So let's set the scene. This Friday is Zutekh’s 3rd Birthday. And supporting headliner Tiefschwarz are two of the best, longest standing resident DJs in the UK – Adam Shelton from Below in Birmingham and Tristan Da Cunha from the legendary Back to Basics in Leeds.
They’ll be doing an extra special 4 hour / 4 deck B2B warm up.
We caught up with them both to get their vibe before the big event..
Let’s go back to the beginning - how and when were you first influenced by music? How did you get into DJing?
Adam: I was first influenced by music when I started secondary school. Although yes I would have listened to music before that, I would have said I just listened to it rather than was influenced by it. My parents are not that musical so I really relied on my older friends that were going out to raves to supply me with their old tapes from back in the day. This is when I really got a insight into electronic music. I really liked the down tempo stuff really labelled as ‘mellow’ but then also liked the energy of the early rave scene before things got broken up into a million genres. I got into DJing when I was 15, buying a pair of decks and a bulk load of records (which I sold a year later to upgrade the decks and I wish I would have kept them, looking back there was some bombs in there). Anyway for the first few months I battled with things, nobody to show me what to do and a shoddy pair of decks it was a struggle.
Once I started feeling more comfortable with the music I had, getting more of my own records and spending as much time as possible practicing, it all came together. The records I was buying at that time were really coming from the French side, this was when Daft Punk were just coming through. I loved that sound and in a way straight away introduced me to house, disco and techno all in one. I listened to the Teachers track on the Homework album, and if you listen to all the names mentioned they are all true pioneers, a part of the track that jumped out and for sure an artist that influenced me was ‘Derrick Carter in the house.‘ I looked in to him and loved what he was doing, he again really opened my eyes up to a lot of different sounds. I would say my DJing technique has not and will not change since I started. I love playing on turntables, it's real; it feels like you are reallyDJjing.
Tristan: This is a big question and I could write a very looong answer but I’ll try and summarise it.
Well I was first influenced by music the moment i started to dig in my parents' record and CD collection, however I didn't realise at the time what impact it was actually having on me until later in my musical journey. My parents used to buy about 10 CDs every week or two and the collection was huge. Then I got into playing the guitar, started bands at school and at the same time started going to gigs to see my favourite bands and acts. My Mum was fine with me going to gigs but not clubs (this was age 14). So I soon sussed that I could say I was going to a gig but actually go to a club. First club I went to was an Acid Jazz / Funk night called The Cooker age 15. It was amazing and that's where it all started for me and was my first taste of what a live club DJ actually did.
Then soon after it was big raves with lasers like Ark which was an eye opener and thrilling to see these huge rooms going mental to DJs like Carl Cox and DJ Sy. My older mates at the time were playing these raves so I got to get a closer look at the whole DJ thing. It was pretty soon that I ended up seeing these huge queues outside this club called the Pleasure Rooms (Leeds) with all these colourful looking people. I was magnetised to the place as the punters looked different to all the other crowds in town… I'd discovered BackToBasics. Me and a couple of mates decided to run the gauntlet at age 15 and try and get in one night. We did, and I’ve never looked back since… that's where I discovered true house music and all the wonders that go with it. Week in week out there was a flyer full of hot DJs, P.As and acts playing there along with this awesome team of clued up residents. The music was second to none and I absorbed everything I saw and heard every time I went.
A couple of years later my Mum bought me some Technics 1200's for my 18th birthday… that was it, she didn't see me for months and I just mixed every track on every record together and got the hang of it quite quickly. It wasn't long after this that I started playing in Leeds with a collective called Moving Beats… they got me my first club gig, which was a bit of a milestone. I never gave a mix tape out though and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time with the right attitude. People gave me gigs on the basis of my vibe and luckily I had the music and skills to back it up. I was fortunate enough to have certain opportunities come to me, but then I was also clever enough to take the bull by the horns and ride 'em as much as possible and make the most of the platforms. When people ask me 'when did you start DJing' I always cite my 18th birthday when I got the Technics decks. It all happened pretty quickly after that.
What DJs and parties have been most influential to you and on the way you play?
Adam: DJs that I have seen that have really influenced me and the clubs that I have seen them in and also been a big part of what I consider to be the ultimate vibe are Danny Tenaglia at Space Ibiza, François K at Body at Soul N.Y.C, Derrick Carter at the Rainbow Birmingham, Prosumer at Panorama Bar in Berlin and Ricardo Villalobos at the Robert Johnson Frankfurt. These are all people and clubs that have literally blown my head off at different points over the years. Got to give the early a DC10 a mention too as that was a massive influence to me in 2000, a real special vibe.
