Robot 84 DJ Mix

What got you into music, early influences?

I suppose like most people with older siblings, it was my older brothers that got me into music at the age of about 8 or 9.   I was always listening to what my teenage brothers were playing in their rooms, anything from The Jam, Queen, Orange juice, to Japan!  All sorts of music , their music tastes were pretty diverse  considering we were living in early 80’s Scotland! I can particularly remember listening to my brothers 12” of Grandmaster Flash’ birthday party’ in 82 and thinking what is this!!! It sounded amazing as I had heard nothing like it, I was listening to stuff like The Specials, The Selector, The Beat, The Jam etc. A few years later a mate’s cousin from London who used to come up every summer would bring tapes from London, like early Kiss FM stuff which I started listening to with my closest mates, it was early electro and Rap mixed with soul & funk it was amazing. I remember the first time I heard Planet Rock by Africa Bambatta and thinking this is music from the future, my friends and I were  all into Breakin so it all went hand in hand, I would say this was the point that my musical journey really started, I started buying 12”s I think in the mid 80’s, I would buy 12” from Woolworth’s or John Menzies as we didn’t have a proper record shop, this was the only way of me getting 12”s I remember buying them for 10p in there, things like SOS Band, Sade, Jellybean, Terence Trent  D’arby, Midnight Star and  all sorts of 80’s soul, nobody was really  into that sort of stuff where I lived, there was a bucket full of them for 10p….so I bought loads!. From here it was just a natural progression into hip hop, me and few mates were listening  to stuff like KRS1, B.P.D, JUST ICE, SCHOOLY D, EPMD, PUBLIC ENEMY, NWA which again was mind blowing at the time, I remember thinking I was not going to listen to any other kind of music apart from hip hop,!  I loved it!  I can remember a one of my older brothers and his friends all moved down south, first to  Surrey then to Reading it was the late 80’s and  they all got caught up the in the ‘Summer of love’, they were going to clubs and listening Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker, Trevor fung etc  and kept telling me about house music and Balearic, which I had read about but never experienced, then in 89, I went down to Reading to stay with them for a  while and had my first experiences of  classic Frankie knuckles & David Morales’ mixes of inner city, Edie Brackell ‘what I am’ bootleg, I spent 1990 in London for the first time, going to clubs and buying records,  listening to DJ’s like Andrew Weatherall, Johnny Walker, Rocky & Diesel , Craig Walsh etc, The following year I moved back to Scotland, where I started going to Atlantis in Glasgow at the SubClub with Stuart Mcmillian, Orde Meikle & Harri and from there I knew I needed to start learning to DJ. I’ve never looked back, music has and always will be a big part of my life, from making music, DJing and Working in record shops,  buying records which I cant stop doing for obvious reasons!!!!!

When did you start djing where did you play, how were things back then?

I started djing in 1990 in small town in Scotland called Galashiels the place where I spent most of my childhood, I did about 6 or 7 gigs which some of my friends organised they were pretty crazy, such a great atmosphere, I played a varied mix from Depeche mode to Diana Ross , Frankie Knuckles or the lastest American import or Italian house tune!!  In 1991 I moved to Edinburgh where I became resident DJ at the Citrus Club djing with the likes of Justin Robertson, Dean Thacther, Craig Walsh, Glen gunner, Slam, Rocky & Diesel etc and also Djing with local guys Gareth sommerville and Craig Smith on the odd occasion.  A year later I was approached by Andy Williams aka YAM WHO? Whilst working at the legendary BOMBA Records in Glasgow to start a night in Edinburgh called CARBOLICK FROLICK which was a mixed club of Gay & straight people, it ran for a year.  The  first night we had STUART McMillian from SLAM which kicked right off, from here we were doing various nights in Art Gallerys or any interesting space we could get our hands on! Within two months we were  offered every Saturday night at the legendary exs  club in  Shandwick place, which held over 1000 people,  the club  doors opened at 10 pm and by 11.30 the place was packed to the rafters, it was crazy.  It seemed to get better and better every week, the atmosphere was electric, the crowd was amazing, we were playing anything from Donna summer, Jocelyn brown, Derrick may, underground resistance, primal scream to  De la soul, I suppose in a way it was quite a Balearic sound, although at the time due to the diversity of what we were playing we tried to avoid being labelled or pigeon holed as a particular genre, we just wanted to play good tunes to good people.  A highlight around this time was a feature  on Dave Dorrells BPM on ITV about Carbolick, and the club  was constantly in the top 3 in the UK in DJ Mag. We decided to try keep the club  as resident based as possible which meant that myself and Andy built up quite a following for future events.

