Facing out onto the beach in Brighton lies one of the best new clubs in the UK – Patterns. With a policy of booking forward thinking DJs from around the world, it is standing out as a venue that holds quality above everything else; from the slick interior, crystal clear sound, to the strong selection of local residents who underpin their in-house events. Among them is Charles Green, one of the most exciting producers and DJs in the south of England. A busy man, he plays week in week out with notable tastemakers at his own First Floor parties, his residency at Patterns and more recently at Jaded, the revered London afterparty which has just bestowed him with a residency. Aside from his packed schedule he also works at Elite Music Management, who look after esteemed artists like Derrick Carter and Slam, and his productions are getting picked up with imminent releases on ASOK’s Four Triangles, alongside a blistering live show which he has been road tested under the guise of Cohesion.
Here we ask Charles a bit about his path into the industry, what we can expect from him in the future and a little about his home town of Brighton. He’s also turned in a mix for us that sweeps through delicate house, electro and minimal flavours with an impeccable groove from start to finish.
First, our usual ice-breaker. What’s your first musical memory?
Well, there isn’t necessarily a first memory that I can recall, but growing up I was always subjected to music from my parents who would play all kinds around the house, and I was playing instruments from a fairly young age too. I used to tape the radio onto a little hifi that I had then listen back to all the tracks I liked, over and over again.
How did you get into dance music? Was techno something that you were always interested in?
I started out along the garage, grime and jungle routes. I can remember walking around listening to Sun City/Sidewinder mixes, early pirate radio rips and rave tapes on my (state of the art) JVC walkman. I was really inspired by a wide range of DJs from Hermit, EZ, Norris Da Boss and Slimzee right through to Ratty, LTJ Bukem and Randall on the more jungle/rave side of things. I started collecting records almost instantly, and not long after I was introduced to a neighbour who was into DJing in his bedroom next door at 100db every evening. We started hanging out and would raid the pound bins in local Brighton record shops in The Laines, where I got familiar with a lot of the staff in those shops quite quickly. At first we were trying to find the music that we’d heard in the sets we’d been listening to. Back then it could take you weeks if not months to find out what the tracks were, but that was all part of the fun, as you’d just search for artists you already knew and find your way from there. Plus knowing the staff ending up helping out because they’d recommend certain records to you, I remember in particular getting handed an Anthill Mob double pack on LPU one Saturday morning to listen to which I ended up paying tenner for, nowadays it rarely even comes up. I guess that’s how it happened most of the time, knowledge from others handed down through a common interest in the same field of music. I’d count myself lucky because when I was growing up you still had Covert, Rounder, Urban Records, etc, in which the staff were really clued up. Over the years in various record shops I was introduced to people like Alex Downey, Ashley Marlowe (Donga) and Mark Wall (Kosine), who were all involved with different scenes so I got a really good education from that. When I was 16 I ended up doing work experience around 2006 in a record shop then named Music Meltdown, where I would then be introduced to a wider range of sounds within the electronic realm as I was helping to buy in some second hand collections and listing them on the site in the early Discogs days. The techno influence first came around 2008 when I went to see Jeff Mills at the now defunct Ocean Rooms in Brighton; I can remember walking into a half filled smoky basement thinking what on earth is this. I honestly didn’t have any understanding of it apart from the fact that I knew a fair amount of music with the 4×4 time signature, but this was totally new to me, in fact it took me another few years to really get into the genre and feel like I had some real understanding of it. This is a constant evolution, even now.
Can you tell us about how First Floor started, and how it’s evolved over the past three years?
