Jay Celino is one of Glasgow’s most underrated selectors. His selects are renowned and have been praised by Artwork, Skream and Jasper James.
The 28-year-old used to playalongside his friend Jon Jose. They had a radio show on Groove City, where they became acquainted with Attic Room Session owner Jay Gunning. Through the shared love of electronic music, Jay earned a residency with Attic Room Sessions.
Jay has been DJ’ing for 5 years and is a resident for EZUP at La Cheetah. He has supported Robert Hood Jamie:3:26 and Eats Everything. He has been exploring electronic music since he was 17. Jay grew up in the West End of Glasgow and attended school with Jasper James.
Jay lives in the Southside of Glasgow in Shawlands. He has cultural roots in Africa and Italy, although he has never visited, he loves to travel. His father influenced his sound. “That’s why I’ve got such a broad taste in music.” It was loud and sweaty one night at a Glasgow after party.
Jay was amongst some of the UK’s greatest DJs. “Artwork was there. I was playing tunes from my phone and he came over and said, in 2 months I’m running a night in Dalston and I want you to come and play for me.” Jay was shocked.“I’ve never even looked at a set of decks in my life. I do not know how to DJ. Artwork said, ‘you have 2 months’ to practice.”
Jay assumed it was a drunken conversation. “The next day Jasper called me and said ‘Artwork wants your number.’ I was like he is actually being serious.” With only a few months to prepare for his debut, he was terrified. After two months of grafting, he travelled to East London to play in The Nest in front of a sold-out crowd.
Naturally, he was nervous but calmed his nerves with alcohol. “I was on first. I wasn’t going out to a full nightclub. It built up, so it’s not as intimidating as you would think.” He admitted he was ill-prepared. “I was not ready for it. People seemed to love it because the tunes were decent, but I still cringe to this day about the mixing.”
Jay isn’t well known internationally, but he is respected by some of the greatest DJs to ever step behind the decks. He played in front of 4500 people in East Electric alongside Skream, who praised his music taste on Twitter.
Despite the impressive resume, Jay has remained humble throughout his career. “It’s important to remember why I started this because I love music. I want to do this for as long as I can.” Good thing because this is just the beginning.
Frankie Elyse is a BBC Journalist and DJ who also performs alongside her twin sister, Jozette in the DJ and Violin duo KINTRA.
The 26-year-old is a trailblazer as she pushes equality within Dundee club culture. The twins formed the Polka Dot Disco Club in Dundee, a women’s only DJ collective. “A series of workshops to encourage and support females looking to DJ.” They noticed similar initiatives were set up in Glasgow and Edinburgh, however, there was nothing similar in Dundee. They created it to “challenge the industry’s gender imbalance.”
The workshop serves as a platform to express their creativity through music and develop their technical skills. The Dundee University Student Association kindly allowed the twins to use their space for free. “It was important that the workshops were accessible to anyone regardless of their financial situation.” The twins did not get paid to teach. It was their choice. To enforce equality by bringing change to the disparity. Frankie noted it is intimidating forfemales to find their place in an industry which is disproportionately full of males.
She discovered how gratifying it is mentoring women and developing their skills under her tutelage. “Proud of how far our girls have come and love the bond that we have all formed as not only a collective but as friends.” She wants to empower the women under her wing. “We wanted to make it available for anyone no matter who you are or where you’re from.” The twins created an equal application process for females or female identifying people to apply.
The twins selected enthusiastic women who demonstrated passion but didn’t have the experience. They wanted to give opportunities to women who don’t get them enough. “I was struggling, it’s hard to break in especially for me trying to be pals with guys. It’s quite difficult to become pals with them. A lot of gigs in the underground scene it is pals booking pals. I didn’t have many and struggled to get booked in certain places.”
She recognised how daunting it is for women to make a dent in a male-dominated industry. “I felt If I had a group of girls, it would make more inclusivity.” Dundee lacked diversity according to Frankie as there are not enough female artists. Frankie understands how critical it is for young women to build confidence. “Once I got into the swing of things I loved it.”
For her, It was a strange sense of responsibility. She commented on how unfamiliar it initially felt, to teach six strangers. Young women that admired her andshared her flair. “I felt that I wanted to do well by the girls. I wanted to teach them well. I think I did, and I loved it.”
Frankie has a fondness for disco because it embodies the equality she pushes. “We wanted to provide the girls with a chance to inspire others, create a support network for women to share ideas and meet like-minded music lovers.” For four weeks, with 3-hour sessions, Frankie and her sister tutored young women in the art by developing their talent from scratch. During the first lesson, Frankie doubted herself. Jozette reassured her.
Despite the momentary lapse, Frankie managed to overcome her uncertainty. She knows how critical it is for women to build confidence. Throughout her final year studying Law with Spanish at The University of Edinburgh, she had her own radio show where she realized that she wanted to be a DJ and work in media.
After graduating, she travelled to Ibiza to do a DJ course. “It was great, the course was amazing. That gave me confidence.” Frankie recalled one instance they were performing, and Jozette whacked her with her bow. They received superstar treatment when they played in the Czech Republic. “The best way to stand out is to be unique. Stay true to yourself by doing what you enjoy.”
The twin’s collaboration is unparalleled, and they will be releasing their debut EP soon. They play melodic techno because it works in unison with the violin. As she laughed and reminisced, Frankie explained how amazing it was seeing the collective evolve.
