Strange Things Happened To Richard Norris

To celebrate the publication of Richard Norris’s excellent memoir, we’ve exhumed this brilliant 2010 interview from our capacious vault. In this wide-ranging interview, we cover lots of ground that Richard writes so well about in Strange Things Are Happening, from his teenage punk band, the Innocent Vicars, through to Jack The Tab with Genesis P. Orridge, The Grid and his solo project Time & Space Machine. A vivid account of clubland and beyond (the wizard’s sleeve).

What thing are you most proud of?
The thing that I’m most proud of is generally just the ability to keep making records really. Looking at it as a long haul rather than instant gratification is the thing that I’m proud of and I think the way I make records now has definitely got that in mind. I’m aware of current trends but I’m thinking a little bit like what they’ll sound like in twenty years’ time as much as two weeks’ time. In terms of music, probably ‘Floatation’, The Grid’s first single, I would’ve thought would be up there just because it was quite a timely record in that it was sort of the peak of Balearic Ibiza period but just managing to kind of marry John Barry with Café Del Mar was quite an achievement. More recently, I think one of my favourite things has been the mix of ‘Roscoe’ by Midlake which, in terms of the Wizard’s Sleeve, is probably the one that, if we were going to do it again, we wouldn’t change at all. [Laughs]

How do you make sure the machines that you use don’t force you to make music their way?
I think there’s two parts to that. When people come round to my studio they’re quite surprised because I haven’t got racks and racks of gear. I only use very very minimal bits of equipment so my first thing is therefore melody and ideas rather than, ‘How does this computer’s internal logic work or how do I turn the reverb off?’ Also, I’ve been working on making a record and I’m writing the whole thing on just the one sound, which is just a quite, cheap Fender Rhodes copy, which is quite neutral. With modern technology you’ve got unlimited sources of sounds that you know that every time you do put up a sound it can lead you in different areas so I’m trying to pare it down to this one noise at the moment.

On the other hand, I like the machines talking as well so it’s like a bit of both. The thing I like the most is the bit where you can hear that it’s humans and machines, so it might be a very stark and very motorik rhythm but it’ll have a very human melody. That’s probably my favourite thing about music really, like Neu! where it sounds very machine-like but it’s actually quite human as well.

Do you always know when you’ve made a hit?
I don’t think so. I always think I’ve made a hit [laughs]. But yeah, I am an eternal optimist. When we [The Grid] did ‘Swamp Thing’ which was such a big hit, the record company said, ‘Right, well the last one’s got to number three so the next one’s got to be number one’. So we were going in to make a record with the pressure that it had to be number one. And you can’t really write like that and I think that if you do write about music thinking that it’s going to be a hit, it’s never going to be because it’d be just too contrived.

Do you think that’s because of who you are because I’m sure that someone like Stock, Aitken and Waterman would just knock them out, because that’s what they did.
Oh yeah, I think so. For me personally, it’s more difficult to make pop music than it is to make leftfield music but that may be just me, I’m sure Stock, Aitken and Waterman would tell you the opposite or Elton John would say the opposite. But I don’t know, I think because of the changing nature of the music business and also how I think about music, I’m not that interested in having a hit, but then success and a hit doesn’t necessarily have to be the same thing. Our [Beyond The Wizard’s sleeve] mix of ‘Roscoe’ was a hit to me.

Well, hit as in a song that has legs rather than necessarily getting into the charts.
I think you know when to finish, definitely. That can be quite hard if you’re working on your own, as I was doing with The Time & Space Machine record. There’s a natural period when you’ve done it and sometimes – particularly with remixes – if you do something and the record company come back and say, ‘Ooh, can you just change one little thing?’ It’s quite hard because you’ve kind of done it and the arc of it has gone to beginning, middle and end and you’re like, ‘Well, I can’t really…’

Why do you think DJing leads so naturally into producing and remixing?
The bit where it’s great is when you are remixing and then can go and play it out. I remember playing things out where the new T Bar is downstairs, they’ve got a lovely Funktion 1 system and just playing a few things on that before people were in the room and just hearing this great sound and how it’s going to work on the dancefloor really did affect what I did with the records. So it’s kind of hand-in-hand.

