Horse Meat Disco

Here's some footage from Horse Meat Disco, the hippest most credible queer, quality dance music night in London. I've known James Hillard, one of the promoters for years, but have never qualified or confident enough to write about a gay club night. I don't know why, having chatted to James, it's just another club night but in actual fact is far more interesting and happening than 99% of straight clubs.
I will be checking it out. It's worth bearing in mind that without gay clubs there would be no house music - that came out of the black gay club scene in Chicago (Frankie Knuckles) and New York (Larry Levan), and often the scenes and clubs on the margins is where trends, scenes, sounds and looks, ie creative inspiration, emerge. It's no surprise then that Horse Meat Disco is a fave in the fashion world.
And to be honest this footage of a vogue ball at Horse Meat Disco, looks entertaning to say the least. It's ironic as mainstream clubbing has come back to dressing up, flamboyance and fun, and that's been Horse Meat Disco's thing since day dot four years ago. Is the tyranny of the superstar DJ over? I hope so, watching a middle aged bloke play for himself, just to get paid in a.n.other superclub surrounded by randoms off their heads, is B.O.R.I.N.G.

Here's an interview with James Hillard that appeared in London Metro yesterday.


Following this summer’s festival season the tent on everyone’s lips is Horse Meat Disco’s ‘NYC Downlow’, the world’s first travelling gay disco. NYC Downlow wowed both Glastonbury and Lovebox, with its elaborate bombed-out, seedy alley way meets New York disco set and camp, carefree vibe.

‘Gideon Berger a set designer and former art director for Lost Vagueness, came up with the idea of a travelling gay nightclub to go round the festivals’, explains James Hillard who founded cult gay club Horse Meat Disco (HMD) with DJ Jim Stanton in 2003. ‘So we recreated a 1970s New York disco but with a Horse Meat Disco take on it with drag shows, performances and a vogue ball.’

‘Glastonbury’s never had a queer space before so to represent gays was an honour,’ continues Hillard. ‘But the best thing about NYC Downlow was it attracted everyone - anyone who walked past wanted to get in, and at Lovebox there were 100m queues.’

There will be queues round the block this Saturday as HMD teams up with alternative queer night Rebel Rebel for Uptown Downtown, a New York-themed night celebrating 1970s New York, a fertile period for music that gave birth to disco, punk and nu wave. Think Patti Smith, Blondie, and Studio 54, with look-a-likes, drag queens and performance art.

It seems visual attractions are integral to HMD: ‘It’s ok to have great DJs but you need visual elements for talking points,’ explains Hillard. ‘That’s why clubs and dance music have been usurped by indie and rock'n'roll, it's visual, a performance, a show and more than anything it’s fun - that got lost in dance music.’

HMD draws a hip, mixed crowd enticed by its unique mixture of discerning dance music, performance art, flamboyance and open-mindedness. ‘We are gay promoters, we promote in a gay venue but the crossover is amazing you get straight guys down for the music, atmosphere and a proper party,’ explains Hillard. ‘The ability to bring a real mix of people has always been the hallmark of great club, and we want and get as wide and diverse a group of people as possible.’

HMD is regularly name-checked in fashion circles (Roland Mouret’s a fan), A-list DJs such as Derrick Carter and Dmitri From Paris ask to play there, while attending the night is seen as a badge of honour from New York’s East Village to Japanese club kids.

Yet these are bonuses that HMD has never actively pursued: ‘I think people realise we’re a genuine club run, by genuine people who want to put on a good party and make everyone there happy,’ says Hillard modestly.

