Fila Brazillia – A Playlist from 1990 to 2023

10 Minute Read
Fila Brazillia ~2000

Steve Cobby and David McSherry have revitalised the collaborative project as of late and what better chance to reflect on their favourite records of the past thirty years.

Formed in Hull in 1990 by Steve Cobby and David McSherry Fila Brazillia became synonymous with some of the best sun kissed and Balearic House music of the 90’s. The music they made back then is still heavily championed and supported by a plethora of DJ’s who refuse to let the music go.

The music the pair released drew upon influences and inspiration from a number of origins – Dub, Psychedelic, Downtempo, Italo, House and everything in between were all intertwined in some sort of fantasy world which made sense to the pair. The records they released were highly sought after and to this day remain in demand.


It is with this in mind that the pair are set to release ‘Retrospective Redux 90 → 22’ – an up-to-date collection that encompasses their wide ranging output.

David McSherry explains:

“This retrospective separates Fila’s output into four distinct periods: the early Pork Recordings era, where you’d find us hunkered over a sampler and an Atari; the latter Pork chapter, when we were based in Stunk Dusty, further expanding the FB sound away from any pigeon-holes; the 23 Records period where we developed the live band approach to take on the road, and, finally; the post-Hull years with us working mostly remotely.”

Steve Cobby adds:

“All the tracks have been remastered from the original DATs with a brand new tune ‘Toro De Fuego’ commissioned purely for the release”

With all of this in mind we felt it was perhaps a good moment to chat to the pair about some of their favourite records during this period and they didn’t disappoint.

1990 - Think Tank - Hack One

“My old manager Dave Rofe made great mix tapes as a side hustle when he looked after my outfit Ashley and Jackson in 89/90. Entrepreneur that he was, he duplicated them up and flogged them around the shops and hairdressers of Manchester. He put me on to loads of top tunes, ‘A Knife A Fork’ and ‘Hack One’ by Think Tank are a couple of the standouts.”

  • 1990 - Think Tank - Hack One

    “My old manager Dave Rofe made great mix tapes as a side hustle when he looked after my outfit Ashley and Jackson in 89/90. Entrepreneur that he was, he duplicated them up and flogged them around the shops and hairdressers of Manchester. He put me on to loads of top tunes, ‘A Knife A Fork’ and ‘Hack One’ by Think Tank are a couple of the standouts.”

  • 1991 - The Source Ft. Candi Staton - You Got The Love (re-issue)

    “We did a gig at the Cookie Club in Nottingham for DiY. I think that night was the very first time I’d heard this tune – I remember the intro synth and the massive bass sounding incredible in the pitch black of the club.”

  • 1992 - Mr Fingers - Closer (Sasha Jazz Odyssey mix)

    “Room nightclub in Hull held a special place in my musical and social development and is therefore held high in my affections. So many fantastic tunes I dropped and bopped-to in there but this superb remix of Larry Heard by Sasha remains a highlight.”

  • 1993 - UnderWorld - Mmm Skyscraper I Love You

    “When Steve and I were skint and were doing some painting and decorating to earn a bit of coin, this was regularly on the cassette player to soundtrack our graft. The title Dave Yang and Steve Yin De-Swish T’Swish came about through our liberal application of paint to a (previously) free-running curtain rail.”

  • 1994 - The Dust Brothers - Chemical Beats

    “Another Room associated tune for me. But this time in the upstairs annex that had opened after the initial coffee club had transformed into a very successful nightclub. A very cosy spot I called home for an inordinate amount of weekends. This tune is married to that spot. I loved the 14th Century Sky EP this came from.”

  • 1995 - Luke Slater’s 7th Plain - Time Melts

    “(Released in 1994 but I’m putting it here). I was at college in Salford between ’93 and ’95. This track reminds me of driving to lectures in Tim’s mini (Davies – Crazy P bass player) with Seb (Taylor – Kaya Project, Digitalis) and the other dudes we lived with. Andy Barlow (Lamb) was on the same course but he bailed out early so I never met him there. Also an honourable mention for Bye Bye by(!) The Solid Doctor – one of Steve’s finest.”

  • 1996 - Beck - Devils Haircut

    “Looking back to go forward. 60’s garage references with more than a nod to sample-age and hippety hop. From ‘Odelay’, an LP that I hammered to death that year.”

  • 1997 - Bullitnuts - Heavy Air

    “Old chums and Pork Recordings label mates Muzz and Beige’s 1st Of The Day LP was a constant at my house. This belter is from their 3rd 12” on Pork Recordings.”