“I’m grateful to the girls and Dundee Union.” She expressed gratitude throughout her moment of self reflection. “It was good seeing them start from nothing and improving. There is a few of them that weren’t sure of themselves but by the end, they were smashing out belters.” The Polka Dot Disco Club played their first set together right before the pandemic cratered through the industry. The concept was praised yet there was a minority on social media questioning her decision.
“I don’t think anyone has the balls to say it to my face.” The fact critics attacked her on social media reflects the issue at large. Men demeaning women by trying to bring them down. That won’t stop her from fighting. “I wish we didn’t need a collective, but we do because it’s not just about making a group to DJ together. It’s about giving women the confidence.”
Solving the gender imbalance within the industry is challenging yet she is doing an admirable job. Her message to men is to make women feel more comfortable and be more inclusive towards everyone. “The scene has improved immensely in the last two years.” It’s refreshing to see more women showcase their skill and sound. However, Scottish promoters have a long road ahead if true 50/50 equality is to be achieved.
An exploration into the lack of racial diversity within Glasgow club culture through the lens of Groove City Radio Resident Sean Muyaba.
By Bill Rah
Sean Muyaba has been spinning records for three years in Glasgow. The 27-year-old is ready to make a statement within the cities highly competitive landscape. He spent his childhood growing up in the stunning tropical Republic of Zimbabwe. That time helped shape him into who he is today.
He spent his coming of age in Scotland, moving to Glasgow in his late teens.“I’m sane with a moderate grip on reality which is good these days.” That’s how he described his mentality during the pandemic that has crippled creatives. It’s difficult being in this situation. The industry is collapsing, but it will not deter him from working at his craft.
Sean truly has a diverse taste which explores Acid House, Techno and Italo Disco. He adores old school Chicago House. “I listen in awe because a lot of the songs have now been remixed so when you hear the original, you’re just blown away.” He is right, elusive Chicago sounds captivate our eardrums. “I dabble with other genres. I’ve been known to play funk.” He also enjoys a melodic sound.
According to Sean, “the deeper, the better.” His tight mixing is seamless, sharp and energetic. He has been featured on Groove City Radio and Clyde Built. Sean is a skilled producer, creating slick and bouncy energetic House infused rhythms.
He has a monthly residency on Groove City Radio. He has played in small local venues in Glasgow but has yet to achieve his dream of playing in Sub Club. No one is going to hand you a gig in Glasgow. You need to fight for it. “It’s hard for any DJ to stand out because of all the high-quality work people in Glasgow are producing, however, it is criminal we don’t have more diversity.”
It’s difficult for a black man to break out in the electronic music industry. He attended a Black Lives Matter protest in George Square during the height of the pandemic. “I was quite hungover at the time. Physically I was rather hollow but seeing all the people that came out in support was so refreshing and just gave my soul a hug.” The landscape has shifted in recent months as BLM protests have erupted across the globe in response to police brutality and systematic racism.
Society is becoming more aware and educated, or at least that’s what social media could fool you into thinking. Racism exists in every single facet of every industry. There is a lack of Black and Asian Resident DJs in all Scottish clubs. “I personally don’t know any non-white residents in the bigger clubs in Glasgow.” That needs to be addressed.
He feels when clubs reopen, we have an opportunity to right the wrong by ensuring diversity is reflected within lineups. “Diversity encourages innovation and since the pandemic clubbing is going to need to be innovative when they reopen, or they aren’t going to be relevant.”
As a multifaceted DJ and producer, Sean is an innovator. His ideas could lead to diverse progress within our culture. Organisations need to address the lack of diversity within their hierarchy. Black creatives need to breakthrough.
Especially in an industry which claims to be progressive. That is what the industry needs to kickstart a new era. Club culture in Scotland was built off the music Black LGBT producers in Chicago and Detroit created. We should respect this. “The diversity you see in club nights isn’t reflected in the people our institutions are giving exposure to and that’s just a shame as it paints our scene in a narrow light.”
Sean explained why music is a platform to make politically charged statements. “Music’s ability to invoke a strong emotional response makes it the perfect tool.”Music can be utilized into a powerful and influential weapon to bring forth social change. Although Glasgow could improve the diversity of club lineups, Sean praised the cities vibrant industry. “I don’t think it’s all bad, it proves we have a healthy scene and often some of the best events and nights are the smaller ones.”
He adores parties in intimate environments, which a safe space for many clubbers. In response to the overarching vileness of racial abuse, Sean was naturally livid. “We really need to stamp that shit out because hate is very parasitic and only serves to infect and ruin everything.”
As he pondered whether the movement will result in real changes within society, he exclaimed, “the optimist in me hopes it does!” Sean elaborated and candidly shared his thoughts. ”We as a species have more in common than we do differently.” He is right, humanity, should not be fighting forsupremacy because of skin colour. “The more time we spend fighting
because of ideology from a bygone era that was driven by greed and ignorance. The less we are working on all the many other issues we have as a species.” Sean is not fearful of ignorant bigots. “I’m scared of having to fight for a bottle of dirty water in 2 decades than I am of my neighbour because he doesn’t look like me.”
