Sunday 16 August 2009

Taking a bit of a break from the cavalcade of producers we've featured in recent weeks, we decided for the fifth installment in the Lifetracks series that it was high time a legendary DJ took us through his dusty crates - and so we asked founder Placid to work his magic. For a selector who's knowledge and experience in the rare and forgotten gems of electronic music is second to none, we knew the resulting mix would be a classic in it's own right - full to bursting with early house gold and a smattering of funk, disco and dubstep. Dig in!

B: Salutations Placid, how does this fine evening find you?

P: Life is going pretty good at the mo.

B: Where are you right now?

P: Up in my office, with my window wide open and a nice mix on the 'puter...

B: Oh really? What mix would that be then?

P: A mix by Red D who runs We Play House records.

B: Oh OK very nice indeed! Love their design ethos. Perfect listening for a day like today. What's been happening in Placid's world of late? You just got back from a little european mission recently didn't you?

P: Yeah the European mission was a social affair, as my girlfriend is French. Although I did partake in some vinyl hunting. Unfortunately it wasn't a gig with Laurent Garnier and Ludovic Navarre...

B: I recall an evening spent listening to Monsieur Garnier live back when Man With The Red Face had just dropped. Literally insane skills on the decks. But I digress. Any choice vinyl morsels hoovered up by such a connoisseur as yourself?

P: Europe The Final Countdown on 12"...quite tasty.

B: A bonafide classic! How many euros for this jewel in the crown of 80s poodle rock?

P: It was one whole euro. To be honest I wouldn't have shelled out more of my hard earned for it. It's one of those tracks which constantly seems to be in my head, and I can't get rid of it...I might go and get counselling or hypnotherapy! Also picked up a couple of early DMZ things, early Murk, 808 State Newbuild on Rephlex, Isoleee...not a huge amount but not bad for a flea market.

B: Sounds like a worthwhile trip! Are you keen to get yourself out and about in Europe more?

P: Absolutely, I've played in Holland, France and Spain - I need to get myself to Germany, check the scene there.

B: Is Germany the last box to be ticked on the Fantasy Gig list? Berghain power hour perhaps?

P: Yep, though Chicago still rates as my No.1 of the places I'd love to play at that simply don't exist anymore. I'm quite happy just to play on a big rig though - hearing the records on a sound system they were meant to be played on.

B: Do you feel that acid and early house is slightly maligned or marginalised these days in terms of those that will actually play it out still, champion it?

P: It's quite rare to go out and hear proper old school (well what I consider old school - 87/88/89 stuff) - when i first moved to Bristol, there was a night called Land of Confusion, which didn't play all old stuff but played a fair few bits, and it was incredibly poorly attended. I wouldn't say its maligned, I think a lot of people would like it if they were exposed to it. I've found though, especially here in Bristol, that there's a massive D&B following (and breaks maybe not so much now) - but for a lot of people who got into the scene in the early to mid-90s it's UK Hardcore that people identify with more than the sounds of Chicago 86/87. There's a few of us still championing it though - The Kelly Twins, Sell By Dave, Joe Hart - but I'm not sure how a whole night of it would go down!

B: Ever thought about giving it a go?

P: Putting a night of retro house on, pre-1990? I toyed with the idea, when I was in London - but as for doing one now here, I just can't imagine it would attract that many people. Unless I could somehow get a very big name in the D&B or Dubstep scene to play it! Saying that though, I did play a pure old school set at Glastonbury and it went down a treat.

B: Ha ha! Chase & Status play an all Adonis set...sounds like money in the bank! Let's have a look through the mix, naturally there's a lot of juicy acid classics, and so in context your first choice of T Power seems slightly out of place...what's your relationship with this track?

P: OK, I used to fix Mac computers. One day this guy came in wanting to buy lots of equipment - well a few macs. He said he ran a label, that he just got bought out by a Japanese company and wanted some new laptops.He needed them installed, so I went round there and we got chatting. It transpired that he ran a label called SOUR - this is about 1995 i think - so I told him I heard Mutant Jazz on an LP and liked it. He went round the back and pulled me out a 12" of it, then proceeded to give me a red and blue vinyl record and told me it was T Power's new release.

It was the first D&B track that I had heard which actually blew me away. It was a tough call to between this or an old Photek track I owned, but this edged it - the madness at the end of the track, I just love everything about it! Something about it just resonates in my head whenever I hear it. It's so crisp as well. I did go through a little spurt of buying D&B - I went to the Blue Note a few times, and I can quite happily listen to 94/95 D&B for a while - as long as it has some funk to it.

