The Centreforce Ladies Special
(Thanks for the illustration Lee Castle)
This edition is dedicated to Claire Stead, one of the old skool Ravers who sadly passed away this month. Our thoughts are with her brother Craig and the Stead family and Claire’s many friends, who will miss her. Rave On upstairs!, after all God is DJ.
July 16 found many of us feeling sad for the loss of one of the great soul ladies. Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul passed away surrounded by her family and close associates.
Throughout her career Aretha knocked up 100 R&B entries and had 20 number ones. The amount of releases that she had earned her the award of being the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. And this along with 18 Grammy Awards and an impressive 75 million records sold firmly placed her voice and her songs into her hearts. Thankfully for us Aretha’s music will play on and from time to time will be remembered by our Centreforce DJ’s. Long live the Queen of Soul! On the day of Aretha’s passing Peter P played four tracks back to back as a tribute to the great lady.
Kym Mazelle-The First Lady of House Music talks about the Queen of Soul and other things.
‘How important has Aretha been to me, well does the flower need the rain? Every kid in the black community grew up with Aretha. We all sung along to her songs. She was our queen, our voice and not just of the soul but of the whole black movement. She was also the voice of the church and of the white hair towel and singing into an air brush. Aretha sang so many great songs.
When I heard the news about Aretha passing it didn’t register with me at first. She’d always been in my life. I’d see tributes on the TV or on Youtube and she’d be with the Obama’s and she’d singing in that big grey hat and I knew, I could see she wasn’t well. But she was still in my heart so strong. All the years I have been pioneering house music Aretha I have been carrying Aretha in my heart-just like a family member. So although people were saying she’s gone now, she was still there in my heart. The impact if her death didn’t hit me until about 2 in the morning and that was when I was watching the funeral live on the TV. I watched all those people, the elders from the community and I saw them close the casket and I thought to myself is she really in there? Is she really gone? And then I started to cry and I couldn’t stop crying. It was like a part of my upbringing had gone.
I was always singing. From the time I was knee high to a chicken to a kid. Singing was just something that I did. It was my company. It didn’t start off sounding all elegant and in place, that came with grafting. I spent many years plotting my career in the music industry and this was before I met Marshall Jefferson.
Alongside Aretha the other inspirational singers for me were Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan. It was Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan!
I met up with Marshall Jefferson and that was how Taste My Love came about. Marshall and I had a mutual contact and we got introduced in a club one night. Marshall was in the studio and he was producing another artist. I was asked to do some back ground vocals. I was asked to sing one note, which I did, but I said that I could hear something else and asked if I could add that too. I felt that I could enhance the song. I then saw the guys whispering behind the glass. Marshall and the guys agreed and we added more vocals.
When I started making records it still wasn’t being called house music. What became known as house music I had been hearing the clubs that I went to. People would go the clubs and play cassettes of this ‘experimental’ music. If the DJ liked it then the song got played more. The song may then reach the guys from the Hot Mix 5 and it would get played more. At this time house and because house was in its infancy it had no singers. It needed singers and it seemed to me that’s what the music needed.
I was in the underground of house music and because of that I didn’t know what impact our music was having in the UK. I didn’t really know that the people making the music were having problems getting signed to major labels. In 1986 it was an issue and I couldn’t understand because what we were doing was full. We had the clubs in Chicago and we had the DJ’s and producers and the Hot Mix 5 was very popular. But I guess we were in a bubble.
It was really something when we heard that our music was being played on the pirate stations in London. We didn’t know that it was just the pirates playing our music and not the mainstream radio stations. What we realised was that we were still underground, it was just that we were underground now in another country.
When Taste My Love came out I was brought to London and I did showcase’s with guys like Frankie Knuckles and Orange Juice Jones. This was around 1988 and house was getting popular and getting nearer to going mainstream.
I spent three years commuting between the UK and the US and because my records were selling I felt it was best to move to the UK. I recorded some of my Crazy album in Chicago and some in London and it just carried on from there.’
September was also the month that Tony Wilson graced the station with his presence. Tony’s history goes way back with Centreforce as he ran his club night called Adrenalin on Friday nights in Echos and Andy Swallow ran his on Saturday’s. Tony was also instrumental in the Project Club, where he says the Balearic scene was born in the UK.
