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Article source: Charles @ archivedmusicpress.wordpress.com
Original publisher: NME
Paul Oakenfold (second from right) with Electra
New Musical Express 22nd October, 1988
Pic: Oliver Maxwell
“Acid is going underground. It’s got to go that way because of all the fuss. The media are out to kill it”
So where do we go from here, matey? Acid guru PAUL OAKENFOLD talks to Paolo Hewitt
The official line is this. Yes, there are some drugs involved but not as much as you’d like to think. Instead, why don’t you concentrate on the good things. The new music, the attitude, the fact that we now have a movement as big as punk on our hands. Even bigger really.
For the hacks of Wapping, such reasoning is far too subtle. When it comes to Acid House, all the elements that sell copy are just too good to be missed.
Drugs, young people and sex. As any editor will tell you, with that combination, you can’t fail. The fact that the truth of the matter gets distorted is neither here nor there. Truth has always been the first casualty in the battle between the dailies.
“The media are out to kill it,” say, PAUL OAKENFOLD, the first DJ to start playing Balearic Beats in Britain, and who has been involved as club runner, DJ and musician, since the eruption of Acid just over a year ago.
“Not the music press as such but the dailies and TV. From Reporting London, who have just done a 20 minute stitch up on us, to the press who only talk about the bad things, they’re all out to get us.
“I DJ in Brighton every Thursday night at The Zap Club and there have been big things in the local paper. One article said, if your kid is wearing a T shirt with a Smiley face on it, take him straight to the doctors, he’s probably on drugs. I mean, Jesus.” Raises his hands in despair.
“Obviously, drugs are involved but I don’t know to what extent. It’s impossible to say.”
In the burning hot light of such attention, for Oakenfold, the only way for Acid and the Balearic scene is down. Meaning underground.
“Because of all the fuss,” he reasons, “it’s got to go that way. It will become word of mouth. Club owners are so worried about the press and media that on their advertising they’ve stopped putting Acid House on their flyers and stuff. Now, on the other hand, you’ve got BROS, who have just done an Acid track, PAUL RUTHERFORD, the b-side of the last YAZZ single was Acid, ‘Burn It Up’ by THE BEATMASTERS, all these people are making Acid records, and you’ve got a lot more tracks coming up.
“There’s so much coming through. I’m getting dozens of Acid records in the post, so musically I see it becoming very commercial. But only for a short while simply because the bad press is going to get worse and a lot of the acts are not going to want to affiliate themselves with Acid House.”
This is a view shared by many who are involved in the scene. DANNY D., who wrote the music to D MOB’s ‘Acid’, and has remixed numerous Acid records in the past, concurs with Oakenfold’s prediction.
“We are now witnessing the Acid movement breaking out of London and becoming fashionable,” he says, “and it’s right across the country, hence the Smiley badge and T-shirt craze.
“Personally, I would give it six months to a year. Let’s not forget, though, that the Acid movement has brought thousands of people back into the clubs. It’s pumped a new energy into the dance movement. All kinds of people are going along now to find out what it’s about.”
Acid has undoubtedly revived and revitalised the whole club scenario. As Oakenfold points out, for most people the weekend no longer exists. The best clubs to go to are invariably held during the week. Friday and Saturday, you say in.
“The key,” he explains, “the secret to the whole thing is fun. People have never had so much fun. People thought they would never be able to dance again. I’m 26 and I thought I’d never dance again. Now I go to clubs and dance. When you’ve got something that is so much fun, everyone wants a piece of it.”
Musically, there has been a rigid division. Not only has the Acid scene ensured that House music, in whatever form, is now the premier dance music of the nation, overtaking hip hop, funk and soul with the speed of a Ben Johnson, it has also put Balearic Beats, basically dance music by white groups, in the shadow.
As Baleric was part of the masterplan, and a route that Oakenfold is keen to follow, he now thinks people are missing the point of the original Ibiza scene.
“There are 101 Acid DJ’s,” he points out, “but how many are mixing Balearic with House? That’s why the scene will die so quickly. Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and everyone wants to play House.”
That aside, the different variations of House, plus the ease and access that musicians now have to making cheap but efficient Acid records, has opened up the dance scene to all kinds of influences. One of the more positive aspects of Acid is that people are now willing to accept almost anything, as long as it has quality.
The bringing together of music is disparate as MARSHALL JEFFERSON and NITZER EBB, and the way that people have ethusiastically embraced such rec ords, has left the field wide open. There are two logical extensions to these developments.
The first is a return to Deep House, the welcome arrival of great singers such as KIM MAZELLE and LIZ TORRES, whose vocal gymnastics are set to simple but deadly House rhythms and melodies.
The second is Eclectro, the mixing up of all forms of music, to create a new dance and a new sound. Oakenfold is already on the case.
“People will start mixing a lot of different stuff around,” he predicts. “We’re doing it. We’ve got a group called WILD NATION, which is me and Zio, and we’ve got rap, heavy rock guitars, Acid tones and European bass lines. We’ve got a mixture of four different sounds.”
Another encouraging factor is that British dance music no longer lives in the shadow of American dominance. This is partly because the majority of Americans are unfazed by Acid House, or even House itself. They view with slight amusement the way things have gone here.
In New York, for example, House is seen primarily as a gay music, our equivalent being Hi-NRG. They can’t for the life of them understand our rabid enthusiasm for the likes of FAST EDDIE or ADONIS. As for Ecstasy, man, we were doing that five years ago.
“I still don’t think,” Oakenfold says, “that Acid-wise we’ve come up with a track as good as PHUTURE, or even Fast Eddie, but we’re still coming up with some good stuff. For example, Gary Haisman’s record is excellent although I wouldn’t really call it Acid. I don’t know how they’re going to follow that up.”
As for Oakenfold, his current activities are both numerous and a good pointer to what will happen over the next few months.
In a couple of weeks, London will be re-releasing ‘Jibaro’ by his group ELECTRA, which first saw the light of day back in July. At the time, with its anthemic feel plus the wild reaction it was getting every time it was played, it looked like a surefire hit. It stopped at 54 in the charts.
“We got too carried away with what was happening in London,” he reflects. “We didn’t take into account that people outside of London didn’t understand the record or what was going on. Now, it’s completely changed. Clubs everywhere are into the scene, so we’re giving it another shot.”
He already has a follow up, ‘Fascination’, ready and waiting. In the meantime, he has another group, THE PROJECT CLUB, working on songs, not grooves, which will be laid over a House beat, the aforementioned Wild Nation, and yet another outfit, STRABE, who will be concentrating on Balearic Beats.
As a club DJ at Spectrum, he is attempting to play live music at the same time as he is DJ’ing, by installing a drum machine and a keyboard into the DJ booth, and he’s also thinking about starting another club, which will be strictly Balearic and keeping the original Ibiza scene alive. Media or no media, nothing can stop him now.
“You can’t beat it,” he says of the scene that he first helped initiate. “You can see that from a year ago when we had 100 people going to Friday night thing. Now we have 1800 people on the worst night of the week trying to get into Spectrum. It’s unstoppable.”
No doubt about it, they’re having big fun tonight.
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