Bang It With A Hammer: Gideön & Rush Davis talk DNA

10 Minute Read
Written by Alasdair King

What happens to a house when the foundations begin to shake? What happens when the structure designed to maintain its safe standing begins to bend and fold? Where should we turn when the very thing we hoped would offer shelter might crush us all?

I’m sat with Gideön and Rush Davis on a quiet, sunny evening in Deptford. The light is beginning to fade slowly outside, a golden glow illuminates the shadowy loft come studio space as we sip upon a pot of herbal tea.

It’s been one of ‘those’ weeks for everyone by the sound of it. Whilst summer lurks optimistically around the corner there is a tone of bubbling frustration and sadness at the state of everything else. 

How did we end up here? The world is in dire straits. 


A shared perspective held by the pair who have evolved to become close friends off the back of musical collaboration. Last month saw the two release an EP inspired by hard truths, a reflection on the state of things. Called ‘Fall of Rome’ the record is a poignant analogy of the lack of love and peace which plagues our planet in the midst of hate and crisis.

Penned by Gideön, the words then sung by Rush, were an opportunity to release some of the raging frustration, despair and anger at a world which seems to be hell bent on ensuring its own desolate end.

The pair first met following the release of Gideön’s first outing on his own Homo-Centric Records. The ‘Ritmo’ EP caught the ear of Rush, who was previously unaware of Gideön and his rather remarkable career as a DJ at the forefront of UK House music and the associated underground culture in London and beyond. Gideön remains one of the foremost, influential figures in underground dance music culture in the UK having held longstanding residencies at the likes of Adonis and pioneering the prolific NYC Downlow come Block9 extravaganza which really lead to the boom of the genre and celebration of queer culture at Glastonbury.

However, Gideön is also equally known for his social and political activism. An ardent campaigner, and founder of R3 Soundsystem, he firmly believes in utilising the power of dance music and the wider community for good to establish long term social change and a better future. Over the years he has powered protests, hosted demonstrations and been a voice of reason amidst an increasingly murky world in which capitalism and consumerism continues to intrude.

Rush explains how he stumbled upon Gideön and his music.

“I’m always hunting for new music. I deep dive. I found ‘Aaron Carl Lives On’ and it blew my mind. I come from the House of Xtravaganza. I’m always looking for tracks that have what I call like a cha-cha vibe. It’s something that feels aggressive, but it still has that, like faggotry, if you know what I mean? It was perfect and I took any opportunity I got to play it. I was running it every time I got a chance and I’m gonna be real with you…

I didn’t even know Gideön was alive. I thought it was some throwback shit from the late eighties. I was like, looking at the artwork and everything and I’m like, yeah, she’s gone. She ain’t here.

So I kept running it and I would tag it again, thinking that this was a lost queen. Then you know something popped up on my feed and I came to find out she ain’t lost and she’s fucking going to Berlin this weekend.”

The pair burst into laughter, you can feel the warmth and sincerity in the room. There’s a deep connection here rooted in mutual understanding.

“I didn’t even know Gideön was alive. I thought it was some throwback shit from the late eighties. I was like, looking at the artwork and everything and I’m like, yeah, she’s gone. She ain’t here.”


After exchanging messages online the pair linked up in New York, a brief moment in which they began to explore the possibility of working together as Rush jokes about the fact that there first collaboration was recorded on an iphone in a cupboard with a makeshift mic booth insulated with a duvet with a vacuum cleaner as a mic stand. It was only soon after that when Gideön shared what he’d been working on conceptually for the ‘Fall of Rome’ – offering a deeper understanding as to what their collaboration might truly be about as Rush reflects on why he leant his voice to the words.

“It’s important for you to understand why I chose to sing it because about 95% of the time I write everything that I sing. I don’t really cut anything unless it’s coming from my source. But when I met Gideön and I learnt of his politics and I understood what he was about and how much research and history he held on particular topics I was just kind of like, OK. I’ll sing these lyrics because I resonate with the energy of them and I can bring my spirit to it. I’m all about destabilising the norm and trying to create something new and representing the people that aren’t represented. I stand behind that 1000% and that’s kind of where we align.”

It is this ethos which has underpinned much of Gideön’s own career be it in music or activism. It’s rooted in his own upbringing and experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in London for many years as he explains.

“When I first heard House music as a little fucking gay-boy aged 12 or 13 in London, it was coming from straight pirate radio stations across the airwaves. There was no sense that that was anything related to faggotry other than how it made me feel. And the sense that there was something about it that belonged to me.”

This sense of identification and resonance is something upon which the pair have formed a close bond, reflecting on the very essence of what in and of itself is House music and how it connects to their own world experiences as Rush dissects the influences and nuances of the genre. There is a rationalisation that the hard hitting elements of the breaks and dubbed out versions are also paired with poignancy and emotion found in words and melody.

