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Monday, 27 April 2015

FABRICLIVE 80: MUMDANCE LAUNCH // INTERVIEW: CJ YAXLEY


With Fabriclive 80, Mumdance has succeeded in forging a timeless compilation that spans both the wide history and spectrum of electronic music. It seemed only fitting then that the line-up for its release night did the same. 

In room one, Joker brought some aggressive funk in the form of his signature purple sound whilst the rest of the Butterz crew lay down some classic 140 bangers for the MC trifecta of D Double E, P Money and Big Narstie. In room two, Mumdance celebrated his Fabriclive release with a technological feat marrying a DJ set with a live modular/909 set and vocals from his MCs of choice, Riko Dan and Novelist. Alongside him was the rest of his Different Circles collective including fellow DJ and friend from the beginning, CJ Yaxley. We grabbed 30 minutes with CJ Yaxley after the night to talk about skipping PE class to jam to 90s hardcore with Mumdance and his first ever Fabric set. 

So to start off, what does Fabric mean to you? 
I’m not even sure where to start. It’s such an iconic venue and has been a dream to play there ever since I saw it back in 1999 on Tomorrow’s World when they featured the vibrating dance floor.


A DJ using Vestax decks? No 1210’s? My first experience of the club wasn’t until 2005 when I saw the amazing Jamie Lidell perform live and I was blown away by Craig Richards. The cavernous scale of the place, combined with the huge wall of sound and the best artists from around the world; it is a space that is massively important in my life and to the whole of electronic music in London. 

How did it feel to play at Fabric? 
When I was first asked if I would play in room two, I don’t think anyone could wipe the smile off my face for weeks. I think I turned into a very annoying friend for three months. Any conversation could always be brought back to the fact I was playing at Fabric. 

When we actually started playing and the nerves started to settle, I had about 10 minutes of being mesmerised by the room two laser before it all becomes a bit of a blur. The feeling when you hear the crowd’s reaction to a track you have just played is quite simply the best thing I have ever felt. 

Did I mention I played at Fabric? 

Mumdance was penned as playing an extended DJ/909/modular live show. How did that go? 
Jack has come a hell of a long way in the last 5 or 6 years and is one of the hardest working and most dedicated people I know. Having seen him go from DJing with Ableton to re-learning the entire art of mixing and then to incorporating his studio techniques into a live show, the difference is phenomenal. He still can’t dance though. 

It was the first time I had heard him play his older tracks like Smasher (from his 2010 EP on Mad decent) for years. The energy in the room at 3:30 when both Novelist and Riko Dan jumped up on stage was amazing. There is quite an age gap (sorry Jack) between him and Novelist and they have very different musical backgrounds, but the connection between them and the tracks they are releasing are some of the best work either has done to date.


With so many names playing, did you have any particular highlights from the night? 
I vividly remember handing over to Temple and looking out over a busy dance floor going nuts for Aden – Grau. Once we had finished playing I had a stiff drink and popped into room one where Joker was smashing it, the mixture of groove and heavy basslines were completely slaying the crowd. Having a true legend like DJ Randall play was also amazing. I snuck back into the DJ booth to watch him work. The whole night was like a dream.


Have you been working more on your own music recently? 
I’ve been playing around with making music since I was about 16 but recently I have been much more focused. I just finished a course at the Point Blank Studios. I’m really enjoying making tunes again. 

You and Mumdance go way back like car-seats. Has he influenced your sound? 
Jack and I have been friends since we were about 12 and although we have been DJing alongside each other since then, our musical tastes are still quite different. He has been a huge influence and is amazingly supportive. He is always happy to give feedback and advice on my productions. 

You’ve been DJing with Temple since Different Circles, is it a duo that we’re likely to see increasingly frequently? 
Playing alongside Simon is always fun. We two have different tastes in music and different ideas about what to play when. I think it goes back to the core of what Jack was trying to do with Different Circles. Our b2b sets tend to go through a lot of genres and our styles of mixing are also different. So we are always challenging each other and hopefully giving the crowd a constantly evolving set.


Is there anything upcoming on the Different Circles label? 
Jack and James (Mumdance and Logos) have just starting previewing the second release on their label. It’s a solo EP from James himself featuring three original tracks and an amazing remix by Shapednoise. 

The EP will be released May 2015 and will be a limited run of 300 12” records. The first release sold out really quickly and showcased the ‘Weightless’ sound that Jack and James are really into.


Are there any Different Circles nights coming up? 
The next Different Circles party has one of my childhood heroes playing – DJ Vibes. Jack and I used to bunk off of PE and sit watching the others kick a ball around while we shared a pair of earphones flicking through DJ Mag trying to work out how DJ mixers worked. The cassette in the Walkman would have been from a hardcore tape pack and one of our favourite DJ’s was DJ Vibes. 

Hardcore is what got us both into DJing and we used to save up pocket money and skipping lunch to save an extra £1.50 a day so we could afford to get the bus into Brighton (after trying to contact Jack for hours on his pager) and buy as many records as we could for £15. We went from record shop to record shop, listening to hundreds a day in order to make sure those 3 purchases were the best we could get that week. 

So to have a childhood hero’s name on the same flyer as my own is really quite exciting. We previously had Marshall Jefferson; someone who’s tracks were released a long time before the hardcore we listened too but I got into at a later stage. His music and DJing really opened my mind to house music. Another DJ name that was pasted all over the flyers on my walls as a kid was DJ Slipmatt

Both nights were completely rammed and having names like those playing alongside the most forward thinking grime producers and DJ’s is an amazingly exciting thing to be a part of. 

Which artists have most influenced your DJing style and sound? 
I’ve been DJing since I was 12 years old, learning alongside Jack and other friends at school. I’ve always been a massive fan of the technical skill of James Zabiela. His first Essential Mix in 2004 was a real eye opener at the time.


I have always been a huge fan of the Essential Mix and it has influenced me since I started. I used to stay up on a Saturday night when the show was on from 2:00-4:00AM every week after searching the high street for hard to find TDK 120min blank cassettes to later record it to Mono MiniDisc. I would hit record before going to bed then wake up early Sunday excited to hear the mix. I think the first one I recorded was Junior Vasquez’s mix in 1994. It took me away from hardcore and made me start buying house records. 

Words by David March