This is a piece I have written especially dedicated to all the Suncebeat family or as I affectionately now call them ‘Children of the Sun’.
There are several stages of being when it comes to the Suncebeat festival simply put, before, during and after. I will now attempt to give a brief description; If you are discovering Suncebeat for the first time, read on this may just tip the balance in your favour to book up for next year. On the other hand if you have already sampled the delights, then join me as we relive the memories.
Before – Did you hear whispers amongst your friends about a festival somewhere in the Dalmatian coast that was more beautiful than you could have ever imagined? Not just aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but a festival full of like minded souls who had gathered together for the love of music. Such places exist and are your for the taking.
Once you have stepped into the realm, you will never view life in quite the same way again.
During – Were your mind and body prepared for the delights that lay in store for you? Having reached your destination, taken your first tentative steps in a country that was mainly unfamiliar to you. Did you look across Tisno, up to the mountains and along the calm blue sea in wonder?
On site there is a palpable rush of euphoria, this place is unlike anything you would have ever experienced before. Is this what togetherness feels like? You look from left to right, to faces turned towards the sun with an expression of sheer happiness on their faces. At that moment in time you surmise there is no better place than this and nowhere else you would rather be.
Hot summer days follow warm summer nights, this is hedonists groundhog day without the monotony. The world blossoms before you with the visions of boat parties, intimate gathering of DJs and music lovers, all thrust together out at sea. You may cry tears of joy, it happens to be true, for there are few greater experiences in life that evoke such deep emotion.
For me the Mindfluid boat, with Kev Beadle firmly at the helm and followed closely by Rich Medina, Rainer Truby, Lefto, took proceedings to a whole new level. Until you have experienced nearly an entire boat moving in unison directing energy from the ‘souls’ of their dancing feet towards the DJs, it is a feeling like no other. On the Yoruba Soul boat, Osunlade, Rainer Truby, Craig Smith and Eddie Ramich; gathered our spirits and invoked the gods and goddesses of dance. Such were the vibrations pulsating through the boat, that several dolphins joined the party and jumped with joy alongside us. Revellers flocked to side of the Argonaught to catch sight of these magestic creatures, all at once causing the boat to lean precariously to one side. Occurrences like these are rare, they are what I call a world appreciation moments and are to be cherished. Just when you think you can not take any more happiness, you discover how to dance on the beach stage! Wide wild steps, sweeping arms as you sassay across the dance floor. All is right with the world the DJ is spinning your favourite tune, whilst the disco ball showers in you in an iridescent glow. Where else could you experience a plethora of DJs from Osunlade, Andrew Ashong, Lay-Far, Floating Point, DJ Spen, Dean Sunshine Smith, Lil Stevie, Gavin Kendrick, all displaying a kaleidoscope of the finest soulful underground dance music around?!
I will take this opportunity to salute my dear friend Neil Pierce, who is one half of Rhemi, whose track ‘Diamond’, must be the winner of anthem of the week, not a day passed with out the lyrics ‘Just be the diamond that you know you are’, cascading across the beach stage. All who are in agreement with me say I!
But wait there is more Barbarellas! Here you become the mistress or the master of keeping the vibe alive as the coach takes you to your destination. Barbarellas is a world within itself, an out door arena, free from walls allowing you to be free. Time moves slowly we dance for hours to an assortment of; Disco edits, Deep South African House, Soulful and uplifting grooves, to the ancestral tribal Afro House. We dance until the first light creeps it’s way over head, the morning sun makes it way to greet us, (haven’t you gone to bed yet) it whispers.
I must not forget to mention the pleasure of seeing the live acts Roy Ayers and Brand New Heavies and how we swayed and sang along to the songs that have provided the soundtrack to our lives. Or the Soul stage with Terry Jones & Ronnie Herel, as it throbbed to the sound of happy singing voices.
Make way for the DJ Queens, Natasha Kitty Kat Probert, Simmone Black Fox and Blonde Flash, who displayed greatness behind the decks.
As the days progressed and with the greatest ease, you find you have became a member of Suncebeat family. Never has it been so easy to connect with people from the worldwide community in one small place. Facebook will light up with the clicks of new connections and shared experiences.
After – Is the stage of utter exhaustion but only as a result of having the best time of your life. Most of us at some point have lost our voices, some folk have temporary lost our minds, lack of sleep can do that to you. All forgiven and after a good nights sleep is forgotten.
The most profound realisation of what you have just experienced can not be found in words, it hits you between the 2nd and 4th day of being at home. When the slow trickle of Facebook statuses become a torrent of adoration and love. Video clips and photos topple across the screen, confirming that yes this is your life. The revelation hits you square in the heart and mind, that you now belong to something deeply powerful and moving. Suncebeat is more than a festival, it is a way of being with one another and a way in which we connect with our spiritual selves. Since the dawn of time our ancestors have joined together under the sun and moon, we have danced in unison sending our earthly bodies into the heavens. For those 7 days we have followed in the footsteps of ancestors celebrating lives bounty.
I end my review with a quote by Ptolemy an ancient Greek geographer and astronomer, I read this quote and thought of us.
‘I know that I am mortal by nature and ephemeral, but when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of heavenly bodies, I know longer touch earth with my feet. I stand in the presence of Zeus and take my fill of ambrosia’.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt blessings and love to Alex Lowes, Dave Gardener, Nick Connelly, Gavin Kendrick, Kev Beadle, Ben Brophy Yasim, Ceri Ann and to all the people in front and behind the scenes who help this extraordinary festival possible.
