Just done this interview for the IGI Magazine in Poland where I discuss ’The Little Big Beat Book’, my new single ‘Flamingo At The Disco’, my ‘Who Needs Reality’ album and Billie Piper! Thank you Elvis Strzelecki
Here is the original polish version
Here's the english translation.
How did you become involved in music producing? What kind of artists were your first influences?
Well, I first got into music back when I was a child in the early 1990’s, but I didn’t get seriously into it until 98/99, when I started listening to my Dad’s old Beatles vinyl, and then discovering Dance Music like Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers and the rest of the Big Beat sound. Before that, I was mainly into BritPop, and what my Dad was into, and it was really when I discovered Big Beat and Funky Disco House, when I finally found my musical identity. However, I didn’t start making music on a regular basis until the end of 2005, which initially was just a hobby, and a side-project to my film making. The music didn’t really take off, until 2007 when I was discovered by Freddy Fresh, who released my first album ‘Cosmic Child’ on his Howlin’ Records label in 2008. I suppose my first influences were Fatboy Slim, Freddy Fresh, Mr. Scruff, and The Wiseguys.
2) Your father , Tom Hoy is also musician and he played with acid folk band called The Natural Acoustic Band. How much important was their work for you?
I wasn’t really aware that he (or my Mum for that matter) was a professional musician until I was about 10 (which was funnily enough the time I got into music seriously) and started having an appreciation for his music career (I just assumed he did the music for fun!). My Dad has a gold record for one his albums with the group after Natural Acoustic Band - Magna Carta, and he’s played everywhere in the UK from the Royal Albert Hall downwards, appearing on TV Shows like ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’. He’s also toured extensively in Europe and he and Mum actually toured all over the world together when he left Magna Carta (my Mum sings too, and very good!). I really like what my Dad does, but the only thing I feel Dad has influenced me musically was his love of 1960’s classic rock such as The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix etc and his wicked sense of humour! He and Mum are now my roadies, and look after my bookings.
3) You even collaborated with your Dad on a track "After The Storm" from your last album - "Who Needs Reality". What kind of feeling was to work with your dad and how did you come with idea of that tune?
‘After The Storm’ was initially a track I was going to release for a 7 Inch Singles label in Leeds back in 2015, but it fell through. Dad is a lot of fun to work with, and he actually plays on quite a few of my tracks, as he’s a great guitarist and plays keyboards as well. Mum also sings on some of my tracks. It’s great to work with them, although they are a lot more perfectionist than I am, and always insist on doing things 1000 times over!
4) Congrats on your new album which was out at the end of 2017 in DivisionBass Digital label. Do you want the music from the album to be kind of escape from reality (according to the title)? Are you a type of dreamer who want to use a music as a tool to help people to enjoy the brightest moments in life, make the world better, like a painter with his painting?
Aaah - I’m so glad you like that record. I suppose escapism was the theme of the album, and you put it so well in your question. I was going through a somewhat turbulent time, when the album was being made, having lost one of my best friends (who’s got a tribute song on the album, ’Jo’) and nearly losing my Granny (who thankfully has made a recovery). I’ve always been a bit of an escapist since I was a child, and I guess this does come out in my music.
5) According to the last question - you released "Who Needs Reality" on DivisionBass Digital. Why did you choose that label? Can we expect also physical release of your record (vinyl or CD)?
I would love to have some more physical releases, but there are less labels doing that these days, as it’s so much easier to put out digital releases so people can pick and choose which track they would like to buy, and don’t have to buy the whole album. Division Bass Digital are a great label and very easy to work with, but I have worked with very many different Indie labels across the world. I like to work with professional outfits, who do their best to promote the music.
6) You released 8 albums - 5 of them on Freddy Fresh label - Howlin Records. How did you get in touch with him? How was to work with such a legend and great label? Are you planning to work with Freddy and the Howlin' Crew again?
Correction - 6 albums (so far)! I initially got in touch with Freddy Fresh back in July 2007, when I was just starting out professionally, and contacted him via MySpace (remember that?) and said he loved what I do. We just formed a mutual admiration society, and he just loved all my tracks. I would love to work with Freddy again, as he is such an amazing guy, and one of my favourite producers and DJ’s. He’s not putting out so many releases these days (mainly Techno stuff, which I don’t normally play, I’m more funky!) but I’m sure we’ll get to do something together again the future.
7) You also met such as important figures as Fatboy Slim, Afrika Bambaata and Craig Charles who supported your stuff on his Funk and Soul Show on BBC Radio 6. And we can't forget Ashley Slater with whom you work as a musician. What kind of people are they in the real life? What they said about your music and did they gave you some artistic advices?