I mean, I started off aged fourteen playing guitar and shouting in a kind of Buzzcocks type band and so the music bit came first before the DJing. I’ve never really put myself up technically as an amazing DJ. I know how to do it but I’d say I’m much more a musician than DJ. They go together because of the process. If you are out and playing all the time and listening to other things and being in that environment and then you can bring that into the studio. And that kind of energy that you get on a Saturday night if you can bring that into the studio on a Tuesday morning then that’s great!

You said you were in a band at fourteen, what was the band?
We were called the Innocent Vicars.

Where did you grow up?
In St Albans and we did a little single and got my dad to drive me up to London, and it was the first time I’d come up to London. I’d kind of read about Rough Trade in the back of NME but I’d never been to any of them… So we stopped off at Rough Trade and they took half of the records and paid us money out of the till straight away so we paid for the whole pressing really with one stop at Rough Trade. And it was quite intimidating that shop. But, you know, they were great.

Then we went from there to the BBC and took the records to John Peel and just went up to the desk and asked to see him and he came down, took it and played it the next day so [laughs] so from then on I was like, ‘Right, this is what I want to do’. I think part of that was it was quite an interesting Undertones-y kind of record, but also because there was a little period of time where if you were really young and were writing and putting out records, it was really really encouraged by the generation above. There was a St Albans label called Waldo’s and they had bands like The Tea Set, The Bears and The Bodies and that became Bam Caruso Records which is the psychedelic re-issue label which I worked for later on. I remember going around to see them and they were really welcoming. As a little kid you thought they’d tell you to eff off but there was a definite period – I don’t know if it was particularly PC to encourage the kids? It was very open. It was lucky we hit that thing, I hope it’s the same for anyone that’s fourteen and making music. I hope the avenues are open like that. Because that was it for me after that, I knew what I wanted to do.

What happened to the rest of the Innocent Vicars?
Bloody hell! I don’t know actually! I think the drummer Cali looks after Nick Drake’s estate. The rest of them, I’ve got no idea. I haven’t heard from them in a long time. I have tried to track them down on numerous occasions. But I also found out that there’s another band called the Innocent Vicars in America who did a funk album but I’ve never found it. I’m wondering if this record actually exists because why would there be two bands called the same name when it’s such a ridiculous name?!

How did you wind up at Bam Caruso? Was punk your formative influence?
Yeah, pretty much. Just the excitement of it. There’s two things really. One was the DIY bit of it. But the other thing was the romanticism. Malcolm McLaren is looked upon as a bit dubious really but I like how he always seems to have a story, he has a romantic vision for everything. I really like that. I was always much more a Pistols person than a Clash person because of that. I just like the ideas he was bringing to it. Putting odd things together that didn’t really work, as he did later on with lots of other projects. I like the idea of DIY and of something dramatic.

I got into Bam Caruso through Waldo’s, run by this guy Phil Smee and Cali (who was the drummer in Innocent Vicars). Phil’s done a lot of sleeves for Ace and Charly; he did a lot of Elvis Costello records, designed the first Motorhead logo. He’s an amazing record collector. I used to go in the school holidays and work for him. He’s got this big house, there’s probably more records than furniture. I don’t know how many thousands. We used to sit there all day just making up cassettes of disco. I remember acquiring someone’s mobile disco collection and just sitting there all day making disco cassette tapes. We’d invent genres like ‘cosmic cowboy’, which was psychedelia but it had to have a slightly trippy edge to it. Phil invented the word ‘freakbeat’ which is basically mod gone a bit wrong. It was the most idyllic apprenticeship for 19 year old trainspotters. It was perfect. It was psychedelic university. Probably the most formative influence of my career was Phil. He was a very, very generous sort of character. Just allowed me to do what I want. We had a magazine called Strange Things Are Happening, which I was really encouraged in.

So after you were in the Innocent Vicars, were starting to produce in your bedroom?
Mainly guitars and little amplifers and…

TEAC four tracks and things like that?
Yeah a bit but I don’t think I even got that far. I used to get old radiograms from jumble sales. I used to get those and take the speakers out and weld them together and do different things with them. I used to do tape experiments with two tape recorders, very primitive double tracking.

Was that inspired by Cabaret Voltaire?
Pretty much. There was a record on Waldo’s called ‘X. ENC.’ by Nigel Simpkins, which was the same sort of period as Cabs. In that they cut up very old records and certainly Cali and Phil when they made tapes they would put in spoken word bits, I got really interested in that from then. By the time My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts came out I was fairly aware of using spoken word and stuff like that but that then was a big step for me. Even today there’s a strangeness about it that’s really appealing and it’s got a darkness but it’s got a funk to it as well. If there is one record that is most influential, I would say it’s that. It’s a fairly obvious one for people coming from sampling and stuff like that. But it was Phil and Cali that inspired me more than Eno.

What was the link between that and Jack The Tab?
Well we were writing this magazine Strange Things – it was a slightly more cult and fan-based version of Mojo. There’d be comics and books but anything that was slightly towards ‘60s psychedelia. I went to interview Genesis P. Orridge in about summer of 1987, ’cos we found out he was a fan of Bam Caruso and psychedelic records. Previously I thought he was some kind of strange Alastair Crowley nutter. I didn’t really think of him as being someone who was into the sort of records that he was. So we went to interview him about it and he was fascinating. I wasn’t a big Throbbing Gristle fan – they had a slight love/hate relationship with the press. But he was a real enthusiast. He introduced me to things like Martin Denny and he was really into Tiny Tim and he was massively into psychedelia as well. In terms of things like exotica, it hadn’t really surfaced yet and he was massively into that. He had a great dark sense of humour that was obviously being lost on people. People thought he was a po-faced mad magician or something. So we went to interview him and he said, ‘Have you heard of acid house?’ and I was like “No! but it sounds great… psychedelic dance music. Brilliant! Let’s do it.” He hadn’t heard any records either, he had just heard the words “acid house” because I don’t think there were any records then? There probably were some records. X-Ray’s ‘Let’s Go’ was probably earlier but we hadn’t heard anything. We just thought, “That sounds amazing, let’s go into a studio next week.”

So we went into a studio in Chiswick – it was probably September ’87 when we went in, there just happened to be this guy, Richard Evans, who went onto become the main engineer at Peter Gabriel’s studio years later. There was an Akai S950 and an Atari computer. I bought a load of people from Bam Caruso and Genesis brought a few of his mates including [Soft Cell’s] Dave Ball which is the first time I met him. We just sat there with piles of records and loads of videos and tapes and stuff and just put it all into the computer. And we had a rule that we had to record and mix a track in an hour. This guy was so fast on the computer and there were 12 of us in three rooms, including children and a dog and stuff and people sort of splicing a bit of tape over here and finding a bit on the VHS and throwing it all in. And everything was first take. There were a couple of keyboard players and so we just bunged it all in. And ever since, I always thought everything takes too long in studio because I was used to making records in an hour, which is such a weird concept these days. But it was great! It was just an amazing thing. So we made this record which we thought was acid house and by the time we’d finished it we’d heard some acid house. So we put out this one single which incorporated elements of an Adonis track, ‘No Way Back’. That was the first one we’d heard and by then we’d started hearing them and then we started going to Shoom just a bit after that.

Who’s ‘we’?
Me and Genesis P. Orridge, we all used to go to Shoom. And the first person we met was Andy Weatherall, walking down the stairs. Who very proudly showed off his Psychic TV tattoo which I think he’s since had covered up. And ever since Gen thought he was the King of Acid House because he thought he invented it. I really think he thought, ‘These are my people and this is my time’ and in a way, in his mind, it was. But I don’t know if anyone else would’ve felt the same. I remember everything was very kind of loved up at the time and he sent in his picture for his Shoom membership card wearing a T-shirt with “Hate” written on it and Jenni Rampling wasn’t very impressed. Didn’t quite fit into the peace and love manifesto [laughs]. We used to go down there every week. Lots of people couldn’t get in and we’d make sure we’d go before 12 and we’d always bring something, like a T-shirt or a record or something and they’d go, ‘Ah great, come in!’ It sort of dovetailed into going out really.

