There you are in your bedroom with your finger on the pause button, cutting out all the chat, recording the Top 20… creating the perfect playlist… maybe you progress to recording vinyl tracks through a stack system… later still you try to blend the sounds.
It’s trial and error at first, but eventually you find the sweet spot, where one tune seems to morph perfectly into the next. This is pretty much how DJ Roscoe, who sees himself as being responsible for bringing rave music to Hull, began.
In a lock up on marina known as the time machine, I am surrounded by thousands of vinyl records. Shelves stacked with everything from disco classics, indie, punk, pop, reggae, dub step, ragga and a whole lot more. This haven for lost vinyl, is decorated with artwork depicting musical icons. Technics logos hang from the ceiling and old club-night memorabilia is framed on the wall. On occasion, the space transforms into a unique bijou warehouse club, for the discerning music fan.
A DJ for 36 years, Roscoe real name John Rose, started building his vinyl collection aged 8. Later as a teen, he continued collecting vinyl and increased his knowledge of tunes, by spending hours at clubs, talking to DJs writing down track titles and experimenting himself, with his nan’s turntable. In that way he first heard the sound of dance and electro pioneers FDR Project and 808 State.
Progressive in his thinking he began Hull’s first rave night called Amalgamation. It was based on an idea of mutual exchange with nearby cities. Fans of this new underground music would travel to Hull one weekend for a secret rave, and then the following weekend Hull fans would travel out of town for the away rave.
‘It was an escape from reality. It was all about going out and having fun, getting away from everything else.’
Over the next decade Roscoe helped to put Hull on the rave scene map. Rave culture grew, clubs attracted bigger names which in turn meant more money, meanwhile pirate radio stations sprung up around the city, such as Twilight FM, further fuelling the appetite for rave music locally. Roscoe played up and down the country, all the while adding to his collection and his vast knowledge of underground music.
With the arrival of the compact disc, the availability and popularity of vinyl diminished, the fun waned and John lost interest in the DJ game. It had all become too money-driven, all about Superstar DJs and heavily branded clubs. ‘I never wanted to play the commercial stuff.’ he explains. His passion for spending £250.00 quid a week on new tunes, waned : the rave music scene and Roscoe moved on.
Michael ‘Barney‘ Winters a Bristolian by birth, now living and working in Hull, grew up in a very musical household. He recalls a kind of multicultural environment, which he fondly refers to as ‘Sesame Street.’ At a young age Barney was exposed to Jamaican music, blue beat, two-tone and ska. He developed a taste for the eclectic and an openness to many different genres of music and art. By day he worked in a bank and by night he deejayed at art and fashion shows.
Barney moved to the North West just as the Madchester scene was emerging. Next door to where he lived in Hulme, there lived Steve Williams, he played at raves in Blackburn and at the Hacienda Club. It was this connection that drew Barney right into the heart of Manchester. Barney used his creative flair doing graphic designs and later set up a DJ programme at the venue Dry 201. Recently at Residents@Freedom he opened his set with Fool’s Gold a seminal nineties tune by the Stone Roses.
Cory Dillon scoured charity shops with his partner in crime Bill Kirby during their early days in 2004/5 building up a vast collection of left field alternative tunes. Performing as a novelty electro outfit called TopGun they were offered their first deejaying gig at New Years Eve at the New Adelphi Club, a Mecca for music in Hull. The night was such a success, with the two of them playing tracks from the 50p charity basket that Charity Shop DJ was born almost overnight.
‘We just had one deck and we lifted the needle each time, placed the record down, and played one track after the next and everybody loved it.’
Daniel and Mark Richardson see themselves as collectors first and as DJs some way after that. ‘It’s a hobby to us and one that requires a full time job to fund!‘ They first began playing records to audiences, whilst in a HipHop/funk band called Universal Magnetic in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. They wanted their gigs to feel more like parties, the records they played were an important part in building the atmosphere for the show. The buzz around these parties attracted Pete Robinson from the Onion Club/Pearl’s Cab Ride and Mad Skills DJs.
‘It was an opportunity to use DJing as an expression of what we were into and share some of the musical discoveries we’d found trawling record shops across the country.’
So what is it that is going on? Why do people enjoy going out to a club and listening, to someone else playing tunes?
For Cory D, who packs them in at the popular Welly Club every Saturday night for Shuffle, the connection between DJ and crowd couldn’t be more important. ‘ My job is to keep people dancing,’ he states. ‘I play records for five hours in the main room and keep people dancing, drinking and having a good night out.’ Cory knows if the crowd see him dancing behind the decks and having a good time, they will too. When he spins a great tune you can clearly see him dancing and really getting into the track, so you do all the more.