Craig Charles is my proper mate, who I have known for nearly 10 years now, and not to mention an awesome guy. He’s a fantastic supporter of my music, and I’ve supported him on shows a few times, and always had great fun! He also interviewed me for his BBC6 Radio Show and always makes me feel very comfortable. Fatboy Slim is a really nice chap, very down-to-earth and very “anti-celebrity”. We do keep in touch every so often by e-mail. Like I met Afrika Bambaataa back in 2014, and he was a really cool guy. A year later, I met George Clinton from P-Funk and like Bam, he was very cool! Ashley Slater is a really awesome guy with one of the greatest voices imaginable. He’s also very easy to work with, and we’ve done some really great projects together, which I hope will do more of in the future. My favourite tracks that I’ve done are ‘Hey Everybody’ with him and ‘I’m Ur MF’ with him and his wife, Scarlett Quinn.
As far as advice goes, I think Freddy Fresh (who I sadly have never met in person) gave me the best advice in never stop believing in myself because he believed in me.
8) In 2005 you did an award-winning documentary - "Autism & Me" in which you showed the life from the perspective of an autistic person. How people reacted to this when you showed it for the first time? Did you get many responses from others who said that your movie helped them?
I was so delighted - ‘Autism & Me’ is one of the projects I am most proud of, as I feel it has actually made a difference to people’s lives. I still get e-mails and letter from all over the world from grateful families who have seen it - in fact one American mum said she felt she knew her son for the first time after watching it, which is pretty awesome. I still go into organisations where they show the film, and do a Question and Answer session afterwards, and often a DJ Set. I was astonished when it won so many awards back in the day, and I’m glad people still remember it. I was thrilled when I got a congratulatory messages from so many celebrities including Doctor Who actress, Billie Piper (who I really had a huge crush on back in the day) and this year, I finally got to meet her at long last - she was so nice.
9) I see you as a role model for other autistic people. Have you ever thought about music and film-making as a cure to your problems and the way you communicate to the world?
Thank you so much for saying that. I know people have called me “inspirational” and a “trailblazer” and it’s so heartwarming to hear that. My local authority often used to ask if I would visit families, who had a child who has just been diagnosed with autism so the families can see what can be achieved with belief and hard work. I’m sure I would have taken the music route, even if I hadn’t been autistic, but it is kind of therapeutic for me as well.
10) You're living in Yorkshire. What kind of city it is? If I want you to be my tour guide, what places will you show me?
Yorkshire is a county, and the biggest one in the UK, but I live in a town called Knaresbrough, which is a wonderful place with wonderful people. Most visitors call it “picture perfect” as it really is stunningly beautiful with lots of green spaces, gardens, a beautiful viaduct over a river, where people go boating, and and old castle going back to the 11th Century - I could go on! The neighbouring town, Harrogate, which is possibly better known and a little bigger is also incredibly beautiful and was one of the main places for the famous Tour De France. If I would take you anywhere, it would probably be to a Heritage Steam Railway as I’m really into old steam trains!
11) And how about parties and clubs there? How often are you playing in your hometown as a DJ?
I DJ locally all the time, and it’s great to build up a local reputation. I have a fantastic relationship with the local press, TV and Radio so often feature on the his. My DJ schedule is always full especially during the summer months, where I’m pretty much DJ-ing every weekend until the end of September. It’s mainly in the north of England (Yorkshire and Lancashire), although I do DJ in Scotland sometimes as well. It’s a lot of fun, especially the bigger festival sets, where I’m playing to thousands of people. The biggest (so far) was the Tour De France Festival, where I played to over 20,000 people - Amazing!
12) I saw your performances and you're always very positive and full of energy, jumping and having fun. Where you take the energy from? What means DJ-ing for you?
When I once DJ-ed at a festival hosted by the famous actor Christopher Biggins, he thought I was on drugs (or as he called it, Lemon Drops!) - the truth is: I do get high, but high on life! I don’t drink, smoke or do any drugs stronger than caffeine, and I’m not ashamed of it. I just love to throw a party when I’m DJ-ing, and just have fun and if I do that, the crowd have fun too - it’s infectious!
13) Have you ever thought about doing live shows with band and singers? Maybe even touring?