There’s something that I quite like about British music is when you hear something second-hand and you make up your own idea of what it would be like. The same happened in psychedelia, hearing about San Francisco and all that. To get the records it took quite a while, there was probably a delay of about a year.

Well, they all sound like Lewis Carroll Does San Francisco…
Yeah I think that’s partly ‘cause there wasn’t a war going on that affected the British people in that they might get drafted. We were allowed to revert back to childhood. It was our idea of what psychedelic music with sampling would sound like. And the weird thing about it is that it sounds like Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve. I’ve kind of gone full circle.

Obviously you saw the connection between psychedelia and acid house – it’s quite weird because it was a big break in dance music in this country because of all the old soul boys who had obviously been alienated by the psychedelic nature of it. But yet there were other people like Pete Tong who were quite straight in a lot of ways, embraced it. It was quite a strange time. Did the psychedelic aspect of it appeal to you?
Yeah, absolutely. Having worked at the psychedelic re-issue label and writing about that period, I was really disappointed that I’d missed it basically. So I thought, ‘Right, this is it, this is my time for something to go on.’ And it did feel really special. There was a self-consciousness about it, you knew there was something going on. Even though there weren’t that many people, not to start with anyway. The psychedelic thing, there are different strands that go together. I can definitely see it from Mancuso and his going to see Timothy Leary’s League of Spiritual Discovery talks and bringing that into The Loft. Because there’s definitely a psychedelic link there. Also there was a mix that we did of Findlay Brown’s ‘Losing The Will To Survive’ and Mancuso really liked it but he wouldn’t play it because the lyrics were negative. And I thought that was really interesting that there’s this thing that goes through all the records that he’s played. So there’s definitely a link there, although obviously I didn’t know it at the time.

Did it feel like it was going to be something massive when you were involved in it? Did you think it was going to explode or did it feel like this little secret thing that you liked?
The one thing that was really interesting about it was that it seemed to change very quickly. So from people going to this Gilles Peterson thing on a Sunday at Dingwalls where people were wearing very kind of Gaultier, uptight, black and white with very shiny shoes to completely the opposite: very loose, quite hippie. That was almost overnight; it was certainly no longer than two months. And because it was so quick, you didn’t have time to think of it as ‘your little thing’. But I do remember walking down the street in Euston Road at four in the morning in the early summer of ’88 and I was wearing a Shoom T shirt and someone over the road was shouting at me and they were wearing a similar T-shirt. There were like these lone beacons of acid house-ness and that felt like, ‘Oh right! There are more of us out there!’ I never wanted to keep it elitist even though at the time I was definitely quite snobby and wouldn’t go to the big raves because anything over 2,000 I thought was a bit too big – which was a shame because I’m sure I missed out on some great things. So I did have some elitism but mainly I wanted as many people as possible to get into it really.

I think it was so caught up in it, I didn’t really feel a need to keep it small. Even when the press got to it. Having read Sidney Cohen’s Folk Devils & Moral Panics: The Creation of Mods and Rockers and the way the press reacted to that and even that Marek Kohn’s Dope Girls about the 1910s to 1920s which is an amazing book about moral panic. It was the same thing – you could almost mirror acid house in what happened then. It didn’t really bother me, I thought it was quite funny. I think for a lot of people reading about it in The Sun was the first thing they’d heard about it. I loved how within days they had ‘Buy Our Smiley T-Shirts’ on the same page saying, ‘Drugs Are Really Bad’ and ’10 Bad Things About LSD’ by our doctor Vernon Coleman. They really went for it for a few days.

