Crate digger, Disco Boogieman and my good friend Frank Booker is heading up from New Zealand for a short tour of Europe and the USA this month.
I have the pleasure of playing with him again at Autodisco on Sat Dec 5th and after last year’s legendary event we are looking forward to more love and mayhem on that dance floor!
This is what happened the last time Mr Booker graced the decks at Autodisco…and we definitely want more!!!
Frank and I caught up recently for a chat about all things Booker and life on the road.
And here’s a DJ mix he put together to promote the tour which you can listen to while having a wee read. Enjoy!
DT: New Zealand is a long way from Europe. When you come to play here how does it differ from playing back home?
FB: Yes it’s a long haul that’s for sure! I guess the main difference is there is not too much of a ‘Disco’ scene (for want of a better word!) at the moment in Auckland. So often I’m playing relatively low-key gigs and usually quite long sets (4-5 hours) which gives you a bit of time to stretch out. The Europe gigs are usually only a couple of hours and it’s peaktime which changes the approach a bit. But ultimately the idea is the same…Play some soulful music, make people dance and make sure I enjoy myself in the process!
DT: Now much has been said about your long term friendship with Recloose. How did you guys meet and what is the best thing you have done together musically speaking?
FB: We first met in late 2001. Matt (Recloose) was moving to New Zealand to be with his then partner. Myself and a friend (who I was promoting events with at the time) where the first people to book Matt in Auckland, and we became friends fast. I got him back to DJ in Auckland many more times, and also went to DJ with him occasionally in Wellington too.
Matt relocated to Auckland around 2008 and that was the beginning of us working together a lot more. The Hit It & Quit It (our radio show) began around 2008 and ran until 2013 (as a weekly show), and more recently has been resurrected in NYC where Matt is living now, on East Village Radio.
In terms of the best thing we did together? It’s a tough call but we threw a series of Hit It & Quit It parties around 2010/2011 and the one with Moodymann as a guest (his only ever NZ appearance) was quite legendary.
DT: You have a reputation as a proper DJ’s DJ. When you DJ what do you think is unique or distinctive about the way you approach it? And what one piece of advice would you give to young DJs starting out?
FB: Well, firstly thanks! I guess it’s quite hard to be objective and stand back and look at what it is you do, especially when every gig is going to be markedly different, depending on the environment and so on. Having said that, I guess my main objective whenever I play is to get across a range of influences that have a common thread which is Soul. For instance I take great pride in being able to play Disco to a more ‘House’ crowd, or vice versa. Most of all I want to walk away and feel like I gave it a good go, and wasn’t just going through the motions!
Advice for youngsters? Well, this is something I think about a lot (My day job is running the DJ & Electronic Music Production programme at the Music & Audio Institute of New Zealand!). I think the main thing is, whatever you are into, find your own voice, and find a unique way to put things together that is your very own.
With the advent of ‘sync’ technology within digital DJing being able to mix (seamlessly) is a piece of cake now, so knowledge (and deep crates!) is power. At the end of the day I’d rather hear a DJ who can’t mix a drink but has amazing music, rather than someone who doesn’t drop a beat but is playing some boring shit!
DT: When you first walk into a club and see the crowd, what is it that makes you feel that this one is going to be special?
FB: Tough question! I’m terrible at guessing things like this, but sometimes there is some kind of magic in the air and you just know it’s going to be something special. That and a wide variety of crowd – has to be a roughly even mixture of girls & guys (or more girls!) and wide range of ages to make things really pop. Sometimes you just get a feeling that things are going to be cool – I had that feeling at Auto Disco last year for example even when no one was at the venue.
DT: What places have you most enjoyed playing over the last few years?
FB: There’s a few that spring to mind. Auto Disco in Dundee at The Reading Rooms last year was unbelievable – amazing scenes! Queen & Disco in Derry (also last year had amazing vibes. I also had a great time playing at Splendour in the grass (a big Australian outdoor festival) earlier this year, which was interesting as I feel that my music is more suited to nightclubs, as opposed to festivals, but I had the closing slot on the RBMA stage and it just worked perfectly.