In terms of personal experience, he has been quite lucky and has not been subjected to the brutal side of racism. “I’m fortunate that this isn’t an issue in the circles I move in. I have friends that have shared stories you wouldn’t believe happened in Glasgow and sounds like something that would happen in America.” Scotland has a progressive façade in which we masquerade as a left-wing country but below the surface lies racial bigotry.
Seven years ago he sparked a desire to turn his hand at DJing with the hope of bringing a new sound to Ayr. Now, he’s ditched the makeshift decks balanced on an ironing board and released with respected underground labels. Meet Ewan McVicar.
He started out experimenting with flavours of Hip-Hop “before naturally progressing into House music.” Early musical influences included The Game, Dr Dre and Kanye West.
A few years down the line, and in collaboration with Steven Simpson, came the creation of Granary 12. An Acid duo formed in the way that all best ideas are formed, “absolutely wrecked one night.” Ewan explained the conception of the collective. “My flat was in a place in Ayr called The Granary and I lived in number 12, so us being the mangled masterminds we were we just started shouting GRANARY 12 at each other and the rest is history!”
Recalling the pair’s first live set at renowned La Cheetah for Electric Salsa x TEN Crossover, Ewan hails it as one of their best to date.“TEN was a night I started with my mates in Ayr and I made Steven a resident. We grew closer from there and I can honestly say if there was no TEN there’d be no G12. It really was the catalyst for most of our music!”
Fast forward to the final months of 2020. The year where hot and sweaty club nights are illegal. Ewan looks back fondly and beams a real sense of pride in his incredible achievements over the last 12 months despite the challenging circumstances. “My whole year has been a highlight, to be honest.”
He’s enjoyed numerous plays on BBC Radio 1, signed and released with Patrick Topping’s label ‘Trick’, released on Nervous Records, nominated for DJ Mag’s Breakthrough DJ 2020 and built his own studio. As for playing live, Ewan still managed to secure some seminal sets throughout the year. Including Bangface Weekender in March where he played alongside Steven under G12.
Then in September Ewan made his debut STREETrave appearance at their live stream event. Joining Dream Frequency, Michael Kilkie and the legendary Carl Cox. A line-up that Ewan says put him alongside many of his “original heroes.” In summer Ewan celebrated his debut release on Patrick Topping’s label ‘Trick’ with the 3-track ‘Street Rave EP.’ A title that pays homage to the iconic club night associated with his local clubs.
Ewan explained that he sent in what is now known as ‘Dorian’ as a demo and was asked to send over more. “From there I sent tonnes of tracks and Street Rave was one of them. Patrick loved it and said I should meet him at Creamfields as I said I was already going as a punter. I got security checked and eventually got backstage in my camping gear. Met Patrick for the first time in person, genuinely the nicest guy about!”
The meeting was about to get even more memorable for Ewan. After quizzing Topping on whether or not he’d spin ‘Street Rave’ in his set. He alluded to being uncertain but only a short while later Ewan’s track would open a set at Creamfields.“To this day the most memorable, surreal moment of my life. It was like everything I’d worked for came to that point!”
This year Ewan was scheduled to play alongside Topping at ‘Patrick Topping presents::Trick Terminal V All Nighters.’ However, like many other live sets Ewan had planned for 2020 such as ‘Radio 1’s Big Weekend,’ he’s had to postpone. “It is gutting but if you dwell on stuff like that you never progress.” For everyone in the nightlife industry, we can only hope for live events to return in 2021 after the treacherous year that the pandemic brought us.
In a pre-Covid world, being a DJ at times could feel like you were in fact on top of the world. The connection with a buzzing crowd. The radiating energy of hungry ravers hanging on your every beat. Surrounded by like-minded people, simply there for a good time no matter how messy it gets. Something which is prominent in Ewan’s attitude when he’s behind the decks. “G12 played Corsica Studios in London and I was on top of the decks pouring bucky into folks mouths then the bouncer told me to get down. I said naw and he ran round to get me so I swan dived into the crowd to get away from him. It didn’t work! I was out the front on my back in a matter of minutes.”
G12 partner Steven shares the same high energy as Ewan recalls another personal highlight. “Steven got panelled before a set in Glasgow and genuinely couldn’t see what he was doing. I played a tune and it went down well, he got too excited, jumped on me and I fell over and cut all the music out. Some buzz man.”
In the studio, Ewan’s writing process mirrors his ethos of there no rules. “I use everything across the board, samples, vsts, hardware. I enjoy making my music so much because I have given myself the freedom to express myself.” Taking the same hedonistic approach when it comes to genres. Ewan’s expansive tastes shine through in his tracks and sets.
Over the years as we’ve watched him develop as an artist, Ewan’s own personality has become a pillar to his production style. “Emotion, passion and energy is something I always try and portray in all my tracks. Comparing his music to a personal journal of memories and moments in time, he claims that “as soon as I put one of my tracks on it takes me straight back to how I was feeling when I made it. It’s a class feeling.”
Expect Ewan to take the next step in 2021, climbing the ladders of elite Scottish producers. “I’m not even sure I’m allowed to tell you most of them but fuck it.” In the early months Ewan will be releasing a Minimix with Annie Mac and providing that live events get the go-ahead next year, expect to see him taking Glasgow, Dubai, and Budapest by storm.