B: So D&B wasn't something you wholly subscribed to as a musical genre, more something that you flirted round the edge with?

P: Exactly. I used to go to Rage on a Thursday night in Charing Cross. I can remember Fabio & Grooverider playing tracks at 45 and thinking "wtf is this guy doing!", especially when he played Bug In The Bassbin - that's sacrilege! Definitely a flirty thing - I like space in my music; the gaps in between notes are as important as the notes filling them. I find D&B has too much going on, is too fast...I'm sounding proper old now aren't I!

B: LOL! Not at all. Interesting though that you say that regarding space in music, as I always felt acid house - whilst being quite sparse in technical design - is quite "full" in the level of resonance and depth that fantastic acid squelch delivers...

P: True, but the tracks that really do for me have that sparse beat - which allows plenty of room for squelch. The slower the better - the slower the record, the squelchier the acid. This is why I don't like acid teckno.... you just don't get the full bendiness of the acid.

B: True enough - I think that's were the genuine "groove" emerges and really grabs me by the throat! Let's take a look at some of these acid selections...Slam, Kaos, Fantasy Girl..some real classics here. Where does your love affair with acid house spring from, why is it you connect with that style of music so strongly?

P: Phuture Slam started it for me. My brother came into my bedroom one morning and said "listen to this", then proceeded to put on was the end of 1988. I was aware of Acid, and had been to a few nights but I didn't really get it. After hearing that I began to find out more - I used to go round my friend's house, he had the House Hallucinates album. We used to get trashed and listen to it (and stare at it, anyone who has a copy will know what I mean!). After a few months of listening to it, it dawned on us that you could get 12"s of the tracks on the compilation, so we started trying to track them down. At that time in 1989, loads of people had had enough of Acid, so were selling their old 12's which I quite happily picked up for cheap! So my record buying began from trying to get the 12's of that LP, which opened up a whole new can of worms with visits to the various record shops up in Soho at the time.

For some reason though, the sound of the 303 just affects me like no other electronic instrument. When I'm playing it and mixing, all just fits together. Acid House on LSD is quite amazing though. Until you've heard it on LSD then you haven't properly heard it.Not that I think everyone should go out and take acid and listen to acid house! It's where Placid comes from - Acid Paul, Paul Acid, Placid!

Pierres Fantasy Club Fantasy Girl was one of those tracks I heard on a tape by a DJ called Chocci. I used to go to Tonka parties and I remember him playing it and trying to find out what it was. It then transpired it was a £150 record and damn hard to find!

I put Kaos on there just because of the Detroit influence - Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson - going to see Derrick May play at Knowledge at SW1 to about 75 people and him tearing the roof off it...if you haven't checked his latest Radio 6 mix then check it out!

B: Isn't there quite a famous quote about one of the Spiral Tribe crew meeting the acid pioneers for the first time, and being amazed none of them had ever actually tried acid?

P: Oddly enough, I went to see Armando and Mike Dunn at Lost, up in London around 1994 and asked the same thing - nope was their response! Mind-boggling if you think about what their tracks do to you, but to each their own!

B: Before acid house, what was Placid's musical poison? We have some pure A-grade funk here from '76 with Mr. Dexter Wansel and some righteous disco from Martin Circus. Were funk and disco something you were tuned into prior to the acid house explosion?

P: Nope, that came much later as part of the Tonka parties I used to go to. There was a guy called DJ Harvey, he ran numerous nights at the Zap Club in Brighton, on the first Monday of the month - and later on Moist at The Gardening Club - where anything went from deep house, acid house and a lot of disco. It was here, eventually that I started to like some disco, and that there were loads of great tracks - some right dirty disco and a lot of stuff which had been sampled in house records.

So I then started looking back at where the samples for records I was buying had come from, and that lead me into Prelude, Salsoul and a whole other world of disco stuff. With Martin Circus it was just the introduction of druggy disco again by DJ Harvey; Francois Kervorkian on the mix, I didn't realise that it could sound like that! But I am answer to the question, I was into hip hop - Big Daddy Kane, JVC Force, Stetsasonic, LL Cool J and that kind of stuff. I still listen to it now and then.

B: But none of those made the cut for the mix? Was your embracing of acid house that powerful an experience for you?

P: Back in 86/87 I was only 15, it was my brother who was into it. I used to just listen to it but I never bought any - well not until i started buying records. Music and going out was a way of life. I was out from Thursday until Monday every weekend. I used to love the whole Sheffield Warp thing, bleeps and basslines, some of the Belgian stuff to come out in 1991 was out of this world. But then hardcore came along, and suddenly everything went to speeded up breakbeats and chipmunked vocals. Luckily Tonka didn't go down that route, so I could go out happily without hearing it!

