The lyrics of Danny Tenaglia’s 1998 track said “Music is the Answer” and in many ways, it is, certainly for me.
My LinkedIn Profile describes me as a ‘desk jockey by day’ and ‘disc jockey by night’, which pretty much sums me up. During the day I’m the ‘Marketing Monkey’ for Goldfish.ie, the cloud telecoms company. And once a week I also present ‘Back2Basics’, a radio show on the Irish state broadcaster RTE. It airs on their dance music station RTE Pulse, every Wednesday evenings at 11 pm and is cast to the RTE Radio Player.
I used to be on pirate radio back in the early nineties in the U.K. and started Basics2Basics on a community radio station in Dublin in 2012, before switching to RTE in 2014.
My show is 100% made using vinyl. No CDs or computer jiggery-pokery. Just two turntables, a mixer and some of my favourite records.
It is the first all vinyl radio show to appear on RTE since the 1990s and is Ireland’s only national vinyl show. As far as we can find (or at least it was when we started) it is the only all vinyl radio show on a state broadcaster anywhere in the world.
I’m a big fan of ‘pure DJing’, the way it is supposed to be. By definition D,J stands for ‘disc jockey’ i.e. you have to be playing discs. To me, that means either records or CDs, not a laptop or USBs. I’m not precious about it though, that’s just my own personal choice. But the answer to ‘why vinyl’ is that I’m old and vinyl is all I’ve ever used. Until recently I’d never ever used CDJs or digital software like Traktor; the latter of which I didn’t like, as it was too easy and, therefore, no fun for me.
One of the benefits of running the radio show is it has opened the door to interviewing some of my heroes. As well as got me a gig occasionally writing for Mixmag, the long-running dance music magazine.
In the last few years, I’ve interviewed: Nile Rodgers (Chic), Paul van Dyk, John Digweed, Peter Hook (New Order), Dave Seaman, Nick Bracegirdle (Chicane), Mike Skinner (The Streets), Hardfloor, Phil Hartnoll (Orbital) and many others. I’ve not secured Sasha yet, but I will one day.
At the weekends I often play gigs. When I DJ in clubs it is all vinyl. If the gigs are outside Dublin I also take my own turntables with me and it is one of the main reasons people book me for their parties. People love the fact I am doing what they see as ‘proper DJing’, and turn up with boxes of records, as opposed to a laptop and controller. It makes a big difference and response is great when they see you using vinyl. Many people are genuinely surprised to see it and love it.
The turntables I have are Stanton ST150s. When the trademark on the classic Technics 1210s expired, Stanton took their design and added a load of additional features. They’re brilliant turntables and hugely underrated. One great feature is that you can actually lock the key of the music, or vocals, on the record so that when you speed it up or slow it down, it doesn’t change key. This assists what is called Harmonic Mixing. It’s incredible to be able to do this on vinyl and is particularly good for speeding up old school records as it stops what is known as “The Chipmunk Effect”.
The type of music I play depends on the venue, the crowd or even the weather. The show is a real mix of old and new music. There was a period during the vinyl slump where a lot of music was not pressed on vinyl. These days it is much better, but occasionally I do get tracks pressed to vinyl if they’ve not been put out on vinyl. It is not cheap though.
Recently I’ve been booked for a lot of 50th birthday parties (weirdest DJ niche ever), so I’ve been playing a lot of disco and funk. Lots of original disco classics, but also coupled with what is called ‘nu disco,’ which is a combination of modern producers that are making great bassy, funky disco or where they’ve taken a classic disco track and put a fat beat on it and given it a bit of extra punch in order to breath some new life into it or simply re-edited it and stretch it out by looping the best bits; the Waterford lads Get Down Edits do this especially well.
Whereas, if I’m playing in a club or bar in Dublin or the UK, it will be more house (progressive, tech, minimal, deep) or trance and techno. I like to mix it up, working my way up the BPMs. I will play anything though; I am not a music snob, if it is good then I’ll play it. Back in the acid house era you’d heard all types of music played alongside each other and that makes for a great set – it takes you on a journey.
Keeping track of new music is a full-time job in itself. So, whether I’m at work in at Goldfish or out of the office, I tend to have music on. It picks you up or it can bring you down (after a stressful day). Whether running, driving, or walking the dog, music really is the answer.
Check out Back2Basics on RTE Pulse at 11pm each Wednesday. Click here: rte.ie/listen/pulse. The archives can be listened too here: http://pulse.rte.ie/category/presenters/back2basics/