Along with a long list of new releases coming our way. Including UTTU EP, a Trick remix and new EP, a release on Food Music and “hopefully Mele’s label Club Bad. It’s looking class, I’m so happy!” There’s one thing playing on his mind more than anything. Getting back on the dancefloor.“My goals would be to play Subby, do my own show, and run an all-day summer event in Ayr down the beach with a stage near the old Pavilion. That’s my Madison Square Garden!”
Overall, it can’t be denied that Ewan McVicar is carving himself a legacy within club culture. Showcasing to aspiring DJs that opportunities are out there if you “stick at it” and that “the only person that needs to believe in you is you.” He’s the type of figure that the industry needs. Someone who not only forges a path but turns around and helps others to follow. Ewan believes strongly in sharing advice where he can for the sole reason that he was in the exact same place not long ago. Contacting DJs and labels, waiting for the right one to take a chance on him.
When prompted to talk about his own future as an artist Ewan added: “Decades from now I want to look back and know that I did everything I could to get to where I wanted to be as a respected DJ and producer whilst staying grounded and humble.”Through his stylistic production, he has established himself within the industry. However, it’s his attitude that makes him unique. “Aye that Ewan McVicar, what a sound cunt – if folk are saying that about me when my career is over, I’ve done everything I wanted to.”
Turn the tables. The initiative getting people off the streets and behind the decks by teaching homeless people how to DJ.
Robbie Tolson, the 27-year-old founder of Turn the Tables is using his platform to help the homeless. The Edinburgh based initiative is expanding to Glasgow. It might be doing more work than our government. “I want to be helping thousands of people.” Before he invested his time in philanthropy, he was chasing the DJ dream.
Born in Glasgow, raised in Stirling and educated in Edinburgh, Robbie is a classically trained violinist. He listened to indie and electro before moving to Edinburgh for university. Robbie was a FLY Club Resident in Room 2 at Cabaret Voltaire for 5 years.
He had a release lined up with a record label before they failed to honor the agreement. After the label dropped the EP, he was left in a precarious position. This left him devastated. “My own mental health deteriorated because of that. I wanted to do something more positive. Started volunteering for social bite.”
He anticipated he would only be there to clean up. Little did he realize his trajectory would be forever altered. After revealing to other volunteers, he was a DJ, they requested he do a workshop for society’s less fortunate. That spiraled into Turn the Tables.
It is critical that the men he trained performed in a safe environment. He had liaison with bar staff to ensure they were not given alcohol or drugs. There was one individual who stood out. Ryan, a homeless man whom Robbie took under his wing has evolved as a DJ. He learned to mix Vinyl, a notoriously difficult endeavor before going on to support Shapeshifters at La Belle Angelle.
“Everyone I’ve met doing this had family issues, or issues with alcoholism and addiction.” There is clear demand for Mental Health support for individuals with substance abuse issues. It is one of the harsh realities of life. When you do something in excess, it can have a catastrophic effect on your state of mind.
Turn The Tables is supported by Red Bull. “We do gigs with Red Bull and the proceeds go straight back to Thunder Project.” However, they are very selective of where they perform as Robbie commented. “We can’t be inside some sweaty nightclub full of drugs.”
It has also attracted support from legendary House DJ Bushwacka. “He is a therapist which is perfect for us.” Having a multifaceted talent and prolific DJ on board has helped raise the brands profile.
The scope of this initiative is limitless. “Anywhere that’s got a banging music scene and a homeless problem.” That is the criteria for a city where they will consider expansion. It will be expanding to Glasgow this year and Sub Club have signed up as Ambassadors for the brand.
“We are changing the public’s perception of homelessness. The DJ’ing has its own social status. Young people look up to DJs. Then you see someone who was once an alcoholic achieve that, It’s quite powerful.” Music can be a robust weapon that shifts the public’s view on issues. With Robbie’s leadership the programme has the potential to change the lives of thousands.
The duo COUSN from Bristol comprises of cousins Alfie and Billy Goffey. They are among Bristols finest and most unique artists. Their electric production ranges from House and Acid to Disco and Punk. Through their production they have managed to elevate their reputation. They have played in prestigious events such as Glastonbury, WHP and DC10. The duo provided an insight into their life.
How did you guys get into music?
We’d been in bands and around music our whole lives, but started making electronic tunes together when we were 16 after an eye opening weekend at Glastonbury. The first time we touched a set of decks to a crowd would have been the Pioneer DDJ-Ergo at our mate Fat John’s 16th birthday party. We called ourselves A2B and opened with a birthday tune we made for the man himself, followed by the almost self titled tune ‘The A the B’ – a staple in A2B sets for the next few months until we changed our name to ‘Caped Crusaders’ and always wore sparkly capes. The first proper DJ set we got booked for was 2 years later at the Rabbit Hole at Glastonbury so it was mad it went full circle.
To those who might not know, how would you describe your sound and style of production and DJing?
Our DJ style is consistently erratic, we don’t have the biggest attention spans so we like to jump around between genres, styles and tempo depending on how up for it the crowd is. This definitely reflects in our production as well as it also jumps around a lot of different styles, it’s always been hard to pin point the Cousn sound but we feel it is live, punky, analogue heavy dance music.
Who have been your major inspirations over the years?
We like all things renegade, the people who’ve inspired us the most have always done things their own way, you can tell there’s no label calling the shots on their look or videos, it comes straight from them as artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Leftfield, Burial and more recently acts like Snapped Ankles, Lynks Afrikka, Giant Swan have been inspiring us.
