INTERVIEW WITH DISGRACELAND
No stranger to SIXTYNINE degrees, Disgraceland, also known as Leicester based producer and DJ John Stanhope was one of the original creators of the STUDIO 69 club night sound that filled the dancefloors of Bam Bu Da, Weavers, Media Nottingham, Bambu and Bed @ Gatecrasher in Birmingham back in the day. Clubland may well have changed since then but Disgraceland is still heavily involved in the creation of some epic sounds remixing the likes of Armand Van Helden and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius. We caught up with him ahead of the release of his second EP, Scarlett Rain, released on US label Sol*Selectas, an exciting fusion of heavy beats and ambient soundscapes.
You’ve been heavily inspired by Moombahton in the past, how has the genre influenced your sound and outlook?
Moombahton was an incubator that allowed me to develop ‘my’ sound without feeling that I had to conform to anything. The fact that I could deviate so far from the norm within the genre, do my own thing, and have that appreciated by my peers was a total revelation and it allowed me to explore my creativity in a way that other genres wouldn’t have.
The new EP has less Moombahton influences and more deep house/techno, was this a conscious decision?
Absolutely, yes. In many ways it’s all about going back to my roots whilst not forgetting the Moombahton vibe that I owe a lot to. I wanted it to be an EP that would cross a number of genres whilst keeping a single theme; when I played the EP to an old friend of mine who I spent a lot of time with back in the 90’s the first thing he said to me was, “This sounds like everything we listened to, and loved” which validated much of what I had wanted to do.
How did the EP come about?
The EP name and title track came about as I was driving out of Leicester on the backroads during a big storm. It was summer, and the smell of the rain was thick, I looked across the fields and the sky had this ominous, red tinge to it. I pulled over and recorded the lyrics and the beat into my iPhone, then drove home, hit the studio and wrote. My wife, Jo, and I recorded the vocals the next day and as my daughter, Scarlett was with me in the studio for much of the time I thought that I’d give her a name check too.
Warehaus Soul was based on a track that I had written a year or two before and never got around to doing anything with but The Dust in My Groove was a beast to write. 80 or 90 revisions over two years with countless tweaks to every element. It’s probably the most accomplished thing I have written.
How did you get into producing music? Is there a defining moment where it all started for you?
About 2004. I was taking a break from DJing and was feeling frustrated about being out of the scene. I’d spend every available hour sat at home with a laptop and a copy of Reason, just working it all out. Then, at a perfect time, really, the whole Moombahton thing came along – there was a scene that was small enough that when you made an edit, you got feedback from people who were out there playing the tracks..
You have a remix by Curses on your EP – is there anyone else you’re working with or who you aspire to work with?
Right now I’m collaborating with my label partner and good friend, Rob Morris AKA Яomor and I’m also working on an EP with Sabo (Sol*Selectas’ Label Boss). Even though he has years of experience on me, he’s so supportive of what I’m doing that it’s a great incentive to push boundaries further.
Over the past few years, house music seems to have made a comeback – how do you feel about artists such as Disclosure bringing the genre back into the mainstream?
I’m not sure. I guess that it’s healthy in some ways but what I don’t see is the club vibe that was there 10 years ago and before. People are less willing to go and listen to music where the DJ takes risks and that’s what it’s all about for me.
Scarlett Rain is released on Sol Selectas and available to download at pro.beatport.com/release/scarlett-rain/1586075