Diggers Directory: Wayne Holland

When London-based DJ Wayne Holland pleaded his mum to take him to breakdance classes at the age of six, he probably didn’t realise he’d be kicking of a life long obsession with digging for music.

The electro sounds he was exposed to on these breakdance cassettes, then evolved in his teens to include Hacienda mixtapes from friend’s older siblings, before he started to build his own collection when a friend got his own turntables and then began to learn how to mix. Today he’s still spurred on by that need for discovery, and has become a regular name at venues and festivals like fabric, the Lion & Lamb, Love International and Gottwood, as well as making up part of the Not An Animal Records family.

We chat to him about his relationship with vinyl, the collectors he admires and the venues that are exciting him in London, alongside a vinyl-only mix of the early 90s sounds that first got him hooked on house music…

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you?

Good music was always being played in the house by my mum. Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Sade, although I love all these artists, this isn’t what I consider my education. I was always hungry to hear new music from a young age and quite often the introduction came from friend’s older siblings.

I had an Aunt who worked for a jukebox company and she always gave me a stack of 7″s for Christmas. I loved the feeling of personally owning a record collection.

Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

When I was about six or seven years old I convinced my mum to take me to breakdance lessons. This was the mid 80s – it didn’t last and I was crap. It was the first time that I was exposed to early electro and it was a sound that really resonated and excited me. I remember buying Breakdance L.A Sounds cassettes (I think one was called) and one had Malcolm McLaren ‘Buffalo Gals’ and one had Hashim Al Naafiysh on. These were two tracks I distinctly remember pricking my ears up and I knew then that I wanted to discover more.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

I remember in my teens hearing mix tapes from a friend’s older brother. They were Hacienda tapes and from this we started collecting mix tapes ourselves. At around 15 I remember a local music shop had a section of bootleg mix tapes recorded in clubs and off radio stations, it was there I bought Knuckles, Kevorkian, Tenaglia, Vasquez and MAW tapes. When a friend bought some old belt drive turntables, my obsession with buying those records and doing what they did with them begun. Once you’ve got the bug, it stays with you for life.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I’m gonna be completely honest, although I actually considered stretching the truth on this one. I’m a complete nightmare and it drives my girlfriend mad. I’d love to say I have them alphabetically stored, but apart from about four cubes and two record bags that I know the contents of, the rest have been jumbled up into lots of boxes that actually stay out of sight, and I regularly frantically go through and pull lots more out that join the disorder. I also have a few boxes in storage.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

I honestly do a lot of shopping online these days. If I’m out shopping in London, it’s Phonica, Kristina, Reckless, Music and Video in Greenwich. Oye in Berlin, Rush Hour in Amsterdam. Any record fairs or second hand markets will always grab my attention.

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

Before I moved to London in 2000, one of the shops I used to buy from was Play in Leeds. I didn’t Know Tristan da Cunha at the time (although he’s become a friend later in life), but he’s as colourful a character as you can get and also a great source of knowledge. Another character that I think is a hero, who used to work in a different branch of a record shop I worked at in the early 2000s, is Ben Williams (Gatto Fritto). As a DJ and a collector he’s somebody I really admire and whenever I hear him play records I wish I owned every single one.

Is there a record (or records) that has continued to be illusive over the years?

There are still countless records I’d love to own but there aren’t any that are illusive. I’m just not prepared to pay the extortionate prices. There’s been a couple of occasions recently that I was going to bite the bullet and fork out a fortune and both records got a reissue, so I try to not spend a fortune on records now.

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I much prefer shopping on my own. I can either really get into it and happily spend hours digging and listening or my patience and focus is a lot less and I never know which until I’m actually there with my hand in the racks.

