Vinyl Junkie Interviews - Skeme of DSKF
So... With the eagerly anticipated repress of DSKF's New Science EP now available, a record that some have called the 'holy grail' of oldskool hardcore vinyl, I caught up with one of the people responsible for its inception and creation; Nick Curson aka DJ Skeme.
Hi Mate. How’s your week going so far?
It’s going good thanks. Weather is sunny which always helps. Work is busy as usual, everything is bright!
So let's start at the beginning… What is your earliest musical memory?
My brothers used to DJ in pubs and do weddings in the 70’s when I was 7/8 and I remember the music of the 70’s was a good mixture of Soul, Blues, Rock & Pop. Earth Wind & Fire albums / ELO Out of the Blue / T-Rex, The Beatles & The Rolling Stones. So diverse and great. The Jacksons, Rolls Royce, Motown, so many great memories.
What was the first record you ever bought and how old were you?
The first record I remember buying from Woolworths was Airport by the Motors in 1978 I must have been 7 years old, I also remember buying the tape version of the Beatles Seargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, this is my favourite album along with Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield.
So just to clarify, you are SKEME who was 1 of the 4 members in DSKF (Doctor, Skeme, Kick & Froggy)? Tell us a bit about yourself… and your musical activities prior to DSKF ? Where did you used to spin back then?
Yes. I was known as DJ Skeme at the time and got the 4 of us together. I knew Froggy as he was a friend who provided the sound system with my other friend Paul Plant for a Club Night I promoted on 1991 called Nucleus In Bow East London. I met The Doctor (Not Roger the Doctor) and DJ Kick at my club night and I always wanted to make tunes at the time and had many ideas, so I got us all together and we booked studio time at Suburban Base Studios in Romford.
Prior to DSKF, I had DJ’d Rave parties, Pubs in and around London that had caught onto the Rave Vibe and then I started Nucleus. I was friends with DJ Hype, DJ Krome, DJ Seduction, DJ Randall, Jeff B and Lee Firth AKA DJ Amadeus and I was also friends with Froggy and Paul Plant, who had the best Sound System around. I remember every time it was set up in the Sunny Isles Night Club I used, they had to take the doors off to get the system in!
I knew DJ Hype, through my friend Yann as I used to tag along when he drove Hype around the country when he was playing 3 or 4 places every Friday/Saturday and so Hype was the headliner for Nucleus.
Were you a raver as well as a DJ? Tell us your first experience of “Rave Music” and what was your first rave?
I was a Raver, it all started for me in 88 in Ibiza and then I came back hooked and went to all the major Sunrise, Energy, Back to The Future, Biology and other smaller raves. Amazing times, not sure those vibes will ever be re-lived.
Please tell us a bit about the other members of DSKF ?
Froggy was a really big name on the Soul Scene in London in the 70's 80's & 90's and some say he was the first DJ in the UK to use 2 Technics turntables to mix records together. He even had his own prototype mixer built with a crossfader (when mixers didn't have crossfaders). For more info on DJ Froggy here is a really interesting article: http://soulpranos.co.uk/DJs/soulpranos-djs-f.html
As I mentioned I knew Froggy through his sound system. The Doctor & DJ Kick were 2 lads from Harlow who were regulars at my club night Nucleus. Doctor even played there a couple of times. Unfortunatley Froggy and Doctor are no longer with us and DJ Kick I have not heard from in years.
Austin engineered this EP correct? How did you get linked up with him and how was the experience of working with him?
I knew Austin through Boogie Times Records in Romford, I used to shop in there and knew Austin through his releases and the other artists on the Suburban Base Records he engineered for. Great guy and a top engineer, I don’t think the label would have had half the success it had without Austin behind it. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with someone with his talent. Hopefully, if things go well with the release, we can work on a Remix together?
How does it feel knowing what an underground anthem your record has become?
I remember when we pressed up the EP and I was with DJ Hype and my friend Yann back stage at Astoria when one of the DJ’s dropped it for the first time and seeing everyone there go mental, it sounded amazing on that sound system. It seemed everywhere I heard it, everyone really felt it, when you make a track and when it’s finally finished you have heard it 100’s of times, the buzz wears off slightly, it is not until you see people dancing to it for the first time that it really hits you. I think one night, in various clubs around the country when we were driving Hype I heard it 4 times in one night. It feels amazing the love people have for this track and EP and still have after all this time. Long may it continue and a younger generation love it too.
When did you first start learning to mix records and what inspired you to do so?
