In Conversation: Ryan Elliott and Radio Slave
Up next in our In Conversation series: Ryan Elliott, one of Detroit's finest exports and Ostgut-Ton's big-room specialist chats to Rekids boss and fellow Berlin-based DJ and producer, Matt Edwards aka Radio Slave.
Ryan: Tell me what clubbing and raving were like in 90s London. I always wished I could have experienced that era.
Matt: Well these are hazy days for sure, but a typical week in London around 1991 would look like this: Wednesdays we’d hit Danny Rampling’s Pure Sexy at the Milk Bar in London. This was a 300 capacity club just opposite the Astoria in the West End and musically it was full-on Italian and New York house. It was a very mixed and diverse crowd and you had know Danny’s wife to get in – there was always a huge line down the street every week. On Thursday nights we’d go to Rage at Heaven which was insane, listening to Colin Dale upstairs playing techno and Grooverider taking control of the main room hammering out early hardcore and jungle. There were some crazy guests like Moby or Bizarre Inc. And Saturdays usually meant going back to the Milk Bar for David Dorrell and Pete Tong’s night, Hot. If we were still going, we’d take a trip to Phil Perry’s Full Circle which was basically a rave in a pub. It was there that I heard amazing sets from DJs like Andrew Weatherall. I’ll always remember listening to a DJ called Breeze (RIP) who was my favourite selector from that era. He introduced me to labels such as Bottom Line and Nu Groove. Crazy times, huh? This is just a snap shot of one weekend… and people think dance music is big now! On the subject of the 90s, I’m a huge fan of Robert Hood but never got to see him play then. Did you ever get to see him in Detroit?
Ryan: I first saw Rob play a Detroit in an old factory in 1997. He completely blew me away. After that, I regularly saw him at Motor Lounge, Detroit's "mega club" in the late 90s / early 2000s. His sets helped me understand where I wanted to go musically with my own DJ style. It's going to be an honour to play before him on NYD in London.
Matt: My New Year’s Resolution is to start training for a marathon in 2018. I know you like to run - but also love the odd beer or two - so do you have any training tips?
Ryan: I've run two marathons, with a PB of 3 hours 4 minutes. I'm pretty proud of that. For me personally, there were 3 things that helped me run and enjoy those two 26.2 mile races:
When you decide that you are going to run a marathon, it has to be your number one priority for those few months of training. Everything else comes second. The training, the diet, the correct hours of sleep - it takes up a lot of time. You have to be ready for that. If you think you'll just squeeze training for a marathon into your normal schedule you are sadly mistaken.
Do everything possible to enjoy the training and the race itself. Buy yourself some new running shoes or new running clothes, or a fancy running watch, or all the above. Make sure your phone or iPod is loaded with good music.
Make sure your medicine cabinet is fully stocked with Ibuprofen and band aids. You’re gonna need them.
When you decide that you are going to run a marathon, it has to be your number one priority for those few months of training. Everything else comes second - Ryan Elliott.
Matt: As a serious digger can you give away one secret weapon or forgotten classic that’s been in your box this year?
Ryan: For sure. The A side of this release Circulation - Red.
These guys owned a record shop outside of London. I was always after this record at the end of the 90s, and could never find it. This is pre-Discogs and when record shop websites were still really basic. I first went to London in 2000 and knew that these guys had a record shop outside of town. So I took the train out to their shop thinking that if anyone would have it, they would. I walked in the shop, and they were actually working behind the counter. I told them that I was from Detroit and in London for the first time, and NEEDED this record. They pulled so much great stuff for me from their catalogue including this. Every time I play this song I think about my trip out to their shop.
Ryan: Rekids is on the eve of its 100th release. How has your mission for the label changed since you started it?
Matt: Well I don’t think the mission for the label has changed much over the last ten years but the way we sell music has changed for sure. Rekids began in the summer of 2006, just as Beatport started and the vinyl market was still buoyant. It was a time before Discogs and social media. German labels such as Kompakt and Playhouse were dominating the stores in the UK and I just thought there was a gap in the market for a UK based label pushing a modern take on house and techno. And so Rekids was born. I don’t feel like things have really changed musically since those early days but I definitely think 2017 will be a very special year for the label with new artists such as Ziwi. I’ve also got a great team with Jamie Fry and Leon Oakey.
Rekids began in the summer of 2006, just as Beatport started and the vinyl market was still buoyant. It was a time before Discogs and social media. German labels such as Kompakt and Playhouse were dominating the stores in the UK and I just thought there was a gap in the market for a UK based label pushing a modern take on house and techno - Radio Slave.
Ryan: I remember my first Radio Slave record, Carl Craig - Darkness (Radio Slave re-edit). What was it like for you when Radio Slave blew up? Where you ready for what was to come?
Matt: Well by the end of the 90s I’d become completely disillusioned by the music industry in the UK. I was bored. I moved to Brighton and was running a small broken beats night with friends called ‘Prescription’, booking guys like Maurice Fulton and Phil Asher. So you could say I’d already “been there and done that” having been a part of the London scene during the 90s. When I finally got back in the studio around 2000, I was so hungry to do something different that what followed was a really creative period and the “Rekid” and “Radio Slave” names were born. But I don’t think I could ever say I was ready. Looking back I was just enjoying being busy and I’d been into music for so long that I went for it 24/7.
Matt: You created your second remix for Rekids this year with a killer version of David Morales “Don’t Go” and very rarely take on remixes. Do you have plans to release new music in 2017?
Ryan: Yes. I’ll be working on, and hopefully releasing, some solo material in 2017. Also a few remixes. Speaking of which; few people have had the success you have had with remixes. What are a few of your favorites from your catalogue?
Matt: I’d still have to say my remixes for Peace Division. I was a big fan of Clive and Justin’s productions and I always loved their stripped back sound so I immediately jumped at the chance of remixing “Black Light Sleaze”. The remixes were definitely influenced by my early visits to the Berghain so it’s amazing to hear guys like Rødhåd playing this out in 2016.
The remixes were definitely influenced by my early visits to the Berghain so it’s amazing to hear guys like Rødhåd playing this out in 2016 - Radio Slave.
Matt: Finally, I have to ask… are you really the son of Maxi Priest ?
Ryan: Haha! Well if you believe the internet I am. But, I actually am not. Maxi Priest's real name is Max Elliott, and he has a son named Ryan Elliott. So, you can connect the dots. It’s a shame, because the other Ryan Elliott was part of the boy band "Ultimate Kaos" and that would make for an even better story. You wouldn't believe how many people have asked me about this over the last year. So funny…