MOVERS & SHAKERS

Victor Simonelli 

‘I’m from Brooklyn’

It’s where I started playing out. My dad threw his own parties and I would help him out. By the early 80s I was playing out on my own.

There was a really rich scene in New York at the time and this was what people wanted to hear. This was before people were using the term ‘House’. By the mid-80s there was so much coming out on labels like Salsoul or Prelude. They were putting out some great stuff. We were really interested in imports too and there was lots of great music coming from Europe. It helped to keep our scene going strong.

There was a time when a lot of the general public in the States chose to look down on disco. But not me, I’ve always loved it. I’ve never been one to follow people’s trends, I’m underground and have always been underground. I was into disco then and I’m into disco now.

I went to all the good clubs in New York, there was the Paradise Garage,
the Fun House, the Roxy, the Loft,
the Danceteria and many others
.
It was a peak time in New York City.

One of the DJ’s who I really looked up to was David Mancuso. He basically opened up his house. He had a loft and he did invite only parties. You had to know someone to be able to get in. It had a family inviting other family members feel. His kitchen was the bar and his bedroom would be the hangout area and then he had his decks set up in the middle of the room. He didn’t mix either because it was about the selection. It was very moving and it was like no place I had ever been or have ever been since.

I didn’t meet Frankie Knuckles in New York because he’d already gone to Chicago. I did meet him in the 80’s. I never sensed any competition going on between what was happening in New York and what was going on in Chicago. What I remember is that in the summer of 1986 all the record stores in New York just became all Chicago. That summer the Chicago sound with labels like Trax and DJ International really hit New York. We admired it. In some ways they were doing what was already being done in New York in the early 80’s. There were guys in New York that sort of laid out the blueprint for what the Chicago guy then did.

It was a natural progression for me to start to produce records. I got an internship with Shake Down Sound. I started off editing and this taught me a lot about arranging songs. From there I got into mixing and producing.

Bringing things up to date I think the dance music scene is strong. I find it encouraging to see young people into good music. I recently played at a place in London, this was with Paul Trouble Anderson, who was an awesome DJ. The crowd at the venue was very young and they were enjoying the music and were into our sound. People say that young people are just into noise but that’s just not the case.

I’ve been in London playing and did Back to The Old Skool and we’re going to be doing a compilation for 2019. Coming onto Centreforce was great to do and then I have some more gigs before returning to New York. I have several labels that I look after like Bassline, Brooklyn Tracks and Unknown and we have many releases coming out. We are constantly releasing downloads week by week and will continue to do so.

THIS MONTHS BACK CHAT
WITH MARK WIGAN

Mark worked for ID and Face magazine and is famous for his artwork which featured in various clubs around the UK.


I’m originally from Northwich, which is a town south of Manchester. When I was growing up my family owned a disco and I used to work there. This was the 1970’s. I was into Northern Soul and was a regular at the Wigan Casino and the Blackpool Mecca. I was really into dancing and collecting records at that time and was around when the scene kind of split. You had the Casino playing more up tempo 60’s songs and the Mecca was more modern soul. I was into both.

I started going to art college in ’78. By this time I was already taking a sketch book with me to places like the Wigan Casino. I’d draw the dancers. It was the start of me documenting the night club scenes through art.

In 1982 I finished art college and moved to London and I worked with ID Magazine. I used to write for the club’s column and provide them with photos from the various nights.

I was going to lots of clubs during that period and that led to me starting to host my own club nights. I’d do warehouse parties and one nighters. This was around ‘83/84. At the time Norman Jay was running a club night called Shake and Finger Pop.

Also around this time I started doing lots of murals in the clubs and I got more into the art side of things. I did art for places like the Astoria and for Delirium and the Limelight when that got going. I ended up going to New York to paint for the Limelight Club there too. Whilst in New York I got to know artists who were from the graffiti scene but now doing street art.

In 1987 I spent a lot of time in Japan painting for clubs, I launched club wear there and designed tee shirts. In the late 80s, Japan became the main outlet for my work. My artwork was about capturing what was happening with the fashions of the day and the dancers.

In the late 80’s I ran the Brain Club.
I set this up with my partner at the time Sean McLusky. We ran the Brain Club from 1989 until the early 90’s and then ran another club called the Love Ranch.

This was all around the time when Acid House was really taking off. On our nights we’d play all sorts of music on different nights. There’d be Acid Jazz one night and house the next. We used to have live performances, people like Adamski and A Guy Called Gerald. Graeme Park played for us on a Wednesday night and then at the weekends he’d play at the Hacienda. At Love Ranch we had people like the Boys Own lads and Danny Rampling.

It was a really great time. It was also a period when the whole club scene got a lot bigger. The larger orbital raves had a lot to do with this. It was a very exciting time in lots of ways and I believe it to be the biggest musical movement since punk. The house music scene really did take off and we were in the heart of it surrounded by nights like The Trip in the Astoria.

I’m now doing something called the Clubland Chronicles. It’s a collection of sketches that I have been doing since the late 70s. It’s an exhibition about my involvement with the club culture through 70s, 80s and 90s. The exhibition will also include the artwork that I have done for bands like Working Week and Guy Called Gerald. The exhibition will be at the 5th Base Gallery, Heneage St in London and will open on 4th April.