There’s something Beastie in the city of Ottawa. The Adam Saikaley Trio lit up The Manx with a live rendition of Ill Communication at the Arboretum Festival, and now, on September 20th at Ritual, U.K.’s DJ Food, alongside DJ Cheeba and Dj Moneyshot will be throwing down a version of Paul’s Boutique, including all, yes all! of the over 150 samples used on the ’89 classic.
Hailing from London, and a pillar on Ninja Tune (the record-label home of Amon Tobin, The Herbaliser, Bonobo, and Kid Koala – to rattle off a few), DJ Food has been making electronic music for over two decades, exploring the art-form through a wide range of projects. We caught up with Kevin Foakes, aka DJ FOOD, aka Strictly Kev to talk about his latest.
**NOTE – We are giving away two tickets for the show! In order to put your name in the draw, mention in the comment section by noon tomorrow a time from your past when you jammed out to Paul’s Boutique. For me, I remember it blasting in a car that was barrelling down the highway between Lake Louise and Jasper in the summer of ’99.
Apt613: Who has DJ Food been, and who is it now? As we understand it, DJ Food is a collective and not a singular entity.
Strictly Kev: Yes and no, DJ Food started as Matt Black & Jonathan More aka Coldcut when they launched Ninja Tune in 1990. They made a series of Jazz Brakes LPs which was ‘food for DJs’, recruiting various other studio bods along the way including myself and Patrick Carpenter aka PC.
Around 1995 when the album Recipe For Disaster was released PC and I ‘became’ DJ Food for the purpose of playing club gigs as we’d regularly be on bills with Coldcut and it was essentially one and the same thing in the studio. PC and I made mixes and an album, Kaleidoscope, together through until 2001 when he left to join the Cinematic Orchestra live band and pursue other non-musical avenues. I’ve now been the sole bearer of the Food name for over 10 years now. So it started as many and is now one.
Having been making electronic music for such a long time, what do you see are some of the biggest changes that have taken place in the art-form from the early 90’s to now?
The rise of the computer in the home, hard disc editing, affordable samplers and plug-ins that can create near authentic replications of almost any instrument. The internet levelled the playing field in a big way; you no longer needed a big studio to make a tune (although there’s a lot to be said for having such a place with experienced engineers and kit). Software like Tractor, Serato and Ableton Live changed the way DJs played out and took the artform up several levels to include visuals. Of course many styles have come and gone and come back again, I’m already starting to see whole styles that were prominent when I was first DJing come back around for a second time.
DJ Food is known for taking electronic music out of a typical club atmosphere and instead creating new listening spaces/experiences. What role do visuals play into creating these spaces?
Visuals, whilst not being the starting point, can be a very simple way of conveying an additional element of your DJ personality and taste. I’ve personally wanted to add visuals to my DJ sets for years and it wasn’t until 2008 when Serato debuted their Video plug in that I could do that on my own and it added to the way I played and put a whole other level of work into the sets. More recently I did shows in planetariums and domes with 360 visuals and this is where I’m happiest with the experience as you can really play with people’s heads in ways that a flat 2D screen can’t.
On September 20th, you, alongside two other DJ’s, will be re-creating Paul’s Boutique using (if I’m correct) the over 150 samples used on the album. Why did you choose this particular project? What did the album Paul’s Boutique first mean to you when you heard it and what does it mean to you now?
That’s correct, we will be playing a 4 deck DJ routine where we re-imagine Paul’s Boutique from all the original tracks and samples that the Beasties and Dust Brothers used back in 1989. The album has been a favourite of ours for years now and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary
Who are the other DJ’s that will perform with you, and how did this idea come to fruition?
DJs Cheeba and Moneyshot (both from Bristol in the UK) have been friends for around a decade now and both added their talents to our Solid Steel radio show that we do with Coldcut each week. The idea came about when Moneyshot did a mix of all the elements of the Beasties’ Check Your Head LP which we loved and agreed that someone should tackle Paul’s Boutique in the same fashion but the enormity of the task was too big for just one of us to take on.
We split it three ways and decided to work on it so that it played track for track in the same order as the album which really forced us to work harder on some tracks to make something new from the samples rather than jamming them all together in one mix.
What have been the biggest challenges in putting this project together?
The mix was only ever intended to be online. We didn’t put it together to be a live set at all, so when Cheeba pushed for us to do it live, we had to go back and take apart the whole thing and break it into four parts for each deck and DJ to play. We also remixed and extended it for the clubs and festivals and then had to learn the whole thing from scratch. We’re now adding video to the thing as well which is proving to be an additional headache. 🙂
Paul’s Boutique Reconstructed is happening on Saturday, September 20 at Ritual Nightclub (137 Besserer St). Doors at 10pm, $15 in advance. Tickets available at Vertigo Records, Top of the World, Norml and online at Spectrasonic.