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

Nah, I don’t find it daunting. I love digging so as long as you have time, just enjoy it. It’s a playground so get stuck in and play.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

I wouldn’t say it plays a role in my digging, although I have found some gems from the curiosity of a quirky sleeve.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

I decided to record a mix of 90s house records. These are the kind of records that made me fall in love with house music. The deep Italian sound and the records coming out of the U.S. at the time. I left school and learned to mix and begun my obsession in the mid 90s so this is the best representation of what hooked me in and although I collect all genres and play across the board in my sets, this to me is a sound that’s never left me and one I always return to. I find house records from that time are so honest and pure and full of emotion. They’re not just dance floor tools, they’re pieces of art and true expression.

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

They’re all standouts to me but there’s a few that I adore…

K-Scope (Eric Kupper) – Planet K.

Key Tronics Ensamble – Calypso of house (paradise version)

Push/Pull – Tribal Rhythm

Night Communication – Night Clerk

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

There’s countless people, but a few who I’ve heard and learned a lot of great records from are Frank Butters aka Phoreski, the records I’ve heard him play and been exposed to are on another scale. Craig Richards is somebody who I really admire as a DJ, a collector and also as a person. Gatto Fritto is somebody whose collection and selection blow me away. He did a compilation for Love International a couple of years ago and it’s got some absolute gems on there. Lexx is somebody who’s selection and taste I love, some of his sets and also his mixes are among my favourites and have introduced me to some beautiful records. Nick the Record is somebody who you can’t not mention when it comes to incredible collections, he’s also an amazing DJ. Chris and Andy from Not An Animal are close friends and two people with incredible collections and incredible taste in music. They have both introduced me to some amazing music over the years. Ian Kearey is another friend of mine who has an amazing collection and ear for music. I’m in a fortunate position that a lot of my friends have incredible collections and these are often the people I enjoy listening to the most.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

There are some amazing young kids and crews out there who are incredible DJ’s and producers that are playing great records. In the past few years Ben UFO was somebody who I was really impressed by technically and for his incredible selection and although he’s not that young now, he’s young to me. Lately, the Seven Hills and Make Me guys were great when I heard them at the Lion and Lamb. They’re two crews I was really impressed by.

You’re a close member of the Not An Animal family. How did the relationship with Chris and Andy come about?

Ahhh, the twits! Stokenfold and the stuntman’s apprentice. I first met Andy around 2001 through a mutual friend when he first moved to London. I moved overseas to Sydney and then New York in 2004 and returned in 2008 which is when I met Chris at one of their Bad Passion parties. After not seeing much of them for a couple of years, I bumped into them at Garden festival in Croatia in 2013 and they’ve become two of my best friends and favourite humans. I played one of their NAA parties a few years back and they asked me to be a resident for them early last year.

We’ve seen your name regularly pop up around London, especially at venues like Lion and Lamb and fabric. What’s exciting you most about the capital’s music scene at the moment? 

There’s some venues that I think are great. The Lion and Lamb I’ve played on a number of occasions for a number of different nights and promoters. An East London boozer with an incredible sound system and set up that is only a small capacity, so it gives smaller promoters the opportunity to throw a party in a dope venue without worrying about huge door numbers or providing a setup, what’s not to love.

Another is the Cause, which thank god has had a license extension and so it should because they throw some ace parties and it’s all for the right reasons. Stu who runs it is a top bloke. Fold is another venue I think is a breath of fresh air. 24hr license, a cool space and another venue providing a platform for really interesting nights.

I’m also finding the quality and diversity of music and crowds is great. The younger generation seems to have a thirst for great music and not the formulaic/generic paint by numbers pish I was hearing for a good few years.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

Loads! I’ve signed with a new management and booking agency called Special Force, the full launch is next spring but it’s a really cool project and I’m buzzing to be part of it. It’s a small boutique agency that only has a handful of respected artists and like minded talent that have been specially selected for their unique style.

On the 20th I’m playing a warehouse party in Manchester called Play it Down. It’s run by some really sound people and I know it’s gonna be an ace party. NYE I’m in London this year and playing a warehouse party that doesn’t publicly advertise. I played one on NYE two years ago and it was amazing. Next year is already getting busy with lots of bookings, especially festivals, so my summer is sorted already.


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