Greg Wilson, who is considered something of a legend at Slutty Fringe, got in touch recently and agreed to answer some questions – which was reet nice (and made me squeal with joy like a school girl) Enjoy
SF: Firstly Greg, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Slutty Fringe. You first came to prominence back in the early 80s with residencies at Wigan Pier and Legend in Manchester, which DJs inspired you to get involved in playing records in clubs?
GW: I wasn’t so much inspired by individual DJ’s, but by the fact that I grew up living above a pub, which had 2 functions rooms, where parties and wedding receptions were held pretty much every weekend. It was the DJ’s who came with their mobile discos that made a collective impression on me. I lived there between the ages of 6 and 13, so I absorbed a lot of music in this way, sitting behind the bar at night with my mum, and even later, when I’d gone to bed and could still feel the beats coming up through the floorboards (this is how I believe I acquired my sense of rhythm).
Then, I met a school friend, Derek Kelsey, who built his own mobile disco aged only 11 (2 old turntables in a wooden draw with a switch between deck 1 and 2). Derek became a close friend, and still is, so I suppose that if anyone was an inspiration, it was him.
What was the first nightclub you went to?
Can’t remember if it was the Chelsea Reach in New Brighton, where I’d later work, or a club I managed to get into when I went on holiday to Majorca in the summer of ’74. Either way, I would have been 14 at the time.
How does the whole nightclub scene these days compare to the early days of Electrofunk?
It’s very different. Electro-Funk was first played on the underground black scene, which revolved around specialist club nights (often held midweek, as with my main venues, Legend and Wigan Pier) and All–Dayers (which took place on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays). If you didn’t read magazines like Blues & Soul and Black Echoes, or listen to the weekly ‘soul shows’ on local radio, you wouldn’t be aware of what was happening.
It wasn’t until later in the decade that dance culture exploded on a mainstream level, so this was the period when the groundwork was being laid for what would happen later. It was a scene that was very much led by the black audience, who were always into the most cutting-edge music, as well as being the best dancers. Dancing was much more focal back then, it was serious business where the black kids were concerned, with crews from different areas always trying to outdo each other. There were some absolutely amazing dancers back then.
The re-edit has over the past few years come back into popularity, I assume Tirk got you involved in the Credit To The Edit series to demonstrate how it should be done. Should lazy bootleggers have their PCs taken away from them and given a revox machine instead for a few months to teach them some skills?
It’s like anything – there’s good and not so good. I hear lots of edits I really like, along with the stuff I don’t.
Starting out editing on reel-to-reel definitely gave me a solid grounding. Trying out relatively simple ideas could be very time-consuming, so I spent an incalculable amount of time splicing bits of tape together; often undoing what had just taken me maybe twenty minutes to try out, because it didn’t quite work. It might take me thirty seconds to do the same thing on computer now, but back then you were obviously limited in what you could do, and how quickly it could be done. However, working in this more measured way, almost in slow motion when compared to now, gave you a real connectedness with what you were doing, adding depth to your understanding of the whole process you were involved in, especially the mathematics, which, once you’ve spent enough time working this way, becomes second nature.
I’d been away from the club scene for so long that I didn’t realise there was this resurgence in editing. What really blew me away was the response when I played the edit of Chaka Khan’s ‘I Feel For You’ at my comeback gig in Manchester. This was something I’d put together in 1984, in an effort to show the record companies what I could do with limited resources, but nobody was really interested at the time, whereas now, two decades on, people were coming up to me to ask where they could get a copy! It was great to be able to include that original tape edit on Credit To The Edit – finally laying to rest the rejection I felt at the time.
Tirk are one of the best labels at the moment, the Fujiya & Miyagi LP is among my favourite releases from 2006, and anyone who gives Maurice Fulton the license to release his demented Syclops stuff will get love from me – What else do you have planned with the label?
Yeah, Tirk is definitely a label with its heart in the right place. I’m currently planning towards Volume 2 of ‘Credit To The Edit’, this time concentrating on more contemporary tracks – the type of stuff I’ve picked up on since I started deejaying again. Hopefully it will surface late spring.
2006 saw you release a number of excellent under the counter re-edits – Will there be more this year? The I Was A Teenage DJ 12 in particular was splendid
There’s a 2nd Teenage DJ EP on its way, plus a 2nd Young Dog Alien. I’ve also been busy remixing / re-editing a number of things, including a series of tracks from the forthcoming Groove Armada album, as well as Tom Findlay’s other project (with Tim Hutton), Sugardaddy.
Have you had the chance to dabble in the new technology that is becoming increasingly prominent in djing such as Ableton Live and Serato, and what are your thoughts on this technological progression?
A little while ago Ralph Lawson gave me a demo of Abelton, which I really like and would be well into incorporating into what I do. Only problem is that I haven’t been able to find the time to get my head properly into it, so it remains on the backburner for now.
I’m well into anyone using whatever technology available if it enhances what they do. The great thing about deejaying nowadays is that there’s a variety of ways in which to present the music you play, rather than just records and turntables, as has been traditional. I love vinyl, it’s what I grew up with – however, in my book, it’s not the format but the music that counts.
Which nightclub venue (past or present) holds the fondest memories for you?
Legend in Manchester on a Wednesday, circa 82/83, was the absolute height of things for me. I’ll never experience that type of intensity in a club again – all elements (the time, the people, the music, the atmosphere, the dancing, the sound and lighting) combining to make a deep and lasting impression on anyone who experienced it. It was right at the cusp of things, with regards to the underground dance scene prior to its gradual mainstream emergence, the most cutting-edge British club night of its era.
As an extra treat, here is a live mix of Greg Wilson at London clubbing behemoth Fabric, recorded last year
Download and Dance
And please please do check greg’s website out as it contains a wealth of knowledge on electro, lots of articles and mixes to check