"Science, Teachers, Muzik and London Soul" - an interview with Ashley Beedle

Ahead of Ashleys first appearance at Heritage on November 3rd, we interviewed him on the many facets of his legendary career in music.

Disclaimer: The article below has been contributed by the event promoter or somebody representing the event promoter. As such we take no responsibility for accuracy of the content and any views expressed are not necessarily those of Skiddle or our staff.

Date published: 30th Oct 2017

How did you develop an interest in music, and what were your own early influences?

I developed an interest in music through my mother and father. Music was a constant in our household ? anything from Bach to Big Youth. My early influences were Blue Beat, ska, Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention to name but a few.

How did you get into DJing and music production and which came first?

DJing came first when my dad bought me a mobile disco at the age of 16 in 1978 and I started DJing at Northwick Park Hospital at the nurses? dances. Music production didn?t come until the end of the 80?s.

You are a founder and former member of house supergroup X-Press 2 along with Rocky and Diesel, one of the most respected house production teams in the world, with many tracks still played by older and newer DJs today. The group even took the UK charts by storm during two periods ? one in the nineties and one in the noughties. Are there any standout X-Press 2 tracks that you consider personal favourites, and for what reasons?

The first one would have to be ?Musik Xpress? ? hard to believe that was made in 1993!! This is a favourite because it?s the first one that Rocky, Diesel and myself all worked on together as X-Press 2 and we created something that?s still played out today. And then, you?d have to have ?Lazy?, wouldn?t you? The thing was surreal ? working with David Byrne out of Talking Heads, going over to NYC to meet him and then hearing the track on Ken Bruce?s Radio 2 ?Pop Master? quiz a couple of months ago in a taxi and shouting out the answer!!

Disco Evanglelists ?De Niro? was a progressive house track that you made with David Holmes in around 1993, which became wildly popular ? signed by Positiva and even featured on Sasha and Digweeds famous ?Renaissance Volume 1? mix cd. How did that project come into being, and did you expect it to be as successful?

I really enjoyed working on this track with David Holmes and Lindsey Edwards. It came into being because of David?s love of film ? he came to me with the idea of using the whistling refrain from ?Cockeye?s Theme? in ?Once Upon A Time In America? ? the classic 80?s movie. I knew the track was different from everything else that was out there at the time but I never anticipated it would take off in such a massive way.

Black Science Orchestra was a simply amazing project that you headed up from 1992 onwards, fusing elements of jazz, house, neo-soul, broken beat, disco and rare groove. What was your inspiration and motivation for such a diverse project?

It was my love of black soul and funk music. For the record, there have been different incarnations of BSO and members have included Uschi Classen, Marc Woolford, John Howard and Rob Mello. Uschi and Marc worked on the majority of BSO 12? releases including ?New Jersey Deep?, ?Philadelphia? and the album ?Walter?s Room?. Rob Mello, John Howard and myself put out ?Where Were You? (with special thanks to Danny Arno) ? ?Where Were You? went on to be championed by Frankie Knuckles. I?ve teamed back up with Rob Mello for a new BSO project ? watch this space!

The Ballistic Brothers was yet another project, along with Rocky and Diesel, Uschi Classen and David Hill. A personal favourite album of mine is ?London Hooligan Soul?, which features the gorgeous ?I?ll fly away?. What made you all take this diversion from straight up house to this?

Why not!? London at the time was firing musically and we were getting many influences coming in from Chicago, Detroit, NYC, old soul records, reggae ? we were bombarded with so many quality tunes and it didn?t take much for us (as the Ballistic Brothers) to create something out of the chaos. We started off as the Bal(l)istic Brothers vs The Eccentric Afros (the original artwork by Kerry Draper featured Ballistic Brothers spelt with one ?L? ? we just left it)?.and the Eccentric Afros was me! We brought out quite a bit on my label, Delancy Street, including the first version of ?Blacker?. In the end, we shortened it to the Ballistic Brothers and brought stuff out on Junior Boys Own and Soundboy.