Within a few months we started a new night called Dogtastic at La Belle Angel also in Edinburgh which held about 400 people, it felt a lot more underground, a direction I wanted to move in at this time.  We decided that we would include live acts such as FLUKE, FINITRIBE and guest dj’s such as JUAN ATKINS, JOSH WINK, ASHLEY BEEDLE, JON Da SILVA, ALEX KNIGHT etc, again, musically the door was wide open, we played what felt right at the time and always went with what the crowd were enjoying,  we would perhaps start the night at 90 bpm and build it up to a climax of 130 bpm, we  played Detroit techno, US house, disco, hip hop, reggae and Balearic classics.  Dogtastic was a great club I really enjoyed playing there it was a great space, brilliant sound system and a really good mixed crowd, unfortunately these things don’t last forever, and in my experience they come to a natural end for a variety of reasons. Just after dogtastic finished I became resident  at a club called Coup in Edinburgh I DJ’ed with Moodymann, David Holmes, Alton Miller.

When did you start producing? what names have you produced under?

I started getting involved in studios quite early round about 94 through various people I knew through working at Bomba.  At about this time I met one of my future partners Gordon smith AKA Blackbeard, I started doing tunes with Gordon around 1998,  then again in 2003 – 2006 , when we were both living in London.  We did tunes under a few different names the first was Basic Bob which was a fairly successful bootie and probably one of still my most proudest works, it was played by quite a few people , Francois K, JD twitch, Bill Brewster, Doc Martin, Radio 1 etc.  I followed on with a house tune under the name SPACEFACE “Carry on” which  ‘JP’ from Vinyl Junkies wanted to sign, but I passed it on to someone else, unfortunately it didn’t do that well, I sometimes think was this the wrong time to break into the scene as a producer, maybe the scene wasn’t doing much at that time in London, who knows?

My next Project was a series of remixes starting in 2004  under the name KOPIKAT and still with Gordon,  first being  A TRIBE CALLED QUEST followed by such as artists NAS, BEYONCE and ANGIE STONE, they were all received  well and played by the likes of GREG WILSON, ASHLEY BEEDLE, BILL BREWSTER, MARK RAE, YAM WHO? BLACKBEARD, FLOW DYNAMIC and DEEP SENSATION among others.   I felt that all these tunes fitted in well with the scene that was happening in London at that time, things were pretty R N B at that time.   Shortly after this I started up a small label called BLACKJAMM Records and released a few more 12”’s  under the name FUTURE.SOUL, these tunes were more disco,  I had a deal with TIMEWARP Distribution with this stuff but also round about that time quite a few Distribution companies started going bust, and then it was a domino effect and Timewarp went bust too! I think around this time a lot of distribution companies were closing, which made it difficult to release 12”.

Your FGH Bootleg was huge, what have you up to since?

Since the FRANKIE 12” , I’ve  been working on original ROBOT 84 tracks with a Vocalist two of which I’m nearly finished,  I also have  some re-edits  in the pipeline too, also a project with ISM records.  Last year, prior to the ‘Frankie’ tune I did ROBOT 84’s  ‘I need ur’ and it was released on Midnight riot 2, a Yam Who? Compilation LP, which was pretty well received,  I believe it was no.1 on the Juno download charts for about 5 weeks!!!.  I have my first official remix coming out at the end of Jan, it is  Pete Goodings ‘ same old street’ which is coming out on secret life music on the 29th Jan, then I have my first  ROBOT 84’ Can’t u see’ Release coming out in March on secret life, I also have some DJ mixes that will be featured on the Secret life blog in the coming weeks.  You should see a lot more from Robot 84 in 2013….

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