Did the music production come earlier/later, or did you find the two went hand in hand from the get-go?
Music production came first, we started making sort of slow trip hop tunes in the beginning then as we got older and started going out and experiencing more DJ sets our sound became more club focused. Then when our mates parties started getting more freaky we started DJing at them all and playing out the tunes that we’d recently made, so DJing and producing did eventually go hand in hand.
Although undoubtedly there will be huge changes and challenges to overcome, it feels as if the world is returning to somewhat of a semblance of normality. Looking back how have the last few months treated you guys? With stellar multiple back to back releases it seems you have been busy boys!
It’s been a strange few months, but we’ve been making good of a bad situation. Just getting our heads down and taking the time to make tunes, experiment more and really work out where we want to head as an act. We’ve spent the last few months bouncing around different flats and houses like stray dogs, every place we’ve lived in recently has given us different inspiration just by the space of the room and the surroundings, whether we’re working in a open space with windows or a dark dingy dungeon-like bedroom. At the moment we’re living in a place that has no internet or hot water so we’ve been filling up the kettle, and pots and pans on the hob getting just enough hot water to wash ourselves with a flannel.
Your production style has been hailed as being analogue heavy. Which pieces of hardware have become staples of the cousn sound?
We’re really glad our sound has been coined as analog heavy, we’ve always wanted our music to sound real and raw even when we had barely any equipment. Now our setup consists of, the Micro Korg and Bass Station II which have featured in pretty much every Cousn tune. Recently we got a Behringer Poly-D to make some lovely jubbly chords and a Behringer TD-3 which is a 303 emulator for some juicy acid wobbles. For the drums we’ve got a Roland Tr-8s which we put our own samples in and manipulate the sounds and always use our drummer Tom to add live drum layers on top so it’s always got a live edge to it. We’ve also got a Minilogue and an old Korg keyboard which has a real secondary school music class sound to it. “D-D-D-DJ!”.
Since Mixmag’s premiere of ‘Brain Ticker’, and its success in the summer of 2019; you’ve gathered serious momentum with your subsequent releases, which are consistently dripping with juicy acid melodies. The much anticipated ‘are you with us’ is no different. Do you feel this will become a staple of future cousn productions?
Yeah we’ve always been bang into acid, we grew up in bands so have always wanted Cousn to sound punky and erratic but there’s something inherently anti-music theory about dirty acid lines that syncs well with our punky side. Acid is wrong but so right, it’s never strayed far from where it was originally intended and there’s something so nostalgic about an acid line. Our dads grew up in the Second Summer of Love and through the acid era and used to play us tunes like ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’ and ‘Rockin Down The House’ when we were younger, so been we’ve been drawn to it ever since, and it’ll always have a place in the Cousn sound.
As you commented on during the release of ‘ritual’, even the simplest of our daily routines have required adaptation. With a new show on the prestigious Rinse FM, how have you found the “alternative means of DJing”? How does it compare to the real thing?
We absolutely love doing the Rinse radio shows, it’s the only way we’ve been able to flex our DJing triceps since COVID stopped all the fun, genuinely think we’d have gone mad without them. However since all gigs have stopped we’ve really missed having the energy and interactions with sweaty ravers, there’s no feeling like it. We’ve actually stuck a picture of a crowd on the wall in front of our decks to make us feel more at home.
How has the scene in Bristol faired during lockdown?
Same as everywhere else really, fucked. But Bristol’s always been at the forefront of new exciting music and parties so I’m sure if anywhere manages to weather the storm and come back strong it’s gunna be here in the south west.
Both locally in Bristol and in a more global sense, can you envisage any major changes to the established status quo happening once clubs reopen?
Yeah, to be honest we were feeling like the established status quo was getting really stale, music made from Loopmaster packs and the same rehashed ideas over and over again. One of the positives we feel will come from this pandemic is a huge amount of creativity, and hopefully with that a massive new wave of young producers ready to disrupt this status quo, we can’t wait. We also feel like clubbing and dance music will veer more to the fun side, everyone and their nan is gunna need a huge COVID-safe boogie when this is over.
Edinburgh is a city flourishing with talent and LF System are waving the capital’s flag into the new decade. Conor Larkman and Sean Finnigan comprise of the prolific duo.
Conor and Sean, both 24 years old, grew up just miles apart in West Lothian. “There’s not much happening here, so there’s nobody interested in electronic music. It’s a quiet place” said Sean, as he reminisced about his younger days in Winchburgh.
Sean’s curiosity began after listening to Daft Punk in high school – “I wondered, how do they make that sound? I went down this rabbit hole trying to figure it all out when I was 13. Production came first, and DJing sort-of stemmed from producing.”
Conor, who hails from “The mighty Fauldhouse” as he proudly dubs it, took a different route. “I was at my pals, and I used a DJ app at a gaff playing EDM. We were all steaming, and I was like ‘Fuck it, I’m getting decks. I started using Traktor DJ with a wee controller, and I thought I was the dug’s baws like. Finally, I got CDJs and went into production.”
The blending of their taste allows them to produce exciting and energetic rhythmic house music. Sean discussed using anything as a source of creativity. “It’s all inspiration” as he spoke about his music taste ranging from soul & disco to pop & hip-hop. “I was always listening to a wide range, and I think that’s good for ideas in electronic music where you can make anything happen.”