You made two Essential mixes for Pete Tongs revered show. The first in 1997 was an excellent showcase of house music at the time. How did you go about creating that mix, and are there any standout tracks for you from it?

It was all on vinyl ? I did the mixing on decks at home and pre-recorded the mix. But it was still ?live? and no edits ? there was none of this digital stuff back then. If you made a mistake or missed your beat, you just had to go with it! 20 years on and the mix still sounds fierce ? if you don?t mind me saying so! Standout tracks ? First Choice, Nu Yorican Soul, Restless Soul & Underground Resistance. The mix is here

Your second Essential Mix in 1998 was a particularly bold and brilliant move ? nothing like the Essential Mix had seen before nor has seen again. You delivered a 2 hour educational mix of reggae and ska music. What was the story behind that mix, what made you choose those genres, and how did the radio station react to your choice?

I was asked by Pete?s producer to do another Essential Mix following on from the one I?d made the year before. I wanted to do something different and it just grew into 2 hours of reggae!! How I got away with it, I don?t know as Chris Goldfinger?s reggae show followed on after Pete?s show. So, BBC Radio 1 broadcast 4 straight hours of reggae (I think this is a world record for them) - I?m not sure how happy they were but I?ve never been asked back again!

Pt 1 here

Pt 2 here

You were named as the eleventh ?Teacher? on Daft Punks famous track off the Homework album citing their biggest influences. How did you feel about Daft Punks reference to you, and did you have dialogue with them in any way?

I was absolutely blown away by their reference to me and they never approached me about it. So the whole thing was a huge surprise and to this day, my sons still dine off it ? their dad being mentioned by Daft Punk makes them quite cool!!

Another massive success of yours was re-editing Elton Johns ?Are you ready for love?, which gave Elton his fifth ever UK number 1 in 2003. What were your reasons for choosing the track, and were you surprised at its success?

Southern Fried Records/Anglo Management approached me with the proposal. At first, Elton didn?t know anything about the re-edit but once he?d heard it, he loved the fact that his music would be getting out to a wider audience. I met him backstage at his Wembley concert and we discussed the art of the re-edit ? a lovely man.

The Heavy Disco night (and subsequent associated edits (including the celebrated ?Running up that Hill?) ? how did that start and who was involved?

Heavy Disco comprises of Dave Jarvis (Love Vinyl), Diesel (X-Press 2) and myself with various guests. It all started at the North London Tavern, Kilburn in the noughties when we decided to team up and play disco and Balearic nonsense. The edits followed and Kate Bush just took off?..

You continue with ever-diverse productions and projects, such as Black Jazz Chronicles, Warbox, your Back to the World label and much more (including rumoured Black Science Orchestra new material) ? whats next for the production genius that is Ashley Beedle?

I?ve been doing a lot of work with the ?North Street? remixes (that?s myself, Darren Morris and my partner Jo Wallace) - mainly for Jo?s labels Ramrock, Ramrock Blue, Ramrock Red and F*CLR. I?ve also produced Waterson?s forthcoming album ?Paris Still Burns? along with KDA, EVM128, Alan Vinet, Darren Morris and Joe Ashworth for my own label Back To The World. Plus unlimited remixes for labels including Batty Bass ? big success with ?Unmask Me? ? played by Andrew Weatherall at Convenza and causing an internet meltdown!! Finally, and as mentioned earlier, Black Science Orchestra has reformed with myself and Rob Mello.

From all of the music genres that you have been involved in producing, do you have any particular personal favourites?

Music is my sanctuary whatever the genre. As for personal favourites? Blaze ?Breathe?, BSO ?Where Were You?, The Streets ?Weak Become Heroes?, X-Press 2 ?Lazy? and Bent ?Always??..but the list is fairly long so I?ve picked the best of the best.

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