During this month the first photographs were shared showing the new Centreforce office and wow! The intention is to move into the new studios in October and this will elevate Centreforce to an even higher level. Having the studio will also open up new opportunities for the station and the aim will be to have guests appearing on shows and there is already an impressive list of people lined up to appear.
The station would not exist if it wasn’t for you-the listeners and it fills the DJ’s and management with pride to know that the stats showed that there’d been nearly 30,000 unique listeners locking onto the station since it went live on 14th July. This is incredible and shows that the station is reaching people and people are helping the station to grow. More of the same please. Help us do it.
On 11th September the station included shows from Dean Lambert and Perry K with Jack Bass. Master Pasha and Haifa Kayali also teamed up to provide a blistering show and Pasha was also back from his away days to play sets that reminded everyone where Centreforce came from but also where its going to. Centreforce continues to keep the rave-waves alight, so keep it locked Centreforce people.
On 20th September original Centreforce DJ’s Seeker and Hugs returned to the station and that took the listeners back to a summers night in 1989. Respect!
DJ Hugs ‘Doing the show was wicked. It was nice seeing Andy to. It must be twenty years since I last saw him. It was like going full circle. It was good energy on the night and both Seeker and me thought it was brilliant. What their doing with getting a DAB is all good. It’s keeping Centreforce going.’
IT AINT NOTHING BUT A HOUSE PARTY
Third Planet From The Sun at E1, Wapping on 16th November is the only place to be. Centreforce parteeeee!
Poster by Simon James
BANGERS AND SMASH (FROM THE RAVE-WAVES)
Mark Knight-DJ and Producer say’s It’s Alright!
The staff at Toolroom Records have an eternal passion for the house music from the era when house music was beginning in Chicago. We all have such a respect for those songs and the artists that made them. Those early house records really touched our lives and we wanted to pay homage to it, in our way.
Alongside a producer like Marshall Jefferson there was another guy from Chicago called Sterling Void and when the opportunity came up to licence the song It’s Alright we grabbed it. We knew it would be the perfect project. We had a meeting and it was evident that we all really wanted to do it. We wanted to tip our cap to that song, that era and those artists and producers and say thank you.
The best way for us at Toolroom was to do that through the medium of releasing a record and putting that in front of a brand new audience and saying this is where it all came from. We also put together a short documentary that included Danny Rampling. This was us trying to share the song and say something about the early house era that It’s Alright came from.
It’s actually unlikely that putting out Alright is going to make us any money. In fact it’s costing us a small fortune to do, but making money isn’t just what we’re about. We didn’t get into this just to make money. I didn’t get into the music industry to make money, I got into it because I like making music. That fact that it’s turned into a career for me is fantastic though.
Regards the process of putting together the record it had its challenges but we got around those because our intention was to present the song in a way that it represented the spectrum of the house music that exists today. This meant that we needed the right people to do the remixes in such a way that they would touch an audience, that perhaps hadn’t heard the song before.
We approached Adesse Versions, Spen and Amine Edge and Dance and I did a remix too. We wanted to reach out to those people that are at the top of their game and who would each bring some different to the song. And they did that. Adesse brought a more indie/left house sound to the song. Spen is just a genius and because the song is already soulful he was able to work with that and come up with something very soulful. Amine Edge and Dance have a great connection with the younger audience so they were able to produce something that made perfect sense to that group and to us. And me, I wanted to put the Toolroom spin on the song.
Putting together Alright is a process. The starting point comes way before you sit in front of the computer. Before I do anything I ask myself what can I do that record? I think about ways that I can apply my style to making the record. For Alright I wanted to make it sound familiar, so you kind of felt you knew it already, but I didn’t want to rehash the original. It was important for me to get a feel of what the chords was doing and then add a different sound and create something that sounds like it had evolved. My aim was to give the song a new energy and make it relevant in a way would be accepted in this day and age, but also keep enough of the original feel of the song.
When I make a song I just kind of know when I’ve got it right. It’s a feeling thing that happens after you feel the groove and its sonically in the right place and it’s captured a certain energy. With Alright it was a marriage of two principles that relate to how records have evolved and stand up to day and how it was done when the original song was made.
