Even though the music scene is often charactarised as a fickle world with one hit wonders and the hot topic constantly drifting from one focus to another, we find ourselves driven to dispel that opinion when we find people, veterans, who are are still at the forefront of party making and soundtracking. Mr C is one such individual. Continually moving forward thanks to his vision and thirst for the new, he’s never about to sit back and lament on the past (from his time in the Shaman to his owning of The End), he’s living in the moment and looking forward from one project to another.
Superfreq is the party that Mr C has instilled around the world and it’s coming in full force to Farringdon this weekend. Following his DJ debut in Room One back in January we’ve given him control of Room One and he’s invited [a]pendics.shuffle to perform live alongside Luke VB and Tim Reid. To give a prelude to the event we spoke to Mr C at length, charting his achievements to date alongside his current plans for the future whilst gaining an insight into the sounds that set him off in this super special Superfreq mix.
DOWNLOAD: Superfreq X fabric Promo Mix by Mr C
Hi Richard, thanks for speaking with us I hope all’s well with you, what are you up to today?
I'm having a very busy day indeed today, it's been a pretty hectic week. I'm promoting, organising & getting stuff ready for my party tomorrow night which is called Superfreq Limited in a villa up in the pristine hills of Malibu in Los Angeles, so much to do but I'm getting there. I've also been mixing up and thoroughly enjoying new vinyl at home in preparation for tomorrow nights set.
We finally had you come to our disco this year, how did your fabric debut go in January?
I had the most amazing time. The Superfreq posse was there in full force! I thoroughly enjoyed my set and exclusively playing vinyl through the valve rotary mixer, can't wait to play with Craig on that mixer this time coming, we’re gonna kill it. I was extremely excited about my debut set in your disco which I'm sure came through when I was playing as I feel it’s still one of my best sets of the year by far, but then playing in that booth on that sound kind of does that to a guy, especially playing there for the first time. Also I must say how wonderfully I was treated by all at fabric, thank you for your wonderful hospitality.
Back to the very beginnings of your career as this is the first time we’ve spoken to you, when did you first discover your vocal talents and that you were going to be involved in electronic music?
It started in 1979 I’d rap along to The Sugar Hill Gang’s Rappers Delight which was when I first thought I’d like to do this. I was a huge fan and would memorise all the lyrics to all the songs coming out at that time. I was also a huge fan of old school electro like Africa Bambata & The Soul Sonic Force and Egyptian Lover so was into electronic music very early in the 80’s. Soon after I started writing my own lyrics then made my debut in a club in Tenerife in ‘83. After that there was no holding me back.
I then went on to rap with various crews Dave Dorell, The Boiler House Crew at RAW and at the Do At The Zoo, the LWR Soul Syndicate, Ron Tom Jasper The Vinyl Junkie and I also rapped with another huge influence of mine Jazzy M who was my first real inspiration in house music from his Jacking Zone show on LWR. After that I started rapping with Colin Faver & Eddie Richards in 1886 & became resident MC at the Camden Palace which led to me rapping for Colin Faver on the then illegal Kiss FM.
I recorded my first record with Evil Eddie Richards in early 1987 which Eddie released on his on imprint Eddies Baad records the same year. I did a spoken word vocal on the the track Page 67, it was about the power of the subconscious mind and what can be achieved with meditation and positive thinking. This was what showed me I wasn’t happy just doing vocals, I wanted to get more involved in the production itself so started spinning house and techno and organising events.
Then how did you move from The Shamen to producing and playing techno and being part of its evolution into tech house?
I started spinning house and techno first actually, it happened the other way around for me. From the late 80’s I was playing tunes and putting on parties all over in London.
It was at Clink Street that I first met Colin Angus & Will Sinnot as The Shamen, they'd just moved down from Scotland to get involved in the acid house scene, which our little firm were kind of the pioneers of in London. I then went on to be resident DJ and music coordinator on Saturday nights at the Dungeons in Lea Bridge Road in 1989. It was during that summer that The Shamen, on the recommendation of Paul Oakenfold who was mixing Move Any Mountain, approached me and asked me to write and perform the rap on Move Any Mountain which I gladly did and also provided a remix as Mr C for the release.
The Shamen we're a psychedelic rock band before moving to London and were the first band to really merge acid house and rock in to a proper dance music format. They asked me to join the band as a fully fledged member in 1991.
During my whole tenure with The Shamen I carried on with all my other pursuits in the party scene back then spinning tunes, organising warehouse parties and also running my own labels and studio, the Watershed, which was financed by my first Shamen Cheque (I always said any money I made from pop I'd plough back into the underground) which was kind of a catalyst for tech house, merging the sounds of house, techno, dub, trance & the kitchen sink in a forward thinking manner.
As for the term Tech House, I have been blamed for creating it but that's not 100% true as it was a term we were all using back then to describe the music we were producing and playing, however I was the person responsible for calling on all the London DJ's making this kind of music and getting them all to call their productions Tech House knowing that the media would bite - which they did and the genre was then born, thanks to the likes of your own Terry Francis, Nathan Coles, Eddie Richards again (he's always at the forefront), Asad Rizvi, Murf, Richard Grey and my good self.
Can you share with us a few tracks that stood out from that time?