Sat, Uptown, Downtown, Area, 67-68 Albert Embankment SE1, 10pm to 5am, £8 adv. Tel: 0870 060 0100. Tube: Vauxhall


Marcus Intalex - the moodiest git in dance music

Contrary to the title of this post, Marcus Intalex is a geezer and a half. I first met him in 2000, in Manchester with his partner in crime Lee ST Files. For me Marcus is one of five d'n'b DJs I would bother listening to, and I LOVE drum & bass. Maybe I'm getting old, but 90% of the shit that gets played on a weekend drum & bass night is the musical equivalent of McDonalds - throwaway, lowest common denominator and unsatisfying - unless you've consumed 20 pills. Marcus is hilarious, a comedy northern git, he knows it too, and plays on it. If you like your d&b to be deep, musical and banging - basically a Detroit take on it - then his FabricLive 35 mix, is essential. It's the best d&b mix I've heard in half a decade. Here's an interview that appears in Newcastle Metro today, ahead of Marcus date at Turbulence tomorrow. At some point, when I have the time, you'll get the full no-holds barred version. Personally I'm in agreement, with 90% of what he has to say in relation to bass and drum.

Marcus Intalex at Turbulence

Marcus Intalex is one of the most unusual DJs and characters in dance music, let alone drum’n’bass: he loves golf, believing fresh air balances out working in dark, sweaty clubs; he’s among a handful DJs championing soulful, deep d’n’b rather than relentlessly battering dancefloors with formulaic basslines; and he says exactly what he thinks.

He appears at Turbulence tomorrow on a blockbusting line up also featuring Brasilian sensation Marky and Bristol’s rolling funk maestro Clipz. In drum'n'bass terms it’s an unusual, forward-thinking piece of programming that represents the genre’s full spectrum, and although Marcus is pleasantly surprised he lets rip.

‘Drum’n’bass needs more diverse line-ups but I do feel like the fall guy sometimes, the alternative DJ that everyone calls on - ‘Martyr Intalex,’ he laughs. ‘I won’t play obvious records, I don’t put them my record box. I think they’re fucking rubbish, so why would I stand up and play them?’

‘Too many DJs rely on rewinds to get a reaction on the dancefloor,’ continues Marcus. ‘It’s dance music, people dance to d’n’b so you don’t need to go crazy the whole time - but I like the challenge of trying to represent some good music in that kind of environment.’

Marcus moves dancefloors through patiently building sets with breakbeat that’s full of rich textures, and references soul, jazz, Detroit techno and Chicago house. It’s a sophisticated much-needed alternative to the usual ‘crash bang wallop’ d’n’b that’s saturatimg the scene. Marcus’ style is captured beautifully on Marcus Intalex FabricLive 35 CD, one of the most stirring, emotive and progressive d’n’b mixes since the genre’s experimental heyday in the mid-late 1990s, and the likes of LTJ Bukem.

‘There’s always been good drum’n’bass around and the Fabric CD is the perfect opportunity to showcase that good music,’ explains Marcus. ‘I could have done this mix at any point in the last ten years. I just offer this music to people, because it’s not being offered anywhere else - when other DJs get the opportunity to do a mix CD, they just think ‘what’s the biggest dancefloor smasher?’

‘Producers and DJs are trying to out do each other and beat dancefloors to a pulp,’ he continues. ‘It’s like happy hardcore, which is the worst music ever and now the music I’m involved with is almost on a par with it. That is pretty embarrassing as far as I’m concerned.’

‘Am I too old? Are we all too old? I don’t know - is the music supposed to just appeal to young people?’ asks Marcus, thinking out aloud. ‘In a way it is. But when you’ve grown up with drum’n’bass and care about it you don’t want to see it go only in one direction, there is definitely room for other styles.’

Tomorrow, Turbulence, Digital, Times Square, 11pm to 4am, £10 adv, £12 door. Metro: Central Station


London Urban Collective - tune in tomorrow

The London Urban Collective is a grassroots, socially responsible organisation looking to give young people a leg up in the music industry. I've been in touch with them for a few years and reviewed one of their CDs for Metro. Despite being a CD-cruncher of sorts (my job = listening to as many CDs as possible in as short a time as possible and currently my CD pile to get through is about 50 deep), I remember it well. Because it was genuinely good, rather than a tokenistic, patronising effort.

Anyhow, it looks like the London Urban Collective are behind the first reality tv talent show wih morals and soul. And it begins tomorrow. Tune in on the ace community channel - that's actual reality tv, by real people in their real environments. Since when was Big Brother actually 'reality'. What with Dubplate Drama beginning last night, it's been a good week for urban TV. Or I should say TV that represents inner city youth, and ethnic minorities, fairly and gives them a voice.