It’s a funny story because I had been DJing in and around Brighton for around 6/7 years playing at every venue along the seafront for nearly every promoter at that time. A lot of people would ask the question, “so when will you start your own night”, to which I didn’t really have an answer for a long time. I saw a lot of people coming in and out of the scene doing events which didn’t really have so much lifespan or inspiration, so I chose to stay away from that side of things for some time. Then one evening in Audio when I was playing my warm up slot, out of the mist appeared a fresh faced James Dodd, who then proceeded to shout at me about the record I was playing at the time. We spoke after the gig and kept in touch over summer, where we decided on starting the night. It was fundamentally just a right place right time kind of moment. We then did the first event with Palms Trax, Reflec and Donga at The Loft followed by perhaps one of my favourite events to date with Spencer Parker in the basement of an Italian restaurant (the original venue shut down and gave us one week notice to move venue). This was all in the time that Patterns was being refurbished; the transitional stage of opening the new club. I kind of knew that we would eventually be doing some parties there as I already had a residency confirmed and we had discussed the idea with them early on. Since then we’ve invited James Ruskin, Function, Steevio & Suzybee, Tin Man, Ed Davenport, Ryan Elliott, Lakuti, Vril, Zenker Brothers, XDB and others to the city.
Is there a long term plan for the party? Would you ever consider moving First Floor to another city?
Long term I guess we’d like to venture fully to other cities for sure. This would be the next stage of evolution for us and have already had a few discussions about this so we shall see. In the more foreseeable future we’re looking to bring some acts back as part of some label parties, whilst trying to keep evolving and bringing new and fresh talent to Brighton.
When a city only has one small club that attracts big names DJs, such as Wire in Leeds or Soup Kitchen in Manchester, nights can often become homogenised and lack individuality, is this something that affects Brighton?
Well I guess you could say that, it can be pretty tough for small clubs in cities to do anything that’s TOO out of the ordinary, but in particular in Brighton this is a real trouble. I’d say Patterns have done a superb job of bringing the amount of quality electronic acts to the city in the last few years, which ultimately can only be a good thing in the long run. Keeping consistent is really important in these scenarios as it takes some years in order to create a core following (like in any example in the music industry).
It’s quite rare for clubs to put faith in hosting in-house residents these days, something which makes Patterns stand out from the rest of the clubs in the UK, how important has being a resident at the club shaped your craft as a DJ?
Yes agreed. I think it’s been really important, as i’ve not only got to play to some amazing crowds but also managed to play alongside some really high grade artists too, which has been integral to my development. Being a resident means I’ve had to be adaptable to all kinds of environments. For example, if you’re warming up for Move D, then James Ruskin a fortnight later, you have to pick the records much differently (that might be part of the reason why I’ve ended up with so many ha!). You also get thrown into situations, like maybe if the party is going well you might end up playing a few records back-to-back with someone to round off the evening, this happened when we booked Ryan Elliott which was wicked! These kinds of moments are really inspiring and can keep you going especially when you’re just buying records constantly, having that outlet allows you to share the music with others which is what it’s all about.
You and James are pretty much residents at the infamous after hours party – Jaded, in London. How did you get involved with them and what can we expect from that party in the near future?
Ah yes, well we are playing there once a month now in Room Two, but we also got the chance to close Room One recently which was ace. This one came about through going to the event and making ourselves familiar, we get on really well with Krista and Raymundo who run the event who have been really supportive with getting us involved through common musical interest. Sometimes these things just work out and I guess this is an example of that. We will be doing more dates through the year, and from what I’ve seen they’re continuing to bring some amazing techno acts to London alongside their residents Raymundo Rodriguez, Stephanie Skyes and Chris Stanford for something that does feel like a unique party atmosphere.
We understand you’ve been working a lot on your live set which you have been testing out recently at Patterns, can you tell us about that and how you intend to develop it?
So, the live set which I do with Mehtola (under the name cohesion) came around because I was collecting more and more hardware drum machines/synths. Me and Jo decided to work on some music one Sunday so I bought the machines round and we made 3 tracks in one studio session, which was crazy really. We knew straight away from the first track that we had stumbled on something that really works. A year on and we’ve written 30 or so tracks, played two live shows and have just received the artwork back for our label, which we’ve agreed a distribution deal on. So I guess expect the cohesion name to be around a bit more in the near future!
Can you tell us about your hardware setup and how it’s progressed over the years?
