#003: Jay Wearden- Part One
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In this episode, I am joined by the legend which is Jay Wearden.
Jay Wearden started his DJ career in 1988, initially as a scratch DJ in a Hip Hop group. He gained his first weekly residency at Manchester's Precinct 13 in the same year.
At the age of 19, after an unsuccessful stint in Ibiza, Jay secured a weekly Thursday & Saturday night at the infamous Thunderdome.
The seminal club was packed to the rafters every week.
The Dome became the go-to venue for the masses who wanted an alternative to what the Hacienda had to offer. While forging a strong partnership with his mentor, the highly respected DJ Steve Williams, Jay also built a large local following of Hardcore Ravers. This period was the most fundamental period in his career, which gave him his foundations in his future musical style and direction.
He became one of the key players in the rise of the House scene in Manchester, playing at the well documented Blackburn raves and across the country, primarily a constant feature of huge Streetrave parties around Scotland.
Join me, Derick Karma as I chat with Jay about the early days of the Acid house movement, The dangers of fly posting, Madchester and how he ended up with two broken ankles.
To listen to the full podcast on
iTunes please click here
Well, jay thanks for doing the show first of all,
Cheers Derick, thanks for inviting me along,
No probs, What you up to nowadays, Jay?
I do some really, good gigs about eight or nine years ago, and I really started getting back into DJ I was asked to do Old Schools Most Wanted, James Talon and Scott Wheelers night and I'm still doing it eight or nine years later,
I'm one of the DJs on the Madchester brand for Bowlers that's a massive gig
How many people to get there?
Well, its two rooms so it's probably about 4000 or something like that in there.
I do the acid house room, in fact, they have put a third room and now because it's got so popular, it's one of my favourite gigs. I mean, all the ones that I'm really doing, I really enjoy doing they're all quite different in size.
I'm doing that For The Love, Ultimate Old School as well that's in Preston, and that's a proper warehouse party. I'm really looking forward to that.
They have got some really good people on there, got Ian Bland on all sorts, you know from Dream Frequency. They've got loads of good people. I forget who else is on but, I'm probably insulting people by not saying who else is on, but they've got some really good acts on there.
So take us back, Jay, how did it all begin for you?
What, in the beginning?
In the beginning of house. (Derick laughs)
Well, I actually started off as a hip hop DJ, I was into hip hop at school, and I was quite, you know, really into my black music at school and there was wasn't really that many people who were into it
Was it hip hop? Or was electro as well?
Well, that, I was thinking about that this morning. I think I was more into electro because hip hop is a bit more staccato, it's a bit more jumpy. I liked. I like smooth, clean rhythms and rhythms that sort of have no Start and End really
From the electro era?
What track would you say was your favourite track from the electro era?
Be interesting this.
Probably it gives a DJ A Break by Dynamix Two, really love that, Hip Hop Bebop by Man Paris. I also like Boogie Down Bronx, Elmer Fish, Its Time.
Which would you like to play now?
l would like you to play Give The DJ A Break because not many people play that I played it. I think I played it last year, a marquee party and it went down. Amazing. It's got a beautiful 808s in it the sub-bass is superb. It's just a lovely track. It's got loads of great samples in it. It's just timeless.
Really good track that mate from back in the day. I love that I love all the electro stuff myself, tells us about the Thunderdome and how you got into DJin from there because that's were I remember you from more than anything else.
Yeah, well, nobody would remember me from anything before because I stopped doing the hip hop stuff. After I did a friend's party and moved into house. I still play the occasional bit of hip hop. I was doing a residency at Precinct 13 and nobody ever really turned up for that,
I went to Ibiza trying to get work over there when it's too late in the season to cut a long story short, came back, and they've been loads of gangster trouble at the Thunderdome.
You know, I've been to the Thunderdome myself. It was a great club, and it was a happening club. And my friend Glenn actually said, "Why don't you ring up?"
So I think he had the phone number or we had a flyer from somewhere.
We were at Piccadilly gardens, I put me 10p in and remember we kept ringing over and over again, must have rung about five or six times before we actually got through and then I answered the phone to somebody. And I think it was Alan, the manager, Alan Evans, and he was the owner as well.
He said, "Yeah, come down on Saturday, he said, I've got another guy on as well. But you can both do it together."
And before that, I had played at Glastonbury to quite a lot of people but on the other gigs, were just like a couple of people really.