My family in the 70’s were DJ’s and I suppose I caught the bug, I remember making mix tapes with a double cassette recorder in the early 80’s mixing electro, early Rap and early House Music. I would cut bits of different tunes together to make one mix. I first got my hand on a pair of decks in a friends record shop in Elephant & Castle in 1987. I helped him in the shop one Saturday and that was it. They were Technics 1200’s. That was it, I couldn’t afford a pair of them so I bought 2 belt drive turn tables with pitch controls and a mixer and started mixing early house music in my bedroom. I finally got my first pair of technics 1210’s in 1989 and have owned a pair ever since.
What DJ’s have influenced you over the years and how has that influenced your DJing style
Froggy was a major influence before I ever met him, when I used to listen to JFM (Pete Tong also played on this station). When I started raving it was Frankie Bones, Paul Trouble Anderson, Fabio, Grooverider & Carl Cox. There are so many depending on the music types I have followed, two that really influenced my style were Sasha & John Digweed. They really set the bar high with Dave Seaman, Parks & Wilson, Danny Rampling & Colin Faver. Two DJ’s that I worked with who really influenced my style were Lee Firth aka DJ Amadeus (sadly, Lee passed last year) and Simon Overall. These guys, I witnessed firs- hand get 10 people up dancing from a room of 15. I think the other 5 were the door staff and bar staff!!! Those guys are true DJ’s, understanding it is all about the crowd.
When and where was your first gig and what are your memories of this night?
My first public gig was a house party some where in Essex, I cant remember whose. It was a bit daunting it was 1989 and I had a bag full of top tunes. It went really well until I finished one of the mixes and lifted the wrong needle! I don’t need to say any more, anyone who has DJ’s using decks knows what that feels like! I recovered it well with starting the tune from scratch having everyone think I did it on purpose !!!
Vinyl DJing Vs Digital DJing… What do you prefer and how do they differ?
Vinyl for me, I used to know my tunes by record cover, that’s why I never got on with CD’s. Loaded Software with a controller is fine and it better on the back, not having to carry heavy record boxes. Vinyl is more of a skill, no beat matching buttons and you know when the breaks in the tune will appear by looking at it.
There has been a massive resurgence in vinyl sales lately with loads of old classics being remastered and repressed. Is this a good thing and why? Discuss….
I think it is a good thing, nothing sounds better than a piece of vinyl. If there is a market for it, then its great news as long as people don’t use those cheap plastic USB turntables to play it on, you will never get the real warmth, that way!
How did your music production career develop after DSKF? Are you still producing today? If so What kinda music??
After we did the New Science EP, I always wanted to make more music, never really worried about the money, for me M was for Music. I didn’t really start creating stuff again till about 8 years ago, I did a small music production course in Brixton using Reason Music Software. I produced a 3 track EP under the name NPC Productions and uploaded it to Soundcloud. Tracks names 1.12 / Congo/ Tarantula. This was the start of me making music again.
More recently, with my music partner and engineer Vaughn Jones we have created another EP under the name Zero Effect. We uploaded these tracks to Sound Cloud. Track names Set me free / Take Me Higher/The Voice.
I now use Logic and have loads of material, that we are looking to release.
Who do you see as your early musical influences (from a production point of view) and who continues to inspire you today ?
Rhythm Is Rhythm, Frankie Bones, Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard (Mister Fingers), Kevin Saunderson, Masters at Work, Paul Okenfold, Sasha & Digweed. More recently I love Above & Beyond and anything on Anjuna Deep record label.
The sound of the early 90’ hardcore and jungle has come full circle with lots of young people, who were not even born first time round, adopting this sound, buying records and even producing music in this style… Its amazing… whats your thoughts on this and how is it going to effect the future of the scene?
Honestly, it is amazing. Although I haven’t really followed the scene for a long time, I remember when people were saying House Music in it’s many guises would never last and here we are talking about a re-release of my track created over 30 years ago. I am a house head and always will be, all forms. If it gives you pleasure and makes you dance, then DO IT !!
Tell us a crazy / random / funny story about something that has happened to you whilst out and about DJing
My club night Nucleus upstairs room, I am DJing with Jeff B and Amadeus, we are going through our tracks away from the decks, when some guy stands behind them and the mixer and starts pretending to mix. He doesn’t interrupt the music, just stands there and pretends as though he has the whole crowd in his hands. It was amazing to watch and the three of us and the rest of the dance floor just loved it. Great times.
Any final words??
I want to thank you John aka Vinyl Junkie for finding me and giving me the chance to re-release this track, it would not have been possible without you. If you didn’t get a chance to purchase the New Science Ep DSKF the first time round, here is your chance. I know what it is like waiting for so long for that piece of plastic.
I would like to dedicate this re-release of the New Science EP to the memory of my good friend Lee Firth aka DJ Amadeus. He was a massive part of my life in those days so big love to Lee. RIP Bro.
Stay True to your music scene whatever it is.
Nick Curson now DJ Nicky C and Zero FX