Progressive house legend Quivver talks L.A, TILT, and classic Cream memories

Ahead of a special DJ set and live performance with TILT at the Cream Reunion on 26th November, Progressive House legend John Graham took time out from his LA studio to talk to us.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 18th Nov 2011

Ahead of a special DJ set and live performance with TILT at the Cream Reunion on 26th November, Progressive House legend John Graham took time out from his LA studio to talk to us.

Firstly thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule. You've just played a gig with James Zabiela at Avalon, how did that go?

The Avalon gig was wicked. I played the first three hours so it was good to play some groovy house stuff and watch the place gradually fill up for the first hour. The last two hours the place was packed and going right off! It's also always good to see what new gadgets and FX machines James Zabiela is gonna turn up with, he's someone who I think really deserves all the hype and success he's had!

What made you move over to LA?

I'd been toying with the idea of moving to the States for a while, I needed a change and I felt like I wasn't being nearly as productive as I should be where I was - down the pub all the time and at too many parties. Then I met an American girl and that pretty much made up my mind. That was in 2007, and I've probably made more music in the past four years than in the previous 10!

How did your involvement with TILT come about?

It started after Parks and Wilson did a remix of the first Quivver single 'Saxy Lady' back in 1994 (I think). We lived pretty close to each other in Coventry and started talking about doing a collaboration. They were working on a track and I went up to the studio (midiroom in Stoke-On-Trent where all the tilt stuff was made) and we did 'I Dream' which got signed to Perfecto and that was that. We made maybe 30 tracks (including remixes) over the next few years.

Where did the name come from?

One of the Micks came up with it, though I can't remember which one!

When we interviewed Mick Park back in January he talked about the impact Paul Oakenfold and Perfecto had in pushing TILT's music. Was that the same for your other aliases?

Yeah Paul helped us out a lot, he was a big supporter of our music and of my Quivver and Space Manoeuvres stuff and he always included us in the Perfecto tours etc.

In the 90's you were regarded more as a producer than a DJ, do you still see that as the case?

I don't know how I'm regarded but I enjoy the process of making music more than DJing. i'm still learning and trying to improve all the time and I'm constantly inspired by other music.  I still enjoy DJing a lot though (who wouldn't, it's the easiest job in the world) and it's nice to have that crowd feedback and feel like you're connecting with people, but there's not the same sense of achievement as finishing a track and thinking you've done a really good job - then playing it out.

You've produced an abundance of Cream classics in your time, my personal favourites being 'Stage One', 'Everything's Not You' and 'Rendezvous', but I could go on and on! Which tracks really stood the test of time for you and you look back on with great memories?

My personal Quivver faves would be 'Everything's Not You' and the remixes of Robert Miles & Maria Nayler 'One and One' and Tilt & Maria Nayler 'Angry Skies'. My Tilt favourites are 'The Seduction of Orpheus' , ' I Dream' and 'What's This'.

'Everything's Not You' also featured your vocal talents, the original being more down tempo, dub and indie. Was this your intention for Stoneproof to be less dance orientated and do you want to experiment further?

Yes, and finally the album which was gonna be the downtempo, indie rock-ish stoneproof album is finally finished - 10 years late! It's coming out on Distinctive next year and it's by far the best stuff I've ever done. It's gonna be a live band - at the moment the band will be called 'Sounds like the Old Machines'

That's definitely one to look out for. What was the first track you experimented with your vocals on?

Quivver - Twist and Shout

You decided to leave TILT to persue your solo career in 1999. Was your schedule too manic to find the time to get in the studio and work on your own music?

Yeah it got too crazy to the point where I didn't have any time outside of Tilt to do anything else. I must say I miss the Tilt days though, we argued pretty much constantly (to the point that during the making of 'Rendezvous'  Paul Van Dyk locked himself in the studio control room with our engineer Nick and carried on working while we were shouting at each other. We didn't even notice for about two hours! When we weren't arguing we were laughing though, so it balanced things out!

You did a Perfecto Tour with Man With No Name and Grace in 1996. What are your memories of that?

Good times. Lots of driving, a great DJ set up and sound system every night and lots of food backstage which is very unusual for DJ gigs - it was like a proper rock n roll tour.

More recently your album Dirty Nails & Vapour Trails in 2008 received excellent reviews and showed your diversity from melodic tech house through to drum n bass, with Sasha often closing his sets with 'Chasin a feeling'. Is it important for you to keep reinventing your music?

Yeah I'd get really bored if I didn't diversify a bit. I'm in the studio every day so I'm often working on three or four projects at once, which keeps things interesting.

You were signed to Bedrock Records last year and more recently Yoshitoshi. What is on the horizon for Quivver?

More Quivver stuff on Bedrock, Yoshitoshi and Toolroom and then the album on Distinctive next year - which is my main focus at the moment.

How does your studio set up now compare to that in your TILT days?

Tilt was all Midi - using Cubase, no audio. I've been using Pro Tools for the last 10 years so it's a completely different way of working. I use barely any hardware synths now - which I actually miss and should sort out and get 'em plugged back in!

Having played and heard so many of your tracks reverberate around the Courtyard, you must hold fond memories of the room?

Yeah I cannot wait to get back in there, had some really good times in that place! All my mates are coming out too which doesn't happen much these days… very, very excited!

As well as a two hour back to back DJ set with fellow TILT compatriot Mick Park, we will be treated to a special live TILT performance. What do you have in store for us?

Some great visuals and a set which I think comprises a good mix of crowd pleasers and personal favourites.

And finally your all time Cream Classic?

I'm gonna go with a Tilt track and say our remix of 'Children' because it's a good story. Mick had a dream that we did a remix of Robert Miles 'Children' and played it in the Courtyard and the place went nuts. We were actually playing the Courtyard the following week so we decided to do a mix asap and try to make Mick's dream come true!  Anyway, it turned out exactly as he dreamt it and the place went absolutely mental! That was definitely a great moment for all of us, maximum goose bumps!

Buy tickets for the Cream Reunion with Tilt, Quivver, Mick Park and more

Tickets are no longer available for this event

Skiddle Stories