There were so many tunes that stood out at that time, here's half a dozen links to very early tunes that I consider to be inspirational to the tech house movement:
Possible Worlds (Mr.C Stick Mix) - The Shamen 1991:
Eyes (Mr.C remix) - Midi Rain 1991:
Point of no return - Stasis 1993:
Chicken Noodle Soup - Carl Craig 1993:
Belfast - Orbital 1992:
Andromeda - Mundo Musique 1991:
A lot of amazing tech house tracks went on to become classics in '93, '94, '95 etc but these were in my opinion some of the tunes that inspired those classics.
The End was a big chapter of your life 95 - 2009 and also came at a time being the birth of London clubbing proper - how important was this?
London clubbing was always amazing since I was a kid in the early 80's so The End was hardly the birth, but we did change the way things were done in London by seriously raising the bar. Before The End, night clubs would turn off the water to stop people drinking water for free, they had moody bouncers, no air conditioning, crappy sound systems, pretty much everything about West End night clubs sucked and all the cool parties were in illegal warehouses.
The End changed all that by doing things completely the right way & leaving no stone unturned in putting together the perfect disco, installing a sprung wooden dance floor so peoples legs didn't get achey at 7am, a free drinking water fountain, good drinks (with ice!), amazing sound and lighting, nice security, having musical integrity and most importantly a great vibe. For Layo and I it was an opportunity to take what we'd been doing in filthy warehouses and studio spaces into a pristine, purpose built space. What we did at The End went on to become the blueprint for every club and decent bar that was to follow which completely changed the face of London clubbing which makes what we did as a team there very very important for London club land indeed.
As Mr. C and Superfreq you regularly travel the world, you’ve seen the inside of the world’s best clubs, what is important to you in a club?
There's so many important things but the most important thing is the crowd. It's the people dancing and their attitude that makes a great club night. Of course the space itself, the sound, the lights and production in general make a difference and of course the music must be excellent, which goes without saying, but without the crowd, all those egotistical DJ's would be nothing. It's the people on the dance floor and them celebrating life that is the most important thing, period!
We’re in a time now years on from the birth of beats many prolific figures are announcing 20 and even 30 years in dance music - as someone who’s been there from the start did you think it would be how it is now back then, do you think it’s passed its best?
Yes I knew the dance scene would continue indefinitely and that the electronic dance scene could only grow and grow. With the advent of new technologies, new hardware, new software and sound equipment it could only get better, especially with all the great new talent coming though. After all, people have been dancing to tribal rhythms for over 50,000 years as part of human evolution so it's not about to stop, it's our mating ritual, our gateway to the world of the other and altered states of consciousness.
I also think that dance music and the scene in general gets better every year. There are many that say that it was better back in the day but these people don't even go out any more so what the hell do they know. Cutting edge dance music has become the main commercial sound nowadays which proves the scenes evolution, just look at the likes of the super star DJ's that spin in your very discoteque. The cutting edge scene is massive all over the world and the youngsters coming through are the new generation and giving all of us acid granddads a good kick in the rear end thankfully. The scene can only continue to improve, that's what human evolution and the arts are all about.
How’s the move to LA working out with you? It looks like Superfreq’s found success over there, have you faced any new challenges as a promoter over there?
I absolutely love living in LA, the only problem is I'm traveling way to much and haven't spent more that 35% of my last 18 months here due to my travel demands!
Superfreq is doing great though over here. In LA I'm doing a monthly disco thing which the Mrs. (Xo Chic, Dollz At Play) mostly takes care of called Super Disco Freq at a small place called Short Stop on the first Tuesday of each month. Superfreq proper did 10 great months on the last Friday of each month at Bardot / Avalon where we've now graduated from to throwing one off events like the party just had in a Malibu villa. I also do quarterly events with Superfreq in Chicago and New York and have also just started new quarterlies in San Francisco & Washington DC, there’s even more to come!
America is a whole different animal to Europe though as the crowds don't really care so much about hype, so it's less sycophantic and more about the quality of the music and DJ's rather than just their name, which is a great thing. Also LA has a very early club scene where most of the clubs close at 4am on the weekends, but there's lots of amazing underground events going on in loft spaces & warehouses & stuff & I for one have been making a huge effort to bring the LA people around to the European way of thinking & getting them at it all night long.
What projects are you currently focusing your energy on?
Musically I've been very very busy over the last year making my new album Smell The Coffee which is just about finished that I'm about to start searching a record deal for. There's still lots to do in the way of artwork and getting the right remixes for the singles so I don't anticipate this being released before the end of the year. I do however have a new single coming out called Something Strange with [a]pendics.shuffle on Adjunkt in August or September with a full Mr.C vocal, [a]pendics.shuffle is performing live at Superfreq at fabric with us so I will be performing this track with him as part of his set.
The track is huge & has been one of the biggest tracks in my DJ sets for the last couple of months now. I also have a new Sycophant Slags EP (Adultnapper & I) coming out on Get Physical in September too which includes a track called Anti Sailing which is also huge. These two EP's should carry things through for me nicely until my album comes out. I've also done a remix of a track from Adultnappers new album Leyland with Omid 16B, we work so well together in the studio so we're going to be working on a new Mr.C & 16B EP too, as well as me continuing to do more solo Mr.C stuff.
What records are you packing in your record bag for this summer?
12 inch round ones with holes in the middle. Just kidding! My record box is in constant evolution and changes from week to week so to be honest, I have no idea what I'll be packing throughout the summer. I still buy a lot of vinyl so my record box is constantly being updated. The best way to find out is to come and hear me spin.