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ESSENTIAL MIX (by greg wilson for bbc radio 1 2009)

gregwilson on January 17, 2010 21:22

Pre-Recorded DJ Mix
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    Uploaded on 17.01.10 and exclusive to SoundCloud. Available for the first time without voiceovers and jingles,12 months on from original Radio 1broadcast on 17.01.09.

    2009 kicks in for me this weekend with my first gig of the year for Udio (1st birthday) at The Gramaphone Club in Shoreditch, London on Friday night, which coincides with the airing of my only just completed in the nick of time Essential Mix on Radio 1, made up of 43 tracks in just under 2 hours.

    Given that the 5th anniversary of my DJ comeback has only just passed, I decided to take the opportunity to make the mix totally representative of this period, with all the selections being amongst the biggest tracks I’ve played since I made my second debut at Music Is Better in Manchester.

    Five years represents a significant package of time, a fixed point from where I can reflect on what’s been a continually snowballing sequence of events, set in motion when Danny Webb asked me to appear in Manchester on that December night back in 2003.

    There were less than 100 people there that night, but they were the right people, and I was taken aback by the response to my return, both on the night itself and during subsequent days, when people who were there began to post on the forums. I’d never expected all the feedback be so totally positive!

    I’d figured that I’d play that night, using the combination of laptop and reel-to-reel for the first time, then go away and think about what worked and what didn’t before I made my next move. I would never have believed that things could come together so immediately, it was as if I’d hit a completely unexpected hole in one, especially when two of the people who were there, Ralph Lawson, DJ from Back To Basics in Leeds, and one of my fellow DJ’s that night, Richard Hardcastle (Solid State) from Society in Sheffield, both asked me to play at their nights no sooner had I finished my spot.

    One thing kept leading to another and, in Sheffield, I was approached by Tony Daly to play at the now legendary Tyneside Cinema party in Newcastle, a bespoke event where he took on the substantial risk of presenting me in a city I’d never DJ’d in previously (unless you count the 1983 TV appearance on The Tube, which was filmed in the Tyne Tees studio). Then, of course, there was London, where Steve Kotey and Bill Brewster booked me for their parties, bringing me to the capital within the first few months of my return for Ouch and Low Life.

    The bookings kept coming, and I found myself driving up and down the country on an increasingly regular basis. Later in 2004 I was approached by Sav Remzi, from Tirk / Nuphonic, with the idea of putting together an edits album, which would be issued the following year as ‘Credit To The Edit’. This would help bring my name to the attention of people outside the UK. There was soon a need to step things up further, now that I was receiving enquiries from Europe, and so began a fruitful relationship with my agent, Matt Johnson (Matty J), who’s done a wonderful job of representing me during recent years.

    The last few months have been, to say the least, manic for me, with 25 flights, including 6 long haul, taking me to gigs in the US, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Europe. From a personal perspective I still find it remarkable the way everything has developed, pretty much organically, since I made the decision that I was going to be a DJ once again – had I concocted some sort of comeback masterplan, it could never have worked out anything like as well as it has. It’s definitely been a case of ‘from small acorns’.

    It still never ceases to amaze me that people from another continent are interested in my DJ past. Back in the early 80’s, before I went into retirement for 20 years, the furthest I travelled (with the exception of the appearances I made in the South of England as part of The Hacienda Review in late ’83) was to places like Birmingham and Nottingham, when I played at All-Dayers, so to find myself in clubs on the other side of the world is pretty nuts!

    Anyhow, I’d like to wish everyone all the best for 09. Big thanks to all the promoters who booked me and everyone who danced to the tunes I played during ’08 in Adelaide, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Birmingham, Blackburn, Brighton, Bristol, Dublin, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fukuoka, Glasgow, Hamburg, Leeds, Lisbon, Liverpool, London, Los Angeles, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, New York, Newcastle, Nottingham, Paris, Porto Alegre, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Sheffield, Sydney, Tokyo and Warsaw. Also the festivals and special events that I appeared at - Bestival (Isle Of Wight), Big Chill (England), Camp Bestival (England), Garden Festival (Croatia), Ibiza, Lovebox (England), Notting Hill Carnival (England), Rockness Festival (Scotland), Sonar (Spain) and the Southport Weekender (England).

    Hope to see you soon.


    Thanks for all the positive words. The feedback has been pretty phenomenal, far exceeding what I’d hoped for, especially on the BBC page, where I’d expected that some people would criticize the amount of older music included - the Radio 1 audience is used to current stuff ('in new music we trust'), so I’d anticipated a more mixed reaction. What’s particularly pleasing is that they were all made without the people seeing what each other wrote (they all came online at once, having been checked first by whoever moderates the BBC pages, I presume for swearing etc following the Ross / Brand controversy).

    You always hope something you've done will be well received, but the response to this has blown me away.


    It was quite a laborious process. Before I could start the actual mixing part I had to edit every track to a coherent length of around two and a half minutes average, inclusive of in and out points. I had a pool of about 90 tracks that fitted the criteria I'd set (a representative selection of the biggest tunes I've been playing during the past 5 years). It wasn't as straightforward as just editing the 43 tracks I ended up featuring - in order to have the necessary options once I started to piece the mix together I needed to have all the tracks at my disposal, just as I would have if I was out deejaying in a club, so the only thing to do was edit all 90 to the required length, even though I knew that only half would make the cut .

    Once that was finally done they were all taken across into my laptop, enabling me to vari-speed them via PCDJ whilst I recorded across to my home computer into Cool Edit Pro, where I put the mix together track by track, before adding overdubs (fx, samples, textures) in a similar way to what I do live using the Revox (reel to reel).

    I could quite easily have spent another day, tweaking bits here and there and adding more overdubs (the older I get the more finicky I become), but I had a deadline to work to, so, as it moved ever nearer, it became a race against time, with me doing as much as I could before the cut off point arrived.


    Greg Wilson - 2009


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