Tristan: Definitely BacktoBasics is the biggest for me… it has influenced and informed my style and that style is what I still maintain to this day. Wherever I go I take the Basics sound and vibe with me. Hard Times also had a huge influence early on but nothing compared to what Basics has. I could write a longer list of the DJs that have influenced me but I’ll keep it short as possible so we are not here all day (don't get me started… I can talk for hours about this stuff). First and foremost the residents at Basics - especially Ralph Lawson for those early days when I didn't have a clue about the true art of DJing . 'Ere we go, anecdote time… I remember I used to sneak up into the DJ booth past a bouncer, up a ladder, through a hatch just to watch Ralph do his thing and get some tips. One time in particular it really crystallised for me was when he had three decks going with some tracky cut and two copies of Masters at Work's "I Can't Get No Sleep"… he kept dropping in the acappella reprise over the tracky beats then cut it straight into just the vocal on its own which sent people crazy, and then kicked in the MK mix… the place went nuts. I peaked my head off. I'll never forget that moment.
Other DJs that have had an impact on me and massively influenced me are Masters At Work, It was all about Louie and Kenny early on for me, they gave me insight into mixing in key and putting lots of different styles together. Then early Roger Sanchez before he went super cheesy, Derrick Carter, Andrew Weatherall, Rob Mello, Chris Duckenfield, Doc Martin, Mark Farina for his house and Mushroom jazz sets, Francois K, Derrick May, Harvey, Idjut Boys, Kerri Chandler, Prosumer, Mr Scruff, Greg Wilson… also my close mates like Frenchy, Buckley and Adam always inspire me too along with Brawther and Jeremy Underground Paris who are reviving the sound that got me into house back in the 90's. I'm constantly looking for inspiration and always open to it, so I draw influence from all directions and appreciate a lot of different styles and shades of music.
- Date: Friday 7th October 2011
- Event: ZUTEKH w/ Tiefschwarz, Adam Shelton & Tristan Da Cunha at Sound Control
- Venue: Sound Control
- Artists: Adam Shelton, Tiefschwarz
You’ve both been residents at two of the most influential clubnights in the last decade of UK house music, how did your residencies come about? Take us back to the early days when the parties started?
Adam: That is a very nice thing to say thanks. Well for me I obviously started Below so I have played since day one, I have never missed a party. I think there has been one where I have not played but I have always been there. Below started six years ago and a lot as happened since then, time goes so quick, mad to think Back to Basics has been going for 20 years. Man, that’s a stint! When I think of that and all the memories they must have Below feels like a baby.
Tristan: In The mid 90's Basics was untouchable… clubbing was peaking at this time, massive queues down the street, people travelling from far and wide, gays and straight dancing together, 6ft trannies doing their make up in the toilet and DJs from around the world that I’d never heard of rocking the best music I’d ever witnessed. I didn't know any of the names of tracks or the artists at the time… all I knew was that it was the best music I could wish to hear in this kind of environment. The energy and feeling in the music was like nothing I’d ever heard before.
Not long after my first few gigs I started working in a record store called Barking Records with friend Paul Woolford… he saw the passion in me and took me under his wing at the shop. We were both massive Basics heads and super nerdy when it came to house and techno music, devouring every bit of info we could from magazines, record sleeves etc etc (I’m still like that). I remember dancing on the floor at Basics looking up at Ralph Lawson spinning thinking 'I’d love to do that', but never dreamed I’d get the chance to play on this holy ground. Then Millennium 1999/2000 I got a gig at Basics with Wooly in the back room of Mint club… I obviously pressed the right buttons and did the right things and 6 months later we were both offered residencies after the Leeds Love parade. A dream i never dreamt of had come true and 12 years on I’m still living it.
Also at the same time I’d set up an amazing record store called Play Music with close friends Mat Playford and Ben Brophy and been given the job as A&R for 2020Vision by Ralph… They both played a massive roll and had a huge influence on my career too… at age 21 I had three jobs that all linked together and cemented my musical path taking me to where I am today. I'm truly grateful.
You have both played at each other’s parties for a number of years as friends. How did you meet? Any embarrassing stories?
