In the heart of the Northern Quarter, yet nicely tucked away, Soup Kitchen will provide the perfect surrounding for the soulful disco vibe that Beat Boutique are eager to share.
And this month Beat Boutique have one hell of a trick up their sleeves. Known for creating some of the most memorable soul and disco parties all over the world alongside his Million Dollar Disco releases and compilations, Al Kent takes some time out to speak to Skiddle ahead of his guest DJ appearance.
How did ‘the legacy’ begin for you, and where did your passion for music come from?
I'm not sure. I can always remember having records - my dad used to buy loads so I suppose it must've rubbed off on me. Me and my sister had records when we were really young - like nursery rhymes and other kid's records. I started listening to my dad's when I grew out of those, then bought my own once I realised his were shit.
Who were your early influences?
I wasn't really influenced by anyone early on - I was always into music other people weren't into. I was listening to Motown when all my friends were into U2 or whatever. Once I got into Northern Soul I'd hear guys like Guy Hennigan and Keb Darge, or closer to home Jock O'Connor and Co used to play records I'd happily die for.
At what point did you realise you could make a career out of what you love?
I'm not sure I've actually reached the career stage yet. It's still a labour of love. But maybe in the early '90s when there was the big club boom I started actually getting paid from time to time.
You have met so many influential music ‘legends’ so I’m guessing you must have been starstruck from time to time. Is there anyone that stands out in particular?
I've never been starstruck, but Theo Parrish was a big inspiration when he played a disco set for us in Glasgow. He just killed it and I was like a total fan boy just standing watching him all night. I think I changed my DJing style a bit after watching him!
What was it that made you make the transition from house music to disco?
It was actually the other way round. I was into disco (well, 1970s soul that I later discovered to be disco) before the house thing happened. That scene was good, but I kind of lost interest when I started meeting guys I went to school with in record shops. That was a weird time. Everyone had decks and wanted to be DJs. So I thought a change of direction was in order.
How was Million Dollar Disco created? What was the idea behind it?
Originally it was just a record label my friend suggested I should start, to release my productions. He bankrolled it so all I had to do was knock out shitty house tracks with disco samples and he'd make them into records. All the guys I went to school with who wanted to be DJs probably bought them.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement to date?
It's hard to say... I really don't think I'm anywhere close to achieving the things I'd like to. Maybe the Million Dollar Orchestra, but that's so long ago now it seems a bit irrelevant. Probably my biggest achievement is just the fact that I'm still doing what I enjoy when so many properly talented people have gone back to fitting washing machines or whatever.
What’s your fondest music memory?
Three spring to mind - all involve a full dance-floor singing at the tops of their voices to a record I was playing: Love Committee 'Just As Long As I've Got You' at the Mint Lounge in Manchester, Four Below Zero 'My baby's Got ESP' at a Million Dollar Disco warehouse Party in Glasgow and Harold Melvin 'The Love I Lost' at Southport this year.
You seem to live and breathe music, be it DJing, producing or writing. Is there anything else you would like to try your hand at?
I'm also a graphic designer. Other than that I'm useless at most things that would be of benefit. If I ever have to get a job I'm screwed.
You’re playing Beat Boutique on 28th July. Are you looking forward to coming to Manchester?
Totally! Can't wait. I love playing in Manchester. We used to do Northern Disco parties there and some of my best friends are there, so I've got a bit of a bond with the city.
How does the crowd/atmosphere in Manchester compare to other cities?
It really depends on the night. I don't think there's anything about a certain place that makes the atmosphere. As corny as it sounds it's the moment you're in that counts. Sometimes when twelve people show up and you're contemplating suicide it can turn out to be the best party you ever did. That could be in Manchester, Glasgow or anywhere in the world really.
What can we expect from your appearance at Beat Boutique?
A DJ who's drank quite a lot of vodka.
And finally, if Al Kent was a disco record, which one would he be and why?
Arts & Crafts 'I've Been Searching', because it's really tough.
- Date: Saturday 28th July 2012
- Event: The Beat Boutique - feat. Al Kent (Million Dollar Disco) at Soup Kitchen
- Venue: Soup Kitchen
- Artists: Al Kent
Interview: Jo-Anne Waddington
Advance tickets for Beat Boutique at The Soup Kitchen on Saturday 28th July are now available through Skiddle, priced at £5. Get yours below!
Tickets are no longer available for this event
You can find these artists/djs playing at the following events: