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Vinyl Junkie is a veteran of the scene having been around since 1991, He has played for some of the UK's biggest promoters over the years including Dreamscape, Raindance, Fantazia, Universe Tribal Gathering, Quest, Obsession and many more... He has become a regular fixture at Glastonbury festival and made his Debut appearance at Boomtown in 2015, opening the Banghai Palace. We have swung by to ask him a few questions on his career and what he is up to next!
How did the name Vinyl Junkie come about?
It was actually something I saw on a flyer back in 1989. It was listed as one of the attractions. It said something like: Full Colour Laser Show, 50K Sound System, Cut Masters, Spin Doctors, Turntable Wizards, Vinyl Junkies etc. etc.… I thought… “Hmmm… Vinyl Junkie… That would make a cool DJ name. If I ever take up DJing. That’s what I’ll call myself”
As a Vinyl Junkie, do you just play vinyl?
No. I rarely play vinyl these days. I made the transition to CD’s in 2009 and about a year ago I upgraded to USB’s and Rekordbox. Playing vinyl became a ball ache because I was finding that most DJ’s were playing CD’s and you would turn up to play vinyl to find the decks weren’t set up properly and the needles were crap and there was feedback and the decks jumped. All that stuff… And it just makes you look bad! So I thought FUCK IT!! I bit the bullet and bought a set of CDJ’s. I love playing vinyl and I have done a couple of vinyl sets lately but I will only do it I know the decks are gonna be tip-top. ☺
Where about are you based at the moment?
Can you go back to 1991 and tell us how the Chipping Sodbury festival link up occurred? Where was that based and can you describe the difference in music to people just hitting the scene now?
Chipping Sodbury festival was basically the remnants of a free festival that had been running for years on the outskirts of Bristol in a place called Ingleston Common. Amidst all the free parties that had been going on in 1991, the police decided that they weren’t going to tolerate it any more and set up roadblocks to stop everyone getting in. So they found another site… Chipping Sodbury! Ingleston common had always been more of a hippy kinda thing though, with rock bands and that… I used to go every year because you could always get some nice hash there off the hippies… ☺ I even saw Hawkwind there one year playing in a tent to about 100 people. But because of the whole free party scene in 1991 that had been building up, Chipping Sodbury became a rave rather than a hippyfest… LOL. The main tent was Circus Warp and DIY also had a stage there. I had been playing at loads of the traveller raves prior to Chipping Sodbury so I already knew the Circus Warp crew. That’s how I managed to get a set there.
1993 you got booked in the main arena at the first Universe Tribal Gathering. How did that come about and what was it like.
I feel blessed to have played at that. One of the most pivotal and iconic events of the rave scene in my opinion. For me that was when the rave scene hit its peak. Playing there was fuckin amazing… I played first but the tent filled up pretty quick. I reckon there were probably 6000-7000 people in there by the end of my set… and that sound system!! That was the biggest rig I’d ever been let loose on. 100K!!! WOW…. Talk about a wall of sound… The whole thing came about through me being resident at one of the biggest events in Bristol at that time. It was called Vibes Alive and it was held in a marquee tent in the grounds of the UWE (University of the West of England). They were amazing parties and I played at all of them over a 3-year period. I had met Paul Shurey and Rob Bryant plenty of times at free parties and stuff and I was always hassling them to let me play at Universe… then at one of the Vibes Alive parties Nipper was ½ hour late so being resident I got to play to a prime time crowd of about 1500 people. It went off. That’s when Paul Shurey heard me play properly for the first time. He contacted Hugo (the promoter of Vibes Alive) and got my number. Monday morning I got the call… he asked me to send him a demo, which was odd, as he had heard me play a few nights before… But I did the demo that morning and sent it to him straight away on a trusty old TDK C60. The next day at about 4.30 he called me again and booked me!!! LOL… It was such an amazing feeling getting booked for that, I even remember the time of day!! ☺ I
In 1996 John Peel (RIP) put your tune “Cant Forget” in his Top 50 tunes of 1996 and said it was his wife's favourite tune of the year. An honour, how did that make you feel?
I was shittin' myself. The track sampled a massive chunk from a Mariah Carey tune. Every time it got played on the radio I was cringing and expecting a knock on the door!! But of course I felt honoured that John and his wife liked the tune so much. A few years later I was contacted by Radio 1, asking if they could license the track for a compilation that John was compiling. I said to the guy, “Have you actually listened to the track?” he said “No, Why?” I said “Because it has a massive sample from a Mariah Carey tune”… That was the end of that! LOL.
Over the years you have played many styles. What genres do you play now??
Well the majority of my booking at the moment are to play Jungle / D&B, and that’s the sound we are mainly pushing with the label. But I do still play Old Skool from 1989 – 1994 in all its guises whether it be Acid House, Belgian Techno, 92-93 Hardcore, early jungle… whatever. And I also still play the 140 style Jungle Breaks as well and still rep that with the label too.
What countries have you played abroad?
Spain and Germany on numerous occasions and Poland once. Almost went to Austria once as well but it all fell through at the last minute.
You have won a couple of awards; can you tell us where and what for?
Yeah they were at the Nu-Rave Awards, which aren’t going anymore. In 2010 I won the Music Scene award, which was basically for outstanding contribution to the scene. Then in 2011 I won Best Album for a compilation I had compiled for Bunter & Slipmatts label: Can You Feel It Media… The album was called “Future Rave Anthems 4”
You're a regular at Glastonbury now, where can we catch you this year?
Maybe! I can’t really disclose anything yet. Nothing is 100% confirmed and Glastonbury are very tight with keeping the line-up locked down until they officially release it. So you will just have to wait and see ☺
You have played in the Temple at Glastonbury the last 2 years running though… What was that like?
Awesome. Those 2 gigs would rank up there any my top 5 ever gigs… Easy… the venue, the vibe, the atmosphere, the people, the whole thing really. There’s something kind of spiritual about it. I just love going to Glasto. It’s like an escape from the real world for a week… I actually met Michael Eavis as well last year. He came up behind the decks just before I was about to play. That was surreal. I played in Salon Carousel on the Sunday night as well last year… That was pretty sick… very messy… I got to say a big up to Ryan & Steve at the Common and to Stivs & Nass and all the Salon Carousel Crew for looking after me.
2015 you made your debut at Boomtown. Can you tell us what you love so much about festivals?
Yeah that was epic, opening the Banghai Palace… what a buzz. Resist and me were the first DJ’s to ever play on that stage which is quite a thing I think!! Big Up Wonka and all the Boomtown crew for making that happen. I just love the vibe of being at festivals as well as playing at them. I think you have more musical freedom when playing at festivals as opposed to clubs. I think the people are more open to different things…
You're working now with MC Trafic who is wicked. How did you meet?
Yeah Trafic is a really talented guy and I think he will go far. He also does hip-hop and has a really unique style. We met through a guy called Jamie Netcott who runs a night called Bristol Sounds. I was looking for an MC to work with and Jamie suggest that Johnny was the best up & coming MC in Bristol. So I went along to a few events he was MCing at and sure enough… He was wicked!! I also work with the badman Joe Peng of Laid Blak fame who is still one of my favourite MC’s of all time! Production wise, I will be getting in the studio soon to make a few bangers with Trafic. I’ve already got a track that me and Sanxion did with Joe Peng called “Soldier” which will be out in the summer sometime with a few remixes.
Cool, you and Trafic have got a mix for us haven’t you? Tell me more?
Yeah we did a mix back in November and just used it as a demo mix to send out to some promoters. At the time we couldn’t put it up for download because of all the unreleased music on there, but I think they are all out now. So thought it would be a perfect thing to give away with this interview.
Ghetto Dub Recordings is your new label, can you tell us about that and the artists you're signing?