Give thank the DJs, for their energy, for keeping us dancing and for being the conduit in which unifies us: Roy Ayers, Brand New Heavies, Louie Vega, Tony Humphries, Kerri Chandler, Osunlade, Sandy Riviera, Miguel Migs, Black Coffee, Dimitri From Paris, Floating Points, Andrew Ashong, Motor City Drum Emsemble, Marques Wyatt, Rich Medina, DJ Spen, Reverend P, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Lefto, Rainer Truby, Eddy Ramich, Lay-Far, Djeff Afrozilla, Craig Smith, Dean Sunshine Smith, Ronnie Herel, Souldynamic, Phil Asher, Kev Beadle, Gavin Kendrick, Mark Stone, David Fiorese, Luis Radio, Jonny Miller, Ben Brophy, Steve Butler, Lil Stevie, James Morgan, Natasha Kitty Kat Probert, Simmone Black Fox, Blonde Flash and Colin Williams.
To my roomies Jan and Karen, here’s to our nudist apartment, Benny Hill sketches, Prosecco and life long friendship.
My business partner Laila – welcome to the family we the world is our oyster.
To relive the whole experience tune into my Suncebeat 6 soundtrack, just follow the link below.
And then there are those who do more than just stand by and watch; absorb the world around them, filter it through multi- coloured lenses. Repackaged for the masses, under the buzz line you WILL listen. In the words of Gil Scott Heron ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, the revolution will come to you via your android phone, all seeing eye iPads and what ever futuristic medium we decide to hold on high. My aural revolution was brought to me by Osunlade, location Suncebeat 5, Barbarellas at 6am in the morning. Such were the blows of the lyrics of OVEOUS’s Ipoem, that the masses fell silent, apart from the occasional screams of delight, as we stood trying to get to grips with reality through a haze of hedonism. Profound!
In recent years we have mourned the passing of conscious street commentators / poets such as Gil Scott Heron, Maya Angelou, who will take on the baton and carry the message forward to a new generation? There is one man, OVEOUS that we could take to our hearts and minds to new places; who has the ability to combine exceptional poetry, collaborate with Grammy award winning musician Roy Ayers, renowned producers Louie Vega, Osunlade and Atjazz, while still delivering the message.
Join me as I interview OVEOUS.
O – Offering social consciousness, an alternative to the main stream
V – Victorious open your eyes will win against oppression
E – Eloquence, words delivered skilfully with accurate precision
O – Omnipotence, the power to overcome
U – Unify, one nation under a groove
S – Social Commentary, life reflected, complacency rejected, people stay connected.
How did your experience growing up in New York (and then Miami) form your views of the world?
New York is an amazing city. There’s a reason why we call it the Empire State, Empire city, and its because so much creativity and culture stems from here. Naturally, when you grow up here (for me it was from Uptown Washington Heights to the Bronx), you get inspired by every single thing you see and hear on a day to day basis. And living in New York, you get to see and hear a lot. We have five boroughs filled with people from all over the globe. So it truly is a melting pot and you can almost say a “preparatory school” for exploring the rest of the world. As far as Miami goes, I did live there for almost 4 years back in the late 80’s as a kid. It was a fun time. I learned a lot there about loyalty, friendship, and the importance of family. It was just Me, my mother and my brother at the time. The rest of my family stayed back in NY. Miami is a special place to me cuz that’s where I fell in love with video games and also BMX freestyle biking. The sun was always out and inviting us to go out and be active. Miami is also the reason I went from being a fat kid to being in shape. LOL. Yo, its true tho, I was a chubby one man, till biking and basketball took over in Miami. But anyway, yea, NY was my world view tutor.
You and your little brother Carlos Paul were raised by your hard working single mother. When you reflect on life back then, what is the most valued lessons that you take with you through life?
Never, ever, take any of the small blessings you have in front of you for granted. Ever. I kid you not when I say this, but there were times where we didn’t know how we were gonna eat or pay the rent. But Moms always fought hard, hustled hard, and somehow always came thru 4th quarter in the paint. I will forever L’Ove her for that. Her loyalty to us was Priceless.
New York city is renowned for it’s kaleidoscope of musical influences. What music where you listening to that got your creative juices flowing? What first attracted you to those artists?
I love these types of memory lane questions because they always challenge me to go back deeper into the early influences that pulled me in to the music world. As far as I can remember, the first cassette tape “album” I ever bought was that of LL Cool J. And unfortunately I bought it a bodega not knowing what a bootleg was. I was just too young to know what that was. LOL. Rakim, Fat Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, Gangstarr, and NWA were some of the first artists that caught my ear. And I really liked their music a lot. But I gotta be honest and say that although Hip Hop will always be my heart, House music was my first true musical L’Ove. I say this because I remember the first time I heard Crystal Water’s “Gypsy Woman”. That beat, classic piano and vocals was just something that hit my soul like nothing else had before. I mean, I was seriously hypnotized by this sound. A few weeks later I went to a club in New York called Vinyl and another in Boston called “The Loft” who had a friend of mine playing there by the name of Armand Van Helden (now one of two guys in Duck Sauce, shout out to him and A-Trak). So yea, I fell in L’Ove with them beats man. It was just too beautiful to ignore all of the great records that were coming out at that time. So for me as a fan of guys like Masters at Work’s Little Louie Vega, Yoruba’s OsunLade and Atjazz, and to now be working as a producer and vocal collaborator with these guys is an incredible feeling.
If you could be any computer game character who would you be and which game most reflects your character or life experience?
EASY!… MEGA MAN ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. Lol.. I’m going with Mega Man because I can really relate to this dude. Mega Man is an android designed by scientist Dr. Light to simply be a lab assistant. But when the world gets threatened by evil forces, Mega Man steps up as a battle robot instead. Attached to his right arm he has a cannon called the “Mega Buster” that changes and adapts according to his enemies and the environment. I can relate to this cuz In my personal life I’ve had to change and adapt many a times in order to survive. It’s crazy to think that a Japanese video game can be that Deep, but it really is! lol. Shout out to Capcom Yo!
