Let’s get few years back and remind of how bassline house sounded in the beginning and when everyone was excited about it. Think of times when it wasnt so easy to get such music, there were no mp3 bassline shops and the on and only way to get that kind of stuff was vinyls. These days have gone forever, bassline evoluted into something different.
‘Bassline House Classics’ its everymonth mixes series taking us back to those days. You will find organs with bit of warpers, uforgettable vocals and bumpy catchy melodies – it was exactly what we wanted and needed.
Shaun Lever is one of the most exciting persons of the older generations. He has succeded makin stuff influenced by classic 90s electronic-dance-music with nowadays trends. We asked him few questions about his music activity. We also have some exclusive tracks which you won’t find anywhere else!
How did you spend your holidays time? Did you manage to witness or have something special during that time and wish to share to others?
I spend my holidays like most musicians and DJ’s, failing miserably to get away from music. Music doesn’t just get in your soul, it becomes your soul and no matter what you try to do, where you go, it never goes away. You try to find a bar in a remote Spanish town with no music and you just end letting the ambience inspire musical thought. It’s like fighting a losing battle you never wanted win in the first place. In the great scheme of things musicians never get a holiday, they just get a week of their wives or girlfriends snapping at you for trying to find out the name of a tune, or wandering off the beaten track to find a record store. I do love a holiday, I love to get drunk during the day, something I never really have the chance to do, I’m going away in September with just me, the iPod and San Miguel! Did I witness anything special? the only thing special was that for the first time ever I didn’t get recognised as the DJ from Bedroom. It’s my legacy. It happens every holiday! I’ve done things I’m so proud of that blow Bedroom into the water, but I’ll always get labelled with that. I suppose it’s where I made my name.
Boy Raver is you alias you produce tracks influenced by old skool rave. You play early house stuff on your RAVE-RADIO.COM. Is this kind of special history connected to it? When did you start making electronic music and mixing records?
I began mixing records when I realised I wasn’t good enough to play football professionally. I loved football and I still do. Remembering back I was about 10 years old. I was off form, I’d not scored in weeks and I missed a penalty in the playground and it just got me so down that I didn’t want to play again. That same weekend my Mother put on the top 40 countdown on BBC radio 1 whilst I had a bath. I remember it like it was yesterday, music never meant anything to me, the only music I ever liked was “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Bruno Brookes announced “And this week’s number 14 is Royal House – Can You Party”, it was like music finally meant something, it was so noisy, unique, full of antidisestablishmentarianism in contrast the pop music of the day and from September 1988 I fell in love with House music. I started building this vast collection of dance and hip hop records and some of the indie music that was big in Manchester. I’d never heard of mixing, then in 1990, this album dropped in the UK; Megabass. It was a kind of DJ mix with quick cuts and mash ups. I just wanted to emulate what Megabass did. At first it was the stop start tape mixes, then managed to jam together the vinyl and auxilery mode in my midi hifi and I could run two turntables through one system, manually guiding the records myself without the aid of a pitch control. In terms of a special history to Boy Raver and my show, it’s just me getting lost in the music i’ve always loved; just as many of the 80′s artists brought back Motown and the 90′s artists brought back disco, I brought back my thing. It’s not all I listen to, but its definitely my vibe. I always wanted to do Boy Raver or similar and when I left Trickbabies in November last year it just seemed the right time to do it.
Your radio shows which are prepared for Unity Radio (Manchester) differs from the selection you produce under Boy Raver. They are based on more modern sounds and seems to be more mainstream. How do you find playing so diverse music which actually combines 3 kinds of different music generations and quite different point of view into music, is it hard?
Well the great thing about Unity Radio is that Saturday afternoon show pretty much mirrors my Friday and Saturday night sets. I don’t like playing music that goes over the listener’s head. It’s their show, not mine. I’m just the guy bringing everyone together after their hard week at work and my aim is to set their mood for that night. It’s not about me playing someone’s new track because I want to look cool in front of some listeners. I’ve got a podcast where I can do that! If the listener want to hear “Show Me Love” then that’s what they get! I may not play it the way they expect but I know by the feedback of the listener that I’m serving my purpose. The same applies to my weekend residencies so its not hard. In terms of making the music gel I have 21 years of experience, ten of which were with the Galaxy network so I mostly use a format and template to make the music flow. I’ll start with the classics and slowly build into the big new current club bangers but try to refer back to the well known tracks that get the listener singing! The Boy Raver music actually helps marry the two quite well!
Not quite long time ago you released Boy Raver ‘The Album’ Vol.2 right? Is it familiar to what we have heard on Vol.1? Do you find realistic to make cd mixes in free soundcloud and mixcloud era?