How did you get together with Dave Ball?
We did one track and we just got on really well…

Did he go to Shoom as well?
He was a big northern [soul] kind of guy and used to be able to the backflips and everything. Not sure whether he went to Shoom, he probably did. He’s always been a clubber really. We didn’t go that many places together actually, not until a bit later on. But I think he had his moments… and he still does. After Jack The Tab we were going to do an album as The Grid and The Grid was initially me and Genesis and…

Was The Grid named after the Lime track?
It wasn’t, but then we found the Lime track at almost exactly the same time and did a cover of it. We just had a list of names, including The Matrix, which was one of them and various other things. And Dave knew the Lime stuff and was very keen on that end of things. And stuff like Klein & MBO. Loved all that era. We were both massive Hi-NRG fans anyway. So it kind of fitted.

Genesis was going to be in The Grid and then we had some meetings with some record labels and Gen kind of didn’t want to do it because it was Warners and they’d had a deal with them before and it didn’t happen so we said, ‘Alright so we won’t do it’, and the guys from Warners said, ‘We want you to do it on your own’. So the plan was to do an album which would use house music or dance rhythms but as a kind travelogue. So you’d have an English one, an American one and a Latin one and do it with a load of different producers. But then Mark Kamins did something almost exactly the same and I was like, ‘DAMN! I really wanted to do that’, so that got scuppered. But I was signed to Warners (East West) on a solo deal and still was going to use loads of different producers but the first person I worked with was Dave and it worked so well we thought, ‘Sod it! We’ll just do it together’. So for the first album Dave wasn’t even signed, he was on the production end of it. But it changed from the second album.

So what was The Grid experience for you? It was sort of a changing era of music…
Part of it was great because it was coming from our slightly more ‘art school’ approach, slightly more experimental end of things. The bands that me and Dave really bonded on were basically the Hi-NRG, Suicide and Kraftwerk and a general art school mentality. But then that’s just one end of it. On the other end of it we had quite a lot of commercial pressure because we were signed to big labels. So there was always this kind of thing of ‘You’ve got to have a hit record’. We got signed and dropped from three major labels. It was quite schizophrenic really… our taste was quite broad. We loved pop music and we loved experimental music so it was trying to marry the two that sometimes worked really well and sometimes didn’t work at all. And a lot of the time we were putting those records out so we were making our mistakes in public. There is a great compilation album of The Grid to be had but there is also a not-so-great one as well!

The fact that that hasn’t come out is due to the three record label situation?
Yeah. We got dropped after we’d just done ‘Floatation’. We didn’t have a deal at all. The only reason we got a deal with Virgin was down to Boy George. We did a mix for him and he just completely championed us. No one was going to touch us because we’d just been dropped. It’s very rare to get dropped and picked up again. But he just really, really went with a real enthusiasm to Virgin and they picked us up for the second record and at the same time we got a new manager called David Enthoven. He hadn’t been doing anything for years – he’d been basically doing NA and AA and any kind of ‘A’ that you want. He had last been seen when he was managing Squeeze, being stretchered out of Madison Square Gardens for some kind of rock‘n’roll-related accident. In the ’70s he’d been this massive manager. He’s the ‘E’ out of EG Records, he managed Roxy and T-Rex. He was quite a player for the late ’60s through the ’70s but then had fallen into a bit of disrepair. But then we were signed to Virgin, he called me up and said, ‘I heard your first album and I cried’. A real posh, Chelsea, kind of slightly Austin Powers-esque type character. He said, ‘Yes, yes it reminds me of first Roxy Music, I have to manage you’. So I was like ‘Brilliant! Well, I’m not going to turn him down, he sounds amazing!’. So he started managing us. He was an amazing character and pulled in for the Four Five Six album, most of Roxy Music on it and Robert Fripp and loads of other people. Sun Ra did a bit on it, we got an insane list of people on the album, pretty much down to David. Who then went on to manage Robbie Williams and make stupid amounts of money! He met Robbie through us actually, through one of our guys. A fantastic character, worthwhile just for the stories.