Toolroom are very pleased with the results for Alright and it’s a song that represents what we’re about too and where we are today. Toolroom Records have come a long way. Toolroom was initially started just because I needed an out-put for my own records. Before Toolroom I had been with other record labels who were so disappointing. I didn’t think they put enough effort into my records.
I would put a lot of time and energy into crafting an idea and making a song and it would be extremely frustrating when the record label took it on and didn’t put the energy and effort into it and do their part. I often felt that the promo and distribution was shit and I’d think it all had been a waste.
It was because of that experience with a lot of my records that I thought I could do better myself. At the time my records were going well, and the DJ side of things was doing good too and I felt something burning in me that was thinking about the short term strategy and the long term strategy. In my mind the short term meant being only a DJ but the long term meant that I could get out of being just a DJ whilst at the same time remain connected to it, because that was what I loved doing. It occurred to me that having my own record label would give me the opportunity to do what I wanted and provide the solution.
Once I decided that having my own record label was what I was going to do I never doubted that I wouldn’t achieve it. I’m a very self-confident person in that way. When I put myself into something I’m determined to make it work. That’s my attitude and I feel that I have a very positive outlook that helps me to get things done. My cup is always half full. It’s never half empty.
With those thoughts of starting up a record label going around in my mind I discussed it with my brother. At the time he was a car salesman and had always been into his dance music. He’s eighteen months older than me and we’d both grown up together in the Loose area of Maidstone. But my brother lost his job so he was willing to get involved with trying to set up a label. My dad had also had successful businesses and we got him involved too. He’d been retired since he was fifty so he was available too. He’d also been a musician in a successful band so he understood the sides of creativity along with business. We put the skills that the three of us had into setting up Toolroom Records. Once we got started my mum did the accounts. So in the beginning Toolroom was very much a family business. This was in 2003.
The reason we’re called Toolroom is because we started off in a shed which was outside my parents house. It was where we kept the gardening tools and the lawn mower. When I was younger I kept my decks in there too and I always said that if I set up a record label it would have to be called Toolroom. It’s a bit of a weird name to call a record label but it has meaning and a soul. It’s the birthplace of the label. We then converted the shed into a studio and it went from there. It’s been very much a case of from the shed to the stars.
We’ve been going for fifteen years now and there have been many highpoints. For me and from a live perspective it has to be when we did Brixton Academy. It’s a big venue and we sold it out. Up until then we’d had the safety net of being able to just walk up to a club, like Ministry of Sound, where we’d been for years, but Brixton was something different. Tickets had to be bought up front, there was no walk-ups. This wasn’t something we’d done before, so it was new. We pulled it off and it was an incredible night. It amazed me that we’d come from a shed and then sold out Brixton Academy.
From a recording perspective it has to be doing the track Downpipe with Underworld. I always though the group was amazing so I sent them a track that I had written with D. Ramirez and they said ‘yeah’ and they got involved. I then went to do an album with them and, they’ve become good friends.
There’s still lots more to come from Toolroom Records. It’s a constant evolution of a roster of artists. Reinventing and adding new artists is key for a record label. It’s such a great compliment when people hear a song and say that’s very Toolroom. It’s like someone identifying a track and saying that’s a Motown track.
I’m getting to a point where I’d like to step back a little. I’ve achieved much of what I set out to do and am very happy with it. I have my family I want to spend more time with. Being a DJ is relentless. I don’t think it can be compared to any other part of the music industry. I mean if you’re a band you can go and spend two years in a studio and then you go and tour the new album for a year and then you come off the road. But DJing is constant. I feel like I’ve been on tour for seventeen years. It’s hardcore! I’m at a point where I want to do other things. I think with success comes a need for a balance. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank if you haven’t got time to enjoy it. My next challenge is to re-address the balance in my life where I perhaps only DJ once a month (because I still love it) but I also get time to spend with my family too.
What I want to do next is to create a platform for the next generation to come through. I want to be able to use the Toolroom brand to bring kids through. I’m feeling the need to want to get into management and use my experience to bring new artists into the industry. We are developing the Toolroom Academy now and that’s really taking off. Yes, there’s plenty left for Toolroom Records and myself to be getting on with.