It sounds good on paper, but I think it would be a logistical nightmare for me. Ashley Slater mentioned it to me at one time, but it really wasn’t viable as I live in the north and he lives in the south. A lot of my collaborators live all over the world, and I think the only thing I could contribute to having a live band format would be to do some scratching or providing samples. I’m not sure if I’d enjoy touring so much, as I enjoy my home comforts too much! My Dad often tells me about the days touring with the group and it sounds like a nightmare!
14) You're also doing videos which draw some inspiration from old school cartoons. What cartoon is your favourite one and why?
I love doing these videos and I must do one for my new single. Favourite Old School Cartoons would have to be the Warner Brothers cartoons ‘I Love To Sing-a’ with Owl Jolson and ‘One Froggy Evening’ with Michigan J. Frog, two absolute classics. I also love 1980’s/1990’s Saturday Morning cartoons such as Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Animated Batman, Bucky ‘O Hare and the like.
15) Let's talk about your studio for a moment. Are you more "analog" or "digital" guy, when it comes to working on your music? How much time do you spent usually on making the track?
When it comes to the studio, I have my digital studio, and Dad has his analog studio so we often combine. I mainly use Ableton (though in the old Pre-Mac days, it was Sony Acid), but I sometimes borrow my Dad’s recording studio if I want to use any live instrumentation or vocals. I’m usually a very fast worker, and I’m vey quick when it comes to making music and doing remixes, but I have done a track with a French Producer friend of mine called DJ Prosper, which I made about 10 years ago, which still isn’t even out yet!
16) What is making "big beat" and "nu funk" sounds so important for you? Why they're having a special place in your heart? Are you into other electronic dance genres?
Big Beat is such an important part of my life that I’ve even written a book about it (more on that later)! I suppose my favourite music genres are pretty much everything really. I appreciate good music in all forms but I’m not a big fan of anything with a political or violent message.
17) Please name 3 most important tracks/songs of your life :)
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Boom, Shake The Room! (It was the first record I ever bought back in 1993)
The Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy, Hey Girl (that was the tune, that finally got me into Electronic Dance Music)
Freddy Fresh feat. Fatboy Slim - Badder, Badder Schwing (if I hadn’t had discovered that tune, I wouldn’t have known who Freddy Fresh was (apart from the guy that said “Fatboy Slim is F***ing in Heaven”), and if I hadn’t had contacted him back in 2007, I wouldn’t have gone professional with my music career)
18) What are your current plans?
I have a new single coming out on July 6th this year in the Nu-Disco style called ‘Flamingo At The Disco’. It has great backing vocals and a sublime summertime groove! It’s on fantastic American label, Super Hi-Fi Recordings, who have put out a few of my releases, and got me some great syncs on American TV. We also have some great remixes from the All Good Funk Alliance, Ursula 1000, Trotter and on his debut release, a new House Producer called Mr. Moozit.
I know I talked about the book I”m writing in a previous question- it’s now compete with 367 pages and is called (so far) ‘The Little Big Beat Book’ - it contains exclusive interviews and contributions from 120 artists from around the world who had a significant impact on the Dance Music scene including recent interviews I have conducted with Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook), The Prodigy (Liam Howlett and Keith Flint) Chemical Brothers manager Robert Linney and also people like Damian Harris (AKA Midfield General - Founder of Skint Records), Mark Jones (Founder of Wall of Sound), Jon Carter, Bassbin Twins, Propellerheads (who worked with Dame Shirley Bassey on a big hit), Wiseguys (‘Ooh la La’), Freestylers, Derek Dahlarge, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Stephen Hall who ran Junior Boys Own Record Label (Chemical Brothers’ First Label), Cut La Roc, Dub Pistols, John Mekon, Robin Turner (Heavenly Social Founder and Promoter), Gareth Hansome (Big Beat Boutique Founder and Promoter), Justin Robertson (from Lionrock), Lindy Layton (Beats International ‘Dub Be Good To Me’), Howie B, Freddy Fresh, Fuzz Townsend, Apollo 440 (‘Stop The Rock’ and ‘Lost in Space’), Simon Shackleton, Mr. Scruff, Jadell, Nick Faber, Captain Funk, Robert Luis, Kidda, Max Sedgley, Aldo Vanucci, Gramma Funk (‘I See You Baby’), Alex Hardee from CODA Agency (Liam Gallagher’s Agent)……the list is endless!
The book also contains exclusive photographs of the time, club nights, flyers posters etc.
I don’t believe there is another book on the market dedicated to this incredible genre which had such an impact on the charts and the world of advertising at the time. I’m really excited about it.
19) What would you like to tell to our readers?
Don’t follow current trends - Invent them!