Monday, May 18, 2009

Natural Self

All of my memories of people and Brighton have merged into one blurry half recollection of the past 11 years. I'm not sure whether its something to do with the people I know there, or just Brighton itself.

Probably both.

Among the the things I can vaguely recall, is meeting Nat(ural Self). Who introduced us is also falls in the fuzzy category, but I do remember being at his house and meeting Ben (Nostalgia77 and some of the boys from Museum. Possibly one of them was called Stu.

Anyway that way ages ago, and lot has happened since then... 2 solo lps, one collab lp with Nostalgia 77, a slew of singles and remixes and a new album out in October on Tru Thoughts called My Heart Beats Like a Drum.

Here's some other bits and pieces I've gathered together.

Keno1 (Aka Natural Self)- I Manifest.

The Rising feat Andreya Triana, Live somewhere in Brighton. Nice Tambourine work Nat.

And here's a mix by him to download off the Tru Thoughts site.

If you cant hold out till October, you can get a fix of Mr Self in Brighton at the Loop Festival on the afternoon of the 11th of July, where he'll be doing a full live show on the open air Victoria Gardens stage. It'll be a full live set up featuring Percussion by Will Fry, Trumpet by Scotty Baylis, Sax & Flute by Ben Hadwen, emcee support from Dylan Sage and possibly a special guest...

Not on the south coast? He'll be in London on the same night for Belleruche's Turntable Soul Party at the Vibe Bar. Think only Dylan Sage and Will Fry will be making the trip up with him due to limited space, funds, time -etc, but with all the other shit going on, I think you'll be okay.

In other news, his website has been up since June, which you can check out here.

He's featured as a vocalist on the new DJ Food track, Illectrik Hoax
(You can also hear his vocal prowess on the Broken Keys album)

Word is he's somewhere in the process of doing a third remix for Sofrito due out on an EP later this year. I'm sure they'll let me know when.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


All I know is, the Sofrito warehouse events made me want to to leave the protective womb-like sanctuary of my residence to go out to and listen to loud music, surrounded by people I didn't know for the first time in about 5 years.

It sounds dramatic, but it is true.
More or less.

I should however point out that, I haven't spent 5 years barricaded in my house peering suspiciously through Venetian blinds, lamenting the death of the old Blue Note 10 years on.
What I meant was, there have been no nights on in London, that got me motivated enough to want to mission to where-ever they were.

That was until Hugo Mendez and a mutual friend convinced me (probably using blackmail or weed) to come to the night that was going on at a place off Kingsland Road called Passing Clouds.

I had a really good night and managed to convince a few of my peoples to come down to the next one, which I think, was at the Old Boys Hall in Stoke Newington (a strange venue that actually worked - for a while).
What stood out for me was, not just the crowd, which has been consistently unassuming and very eclectic, and not just the music which I had never heard before, but that the crowd was very up for hearing the unfamiliar, which is pretty much unheard of in London (the original play-something-my-girlfriend-already-knows city).

Hugo and Frank (Frankie Francis- the other half of Sofrito machine, who also runs vinyl dubplate cutting enterprise The Carvery) call it Tropical Dance music, which I think is a pretty fair description. It touches on a lot of different stuff from all over, but as far as I can tell the ethos behind it seems to be Dance Music From Hot Countries.

Now before you start thinking Reggaeton or Soca, or Balearic Euro house, let me stop you right there to say that apart from some re-edits and a few other exceptions, most of they play is on vinyl and older than 25 years old. A large proportion of its rare as hell and, for me at least, nearly unpronounceable. It is also, as previously hinted at, nearly all for the dance floor.

They have also played host to a shit load of live acts and Special Guests such as Manu Dibango, the Poets of Rhythm, the Souljazz Orchestra, Quantic, Nickodemus and Nappy G (Turntables on the Hudson), Natural Self, Combinacion Atlantica, Nick the Record, and...

The Sofrito site has a very generous selection of mixes for streaming and download, which I suggest you check out. If your feeling lazy, however, I've posted the download links of some of my favourites below.

Hugo Mendez - Africa Dei Cuba…

Frankie Francis - East African 45's Frenzy…

Luis Soulful - Sabrosura for Sofrito…

You should have a better idea of the kind of thing were talking about now, so I will accept no excuses and will personally come round to your yard and slap you in your goddamn mouth for ever calling it "World Music". Consider this your only warning.


Last November, I tagged along to a Crate-Digging excursion in Dominica that Hugo had been on for 3 months. I wasn't there to do anything useful, but i can tell you now, any excuse is valid for a trip to Dominica. In fact you need very special excuse not to go. I could start a whole other blog dedicated to the island (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, which I did till I got there), but I'm not going to. Cause you'd hate me.