‘If I’m having fun, then the crowd does.’ Cory D
The true pleasure for Dan and Mark lies in having been able to bring some of their favourite DJs and record collectors to Hull to play at their nights. Names like Keb Darge, Cosmic Keith Pavinyl and Fonsoul from Barcelona. Through their audience awareness, they have built up a loyal following that regularly travel through to Hull, from Sheffield, York, Scarborough, Manchester, Lincoln and further afield.
‘I think it’s all about connecting.’ Barney explains: music connects people from different cultures and backgrounds, especially dance music, it’s universal like going back to the womb to hear the mother’s heartbeat.
‘It’s important to feel the music.’ adds Rosco, underlining the multi-sensory appeal of experiencing music in a public space. It is not just an aural experience, but a full body sensation. Every moment is different, it is a live experience, you respond to the sound in the moment, that moment is then multiplied from the presence and response of the rest of the crowd. When a disc jockey gets it just right the excitement will ripple through the dancers like a wave: the atmosphere changes, it is like nothing else, it’s a celebration of unity, a oneness: euphoria.
Working at night runs counter to the body’s natural circadian rhythm, the circadian clock, is like a timer that governs the release of certain chemicals that control mood, alertness and body temperature. Working at night disrupts the body-cycle, and hours of sleep during the daytime does not make up for the circadian imbalance. Despite these physiological concerns, some report that creativity levels are actually increased during the hours of darkness.
‘My creative side operates better at night,‘ Barney says.
At Shuffle, Cory plays all manner of tunes, delving into his charity shop record box, he pulls forth tunes that people remember the first around. There is nothing better than when you are out with your mates and you hear your tune, maybe it’s a bit out there, but there it is, that tune that spoke to the you of way back then. ‘New songs just don’t have the same longevity as the old ones,’
That is what Cory is looking to do at Shuffle; he’s responding to that nostalgic vibe, taking you back to your younger days maybe dancing to Girl From Mars or The Wannadies and thinking for that moment nothing else matters, you are in your element.
It is that same desire for nostalgia and connecting with another time, that Mark and Dan’s night ‘The ITCH’ is borne out of. After spinning tunes at the Original Brew parties it became apparent that it was the Rock n Roll and R&B records from the fifties & sixties, that were getting people up dancing and it is this, that they have found themselves playing more and more of.
“There have been many great DJ experiences, but two that rank up there are supporting Cut Chemist at Welly (that seems like a long time ago!) and being invited to play in Barcelona. A small night in Hull being recognised as far away as Barcelona for the quality of the records they play, really is quite something!”
‘For me I love playing a track that stops everyone in theirs,‘Barney again. During his debut set at Residents Association he memorably played Mr Blue Sky, we looked at one another and agreed it was a master stroke: it had a touch of daring and class, rolled into one.
The deejays camped out in Rosco’s time machine agree, that it is important to see yourself as an equal, it’s about maintaining a relationship between you, the music and the crowd.
Talking and reminiscing, we get on to the subject of mix-tapes, curating playlists on a C90. They allowed you to make a statement about who you were, or to take someone else on a journey through your music tastes. It was a great way to turn others on to new music, music that they wouldn’t ordinarily choose to listen to.
There you are, in your bedroom with your finger on the pause button, cutting out all the chat, recording the Top 20…
Barney: Top 5 to surprise and connect
(in no paricular order!) Mr Blue Sky- ELO, Chip Off the Old Block- Chic, (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang- Heaven 17, Ain’t No Mountain high Enough- Inner Life, LVL 07 – LEVELZ, Fool’s Gold – The Stone Roses (that’s six!)
Cory D: Top 5 to get people dancing: Roots Manuva – Witness (1 Hope), Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough, Toots & The Maytals – 54-46 Was My Number, Beastie Boys – Sabotage, Underworld – Born Slippy
Mark and Dan: Ask me next week and it might be different but here are 5 that get people dancing at The ITCH… Johnny Knight- Rock n roll guitar, Saxie Russell – Come dance with me, Freddie Cannon – Little bitty Corrine, Danny goode – Let’s dance, Barry White – Tracy
Cory D at Shuffle every Saturday at Welly Club on Beverley Road.
Barney, when not curating and creating at Arts For Hull, plays at the end-of the-month Residents Associations at Adelphi.
DJ Roscoe did do a set at Silent Disco this year at Freedom Festival, so an imminent return should not be ruled out.
Dan and Mark Richardson will be spinning the tunes for The ITCH pt5 50/60s Record Hop at Thieving Harry’s Nov 14 from 8.30pm