Both you and your brother shared a passion for writing lyrics, Carlos Paul aka Ziiinc Blue originally showed great promise as a lyricist. In 2002 tragically Carlos Paul made the decision to take his own life, after battling with depression. Having experienced such personal trauma, you took the brave and courageous step to deliver your own tribute to Carlos – Ziiinc Blue. For the first time you performed your work in front of an eagerly awaiting crowd at the Nuyorican Poets Café. Can you describe the build up to this performance? How did you harness the essence of spirit to take you through this emotional & transitional stage?
This is actually really deep man. Honestly, I’ve never even discussed this with my parents or even family in detail. But around that time (October 6, 2002) after learning about my brother’s suicide, I became completely cold, removed, and emotionless from everyone. At the same time, I was also hit with a divine energy of inspiration and became very focused as I began to write what would be my (tho I had no idea at the time) first internationally recognized piece of lyrics. It was all just coming at me at once. Lyrics pouring out of me. Ideas flooding my brain constantly. To the point that I got fired from the ONLY job I ever had out of college. lol. (Best thing that ever happened tho). So on some real ish, best way I can explain it is that I wasn’t really in control. I just do what I always do. I write when the writing comes to me. It comes to me and I just document the messages that were sent to my head. As far as the first time I performed at the Nuyorican Cafe… Man, that was CRAZY ELECTRIFYING!!!! Literally, it felt like I had been shocked with goose bumps for 15 min straight. During that time I used to write poems and raps on the subway train all the time. On that particular night, I took the train to Nuyorican, arrived just in time for their open mic on a Friday night after their slam battle, and I read one of my first pieces ever written. “For The New Yorker” a rap/poem hybrid about living in the concrete jungle. It was crazy. I got a standing ovation my first time on a stage. Its been a blessing and a fun ride as an Artist since. *THANK YOU NUYORICAN! I love ya’ll! Oh and you too LouderArts 😉
Where do you gather the impression for your songs and poems?
I think I answered this question earlier in brief, but to go into further detail, I believe that to be a great Artist you have to illustrate the human experience from a new perspective. One that inspires generations. One that pushes the boundaries of what we thought we already knew about ourselves. And Our lives. You have to be open to the possibilities of expression and the exploration of new terrain. No matter what your medium is as an Artist, you should always try to find the hidden treasures of expression. You have to find what hasn’t been seen or spoken about or at least a new path to a familiar road. It isn’t easy to do, but the ones who are blessed with this unique vision, stay in your mind forever.
In the past you have worked with a whole host of respectable musicians and producers, including Roy Ayers, Osunlade to name but a few. At what stage did you start to put your lyrics to music?
I would have to say that it pretty much started in 2007 when I performed the acapella of Mirror Dance at WMC in Miami at a dance battle. Some buzz went around about how people were moved by that piece. A few months later I met Osunlade and Quetzal Querrero aka QVLN at SOB’s in NY after a show. We all bonded, became family instantly and next thing you know I’m in the studio with my engineer/producer and good friend Dave D Sol Rivera recording the official “Mirror Dance” tune. At the same time!… My good friends Anane and Louie Vega had seen my performance at the Apollo theater on TV and they asked me to join them on their next “Elements Of Life” LP which is out now on Fania Records. Whats really ILL, is that I’m on a record with one of my favorite artists’ growing up… the great URSULA RUCKER! Man, I can’t believe I can actually say that. So humbled.
Recently you did a few DJ sets in Greece and also at the Ace Hotel in London, how does Djing compare with your poetry stand up? Do you have a preference? Or is it a case of having more creative freedom?
I L’OVE doing both! So now that the word is getting around the world that I can do both, its been really opening a lot of doors for me. It’s really the best of both worlds for me. I get to party, play music, perform, and expose people to poetry and beats in a setting that normally wouldn’t expose it! It really is great. This is a very exciting time for me as an Artist. I’m producing records and playing them. I’m rapping. I’m doing stand up poetry. I even landed an acting role in a film that we’re shooting right now! lol. I’m the type of Artist who loves to explore and push my limits. I love to conquer the fear and take on the challenges ahead of me. By the time you publish this, it will be no secret that my new album is coming out on my own label (Moca Arts Music). It is a very soulful hip hop album titled “Passion In Veins” and dare I say, people are calling it a future classic (their words, not mine I swear). It is my best work to date. This album is truly about the PASSION it takes to survive in your life. Lyrically it really pushes the envelope in that It has a ton of positive and messages you can relate too, without being preachy and yet it’s still very poetic and prolific. I’m really proud of my learning and evolution process as I get older and more into Music. I’m also very proud of the album cover. As I believe it is one of the most original album covers ever conceived. Or one of the coolest and most raw. I say this because to achieve the artwork, I literally had to BLEED for this album. Yep, I cut myself several times, drew blood, and began to paint the cover art with my own blood. I have to give credit to my friends at creative agency Johannes Leonardo who conceptualized this with me over dinner and wine one night in NYC. lol.
There is something about your construction of words and performance that has the power to hold the listener spellbound. Describe the magnetism to your words? I think it boils down to being Real. From the moment I open my mouth the audience can tell if I’m being real or fake. They can also feel the impact of the message. Because I always write about our lives, our struggle, our pain and our joy from new perspectives.
