He’s one of the new residents at what is arguably the best house night in the country, warming up for some of the finest DJs in the world. We reckon you’ll be hearing a lot more from Subculture's talented new boy Telford in the near future, so we collared him for a chat, and grabbed an MP3 mix, recorded live at the Sub Club…
How has it been settling in as new resident at Subculture? How did that residency come about?
It’s been amazing but very surreal. I only started to go to Subculture when it reopened after the fire. I’ve been into house music and buying vinyl for the past eight or nine years, but being 22 I wasn’t able to actually go and hear it in a club until four or five years ago. I basically started off glass-collecting in the Sub Club in the summer of 2005. Two years ago I did a mix and finally plucked up the courage to give it to Domenic – I think it took me about two months to give it to him. He liked the mix, so I ended up getting some warm-up slots and fill-ins. It’s not like the club said: “OK, you’re our new resident.” Its more like you end up getting a call asking: “Can you warm up for Larry Heard tonight?” It’s really only recently the club asked me and another DJ, Junior, to be involved more officially with the night. The two of us will hopefully be playing at least once a month. It’s always an honour to be asked to play at such a prestigious night. And luck definitely played its part somewhere in there too.
Has it been nerve-wracking?
Absolutely. I try not to think about it too much, but when you have such high standards set by probably two of the best resident jocks anywhere in the world, it can sometimes be a little daunting. It seems to get easier each time I play, but when you have someone like Theo Parrish standing behind watching you play, putting the needle on the record is just as hard as trying to beat-match the thing. And there’s only really been Harri and Domenic as residents for the past 15 years at Subculture, so people start to compare you with them. But you just try forget that, do what you do and try to remain as honest and as true to yourself as possible. Hopefully people will get that.
Any stand-out moments so far?
The very first time I played there. A few Christmases ago, Greame Park was playing and was late getting to the club – they needed someone to warm up so I played the first hour or so. All I can remember from it was hearing bass in tracks I didn’t even know existed. It’s strange when you hear music you’re familiar with on a proper system for the first time – you don’t forget it. But for the rest of the night I was back on the bar, serving drinks and sweeping the floor at the end – reality check!
Tell us a bit about the Telford sound. What sort of stuff could we expect to hear in a typical set from you?
Ha ha! “The Telford sound!” It’s just house music I suppose. But when you play so many warm-ups, it really makes you think about the night as a whole and not just your own time playing. So you tend to play different stuff. Why would you play banging stuff at the start of a night to an empty club? Once you take the energy level in the room up, there’s then no step higher later in the night when people actually want to dance. It might sound like common sense, but working in a club environment you see so many DJs playing 125bmp at 11:30pm, and it’s like: “What the fuck are you doing? Why are you playing the new hot, new, trendy release you downloaded from Beatport a few hours earlier, when there’s no-one dancing?” I realise this is how some people play, but to me, it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s my favourite time to play though, and I tend to find most of the best records are warm-up records or just stuff you can play early. So I like to start off really slow, or just not aggressive and then take it from there. I never really know what I’m going to play until I get to the club, so ultimately it will depend on who I’m playing with, what mood I’m in, how busy the club is…
Subculture must be a massive influence on your DJing. How far has it shaped your music?
Yeah, it got me into the music I’m into today and helped me develop a style of music. Not only that, but it also helped me justify liking and disliking certain records and not just playing stuff because it’s ‘cool’. I wouldn’t say I’m playing exactly the same style as Harri or Domenic though, otherwise what would be the point? Instead for someone like myself, with a lack of experience, it was always more about the other aspects of playing rather than having 20 of the newest house tunes. And being able to play with some of these guys who have been playing as long as I’ve been alive has really given me confidence in my musical taste. I’ve also learned not to be afraid to take risks, or be scared of clearing a dancefloor with a track I believe in.
What else are your major influences?
As far as other DJs go, I really like the Optimo guys and what they do. An obvious choice maybe given that I work at the club where the night happens, but it’s been subconsciously influential. There’s lots to be said for the way they warm up, playing loads of rare-as-they-are-obscure records. If you think about it, it makes sense. It’s the only time of the evening when you have a completely blank canvas and can play stuff which wasn’t made with that situation in mind. They play it in such a way as to build an atmosphere, so in a way, it actually becomes club music. I’ve also been listening to loads of early electronic stuff recently. I’m a big fan of bands like Can and guys like Klaus Schulze. You can really tell where today’s house and techno music has come from by going back and listening to this kind of sound.
What’s next from you?
More gigs. There’s a plan for myself and Junior to do a double mix CD to be given away free at a Subculture residents night. And there’s some exciting stuff coming up at Subculture, as well as lots of festivals we’re involved with such as Rock Ness, Homecoming and The Big Chill, plus more to be announced, so keep your eyes peeled…
Culoe De Song – Super Afro (IV)
Subway – Second Sign (Fritto Morto)
Kink & Neville Watson – Full Flight (Rushhour)
Portable – Release (Perlon)
Redshape – Warrior (Music Man)
Motor City Drum Ensemble – #3 (Raw Cuts)
Soundstream – Rainmaker (Soundstream)
MXM – Move Me (Philpot)