Edit legend Greg Wilson mixes up some of the best in this week's downtempo flavoured RA podcast.
People throw the word legend around a lot these days, but in Greg Wilson's case, there's probably no better term to describe him. Wilson has been in and around the music business for more than 30 years, making his name as a DJ at Wigan Pier, The Hacienda and, of course, Legend. In the UK, at least, he also helped to popularize a little thing called "mixing"—something that has come in handy for nearly every DJ that has come along ever since.
But what Wilson has most come to be associated with throughout the years are edits. Wilson's dance floors are always treated to his exclusive cut-ups that splice together unlikely sound sources, re-engineering music that you might have never guessed would be able to rock an electronic crowd. It's a talent that you can hear clearly on 2005's Credit to the Edit, Volume One and on some of the tracks found on Wilson's RA podcast. And what we're hearing were three show-stopping sets at this past weekend's Bestival. And what will surely be an epic set at Ibiza's Space later this month and on and on and on... After all, that's what legends do, right?
What have you been working on recently?
Lots of edits, as per usual, and another remix for Gary Davis, following on from "The Professor Here," which is currently out and about. Now I've finished this RA mix I'm about to start on a Grace Jones remix, which should be fun (I was a huge fan during the Sly & Robbie period).
Where and how was the mix recorded?
Here at home on Merseyside. The tracks were recorded into the computer with overdubs added in a similar way to how I work live with the tape spins. Nothing too fancy, just a solid 14 track mix including some familiar stuff alongside some not so familiar, with the emphasis firmly focused on groove.
Can you tell us a little about the idea behind the mix?
I'd just done a BBC 6mix, which, with regards to tempo, was geared around the 116-120 region, so I wanted to do something different here, concentrating on the more downbeat side of what I play, which, despite being a rich and fertile segment of dance spectrum, many DJ's dismiss as being too slow. I also took the opportunity to put together some new stuff (including the aforementioned Gary Davis track), with the mix providing the impetus for me to bring a few ideas to fruition—so thanks are due to Resident Advisor for its role as muse.
What was the most time-consuming edit you ever made?
There's an edit of Scritti Politti's "Absolute" and "Wood Beez" coupled together as "Absolute Wood Beez" on Credit to the Edit, which I did on tape back in 1984. About two minutes in, there's a section that lasts around 45 seconds, which was pretty experimental at the time with lots of quick-fire splicification. I remember this taking me hours to do—it was certainly the most complex thing I’d attempted back then with regards to cutting up tape.
The No Sell Out electrospective mix I did a few years back, featuring all the big tracks I played in '82/'83, was extremely time-consuming and a pretty daunting task, to say the least. Before I even started mixing everything together, I had to edit each track down to an average of a one and a half minutes in length, which is a pretty mammoth undertaking when you're including 57 tracks (with a further 73 referenced) and you want the edits to all be coherent! This was certainly the most involved mix I've ever done, or am likely to do again—it had to be definitive and nailed down good and proper, so it needed a massive amount of time and attention.
How many times have you cut yourself with a razor blade?
I can't believe you asked this question! Only the other night, after getting home in the early hours and making myself a coffee, I decided to send a quick email before getting off to bed. No sooner had I sat down in front of the computer desk than I clumsily knocked the coffee all over it. Ten minutes later, after clearing a soaked mess of a desk and wiping up the coffee from all the nooks and crannies, I got back to the email I was about to send, only to find the mouse was no longer working. I took the batteries out and made sure it was coffee free inside, but still no luck, so I decided to try some new batteries.
I headed downstairs to get my laptop bag, remembering there were some batteries in the side compartment, where I keep various essential items including a quick repair kit for my tapes—just in case one snaps whilst I'm working and I need to splice it back together. Anyhow, I stuck my hand in and started digging around for the batteries, but, unfortunately for me, I found the sharp end of a blade instead, which had fallen to the bottom of the bag, and felt it slice through the top of my left hand index finger. Blood, blood, lots of blood and still no email. Finally, about half an hour after I'd intended, I got into bed complete with a throbbing, plaster-covered wound, the latest in a long line of razor cuts (the previous time being during a hurried repair in a dimly lit Berlin club).
Whose re-edits these days are catching your ear?
Pete Herbert's edit of Tony Orlando's "Don't Let Go" on Disco Deviance has been huge for me during recent times, and I very much like what Todd Terje does, but, apart from the better known names, it's always great to receive stuff from new people whose edits have yet to reach vinyl. A couple to watch out for are Aussie crew, Out In The Sticks, whose Patrice Rushen "Forget Me Nots" edit has well and truly done the business for me this year. Then there’s Stroud-based collective, Situation, who gave me an edits CD at the Big Chill recently, which really tickled my fancy.
What are you up to next?
Ibiza is up next. Just waiting on visas and final confirmations, but it looks like I've got a lot of air miles ahead of me before the end of the year, with dates in the US (New York again, plus my first West Coast appearances), Australia (second visit), plus first trips to Japan and Brazil. There'll also be various UK dates before the year's out—Manchester, London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Nottingham, etc. plus my Southport Weekender debut, which I'm particularly looking forward to given my background as a black music specialist back in the olden days.