DJ Food: A Dish Best Served Cold
April 13, 2007, 11:57 am
Filed under: DJ Mix, Electro, Hardcore, Interview, MP3

Right, that’s the obligatory food pun out the way. Last weekend I was supposed to interview Strictly Kev aka DJ Food for Le Cool, sadly the night before I was DJ’ing at 5am at an acid techno party and slightly over enjoyed myself. The end result, I was forced to spend the next day under a duvet with just Battlestar Gallactica for company whilst my creaking body recovered.

Our rescheduled interview was then sabotaged by Kev’s kids and with my deadline looming we opted for a simple email q & a. So in the end it didn’t turn out to be the Pulitzer prize winning piece I’d originally envisioned. Saying that a few people have seemed to enjoy it, so maybe we didn’t do too bad after all and once our bold DJ returns from his world tour I’ve vowed to do a more in-depth follow up.

Anyway the original version of this appeared in the London edition of Le Cool, but is reprinted here for posterity. If you don’t already have the new Solid Steel CD ‘Now Listen, Again’, hunt it down, it’s brilliant.

As a extra bonus I’ve uploaded a mix Kev did a few years ago (2003 i think) when he came and played at one of our first ever clubnights, Spectrum. He’d agreed to play on the condition that he could dig out all his old rave records and who were we to disagree! One of the best nights we’ve done there must have been about 120 people crammed into the little sweatbox that was the Asylum (capacity roughly 10) going mental to this and it still brings a smile to my face.

Download: Strictly Kev – Spectrum Hardcore Mix

12.04.07 –

It’s easy to get blasé about DJs, after all in London it’s rare to ever find yourself more than six foot away from one of the buggers, and when it comes down to it, playing other people’s records is hardly rocket science. Still for all that there are a few out there that it’s always worth paying attention to, people like DJ Food, a vital cog in the Ninja Tune machine and one of the few DJs it’s truly worth leaving the house for. A hand in several mixes that those in the know use words like ‘seminal’ to describe, he’s just released with longstanding DJ partner DK, ‘Now Listen, Again’, a joyously upbeat mix of everything from the Human League to Missy Elliot via Ram Jam and Primal Scream.

You’ve been a DJ for 20 years now, do you still get as excited by new bands and music as you used to?

I actually get more excited by old music that is new to me at the moment, so many releases on labels like Trunk and Finders Keepers are so much more inventive than 90% of what I hear that’s current. I do love the Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip record out on Lex though, much like (LCD Soundsystem’s) ‘Losing My Edge’ it hits the nail on the head from where I’m currently standing.

You finally made the switch from vinyl to Serato (a way of playing MP3s but still using turntables) last year and ‘Now Listen, Again’ was recorded using it, how did this affect the mix?

It affected the mix in that we could custom tailor a lot of tracks to sound exactly as we wanted them to with it and then mix it as if we had all these records exactly as they sound on the mix. They could be re-edited, re-EQ’d, even rearranged in some cases so that they all sat perfectly together. This comes into it’s own when we do the live sets because anyone can do this stuff in a studio but when it comes to handling physical records you would only have the originals to work with, not the studio versions.

Unlike many leftfield DJs you’re not afraid to drop a fair bit of pop into your sets, what’s the least ‘cool’ record which still makes it into your record box?

I seem to get divided opinions whenever Britney, Christina or Nelly Furtado records are played, especially the last one. People only seem to hear the vocalist not the production, the fact that they’ve all been produced by The Neptunes, Timbaland or DJ Premier seems lost on them. They also have this mental barrier that mean ‘Ninja Tune’ = ‘this’ and ‘this’ doesn’t include any of the above. I’ve had several Chas n Dave records ready for the end of the night and just not found the right atmosphere to drop them. I know they’ll go down a storm at the right moment but it’s just not happened yet.

You’re about to set off on a world tour, where are you looking forward to playing?

Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are always good. Tel Aviv recently was incredible as was Moscow.

Is there anything you’ll miss about London when you’re away?

My kids, the tea and the sanctuary of my studio.

When you’re in London where do you go to find your more offbeat records?

I still love the record exchanges in Notting Hill despite the terrible service and prices paid for records. I really like going in and not knowing what you’ll find and at what price, a day spent digging around in there is a day well spent in my book. The best used record stores though are in south London, secret basements full of rare library records and jumble sales where widows are offloading whole collections of their husband’s Vertigo records.

A couple of years ago you re-scored Head (the 60’s psychedelic film), it now seems like every other DJ is redo’ing one film or another. which other re-scores have impressed you? Any more you’d like to do?

Mr Hopkinson from Bristol has done several which are good and Ollie Teeba’s ‘Lost World’ was very good. I want to do a compilation of Terry Gilliam animations and ultimately would like to have a crack at doing some visual stuff myself although a film is a bit much to aim for maybe.

As well as your musical duties, you’ve been pretty busy over the years as a graphic designer and artist and have been responsible for most of the Ninja Tune album covers, what has been your personal favourite?

Amon Tobin’s ‘Out From Out Where’ is pretty nice if I say so myself, also his ‘Remixes and Collaborations’ EPs, Funki Porcini’s ‘Fast Asleep’, Cinematic Orchestra’s ‘Man With The Movie Camera’ and I’m pretty pleased with the new ‘Now, Listen Again’ mix CD artwork too.

You’ve also designed a Ninja Tune toy for Rolito and took part in the ‘Tag The System Train’ exhibition. Anything else in this vein coming up, can we expect a range of posable DJ Food action figures?

Definitely not, although a DK ‘ken’ type companion to Barbie would be funny. I may do another design for Rolito as he has another very nice toy in production now. He kind of disappeared for a while off the map but reappeared last month and sent me a long promised box of toys, so who knows.

Any plans for a book of your design work or a retrospective exhibition?

I hope so, I’m constantly archiving work for such a thing. I’m thinking of self-publishing various volumes as digital books in the future with the aim of then getting physical versions made if a publisher is interested. I think a retrospective is a way off, hopefully I’ve got a lot more years of creative work ahead. Retrospective to me implies that the artist has done their best work and is looking back over past glories and I’m still very much looking forward.

Speaking of toys you have recently become a father, there seems to be an dodgy tradition of good producers having kids and then releasing bad albums of sentimental mush. Can we expect DJ Baby Food or have you resisted the temptation?

I made a pact never to record the sound of my children saying something and then feature it on a record but I do wish I’d recorded the sounds they made in the first few months after they were born as they sound like alien birds whistling and chirping at night in their sleep. I’m certainly not going to make a ‘music for babies’ type album if that’s what you mean.

What can we expect from the next album then? On the last DJ Food album (2000’s Kaleidoscope) you collaborated with the legendary 60s Word Jazz Poet Ken Nordine, who would you still love to work with?

Terry Gilliam doing an animated promo would be nice, there are several producers and remixers I should be collaborating with on the next record at different stages that have been lifelong favourites but I don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet.

And will we finally get a new Food album this year?

Not if the touring schedule and the kids can help it but soon…

Solid Steel presents DJ Food & DK – Now, Listen Again! is out now on Ninja Tune


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Sincerly I didn’t heard about dj food but now I’m very interested and I will visit the site to inform.

Comment by k0rtezo

Slightly off topic maybe, but a request for you to consider the ethics of purchasing items like designer clothes. Do try and think about, for example, the materials your product is made with, the conditions of the employees where they’re manufactured and the green credentials of retailers. And endeavour to share rather than throwing away. Thanks!!!!

Comment by Fred Perry

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