Conor agreed with Sean’s ethos on inspiration and recalled how his taste has evolved. His father was into disco, and his sister’s boyfriend introduced him to house music. “That got me into the mindset that EDM’s shite. I just loved house music.” Amen to that.
After his sister’s boyfriend visited Sub Club to see Detroit Swindle, Conor grew more intrigued. “I asked for an ID, and it turned out to be Floorplan. I was right into techno from then on.” This amalgamation of tastes leaves the boys with innovation-on-tap; a never-ending stream of ingenious artistry.
The duos first venture into club culture came in the form of the collective: HYBRiD Events. The group put on some of the most unique events in Scotland; events which were compared to illegal 90s raves in the UK. “We used to put on events everywhere – once at an abandoned Victorian swimming pool. We tried to do things differently” said Sean.
HYBRiD was never about making money, as the two made clear. “We just wanted to get playing and get steaming!” added Conor. “The way I see it: do you get paid to play football with your pals? You just do it and enjoy it. They ask me all the time if I get paid, and I argue with them ‘cause that’s not what it’s about.”
Unfortunately, the story of HYBRiD events came to an end, and the group went their separate ways. However, this wasn’t the end. It was merely the beginning. The two praised FLY Club’s Head Booker Fergus Myer, who brought them together. Sean said: “He’s been there from the start, and he’s one of our best mates. Our manager, our agent; just everything rolled into one. He pushed us together to become a duo.”
LF SYSTEM are FLY Club residents alongside Scotland’s most prolific DJ’s. Their first residency night in January 2020 invigorated the duo. It helped them realise how far they can go. “Seeing LF System main room at Cab Vol for FLY on a poster is insane” laughed Conor. Sean still seemed in awe of how far the pair had come from their early days of mixing at gaffs and producing in their bedrooms. “It felt at the time, if we can keep pushing it, this might happen.”
The pair also revealed their pre-gig superstitions that they follow to calm their nerves. “We have a bite to eat, and a glass of red wine. We tell ourselves ‘we’re not getting steaming’, then we get there, and we’re fucked,” laughed Conor. Sean added, “We always have tequila before the gig!” They both erupted into a fit of guilty hysterics as they recognized the true reason for getting rowdy. “Sometimes we get into the mindset where we say we won’t, but you get carried away. If the DJs aren’t the life of the party, then there’ll be no life at the party at all.”
LF SYSTEM are highly talented producers, with their featuring on three different BBC Radio 1 shows. Sean explained “We sent the tracks out, around five or six to Annie Mac and Pete Tong. They responded saying we had a good chance of getting played.” Their tracks were played for five weeks straight over the airwaves. “It was surreal, and it all happened so fast,” said Sean in disbelief.
One of the tracks that played, ‘Feel It’, was only finished within a week before being sent. Sean stated, “It’s crazy that you can sit for weeks and get nowhere, and that only took a week, and it was live on air.” If anything, that’s a testament to their amazing work ethic. “We’re sitting on a good number of tracks, we’re speaking to labels, trying to find something that fits. We’ve also got plans for self-releases” Sean exclaimed.
Sean was quick to tease another announcement as well – “We’ve got a Radio 1 thing happening in August, but we can’t say anything right now.” Excitement is an understatement for what these boys have in store for the future, and as for a potential spot on one of the FLY Weekenders abroad? “Definitely something that might happen.” With new releases coming soon we will be seeing a lot more from LF SYSTEM. Quite frankly, we are ecstatic at the prospect of more music from the duo.
Modula Records label boss and FLY Club Resident Jezz Simpson is one of one Scotland’s unique producers exploring the Minimal House sound.
Jezz grew up in Leith, a popular port district in the capital. “It was quite a dodgy place to grow up in.” he remarked before commenting on the current state of the area. He noted it’s transformed into an up and coming area.
“It’s quite cool Leith because you’ve got all that going on but you’ve still got the ‘old Leith’ as well with Junkies kicking about so it’s pretty fucking mental.” Growing up in a sketchy area didn’t hold him back from doing what he loves.
He first purchased decks when he was only 14 however admits that he only serious invested himself in DJ’ing at 18. He recalled his first ever set which was in a run-down bar in Stirling. “I drove out there fucking shitting myself.” Natural for anyone’s first set. It was his mother’s friend who arranged the gig. “It was sketchy as fuck.” That probably added to the nerves.
He had to bring along his own decks because they didn’t have their own. Quite an inconvenience. When the set kicked off it led to a memorable affair. “I just finished my set and came off and the cunts who were on at the back came in and they were going mental. Next thing, the music got cut off and the promoters got caught in the toilets taking gear so they fucking scrapped.”
After that first set Jezz slowly established himself as a high caliber selector in Edinburgh. He is predominately influenced by Minimal House. “I like to think that’s my signature sound when I’m playing my sets. I’ve kind of got my own wee sound going on in Scotland.”
As a DJ he used groovy minimal selections to soundtrack his sets and has built a reputation in the capital through his unique style. That style is showcased in his production. “I’ve been producing for 7 years. But I’ve been on and off, so I’ve probably been doing it properly since about 2014. It’s only now that I’m starting to be happy with the shit I’m making.”
He commented on how he invested himself into club culture. “I got into DJ’ing for the love of the music, so I decided to stick to my guns and luckily for me Fergus and Tom at FLY Club appreciate what I do. They put me up in the café and it kind of sets the bar for the café.” Jezz appreciates the opportunity he was given to become a resident in the cafe for FLY Club.