I first became aware of your work through tracks such as “Soldiers” and “I Apologize”, and more recently when Osunlade dropped “iPoem” on an unsuspecting Suncebeat crowd at 6am. For me and many others it was a profound experience. Have there been any incidents recently that have left you creatively speechless? Perhaps in terms of positive feedback.
First of all, shout out to my brother Boddhi Satva who produced “I Apologize” for me! Second, I’m always being entertained and moved by even the smallest things on a day to day basis. But recently I witnessed some amazing talent at a “DayBreaker” event here in NYC. From dancing to singing, there’s always great talent out there.
There are whispers by some, that you could be our 21st century social messenger. If this is true what is your message and how will you know when you have achieved it?
Me?… The 21st Century social messenger??? whoa, that’s heavy yo. That’s some big shoes to fill. But hey, if its me, then so be it cuz I came into the Arts with the right intentions. Always for the People. To uplift and inspire the People for generations to come. And my message would be to live a life that does good for not only yourself, but also to others. With all these shootings and killings, we could really could use a dose of understanding and forgiveness.
The ultimate message would be to find peace within yourself so that may translate to the energy you contribute to the rest of society.
If you could go back in time and reconnect with your 16 year old self what one piece of advice would give and why?
I’d say to myself, “ Yo O, f*ck all the bullshit, stop being so afraid, work hard on your craft, and trust your PASSIONS. Everything is going to work out just fine!”
What are your future plans and where can readers find out more about your work?
My plans for the future include the release of my new album “Passion In Veins”. Also releasing some remixes I’ve done with Atjazz for the “Soldiers by Soldiers” LP. I have a Lady Alma remix dropping for OsunLade and Yoruba Records hopefully in 2015. And a remix on Agogo records for Gabriele Poso’s “Invocation” album track 006. So basically, I’m gonna keep busy with writing and producing records and DJing more this year than ever. I’ve put out a lot of hip hop music in my career thus far and btw, i.e..( Me and QVLN dropped that J Dilla Tribute that has gotten tons of L’Ove), so I’m going to focus now on making more of that classic future House music sound that’s been in my head now for a few years. Its definitely time to let the people hear the future.
Moca Arts Music (ASCAP)
Age of the Aquarius.
Aquarian Moon was originally released by BBE back in 2006. Now re-released in 2014, several new tracks have been added to this Deluxe edition.
Osunlade is a man that needs no introduction, revered and adored by his dance floor believers, known to many as the ‘Black Messiah’. With a style that is fluid as the water that flows from the Aquarian star sign. Osunlade latest offering is an ode to his beloved adopted home Santorini in Greece, each track is a unique love letter detailing the many ways in which it has become his spiritual home.
Sculptured and shaped like wood made by the skilled hands of an devoted artisan. Rich, with a bounty of ethnic percussive elements which are the roots of the tree. At the core, Osunlade never loses sight of the importance of a his spirituality, to invoke the listener into experiencing a shared existence. Like the branches of an oak tree, each track holds it’s own by thrusting outwards an array of musical influences in it’s garden of earthly delights. The track, ‘Aquarian Moon’, fuelled by the beat of bongo drums, hand claps, melodic strums of the guitar and rhythmic slaps of bass; while ‘Twophish’, is a funk infused flute fest. ‘Circles’, is a beautifully orchestrated piece, with a broken jazz components. ‘Sokinsikartep’, is a track that is deep as it is wide, an electronic pounding thunderous storm, while ‘Casablanca Soul’, is the polar opposite, the sweetest sounding horn sections, fingers tips that skip across the piano keys in sheer delight, happiness in a love letter.
The Age of Aquarius is believed by some to herald in a time of peace and harmony, if this is true ‘Aquarius Moon’ would be the place that we all gather together in love and appreciation for the places we call our spiritual home, where ever that may be.
Title: Aquarian Moon Deluxe Edition
Label: Yoruba Records
Release date: Out now
Available from: Bandcamp
Listen again: http://yorubarecords.bandcamp.com/album/aquarian-moon-deluxe-edition
Join me as I take you through 72 hours of Britain’s longest running indoor dance event Southport Weekender, celebrating its 50th anniversary. Take a step into my world, as you view the weekend through the eyes of a Southport Weekender devotee.
Where to start? There are so many beginnings to chose from; the night before where butterflies do the conga in my stomach and sleep is evasive due to the anticipation of the following days adventure. Or the journey from Bath to Minehead, where one lone Southporter makes her way on the train, only to be met by a whole train full of excited, enthusiastic revellers, all heading in the same direction. Or maybe the moment when you reach the site, waiting outside for your party leader to collect the wrist bands and lanyards. I love that part, the cries of recognition as you bump into all your friends from across the country and indeed the globe: Dubai, Aylesbury, New York, Sunderland, Ireland, Manchester, Amsterdam the list is endless.
For we are all apart of something unique, and very special. We are all members of a world wide music family. From this moment on, we the collective conscious know that for the next 72 hours, we are going to experience the time of our lives, together as one.
Southport Weekender is like being immersed in your own bubble; to a certain extent the outside world doesn’t exist, mainly due to the poor mobile phone reception, but that’s a godsend.
There is an unspoken rule when coming to Southport for the first time, ‘remember it is a marathon not a sprint’. Being able to balance your weekend; between spending time with your friends, cross referencing the time table, to ensure you get to see your chosen acts, finding time to eat, sleep and swim (yes I said swim) is an art form in itself, most people fall at the first hurdle.
The line up is breath taking, there are very few places where you would get to see a plethora of world class artists and DJs such as; the living legend Chaka Khan, the world renowned Archie Bell and The Drells, veteran of the Acid House and Hardcore scene Carl Cox, one of Britain’s leading pioneers and champions of Reggae David Rodigan, Hip Hop royalty DJ Jazzy Jeff, Jazz Songbird Zara McFarlane, game changing and rule breaker Derrick Carter, The Black Messiah himself, Osunlade, Soulful Songstress Faith Evans, bringers of the fresh and funky beats Brand New heavies, I could go and on and on…..
