Words simply trip off the tongue to describe these lush intense productions by Bas Grossfeldt. Lost In Translation feels like it is looking for a way to escape out of the confines of reverberation amid searing, soaring heat. Its gritty realisation played out over eight minutes of atmospheric telling. The more sensuous Lost In Sensation follows with drums punctuating the rhythms while shimmering keyboards wash over the horizon. A beautiful piece of electronic music. The crazed breakbeat fuelled techno of Your Orbit ends.
Excitement levels are pretty high. I really wanted to get this out this year due to the 30 year thing. The main reason why Acid is so special to me, is because of the impact it had on me when I was just a kid. I discovered it when I was 15 years old and fell in love with it immediately. I was just the right ages to get totally consumed by it. I had hundreds of smiley t-shirts and embraced it like it was the most important thing in the world. I never could have imagined all the controversy surrounding it would have happened after it spread across the UK and then for there to be huge parties revolving around the music just as I was turning 18. It was a wake-up call for me as it was for many others and nothing was ever the same again.
(photo by Paul Husband)
Can you tell us about who are the founding figures in Acid House for you and who would you say were the key electronic music producers before then?
One of the most important figures has to be DJ Ron Hardy. As the legend goes, he played Acid Trax 4 times in one night causing the early House scene to shift in direction. Ron was always more abstract than Frankie Knuckles and after Acid Trax things blew up in Chicago things moved more in Ron’s musical direction. After the first night he played Acid Trax he continued to hammer it without anyone knowing what it was so his followers called it Ron Hardy’s Acid Trax accidentally giving the track and the genre a name. Another great for me is Armando Gallup. He was renowned for his parties in Chicago before he made one of the first Acid House records 151, very shortly after the very first one was made by Phuture.
Obviously Phuture for they created the genre and went to create more absolute gems. Mike Dunn isn’t talked about as much as some of the acid originators but if you listen to tracks such as Face The Nation and Personal Problem, I find his unique take on Acid so beautifully melodic I am amazed he isn’t praised more. Adonis is one of the great unsung heroes of not just Acid but House. Some of his House records were essentially Acid before the genre was even born. I firmly believe that Phuture were listening to Adonis before they created Acid House. Larry Heard, although he has made some of the best Acid House music with tracks such as Sun Don’t Compare, it is his House music that is the most inventive because again, like with Adonis he was making Acid House before it even existed with tracks such as Washing Machine and Ecstasy. I am a firm believer that Acid is both a genre of music and an electronic instrument sound too that can be made on machines other than a TB-303. Larry Heard proves that with some of his Mr. Fingers productions. I never expected Acid House to become as popular as it is again today but the great thing about that is, new music by new producers. Paranoid London are making some blinding new music as is Marquis Hawkes.
Prior to Acid House, I was obsessed with Electro with producers such as Arthur Baker and Juan Atkins with his Model 500 outfit who later went on to give the world Techno.
How long has it taken to research the book? And what inspired you to write it?
Research for the book began many years ago, possibly up to around 10 years ago but as I got busy with musical projects and having a day job things got put on hold. The final product has evolved somewhat as I scaled down the original plan of making an “Acid encyclopedia” called Encyclopedia Acidica. Depending on how things go with this, I will look at finishing that rather ambition project again but much of the work I did researching it has resulted in this smaller project.
Tell us about three of your favourite electronic instruments (drum machines, synthesisers etc) and why their sound resonates with you?
The TB-303 is the single greatest machine ever made. Although there are now a million clones and imitation and some of them replicate it very well, nothing else out there has the same depth of bass and more importantly despite boasting being computer controlled, in a way, it sounds so organic and alive. I absolutely love some of the newer machines that have been built to cash in on the demand. I have bought as many as I can afford. I have 6 now I think. I also think the Korg Monologue is one of the most amazing machines I have ever heard. They got Aphex Twin to create some of the patches and he has even included some of his riffs on there. I have played live sets and incorporated them into the sets they are that good! And finally, the Jupiter 8. I used to have one but had to sell it when I got laid off from work to pay the bills. As depressing as that was, it was possibly the first and most mature thing I’d ever done. People say I am mad to have sold it but it really was a question of house or synth.
You have self published the book. Tell us about that process and what’s happening with the books distribution?
I am going to do a limited edition larger version in A4 to offer something to collect as people who love Acid House and 303’s are so fond of their scene I figured a limited edition version would be a good idea then the book will be available in standard A5 on Amazon.
What is your favourite memory from Together?
People assume being in the charts must have been best times. It was great, I am not denying that but for me, the best times of my life were long before Hardcore Uproar got into the charts: it was the period where Hardcore Uproar became the biggest tune at the Hacienda in the summer of 1990. To have shared it with my best friends Jon and Emma means everything to me as I have those memories to hold onto and cherish forever. There was one night when they played the record twice in one night on the 8th Birthday and as it hit midnight Mike Pickering released balloons from the ceiling. It was so un-Hacienda of them but it was possibly the greatest single moment of my life.
How did you first get introduced to House Music? And how would you compare those days with today’s Dance Music culture?
It was really my school friends who introduced me to House Music. I was still into Electro in 1986 and all my friends who were always really ahead of the game were listening to compilation on FFRR/London records. When I heard what they were listening to, my old Electro comps barely got a look in. I always wrote silly raps inspired by my love of Electro so when I got in House I started writing basslines and melodies. I didn’t think any of it would amount to anything until I met Jonathan Donaghy who I formed Together with.
