We’re celebrating the release of what is destined to be an acid house classic with a great giveaway of the brilliant new Incidents album by Mr C as well as an interview with the London clubland icon, putting the world bang to rights.
The London Economic caught up with the globe-trotting DJ / producer / Superfreq label supremo / cheeky controversialist on a visit from his adoptive home in Hollywood, LA in his old stomping ground of Holloway, North London.
The DJ, producer, MC, actor, promoter and Buddhist meditation teacher has made waves on the house music scene since its early days, now celebrating 30 years since he began DJ’ing in 1987. Mr C aka Richard West was involved with the legendary RIP parties at Clink Street around 1988, and will be back in London on 8 July for an RIP reunion with Colin Dale and others. With the Shamen, Mr C topped the charts repeatedly in the early ‘Nineties, the notorious “Ebeneezer Goode” becoming the only number 1 single in pop history to be deleted by artists while it was still number 1, after weeks of tabloid and po-faced music press rage.
His iconic nightclub The End and techno label Plink Plonk records made their mark on dance music history too, as has his current label and clubbing brand Superfreq on which his new album Incidents is released. The first single Stand Up was a call to arms that first appeared on the fundraising compilation album to save Fabric nightclub.
Mr C kindly agreed to give away downloads of the album, which we will give to five of you lucky readers chosen at random before Midday July 8 if you share this interview and correctly comment with the answer to the following question:
What does the C in Mr C stand for?
Have a listen to the acid-infused masterpiece and our interview with the London clubbing legend putting the world to rights is below!
TLE Music: You achieved amazing success in the charts with The Shamen in an age when topping the charts meant immense record sales and ploughed much of that into your influential nightclub The End. After decades of ups and downs what tips would you give anybody entering the music business?
Mr C: I pumped all of the money I earned from The Shamen back into the underground as I always said I would. That meant a huge investment into my Watershed Studio and my Plink Plonk record label, both of which were set up to create a platform for new talent. I did also invest into The End nightclub too, which was also a platform for new talent as well as established names. As far as picking up business tips, I have of course picked up many things, most of which tells me that you have to sell out to become rich, which is why I’m still living hand to mouth like everyone else. I refuse to make cheese, play cheese of have anything to do with lowest common denominator music and clubbing.
Incidents is a proper acid-infused album, squelchy acid a running theme through the different paced tracks. With names like Entry Search, Acid Fever, Raid, Quick Exit they sound like they’re referring to a really banging night out.
Incidents is totally an Acid album. The album is about things that can happen to you when going out clubbing, hence the titles to the songs. In some ways it is a little like a night out as it starts slow, speeds up and ends with a slow track, however that wasn’t really the intention when I was making the tracks, but was the intention when arranging the order they appear. I wanted to make a real artist album that wasn’t simply a collection of dance tracks. It’s inspired by my musical youth, which is why it has heavy influences from Ska, Dub, Funk, Old School Electro and Italo Disco.
The single Stand Up also appeared on the Save Fabric album, when after the drug-related deaths of two teenagers, one of London’s most popular nightclubs faced permanent closure after Islington Council took its license away. Do you see nightclubs in general more under threat than ever as more legendary clubs appear to close than open nowadays?
Yes night clubs are more under threat. It’s all about the money and the greed of property developers. Clubs in central locations in cities all over the world are going to be experiencing harassment from bribed local authorities and the police with these same local authorities getting paid by property developers.
In the case of Fabric and the council case against it, there had been drugs-related deaths. Should clubs be penalised though? Or are harm reduction and safety better served in a place with security, cameras, the works, rather than kids staying in or going to the park to get high?
Clubs should not be penalised for what people do in their facilities as long as they’ve talking the correct measures to control drug taking and that doesn’t mean being over the top or heavy handed. That can only go so far before people’s civil liberties are abused. Of course clubs should do what they can to stop people taking drugs on their premises as that is the law – though a law that I believe to be incorrect. Fabric were already doing all they could. In fact they were doing so much to stop people doing drugs that many people found it intrusive and stopped going to the club as no girl wants her breast felt and no guy want his genitals felt while being searched going into a night club. Fabric only months before being closed down actually had the police instructing new clubs to check out how Fabric operates as they do it so right. Fabric also have a great medical team, which you will not find at illegal events. Driving dance music culture underground is simply dumb.
The real problem is this pathetic war on drugs that has been waged for decades now. I’m a strong believer that all drugs should be legal. They should be sold in authorised outlets and taxed in the same way alcohol is. The revenue from the taxes would be able to fund 100% of the health service and health care, which could then be free all over the world. Legalising all drugs would also eradicate 90% of the world’s crime too. That’s hardly going to happen though as there’s too many greedy people at the top preventing it.
And is that what Stand Up is about?
It’s a calling for everyone to stand up against the bullshit that we have to live with today. However when Fabric was closed I wrote two of the verses directly about the situation Fabric was going through and all the clubs being closed down due to greedy property development and gentrification. In London we’ve lost The Cross, The Key, Bagleys, The End, Turnmills, the list goes on. But our dance music community is massive, global, full of smart and creative people. Together we were strong enough to stand up for ourselves and Fabric got its license back.