DT: What is the most valued piece of DJ equipment you carry in your bag when on tour? Is it really your disco towel???
FB: Absolutely, it’s the disco towel. Equal part refreshment, brow mopping, and excitement enhancer – whip it into a frenzy!
DT: Your new label is called Down In The Basement. So what actually happens Down In The Basement???
FB: Well, there is a basement at my house, but it’s currently just storage (and LOTS of records!). It will (god willing!) be transformed into a DJ/studio cave in the near future – my newborn needs my current studio room very soon!
DT: What single person or place influenced you most in terns of DJing and the music you play.
FB: Manuel Bundy (a legendary Auckland DJ). He’s very much the godfather of NZ DJing. He was the first DJ I witnessed playing across the board with an amazing attention to detail, and that constant thread to his music and what he was playing – whether it was Hip Hop, Soul, House, Funk etc. He’s one of those rare DJs who could take the same bag of records and make it sound better than the next person. There’s a great story about him doing warm up sets for visiting International DJs here, and the headliners being too scared to go on after him! A Don.
DT: What 5 tracks are always in your record bag at the moment Professor Booker?
FB: Ok here we go…
Black “Keep It Fit”[Outerzona13]
I believe that it’s Tiago that is behind this series of edits (although I could be misinformed?!), and I’m surprised that they’ve flown under the radar a bit from what I can see. This is exactly what I love in an edit – tight arrangement, maximum impact and a whole lotta soul. There is another 12″ on this label (Outerzona13) with an amazing edit of Skye “Ain’t No Need” which is a required purchase too. Hot, hot, hot!
Flying Machines (Native-Twice) “Basstrain” [Blend It!]
Another label I’ve been enjoying for a long while that doesn’t seem to get a huge amount of press: Blend It! out of Italy. They are part of the Sounds Familiar family (Volcov et al) and have quietly released some of my favourite records (DJ weapons!) in the last couple of years. ‘Basstrain’ is peaktime disco, serious bassline and a bit of an afro vibe with the horns. Always works!
Julien Dyne “Various Edits – DITB 02” [Down In The Basement]
I’m really happy with what Julien delivered for this 12″ for Down In The Basemen. And it’s his first edit record! It perfectly sums up his vibe – a unique cut’n’paste production approach that has hallmarks of people like the Idjuts, and also has a very crate digger aesthetic to it as well – and the sound is instantly recognisable as his own. I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do. A versatile 12″ for the eclectic DJ!
Dan Shake “Northern Merry” [Shake 02]
I first checked Dan’s music when he did his ‘3am Jazz Club’ release on Mahogani. He’s been a supporter of some of my edits, and we’ve kept in touch, sending each other music. This is a forthcoming release on his own Shake imprint, and it’s so hot it’s dangerous: A change of tempo from at the beginning from downtempo chop up soul to disco meets house. Clever use of samples, programming and some deft effects in the mix. A weapon!
Max B “Super Bwana” [Movieplay]
Ok, so it’s time to get serious: I don’t know too much about Mr Max B, but this record came out in 1978 on a Spanish label (Movieplay), and the back cover sees Max relaxing with a bevy of lovely ladies. This cut (which also came on a edited 7″ version, but I’m playing the LP cut) features Max chanting about his “super bwana” over the top of some joyous jazzy disco. Very uptempo & frenetic. A great 2am record: One for the dancers!
DT: so now down to the nitty gritty…gin & tonic or rum & ginger?
FB: G&T I love but it makes a bit moody! So, I’ll go for the rum and ginger. But really, whiskey is best of all!
Massive thanks to Frank Booker for the chat and don’t forget to catch him on his tour if you can. And also check out his wonderful DJ mixes on line and the essential releases on his new imprint Down In The Basement!