To compare today’s scene to what happened just after 1988 is difficult as the music and the scene was so new back then, it was bound to feel more exciting but having experienced both of them separately I can honestly say some of the best nights today are as good as what was going on back then. There are 2 clubs in London called I Love Acid and Downfall and I feel due to the sincerity of the crowds they pull, the atmosphere is magical. They have such a playful vibe. No idiots. No aggression. Very few camera phones and no pretence, just pure music and dancing. It is just like it used to be and for a while in the 2000’s when things changed quite a bit I never thought it would come back and certainly didn’t think it would get this good again.
And finally. Tell us about The House Sound Of Together series? And any future musical or writing plans you have?
The House Sound of Together EP’s began with the “FFRREE at Last” EP. A celebratory record after getting out of a nightmare record deal I was trapped in. We wanted to sign to Deconstruction but somehow were forced to sign to a label we didn’t want to be on so when I got out of that deal I rushed to release a record after not having had a record out for sometime but the 2nd EP Volume 2, I really took my time with. It featured a few names that have gone on to do big things such as DJ Sasha who produced one track, Phil Kelsey (PKA) produced another and Rohan Heath (who went on to form The Urban Cookie Collective, The Key The Secret) co-wrote 2 tracks on the EP.
I wrote most of this new EP while I was off with a broken leg. Literally itching to get out, I felt inspired and basslines was filling my head whilst I had one leg propped up. The result was this
EP. The House Sound of Together Volume 3. I originally intended to call it the Alkaline EP as I wasn’t planning to have any Acid on it but Matt Sargeant who I co-produced it with in the end, contributed some essential elements to the EP and lots of them ended up being very Acidy so I had to drop the Alkaline tag.
After Together I went on to release some ambient techno under the name The Ultimate Escape Project. I have written new material which will be released under that name soon. I toyed with releasing those tunes under the name Together but I realised they’re just not Together tracks.
Writing-wise, I have been writing a column called One Foot In The Rave for a magazine for sometime and I have been thinking about expanding on those. They are memoirs related to my experiences during the Acid House era. I want to make it clear, this definitely won’t be an autobiography! Nobody would be interested in my personal life but whilst going to the raves I saw and experienced some truly amazing and at times, shocking things so I hope to write a book called something like “Real life stories from the Acid House frontline”. I like the idea of using a war-term like “frontline” as there were tensions at times and it did get quite risky, especially the night there was a riot and someone had the bright idea to blow up a Police van in Blackburn.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty, Reggie. Let’s start by asking about your new release (along with Gari Romalis) on Psychostasia: Feel Me Deep. Can you talk us through how you produced one of your tracks and how you achieve your signature sound?
Producing for me is mostly about feeling. If it moves me, then I feel it will move someone else, or at least someone will get it, lol. There are so many things that inspire me during the course of a day. When I am inspired, I get to work. I don’t agonize over a record for long, I am quick to finish once I have something. Mix it and move on to the next. I just think my sound comes from my experiences and growth as a spiritual being and person. I don’t strike out to be different, it is what comes out of me naturally when I create.
What provided the impetus to relaunch Psychostasia Recordings, and how did the relationship and distribution from Clone Records and Rush Hour come about?
I had just gotten to that point creatively, where I wanted to get back to my label. Serge over at Clone offered to help, and I am greatful to him and the crew. Serge and the Clone family have always been supportive of my work. I have done some great records that I am proud of at Clone, so there was a trust and understanding that I was comfortable with at Clone. Rush Hour in the Netherlands is now my new distributor now. With them, I was able to connect with them personally while at ADE, in addition, they have been supportive of my Hip Hop productions, under the alias, “Detroit Westside Kid”. Right now creatively, I am doing deep house and Hip Hop.
Your music has a playful yet intense funkiness. Who are your main influences both in terms of music and also from outside of the world of sound?
I like the way you put that, ” My music has a playful yet intense funkiness to it.” I have to use that one, lol. I would like to think some of my influences in music are: Jimmy Smith, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Prince. Rod Temperton, Stanley Clarke. Outside the music world would have to be: Dr. Limuel C. Dokes (RIP), Dr. Frances S. Dokes ( RIP) both of whom, were my parents.
Do you feel that nostalgia helps or hinders the creation of music going forward?
Looking back helps me in moving forward in the creative process. I like listening to great musicians and bands. Look and listen to what they are using and the sounds. Now everybody wants a vintage keyboard or drum machine. Most want those cool sounds from the earlier golden years of music.
What changes for better or worse have you witnessed in music and clubs since your label originally released back in 2001?
I can only speak on music. It appears it has become more of a challenge for me to find good soulful music I like, whether it be house, techno or hip hop. It appears that hype has become the norm, and not substance. As it relates to clubs, give me a few more years. I have really just started to tour, so I really cannot give you a true assessment of the European club scene right now.
You also have releases out on Shift Imprint and We Play House Recordings which highlight the diversity of your sound. How would you describe the differences (if any) between House, Techno and other forms of electronic music?
Yes I do have releases coming on Shift Imprint, which is a fairly new label distributed by DBH music, and We Play House ( Belgium) run by my good friend Bart Van Neste aka DJ Red D. For me I just like to keep my sound diverse. On my label Psychostasia, I purposely like to put deep house and techno on the same EP. Keep em guessing, keep them wondering and make it interesting. You have to remember, that I was exposed to house music back in 83 or 84. Also, I was born and raised in Detroit. So back then, we called it progressive music. House music was very raw and soulful. Techno came later for me, but it was Detroit techno: Juan Atkins and Derrick May, much more electronic and futuristic sounding, but still had soul. Now you have all these different genres, and I get it, but at the end of the day for me, if it is good music, it is good music, lol.
And finally. What are you forthcoming plans for 2018?
My plans in 2018 are definitely to play out more as a DJ and continue to put out interesting and soulful music across all three genres: deep house, techno and hip hop.