Killer street soul, dub and UKG flavours from a local sundown specialist.
With those balmy summer nights just around the corner, we’ve called on a local music enthusiast and incredible digger of forgotten gems to serve up one of his signature blends, jamming out broken beat street soul, dub, house and UK garage steppin’ nostalgia. One of the minds behind local mix series and intermittent party Bleus, Hugo’s mixes have become absolutely essential home listening for us this year, specialising in early 90s cruisers and genre bending obscurities across the vibe and tempo spectrum. Prepare for another soul soothing ride primed for heavy summer rotation!
You recently wrote a great feature article for Skylab Radio about the late 70s / early 80s Melbourne post-punk band Use No Hooks, offering some fascinating insight into Melbourne’s underground music scene and the social, political and economic landscape of the time. How did that interview come about, and what were some of the most interesting takeaways for you?
Thank you, I’m glad you liked it. Well, during lockdown we started a podcast series called Bleus Conversations, in addition to our regular mix series. It was an idea we had toyed with for a while and lockdown provided a break from the fast paced rhythm of daily life, making it the perfect opportunity to bring this idea into fruition. We had covered current issues in the music scene in the first couple episodes but I wanted to do a retrospective episode exploring Melbourne’s past music scenes. I had been listening to Use No Hooks on repeat after a friend had shared their music with me and I figured they’d have an interesting story to tell. I found out the lead vocalist in the band was now a lecturer at a local university so I just looked him up on their website and emailed them. So originally it was a podcast interview which I then turned into a feature article for Skylab Radio.
I spoke to two of the band members, Mick & Stuart, who were a great double act, bouncing off one another, sharing stories of the old days, making music in share houses in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs in the ‘70s & ‘80s. It was interesting to hear about how they considered their music and that time in their lives, as something disposable. It was something they had poured creative energy into, moved on from it and then largely forgotten about it until there was a renewed interest in their music 40 years later. They experienced a sense of bewilderment at the fact people were now into it after all these years. It made me wonder about all the music being made these days, after the initial hype will it be forgotten for half a century until super tech futuristic kids are mining it out of an abandoned Spotify server buried in landfill? Who knows.
Another interesting moment came when Stuart described the Melbourne punk scene as just a fashion movement because the music was shit and the punk ethos wasn’t there “because they were all spoilt, middle class, rich kids”. I thought, okay interesting… not much has changed then haha.
You’re also one of the minds behind Bleus, an intermittent party and mix series featuring some killer mixes from emerging local heads, tell us who else is involved in that little collective, and what kind of shows are you hoping to put on when things open up again?
Bleus is made up of Kavil, Big Al and myself. We all have pretty different tastes in music which is great because our lineups are always diverse and no party is the same as the last one. With the events and mix series we focus on celebrating and supporting all the amazing musicians and DJs in Melbourne and interstate, rather than looking overseas. Last year we did two pretty wild parties at this place called Bar Fred, a pizza place owned by this guy called Sal (side note – does anyone know where he went??) who had a real anything goes attitude. He didn’t care for responsible service of alcohol or fire safety standards. It made for a fun time. So hopefully we can recreate something like those two nights as a welcome back party but it’s hard to find the right venue and there’s now more rules and restrictions than ever so we’ll have to wait and see.
From listening to a lot of your own mixes of late, many of which have been on repeat during lockdown, you’ve clearly got a real curiosity and ear for obscure and forgotten classics from the early days of house, R’n’B, street soul and UKG (to name a few).. What do you think it is about the music of that era (late 80s, early-mid 90s) that resonates with you so much?
Whenever I’m putting together a mix I’m usually searching for forgotten gems, rather than new releases. I’m really interested in so many genres from that period in time when people were really breaking new ground with so many sub genres stemming from punk, reggae, disco, etc. The ‘80s was when shit got really interesting. I’m fascinated by all the electronic music that was coming out of the UK in the ‘90s and it has been really influential for my tastes these days. My family is from the UK and I’ve spent a bit of time there over the years so that has drawn me in as well. It seems like everything was influencing everything and building on one another’s achievements. I love finding genre crossover tracks, something with street soul, dub and house elements for example. I’m often looking for something a bit different, usually fairly stripped back, not too overproduced, and usually with a warm feeling breakbeat.
On that note, you’ve recorded a damn smooth two hour session for us here, what can you tell us about the mix? Any special tracks in there you’d like to mention?
With this mix I wanted to create a summer evening sundown vibe and a soundtrack you can go to when you’ve just met up with your friends for drinks and you need something to get you in the mood. I wanted it to feel accessible and inclusive so there’s a few recognisable songs and samples in there. One of my favourite tracks in there is called Love Forever by Deluxe and it was produced by Toyin Agbetu. A man of many aliases, this guy has produced some amazing street soul and house records that are worth diving into. Another good one is Come On Back by Carlton, it’s produced by Smith & Mighty who nail the genre crossover vibe merging house, jungle, dub, street soul, ragga and hip hop so seamlessly. A special one would be Tyronne (Remix) by DJ Assault which has been a go to track for a boogie at home during lockdown.
Thanks for having me Myles 🙂