» News and Features » Renowned dance music institution, Tidy celebrates 25 years in the business
Renowned dance music institution, Tidy celebrates 25 years in the business
Reminiscing over Tidy's incredible 25-year history and looking to the future of the brand, Tidy Boy DJ and founding member, Amadeus Mozart chews the fat with Skiddle
Last updated: 22nd Jun 2021
There are very few dance brands in the business that manage to maintain a successful and long-lasting career within the notoriously tough-to-break music industry, the likes of which has been achieved by multi-faceted dance label; promotion team and music production academy - Tidy.
An empire founded back in 1995 and forged by two of Englands hardest working and most committed dance music ambassadors, Rotherham natives Andy Pickles and Amadeus Mozart - yes, that's his real name - Tidy and its many offshoots have become synonymous with hard house, hard trance and fans of both scenes worldwide.
Although maybe not experiencing the same fame and reputation they once enjoyed, during the heyday of trance music back in the '90s, the Tidy brand still boasts an impressive underground following. By continuing to spoil their faithful fans to new and frequent dance releases, as well as providing a platform for the next generation of hard dance emissaries, and throwing countless famed events and parties, the many-sided brand has remained a leading voice in the harder and more niche electronic soundscape.
In celebration of their huge, twenty-five-year milestone anniversary this year, Tidy's head honcho's, Pickles and Mozart had planned a mind-boggling weekend of fist-pumping live music, set to take place at one of the brands regular home-from-homes - Pontins in Prestatyn, North Wales.
With the government recently extending restrictions here in England until Monday 19th July, the event, which was originally planned to take place back in 2020, was inevitably postponed for a second time. The very belated Tidy 25 Weekender will now run over the 8th, 9th and 10th of July in 2022.
We recently caught up with one-half of Tidy boys, Amadeus Mozart, who actually changed his name by law in order to raise funds for the charity MIND some years ago, to talk about twenty-five years of Tidy and where the brand goes from here. Check out what he had to say below...
(Click on the artist and venue names below for tickets and more...)
From a mixing platform to a world-renowned dance music institution. Twenty-five years in the business. A seriously impressive and notable accomplishment. What’s been the secret ingredient or formula to your success, both as a label and a promoter?
Mozart: "Yes, twenty-five years is quite a long time. I can’t believe we've made it this far! A lot of it is hard work, some of it is luck. It’s been a long journey – up and down, and it’s definitely been anything but smooth. We’ve survived rather than just done very well.
"When people ask what the secret to Tidy’s success is, I always say we don’t take ourselves too seriously. From the outset back in 1995, the reason the label was set up was so that myself and Andy Pickles had a platform to release music on, and it was fun. A bit like the band Madness, we always self-deprecate and find that if you take the piss out of yourself, people don’t take the piss out of you.
"Although we have fun, we’re still hardworking people. Behind the machine is a project that we’ve taken very seriously. Andy and I treat it like a business, after playing sets across the world we’re back in the office on Monday morning making sure everything’s going okay. Whether we’re doing graphic design, marketing or planning events, a lot of our job is in the office and we treat every aspect of the job with the utmost respect. We’ve grafted, we’ve taken the piss out of ourselves and still, Tidy has a policy of putting out the best possible music. There is no specific secret ingredient, we have to include lots of different elements."
Record labels Tidy (formerly TidyTrax), TidyTwo, and Untidy have all provided necessary launch pads for many aspiring house and trance acts, adding to the brand's weighty reputation. Which releases or artists have been fundamental in establishing Tidy over the years?
Mozart: "Bringing Signum in was definitely the changing point for us as a label. We started in ‘95 as an outlet for our own productions, but as we brought more people on board the sound broadened. A few of the highlights in the journey include Signum's ‘What You Got 4 Me?’, a huge track worldwide, and Tony De Vit's ‘The Dawn’, which was actually inspired by the former mentioned track. Both massive anthems and both very trancey.
"We actually confused a lot of people in the beginning, as Tidy releasing trance wasn’t really the norm. We were going quite musical early on. 'The Dawn' was Tony’s favourite track before he passed away, he enjoyed melody and adding a bit of emotion just as much as we did. We’ve always had that side to us.
"From there on we spawned lots of other sounds. We got to a point in 2001 where we had to separate the hard-trance and hard-house, so we set up TidyTwo. We (the Tidy Boys i.e. Andy Pickles and Amadeus Mozart) put ‘Heaven’s Cry’ out and ‘Till Death Do Us Part’, which is still a big Tidy anthem even now. We discovered plenty of talent with that label. In the same way, we separated Untidy from Tidy. So yes, we’ve got three imprints altogether. Untidy being the more house focused label, and TidyTwo, the more euphoric trance label."
Have you ever missed out on an opportunity to work with an artist you were especially keen to? Or heard a particular record you wished Tidy could have released?
Mozart: "We turned down quite a few tracks that turned out to be great hits, but none of them were right for the label. We didn’t really ever chase the charts or commercial success and as for artists we've wanted to work with, we’ve been very lucky. We collaborated with the legend, Tony De Vit and ‘The Dawn’ which came out on the Trade EP, and we also worked with the Sharp Boys, helping them release some of their back catalogues.
"We feel blessed to have been able to work with so many of our heroes and the people who really inspire us.
"If I’m trying to think deeply, I’d have loved to have made a track with Paul Masterson. I’d still like to get a track of his on Tidy Trax at some point."
Following in the footsteps of those who helped to launch the brand, who would you say are the current torchbearers on the Tidy roster? Who’s leading the next generation of artists across the brand's various labels?
