Back in 1995, I was at home listening to the radio, and heard something that would change my life forever. Annie Nightingale, who was as centred in the dance music industry back then as she still is now was hosting a duo from UK who were about to come and play a two hour set for her in the early hours of the morning. Their name: The Dust Brothers, and the set still gets regular airtime from me, as it was truly epic, and formed the basis for my revision background music for the next three years of Exams in school. They had to drop the name Dust Brothers due to a dispute with some American DJs who already had that name, and you will all now know them as Tom and Ed, the Chemical Brothers, who from that moment until now have remained the single biggest dance music influence that has ever affected me. They are the main reason I began to DJ at university, and are the main catalyst for me branching off from the Rock and Metal I used to listen to almost exclusively beforehand.
When I left home in 1997 it was to a small bedsit in Gloucester and I moved in there the same week that I bought Dig Your Own Hole, the Chem’s second album. I had sex with my girlfriend for the first time to that album. I took speed, acid and extasy all for the first time whilst listening to the Chemical Brothers, and I also remember them as the best thing I had ever seen once I returned from Glastonbury that year at the age of sixteen. In short, they are responsible for a huge bulk of what makes my music taste what it is.
Fast forward another sixteen years, and it is another set from the Chemical Brothers that ignites the spark of creativity within me and has driven me to spend hours upon hours this week preparing to play out again in Moshi tonight. I’m not going to be taking the world on single handed, but I am going to take a stand for what I believe in, and I am going to play some damn fine music tonight. Followers of my blog will know that I have indeed tried this before, on more than one occasion, and it has always ended up further south than I’d care to admit. There are reasons for this, ranging from what the hell was I thinking to what on earth is wrong with these people, but needless to say I have not given up. What the Chemical Brothers did for me this week was prove that pushing boundaries and not containing yourself to the genre or scene that you think you’re part of is the key to real musical success, and if they had listened to everyone who was telling them that their particular brand of “living room dance music” was to amount to nothing, would have either given up or sold out and become much more commercial in their approach. But they didn’t listen to that, and over the 18 years of them playing music live and recording ever-evolving albums of dance and techno have created an almost entirely new genre all for themselves. Along with other bands like the Prodigy (well Liam Howlett to be precise), Gorillaz, Freestylers, Future Sound of London, Leftfield, the Brothers’ have allowed me to genuinely feel like music has a strong and complicated bond with the soul. The sounds we hear, and the songs we sing all give us our own identity, and through sharing this knowledge with others, we are only broadening all of our horizons to open up new opportunities and new ideas that we may become better people as a result. Music is the one thing that binds people across the globe and gives us a common language we can all speak together through thick and thin, no matter what your background or upbringing.
So tonight, I am taking a step backwards in time, I’m going to reintroduce some of the things that have shaped my musical outlook on life, and I’m hoping that there are people out there who want to learn more about all of this, and perhaps together we can begin to shape the future the way we all want it to be. The bar I’m playing at is called “Pamoja Tunaweza”, which in English means “together we can”; an omen for how it will turn out or just a mad coincidence, that is left to be seen, but rest assured that come 8pm tonight, our journey begins, and its one that will take us out to space, to the centre of the universe and back inside our own hearts and minds all within the space of a few hours. I hope you all enjoy it.