Adam: Well when Tris first came to play for me he was doing the second room. It was dead in that room, I felt so bad. I was playing at the same time he was so I didn’t get to see him play but then we had a little after party at my house and the tunes came out, we had a great crack, I knew we were going to get along after that. ‘Man's got bare tunes’ ha ha. For every minute of the day Tris never fails to pick music perfect for the moment. No embarrassing stories my end, a lot of good times and memories though.
Tristan: I met Adam through mutual friend Despo at my first Below which was in a huge swimming pool years ago. It was MINT… We met, hung out, talked about music loads and had a lot in common on a lot of different levels. It's fair to say we hit it off straight away and have been really good friends ever since. I can't think of one embarrassing story to tell you unfortunately… we both keep our composure pretty well out and about and although we can be very mischievous we keep ourselves out of trouble most of the time. It's been great playing at each other's parties… being a resident at Basics you get spoilt by the amazing crowd and the world class DJs and don't find that vibe many places… however I feel that same energy and passion at Below and love to play there … Below has got a special place in my heart that's for sure… it's not just the killer venue it's also the people too. There have been some ridiculous after parties and stupid after-after parties where we've played tunes and laughed for days non-stop. When I play there I pack my bag 50% for Below and 50% for the crack on… it can easily be an epic tale of two halves.
What do you think is the most important element to a warm up DJ set? What do you love about setting the mood for the night?
Adam: I love playing from the start when there is nobody there to when you finish and the club is full and going off. I pay attention to everything that is going on, the way people enter the club, the bar staff, the promoters everything, looking at the way people start to feel at ease as the night goes on and then playing the right music to make them feel at ease but to give them what they need to dance, some clubs its kicking from the off, some it takes more time. I think it's about being not selfish with your music, to not go in there with an idea of what you are going to play, to be open minded and prepared for anything. Also I will always take into consideration who I am playing before, I always play my own style but say if I was playing before Derrick Carter I would play very differently then if I was playing before Steve Bug. I think some people do not grasp this when doing warm ups and the night can then seem very disjointed music wise.
Tristan: For me the most important elements to any kind of set are the track selection and the programming of the music… if you get these two right then it's gonna kick off. It's not always the easiest task though and can take experience to get it right…. As it suggests, the DJ's job is to warm the crowd up and get them going… if this is done right then it's loads easier for the guest to come on a smash it up. I love doing warm ups as you get to play different shades of music and build up the energy at your own pace… Also playing at Basics with all the different guests and their unique styles means I get to dig different areas of my collection and tailor my sound / vibe to the guest that's on afterwards… I always consider who I’m playing before and try and set them up just right… it's very satisfying taking a dance floor from nothing to frothing. When it's going off and you hand it over to the guest you feel a sense of accomplishment like "Job done". On Friday though with 4 hrs to play with it'll be a combo of warming up and kicking some ass… we want to rock the house so I don't think we'll be holding back to much really. I'll be packing the weapons and i know Adam will be thinking the same.
You both have played before and after some of the biggest names in the industry. Adam we saw you play at Cocoon in the Park in 2010 before Loco Dice, Vilalobos and Sven Vath and Tristan, you have been a resident at Basics for 11 solid years; what has been each of your most memorable moments as DJs?
Adam: My stand out set without a doubt was last year when we did out first One Records party at Basics. I smashed the arse out of it on another level, I knew when I played my last track it was the best set I have ever played. It was special one for me that. I wanted to really bring the shit as it was a label night at Basics, such a mecca of good house music and a massive influence to me from an early stage. I do feel on that occasion I did the job and it felt amazing to get the response I got from the crowd and all involved.
Tristan: For me being a resident at Basics has had so many memorable moments, too many to mention just one but I’ll have to mention a few i suppose. Just playing with all my heroes has buzzed me up massively, I’ve managed to tick off a lot of boxes there and still continue to do so. The crowd always create special moments too and so does Beero. There's been crowd surfing, the whole club sitting down and exploding like DC10, being wrapped in toilet paper by Beero while i was playing and then him trying to set me on fire while i was in the mix. Recently a girl decided to crowd surf whilst Claude Von Stroke was playing… she jumped off the decks, no-one caught her and she ripped the CD player out of the mixer that was playing at the time… that was hilarious and I wish I’d have filmed it.