Dave had quite a lot of success with Soft Cell so does he have an innate pop sensibility?
Absolutely. Certainly in terms of arrangement and simplicity and in terms of ‘hook’-iness. He’s very good at that. He’s a massive soul fan and also a massive Throbbing Gristle fan so quite wide Catholic taste. We are also drawn to dance music that’s based on a gay tradition. We’re drawn to ‘camp’, we’re drawn to artifice and to Hi-NRG; to Divine and Bobby O. Not in an ironic way. We absolutely love them. Some of those influences coming out and presenting them to the public can sometimes be misread as us ‘trying’ to get a hit. But actually we’re just trying to sound like an Italian disco record from 1982.

What’s the connector between The Grid, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, Time And Space Machine and acid house?
I think mainly it’s the music of ‘sensation’. That’s the main thing. All studio-based rather than performance-led. For me, lyrics wouldn’t be the number one part of the song. It’s the melody and the sounds. Using the sounds as thematic hooks as well. It might just be an echo noise or a reverb or a little backwards sound. And then repeating that and making that the focus of the record rather than the singer or the performance of the song. It’s probably something that’s tied to the late 20th century and early 21st century. Recorded music is only something we’ve had for a short period of time. Recorded studio music is the link.

So live performance is not something that attracts or interests you?
It’s something I’d really like to do but we’ve never really found a really satisfying way of creating a great electronic sound live. I’m sure people can do it but it’s personally not something I’ve found.

Time and Space Machine is the first thing you’ve done on your own. You’ve always collaborated with people. What’s the difference?
It’s good because I don’t have to second-guess it. I can go up on my own path quite a lot more. It’s bad because you can lose perspective and you can go up alleyways that probably you shouldn’t. I’m really enjoying it. It’s probably the only record I’ve made where most of the decisions are mine. Not in a controlled way but in that it’s more ‘me’ than any record I’ve done before.

Where does the self-discipline come in when you’re on your own? Because the self-discipline comes from the collaboration usually doesn’t it?
I work in short bursts – I won’t work more than about six hours a day on the music because I think I get as much done as I would in twelve. Because you have to be on it and focus. I’m quite good at that, it’s never been a problem. Same for remixes as well. I kind of set a time and get that done. I think sometimes the opposite. Sometimes the collaborative ones can be a bit more unwieldy.

A bit more unfocussed… I suppose when you get two people trying say something….
Yeah, but also great as well. Certainly with Dave and with Erol, I’ve always found the things that we’d do on our own would be different. Some part of two people creating something else is really really useful.

What’s the difference between working with the two?
With Dave, it feels more like a duo, felt more like a band. Wizard doesn’t feel like a band. Wizard’s definitely more like a project than a band. But maybe that’s because of the way we approached it.

In what way?
In terms of we’d do gigs, it felt more like a band thing. With the Wizard it feels something we come together to do occasionally. Me and Dave have very different backgrounds but me and Erol, it does feel like two people coming from different places and the things that we get out of it are very much what we wouldn’t get on our own. Other thing with me and Dave, we’ve worked together a lot longer. I think with me and Dave we would just go and do something, we’d go and explore and just try stuff. With me and Erol, it’s a lot more considered, it’s a slightly different method of working. It’s quite difficult to describe.

Is that just to do with the different personalities involved?
Yeah, yeah I think so.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=4088249139 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

Which comes first, DJing or producing?
For me, definitely producing, making records comes first. But then again I go through periods where I get massively into DJing again. And it’d be down to one great gig, with one great sound system. And you’re like, “Right! I want to do that again and again”. In fact that happened last year, I just hadn’t played any warm, analogue, big room, electronic sets for ages and I just did one at Cargo and it just worked so well I was like, ‘I want to do this all the time…’ So I’d say production really. Going into somewhere with silence and then creating something.

