There are few familiar faces in London, many come and go, parties chop and change and there is sometimes a sense of mystery about those behind the scenes. Robin Ball is not a man who conforms to such a representation. The Memory Box parties have established themselves as some of the most robust and dependable in the city for which Robin is very much responsible. Having been involved in dance music for many years he has run events under a variety of guises whilst producing music at his own pace. He has found belief in a singular sound and does not conform to the passing trends which often breeze through London. Dance music is his passion and it is this which he has built his vision around.
This month marks the launch of the Memory Box record label on which Robin will release first, we invited him to contribute to our mix series:
Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you and what are you?
I'm Robin Ball. I'm sitting in the cafe at the local gym which is up the road from my house and gets used as my second office when I need to get out and about. I am a DJ, producer, club promoter and label boss. I run the Memory Box parties in London and Brighton and the Groovepressure Record label plus the soon to start Memory Box label. I make and play underground electronic dance music covering, house, techno, electro, bass, breakbeat..... I don't like to stick to a specific genre but the easiest way to break down my production and DJ sounds would be into the umbrellas of my 2 labels: Groovepressure is deep and thoughtful dance music whereas Memory Box is a more direct, energy based dancefloor sound. Most of my music has a raw, edgy vibe with basslines being at the forefront accompanied by fat drums and normally an emotive feel. Although I do like to push the boundaries of dance music and also my own boundaries. You can generally hear influences from the last 30 years of electronic music in my sound but I am normally aiming to bring something unique into my productions and DJ sets and currently I am steering away from what is going on in the majority of clubland.
Where was the mix recorded?
In my home studio.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
The ideal setting would be one of my Memory Box acid parties because that's the inspiration for this mix. Failing that invite your friends round, draw the curtains, if possible turn on a strobe and off you go. This is dirty underground acid house so a dark room and loud speakers is all you need.
What should we be wearing?
Memory Box smiley t-shirts :-)
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
Dream location is a beach hut in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia, looking out on beach and sea. All I need is a decent pair of monitors, a pair of CDJ 2000'S with a couple of full up USB sticks and a mixer.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
Woh that's a tough one. A lot of these tracks have been ripping up my Memory Box parties over the last 6 months / 1 year so it's hard to pick one. I'm going for the all time classic from the mix which is Paul Rutherford "Get Real" because this track has been with me for years and I can still remember hearing it on a mix for the first the time and rewinding it to play again, and again, and again........ It's an emotive classy track that brings the dancefloor together. Also there's 4 tracks on here from the first forthcoming Memory Box Records release so they're all pretty important to me.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
There's 2 mixes that jump out from memory and interestingly they both have mc's on. The first one was live from Confusions around 1989 with Kid Batchelor and M.C. Noise and it had some killer original U.S. and U.K. house music. Also I think that was probably the first time I heard Hip House. And the other one was The Shamen doing a Synergy mix for Colin Favor on Kiss FM in 1990 or 1991. I think it was DJ Sticker and The Irresistible Force with Mr. C mc'ing and they were playing music from the En-Tact album. I'm not sure what I'd think hearing the mc'ing on these now but they were groundbreaking for me at the time.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
I think Ron Hardy would be a fun back to to back! It would have to be an American as they are the godfathers and Ron Hardy liked to mix up different styles and bring a lot of energy to his mixing and the club, with a tough sound. That would suit me nicely.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
My very first set up was a couple of belt driven turntables with no picth control plugged into my dads microphone mixer. Next up was 2 x belt driven turntables with a pitch control wheel on the front and a Phonic MRT 60 mixer and then I moved onto Technics. Now I have 2 x Pioneer CDJ 2000 + 2 x Pioneer CDJ 1000 controlling Traktor from my Macbook pro, 2 x Technics 1210's and an old Pioneer DJM 500 mixer. But in the end as long as there's something to play music on with pitch control and a mixer with 2 channels that's all I need.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
That depends what time of night I'm playing. If I'm playing the finishing set then definitely the track I end on. But if I'm playing an earlier set then the finishing track is less important as you never know how long the next DJ will leave it on for plus out of respect I like to leave the next DJ with an easy track to work with. Also how I choose my first track depends on what the DJ before has been doing.
What were the first and last records you bought?
I can't remember the first record I bought but I believe the first relevant record to my electronic music addiction was Robert Owens "Visions". The latest was Jared Wilson "Communing With Ghosts EP" on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
A fizzy cola bottle..
If it was an animal what would it be?
A Tasmanian Devil. It's crazy, edgy and cute. And it has a loud screech, just like acid.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
I suppose that depends what you mean by a mix. I think if you really want to play something there is always a way to mix it that sounds good. That just might not involve beat matching.
Upcoming in the world of…
The new Memory Box record label has 3 releases ready to go. MB01 - Robin Ball "Acid Stomp", all 4 tracks from this release are on this mix. MB02 - Orson Bramely (of Transparent Sound fame) "Then Again" which is a nice kind of electro / acid house crossover and Orson's done a house remix and an ambient mix. The other side has a Robin Ball mix plus a Robin Beats mix which is the first production of my brand new rave alias. MB03 - Robin Ball "Drop It Down Low / Remember" which shows my respect to Chicago House. There's another Groovepressure release just going off for manufacture which is the 16th release from the father label which takes in the deeper more thoughtful side of electronic dance music. That release is from myself and I (currently) think it's some of my best work.
Anything else we need to discuss?
There's a nice line up of Memory Box Summer parties which started 30 June with my Acid Warehouse Rave at Bussey Building in London which went off really well, I'll be working on more of them soon. Then forthcoming are - 22 July - Joey Beltram @ Patterns Brighton / 11 August - Disco in the House @ Bussey Building London / 12 August - Acid Rave with Luke Vibert & Justin Robertson / 9 September -Todd Terry @ Patterns Brighton. And soon I'll be starting work on the Memory Box 5th Birthday parties which will go off early in 2017. Info for everything Memory Box can be found HERE and at Groovepressure.
Follow Memory Box on Facebook HERE.