The second album is more of the same but I concentrated on good piano riffs and music content this time rather than big rave noises. I love the rave noises but that album sold ridiculously well. My mate from HMV showed me the sales report and I outsold some chart albums in some stores so I took the sound a little central. The aim was really to get some commercial remix work out of it. There’s such a gap in the market for this for labels. In an era of harder dance, the Boy Raver remixes have a good energy and are straight to the point. They appeal to adult clubbers as well as younger clubbers. I think any label reading this should think about booking a remix!
Manchester will stay for ever a legendary place thanks to Hacienda and everything around it. What is worth mentioning in your area that has been going on last times?
There’s so much going on in Manchester, I see DJ’s and musicians all the time at the DJ shop I work part time in which is Soundbase Megastore. The issue I’ve found in recent years is that Subcultures we turned out in the 90’s aren’t being matched with today’s culture. Sure, Sankeys & Venus have some of the world’s greatest talent playing plus some real homegrown talent, but for every great thing we produce there are a hundred corporate venues ruining anything individual about my city. It’s all well and good being commercial but the sterile crap that these venues are forcing DJ’s to play just makes me sick! I’m not afraid to play a chart record, if its what the crowd like then they get it but I at least try to remix it or mash it. Our students used to bring the cool sounds forward. The Chemical Brothers for example were big student DJ’s but todays students are listening to fucking Steps, drinking Jegerbombs, reading 50 shades of Grey instead of Marx’s Communist Manifesto. The corporates have really done Manchester over. The thing that gets me, more than anything is the irony that the Hacienda is now luxury flats and the clubs directly below it have to turn their music down after midnight because of complaints by people living there! I hope Tony Wilson’s gets some pulling power in heaven cos I’d love to see those flats burn to the ground! Anyway, to directly answer your question, the Hacienda made Manchester legendary as the birth of Acid house in the UK mirrored by the poverty and social decay of Chicago. Graeme Park and Mike Pickering like Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played out a soundtrack to our lives, just as Bamabaataa did with the Bronx in the late 70’s. sure, the history will always be there but in a world entirely comprised of marketplace brainwashing where we see information with all the value and longevity of taking black paint to our eyes, I think the Hacienda will have little impact on the future. What have memories of a room full of every social group under the sun united by music and drugs got on a glamorous corporate venue which will sooner or later probably scan your phone for your social network profile and play music videos automatically through an iPad based on the data of the people who spend the most money in a venue?
What artist have done an impression on you lately ? Are there any figures that inspires you?
It’s not a great era for music for me right now, part of the reason Boy Raver came about. I like music to be uplifting but I’ve always hated these awful cheesy synth riffs. I’m not over the exactly over the moon with Swedish House Mafia and Avicii etc and I definitely can’t be doing with artists that just make knock offs of that sound but I quite like Eats Everything. It’s a good sound, something I’d pay to listen to live. Kind of retro culture but brought forward. I like the way he EQ’s stuff. Loads of sub and the great thing is that its accessable for everyone. If I’m honest I like a lot of bashment and RnB. There’s always some great records come out of that scene whilst that scene isn’t too hot. I love the latest Alicia Keys records, Mavado’s latest thing is great as well. One artist I love is Coldcutz who make Jackin’ house. They’ve got this sound and it just stands out a mile.
What do you think of latest technology inventions like serato and more and more prevalent controlers with laptops? How do you find vinyls?
Well in an ideal world I’d still be on vinyl! I still press vinyl dubplates of all Boy Raver stuff! I always have a turntable in my DJ booth and always will but I play off a midi controller. I like Traktor. I just feel there’s never quite been a controller that I really love enough to change from my Reloop Digital Jockey though. I’m sure I’ll trade up when I’m ready but as much as technology changes, what else do you really need a piece of DJ gear to do other that play 2 tracks simultaneously and use a few loop points? I played on the latest Pioneer controller a few weeks ago and the concept was good but I just didn’t feel it had taken technology far enough. I want a controller to have a built in HD, 4 wheels, good protection from drink spills, less looking at a screen (more looking at a crowd), easy use with video DJ-ing, crash proof. If it doesn’t have those then I’m staying on my trusty Reloop controller.
Three records you would take to desert island?
New Radicals – You Get What You Give, ASHA – JJ Tribute, Risko Connections – Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us
A gig or a club you mention the most? Tell me about it.