Mozart: "Untidy is the label that's witnessing the biggest resurgence, without a doubt. The Untidy dubs already have always had a more commercial feel, as the tracks on that label tend to be a bit slower, meaning more DJs could and would play them.
"Sam Townend has reshaped the sound of Untidy in recent times. He's brought his house and techno skills back to the label. A lot of the big house and techno DJs have been listening to what we’ve been up to, with many paying particular attention to Sam's latest LP release Fractal, which landed back in January this year. A lot of producers have tried to follow or recreate the sound on that record.
"People like Sam Divine who were inspired by the label have also got involved with the twenty-five-year anniversary celebrations, remixing some of our more memorable releases.
"Past associates of ours, the likes of Alan Dixon and Carl Nicholson, who released an album called ‘Reverent’ that did really well, have also somewhat surprisingly come back to commemorate the Tidy 2 label, as well as DJs Armin Van Buuren and Lee Haslam. We’ve got a perfect blend."
In terms of new music, what can we expect from Tidy over the coming weeks and months? What records should we be excited about?
Mozart: "We’ve got a lot of releases coming out on Untidy, some of which are re-releases of our many club classics. We’ve got a new release, 'Untidy UX03', courtesy of Sam Divine, another fromAli Wilson and Matt Smallwood, and a brand new remix of Committee 'Welcome' from Carl Nicholson released as 'UX04'. Ali also has a new release of his own called ‘Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll’.
"There's ‘Boogie Monster’ from Sam Townend, ‘The Parade’ by trance producer Bryn Whiting, which includes a well-known vocal that’s really strong, and also we’ve got some more stuff coming from Carl, ‘Now We Are Free’ that samples music from the Gladiators film.
"Paul Clarke who came up through the ranks of the Tidy Education course also has a track called ‘Lullaby’ coming out soon."
As veterans of the scene, you will have witnessed first-hand the shift in trends within dance music over the decades. How do the modern iterations of dance music match up to the OG sounds that muscled their way into British clubs throughout the ‘90s?
Mozart: "Music has to change, we understand that, and both me and Andy are veterans of the scene now. We were there from the very start, so it’s certainly weird to see how things have and continue to progress, three decades on.
"We've witnessed huge shifts in the business side of things over recent years, in particular the diminishing of sales in physical products i.e. CD and Vinyl. Were even now beginning to see a slip in the number of downloads and streams we get. A lot of our records used to sell in the thousands, to hundreds of thousands. Tidy Trax was actually the biggest selling independent dance records label in 1999 and 2001, and hard-house between 1998 and 2001 was the top-selling form of dance music on vinyl.
"As far as the sound goes, anything goes. Dance music used to shift whenever a new bit of software or hardware was introduced, such as a new synth. You almost came to expect a new genre of music would follow. For instance, when massive bass sounds came in, we saw the birth of dubstep. All of these different bits of equipment and new programs constantly gave birth to new sounds and genres.
"There isn’t quite as much innovation going on these days, and a lot of producers are having to trawl back through the archives of dance music to find samples. A lot of contemporary techno artists are opting to sample hard-house from back in the day. There aren't many tracks I hear these days where I don’t recognise an old sample. I’m not sure whether it's necessarily a good thing if we have to keep looking back to move forward all the time.
"Clubbing, thankfully, is still as good as it’s always been, although the UK's clubbing scene is experiencing a profoundly negative change. With pubs and bars now able to stay open just late as the bigger clubs, punters no longer need to leave to attend. It's this shift in later licencing that's basically killing off club culture. We’ve lost the casual clubber and seen the rise of a new audience, very much aware of what they may look like.
"At the end of the day, there is still some great music out there and I feel like we’re having a renaissance."
Are there are any emerging DJs and producers, especially native to Leeds, who you’ve got a close eye on?
Mozart: "We are starting a new, regular night in Leeds called Untidy Friday, on which Sam Townend will be at the helm. We’ll also have some new residents there; Jodie Rose and John Hemming. The event will run on a monthly basis at the Wardrobe, the first one taking place on Friday 26th November."
Tidy was set to return to Pontins Prestatyn this year to celebrate its milestone anniversary and its 18th weekender event at the holiday park.
Featuring performances from in-demand DJ names the likes of Eddie Halliwell, Judge Jules, Tall Paul, Dave Pearce, Andy Whitby, Anne Savage, TV star Nick Frost and, of course, the Tidy Boys, the event had, somewhat unsurprisingly, sold out.
Mozart: "Pontins is very much the spiritual home of our parties. We started there in 2002, with one-thousand-seven-hundred attendees. By the time we got to Tidy Weekender five, we had near four thousand revellers walking through the gates. It got so manic that we were selling out every event, and in 2004 we had to run four separate weekenders. It got crazy. Everyone wanted to come to the weekender.
"To properly mark our twenty-fifth anniversary, we thought 'what better way to celebrate than throwing another huge weekender event'. It was without a doubt set to be our biggest event to date. We were expecting a full house.
"It's desperately sad that we won't be able to party again with everyone this year. The fact that no one has been able to get together to party for so long... It would have been a really special gathering."
What other events have Tidy got in the pipeline for the rest of the year? Where can dance fans rave with The Tidy Boys?
Mozart: We’ve got two Love Tidy events in September - One on Saturday 4th at the 02 Academy Opera House in Bournemouth, and then one in the North of England a week later, at the Mint Warehouse in Leeds on Saturday 11th September. Who knows what next year will bring."
Looking for an event to attend in the lead up to our newly announced date of freedom - Monday 19th July - why not check out our 'Events In The Lead Up To Freedom Day' Inspire Me page