Friday is like an enormous energy conductor, we promise to take it easy, pace ourselves; however the sheer magnetism and force behind the weekender takes over, until we left powerless against it’s charms.
The new home of the resident pub the Inn on the Green, swelled with the masses of feverishly excited party goers. Southport resident DJs: Paul Stuart, Bob Jefferies, Terry Jones, Martin Lodge, Luis Radio, Mark Stone and Souldynamic provide the perfect backdrop. Picture the scene; open arms and continental kisses, greeting friends, while pints and glasses were raised in unison; ‘we are here, we made it, the fun starts now.
My night begins in the Suncebeat Dome, where I am received with open arms by the Southport stalwart Steve Butler and rising star Ben Brophy. Both Steve and Ben brought their unique brand of delightful cheer to the proceeding, that kicked off the party in style. The energy behind those decks was electric. I stand transfixed and overwhelmed by whole ambiance, the greetings and embraces. One person in particular I must mention, Southport resident DJ Gavin Kendrick, who for me has given this years event a whole new meaning, Gavin I salute you.
One of the most poignant moments that I recall, was being by the entrance of the Dome, just watching the people dancing, laughing and being happy. Martin Iveson aka Atjazz and Ross Hillard from the Magic Number bop through the dome; earlier that week I had emailed Ross to show him love for a track he had recently made called ”Song for Sophia’. A stunning piece of Jazz, complimented by heart warming vocals; a track I had played several times during my week long DJ residency in Ibiza the previous week. As I stood chatting with a woman, who told me it was her first time at Southport Weekender. I beam with enthusiasm keen to initiate a new member into our ever expanding family. All of sudden Ross leans over and tells me that the woman I am talking to is Angela Armstrong, none other than the vocalist on the ‘Song for Sophia’. It one of those goosebump moments, such a humble and lovely woman.
My spiritual home always has been and will always be the Beat Bar, however something switched this year, perhaps it was the change of location of my beloved Beat Bar. I managed to drag myself away from the Suncebeat Dome to the Beat Bar. I was on a mission to see Tall Black Guy, a much respected Producer/ DJ from Detroit; who had been delighting my eardrums, courtesy of the oracle that is Kev Beadle. I’m pleased that I made the switch Tall Black Guy’s set is as creative and innovative as I imagined it would be. The experience is sweetened by having the opportunity to chat to him and is manager / wife after his performance. Such is the way at Southport than you can easily walk amongst your music heroes, there’s no attitude of diva like behaviour, we are all on the same level.
This time the lure of the Suncebeat Dome enticed me back and holds me firm to it’s bosom.
Friday night was full of the most floor stomping celebratory DJs. The likes of Neil Pierce brought the Dome down as we danced and cheered; congratulating Neil on his well deserved place at Southport. Neil was followed by a man that needs very little introduction Kenny Dope. Kenny’s house set literally set the dance floor a blaze. His historic take on well loved classic House tunes, led to on mass singing and shows of jubilation.
Next up were two of my favourites; the boundary pushers, the UN-conventionalists otherwise known as Exist, who consist of Atjazz & Karizma, with Ross Hillard on bass guitar. These guys are technical wizards, whose creative synergy is a wonder to behold. Not forgetting the sheering sexual magnetism of Ross and his bass guitar, I must say there were one or two blushes as Ross rode that bass guitar into the audience, like a proper super star.
May I remind you that I am still on Friday night or should I say morning, about 6am to be exact in the Beat Bar. There are few that could hold my attention until that time of the morning. However this time I make an exception. Some call him the ‘Black Messiah’, other’s the spiritual leader of the dance floor, to all his name is Osunlade. This is the point where music get’s spiritual. Osunlade offers up an holistic approach in his delivery. Only the true believers would remain on the dance floor at 6am to watch the holy man deliver his sermon. The scene could be described like something out a tribal gathering, the air is heavy, hot and sticky; the congregation eagerly awaits for the first tune and away we go. Two hours of the deepest, soul nourishing, hypnotic and mesmerising music. I was fortunate enough to be back stage for this set, as the temperatures soared we handed out bottles of water to the crowds. Committed to the cause, we danced, we cheered and we adored Osunlade, right until the very last song.
And so to bed, exhausted, body aching, elated and satisfied.
Earlier I mentioned that Southport is a marathon not a sprint, no where is this more evident than on Saturday day time. The atmosphere is thick with palpable tension. The anticipation is building, something magnificent is about to go down.
In the mean time; so many people I wanted to see, but I like so many others I am a mere mortal, sleep prevails I miss; Archie Dell and the Drells, Andrew Ashong, Gavin Kendrick. However all is not lost, for the bold & brave and for the ones in the know, swimming is an absolute godsend. There is nothing better then after 12 hours of bouncing, moving and grooving than a nice relaxing swim in the whirlpool; followed by launching myself down the death defying waterslides.
As I walk around the site, I can only liken it being in an glorious alternative universe; the giant Southport deckchair, which revellers clamber onto exposing their knickers or builders bums in order to have their pictures taken in it. The smiles and nods, the ‘good morning campers’ shared between to passer’s by. We experience the sense of togetherness. The feeling that we are all in this together and at this moment in time life does not get much better than this.