For me its all about residencies and my Saturday night at Darli Lounge in Warrington. It’s a commercial gig. Many people ask why I still play commercial residencies instead of credible house nights and to be honest I just love the challenge of a mainstream club. There’s more reward making music you believe in work to a commercial crowd than playing to a crowd that are in a venue for a vibe. I find in venues like that I don’t do too well. Many people just seem to be there to be seen, to identify and when they see me dancing in my booth like a mad man I get the impression they just dismiss me as an embarrassment. I’m just so passionate about music, how can a DJ stay still and not dance to the music they’re playing? Come on! It’s the best job in the world, so many DJ’s look like miserable twats and I just feel like reminding them that some of the crowd they’re playing to have horrible day jobs, you should be jumping for joy in that booth! You’re not the one who’s dealing with idiots all day sweating in a call centre.
What do you think of nowadays clubbers generation. Do they differ alot from those back in the times when you had started you career?
Clubbers are just clubbers, they come to dance just as they did in the 90’s and just as they did in previous generations. There’s differences which technology has conditioned and market forces have controlled. Clubbers seem less impressed by mixing these days. I pull off some blinding mixes sometimes and it goes under the radar yet there can be a DJ in the same town playing someone else’s mix CD sometimes and get the same crowd and reaction. It makes me feel physically sick. It’s harder to break an unknown track these days, especially in the heart of the UK’s recession. My real beef is how much cocaine is wrecking the attitude of clubbers. Clubbers used to be polite and respect the DJ. Nowerdays far too many of them are shoving shit powder up their nose and behaving like dicks. I never ever asked for a thankyou for playing a track as a request, its my job, but I ALWAYS insist on a please. It’s not difficult. I’d never go into their workplace and speak to them like shit so I wont let anyone do the same. Unfortunately todays clubbers are force fed so much ignorance through mass media programming that they don’t know the difference. There’s features on the radio now called “you demand”. It rubs off, people demanding requests next. It doesn’t work that way but it’s the generation that wants everything NOW. The way technology and marketing is heading they will probably get their way soon.
Tell us about your closest plans and why do you like SmashinTracks.com
I plan to release a third and final Boy Raver album at Christmas which is almost finished, after that I’m just going to use new Boy Raver tracks on compilations and release the tracks. I’m hoping to get more remixes done as Boy Raver. I intend to do some more tracks under my Smiley Happy dubz alter ego as well as some collaborations and more mash ups for my DJ set. Smahintracks is superb for those remixes and tracks you wont get anywhere else. It’s the web equivalent of that record shop off the beaten track you always go out of your way because you know you’ll get a real gem. One of my biggest tracks all year, “Harp tune” by Craig V came from this site. As well as that smashintracks has this real trademark of an oldskool sound. It’s just my vibe.
‘CJ Reign - co-owner of Urban Impulz Records and the most prolific figure of underground garage scene.His tracks are mixture of old skool deep UKG style and funky tasty us garage sauce.For the end of summer, we have special interview, special mixtape + some exclusive tracks you won’t find anywhere else!’
The holiday is coming to an end. How did you spend it? Did you have any exciting adventure?
I spent my holliday in few places, at my parent’s summer house and in Gdansk (Poland). Me and my girlfriend had a quite odd situation while travelling to Gdansk, actually a travel attempt. We wanted to go by night train that goes from Krakow do Kolobrzeg. But, there was no possibility to travel, because of the overcrowded wagons and the 2 hour train delay. We decided to abandon being upset and fortunately decided to go by bus. And it was much more comfortable journey, much quieter and shorter than we thought. Where in the train there had been parties, people walking all over to the toilets every second, sleeping between the wagons. It was all just a throng. We laugh now, but then it wasn’t that funny at all.
If you was about to sum up this year what was your the biggest influence and what made the biggest impression on you?
I had known wonderful guitarist Peter Frampton music, seen and heard DJ Q-bert live, had an opportunity to see The Swan Lake. These made huge impression on me. Besides, loads of different music things like from new tracks, some video clips, to some music weirdos tagged with music.
How did it happen you become producing tracks? How long are you doing that?
Production hauled me in many years ago, I guess it was at th beginning of 1997 as I remember. Music is playing inside of me since I was listening to music much more mindfully. I was always interested in set ups, musicians, etc. Hence, I had always in the back of my head to try. I had tried, and it started.
You’re producing under many aliases such as 90 Year Old Man, Mick Jacker. Which one costs you the most? Are there any other projects we don’t know?
It’s bit odd with these aliases. I wasn’t that interested in naming my stuff with other than CJ Reign. Despite making very different stuff, I was naming it by one and only CJ Reign. But there it happened, my friend Martino.B convinced me to change it. It turned out, that I suddenly have few aliases. Mentioned above two destined for more club publics, more chill out/psychedelic trancey Panda On The Bamboo Tree, CJ Reign of course and few more I would like not to mention
How does it look like when making a track? What’s comes first? How is the process looking?