Here's the blurb: The story of London Urban Collective (LUC) - a unique youth music project in which thirty young people are chosen from auditions across London to write, record and promote their own album for independent release, mentored by industry professionals - including Shola Ama. Now in its third year, LUC provides a major platform for emerging new UK talent.

big up Harry for running the project. You can find out more here, and thanks to Rachel at the Community Channel for tracking me down, and the images.

Shoreditch block party

Man Make Music is a night that's been catching my attention since they first got out there and started promoting nights early this year.

Man Make Music joins the dots between myriad bashy dance music: it's genius idea of the kind that makes you think, 'Dur, it's so obvious why hasn't anyone else done it.'
Respect is due to Amit and Nikhil - above - for being the first to do it and do it in an accessible, intriguing way. Such as this daytime, Block Party.

The soundtrack's loosely, dubstep, grime, drum and bass, fidget house, Baltimore, or just dirty bassline driven dance music from the last ten years. I'm biased obviously, coz this is the music I love. Hard, underground, bass driven music brimming with soul, rawness and energy. Here's an interview that appeared in Metro on Thursday. I will be going to this on Sunday. Though Secret Sundaze is tempting.

Last Sunday, I went to Secretsundaze at Canvas after vowing never to go there following repeated carnival style crushes on the door. We went late, and there was no hassle getting in (apart from having my weed taxed off me on the door. grow up, it was a joint's worth). And I have to say that the Canvas roof terrace is a great space.

I was being offered dabs of ketamine and MDMA at 10pm. Crazy people with no jobs to goto, but overwhelmingly, friendly, generous, hip and sexy party crew.
As my colleague at Metro, who also ended up there, said to me on Monday, 'I felt like Quasimodo in there. Big up to Raving Rubika for persuading me to go (the lesson being that after two pints and two rum and cokes, I'm anyones).


In barely six months four friends who met at University have established Man Make Music (MMM) as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking events in London clubland.

August Bank Holiday’s MMM joined the dots between dubstep, fidget house, grime, garage and reggae, with leading DJs (Mala, Trevor Loveys, Scandalous Unlimited and Soul Jazz) from these respective scenes.

For MMM, the link between these genres is entirely natural and the fact that no one else in London seemed to be pushing such soundtracks, only spurred them on: 'We wanted to see what we could do in London in terms of the music we're into which is bass-driven music and big bashy dance music such as dubstep, grime, d'n'b, fidget house, Baltimore and minimal house and techno,' explains promoter/resident DJ Amit Gudka.

'We got into the Hackney warehouse scene and did a few parties but in March we put on a big night with Blakey and N Type and it went nuts in terms of hype – after that we thought we can really run with this night blending together different styles.'

This Sunday MMM ups the ante further with a Block Party in the heart of London’s alternative raving quarter. Promoters hankering after unusual spaces will be kicking themselves for missing the concrete wasteland behind The Foundry pub, and right opposite the Holiday Inn on Old Street.

The line up certainly fits Gudka’s description of ‘a 21st century block party with a Shoreditch spin on it.' As with all MMM events it’s musically broad but connected with guests including turntable duo C2C (five times team DMC champions) ripping up hip hop and electronica, N-Type’s relentless, slamming brand of dubstep, and Diplo-faves Radioclit (and grime MC Ears) getting bootys shaking with crunching dancehall, Baltimore, and baile funk.

Where did the inspiration for throwing a block party come from?
''The space: it's a concrete, urban space not a park in the heart of Shoreditch and it’s surrounded by buildings - there’s an original Banksy in there - and the fact that it's daytime screams, ‘Block Party!’ explains Gudka.

As MMM ascends London's clubbing ladder through partnerships with some of the capital’s leading clubland players (Egg, the Tenax and Issst warehouse raves), what does the future hold?