What else should we be standing up for in these times ?
As well as standing up against the authorities with regard to the continued affront on dance music culture, we should also start standing up against pretty much everything that’s wrong with this world. For a start there’s the cost of living. Rent is just ridiculous nowadays and many people have to work two jobs just to pay the bills and put food on the table for their kids. This has been allowed to happen because the general public are too engrossed in their smart phones, on social networking etc to be actually bothered to do something about it. Many people are deluded enough to think that making a status update or tweet is doing something about what they are complaining about. The public has been spoon fed gossip through reality TV and such to keep them entertained while prices keep going up. As far as I can see it’s a cunning plan from the world’s controlling elite rich to make people struggle. With struggle comes fear of others taking away what’s yours and it’s through fear that people are divided, which in turn also stops us standing up for our rights.
Then there’s the fear that’s been instilled into us of people who are different to what were are, like the fake war against terror. Why is it that there was no Jihad 50 years ago and there is now? I’ll tell you, it’s because the West has continually invaded, bombed and killed hundreds of thousands innocent people, which has then created this fundamentalist Muslim uprising against the West. This is again propagated by the elites who make serious money from arms and weapons as they move into oil rich countries like Iraq to rape the natural resources.
There is a solution to all of this trouble and that would be to spend the amount of money we’ve spent on the Iraq war alone to make sure everyone has a home, food and education. We can also change the world’s landscape with irrigation in such a way that we can feed the whole world organically without a problem. Will that happen? Not until people stand up and make it happen.
When you’re not twiddling knobs and pushing buttons in the studio you often like to push people’s buttons on social media and provoke all kinds of discussions including some of the big political upheavals that have rocked both the UK and your US adoptive home. Do you find people on social media more divided and polarised than ever?
Yes they are. The continued efforts from the elite’s media have caused some serious divides between not only races and religions but also a political divide in which they’ve got us hating each other. The way that we’re being divided really gets me down. It doesn’t matter if you’re a leftie or right, we all want to be happy, secure and enjoy life. We’re all the same. We are inherently beings of love and I’m sure that one day we’ll stand up and make the change needed to put the world right. I will never stop believing that good will outweigh the bad and win through eventually.
Another one of the songs on the album is called Raid. – Was that inspired by anything in particular? Ever played anywhere that’s been raided?
I’ve been in several illegal events over the years that have been raided. The worst that happened to me was back in 1991 when police closed down one of the M25 Orbital motorway raves near London and they confiscated my record box, which thankfully I go back. I was also in a club raid at an after hours once in Germany. There were about 100 revellers there and the club got raided by about 200 cops and there were TV cameras there too. After all that they found a grand total of two ecstasy pills and two grams of hashish. The hashish was mine, I was taken to the police station, interrogated, fined and released.
Love the track Ripple Effect. Is the title of the track a reference to religious beliefs?
All of the track titles are ambiguous. Everything we do, be it good or bad will have a ripple effect. If you do good things then they will inspire others. If you do bad things you hurt others and all actions we make make a difference be they good or bad. We all need to take responsibility for our actions, no matter what they are. I’d like to leave a ripple effect that is love, caring, sharing and compassion. We all have to try to lead by example.
Do you still teach and practice Buddhist meditation? Does that help with music?
I do still host workshops and yes I meditate regularly. Meditation has a lot of affects on my work and for many different reasons. Meditation helps to dissolve the ego and brings about compassion so any DJ practicing regular meditation would have a different outlook on why they’re playing people records. Meditation also has a profound affect on creativity as it connects you to the creative intelligence of the Universe bringing about ideas. It’s also a real benefit for both physical and mental health so yes in many ways it does protect my sanity.
You recently appeared in a short film too, any more acting roles coming up?
The short film as called Desire by director Hala Matar and was so much fun. The movie is extremely arty and high end. I played two roles in the movie. The first I played a drunk, which of course was very easy and the second I played was a movie directors assistant. They’re both tiny cameo roles. I do have various things pending finance and a few things in discussion. If and when these movies go into production is another thing altogether as anyone in the movie industry knows.
You’ve celebrated 15 years of your label Superfreq this year too – a brand that has put on consistently quality club nights from Ibiza to South America, LA, London, all over the world, with a stable of great new artists and releases from all over the world- what is the guiding principle behind it?
The principle behind Superfreq is to supply a quality environment for like minded adults to come to celebrate life and dance to quality cutting edge dance music, make friends, be naughty and be a part of the Superfreq community. The guiding principal is sharing quality and celebrating life in a debauched a way as possible.
Sounds like a good plan! Thanks very much.
Mr C returns to London for a RIP reunion acid and techno fest with Colin Dale, Murf, Junq, Leigh Dickson, Hijacker, Eugene Black, Kumo and Joel O’Berne on 8 July, 2017 at the Red Gallery, Shoreditch.