B: Hardcore wasn't something you could get on with?

P: Nah. I have heard some good tracks, don't get me wrong. But fundamentally I just don't like breakbeats. And don't get me started on the Prodigy!

B: Ha ha! Fair enough! Let's look at the remaining acid tracks here - Armando, Fingers Inc, Lidell Townsell, Virgo. Given your deep knowledge of the genre, why these tracks specifically - and what do they mean to you?

P: The Fingers LP, well where to start... I had a few of the EPs, but someone bought this album for me and it's one of those few LPs where every track is a winner. It encapsulates everything about Chicago house music, and adds Robert Owens' vocals. I didn't realise at the time it would become an absolute classic. Even though I've heard it a million times, it still sounds just as sweet when I put it on now as when it did the first time.

The Virgo LP, now this was always the last thing we'd put on. My friend Robert had a house up in Victoria, London. At the end of the night, morning, weekend, just when everyone (there was always a few of us) were finally crashing out, this LP would take us into the land of nod. There's just something about it - so simple but brilliantly down - and it was an LP which meant you didn't have to exchange it every five minutes!

The Armando was bit of a holy grail. I used to buy records (and still do every now and then) off a guy called Nick the Record - no kidding, his collection is mind boggling. Anyhoo, I found myself up there one afternoon and said can you play me something I don't know. He played me Armando Uhaciied on Missing Dog Records. It literally blew me away. It took me about 15 years and a considerable sum to finally track it down. Never hit these shores as far as I know, and only about 500 were pressed.

B: Is there something in the rarity of a lot of these records that has as much appeal as the music itself?

P: There's a lot of rare stuff out there. It's when you get the combination of very rare, and actually a damn good track on it as well that the prices go through the roof. I won't buy something just because its rare, just to sit in my shelves - I don't have enough room for that. Everything I buy must be playable. I was dragging £100+ records around Glastonbury with me to play...

B: Dangerous times, I hope they were insured! Let's talk about the one dubstep concession here, and an absolute gem too. Where do you come in with regards to the genre's already colourful history?

P: A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of Skream Glamma. I'd just got a nice new Harmon Kardon system for my PC and it sounded amazing. Again, going back to my point about the space in music, Dubstep had lots of space in it as well as big ass bass. I went straight onto Juno and stocked up on a few dubstep bits, one of which was just out that day, which was Digital Mystikz Haunted. I remember going to Venn festival, and it was the first time i met the under_score lot and they had Kode 9, Pinch and Scion at the Blue Mountain. When Kode 9 played the DMZ track, it completely did me in, the sound coming from them speakers...this metallic sound. Everything about it, right down to the fact that it knocked my drink off a table about ten metres away, meant it would always be in my record box. I bought a fair bit of dubstep, and if i had more money I would still be buying it - but alas I just don't like it as much as I do House, Techno, Electro and Acid.. therefore I download mixes and play them instead.

B: Bringing us up to date, what artists are out there right now rocking Placid's world?

P: Now there's a question. I don't tend to stick to just an artist as such, but my recent purchases have been:

Sven Weismann On Wandering. I really dig his stuff...
Anton Zap - on Uzuri Records
Tevo Howard...deep chicago house
Jared Wilson
Lory D
Of course Carl Craig...
Moritz Von Oswald
Patrice Scott
Omar S.... long have you got!

B: Ha ha! Not long enough I think! OK, well that just about wraps things up - anything you'd like to add, any pressing plugs that need plugging?

P: Only if you have any influential friends over at the Berghain....

B: Sadly not, if I did I would have had you in leather trousers and whipped cream by now. Thanks for chatting to me sir.

Lifetracks # 05 - Placid

01 - T Power - Police State Part 2
02 - Phuture - Slam
03 - Rhthim Is Rhythim - Kaos
04 - Virgo - Do You Know Who You Are (From the Virgo LP)
05 - Lidell Townsell - The Groove (from the House Hallucinates LP)
06 - Fingers Inc - Mystery Of Love (from the Another Side LP)
07 - Pierres Fantasy Club - Fantasy Girl
08 - Armando - Uhaceeid
09 - Martin Circus - Disco Circus Medley
10 - Digital Mystikz - Haunted
11 - Dexter Wansel - Life On Mars

Download : Lifetracks 05 - Placid

Ffi: Placid Website