He reflected on how he became involved with FLY. Five years ago, Jezz ran a night alongside his close friend Gave Miller. “We ran a night in Hanover street called citizens disco. That’s where our friendship kind of blossomed.” They know of each other before this however this helped strengthen their relationship.
Gav asked Jezz to play Room 2 with him for FLY. Gav normally played Hip-Hop which Jezz wasn’t accustomed to. “We decided to play disco and it was absolutely rammed.” After a couple more sets Tom Ketely offered him a residency at Cabaret Voltaire. “Shoutout to Tom and Fergus for giving me that platform to showcase my sound. If it weren’t for them I would be sitting here doing fuck all.”
Jezz progressed and is now one of the most revered local residents in Edinburgh. “I did the residences in room 2 and gradually got moved upstairs. I was kind of scared that I was going to be tagged as a disco DJ which I really wasn’t, so I started playing my own kind of stuff in the café and it just started going down well.”
He will be playing at FLY Amsterdam Weekender alongside his Leith comrade Gav Miller. When they play together it’s usually an impromptu set. “When we come together to play there’s no doubt in my mind how it’s going to go down. We don’t have to tell each other what we’re going to play. Just fucking play it and it works.”
DJ’ing comes easy to veteran selectors such as Jezz. It’s running a label that presents challenges. Jezz struggles to stay on top of his DM’s and emails being flooded with music. It’s difficult to narrow down selections and choose one for release.
He collaborated with Joe Wheeler to establish Modula Records. They gravitated towards each other as they shared a love of minimal groove. It took them years to establish the right contacts and gain the knowledge to release Vinyl. “It took us two years to get the foundations in place and get a team to work with us It was 2 years ago that we released our first record MR001.”
That first release went better than anticipated. “After we first released Jamie Jones was playing it at Kappa Future Festival and It just went fucking off. Our record sold out instantly. That’s kind of when I realised that although we’ve got no clue what were doing, we’re doing it fucking right.”
When he isn’t spinning tunes behind the decks he works as Head of Maintenance in a care home. Fortunately they didn’t record any cases of COVID-19. For Jezz life in lockdown has been a challenge. Modula records began as Vinyl only however switched to digital in order to survive the current economic climate.
He misses the dance floor especially the community aspect of club culture. “Seeing those faces that you wouldn’t normally see outside the clubs. You know you’ve got those people that you’re really close with but you wouldn’t go on a walk with or any of that shit.” One of the hardest things for him was missing out on an opportunity of play Boiler Room alongside Gav Millar.
Despite the lockdown Jezz has been occupied with his production. “Solo release on distinct and a collab with Gregg Dunsmore which came out on Lacuna recordings, been working on a lot of stuff with him lately, he’s a wicked producer and one of my good mates.”
Jezz is one the real ones. Constantly scouting for talented producers to feature on his label and grafting to ensure his production remains on an upward trajectory. He has managed to build a reputation throughout Scotland by keeping it real.
We Should Hang Out More. The renowned Glasgow duo host some of the cities finest parties. The duo are key pillars of Glasgow club culture.Their new EP ‘March Last Year’ is out today.
The new three-track EP is exquisitely produced house grooves which will be released on rising label Jackie Knows Karate Records. John Markey and Oliver Melling have built a notorious reputation for their parties. In the good sense.
Oliver Melling said “These tracks were conceived at a time when we were playing longer, heavier sets in all manner of weird and wonderful places. Taking to the booth often three times a weekend was frenetic.”
Their production might be just as good as their parties. Their latest EP was written during a time there were lots of raves happening in Glasgow. “We were playing loads of massive parties, sometimes playing three times in one weekend.”
What a time to be alive. Soul searching and reflecting during the lockdown truly makes us appreciate the parties where we danced the hardest. Thou cut shapes until the end. “It was a mad time of energy and creativity. We released two disco orientated releases on Midnight Riot and decided to make some house music to reflect the venues we were playing in.” said Markey
He went on to elaborate on the significance and meaning of their latest EP. “The tunes you hear are our representation of those venues that mean so much to the city’s cultural fabric.” The duo are residents in Sub Club and The Berkeley Suite.
They are local legends within the cities club culture. The noted they compliment each other in different ways which contribute to their success. Oliver has a degree in Audio Engineering while Markey has a PhD in Music. They each bring their unique skillset to the table.
Markey grew up in a small town called Warrenpoint in Ireland. Oliver in a small town called Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. “We’re pan-Celtic.” The duo added. A critical detail that shouldn’t be overlooked especially in a city like Glasgow. The duo met in unconventional circumstances.
Markey worked in a pub in Glasgow and Oliver worked across the road in a coffee shop.”We bonded over borrowing petty change from each other and then started going clubbing together. Then we played at flat parties together before taking the leap into the highly competitive gladiatorial arena that is Glasgow club nights” said Markey.
They both reflected on their first ever set together. It was August 2014. Glasgow was buzzing at that time. The Commonwealth Gamers were on that summer as was the first Independence Referendum. They performed a wild set together in La Cheetah.