'Through this Block Party we're learning how to do temporary, licensed parties and we're keen to do more informal spaces,' says Gudka. 'It adds to the interest, puts a different slant on our nights and we believe there are loads of spaces in London with the ability to surprise people. That’s what we’ve been doing with our venues and line ups, hopefully we can keep it up and stay unique.’

Sunday, Shoreditch Block Party, The Courtyard, off Great Eastern Street EC2, 2pm to 10.30pm, £8 adv, £10 door. Tel: 0870 060 0100. Tube: Old Street

A version of this appeared in Metro on Thursday

In Bed with J Holiday

This is blowing up in America. Smoochy US R'n'B by Washington's J Holiday. It's a bit weird if you ask me, that kind of off-key crooning a la Akon, with a hint of Sean Kingston. I'm not a teenager anymore - obviously! - so I'm not 'supposed' to geddit. I'll have to ask some kids on the bus, whether it really is the slow jam of the year!

This single's been written by the same team behind Rhianna's Umbrella, Rodney Jerkins is producing his LP and this video's directed by Jonathan Mannion (Busta Rhymes, The Game, DMX, Shaggy), which suggests, he's destined for big tings. He's over in the UK in December, I'll reserve critical judgement til then and seeing him live!


Fink - This Is The Thing

Not my sort of sound usually. But I am BIG fan of Fink. This is his new single, second LP Distance And Time to follow on October 1st.

The Heatwave

I've long been a fan of The Heatwave: these guys have been pushing the global ghetto sound that is currently so fashionable (MIA, Diplo, Radioclit, Switch, Sinden) for over FOUR years. Respect. Expect soca, bashment/dancehall, reggae, bhangra, garage, R'n'B/hip hop. There was a time when they were getting grime and hip hop MCs down to spit over the riddims, including Yungun. This night is a relaunch and it looks like The Heatwave crew's going to be busy for the remainder of 007 and into 008, with single releases and a compilation for Soul Jazz. Thanks to Gabriel Heatwave for the info.


KANO - instores/tour dates

Kano's at Deal Real records tomorrow at 7pm Carnaby Street. Expect it to be roadblock (mostly with young laydeez). Kano's LP, London Town has been panned critically. Mostly coz it features Craig David, Kate Nash and Damon Albarn, which is being tagged as a box ticking exercise, designed to increase awareness of Kano amongst unfamiliar markets rather than Kano being true to himself. Which I think is more than a little unfair - what exactly was the purpose of Dizzee Rascal's collabs with Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Lily Allen?? What about Lethal B's Back To Biznizz and Gallows, Pete Doherty, Babyshambles, Kate Nash?? Both are examples of exactly the same thing. Yet Kano, coz his LP is the last of the lot, gets a pasting for it. Grossly unfair.

I'll be honest, there is something missing from the LP, it's a little lack lustre and you really get the sense that Kano is tired, bored and struggling with music industry bullshit (and belief that's half the battle). Take a time out fella, and come back stronger. I personally believe he is one of the most talented spitters in the UK. And no LP was going to live upto Home Sweet Home. Call it sophomore LP syndrome. Your fans are your fans. It might just take a third LP to convert the sceptics. And you take pride in the fact you made Craig David credible again. There isn't a lady I know who is into urban music, that doesn't like this track. Here's Kano's forthcoming tour dates.

26 Sheffield, Plug
27 Bristol, Academy
28 Cambridge, Junction
29 Leeds, Met Uni
2 Nottingham, Trent Uni
3 Southampton, Uni
4 London, Astoria
5 Liverpool, Academy
6 Glasgow, The Arches

Wildstyles - Hip hop photography at PYMCA Gallery

Preview tonight, this runs for about six weeks. Press release below. I will report back on it after tonight's preview.

'WILDSTYLES' - is an exhibition of old skool Hip Hop Photographs from the
last 25 years. From Monday the 17th of September - 2nd of November.

Wildstyles is an exhibition that features classic rare photographs hailing
back to the 'old skool' days and is a homage to Wild Style, the classic
Hip Hop movie that is being re-released for its 25th anniversary.

The exhibition will feature not only photographs but music, Breakers and
Graffiti art.

