhaven Road, Wishaw, ML2 7NZ. More information can be found at www.chrisshouse.org.

Donations can be made at – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thjatsar-glasgow