“The city was an incredible ball of energy, it was an amazing place to be at the time. We sold out in under an hour, probably squeezing more than we should have into that outrageously hot basement. It was sweaty, incredibly energetic and totally solidified our want to keep doing this for as long as we can.” said Oliver
Since then they haven’t looked back and have catapulted their brand to incredible heights. Their previous booking include Honey Dijon, Folamour, Late Night Tuff Guy and other high calibre selectors.
However due to the lockdown they have been impacted substantially. Although this has given the duo time to focus on production. “We’ve worked really hard on production over the lockdown, and the fruits of it are very close to harvesting.” said Markey
He added “Our release schedule from the end of 2020 onwards is going to be hectic. We’ve been collabing with some amazing producers remotely, as well as some seriously talented topliners too. We’ve also established our own record label In The Event Of Capture to release some of the unheard talent in Glasgow.”
Despite there parties being halted due to COVID-19 the WSHOM boys have been honing their skills and will be releasing more music to share with the world. As staples of Glasgow club culture it’s great to see the duo scout the city for unheralded talent to focus on.
Eva Crystaltips, the French Disco DJ was once a protege of Artwork. In the wake of COVID-19 she began preparing for her next step. Moving to Berlin.
In a city dominated by industrial Techno, Eva wants to bring something different to the European epicenter of club culture. “I’m aware it’s going to be difficult to impose myself as a DJ over there but if I don’t try how will I know.” She understands the competitive landscape of the industry yet that won’t stop her from trying. Eva holds a deep affection for Berlin as she has visited her sister who lives there many times.
“My sister was telling me people are bored of techno. They are asking for something else.” Eva wants to bring in a Disco revolution to Berlin. She noted that morning, afternoon and night DJ’s are performing in Berlin. “At some point you want different music. I’m the French Girl. I bring you the disco.”
Growing up in Normandy she listened to Psychedelic rock however when she invested herself in DJ’ing, she developed a taste for Disco. In 2015 Eva began her DJ’ing career in the Bongo Club in Edinburgh. “I used to go to the same night for a year every month so I approached the DJ’s asking them if they needed help to do some PR. After a few months they were like do you want DJ.”
Eva had never stepped foot inside a club until she turned 24. However, once she entered it was difficult to get her to leave. Eva initially learned behind the decks from Steve Austin and Trendy Wendy. They run a night in the Bongo Club and pushed Eva towards pursuing her DJ’ing career. That isn’t the only person who taught her about DJ’ing and the music industry.
The fierce and talented French DJ applied for the Smirnoff Equaliser Programme. An initiative that promoted equality in the industry. The winners were given the opportunity of performing at Lost Village, Printworks and other prestigious events. They were also given the chance to be mentored by their choice of DJ.
Between Honey Dijon, Peggy Gou, Nastia, The Blessed Madonna, and Artwork. Eva selected Artwork due to his style and sound. “I choose Artwork because of the music he played. It was the closest to what I was doing.” At that time Eva had never heard of Artwork. However, after watching one his sets on YouTube she was enamored by his skillset and style.
“It’s not about DJ’ing it’s about the industry and life.” That’s why she selected Artwork over the other high caliber selectors. Artwork helped mold and craft Eva into the sharp and witty DJ she is today. He spent 3 hours teaching her Ableton although she noted that production isn’t her more refined skill. As she reflected upon her early career, she stressed that she didn’t plan on becoming a DJ. “I never wanted to become a DJ. I was a dancer.”
Every DJ needs their sound identity and for Eva disco is what gets her grooving. “It’s the way people dance. People dancing together and singing along with hands up in the air.” That’s what she truly adores. Nothing puts a smile on her face than watching dancers enjoying themselves to her selections.
However, there is more to DJ’ing than shit hot tune selection. According to Eva you need the confidence to go out and ask for gigs. It’s not easy “finding the guts to show that you can do it.” She acknowledged some women may find this difficult due to a lack of confidence. You need to be able to go out and say to promoters, give me a gig.
“I don’t think there is less women DJ’ing there is just so much pressure on women. A lot of women don’t try because it’s asking a lot to be able to impose yourself in such a male dominated industry. Not everyone has the confidence to do so.” This is an interesting analysis by Eva and she shared her thoughts on the disadvantages women face in the music industry.
“If you’re not wearing certain clothes, makeup or posing and showing you’re a cute woman, you don’t get followers and gigs and that’s a major issue.” In the age of social media, Women face intense scrutiny on what they wear, say and act. Now that’s wrong but it won’t stop people from being judgmental. “You can be a man and wear whatever you want.”
In the music industry it’s much more difficult for women to get their name out there. Unless you are a pretty white boy. Sex sells. “You’re not going to get booked because you’re not showing yourself wearing a bikini on a boat. Promoters won’t book you because they think you won’t be bringing the crowd. I hate Instagram.”
Promoters are for the most part greedy people obsessed with making money. They care about how many Instagram followers DJ’s have and who will attract a crowd. That isn’t right and all promoters should take note. Scottish promoters need to offer residences to more women and minorities.
Fortunately for Eva she has never experienced sexism within the music industry. “I think I’ve got an attitude of don’t mess with me.” She said in a stone-cold voice before chuckling and exclaiming how approachable she is.
Eva is serious about furthering her music career and anyone who has witnessed her sets will understand how skilled she is. Eva has the mental fortitude to thrive in a highly competitive industry. As she prepares for her move to Berlin, she understands she will need to work twice as hard to make an impact over there.