Well, I don’t have a schema for making tracks, it depends what comes first, sometimes it’s the beat, some chords or just a bass melody. Of course, remixing starts different, because for example there a vocal as a base, im starting with the melody, finding the right chords and the it goes. Spontaneous. It’s just emotions Im working on the ground, sounds heard earlier or willing to make something totally new. It happens I’m making track in one or two days. That’s the natural emotion, I call it an acumen.
Seeing your older mix tapes you made enormous number of tracks but just 1/3 of them were released. Is it on purpose?
Partially yes. I reached a conclusion one day my sets are unique thanks to that. Other thing - when i make one track, i take for another, it’s just stronger than me. And when it comes to prepare my stuff for release, i’m starting another one cause Ive got some ideas in my head and so on. I pigeonhole releasing my stuff and at the end there are so many tunes I just don’t know which i should start with. And there are thousands of ideas started and few tracks are still waiting to be finished. It’s just me.
Ministry Of Sound released double cd album ‘The sound Of UK Garage’ this year, where your remix of ‘So Sweetly’ for Shaun Escoffery is there, how did this happen? Don’t you think it’s 2011 uk garage scene revival?
I will start that it was huge surprise for me. It’s something big to be on MOS mixed cd album. I made it some time before the album as a request of my good friend DJ Noodles from Groove Chronicles/DPR. It also clicked to mr FiSKiN who mixed the this album, so it came out. It’s a singal for myself there\s loads coming on in uk garage. Nothing but just being happy about it.
Definitely open air in Rybnik in July this year. The atmosphere and crowd were just out of this world. The reaction was spontaneous, screamed shout and put their hands up. Fantastic contact with crowd. I was jumping to the music myself. Good was the set up was isolated well, because the needles could have skipped
Is there any artist in the world you would like to cooperate?
There are many but first of all would be MJ Cole when speaking of producers and Shaun Escoffery when speaking of vocalists. Though, I remixed the second one already and this makes me very happy.
You are playing two 1hour radio shows each and every monday on Urban Impulz Radio and Proradio.pl. How much it takes to you to make a selection, do you sugest with anything you want to play?
Actually im doing it very seldom. Mostly it’s just that I’m in the mood to play this and that, it’s a total spontaneous dj mix. I’im just searching in my collection for a record, picking up one, putting in the mix and that’s it. I don’t have settled playlists before playing. It’s the same way when playing live at the gigs.
During your gigs you’re practically changing the genres. It is very often you put darker 2step after a vocal track and after that playing old skool dnb and the suddenly filtered house. You don’t hang tough one style, so it’s different than in your radio shows. Tell us something about it.
It’s like that I don’t like to bore people. I prefer eclectism. I would bore myself playing one strict style for about 2 hours. It’s quite different in my radio shows, it’s all about keeping stuff similiar, though im changing subgenres. In turn, when playing live, it’s total change every tune. I know people sometimes react different on this, but that’s my style for many years now, it’s just what I like the most.
Things changed, it is very often in clubs to see dj’s with controllers and taking look at their laptops. What’s your point of view on this? What’s your favourite set up?
To me it is normal that technology is moving forward and dj’s set ups are changing. I don’t have anything in opposite who plays using what gear. Music is important and the effects you get. I f someone’s creative and is able to play using two sell phones, so why not? J Speaking of myself, it could be said im winyl orthodox. I just like to touch it, feel it, smell it, wave it around when it’s hot. It has it’s own charm. Though, DVS has the possibility to play mp3’s using special vinyls. But picking up and putting down the vinyl is fun. It’s mystic for me.
What was your growing up in Zgierz/Lodz? Did this what happened here influenced you? What were you into the most?
Zgierz city is just like the subburbs for Łódź, but it is close enough so the gigs in city centre echoed in my ears and I was able to listen to much variety of club music. Of course, much influence on me had radio shows back in the day, later gigs, atmosphere and people. Many factors influenced on my today’s music taste. The big boom for music back in mid 90’s made me listening to everything, actually I was abrosbing everything. I was just like a hungry music wolf.
What is your judgement on polish electronic scene?
It’s hard for me to say being represent only on garage niche genre, but if there is still something going on like gigs or open air events, someone still is asking me for a remix, so it’s not so bad. Think now of the other styles like drumnbass, electro, or house music. It’s quite ok. I recon.
How do you relax when not making music?
I listen to music, but more chill out one. I cannot live with out it. Add some good book to this, or some even home works. Or just good addicting movie. Besides, some sports, walks and of course small talks with friends. So just like a normal man
What can we expect from yourself in forthoming few months?