Back to the matter at hand, there was only one act on most people’s mind that Saturday afternoon; one reason to drag your weary head away from the comfort of your pillow. Since the release of the live line up earlier in the year, my mind had been focused on seeing the performance of one woman. I could have only dreamt of seeing this legendary artist in my life time. Today was a day for making dreams come true, not just for me but for thousands of members, this is the moment we had been all waiting for.
With a body that betrayed what my mind was actually feeling, overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of whom I was about to see.
I stood in the main pavilion, with my dear friend Nick and a glass of prosecco in hand, to steady the nerves. The hustling, buzzing throngs of people, listening to Southport Soul man Ronnie Herel. We gently swayed to the music, still a little tender from the night before. We speculated amongst ourselves, would she be a Diva? Would she turn up late? Has she still got it? How old is she anyway? Have you heard the rumour, which British Funk Soul legendary band would be supporting her, no other than Incognito!
The music stops, out comes Ronnie Herel, there is hush amidst the crowd. With an introduction of gratitude, out come Incognito to kick off the proceedings in style. Next an announcement that is only befitting for a woman of her magnitude and heroism, out comes the tiniest woman, a shock of wild hair and a outfit that screams, you came to me and me alone – Chaka Khan! My heart literally skips a beat, as I write this the hair on the back of my neck stands up at the mere thought of that moment. Chaka opens up with the anthem ‘I feel for you’, the love and adoration of nearly six thousand people singing back at her is unbelievable. From that moment on, I am lost in the magic. Chaka Khan delivered a performance that was unrivalled, her vocal gymnastics were breathtaking if not ear splitting at times.
Incognito offered up the perfect accompaniment to her style, never missing a beat.
As I looked around me I saw the smiles; the I can not believe this is actually happening expressions. This is a dream come true, when you come face to face with a long term music hero. Every song meant something valuable to each and other person. Songs like ‘Ain’t nobody’, ‘I know you, I live you’, ‘Sweet thing’, invoked an emotional response. Those songs may have signified a particular time in their lives; or provoked a specific emotion. For me it was like Chaka was singing the soundtrack of my life. I’ve only ever felt like this once before when I fortunate to see Jocelyn Brown. It was not until the final encore of ‘I’m every woman’, that I finally broken down into tears. The out pouring of complete and utter joy of witnessing a woman I both admire and respect, give a stellar performance. My dreams had come true, this would be a moment I would cherish for the rest of my life.
I needed a lie down after that, to let the magic settle and soak into my being. This kind of wonder doesn’t happen every day.
Saturday night draws in, once more into the breach I go armed with my dancing shoes, fans and most importantly my crew from Sunderland. One of the best attributes of Southport is belonging to a world wide family. Most of us only get to see each other once or twice a year, which makes meeting up all the more special. The Mackems are feeling at home tonight. The gale force winds whipping around the site makes me scream, it’s freezing. ” Ah nae bother”, comes the reply from my mate Craig just wait until we get inside the Beat Bar, soon get warmed up. What lies in wait for us is an evening of pure unadulterated pleasure. Tonight is all about getting low down and funky; Gilles Peterson laying it down in the Beat Bar. Finding a suitable space to dance is a challenge sticky dance floors and carpets don’t mix, pass me the talcum powder, I feel a gliiiide coming on. Gilles Peterson is was of the only DJs I know who could throw down a melting pot of genres and get away with it. Music to my ears.
We enter the newly decorated Connoisseurs room, glistening tassels suspended from the ceiling. The Connoisseurs room as the name implies, plays the best in Soulful music over the past several decades. Kenny Dope is playing an eclectic set, I live for moments like these. A selection of rarities and well known tracks blended together with the sole intention of making you move. Time moves swiftly, we can’t decide between Moody Man, Kerri Chandler & Friends and Joey Negro, decisions, decisions, decisions.
After the conversation I had with the gorgeous Angela Armstrong from Magic Number and the lovely Ben Brophy; I make a be line to uncharted territories to the Power House room. The Power House is known for being the home of the crème de la crème of House music, drawing it’s influences from the major players in the House scene origins of; New York, Chicago, Detroit. I tend not too much spend there, it is a vast air hanger of a room beautifully decorated, but a little too big for me. Now at 4am I am faltering slightly but my resolve to stay is strong, if I can I will watch performance to the sweet end. Kerri Chandler is the pied piper of the generations; his contribution to music is outstanding. He is also considered responsible for helping to change the course of dance music history.
Another welcome blessing, Kerri and Friends is a unique take on dance music brought to life via live instruments and upfront vocals.
The inspiration behind the idea came from, Kerri and Ben watching Gregory Porters mesmerising set in the Connoisseurs room at Southport 48. Having worked closely with Ross Hillard and his band Magic Number, and making transatlantic Skype calls to Kerri Chandler. The project was carefully orchestrated by Ross Hillard and welcomed with open arms by Kerri. The dream had finally came to fruition. To follow the progress of an idea, as it developed and evolved, in to what I saw before me was truly awe inspiring.
The experience felt like being gathered up, embraced and being taken on a wonderful adventure. Listening to the unmistakable voices of Arnold Jarvis and Robert Owens; voices that I have been listening to for years, sing the likes of ‘Inspiration’, and I’ll be your friend’, ‘Tears’ a moving tribute to Frankie Knuckles performed live were pretty special. One of my proudest moments, was to see a new shining light in the form of Ben Brophy, up on stage playing the keyboard on the track inspiration . A track Ben tells me that helped to cement a life long friendship with Kerri. My one regret was not being able to stay until the end, by 5.30am my energy had left the building and I had to leave with it.
Now for the chosen few who are lucky enough to have the golden ticket for the third night, this means an extravaganza. The closing and after parties, the beat doesn’t stop. For the rest of the revellers, Sunday is normally experience with a heavy heart and aching feet, it is time to go home.