Mark Knight and Snowy at Toolroom Records. Sept 2018
FEATURED DJ’S AND MC’s
Introducing this months Centreforce family members
The First Lady of Centreforce: Danielle Montana
‘I’m currently doing the Centrefore shows with Jenny Bean whom I have known for many years. Jenny was my MC when I was playing UK Garage and Jungle. It was a natural progression for Jenny to join me for the Centreforce shows. My partnership with Jenny has happened naturally from the start. We have a lot in common. We both our music and playing out.
I met Jenny in Tenerife. I was there for a family event and so was Jenny. Whilst I was there I did some deejaying and Jenny was also there doing some mcing. We kind of knew each other from the club scene but hadn’t properly met. But in Tenerife we ended up staying in the same hotel, got chatting and it went from there. This was around 28 years ago. I feel that its been a long and lovely friendship and hopefully this comes through when we do our shows.
Playing with someone else is different to playing with another person. You really have to make sure that you’re in sync with each other. There have been times when I have paired up with people and it’s been a bit stressful. There’s no stress with Jenny because we’re both on the same vibe.
I started playing on Centreforce back in 1989. The station hadn’t been going long. I’ve now been with the music for nearly 30 years and have seen its evolution as the music has progressed the various genres. I have loved every minute of it too. I get younger DJ’s hear songs and tell me how amazing they are and I have to say that I was playing that 20 years ago. What Jenny and I bring to the shows is experience. Those songs have been part of our lives. And there are so many good songs that we want to play and that’s why we call ourselves Unshackled because we don’t want to be shackled to just one genre.
Before I was on Centreforce in ’89 I was with an all female pirate station. But I didn’t really want to be labelled so when I got approached by Centreforce I was really pleased. Going on Centreforce was the biggest stepping stone for me and my career. Years after when Centreforce had finished I had people saying they remembered me from the station.
There are recordings of shows I did and some are with my sister Rochelle who used to join me. I listen to them and I nearly die. The mixing is dreadful. Those days when I was on Centreforce I didn’t even own any decks. I would literally buy a record from a shop and play it straight on the show. I didn’t know anything about mixing. I only learnt to do that later.
When I started with Centreforce I was the only female on the station. It was okay though and I’ve never let my gender rule what I do and don’t do. I was around all the other male DJ’s like Seeker, Corporation Dave and Pasha and it was fine. I just wanted to be a DJ and that’s how the men on the station treated me.
Being on Centreforce back in the day was a once in an eternal life time experience. That goes for what we were doing in 88/89. None of the raves I go to now compare, they are good, they’re just not the same.
Centreforce are now back and its going to be massive. I’m so excited for the station and everyone involved in it and I feel proud and honoured to be part of it.’
The next ladies of Centreforce: Carly Denham and Jenny Bean and Haifa Kayali.
Carly Denham -I was only about nine or ten when I first heard house music and this was because I discovered pirate radio stations. I had a little ghetto blaster in my bedroom and I would spend hours listening to the pirates and thinking wow what is this and I didn’t really understand it. This was around 1989. From that time on I just had a fascination with pirate radio and house music. I loved the way the DJ’s talked to the listeners.
Music is me, I just absolutely love it and for me its always been the more underground type of stuff. From an early age I dreamt about becoming a DJ but for a long time I thought it was out of reach because being a girl. There just wasn’t many female DJ’s around at the time.
I did start deejaying though when I was about nineteen. I had had collected quite a bit of vinyl by then. I also got my own decks and along with a friend we would nut about around the bedroom. And then I started getting on some stations and this led to me getting a regular slot on Force FM. I hosted a show on Force for about three years. I ended up doing the drive time show on Saturdays. This was around 2008.
There’s a similar feeling I get doing the shows with Centreforce as I did back with Force. My partner Matt (Early) and me have been performing for years and we have the residency at the Brick Yard. At one of the parties someone filmed it and it went onto Youtube and went viral and Danny (Swallow’s) mum saw it and we got contacted about going onto Centreforce to do a show.
We did the show and I loved it. But at first I felt really nervous. Being videoed live was really quite nerve racking. I have had radio experience and played out live but having people watch live and contacting you at the time is a bit strange at first. It’s an added pressure.
But since the show I have been absolutely buzzing because I think what is happening at Centerforce is such a great thing to be part of. The DJ’s and the management are such a great bunch of people and so supportive. This is quite unheard of nowadays I think. So being involved with Centreforce is very refreshing.
