Sunday, June 05, 2005

Dance, dance, dance to the Radio

What the hell is it about godzone….eat eat eat eat eat. The obsession with eating endlessly even when you’re not hungry is something I’ve only encountered in New Zealand and the USA. It scares the living daylights out of me and it does me no favours whatsoever. I’m one of those unfortunate people who spend weeks battling to deal to that one steak and cheese pie that I succumbed to in a moment of pathetic weakness (the ones in the bakery next to Glengarry in Ponsonby Road are especially good by the way), only to lose the battle in another momentary lapse. I despise beyond reason people like my bro Peter Urlich (we figured out today we’ve been close friends for thirty years this month..not bad, so I don’t really despise him at all, quite the opposite), whom I had Yum Char with today; he can eat inhuman amounts of anything, washing it down with lager, with no noticeable effect. I like the Asian way of one decent meal and then a browsing, if and when required across the day. It makes perfect, and a succession of flavours.

All this, really, is just self flagellation and complete nonsense, as I’ve just got in from a massive gorging, with the associated guilt, from our hidden secret, KK Malaysian in Greenlane. At least, it was our secret, until bloody Metro (which has, to change the subject completely, a must read article about Iraq in the current issue) made it “hot”, and ruined it. Happily we’ve been going there so long, enjoying the food prepared with such obvious soul and love, that we’ve jumped to VIP status, and we can still get a table in this Formica tabled shoebox at whim…so ha! There is nothing quite as satisfying as pushing past the food Mafioso with a knowing look and declining the menu as we know what we want already. Yep, its puerile but I don’t care at all….

So…nineteen years.

I love doing radio. Its a massive buzz. It stands head and shoulders above TV when it’s done well (and makes a soul shudder when its not, as, unfortunately, so much NZ radio is not). Radio can be a direct line to the spirit and has a one on one relationship with the listener when it aspires to be more than a mindless opiate. The car...that’s where I listen to radio. I spend a lot of time in the the three hour return trip from the city to Royal Oak today. I guess Auckland and traffic congestion are pretty much one and the same thing these days and, to be honest, I don’t mind a bit and I get a little pissed off when I get somewhere before the tune ends. I play vinyl, CD & digital bits at home and in the office, but the car is for radio. I like it loud…even radio based on talk, and I canter through the pre-sets: B for the Wire and the intelligent discourse, but not so much the music; George for assorted shows, especially the Sunday shows and Saturday mornings, Outerdrive and a bit of Churchill noise; the BBC and National Radio for the joy of being spoken to like a thinking adult and sheer information overload; Nui & Flava for the humour and the soul; Base, just because it sounds warm and has the best breakfast show on the planet….

Actually I did my first radio show more than nineteen years ago. Back in 76, as a young lad, I approached Radio B (or Radio Bosom as it was known for some odd reason back have to wonder about those student wags with their excellent sense of humour…the sort of people who turned in Murray McCulley) about a show. Whoever was programming then…it wasn’t much of a job as they only broadcast in the University area …told me I was on and threw me into the on-air studio at midday with virtually no instruction, on my own. For some reason I freaked and found the longest track I could find, Emerson Lake & Palmer’s gruesome live take of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at a Exhibition”, so as to fill my hour with minimum number of voice breaks (I don’t think I spoke once truth be known). I was terrified and went from prog rock hell into a Santana track which took the whole side of a bloated multi disc live album called Lotus. I wasn’t asked back. I guess I was perceived as simply latent talent…

I did more than a few shows in the early eighties as a guest specialist…Elvis Costello b sides and the like, but it was frustration that Roger Perry and I felt which led the two of us to approach bFm to do a regular dance based show in ’86. Nobody at all was playing the stuff we liked on the radio…that funky club stuff, that hip hop, that garage and funk-punk. And, to be honest, B was less than keen too. Murray Cammick had the killer soul show, Land Of The Good Groove, but that was purist soul...not the sort of stuff we wanted to play. Eventually we managed to find an ally in Lisa Van der Arde and were given a midday Saturday slot. So was born Asylum FM. The relationship was fairly symbiotic...we played in return for free ads for our club and it worked well enough for a while, until the all-disco-sucks regime moved us sideways in 87. The station’s magazine completely ignored us...and dance culture, until they turned up with a full page piece that year accusing our club, The Asylum, of quiet racism because we, allegedly, had a bunch of white kids dancing to black music to the exclusion of brown kids. It’s the only time in my life I’ve been accused of racism, something I know I’m not guilty of, and it was doubly offensive since we had a blatantly open door policy and were known for our happily mixed crowds, the first in Auckland, something I’m fairly proud of. Roger and I quit B as a result but never said anything beyond that. I’m not one to let something fester but 18 years on, I’d like to say…fuck you..

There, off the chest, thank god…. (just to comments seem to have caused some offense to Mark Tierney but should be put in context..they relate to this particular incident only. Mark was a pioneering force in recorded NZ electronica and a person I hold, otherwise in high regard...sorry Mark).

Mark Phillips, the unhailed founding father of Aucklandclublife, and I, did a show in 88. The Playground. Without Mark none of this stuff would exist, and I wish to hell he didn't live in Sydney so I could see more of him.....

I guess I should also apologise to Nick D’Angelo for hijacking the Beats Per Minute show in 1989. It was his name, but I convinced B management I could do it better. Sorry Mr Laan. I did the BPM show for 13 years. 1989-92 by myself, 92-95 with Rob Salmon, 1995-2002 with Greg Churchill and it was mostly a fantastic experience. It was a strange feeling for a while. It was the only dancefloor show in Auckland and we had to play a huge variety of stuff. For the first few years, we played hip-hop for the first hour (in 2005 its hard to believe that we were the only radio outlet for the genre on the air) followed by our top five at nine..really, I guess, the Auckland dance chart, then an hour of house. Later, we dropped the hip hop, and added a techno spot with Simon Flower and friends giving us 15 minutes of purist electronics. Our guests included the cream of the touring djs, with Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May (three times), Derrick Carter (twice), Andy Weatherall, Justin Robertson, Giles Peterson, Norman Jay, Elliot Eastwick, Juan Atkins, Sneak, Ashley Beedle, Phil Asher, Paul Oakenfold, Norman Jay, Lenny Dee and even Judge Jules, plus many more, doing shows. For years, bFm mostly ignored us. It wasn’t real was a token, a novelty, late at night. Even when the station ran its own dance parties we weren’t asked to contribute or be involved. Odd really….

The arrival of George really removed the need for the BPM show...and, any way you look at it, 13 years was enough….

George also gave me the freedom to move away from what Greg & I used to call the fascism of the dancefloor. We’d painted ourselves into a corner where we were limited by having to play new releases and I wouldn’t have carried on doing radio if I was limited by that.

So, there you go. As I said, I love doing radio, and it’s going to be quite a tear not to be preparing the show the night before, hunting out new music and pre-programming in my head, as I’ve done for almost two decades.

Hey Ho…onwards..

Taking of which…I love the FK remixes of LCD’s “Disco Inflitrator”…big big record, both sides. See, its in the blood. Oh, and his new 10” with the mighty U-Roy..and the new Tussle on Rong, which come complete with a killer B side from Corey Black. Or the Soul Jazz acid comp, which is really the bomb. I own god knows how many old acid records from this era, including originals of a good half of this thing, but it still sounds fresh and revolutionary...and after 20 odd years, its hard to ask more than that….

I think this weaning off the music is a complete failure already….

Off to Singapore in the morning…the food, the food, the food!