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Kelvin Andrews Biography
The roots of their music reaches deep into a wealth of sounds touched in one way or another by their music making over the last 20 years. With an epic catalogue of credits to their name, you are sure to have heard one or more of their creations.
Having written a number one single with one Robbie Williams, remixed the likes of Sister Sledge, The Doobie Brothers and Aretha Franklin and been lauded as acid house heroes, they have helped soundtrack some of the last two decade’s most symphonic moments.
In the early 80s, Kelvin was DJing in an underground club called, curiously enough, The Basement and soaking up the vast array of musical revolutions that seemed to be occurring on a weekly basis: hip hop, post punk, electro and early house were all up for grabs and Kelvin was devouring them religiously, as well as schooling his younger brother Danny, at that time winning awards for his breakdancing skills.
House music was their real year zero though. Kelvin got his hands on an early copy of the seminal primer The House Sound of Chicago and the pair were hooked. “Everything else was irrelevant,” they both proclaim. Indeed Danny went straight into the studio as an ebullient teen and fashioned Ride The Rhythm under his evocative This Ain’t Chicago moniker – it shot to number 41 with a bullet.
After one particularly messy night at Manchester’s famed Hacienda nightclub, Danny hit upon the idea that would precipitate his first brush with fame and notoriety. Buzzing off DJ Graeme Park playing Fresh Four’s cover of Rose Royce’s blissful ‘Wishing On A Star’ as the last tune of the night, he and his studio partner Ric Peet decided to try and emulate such a scenario. In a moment of serendipity, The Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever was the only song they could listen to on the radio while driving home. The temporary monster that was Candy Flip was thus conceived, a number three hit ensued, as did a visit to Top of the Pops and a Smash Hits cover.
For their next project, the boys, typically, went underground once more (one defining feature of their careers, whether individually or collectively, has been their capacity to equally exist in the full glare of the mainstream or bury themselves in the dusty crevices of the leftfield). Having been one of the original residents at Stoke’s most highly populated clubs, Golden, Kelvin was adept at reading his dancefloor and alongside Danny he transplanted these skills into the Sure Is Pure production team. Remixing the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Doobie Brothers, Sister Sledge, Lulu and Dave Stewart into dancefloor gold, it appeared the boys could do no wrong.
During this time – the mid 90s – the brothers also initiated their Pharm imprint, in the process displaying another glimpse of their enduring ying and yang dynamism by sending the magical ‘Remember Me’ by Blueboy from the nation’s dance-floors to the top reaches of the pop hit parade.
It’s an ethos that, in the heady days of Acid House, was termed Balearic – a strident belief that music should not be dictated by genres, rather the almost quaint notion that there exists only two types of music: good and bad – and within this framework anything goes. So it went that the pair’s next project was arguably their most Balearic outing to date. Sound 5 were an experimental pop band attempting to locate the missing ground between Acid House and the Beach Boys. Although their ambitious undertaking never got the attention it so patently deserved – bruised egos and record industry machinations came into play – listening to the likes of ‘Future’s Bright’ and ‘Heavy Transit’ from their sparkling ‘No Illicit Dancing’ longplayer today, confirms the idea that their hotch potch musical quilt was just ahead of its time. Something that they have been deemed to be by numerous peers on a number of occasions.
2006 saw them achieve mainstream success when Robbie Williams suggested they get together with him in the studio, Danny and Kelvin could finally put all their stored wonky pop nous to good use, the resulting ‘Rock DJ’ single gave them a number one single and an Ivor Novello nomination. Later, having worked on Robbie’s ‘Rudebox’ album, giving the title track in particular an added electro authenticity, the collaboration continued with their role as ‘Central Midfield’ on Robbie’s new album, ‘Reality Killed the Video Star’. They spent the best part of 2007 – 2010 camped out in LA and occasionally in Stoke, writing huge numbers of songs – some way too weird to make it on to a Robbie record as he himself has recently pointed out. However, the backbone of the latest album comes from those sessions with their guiding hand behind all but 3 of the album’s tracks and indeed such is Robbie’s admiration for Danny and Kelvin (they continue to work together – most recently on Robbie’s Inner Sanctum fan club releases), he has compared the duo to one of contemporary music’s most garrulous characters. “It’s like finding two Pharrell Williams in Stoke-on-Trent,” he has proclaimed.
Their involvement in the shadowy dealings of the Creative Use re-edits and bootlegs continues to inspire and now they have had a little time to think of things outside their Robbie Williams role, they are working on finishing a slew of club tracks that they have had under construction during that period. The album 81, released in 2005, was charming leftfield house at its very best, doffing its cap to its myriad influences (seemingly every electronic movement since the titular year in question has been sifted into the mix), yet never beholden to one style or aesthetic. Their most recent EP release ‘Mekanikal’ sees them back as Soul Mekanik, showing the new kids how it’s done and with a new album in the pipeline these are exciting times to say the least.
Make no mistake then, the history of all forward-thinking music, whether it be pop or underground, or both, over the last two decades is shot through with traces of Kelvin Andrews and Danny Mekanik. Rest assured the future will be too
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