PYMCA have collaborated with some of Hip Hop's grand masters from Normski
to Janette Beckman, to take you back to the days of Adidas shell tops and
Run DMC. Wildstyles is certainly an exhibition to get you moving.

Plus you get classic tunes played by Hip Hop DJs and a performance by
breakdancers One Motion Crew. Graffiti art deco by Stika and an authentic
MC Street Cypha outside.

To mark this rare show, all the prints are for sale.

The ego has landed

Kanye West - ALLEGEDLY (it's not entirely clear that it's West, it doesn't sound like him to me) - letting rip after the MTV Video Awards again. This is after last year's pop at Simian Mobile Disco at the MTV Video Awards. Sore loser.

I had a huge amount of respect for Kanye West, ok he's not the most lyrically gifted rapper (especially live), but he single-handedly brought conscious, meaningful hip hop back into the mainstream. Without him there would be no Talib Kweli, Common, Kidz In The Hall, Consequence, Rhymefest, Pharoah Monch making moves in the mainstream.

But really, why does West have to be such an egotistical, arrogant prick?? Not nice qualities, even in rap. I've had enough. I'm not sure I can bovvered to buy this new LP, not coz of the music, but coz of his boring ass ego. Anyways rant over. And thanks to Monique for the heads up.


From Soho Road To The Punjab

There's an exhibition investigating and tracking the evolution of bhangra, the Punjabi folk music popularised by Panjabi MC's Mundian Te Bach Ke (the Knightrider tune!). This has been touring the UK for a while now and finally touches down at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS. More info here. I'm going to check it out to find out the true origins of bhangra - there's some debate as to whether it's got anything to do with weed; weed in India is generally known as 'bhang', so there seems some sort of connection with the word 'bhangra'.
My mum, however, reckons it's roots are in the annual harvest celebration - Punjab's India's most fertile region and is known as 'the breadbasket of India', providing 20% of the country's food. Mum's are mostly right, so believe her and not me.
Shukria (thank you) to Ammo at Punch HQ in Brum, for the info and more importantly organising the exhibition.


Waste Yaar

On Sunday some friends and I wandered up to the India Now festival on Regent Street. This was supposedly another event in this summer-long, London-India love-in (is that some sort of record? three hyphenated words in a row!) that's seen South Asian dance in Trafalgar Square and Nitin Sawhney scoring a silent Bollywood movie last week. Largely the festival's been typified by fairly interesting, engaging - and most importantly - free events.

But this, to put it mildly, was WASTE. Regent Street was shut to traffic, and it was a perfect example of how London could be transformed into a cafe-culture style modern European city with tables and chairs spilling into the road and people, eating, drinking and chilling without being fumigated by traffic pollution or harrassed by buses, taxis and cars. That literally was the one of two highlights along with the above. The bag-pipe playing asian military band. Nuts. They were impressive too, if a little stiff and upright. It's a festival for god's sake, SMILE.

Beyond that there was not much else. There were three performance areas on street level, but you couldn't see what was going on (unless you were as tall as Amitabh) because everyone was crowded round. We were hungry, and this really got my wick, but there were no street food stalls. Only three Masala Zones where you had to queue for an hour to sit down and eat. So you have an Indian street festival, WITH NO STREET FOOD. Let's be clear here, food and street food, is utterly integral to India and Indian culture, and there was none of it. We ended up in Wagamamas, another friend told me they ate in Pret. Brilliant.

The Asian Network stage was hype with Bobby Friction and Noreen keeping the energy levels up - it reminded me of a back in the day Radio 1 road show - but the music was pretty average, with a succession of Jay Sean-look-a-likes, doing Jay Sean style syrupy R&B and hip hop, and bhangra. And Rishi Rich shouting out to his mum, and uncle so and so. You're obviously a nice young man who's close to your famo but it was a bit much, 'so schweet' like a kitsch Bollywood movie moment that make you gag.

All in all a waste event, that was a waste of my time. Red Ken, you might love multicultural London and celebrate it, but this was poor, embarrassingly so and India Tourism, with events like this, you're giving my homeland a bad name.

ps. Yaar = mate