What I do have for you, is a mix cherry picking Hugo's best finds while he was out there

Diggin in Dominica…

Before I go, I'll leave you with the details of their next night which is happening on the 23rd of May. Guests include The Skeletons (brought to you by Nostalgia 77) and Karl Hector and the Malcouns (Stones Throw). See the flyer below and the Sofrito website for more details.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Heads High

Etienne is one of those people.

He's that guy that knows everybody you know, except you.

Or, at least, he was that guy, until somebody introduced me to him at a night he was running, with another friend of mine, Cal Jader, in a tiny but perfectly formed bar in Soho called Jrink way back in 2007.

The format has changed a little since then, as has the location (the live events are now upstairs at the Vibe Bar and there are DJ sets all over including the Marketplace and Three Blind Mice), but the musical vision is the same. With fellow DJs Cal Jader and Judge, of Movimeintos and Itch/ fame respectively, and long list of live acts and musicians, Heads High has consistently spotlighted music with soul and substance.

The music you are likely to hear at any of their nights varies from live afrobeat and jazz to digtal soul and dubstep and pretty much everything in-between, making it kind of hard to categorise, but in general its pretty much like my parents soft drink policy when I was growing up:

"No Pop, it's bad for you."

Since the beginning of the year, a few of the HH instigators have been putting up pod casts for streaming and download on Space Invader Radio. I've nicked the player from the site and got the track listings for the two latest from Duke Etienne and Lonerider. Enjoy.

14/05/09 - Duke Etienne

Part One
Flyamsam - The Offbeat
TAKE - Bouncing Cherries
Dam-Funk - Sidewayz
J Dilla - B.B.E. (Big Booty Express)
Newcleus - Teknology
Modeselektor - Hello Mom! (Dabrye Remix)
Untold - Sweat
Martyn - Little Things
Marcus Bernardi - Mystery of Nazureus (2562 Remix)
Jamie Vex'd - In System Travel
Onra - Broken Language
Gary Davies - Super Jake
Guy Cuevas - Obsession
Dinosaur L - Go Bang
Prince & The Revolution - Erotic City
Motor City Drum Ensemble - Raw Cuts 03

Part Two (The Deeper Elements Mix)
Manmadescience - Get Your Head Up (Soulphiction Dub)
Rotating Assembly - Them Drums
Basic Soul Unit - ?????????
Tom Trago - Voyage Direct
Ken Worthy - Moon Dance
Tim Toh - Four
Kenny Larkin - Cirque De Soul
I.G. Culture - Adjusted Perspectives
Move D - Jus House
Styrax Leaves ??????
Pattie Blingh & The Alkebulan Five - Brother (2562 Remix)
Andy Stott - Drippin
LD - Woodblock
Elemental - Talk

21/05/09 - Lonerider.

Taylor mcferrin - Broken vibes

Pepe Bradock - Deep Burnt.

motor city drum ensemble - raw cuts

Onra - Broken Language.

Dorian - seek when is her

James pants - I choose you

New look - Function of your love

Dam Funk - burgundy city

Pharcyde - Be like that.

Black milk - dreams..

El Michaels Affair - Duel of the Iron mics

Ge-ology - Diurnal Insomnia

Nicolay - Nautilus

Kode 9 - Magnetic City

Yellowtail - Moa

Martyn - Hear me

Martyn - Far away

Nostalgia 77 - Film Blues

Herbie Hancock - on green dolphin street

DJ HEll - the angst & the angst part 2

Plash & friends - Do it up.

There's plenty more stuff out there if you feel like looking. The Heads High web page is now pretty much up and running and has all kinds of good stuff on there - mixes, event details etc.

I also found Duke Etiennes Soundcloud Dropbox, where you can send him tracks of yours, or stuff he might be interested in, but dont send him any wack shit, or you'll get me in trouble.

Anyway here are the next couple of nights
12 Jun 2009 20:00
MarketPlace ft. AARON JEROME London
3 Jul 2009 20:00
Vibe LIVE ft. TAKE & ARCHITEQ London
8 Jul 2009 20:00
Dingwalls w/DUB COLOSSUS London
10 Jul 2009 20:00
MarketPlace LIVE SESSION London
7 Aug 2009 20:00
Vibe Live ft. AARON JEROME LIVE London


Madman Speakz

When I met this guy, I did what nearly everybody does when someone you know says "Oh, my mate/brother/Vietnamese-pot-bellied-pig is an emcee...", which is write it off completely, and pretend no-one said anything.

Having spent years submerged in UK (and world wide) hip hop and the London D&B scene, I've been exposed to the worst excuses for rapping the universe has (hopefully) ever seen, which has left me a little jaded.

