Sim Hutchins comes through with a requiem to his formative years on latest release Clubeighteen2thirty. Swathed in his singular, hazy textures he remembers the tropes and traditions of raving, from dizzy, tasteless, euphoric highs, the thrill of exploration, crowd unity, rebellion, as well as some sadder losses suffered along the way. Acutely aware of how subjective memory can be, the tracks drift along in almost diametric opposition to the reality of the sounds common between 1995-2005, albeit with a couple of simple nods and motifs, the effect being someone discussing, or reminiscing, about past period of life. For us he’s assembled an interesting take on the usual YouTube playlist, drawing together videos of news events, live recordings and radio shows from around the period he references, these snapshots acting to add depth to the upcoming release on Local Action.
“Clubeighteen2thirty is a record that remembers things fondly, but also unrealistically. On this album I really tried to channel my thoughts and feelings on my ravings days, across many years (I’m in my early 30s), genres/moods/grooves. There’s the spirit of crowd unity juxtaposed with the feeling of raving alone – the blessing and curse of growing up in a small town 30-odd miles from London – along with the collateral damage of friends lost to car accidents and drug abuse. It is though, in all effect a FUN record, and I had a lot of fun making it. Rather than go into the tracks that influenced the album, or stuff I was listening to as a teen, I’ve instead provided a playlist of YouTube videos mined from the depths of low-bitrate childhood memories via the hi-dry fidelity of recent years (braincells spent notwithstanding).” – Sim Hutchins.
Steve Jackson on Kiss FM
Quite possibly the fondest memories I have of radio were from very early pre-teen years driving around London in the wee hours with my dad and my brother listening to Kiss FM. Steve Jackson’s breakfast show featured an ever revolving playlist of the hottest underground dance stuff – a far cry from the playlisted stuff they peddle today – along with station staples such as Origin Unknown’s ’31 Seconds’ (imagine hearing this age 6?) and Mr Vegas’ ‘Heads High’ (my first introduction to dancehall music). The amount of tunes they broke were unreal, I remember buying Armand Van Helden’s ‘You Don’t Know Me’ the same day I heard it on there, and proceeding to let it soundtrack my early onset teen angst. The antics of show guest ‘Streetboy’ (a UK garage DJ turned radio prankster) provided a level of immaturity that appealed to both my dad, my bro and my snot-nosed self.
The Charlie Wilde Controversy
Colorado turned temporary UK visa holder DJ Charlie Wilde was brought in to replace Steve Jackson at some point in the ’90s, and quite soon became one of the worst things to happen to morning radio. His debut appearance, which I will applaud him for here due to the sheer audacity of the situation, featured 3+ hour looped playback of [Tone] Loc’s ‘Wild Thing’, to the sheer utter frustration of everyone listening. This included my paper-thin-tempered father who uttered a string of expletives each time he optimistically shifted the dial back in blind optimistic hope the relentlessness had surpassed. He was deported a year and a half later, much to the delight of listeners. As an illegal-turned-legal station Dumped by Pirate Radio seems an apt selection here.
The Death of Leah Betts
Somehow you meet a lot of people when you’re from a small town. I think it’s the banding together of disparate minds, the travelling to-and-from, and the offers of after-club shelter as a much-taken-up-on alternative to waiting for (and bunking) the first train home. Getting to know a lot of young people also means you’ll lose a lot of them to the particulars that affect the mortality rate of this demographic. Clubighteen2thirty meditates a lot on passing of ravings pals, some through car accidents, others suicide and in one case drug abuse. The first time I ever became aware of the “dangers” of drugs, and being only 10 years old when it happened, was the report that Essex teenager Leah Betts had died from taking just a small quantity of MDMA at her 18th birthday party in 1995. Blanket media coverage went on to scare the willies out of youth culture, and to try (in my opinion) to force them out of the hedonism of the clubs, and back into the conservatism of the pubs. None of this stopped me from doing the same exact thing on my 18th though, I got right on one mate. RIP tho.
The Essex Boys Murders
News of The Essex Boys, a crime gang involved in a host of spurious activity in the new towns of the county of the Three Swords came into the public eye as news of their murder – they were all three shot dead in a Range Rover down a quiet country road – made all the papers, and went on to influence book and film writers both in fact and fiction thereafter. The seemingly strange link in this old documentary is their running of the door to Raquel’s nightclub in Basildon, a renowned rave venue, and the emergence of their blame in the prominent ecstasy death of Leah Betts in 1995 (a friend of Leah purchased the ecstasy they took there). I’m jealous of Bernard O’Mahoney ‘Dance Nation Security’ jacket tbh, as my mum once unknowingly threw a bomber jacket of mine away I was hoarding as I would ‘clearly never grow into it’ (she was right). I wear a medium if anyone wants to clear out their wardrobe.
Stevie hyper D Memorial Rave
For anyone that doesn’t know SE1 was a huge club under some railway arches in London and close to London Bridge. It was also the spiritual home of large-scale 2-3 arena DnB raves. Quite possibly one of the most horrendous pre-club experiences for me in the early 2000s (aside from once losing a wallet with 8 people’s ticket money in) was the 2+ hour queue to get in, a writhing mass of tutting and impatient sounds – very British you understand – soundtracked by screeching cars and the faint sounds of jump up coming through the brick passage walls. Once we got inside we were there in time to see the mother of Stevie Hyper D (one of the most highly respected masters of ceremony to grace these shores) yell his trademark classic bars “JUNGLISTS ARE YOU RE-EAD-YYYYYYY!!!!” to a packed dancefloor. Unforgettable.
Romeo So Solid Crew, Wiley, Pay As U Go, HLC, Major Ace and Maxwell D Live at Alexander Palace 2002
In 2002 I was still in secondary school and probably on a hard diet of metal music, and also probably being referred to as what was affectionately known as (and usually shouted out of a fast moving Ford Escort XR3i) a “greebo”. Gucci belts, Versace bags and Moschino bras were a world away from the baggy jeans and band t-shirts I adorned whilst standing in a damp alleyway palming a zoot for someone who’s hair was jelled to the point of facilitating early onset baldness in the poor fucker’s 20s, but this video I only saw a few years ago when my oldest and dearest mate (who put up with being seen with me at this awkward phase, to his absolute credit) played it to a bunch of us at an afters some 5 or 6 years ago. The UK garage revival around the early 2010s was big for me, I raved again to tracks I remember bellowing out of flat windows in the summer, or from the cars that hurled aforementioned insults. ‘Baby You’a Drug’ is a direct referenced to the duality of these moments (brylcreem optional).
Area 51 @ Rickling
Quite possibly one of the most life-changing moments for me was taking up an offer of a car space to an Essex warehouse party at age 16. Contrary to the crowd whistles and airhorns, the music was largely terrible, but it opened my eyes to the underground rave scene that had literally been under my nose the whole time. I started to frequent the venue, which was a farm owned by an eccentric hippy, eventually blagging sets playing DnB/jungle (which I talk about here) and later gabber/breakcore and hardore. People would just turn up every weekend, make their way round the side of the corrugated iron warehouse and hope that the “doof doof doof doof” sound they could hear was a teenage techno DJ over a soundsystem, and not the noise from an ageing farmer hitting nails into metallic side panels in an attempt of minor late-night repair. This video is from a crew called Area 51 who used to (still do?) put on some of the best nights. Little did I know that airhorn would sound the leitmotif for own dance music ecstasy romance period 2.
Clubeighteen2thirty is out now on Local Action in digital and limited cassette format – buy it here.