‘I was still young when I first started listening to house music. My older sister and brother were into the rave scene so they were always playing acid house around the home in Chigwell. By the time I was fourteen I was sneaking out and going out to clubs and raves too. By then the illegal parties had been shut down. One place I’d go to was Legends.
I was into house but it was also the early days of garage, which I really loved. Janet Rushmore’s Joy was a big tune for me. I also went to Jungle too. This was about 1995 and there were so many good tunes around.
I loved garage more than Acid house really, but I did love all the big vocal house stuff. It was listening to people like Jocelyn Brown that I got my inspiration to start singing in the clubs.
I was sixteen/seventeen and going to Charlie Chans. Centreforce DJ Roger the Doctor used to play there on Sundays. He heard me singing one night and told me that I had a really good voice and should start scatting. I didn’t even know what it was so he explained it to me.
I eventually got introduced to Andy (Swallow) who had Public Demand and they put my first record out which was called Forever. This was done with the Artful Dodger. I was doing freestyle scatting and no one was doing that at the time.
Doing shows on Centreforce and what they’re doing is the most exciting thing ever. Some of my best experiences of my life have been connected to Centreforce. They were there at the start of my singing career and they’re still here in my life.’
BACK CHAT From the Centreforce Family
‘Doing a Centreforce show now is different to when I was on the station back in 1989. I was only a teenager back then. I got to know the Centreforce boys because of Seeker. We knew each other from school and then we got into learning how to mix and we’d spend hours in his bedroom with our records. Somehow Seeker got in with Centreforce and the next I know I’m doing shows too.
It was a brilliant time, an era. I don’t remember the first studio that I went to but there was loads of them. There were a few in the Carpenters Road area, like Dennison Point. Part of the buzz was that Centreforce was an illegal station. We just wanted to play our music and people seemed to enjoy it and that was enough for us.
Even though there were a lot of DJs on the station I didn’t see or meet many of them. There wasn’t a lot of crossing over. The people I did see were Randall, the Corporation boys and of course Seeker.
It was a brilliant time. It was the music I loved and I’d always had a love for music. My older brother used to call house garage groove. It was all still quite new but was the all the Farley Jackmaster Funk stuff. By the time Centreforce and the acid house thing came around I’d been into for a couple of years.
I have a lot of fond memories of that period. When I think about that time it makes me smile. The energy at the time was special and that was why I got the name that I did ‘Hugs’. HUGS stood for Helps Us Gain Spirituality. It was a collective thing back then, something for everyone and it was good to have been part of it. In 1989 there was a love vibration and a lot of people got affected by it. The love doves were called that for a reason’.
An excerpt from Specific State ’89 by Ian ‘Snowy’ Snowball and Centreforce Radio. Out now (Amazon/Waterstones etc)
The letter was lying on the floor beside Tat when DJ Smile and DJ Jewels arrived. Both girls spent the first ten minutes tidying up Tat’s flat, making him tea and giving him cuddles. But the girls weren’t visiting Eclipse Towers to do housework or offer TLC-they had their Balearic show to broadcast to hungry ears.
Tat watched on as the two girls got themselves organised. DJ Smile really did light up the room just as she did the pirate rave-waves. Her long, bright blonde hair, that she often tied back, and her even brighter pale blue eyes melted everyone that she came into contact with. And then she had her voice. Her London tones took no prisoners and excited every male Eclipse listener.
DJ Jewels was equally as stunning with her jet-black hair and dark brown eyes. She had a great figure too and she knew how to dress and what worked for her…and for boys. She never left the house without her bright ruby red lipstick, multiple bracelets and necklaces and some big hoop earrings. Her family had gangster connections too and this she said was why she called herself DJ Jewels. Tat or Patch never pressed her for any more information.
Of course, their show was one of Eclipse’s most popular. Both girls had a great relationship. They took control of the rave-waves and knew how to relate to the listeners. They also knew their house music and had been deep into the warehouse scene since the early days. They had been regulars at Planet Love, which was held in the Fridge in Brixton and they were always welcome at the Camden Palace. They knew the likes of Mark Moore, Colin Faver and Eddie Richards and it was by watching them that they’d learned how to deejay.
