DJ Love: Andrew Weatherall

Mike Warburton shares his reverence for national treasure Andrew Weatherall in our latest DJ Love feature.

Mike Warburton

Last updated: 18th May 2015

Photo: Andrew Weatherall Credit: NTS Radio

Is there anyone that doesn't like Andrew Weatherall? As one of the most charismatic and unique forces in a generation, The Major (also fondly called The Chairman and The Governor) has been an inspiring character since the early nineties through his involvement with labels like Boy's Own, clubs like Shoom, The Trip and Spectrum, and of course his work as a producer for most notably Primal Scream and their seminal LP Screamadelica.

Not that I knew any of this when I first saw him DJ, and perhaps that's why he stands even higher in my estimation. It's all well and good going to witness a DJ with huge pedigree, you're more often than not going to be looking for reasons to give them props, but with this appearance, I really had very little idea of what was in store.

Setting up in Manchester's Thirsty Scholar back in the winter of 2004, Detroit techno overlord Carl Craig was playing to a packed out room upstairs in The Attic.

At the time I was obsessed with the IDM and Warp Records sound, so with the crowd so packed in myself and a friend took ourselves downstairs where he informed me one half of Two Lone Swordsmen was playing (I'd just discovered their album Stay Down months before - check out 'Ivy and Lead' below).

There must have been twenty people in the room, which immediately appealed to my claustrophobic nature. On the decks was this enigmatic, moustachioed DJ who reminded me a little bit of Stephen Fry's portrayal of General Melchett (I based this largely on the well preened moustache, as seen below) from Blackadder Goes Forth, only with a much better record collection.

Swigging from a bottle of neat Navy rum, Weatherall set about playing, to this day, one of my favourite ever DJ sets. He veered between obscure techno, forgotten house, and even the odd bit of hip hop via the Porn Theater Ushers, chain-smoking fags whilst he seamlessly blended disparate, well used old records without skipping a beat.

I'd never seen anything remotely like it. His current partner in crime, Sean Johnston, has spoken of Weatherall's formidable DJing skills, he simply doesn't make mistakes. What I saw that night in a criminally quiet club space had a huge impact on me and my love of DJing and dance music.

Already obsessed with buying records and listening to them on my dad's entry level record player, the very next day I went out and bought a pair of turntables, and have since spent the last decade attempting to mix two slabs of wax together as well as he does with, admittedly, varying levels of success. 

His works as part of Two Lone Swordsmen continues to be my favourite of his, but after that night I went and researched his back catalogue, from Sabres of Paradise to his masterful Essential Mix from 1996, where he wades through percussive, energetic house and techno, mixing each track to perfection (above).

His late nineties, early 2000s championing of machine funk electro on Rotters Golf Club and on Warp alongside Keith Tenniswood (AKA Radioactive Man), through to the post punk of Double Gone Chapel and his recent work with (another personal favourite) Timothy J Fairplay as part of The Asphodells (listen below) are some of the greatest points in his consistently intriguing musical evolution, and let's not forget his sublime contribution to the Fabric series, perhaps the mix CD I've listened to more than any other.

He might turn his hand to a wealth of varying genres, but something genuine and classy always rears its head in his work, regardless of whether he's playing obscure bluegrass, recording an entire album based around finding an old drum kit in a basement, or playing chugging, slomo cosmic techno as part of A Love From Outer Space.

I don't love every single record he makes, nor should I, with tastes so vast and deeper than almost anyone (hear that above), Weatherall comes from a much more musically educated background than most, and can be relied on to push you and challenge you.

He is one of the few DJs for my money that finds that elusive balance between educating an audience and making them dance their socks off, something I've always craved since that fateful night in 2004. It's for that reason that I try and see the master at work at least once a year. He's a national treasure, one that everyone needs to witness, at least once.

Make sure you check out his monthly NTS Radio show by heading here. Click here for all forthcoming Andrew Weatherall dates.