Yeah that’s a little project I am doing with my partner Rachael EC. We are just about to unleash our 4th release, on which Rachael and myself are also the artist. A track called CUT IT LOOSE, which is actually Raches first venture into the world of production, so were quite excited about that. It’s a hard-hitting D&B number with a couple of remixes including one from DJ Hybrid, one from Sanxion and one from Shotty 4HF. This comes out on 15th March… We have some cool artists signed (some exclusive, some not) including Kazan, Sound Shifter, X-E-Dos, Sanxion, Aftermath, Ikon B & Crisis, Strange Rollers and Secure Unit. We also have a totally sick jungle tune from hardcore techno rudeboy The DJ Producer. Just wait til that drops. Ghetto Dub is really about pushing the boundaries. We’re not just releasing Jungle/D&B although that is probably the most predominant genre on the label. But were also up for Breaks, Bass, Reggae, Dub… Possibly some Dubstep (the deeper stuff, not bro-step) and basically anything with a phat beat and heavy bassline, regardless of tempo. We encourage our artists to be a bit different and try different stuff. The label has already started to get some really cool support from really big names in the D&B scene like Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter, Grooverider, Ray Keith, Kenny Ken, Doc Scott, Potential Badboy and many others. I also have another label called Warehouse Wax which has been running since 2003 but that’s more of a Breaks thing…
What Daw are you on now and what are your favourite plug ins?
I use Logic X as my main DAW and sometimes I will rewire Ableton through it. But I also use Cubase sometimes. Sanxion, who I work with a lot is a bit of a wizard on Cubase, so when I am doing projects with him we use that. I have always switched between Logic and Cubase right back from the early days when it was all Atari computers and outboard samplers. So I am pretty proficient in both. I also teach both. Plug Ins… at the moment my fave synth plug-in is without a shadow of a doubt SERUM. That’s a BAD bit of kit. Also a vital plug-in for mixdowns is TRACKSPACER.
What's up next for you for 2016?
Absolutely loads going on. I have just had a release alongside Sanxion and Bushman (Jamaican Reggae Legend) on the mighty Asbo Records. TALK TOO MUCH. That’s out on vinyl as well. My first vinyl release in years. So were promoting that at the moment. It’s been getting some very high profile support. I have also just launched a new night alongside Rachael EC… Its called GHETTO BLAST. So a lot of time and effort going into that at the moment. We are also working on getting the GHETTO DUB website up and running and launching our merchandise line… oh and I almost forgot. There’s another colab I did with Rachael called FADE AWAY which features David Boomah on vocals. That will be out on Asbo later in the year too so keep your eyes peeled for that.
What gig are you looking forward to the most this summer?
Well if I do get booked… then Glastonbury Festival mainly. But also have some other pretty cool festivals lined up this year like Symmetry, Subsonic and Mind Festival with the Asbo crew. Looking forward to them all… And not forgetting on June 11th we have the second installment of our night GHETTO BLAST. For this one we are celebrating Rachael’s 40th birthday so that’s gonna be mint!! We got Bladerunner, The DJ Producer, Shock C, Dazee, King Yoof, Tango and of course Rachael and myself (plus loads more) you’re actually playing as well aren’t you? ;)
Any shout outs or thanks?
Well there’s 2 options here… Either I do a long-winded list that will take up a whole page of A4 and I will still forget someone and they will get upset with me…. Or I can take the easy way out and not mention any names… like this: Massive respect to everyone that has supported me over the years. All the promoters that have booked me, all the festivals that book me, all the ravers that have danced to my music. All the people that have bought my music. All the labels that have released my music or send me their promos. All the artists that I have met over the years and became friends with that now load me up with all their latest dubs. Everyone that supports our label Ghetto Dub. Everyone that helped out with promoting our first Ghetto Blast night and more importantly all the people that came to it and partied hard to celebrate my 25 years in the game!!
Anything else to add?
Yeah, don’t forget to check out the following releases: Vinyl Junkie & Sanxion ft. Bushman – Talk Too Much (Asbo) - OUT NOW
Vinyl Junkie & Rachael E.C – Cut It loose (Ghetto Dub) - OUT 15TH MARCH
And here’s another mix for you for all the oldskool lovers:
Thanks for your time and have a wicked 2016!
Your welcome. Thank you for taking the time to interview me. You have a good one too and see you on June 11th ☺
Interview by Aliina Atkinson (Missrepresent)