Interview: Disko Stew
Ahead of Disko Stew’s 1st birthday, Dominic Freeman caught up with Fred and Marrick, two of the organisers/DJs.
When and how did Disko Stew start?
F: Disko Stew started around February 2011, in the Hyde Park Social Club after we’d been talking about how we loved collecting records and shared a similar taste in music. Then we sent some emails to various clubs and bars and Hi-Fi were the only ones who replied. They hooked us up with Stewart and Joss, who were running Raised by Wolves. We quickly realised we were all geekily into collecting records so it seemed obvious to make that the concept of the night.
How long have you been collecting records for now and have you always been into disco?
F: Much longer than I’ve been DJing, probably about six/seven years, but only serious collecting for around two or three years. I was always into soul music and then when I got to university I started getting into funk and disco, however its only been over the last year or so that I’ve really got into house and electronic stuff.
M: I’ve been into jazz for a long time and I always used to just trawl around charity shops, because they would have all these amazing jazz records that people had just chucked out. I’d also find the odd Motown record, which was nice, although usually in crap condition. Also some James Brown, loads of soul and blues, as my dad was really into blues. I DJ’d a few times back home with a laptop at some indie night, but when I got to university I really started getting into funk, disco and also hip-hop.
F: African stuff as well, afro-beat, latin…
M: It’s just black music, we wanted to do a night where you say house to someone and it means Theo Parrish or Moodymann. You say house to someone else and it means the most piss-poor new tech house tune on Hype Machine or whatever. We say disco, soul, funk and house, but we’ll also play afro-beat and all this kind of stuff because we just want to have a party and for people to dance and if you start confining yourself to these things it gets a bit samey.
Do you have any particular records that you use to surprise your audience?
F: For me it would have to be Don Blackman. He played keys for P-Funk, and I bought this record because on the cover it was just his face and his hair was braided with shells in it, and it just said ‘BLACKMAN’ on it, and I just thought this looks interesting so I put it on and it was some of the most outrageous funk I’d ever heard. It’s a bit far out, with like time signature changes every other bar, it’s like prog-funk, seriously over the top, but I enjoy putting it on because you look out and you can see the heads who are rating it and then there are the people who don’t notice, and then there are people who are looking around thinking ‘what the fuck is this?!’
M: I’ve got a few, there’s a Rodney Frankfurt record called ‘The Groove’, which I bought for a pound in a charity shop, which is pretty jazzy, but it’s really nice, it’s just instrumental. Even stuff like the new Robert Glasper album because it mixes like neo-soul, jazz, hip-hop and all these other things but just flows really nicely. I think I’d like to play some really mad jazz at some point, but we’ll see.
So you’ve got your first birthday on Thursday, and you’ve invited Suohno over to play, what can we expect from him?
M: Not a lot of people know him but he’s so good.
F: I reckon there’s probably about 10 people in Leeds that have heard of him. His edits are very strong, there’s one called ‘Suohno in Brazil’ which is really good. He does loads and they’re not just boring edits with a four four kick, he really chops them up and creates something new. We spoke to a few people but when we spoke to him he was like ‘I’m gonna bring over my 20kg bag of vinyl and I’m going to smack it on that floor’. We’ve heard his mixes and he just plays everything, which is perfect for our vibe. We kind of prefer the fact that no one’s heard of him as it’s just so easy to put on a night and just book a name, but by doing this, we’re helping him with his career as this is his UK debut
Catch Suohno and the Disko Stew boys this Thursday 11th October at Hi-Fi. Tickets £4
words: Dominic Freeman