Belfast Sees Red

This weekend we present the first in a series of TNI Summer multi-venue parties and we couldn’t think of a better guest to help kick things off than the man behind the Summer anthem and aptly titled “Wonky Disco Bassline Banger” – Red Rack’em.

Firstly thanks for a track that’s served us so well of late! Sometimes house and disco records can be a touch polite so it’s great when people break that mould and offer up something that really jumps out. Can you tell us how the track came about, the general thinking behind it? 

I got back to my apartment in Berlin on a Monday night in 2014 after a massive weekend and I started making music basically as a way to remain sane and not think about anything. So I randomly recorded some records into my MacBook and wrote what I thought was a pretty hot disco house idea. I then skyped my friend Chrissy to show off to her how hot the beat was and forgot that my laptop battery doesn’t last long when I have logic on and skype. I had unplugged the power supply as the skype signal wasn’t good in my bedroom, One minute I am boasting about ‘how amazing I am at producing even though I haven’t slept for days’ etc.  Then suddenly the laptop battery died and I realised I hadn’t saved it once. Logic doesn’t autosave so it was all gone. I felt beyond awful. Imagine the combination of a heavy night out mixed with losing the best track you had ever written. I had to rewrite it from memory the next morning when I basically wanted to die. I got it pretty much the same apart from the notes on the wonky noise were SLIGHTLY better on the original version.

The general thinking behind Wonky Bassline is it’s just my skewed take on disco house. I can’t be bothered to make something which just ‘works’ – that’s easy and not exactly pushing things forward. I wanted to demonstrate that there’s a lot further to go with disco and house by juxstaposing other vibes into the mix. I wanted to make a track which everyone could play but subverted the norm and pushed people a bit more into a jazzy headspace. In the 80s & 90s dance music had much more real musicianship involved and wasn’t quantised soundalike stuff like most of today. I want to bring a bit of that feeling back.

It’s seen multiple plays on Radio One and featured in sets by the likes of the Black Madonna, any surprising supporters or places it’s popped up in to date?

On my artist page on facebook there’s loads of videos of it being played all over the world by some great DJs including Mr Scruff, MCDE, Horse Meat Disco and more. Whenever a friend of mine is at a festival and it’s played they send me videos and at first I was sharing them but in the end it was just too many (positive dilemma)! The most surprising but amazing support I heard about came when my friend Nick from Phonica told me he had sold one to Moodymann last week’. I was like ‘are you serious?’. Moodymann is one of my biggest musical heroes and influences, It was equvalent to hearing the Beatles had bought my record.

I have to say once again though many thanks to The Black Madonna for her long term support with the track. She was the first person to play it on Radio 1 back in March. She was being interviewed for Pete Tong’s Miami special and she chose it as her ‘track for the summer’. That really helped get the snowball rolling and she’s completely smashed it this year so I was really happy that she played it at some massive events including Movement in Detroit and Nuit Sonores in Lyon.  I am also grateful to everyone who’s bought a copy – it’s on the third repress now and sold thousands copies on vinyl – which is  good in this digital day and age!

We see you’ve clocked up some serious air miles on tour, where are your favourite places to play in the world and why?

I am really grateful to play anywhere there are nice people and a decent sound system. As long as people are into the music and there’s a good vibe then I am happy!

Mad Racket in Sydney is pretty special – I played there in 2011 and 2012 and it’s a real family affair. The crowd is very musicaly educated which means you can basically lose your shit behind the decks and they are right there with you. That’s actually how The Black Madonna first discovered Wonky as one of the Racket residents Simon Caldwell played it before she went on in March. Just one example of why it’s such an institution.

I also really enjoyed playing in Saigon for the first time in April at an ace club called The Observatory. The guy who runs it Dan Bi Mong is such a great host and I really felt at home playing there – I ended up playing for about 5 hours until the sun came up. The resident Nic Ford is amazing there too – such a good DJ. He also makes amazing music as one half of Maddermodes.

I have to also give props to Berlin too. I love playing at About Blank, Griessemuehle and Wilden Renate. I am friends with people who promote nights there and it means I can often get a really good set time. In January I played at Franklin De Costas night Mothers Finest in Griessemuehle and I played from 2-6am, That’s such a mega set time. It went pretty well so he’s booked me again for the same set time in Sep. I also played recently at the Futureboogie night in Renate and I played from 3-6am in the Green Room. It was probably the best set and response I have ever had in Berlin. Which is a great thing so say after living there for 5 years. Playing at those special times and with a good crowd isn’t so easy to get week in week out so it’s such a treat to get to do that less than 5 miles from my apartment.

As it’s your Belfast debut this weekend, what have you heard about the city? Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to?

Well I am 40 on Thursday so it’s going to be the second night of my birthday weekend. What an awesome way to celebrate a new decade! I am really looking forward to meeting the great people of Belfast. I have never been to Northern or Southern Ireland before so I am really excited to finally cross the water! I know you guys are really serious about your music and partying. I also know that The Night Institute is a quality night and you’ve brought many amazing DJs to Belfast so I am really happy to be following in some great footsteps. Lots of people have bigged up Timmy who’s also playing with me so I am really looking forward to hearing what he plays and maybe a cheeky B2B at the end. I know that people are going to be warm and welcoming so that’s really the thing I am looking forward to the most. Meeting some nice people and having some good chat and playing some records which I hope you guys will dig. Some good food. A nice sleep in the hotel after the gig. Late check out please!

We love to move around in our sets and hear you’re a man after our own hearts, can you give us three current favourites from disco, house & techno sides of the floor?

Disco Fav – Pleasure – Nothing To It (Fantasy)

House Fav – Gene Hunt – Forever On (Inner Shift)

Techno Fav – Spandex – Bermuda Triangle (Hand On The Plow)

Mr Rack’em has also just served up the latest instalment of the Dirt Crew’s ace Dirt Cast podcast series, get it on and get warmed for TNI this Saturday!