When most people were asleep or still up chatting, I went swimming. Not surprisingly I was the only one in the pool. As I eased myself along doing a gentle breast stroke. I noticed the waves in the pool getting choppier, after three days of excess I began to wonder if swimming had been such a good idea. In no time at all, the pool went from being calm to a frenzied wave machine, it was all I could do to fight against the increasingly large waves. I managed to cling on to the steps and drag myself out. I had no desire to be the first Southport death due to drowning. I had a few choice words for the pool staff I can tell you!
There is one DJ in particular who is very close to my heart and has been instrumental in helping to educate my music tastes for nearly my whole adult life. That man is Kev Beadle . Kev is an important and vital part of the Southport foundation. His contribution, knowledge, passion and diverse understanding of music is paramount. He is the King of the Beat Bar kids, and responsible for bringing such musical delights at Motor City Drum Ensemble, Lay-Far, Zara McFarlane, Floating Points and not forgetting the legendary Brazilian artist Marcos Vale.
The organisers of Southport Weekender have always paid close attention to the suggestions of their supporters. Last year I asked if Sunday afternoon in the Beat Bar, could play homage with a classic Jazz set; for all the old skool Jazz dancers I had heard so much about. Turns out I wasn’t the only one to make that suggestion, our prays had been answered.
Along with my swimming kit, I made my way down to the Beat Bar for the afternoon’s Jazz & Brazilian session with Kev Beadle and Marcos Vale. Let me tell you something, being able to really get down to Jazz, requires you to let the music take over your body. Let the music doing the talking as they say. What we needed was some talcum powder for this sticky floor, I use water. I am amazed by what I put my body through over the weekend, yet here I am dancing twirling, shuffling in time to the beat. I am not the only one, the hardcore and the dedicated come out to play, donning their leather soled shoes and flat caps. To me they look like they have been waiting all weekend for this moment, their time to shine. Definitely one of my highlights from the weekend, this is music that lifts the spirit. Such a perfect set, I walk over to Kev and give him a massive hug, and utter two simple but heartfelt words thank you.
Through out the weekend there are clashes, it is inevitable unless I am super human I can not in two places at once. As the Beat Bar swells with anticipation of Marcos Vale I make the difficult decision to slip away and leave. I head off in the direction of the Inn on The Green pub to support two chaps who have been brightening up my life for quite some time. I had the pleasure of meeting Alan Kenny Ascott and Ket Shah at the Southport’s sister festival Suncebeat in Croatia two years ago. Since then there radio show, Mucho Soul had become a regular fixture in my life and a keen favourite to many others. Mucho Soul have an impeccable taste in music; showcasing the best in soulful sounds, defining deepness, interspersed with classic Jazz, a real melting pot. The Ket and Alan have worked tirelessly in recent years and were now being rewarded by being given the opportunity to play at the 50th anniversary.
Sunday afternoon is not an easy slot to fill, however today was auspicious. All the elements had convened to ensure that the Mucho Soul set would be one to remember. For the first time all weekend the sun shone brightly, people had made there way to the Inn on the Green pub, basking in the unexpected glow. Alan and Ket were poised ready, this was there time to shine and by god they did. Performing at Southport is an opportunity to play your heart out, DJs spend hours carefully selecting the right combination of music. Their playlist grabbed your attention by delighting, and exciting the senses. Mucho did not play it safe, they played their set to win. That afternoon the Mucho Soul boys grabbed us by aching feet and forced to us dance. Flagging energy levels were revived, the atmosphere was electric as we all danced under the sun. Sunday afternoon was shaping up to be another memorable day, absolutely brilliant.
The party isn’t over until it’s over, as I make my way to the Suncebeat Dome, for the Beat Bar closing party. Tonight all my favourite DJs will be together in one place; Kev Beadle, Lay-Far hailing from Russia, German based master of his class Rainer Truby and the Ukrainian man of the hour Vakula.
The after parties are considered to be the best part of the whole weekend, a majority of the people have gone home, just the faithful or foolhardy remain. Everything accumulates to this one point. I can’t believe it’s nearly over how did Sunday night come around so quickly? Like many others I have been awake more than I have been asleep. 72 hours have been filled with unending laughter, non stop chatter, (I am losing my voice), dancing until I was utterly exhausted, showered with so much love from old friends and new I am humbled. Tonight it ends here, this will be the party to end all parties. Kev Beadle is already working his magic on the decks when I arrive, setting the tone and raising our spirits in preparation for the Russian Boy Wonder Alexander Lay-Far. How to describe Lay-Far? A man with a encyclopaedic knowledge of music; who despite his young years will throw down beat after beat, each better than the last until the crowd are begging for more. How do you follow an act like that? By putting on a man who will undoubtedly blow your mind, that man is Rainer Truby. True to form Rainer did not disappoint, he works the audience like a conductor works an orchestra; he leads, we follow. The intensity of how he delivers each record is genius. Vakula was unable to attend the closing party, however help was at hand in the shape of Nacho Velasco, whom played back to back with Rainer. Nacho brought his own unique perspective, which perfectly complimented Rainer’s style. As the hour due to a close, Rainer dropped a track so beautiful, so orgasmic that I was almost lost for words. A ten minute symphony by Martin Pantino named ‘Hommage A La Sodomie’, there was no better way to end a set.
And just like that it was over. After the anticipation over the last couple of months; the carefully thought out preparations, the near delirious interactions on all the social media sites, butterflies doing the electric slide in my stomach. All would have to wait until next year, when the process is repeated again.
When you have in excess of 6500 people together in one space, there are bound to a few mishaps and crazy stories over the weekend. Here are a few of my favourite anecdotes that have been shared with me from the weekend.
