Q&A with the Mixcloud Contest winner Simon Whight
The DJ who has walked the path from US House through the rise and fall of the progressive explosion right up to the minimal explosion of today. And then won the Strictly Rhythm Mixcloud Contest. Simon Whight aka Fourfourfun tells how it all happened.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself: what's your background?
Started mixing back in the early 90’s, spent a good 10 years on Technics before migrating to the bars and lines of Ableton. I’ve walked the path from US house through the rise and fall of the progressive explosion right up to the minimal explosion of today. At the end of the day its just house music really.
2) What was your first response to hearing you've won the Mixcloud Competition?
I was in the checkout at Tesco listening to something new I’m working on, started hearing emails coming through on my phone and went off to investigate. I shouted, I fist pumped, I scared the general public with my sudden outburst.
3) What equipment did you use to make the mix?
Ableton, a PC, a mouse, headphones and my brain!
4) What was your selection process like? How and why did you choose those particular tracks and why?
I had a flick through what other entrants had been doing and was rather shocked that, on the whole, people had only been plucking tracks from recent Strictly history. This is a label that has been putting out tracks since 1989! I remember the This Is Strictly Rhythm CDs being some of the first in my collection, so my main drive was to showcase some of the tracks I had grown up with.
The 30 minute time limit immediately screamed “edits mix” to me. If I had stuck something like the full Lil Louis versions of Make It Funky on there, that would be half my mix! More often than not I will let tracks play to their full musical potential, however I do like to have some fun tearing things to pieces and putting them back together in a new arrangement. A playful way to give new life to established classics.
I just spent a good while sifting through those early 90's classics looking for particular highlights, or little loops I could drop in and remix. I'd love to go back and do a mix of more obscure forgotten gems one day, this is more of a greatest hits highlights!
5) How long did the whole process take?
About a week, I already knew the tracks well and the Soulful Mix of Stay Together went straight in first as I’ve used that to kick off a mixtape so many times.
Most of the work was getting levels and EQ into place, rendering, listening, adjusting. I listen to this now and can still hear 3 or 4 things I’d like to edit, however it was a case of getting the mix out there and heard with the time pressures in force. A week is good for me, some of my Mixcloud mixes have taken 8 months to finalise from inception.
6) How did you get into DJing?
In the distant past, my brother Rick had noticed that I had been bitten by the electronic music bug. I was listening to The Prodigy, Shamen, The Orb and all sorts as Rave hit in the early 90s. He left me Ministry Of Sound Sessions 1 & 2, Tony Humphries and Paul Oakenfold, to have a listen to. I’d never heard two tracks blended into each other before and it just blew me away.
It so happened that he had teamed up with a friend to buy some Technics and were storing them along with all their vinyl in my room. I started playing around on their decks and found that I could mix rather well, I’ve not looked back since.
Oakenfold’s CD was crammed full of Strictly stuff like Deep Inside, Love & Happiness, Who Dares To Believe In Me and Who Keeps Changing Your Mind, so it was no surprise that my early life was full of US House and Strictly. I was only 14 back then and it was really bad for pocket money as I remember grabbing shrink wrapped US imports for £12 a pop!
7) Who's your Number 1 musical influence?
When I started out it was all Masters At Work for me, their DJing and productions. I used to mimic their mixes as I was learning the ropes, which was rather difficult as I had two decks and two hands too few! Then as Progressive was hitting big around 2000, I was more aligned to Deep Dish. Tougher, more electronic, a bit tribal, yet still retaining that US House soul.
My DJ sound is more about me nowadays, I play what I like and really have no idea what other DJs are playing. Hoping to sound like Fourfourfun rather than a copy of my idol.
When it comes to producers, I love anything that sounds electronic and emotional. From weird electronics by James Holden and the Border Community crew to boundary pushers like Boards Of Canada and the Warp collective, right through to the quality House and Techno that the Fabric DJs tend to play. I guess I’m a bit of a deep, moody Techno monster now, a far cry from my battling divas past!
8) What's your biggest dream as a DJ?
It sounds like quite a small dream but I would love to have a mix CD released one day. I grew up listening to mix CDs as my window into the club world, it would be a dream to end up making something that used to be my source of inspiration back in the day.
9) What would your dream club to DJ at?
Fabric. I took a load of people there on its first birthday years ago. Words coming out of peoples mouth were similar to “best club in London” / “amazing music”. I’d love to just go have a play on that system to an empty club even! Best sound system, best music policy.
10) What's your Strictly Rhythm?
Hardrive – Deep Inside was one of the tracks off that Oakenfold mix that totally caught my attention from the off and I loved it for AGES. Grabbed all the mixes of this, the 1995 re-release, the lesser known European versions that got licensed and, of course, the source of it all that was Barbara Tucker’s Beautiful People.
(IMAGE: Yes, that is me cooking up a mix in my kitchen using a whisk...!)