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Northern Soul marked the birth of late-night dance culture in Britain. Paul Mason, economics journalist and once a regular at the famous ‘all-nighters’ at Wigan Casino, discovers the origin of this underground music scene and why it continues to inspire such devotion.
Many of the songs that eventually became Northern Soul classics were once rejected or unreleased. Recorded in the 1960s by African-American artists attempting to replicate the successful Motown sound, these discarded tracks would later be rediscovered and revered by white working-class dancers and music fans in the north of England.
Paul Mason tells the extraordinary story of Northern Soul and the dance culture that sprang up around it, influencing musicians, choreographers and filmmakers and growing into a global phenomenon.
“With most gigs, people are turned toward the DJs looking at what you are doing. It becomes a performance,” explains 2ManyDJs‘ David Dewaele. “With Despacio, the sound is the star. In Manchester, people didn’t want to take pictures with the DJs, but with the stacks.”
The stacks in question are the seven 3.5-meter-tall speaker stacks that make up a monster, 50,000-watt sound system called Despacio. It was designed by LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, along with legendary audio engineer John Klett and mashup masters 2ManyDJs (David and his brother Stephen Dewaele). After two years of development, Despacio made its debut over three nights in Manchester’s New Century Hall in July. In December, the team is bringing the ten-tonne system to London’s Hammersmith Town Hall.
The idea for Despacio—which means slow in Spanish—was initially to create a night in Ibiza with a beautiful sound system, where DJs could play the sort of music they don’t normally have the opportunity to play. And everything had to be vinyl.
It looks like the Grammys have done their EDM homework this year, as the dance nominations look fairly reflective of the general landscape of EDM culture, with Daft Punk, Disclosure, Calvin Harris, Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Zedd, Duke Dumont and Armin Van Buuren all gaining nominations. London Beatsmith James Blake even landed a nomination for ‘Best New Artist’.
Props to the HHA. Craig and Luke tear it up on the turntables. So hot right now!
Terri Walker – He Loves Me
Mix Master Hak, Hakadapolis Studios. Special.