Well I started writing music around 2008 on Logic in a hostel that I was living in at the time. There was a studio for the residents downstairs with a basic studio and DJ setup so I used to use it at night to record mixes and learn a bit of production. Soon after I attended Northbrook College to get a Music Production NVQ. Around that time I was just messing about with loops and ideas in the box. It wasn’t until a bit later that I got a Moog Slim Phatty and from there the interest hardware synths and drum machines started really. Since then I’ve accumulated a few vintage pieces but main source is the Elektron Octatrack and Analog Four at the moment, which I’ve been really into since you can jam live and create ideas easily. I use a few old mixers and tape effects to give the overall mix a slightly raw feel which I’m inspired by from early 90s records like Synewave and Purpose Maker, etc. I’m happy with this workflow right now, it’s taken me years of experimentation to get there but i’m finishing more and more tracks than ever using these machines down to the freeform workflow that it involves.
Now for some Brighton focused questions… where’s your favourite place to buy records in Brighton?
Ok, so I guess for the new music it’s Middle Floor / Rarekind where you can get their stock, and also stock from Vinyl Underground plus Leanne who runs RK Bass on the top floor is really clued up about early Jungle records. I don’t really need to buy from any online store really because Aidy and Jo get all the records I want in stock. For second hand vinyl there are some amazing by appointment places in the surrounding area which have served me well too, for example Alex Downey (Temple Of Vinyl), Billy Nasty (The Vinyl Curtain), Andy Mac (Brighton Vinyl Finds), Liz Edwards (Ed’s Vinyl), Japhy (japhy.co.uk) and Paul Beynon (Deeperwaters on Discogs) which I would really recommend, as these people have been involved with dance music for many years, they really have some amazing records between them. There are also some other places such as Wax Factor in The Laines where if you go into the second room and look at the shelves on the far right-hand side of the shop you will find random but on occasion pretty impressive selection of records (I’ve found some really great records here from time to time).
What new talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?
Well from the Brighton based crew I really feel like there are some highly talented artists about at the moment, for example: Etch, Caldera and Pepe who are all releasing some incredible music. Metrist who a fair amount of people may know already is definitely worth keeping an eye out for, his upcoming music is sounding great. Mehtola has also been working on some solo tracks which I’ve been hearing him play out in his sets that have impressed me a lot. A close friend of mine Andrew Whitwell has just started an independent label called Mode7 releasing some really nice Detroit-inspired jams and make sure you look out for Hobie, which is a project incoming from another good friend of mine. As far as DJs go Seb Harris and GLU are awesome locally based talent and well worth checking out, whilst I think Alex Downey is probably the most underappreciated selector I know. Although not new to the block, his mixing style and selection is just second to none, and shows that years of keeping current with music and all round commitment pays off.
What are you looking forward to over the next year?
The main thing that I’m looking forward to at the moment is getting my first EP out, which will arrive via ASOK‘s new label Four Triangles later this year on both vinyl and digital formats. It’s been a long time coming, so a slight relief to finally get some music out there to share with others. Gig wise i’ll be playing as part of my residency at Patterns over Q3/4 alongside Secretsundaze, Avalon Emerson, Pangaea, Ben UFO, Josey Rebelle and more as well as NYE. Me and James are also putting together a Clergy label showcase on 14th October at Mono with Cleric, Setaoc Mass and Reflec whilst continuing our monthly residency at Corsica Studios for Jaded.
ASOK – Universe 3
Hymns – Water Acid
Yaleesa Hall – 0244 (Simo Cell Remix)
Versalife – Manipulated Matter
Aphex Twin – AFX2
Claro Intelecto – Tone
Joy Orbison – Off Season
Innerspace Halflife – Wind
Mark Ambrose – Asteroids
Random XS – CEM Jam
Varg – Heroine I (CK)
Parassela – Untitled
Neil Landstrumm – Bell-Huey… (Blade$ Mix)
Black Sites – N313p
Plastikman – Marbles
Zenker Brothers – Monoptahras
Broken English Club – Breaking The Flesh
Function – F1
Jeff Mills – Encore
Trus’me – Ring Round Heart (Ben Sims Remix)
Damon Wild – Avion
Tan-Ru – Assembly
DJ Sotofett – Generic Mix
Peter Van Hoesen – Oscar’s Blood
Owen Jay & Brian James – Chordless
Mor Elian – The Orionids
Claude Young – Dream Of Another Time
Bitstream – Monolith