Where some DJs conceal the identity their prized records like closely guarded secrets, Sam Hall would much rather share his with the world. With a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of house, techno and disco, he does this in various ways: it may be from be behind the counter of Idle Hands, handing over the record you really want, not that glorified coaster you picked out from the racks; it could be via the weekly ‘Bin Digging’ series he curates for Stamp The Wax; it might even be in a number of music-focused Facebook groups he frequents.
When Dimensions Festival announced the first wave of inductees to their DJ Directory – a project seeking “to shine a spotlight on some of the best unsigned yet burgeoning DJ talent” – it was no surprise to see Hall among the names. While unafraid to explore the more peculiar fringes of dance music, he’s typically found reaching for records released by esteemed purveyors of house and techno like Nu Groove, Peacefrog and Italian imprint, UMM. The latter is particularly relevant today as the Bristol-based DJ helps to inaugurate our new conceptual mix series with a distinctly Italian blend.
Sam Hall plays Dimensions Festival (30th August – 3rd September) at Fort Punta Christo, Croatia.
What can you tell us about the mix?
I wasn’t actually intending to record a mix at first. I was messing around with a few records and then got into a vibe and decided to continue. It’s all just on the fly picking records that I thought fitted a theme. I’ll leave you guys to work out what that is. It’s done in one take so there are a few dodgy transitions here and there but I like how the whole thing sounded and that it came naturally.
When did you first acquire a taste for Italian grooves?
I’ve always been into the sounds that came out of Italy from the late ‘80s Italo to the early ‘90s deep house sound. I find Italian deep house to be some of the most emotive house music out there, which I hope, comes across in this mix.
How did you generally find the records heard in the mix?
Either through records I’ve picked up at my local digging spots or through hours of trawling through Discogs.
What are your favourite places to dig for records?
There are many second hand shops in Bristol and I like to hit them all up on a regular basis however I love going to different cities and checking out their local spots too. You can find records at your local car boot sale so get out there and have a dig. I saw recently online a guy scored a huge jungle collection at his local car boot which would be worth hundreds if not thousands so you just have to be in the right place at the right time and make the effort.
The first record you ever bought?
I’d love to say it was some rare Funk record from the ’80s but it was actually Nightcrawlers, ‘Push The feeling On’. I played it out on New Year and it still sounded like the ultimate party track.
Remastered reissue or OG release, blemishes and all?
For me I love having the original as it’s amazing to see a record that’s 20, 30 or even 40 years old still getting people moving on the dance floor. I love the history behind having an original copy however I am partial to a reissue if the original is unattainable due to Discogs sharks or how rare it is. Reissues are also great for people who didn’t get the chance to buy the record the first time around and they can some times improve on the sound with the tracks being remastered. It’s also great to have reissues of records on labels such as TRAX as the original pressings sounded terrible and were pressed on wafer thin vinyl that is pretty impossible to cue or maneuver at times.
You have been curating the ‘Bin Digging’ feature for Stamp The Wax. Is there a technique or any advice you could give to people about how to find a great bargain?
There’s no technique at all in my opinion. It’s just about getting out there and giving yourself an afternoon to go around charity shops, second hands shops etc to find some bargains. Some days you walk away with nothing but some times there’s some real gems to be found. You just have to be consistent with checking your local spots and getting there before the other people do.
Do you ever feel the pressure to find enough £1 finds in order to maintain the feature?
If I’m honest I’ve never felt any pressure at all due to the amount of records I own. I’ve been digging and buying records for as long as I can remember so I’ve always got a bargain bin find in my collection which I can use for the next instalment.
Have you served any particularly colourful characters during your time working at Idle Hands?
As our old shop was in the hustle and bustle of Stokes Croft in Bristol and our new shop is just behind on City Road there is always some entertaining people around who like to come in just to listen to the music on the shop’s system or to just have a general chit chat. One of the most infamous characters is Mad Mike 666. If you’re a regular in the shop you probably have experienced his personality on many an occasion. He’s a bald Irish guy who hates all the music we sell and is known to create speedcore and gabba mixed with black Sabbath and other death metal. It’s very interesting stuff to say the least. We had an Idle Hands party with the Workshop crew and we’re hanging out at the shop the next day. Mike came in and proceeded to play his Black Sabbath mixed with bassline on the shops system to the dismay/ joy of Kassem Mosse, Lowtec, Resom and Even Tuell. They didn’t really know what the fuck was going on but it was a surreal and hilarious moment to look back on.
Bristol has enjoyed a healthy scene as long as we can remember. What would you recommend to anyone new to the city?
Make sure you come and check out Idle Hands record shop. I work there on the weekends but we are open seven days a week so come and give us a visit and listen to some great music from house to hip hop, soul to garage, drum & bass to reggae, we have covered most bases with a top selection so there’s plenty for everyone to get stuck into.
If you’re into drum machines, modular and synths then make sure you head to Elevator Sound which is where our old record shop used to be. It’s owned by Marco Bernadi and there are some incredible machines for you to play around on and staff who know exactly what they’re talking about.
And finally, what’s next on the agenda?
I’ve got lots of gigs in different cities across the UK, which I’m really excited about. Having played in Bristol for so long it’s nice to start moving around the UK and getting a taste of what different cities have to offer. I’ve been lucky enough to be selected to join the Dimensions Festival DJ Directory which means I’ll be playing at the festival in Croatia along with other up and coming DJs from around the world which will be an amazing experience. Finally, I’m in the process of starting up my own label but that’s all in the pipeline so I’m keeping that to myself for now.