“When I hear the music that Gideön is producing, it speaks to two aspects of myself because there are aspects to myself which are pretty hard. In the house (ballroom) I walk to realness and being a part of the realness category was very much about blending in, you know, being able to bring where I’m from, the fact that my femininity and my masculinity are so interwoven with each other that they just, you know, kind of ooze the way that they do. For me, I learned that house music isn’t necessarily a genre. It’s a feeling, something that awakens these primal feelings that come from these breaks in certain songs.”

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"There was no sense that that was anything related to faggotry other than how it made me feel. And the sense that there was something about it that belonged to me.”


This primal element in something which has underpinned much of Gideön’s own personal appreciation of House music as he connects the dots between genres and their shared fluidity.

“I feel like house music is like a sort of fossil. If you bang it with a hammer and break it open, you’ll find queer DNA in there. DNA in the same way that human DNA functions, the variation in those ladders of the DNA helix – they define and carry so much information, all interlinked in one experience.”

This deep rooted connection to House music is what affords the pair a degree of sincerity in what they create. It feels real, not in some sort of nostalgic throwback to the days of Chicago but in a more nuanced reimagining of the core principles which made House music the soundtrack to a certain expression of relief or emotional escapism which was so interwoven with queer culture.

The tone on ‘Fall of Rome’ is deep, emphatic and driven by the desire for love and unification of a broken world. It acts to some extent as a spoken accompaniment to the anger and dismay at the state of things.

Gideön has been outspoken as to his views on a number of issues both socially and politically. An ardent critic of UK policy, he has been outspoken as to the facism and oppression of the Conservative Party towards the most marginalised and vulnerable in society. He has campaigned tirelessly in the pursuit of a Free Palestine and has attempted to breach gaps within creative communities with the broader goal of establishing a better more inclusive world based upon understanding, openness and respect.

Again he draws comparison between music and cognisance.

“I’ve been buying Dub and Reggae, classic Jamaican roots since forever and I’ve always followed South London’s sound systems. I’ve borrowed the phrase conscious House from conscious Reggae because conscious Reggae speaks about spiritual and political consciousness contained within the lyrics of music and felt by the musicians playing the piece. Within them you have this power that can fucking slay. These are the tunes that are getting the rewinds at gigs. Conscious music is more than the sum of its parts and it has this energy that Church and Gospel music has. I’m trying to make conscious House music.”

The idea that House music is a conscious mechanism for channeling and inspiring social change is very much at odds with what consumerism and capitalism has afforded the genre of late. The exponential growth of the genre and the associated ‘culture’ has lead to a naivety and lack of understanding as to what the core principles and roots of the sound represents. Gideön assesses his own responsibility in the growth of dance music ‘culture’.

“It’s parallel to the North Star of capitalism. Everything is based on growth, growth, growth. Dance music has been pushed beyond the communities and the environments that we are referring back to originally. To events like Tomorrowland where there’s hundreds of thousands of people who don’t know fucking anything about the the the shit that they’re dancing to.

Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, Gideön, you need to be careful what you wish for because you spent so long being an advocate for queer liberation and against homophobia.

Now that dance music and being queer is cool, a fashion statement even, I wonder to what extent I’ve chipped into this.

NYC Downlow was one of the first Queer festival settings in this country and we did make a dent into culture, not through a themed party but through a a network of people who are connected through their music, their politics and the fact that they are artists experimenting in the field of defining what it means to be not a heterosexual. It’s authentic.

Similarly if you go to good parties like Adonis or whatever. It’s fucking skanky. Not everyone is fucking pretty. It fucking stinks in there and it’s fucking real. And it’s punk and it’s British. I’m the most un-patriotic person you’ll ever fucking meet but the times when I feel proud of Britishness is that queer punk, skanky ratchet thing happening at Adonis and on the Palestine demos – this is what multiculturalism looks like.”

This is something which Rush concurs with, broadening the narrative to discuss the promotion and representation of parties and club culture, even up to the point of parties with rules and in club safety policies.

“A lot of issues that we have in most places is that the people that are putting these things on have no fucking clue what they’re doing and have no fucking clue what they’re talking about. They’re just regurgitating shit down, even down to the formula and the way in which they advertise the party or space. You can almost see its like performative care, like performative care to say ‘this is how good we are’.

All that stuff comes from proving it and earning it and creating that in the environment so that people don’t have to necessarily question that in the first place.”


"For me, I learned that house music isn't necessarily a genre. It’s a feeling, something that awakens these primal feelings."


Our conversation comes to a close and there’s a sense of us having cleared the air.

The notion of House music and what it means is far more complex than the cookie cutter format in which it is most commonly presented. It means something and speaks to the psyche in a way which we have lost as a society. The art of nuance, of conversation, of love, of empathy and expression. It was never about soundtracking the discussion, it was the discussion.

House music was the feeling which brought people together when words could not, the opportunity to connect with those around us who felt the same, who knew what it meant without that needing to be said or when it was too frightening to do so.

It’s always been social, it’s always been political, it’s always been about humanity.

There’s a collective sigh as Gideön pours another cup of tea…