Saturday, April 11, 2009
A Few Words With Mr G
A true UK techno legend, Colin McBean, aka Mr G, has been present in the record boxes of DJs right across the house/techno spectrum in one form or another since the halcyon days of acid house at the end of the 1980s. He's still churning out his bass-heavy tech-house grooves for his own Phoenix G label, but has been more noticeable recently due to his productions for Matt "Radio Slave" Edwards' Rekids. I couldn't meet Colin in person, so I sent him some questions by email and got the answers back about a week ago. There's a dearth of information about Colin, and God knows if these questions will add anything to knowledge already gained, but the guy's a star and his music speaks effortlessly, and without pretension, for itself.
What do you prefer, playing live or DJing, and how much do you do nowadays?
CM: Playing live with my mpc, and the danger keeps me on form, and the limitation of only eight channels ain't easy . . .I do it when I feel the venue, the crowd and the sound are right, there are always a good few live gigs dotted around. . .Ohh, and I only do it 'cause I want to, as I get a different buzz from different sound systems.
Must say though I'm getting more choosy, as it's no fun playing on a system set up for mp3s.
What/Who are your biggest influences?
CM: Loved ones, friends, life's ups and downs, King Tubby, loads of rum, ballads, new music, Thursdays? . . .joining the dots in between.
What motivates you?
CM: New blood and the need to be still on it and relevant after being in the game for so long. It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.
You've never visibly compromised your style appealing in the process to a huge range of DJs past and present. How would you define your output and your status?
Output, status . . .I just do what I feel when I feel it, (follow fashion monkey can't boil good soup - old Jamaican saying). I've watched many producers come and go and the ones I love and respect are the ones who have highs and lows yet still enter the ring again for another fight against the in-crowd . . .and that includes me as well. Remember, you are only as good as your last beatz some would say.
Your work as half of The Advent is memorable, but it's been said thatas well as wanting a break from touring one of the reasons you and Cisco Ferreira called it a day was because you wanted to distance yourself from the genre. Is this true and, if so, for what reasons?
CM: I love this question and I think it's good people still talk after so long. I did need a break from touring, and immigration wasn't fun either, but I still have fond memories of those dayz and techno is in my blood . . .Mr Mills, Mr Beltram, Mr Slater . . .plus what I learnt from Cisco, changed my world and added another chapter to my music library. I still believe the techno from that era was ground breaking and is still the funky best.
I was made to find my own feet, (respect the bird that jumps the nest and flies), and think my wings work ok. I also think that being in any partnership is hard and that you see the good, bad and indifferent in each other; as you grow there's a need to do things your own way.
What is "G Style"?
CM: The hybrid sound of dub, roots, soul and funk thrown together with no rules in a techno way through an analogue system with me having lotz of fun along the way. It must be fun, no?
Ever thought about updating your website? I'm interested in your philosophy and how your love of low-end frequencies, from your sound system days is responsible for the sound you have today.
CM: Yeah, I should update the site and even have a Myspace page but I'm no good when it comes to the Internet and computers. I'm not that great as I only work with analogue kit and I realize it doesn't do me any favours by not being in the public eye like my peers; but until I meet someone who I can work with and who can help me achieve what I want - beatz always come first - it will stay that way for now. My philosophy is all I know, it's how I grew as a kid: house parties, rum, sound systems, that bread basket grunt that reggae has and how the houses used to rattle with the sub . . .it's my norm.
Lifting speaker boxes you learn how those boxes sound in different spaces and how speakers hold the bass, which to this day is still a passion. You never stop learning.
Do you think you'll ever grow out of this?
CM: Nope! As I said, I love doing this and I am music. Without it there is no me.
You've produced for Rekids which is a taste-making label par excellence. How far will your collaboration with it go and do you have any plans to release on any other labels besides those you run?
CM: Yeah, the family that is Rekids - what can I say . . .Matt and James love what they do and they do it very well with heart. Being in the same camp as nu blood keeps you on your toes . . .love dat! As these guys are so open and honest I've chosen to do an album with them, I'm about half way through it. I'd also love to release with other labels that feel and treat the music right, I'm always open to that. Collaborations . . .love the idea of two minds meeting but hmmmmmm, not sure as I've had a few strange episodes and you have to protect your soul . . .but never say never. However, with Rekids there's a common bond and respect, which is unusual to say the least, and a knowledge and history within . . .Rekids crew, good fa yu!
Do you go clubbing regularly, and how do you consume your music? Is it at home online or do you go to record shops still?
CM: I still know what and who's out there, and if I don't I make a point of checking them out and hearing a sample of what they're about and forming my own opinion. I get my music from many sources: online, promo companies, through friends, but most of the time I hunt it myself. I've been going record/cd shopping for years every Thursday like clockwork, and al the shops in the West End know me and my eclectic taste. I'm always open to something new or different and by being there you meet nu people and get turned onto nu sounds and, in turn, turn others on to things they may have missed. That interaction is very important to me.
Ever tempted to have a KCC reunion? How do you think you'd sound now?
I see Keith every now and then in Kentish Town. He's still good and I'm sure if it were right it could happen, but I don't really think it would 'cause we're all very outspoken people. That's why ultimately we all do our own thing in different ways, but it would be interesting to see how the sounds would evolve.
Many thanks Colin.
Colin's latest venture, apart from recording for Rekids, is called Oproof.