I don't know what it is about emcees, but they seem to be more inclined than other vocalist to think that delusions of grandeur and a bad attitude can stand in place of talent. Actually, now I think about it, its probably because the vast majority of rappers fall into that category.

But I digress.

Initially we met through his older brother, when, the two of them were sharing a place in North London. His bro, who knows I'm into my music, introduced me to him a couple years back, and did the aforementioned "My brother's an emcee." thing. To which I replied "Uh huh." and left it there.

A couple of weeks later, I was on my myspace site (yeah, this is back when people were still using it) and I come across this guys page. On one of the beats on his profile he looped up a sample from Akira. You know that bit where Tetsuo wakes up in the hospital and the cuddly toys grow huge and start bleeding milk? No? Well anyway, it's a great sample, and he slapped a fat beat on it too, so I was like "Hell yes. Bro - that track is sick." Of course, I had no idea that I'd already met the guy, but luckily he remembered me, and sent me some beats to pick through. So we start hanging out, playing streetfighter (I get my arse handed to me-repeatedly) and it turns out he can rhyme too. And well.

"Like corn babies I'm more shady than porn ladies right now,
And even more crazy than Martin Scorsese's eye brows.
Born hades, i pour gravy on your beaten raps
And eat the crap, as if its Auntie Babs Sunday meat & mash."

Since then he's been pretty busy. He finished his, mostly self produced, album earlier on this Spring. And what can I say? Its the shit.

He's currently shopping it around, but in the meantime, he's dropped this mix tape of off cuts, featuring the likes of Dylan Sage and Illaman, and production from K15,which you can download for free here:


There's also some other bit and pieces on his myspace page here.

I recently caught him at Hoochinoo at the Vibe Bar, where he was testing out the album material on the crowd there. It was well received, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him back there in the next couple of months.

Also if J'da Kut ( ever forgives him for flaking on that live PA he was supposed to do a couple of weeks back, you might see him at her night at Bar Vinyl in Camden.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Toys Like Me

Finally saw this band live for the first time last Thursday, at their D├ębut Album launch party at Phonica.

The vocalist (Frances Noon - see pic), who has been a friend of mine forever, told me about this a while ago, but being the weed infused slacker I am, I totally spaced on it. I also saw GFK at the Scala the night before and had just come off my work shift, so I was feeling pretty rugged and was gonna pass on the whole thing.

Like an idiot.

Lucky I called Frances before to say I wasn't coming and she made me feel so friggin guilty in the space of 30 seconds, that I caved and came down anyway.

Good thing too, cause My Toys Like Me totally smashed it. In the space of a half hour set, they became my favourite band this decade. I even paid for the Album, which is called Where We Are, and, I think is out right now.

In fact here's a link to buy the album at

Now, I gotta warn you, they are pretty weird. MTLM have managed successfully to interweave a whole heap of contrasting, and even contradictory genres of music. Props due to producer-in-chief Lazlo Legeezer, who has crafted a very distinct sound for the outfit. Drawing heavily from dance and electronic pop music from the last 20 years, the album captures the current musical zeitgeist seemingly without trying.

All of the various influences at play means, they dont readily fit into any of the presribed boxes genre-wise, which can be a handicap, but this case it also means they have the real potential transend the various scenes.

Hopefully you'll see what I mean.

Here's the vid of their new Single Barnaby

See? Not easy to define, is it?

The album is 11 tracks of inexplicably accessible weirdness. Stand out tracks are going to vary depending on where your musical allegiances lie. Right now I'm hooked on Sick Couple which is a stark, almost Gothic, violin-laced excursion, and All Over My Face which is, at its heart, a seriously heavy hip hop track with Spanish acoustic guitar and a sick, sick melancholy trumpet. The name may make you think of other things though...

For your listening pleasure, a snippet of Track 1 from the Album, titled Superpowers. Its catchy as hell.

As far as I can tell, the PR ball has started has well and truly started rolling and the press has been snooping around, like they do.
Here's what the people who are paid to do this have to say:

"Are you ready for the most playful, inventive, life affirming British debut of the decade?" Uncut

"Great band, Great album" The Sunday Times

"The electronic avant-garde" Q

"You can't help but be transfixed" Clash

"Anarchy in the UK...only coated in candy and rammed full of E numbers. Don't let it near your kids" The Guardian

I know. I know. They all sound like c*nts, but they're not wrong, trust me.

Oh yeah and there's this article in the Guardian too.

So, if you're feeling it, these are their next 2 London shows:
21 May 2009
Stag & Dagger @ Queen of Hoxton
23 May 2009
TATE Modern Long Weekend Festival
or hit up their Myspace page for more details.

Peace Bitches
(Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out)