Outside of Basics I would say last time I played at Panorama bar after Derrick Carter and Jesse Rose 9am -1pm … it was one of those where everything fell into place, every record mixed perfectly with next and the place was going NUTS, I’ve never seen the shutters open and close as many times as they did that morning whileI was playing… pure magic. I was out the next night and this guy came up to me and said, "Yo were you playing P-bar last night? " I said "yeah"… he put his drink down and took my hand and said " Yo, I’m not talking to you as a D.J, I'm not talking to you as a producer, I'm talking to you as a DANCER… you were OFF the CHAIN last night.” Buzzed me right up, turned out it was eLBee BaD, one of my old school house heroes. I'll never forget that moment, we've been friends ever since.
Other than DJing at Below and Basics where else do you love to play?
Adam: Top five I love places are: The Garden in Croatia, Fabric London, lo*kee London, Zutekh Manchester and For No Reason Preston. Vibes!
Tristan: Definitely the five times I’ve played Panorama Bar have been amazing, something special about that place and the crowd. Below of course is a favoruite. Croatia is amazing these days too and the scene / activity out there is growing each year. There's also been lots of little parties over time, small spaces with big vibes like lo kee London, Cloak and Dagger in Birmingham and For No Reason in Preston… I love it when i can connect with the crowd. It's important for me as a D.J.
The One Records imprint has made a massive impact in the current house music scene, with releases from Hector, Subb-an, DOTB, Jef K, Sishi Rocsh, Miguel Puente and of course Adam Shelton and Tristan Da Cunha to name a few. It really is going from strength to strength.
Adam – tell us about the future plans for One Records and any upcoming releases we should know about?
Adam: Yeah the label is growing nicely now, we have some really good bits coming up over the next six months, our next release is Yakine with Jef K and Nico Lahs remixes I am really liking this release, then you can expect some bits coming from Jordan Peak, Burnski, myself, Ahmet Sisman, and some remixes from Chris Carrier, Sishi Rosch, Richy Ahmed and more t.b.c…
Tristan – your remix of Hector – Ego is an absolute BOMB, how long have you been producing for? What can we expect with forthcoming tracks?
Tristan: I'd say I’ve been making music capably for about two years on and off but been fiddling about for 4yrs in total trying to get a grasp of the vast, nebula soup of music production… I decided I wanted to know how to make music myself and not rely on an engineer, which has meant a much longer process. It takes a lot of time and dedication to get to the point where you can knock track outs and I’m still not there yet really and have a lot to learn… I do feel like I’m getting somewhere and get a huge buzz from making music though. There's lots of exciting things for me on the horizon but unfortunately I can't say too much really… after the Hector remix I had a flood of requests from people for music which I didn't have so am trying to get on it as much as I can. I'll be doing some more collaborations with Pete Herbert and Rob Mello separately, which is just a question of finding time that we can get in the studio together, they also both live in London too which makes it a bit harder but I love working with those two… they are both so talented and i learn a lot from sessions like that and they both have such different ways of working. I also want to collaborate with my other friends like Frenchy and Adam and have fun making tracks… I love jamming with mates and vibing off each other… it's a real buzz.
Solo wise… One of my favourite labels asked me for an EP which really buzzed me up so I’m working on that as a priority right now. Hopefully they like what i send them and will be releasing the music early next year… when it's signed and sealed I’ll be shouting about it but I gotta hold my lips on that for now. I'll be doing something for One records for release early 2012 and have big plans to release on some other super hot labels. I only want to do stuff for labels that i love so I’m aiming really high… Hopefully early next year people will start to see a string of releases and remixes flowing through so keep your ears to the (under)ground.
You’re both playing a special 4 turntable, 4 hour warm up set at Zutekh’s 3rd Birthday. What can people expect from the B2B set, have you done this before?
Adam: First time on the four decks with Tris. I did do this at Watergate recently with somebody and it worked great, your own space, playing back to back with somebody is hard, to be honest there is only a few people I can do this with, it's hard when you have no space and you are both battling for the decks. Here we will be able to play as if we were on our own space wise but jam back to back so perfect. There will a record on each deck at all times and you can expect some bombs! Got some great new stuff from the label, and I know what works at zutekh so…
Tristan: We've never done this before on 4 decks together but Adam and I have played loads back-to-back and always ripped it up. We did back-to-back at the Panorama Bar a few years ago, which was a very memorable one. We mashed it up. The reason we are doing it is so we have complete freedom to do whatever we want on the night and combine things whichever way we want. Adam uses Serato and I use Traktor so it'll also make things a lot easier for us to jam. I can't wait to get stuck in and I’ve never played zutekh or Sound Control before so I’m really looking forward to it.
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