For all the people that got lost looking your chalets, spare a thought for the chaps that were unable to find their chalet, and asked for directions from the kind Spar staff on site, who pointed them in the right direction. Having searched for 20minutes unsuccessfully, they wandered back to the Spar and one of members of staff chaperoned them back to their chalet.
My room mate who will remain nameless, who was found wandering around outside the chalet at 4.30am talk to bunny rabbits. My soul sista Janikins impression of Columbo was hilarious, just what I needed on a Sunday morning. My lost glasses which disappeared at some point during the Saturday night, my fears of spending the next 24hrs in a hazy fog almost became a reality. Imagine my relief as I found my glasses in an empty pint glass in the Connoisseurs room, I have no idea how they got there. One of my favourites stories is another friend of mine; in his excitement to unpack his car and get into the venue on Friday, had left his car running the entire weekend. He was greeted on Monday morning, by a note left on his windscreen informing him of the fact and a very flat battery; I can only imagine the look on his face.
A mountain of mobile phones were lost and found due to the honest nature of the Southport family, something which is a rarity in everyday life. But my favourite story has to be one of the gorgeous Scottish lasses, made a bet with one of the restaurant staff on site. The bet was if she dressed up like a chicken could she get a free bottle of wine, this is the gospel truth. For reasons known only to her she had packed a full size chicken costume in her suitcase, needless to say her the bottle of wine where her prize.
The world of Southport weekender is a weird and wonderful place, it can described at sheer excessive hedonism or a holy land where the faithful make the pilgrimage every year. With my hand firmly on heart, I can declare my undying love and gratitude to an event that has brought me untold joy and happiness over the years. I have gained lifelong friendships, incredible memories and a new leash of life beyond my wildest dreams.
My life would not be anywhere near as bright and beautiful, if it were for the dedication and vision of the organisers. Alex, Dave, Nick, Gavin and Kev, to all the members past and present, who have shaped and moulded Southport over the years; I think I can speak for us all when I say, you have given us a gift more precious than words can say.
When I reflect on historical outstanding contributions to the music scene, from establishments such at Paradise Garage, The Loft and The Warehouse and the like. Southport Weekender has been instrumental in keeping those original dreams and ideals alive, which has undoubtedly touched the lives of many people across the globe.
Thank you for the music.
Photography – Courtesy of Muriel.Guennou.Photograpy, James Mortner, Colin Williams
Well this is it folks the moment you & I have all been waiting for.
Martin Atjazz could very well be one of the hardest working producers around, certainly one of the most prolific, he has an ever increasing following of dedicated music heads, a sound that is so unmistakable there is no other quite like him. He’s a cheeky chappy and we love him. Without further a do, ladies & gentlemen I present to you Martin Iveson aka Atjazz!
Q.Martin you are on the verge of having your second album release of the year. Where does your creative force come from?
A.No Idea, I think I’m a touch bonkers, I need a rest though, Already had two albums released ‘SPW 10’ & ‘More Than A Remix’ and with ‘The Gift The Curse’ now here it’s all a bit above my head, I’m just knuckling down to get it all done, Loving what I do.
Q. There appears to be a special relationship emerging between British and South African artists, producers and DJs why do you think this is? And what if any, impact does this have on the current music scene?
A.I think we get on with our Brothers and Sisters in SA very well, we get each other on an energy level, SA has a booming music scene and I think that has a lot to do with it. They love international acts popping on their stages and I feel we’re the same here, we never sniff at a Black Coffee concert and I think our mutual respect for each others countries and ways has allowed to be far away friends.
Q. You have collaborated with the likes of Omar, Jazzanova and more recently with Julian Gomes. How does working with different artists influence your sound and creativity?
A. Well I don’t really collaborate much, I’ve worked closely with Charles Webster in the past and I’m sure we’ll do that again but I usually work alone and work on remixes and production rather than being sat in a room with someone for weeks on end so I’m not really sure I get that influenced by others, I think boundaries break down allowing work to flow but I feel in this industry, we have to keep a sharp solo sound in order to be that little bit different.
Q.What is the inspiration behind the album title, The Gift the Curse?
A. It’s a basic contradiction of life and when we are served a gift in life it’s almost quickly followed by a curse and this is on going. This album is really an expression of our work without trying to be part of something, we’ve done this for us and we hope that people get it on their own level. It’s a very personal album in that we really just wrote music and did our very nest not to think out it and just let things flow.
Q.You need to thank my girl Karen the Grifter for this next question. She asks ‘If you could produce a track with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
A. Marvin Gay or Jay Kay! I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Q. Martin 2013 appears to be have another productive year for you, what are your plans for the months ahead?
A. Albums, album, albums. I need to get back to me this year in regards to producing as everything in 2013 was either remixes or collaborations, I need some time on my own to get some music out of me. The label is cutting back a bit and only releasing specific projects that are headed towards album releases, I want my artist friends to get their noise heard in full effect rather than in bits and pieces.
Q.The Atjazz Record label hosts a range of talented artists and producers: DJ Tipz, Peacey. Is there anybody in particular you are championing at the moment? Who would you recommend we look for?
A. I think all my fellow ARCo. team are incredible and different, they’re all singing their own song and none of them sound alike. Peacey, Trueself & Si Tew are all in the process of finishing albums but there is yet another South Africa chap to look out for in the shape of ‘Thee Gobbs’ who’s album is ready to drop.
Thank you so much for taking part of my interview. I can feel The Gift the Cure (The Gift The Curse) blowing up in listener’s ears, bedrooms and dance floors all over the world.
“Like…. Whatever!” X (Martin you are a very naughty fella).