As the title suggests, this chapter is some light background on who I am, my influences and how I got to the stage I’m currently at.
I’m doing this mainly because you are obviously going to be reading a lot of my opinions and thoughts across the blog, and hopefully by understanding a little about my background, you should get a better grasp of me as a person and why I approached various parts of the project in the way that I did.
In terms of music, I was a very late bloomer, growing up I was only subjected to music via the clock radio in the kitchen when getting ready for school, and my Mum had a collection of dubious cassette tapes we played in the car, ranging from Madonna and The Carpenters to Gloria Estefan and Cher.
In my early teens with pipe dreams of becoming a singer, I became obsessed with Queen, The Police and later George Michael, and my love of dance music stretched only as far as to whatever Eurodance hits happened to be around in the charts in the early to mid 90s.
During an experimental stage of around 1997/8 when I was listening to Happy Hardcore, I started listening to the radio a lot more than usual, and became really into BBC Radio One from London and Galaxy 105 from Leeds.
It was on Galaxy 105 that I actually became exposed to beatmatching for the very first time (shameful really considering it was hardly a new art) and I can still remember the two tracks being mixed: Olive’s ‘Your Not Alone’ into Run Dmc Vs Jason Nevins ‘It’s Like That’.
After hearing beatmatching for the first time, something clicked inside me, and I became obsessed with the dance music world and started buying compilations and magazines and getting immersed in the whole culture.
This was all around the time I did my exams at school, and 1998 was a perfect year to do so, as touching upon the previous chapter, the musical output on the dance scene during this time was pretty fantastic, and I was really locked into the scene.
Picking up where I left off in the first chapter, it was around 2002 when after attending a few of the Euphoria live tours and building a growing collection of the albums in the series, I decided to take the plunge and go to college and learn about music production and DJ’ing, in the hope of one day being able to produce tracks and mixes like the ones on the compilation CDs.
As a side note I’d also like to state that although the above paragraph is 80% accurate, a turning point came one Saturday in the summer of 2002 when after being fired from my job, I decided to blow every penny in my bank account on getting wasted that night, and whilst watching a local DJ , I stood on the dance floor and realised that my future was to be in the dance scene.
It just made sense.
I had no previous knowledge of production or DJ’ing at this point, I used video games Music 2000 and MTV Music Generator as my introduction to music making and sampling, and after giving a showreel to The Princes Trust a few weeks later, I was awarded a grant of £250 to purchase my first DJ set up consisting of 2 x Citronic PD1’s and a Behringer DX100 Mixer.
A month later after applying to a local music production course, I was invited for an interview at Access To Music in Lincoln in September 2002, and after giving a performance of my Playstation sampling tricks and basic production skills, I was offered a place on the course, and this began my 7 year journey in music education.
Starting college again after leaving school 4 years previous was a daunting prospect for me, especially considering it was in an area I had no experience in. I was surrounded by people far more talented than myself, and I very quickly came to the realisation I was completely and utterly out of my depth – I would shy away from displaying any work I had done to the class, and I was scared to even lift up the tone arm of the Technic 1210 in public let alone mix records!
After about a month into the course and having becoming increasingly disillusioned with my chosen career path, I decided that I was going to wait for my grades back for my first assignment and if they were as dismal as I was predicting, then I would drop out.
When I received my grades back and discovered I had gained a Distinction, and also one of the highest grades in the group it was like a bomb going off in my head, for the first time in my life, I had actually achieved a good grade, I was actually excelling in something (remarkable considering my GCSE’s were a barrel scraping collection of ‘E’s & ‘F’s with a cherry topped ‘C’).
From this point onwards I threw every single ounce of energy into my work, it was the push I needed to get closer to my goals, and I actually felt like I was part of something, and was working towards a career. I started reading all my old books on dance music culture again, and hired new ones from the library – regaining my passion and hunger for the DJ scene.
At this point I went out and purchased two books, from in my opinion two of the finest collective forces in writing on the subject of dance music culture ever:
Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton, who with their tomes Last Night A DJ Saved My Life & How To DJ Properly quite possibly gave the DJ a reason to actually read books.
Despite the slightly tongue in cheek title, How To DJ (Properly) was a pivotal instrument in my progression in learning the art of DJ’ing and music in general. The book contained a chapter on something known as ‘harmonic mixing’ which is a technique based around mixing records to what key they are in.
I became fascinated by this skill, and I would crash course myself in music theory just to understand what keys records were in, and then learn to beatmatch solely so I could hear the blends between the keys. After understanding how to key up records and understand scales, this unlocked my knowledge of chords and music composition in general and I can confidently say this skill gave me the boost I needed.
For those who want to know more about this subject, I will be including a chapter on this area and how I implemented it within the CD later in the blog.
In the spring of 2003 after being an active member of the Euphoria message board, I was invited by DJs Adam White & Anthony Dean to help them out doing some internet promotion for the brands live gigs down in London, and in return I was allowed free access to the events and the chance to hang out with the DJs and see first hand the scene I loved.
This period was immensly eye opening for me, and is one I’ll never forget, I got to meet so many DJs I had admired over the years such as John ’00’ Fleming, Agnelli & Nelson, Ferry Corsten, Matt Darey, & Old Skool legends Altern8. All of the DJs were such great sports and were always happy to give me advice on the industry.
I continued to do this for around a year, at the same time my own DJ’ing was getting it’s first step on the ladder as I was invited to be the warm up for a DJ in a nearby town.
During this time I played a 3 hour warmup from 8pm – 11pm every other Friday, and this was just the experience I needed, as it got me used to DJ’ing with a large sound system and understanding how to programme sets and play to people.
Anyone who is a DJ will tell you that the transition from bedroom to live no matter how good you are, is always a big change, as everything is much more open and far away, everything seems much larger, and at first you can feel your under a microscope. It took a while for me to adjust but once I did, I became much more confident in understanding the differences between playing live and playing for a mixtape.
In terms of college my assignments were 95% distinction, I was excelling in every possible area, and my academic success was rewarded in 2004 when I went to The British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) in London and won ‘Student of The Year’ out of all the students at my college, and ‘Outstanding Achievement on the Creating Music Through Technology Programme’ out of all the Access To Music Students across the UK, with both awards being handed to me by none other than Sir George Martin.
Shortly after this, a crossroads became fast approaching, I was coming to the end of my education in Lincoln, I was gearing up for moving to Manchester and concentrating on my debut productions and the Euphoria promotion and gig support slowly faded away along with the brand being taken over by Ministry of Sound in 2004.
I moved to Manchester in 2005 and left all of this behind until now.
It is now 2009 and 5 years since my Euphoria days and 10 years since the original album was released, and by revisiting this part of my life and combining it with my final piece of academic work, I feel I get to tie up those loose ends within my nostalgia and create a project which stands as a tribute to my past and my education, but also to the Euphoria brand itself and the fans.