So I went there, I was then playing to hundreds of people. And the first night we played there, me and this other guy because of the shooting and what had happened. It was quieter there was still a few hundred people in there so still a big crowd, and the guy who was on with me was like a, it was almost a pub DJ he was playing things like Luther Vandross and stuff like that.
And I was like playing, you know, house music was playing hip hop, I think by default because he was so I wouldn't say bad, he just didn't fit the marketplace that I got the gig.
I wasn't gonna let the opportunity you know, go.
I just worked really hard. And then I just was doing week after week after week,
Steve Williams came back. So we did it in tandem, as a pair. It just progressed from there.
I mean, Steve was a recognised DJ. And he was, he was my mentor, really, he was a really talented guy. I think that's the only DJ really that I've ever sort of watched and taken some of the style off, you know, sort of emulate. I am still different from him and the way I mix and the sort of music I play, but I think him more than anybody, he's the last person I probably looked at and listen to and try to emulate some way because really, from there or in, I just wanted to play what I wanted to play.
I've never played to the crowd. I've always played the music that I've wanted to play.
I've been very selfish, but I've always been under the impression that if people like what you do, then they follow you. I don't want people to come to my night that are expecting a certain type of music. I want a surprise them and
You play for your passion, don't you?
Of course, I want all the time and effort that I've put into finding all this music to be appreciated and enjoyed not somebody coming up to me and saying,
Can you play such and such a thing,
But I can remember your record box. All your records used to be switched around the wrong way, and used to play the second track on the B side.
You'd cover it up as well, so no one knew what it was. You can't do that nowadays because people just search for it when you play it.
I know. And I think I've spoken about this before.
I actually, as I got older and more experienced, I didn't cover any records up. I thought the way that people play doesn't matter if everybody knows every record that I play.
It's the way you play the way you express them, Two different DJs can play exactly the same music, but I'll express it in a different way.
And some people are more you know, the way that they do the tricks and the short mixes and just the way that they can weave the music together is very different. You can just hear if anybody's got any skill, you can hear their style.
Mixing isn't just playing two records to together. It's the way you put them. It's the points you put them in. It's the way you express it. It's almost indescribable really you use the crowd's energy and then sort of express that out via you to the crowd,
I need the crowd just as much as they need me. Because if they're buzzing and I feel that from them, it gives me the energy and it gives me the creativity to play well.
Summarising it up then, from the Thunderdome era, if you had to say one track what you used to play in there, and it just reminds you of the Thunderdome. What track would you say that is?
I would say it is The Phantom by Renegade Sound Wave.
I mean, I've gone on about this is time and time again, and I still play it nearly every single set of playout now it's just an amazing track from start to finish.
Some tracks you can really hear how they've been made, that just a piece of music. And I think me and you both probably listen to music sometimes and we pick it to pieces because we're listening to how it's being made.
Sometimes you hear a piece of music you just enjoy it for what it is, and I think that's what The Phantom is, I can mix it with any record there are very few tracks that I can't put it into and when that staccato sort of drum pattern comes in and then get the baseline and the percussion and just the samples are just it's just such a clever track.
Absolutely brilliant track that again Jay,
Awesome tune this is how me and Mark got to know you as Rhythm Quest really,
Getting on to the next bit I think it was at the Hippodrome where we started knocking about Tell us about Hippos how did that come about?
By the time Hippos had around. I was like an established DJ.
I mean, I was still only a kid. I was still only twenty twentyone from the Thunderdome.
It was when I was doing clubs like The House, The Banshee, Sequence in Blackpool, Sh Boo, places like that.
I was really well established even though you know I was a really young boy. And when I look back now and see how much older the other people I didn't even think about the time a lot of the other guys that were sort of in my era were eight years older than me five or six which is quite a lot in those days. I was a young man.
You were on par with Sasha that's the level you was at and Carl Cox you was around there. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, that time and I was doing really, sort of well for myself and really enjoying the scene probably not looking too deeply into it and didn't have much strategy there.
And I think you got to have more of a strategy to get into the upper echelons. And I think I should have probably done more production and things like that and been a bit more bothered about playing different cities. I was quite happy just to stay in the Northwest, really.
And it was doing Scotland as well, which is a massive part of my DJing life. I loved playing up there. I love the atmosphere and the DJs and just the whole caboodle.
But going back to how we got to Hippos, there was a guy called Colin Boulter.
I used to always end up bumping into him at after-parties after The House, they'd be like house parties, and we'd always end up chatting in that. And he was a bit of a Wheeler Dealer, a bit of a geezer.
He said, Oh, why don't we do a night together?