DJ Smiles and DJ Jewels kicked off their Wallabees and got themselves ready to do their show, which was to be their tribute to Ibiza and the Balearic vibe. Both had been frequenting Ibiza since the summer of ’87 and, because of this, had got to know DJ Alfredo pretty well.
DJ Jewels fiddled with the mixer; it had been playing up. She looked at Tat as if asking for help but, having assessed that he wasn’t in a good way and that he likely to be as useful as a fart in the wind, she decided to sort the mixer problem out for herself. Whilst she attended to the mixer, DJ Smile removed records from the bags that she and DJ Jewels had lugged into Tat’s flat. Only after she’d done that did she roll a joint and fire it up.
‘Hello London,’ DJ Smile began, ‘DJ Smiles and DJ Jewels here for our tribute to Ibiza show that we’ve been promising you. We hope you’re locked on.’
‘If you went to Ibiza and want any records played, please just page in those requests,’ DJ Jewels invited.
‘And you know you can page in any shouts you want sent out. The Eclipse studio pager number is 08550 32020 and if you need a taxi to get to any raves call Echos Cabs on 9807919. And to kick off the show, we have this for you. Smile and enjoy.’
DJ Smile eased in Dreams of Santa Anna and took back the joint that DJ Jewels had been sucking on.
‘How’s Kim? asked DJ Smile, offering Tat the joint.
‘She’s alright,’ coughed Tat accepting the joint and forcing the smoke down into his lungs.
‘I bumped into her down Oxford Street a couple of weeks back. We had a good chat. She’s lovely. You’re punching above your weight,’ joked DJ Jewels.
Tat laughed. He believed her. The three of them shared what gossip they had whilst Orange Lemon played. DJ Smile checked the messages which had started to come in on the pager.
‘Hello Earl, nice to hear from you. Hope all is well over there in Putney…and hello Sean, nice to know you’re locked on to the show.’
DJ Jewels gripped the microphone with both hands, her bracelets rattled as she did so. She spoke slowly, telling the listeners that the show was going to include an eclectic mix of tunes which had been favourites at Amnesia. Before she introduced Camino Del Sol, she invited the show’s listeners to page in any of their memories of going to Amnesia.
Over the next half an hour, DJ Smiles and DJ Jewels played tracks from the likes of Prince, The Wooden Tops and the Thrashing Doves and these were mixed in with Salsa House and House Nation. Judging by the amount of messages being paged in, the show was apparently going down well.
‘We got your request Louise. This one goes out to you. See you on the white sands again soon,’ said DJ Smile as she put on Moments In Love by the Art of Noise.
‘Do you want a cuppa?’ asked DJ Smile, glancing over her shoulder at Tat. In response, Tat sat up and nodded.
‘So do we. Put the kettle on will you?’ said DJ Jewels waving her mug in the air.
Tat made three cups of tea whilst the girls sorted through records and read the pages.
‘Look at this one,’ said DJ Jewels, handing the pager to DJ Smile.
‘Oh, its him again,’ she replied.
‘What’s up?’ asked Tat handing over the mugs of steaming hot tea.
DJ Smile held up the pager so Tat could read it. He rolled his eyes. He looked forward to the girls dealing with it. DJ Jewels took control of the microphone.
‘We got your page Derek from Dulwich. Its good know that you have such a high opinion of yourself, and be assured that, yes, DJ Smile and me do come as a pair, but you’ll never get to find out.’
And with that she flicked the switch and Jibaro Electra took the Balearic show to another level. Kaw-Liga by The Residents, City Lights by William Pitt and E2-E4 by Manuel Gottsching got air play too.
‘Before we finish the show tonight, we just want to put a shout out to some of the KISS deejays. DJ Jewels and myself were only chatting the other night about how we used to love listening to KISS. We hope you do get your licence. This next track goes out to Norman Jay, Judge Jules, Jazzie B and the Madhatter Trevor Nelson.’
As Planet E fired up, DJ Smile and DJ Jewels huddled around the microphone and signed off the show with a ‘Bye London and we miss you KISS’ and they blew a kiss down the microphone.
Keep it locked for the next newsletter. Let’s Get Busy!
Centreforce Snowy (Features and Reviews Editor-coz that sounds good!)