As part of Boys Own and Junior Boys Own, and (partly) responsible for the first ever article written about acid house, Terry Farley is about as seasoned as they come in UK dance music circles. It makes him an obvious choice to work on a new archiving project from Universal called Nightclubbing, which is re-discovering master tapes, re-mastering and digitising a wealth of partially-forgotten, high-quality music, dating back to the late 80s and 90s. Over 200 tracks have already been made available online, including previously deleted, newly re-mastered remixes from MK, Masters At Work, Todd Terry, Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries and David Morales, with source material from Soul II Soul, 4 Hero, CeCe Peniston, The Pointer Sisters, Donna Summer, Jamie Principle, Robert Owens and even Eric B. & Rakim.
To celebrate this project, Terry has put together a mix of some favourites in the catalogue, focussing in on a pivotal moment in time when the transatlantic dance music dialogue was, arguably, at its zenith. He’s also answered some questions about the project and looked back at a golden age for house music. One for the serious house heads.
Head over to Spotify to check out a full list of Nightclubbing reissues.
How did you become involved in the Nightclubbing project?
I’m friends with Simon (DFTD) and Ralph (Mixmag) and I’m always banging on about how the UK house community does not respect its roots in the same way as they do in the US; in fact we seem to respect the US dance culture and its heroes far more than our own. So, rather than shout from the margins, they said get involved and do something about it. The thing came to a head after Frankie Knuckles passed away and some big industry twat in L.A. (famous/celebrity EDM DJ’s agent) tweeted “should I know who he is?” We all agreed “yes you fucking should” and perhaps by making the music available on digital would help.
What was your role in the project exactly?
So far it’s been to help chose classics and should-be classics to release digitally .
Which reissues were you behind and what made you chose them?
It’s been mainly early 90s vibes – that classic NY sound and the UK producers who took that sound and ran with it.
Context is a big part of music consumption. 20 years on, do you view or hear the music on this compilation differently to when it was first released?
Well the last two years has seen younger UK producers borrow heavily from NY and the rest of the East Coast in that fertile early/mid 90s period (think MK, Morales etc.), so 20 year old music sounds new and new music sounds old. Of course those NY producers had big 48 track desks to work on, studio players and engineers who knew their craft rather than most of today’s kids who are making music out of a box. You wont get that Def Mix sound quality via plugins so the reissues really do stand up well.
Developments in production techniques and political/social climates have changed the way house music is made and received over the last 20 years. Looking back to those 80s and 90s productions on Nightclubbing what do you see as some of the main differences in sound, both on a technical level and in their content?
You can’t compare what producers like Arthur Baker and John Robie were doing in the early 80s with today’s ‘Beatport ‘ breakdown music. Those big US studios were giants of sound and they were surrounded by trained musicians and a time when hip-hop, house, techno and funk were all new. Today – sadly – 95% of people making dance music are like myself – DJs. We make music for “the mix” and, let’s be honest, to get more gigs when Blaze made music in the late 80ss they made music for the art and for the SOUL, with singers who would perform live and with the idea of actually making money out of selling music. It’s a different world now.
Do you look back with nostalgia, or do you feel there’s lots to be excited about in the current state of house music?
Mos def. Although back in the day you would spend say £50 plus on records every Friday in Soho and all the shop guys you would have a relationship with. They knew your taste and have a pile of music waiting for you to go through. The much smaller amount of released music meant the best of that week’s pile got played by the majority of the DJs so underground records could become genuine anthems quickly rather than ‘hyped’ on download sites. 95% of House music in 2016 is utter garbage but that 5% is as good as any of the golden periods of house and it’s a DJ’s job to filter the shite and play those nuggets.
Thanks to this reissue project, it makes a lot of very expensive music more accessible again. With hiked prices becoming more prevelant, was this democratizing aspect important to you in the project?
For me no, but for the record companies I guess so. Collectors will still want the tracks on imported OG vinyl but younger DJs and fans can dig deeper and understand the debt we all owe these original heads.
You’ve put a mix together of some favourite tracks from the project. Did you have an idea or message behind the mix that you wanted to portray, through not just the tracks selected but the order too?
We looked at a moment in time. The mix was a homage to DJs like Frankie and Tony Humphries when they first visited the UK and how they inspired us all to really get involved in the culture. It’s also a nod to the vibe of Paul Anderson’s legendary mix show on London’s Kiss FM when he would be playing slates of the latest Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley mixes and we would end up chasing these tracks for the next few months .
Finally, what’s coming up for you in the coming months we should look out for?
Well I’m out every weekend with my rucksack full of USB sticks lol playing a mix of new n old. Notting Hill Carnival, Glitterbox in Ibiza, Odessea in Greece, Sydney and Ministry of Sound’s 25th birthday. I enjoy the actual DJing more than earlier in my career when a lot of the times I wanted to get it over with so I could crack on with the partying. You live n learn.
Robert Owens – Visions ( Def Mix )
Grid – Figure Of Eight (Todd Terry Mix )
Zhane – Groove Thang ( Maurice Joshua Mix )
Liddel Townsell – Get Wit You ( Morales Mix )
Mellowman Ace – Welcome To My Groove ( Steve Silk Hurley Mix )
Crystal Waters – Happy ( Steve Silk Hurley )
Definition Of Sound – What Are You Under ( MK Remix )
Nightcrawlers – Push The Feeling On ( MK Remix )
Bizzare Inc – Get Up Sunshine St ( Heller And Farley Remix )
Latour – People Are Still Having Sex
Clive Griffin – Still Waiting ( Red Zone Mix David Morales )
Will Downing – A Love Supreme ( Piano Pella ) Def Mix