The time at The House, we were ramming it every week. You couldn't get any more people in. But I just felt like I needed to change.
I remember the owner coming up to me, and he said, "I really want you to stay, you can have all the door money if you stay".
And I said "I'm not really interested in money. I just want to change. I want to do something different."
So he said, "I respect your decision".
And I went and did a night at Barclays with Colin, and we call it Clash, and the reason why we call it Clash because I was like this idealistic hippy and Colin was a hard nose sort of business-minded person really he could say how to market things. And you know, he was a, he's a smart bloke, and I think it worked really well.
I sort of had my eye on the scene, and I knew what would work in the scene, but he knew how to package that up and make it more successful and sort of make it ours real as we did Barclays, I'm sure we did it twice once or twice and again, gang culture I am walking down through Market Street one Saturday daytime.
And someone walked past me went "Oh, Barclays is on fire", and I went "No, it isn't"
I went around the corner.
It's on fire and apparently Cheetham Hill. Had set it on fire. So we had to find another club, quite sharpish.
Think we sort of discussed a couple of places. And then Colin mentioned Hippos in Middleton. I think I played that once before, and I had been asked to play there before I wasn't really interested because it was quite a glitzy sort of Piccadilly 21, and for people who don't No Piccadilly 21 it's like a mecca sort of style club with all chrome and blue carpets and things like that. I wasn't interested at first. And when I went down I went with Colin, we met, we met Ken Leary, the owner.
And for some reason, we just thought this is gonna work because it was massive as well. It held about 1700 people had a separate dance floors, which was quite big, then it had all carpet areas, but then it had this glass bridge that went over the top of the dance floor, and it had an amazing laser setup.
You stood right at the very top of the club, and you could look down. That's what I can remember looking down from right from the very, very top because it was on all different levels. It just looks amazing.
I've actually got a video on the YouTube channel that shows you all the different parts of it. We actually moved the DJ box because one time when we first went there, it was on the dance floor.
But we moved it, I think Colin probably had this idea, and he moved up to the top it looked right down on the dance floor right through the club and then all the different points that you mentioned, you could just see the DJ box from anywhere instead of it's all been hidden in the middle. So it really became a focal point.
The good thing about the club was as well they kept investing kept getting better sound.
Really good lights and the lighting jockey who was a keyboard player but you know, he put his heart and soul into it, So me and Paul Moggy were doing alternate nights in there, we did really well, but we work so hard.
I mean, we did so many different marketing ploys, you know, to get we never stopped postering. We were always putting up fly posters, the huge posters. So that was like a strategy to blanket the whole of the Northwest.
How did you do your knee caps in Jay?
that another interesting story
My knee caps?
It was not my knee caps. That's another folk story how my ankles were, or my legs were broken by gangsters.
And that isn't the truth.
We were actually sticking fly posters up on the side of a bingo hall and me being me. I climbed up the side of this building and the ledge I was stood on collapsed.
I'm on the floor. I tried to get up, and I just collapse in a heap Colin had this big Mercedes Sprinter van. I jumped in there and then Colin as a great idea to put Mr Freeze ice pops on my ankles. The pain was incredible and nearly went through the windscreen. So he just took me straight to the Collyhurst Hospital.
When we got there I was full of wallpaper paste I had hair down to my waist at that time, probably looked bit scruffy you know because I had the rough clothes on because we were postering and the nurses were being a bit funny, and they said to me,
"excuse Mr Wearden do you know that the injury you've got is a burglars injury from jumping out of Windows?"
Because when I'd fallen off the thing got liked smashed my legs in and went "yeah but I'm not a burglar" so they actually left me on a trolley just with some gas and air and I had to wait for God knows how many hours before the admitted me but the hospital porter kept going past and having a whiff at the gas and air every time he had more of the gas and air than I did, good times.
Brillant, If you have to pick a track from that era?
Hippos, I'd probably say Six Train Mood Swings,
Just because I have such strong memories of it because we flew Joe Bernard over.
We were going to remake it came over from New York. And to be honest, we didn't know what we were doing.
We shouldn't have really, well we should and we shouldn't, because it was great. It was a good experience for Joe is a good experience for us.
But we didn't really know what we were doing, nothing actually came of it cost quite a bit of money, we were trying to record stuff in Strawberry Studios in Stockport, and we didn't really know what we were doing.
It's definitely Six Train its such a euphoric tune. It's just an amazingly made track still to this day. You know, it's timeless, it's got something magical about it. So that is the track.