How did you get into doing the Richard Noise writing for the NME in the late 1980s?
I was still working at Bam Caruso and I used to go out and take them our albums and the Strange Things magazine and James Brown was really interested and like, ‘Oh! You’ve done a magazine? Tell me all about it…’ Then I did the Jack The Tab album and I took that up to them. As I was taking the Bam Caruso records, I was saying to them – this was probably from September ’87 until the summer of ’88: ‘You’ve got to write about acid house, it’s really really important because this is our punk’. And I just remember people like Steven Wells saying, ‘Ah, nah that sounds rubbish, like bad Gary Numan’. There was no-one really championing it. And then Jack Barron started but it took a long time. It took almost nine months. It took until it was almost on the pages of The Sun before they did anything about it because it was quite strange because you’d have thought they’d be really on it.

So, why did you do the Paul Oakenfold book? It’s a pretty epic task writing one.
It started off as an acid house book…

So did you get commissioned or did you start something first?
I just met someone who was working at the publishers at a party and said, ‘Ah, I used to write’ and they said, ‘We’re looking for some more music books’. So I just gave them a few ideas. I was going to do a Scissor Sisters book at one point. They basically wanted to do books around acts really other than subject books as I initially came in saying I wanted to an acid house book. And that kind of mutated into the Oakenfold book. And it was their idea to hang it around Oakenfold. In hindsight I would’ve rather done the acid house book. Not knocking Oakenfold but it does set it in one particular time and space. I could’ve done a more general history, and it would still be about. Having said that, his career was quite useful, he’d done stuff at Profile and Def Jam and been in New York quite early on and the Ibiza bit and Goa. It had kind of wrote itself in the timeline of his career and so every pointer along the way I managed to get in a bit about the southern soul scene, pre-acid house, which hadn’t really been written about much. But I found him very generous really. He gave a lot of his time and was a really nice guy and I really enjoyed working with him.

What do you do when you’re not making music?
Look after my daughter quite a lot at the moment. There isn’t much time, I do make music almost every day. I listen to music is the answer to that! I have got interests outside – I just got a qualification as a psychotherapist actually so that’s what I do. I’m interested in the brain and how it works.
The soundtrack to the book Strange Things Are Happening

How does that impact upon the music and making music?
I don’t know yet. It’s just a new thing. I’ve just got my first qualification. I think it impacts a lot on the way I just experience the world.

What do you use when you DJ?
I usually use CD and vinyl. I’ve not gone Traktor or Ableton as yet. It took me quite a while to even just work out how to be great at CD DJing. And then Andy Carroll showed me one trick, and that was it, I worked out the bit I was going wrong. I just thought of it as a Technics deck so when you’re trying to spin back and cue up. Basically he said, ‘When you do that start on the vinyl button and when you try to do the other bit and you just want a slight jog, switch it to the CD button’. That’s all I needed…

Where’s your favourite club that you’ve played at recently?
At Istanbul the other month. It was a tiny club, probably 100-120 people. It was run by about 8 people and it was the first night and there hadn’t really been anything like that in Istanbul for ages and so it was just an amazing atmosphere, they were all really, really up for it. And about 5 minutes before, they’d just finished painting it. They were all really, really nervous but it went really, really well. That was great. It’s ongoing and it’s quite a big thing. There’s some great DJs, there’s a guy called Baris K in Istanbul. A real kind of crate-digger guy for Turkish stuff. So we hung out together, looking for Turkish music…

What’s the most superstar thing that’s happened to you?
They did a decibel counter for the Smash Hits Poll Winners party in about 1994 when we were playing, it – the event, not us – got the loudest screams in history or in Guinness Book of Records or something. Probably when Take That were playing rather than us. I remember we were introduced by Superman, or rather the bloke who played Superman on the telly, so that was quite good. We’ve been introduced by some quite strange people. We’ve been introduced by Angus Deayton on TOTP, which was quite weird…
The Grid on Top Of The Pops, with added Angus Deayton

What’s the one record that never leaves your record box?
I really like that Hardfloor version of ‘Yeke Yeke’ by Mory Kante. I play that quite a lot. In fact, that has left my record box, in which case probably ‘Dirty Talk’ by Klein and MBO.

What do you hope to be doing in ten years time?
Music. I just recently decided that. I just want to still be making music in some way. Whether I get paid or not, it doesn’t matter, I’ll still be making music.