  • 1998 - Timberland, Aaliyah and Missy Elliot - John Blaze

    “Timbaland’s productions were as fresh as new paint. I thought the sparsity he employed was pretty groundbreaking. Loved the minimalism and efficiency of his work and the scenes he concocted. I picked this tune as it inadvertently named a Fila LP a couple of years later. I’d initially misheard the title of the track and had sung the mondegreen ‘Jump Leads’ in its place.”

  • 1999 - Kelis - Get Along With You

    “I used to have lots of parties at my house. This LP reminds me of when most people have gone home and there’s just a few of us left. Aptly, Suspended made it on to Fila’s Another Late Night compilation.”

  • 2000 - Common - The Light

    “Massive reminder of DJing at Shine nightclub in NYC and dropping this alongside Mos Def and Chuck D to add some conscious hip hop in my set to honour my first set in the home of the art form. Subsequently I met the sound man as I was packing away, who congratulated me on my set. Was very chuffed to get props from a native New Yorker so we struck up a conversation and he was absolutely fascinating. He informs me his name is Djinji and he is the son of jazz saxophonist Marion Brown, that he was the frontman of hardcore punk band Absolution then got into sound engineering and production and had worked for Pete Rock amongst many others. I got his email! It’s a long story but within eight months he was MCing the Fila Brazillia tour of Canada and the United States! He is also someone I’m proud to call a lifetime friend. Think of that night every time I hear this belter now. The late Bobby Caldwell sampled on the chorus to fine effect.”

  • 2001 - N.E.R.D - Run To The Sun (2001 version)

    “More production and songwriting epiphany. This time from The Neptunes. This version of the track and the LP it was taken from were released only in the UK in 2001 for some inexplicable reason. Pharrell and Chad then decided to re-do the full LP with a rock band. Big no from me. All the nuance and subtlety I loved was eradicated in favour of ballsy tosh. I still love the UK only version that is now sadly deleted. You can find its delights on YT. Genius producers and writers though. This was nothing but a tiny blot on their copy book.”

  • 2002 - Xpress 2 ft David Byrne - Lazy

    “When Fila toured the states in 2002, I would try to carry on seamlessly after the live set with a dj set. Some nights worked better than others but I recall this anthem by our good friend Ashley and co rocked it every night I dropped it. Excellent sonic reminder of a great time. Top trivia = Stevie Wonder is only two years older than David Byrne.”

  • 2003 - Erlend Oye - Ghost Trains

    “This track was on the shortlist for Another Fine Mess. Morgan Geist’s intricate programming and arrangement are ace. Also an honourable mention for Prototype by Outkast. I borrowed a friend’s 1970s VW campervan for a few months and hammered The Love Below in it. The campervan can be heard revving its little face off on Doggin’ from Dicks.”

  • 2004 - Slum Village - Reunion

    “We did a gig at a coastal festival in Belgium around the turn of the millennium and the dressing room next to ours had the artist name ’Slum Village’ on the door. I was absolutely intrigued as to what type of band would pick that as their moniker. I returned home and discovered the wonders of J-Dilla and crew. A pioneer of course. Such a fantastic ear for melding sonics.”

  • 2005 - Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Logic Moon

    “I chose this track a few days before the sad news about RS was announced. What an incredible talent and legacy – not many artists could sit as easily in a playlist along with Beethoven, Bach and Bovell! The title theme from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence still floors me. Another collaboration by RS and AN that I really like is By This River from the 2011 LP Summvs.”

  • 2006 - Way Out - Ellen Alien

    “Absolute anthem. Electro funk breaks bomb capped with a softly shimmering vocal. Still gives me goosebumps.”

  • 2007 - Tinariwen - Izarharh Ténéré

    “Love the rhythm/groove on this. And the dreamy melancholy melody.”

  • 2008 - Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains

    “The first time I heard the LP this is taken from Mark Brydon played it to me in his home. I wasn’t sure at all. I was hearing Roy Orbison in there for some reason. I thankfully persevered and it soon became a firm fixture in the car and enjoyed by the kids when they were little.”

  • 2009 - Little Dragon - Blinking Pigs

    “My pregnant wife and I saw Little Dragon with Holy Other in Leeds 2012 – a few months later we had our own little blinking piglet. The gig has faded from my memory banks but I still enjoy the wonky-tuned synths on this one.”

  • 2010 - James Blake - Limit To Your Love

    “Knocked me sideways on first listen. Tender melancholic outpourings supported by austere piano and a bowel shaking sub bass. Wow.”

  • 2011 - Bjork - Mutual Core

    “Human Behaviour nearly made it as my ’93 entry but was pipped at the post by Underworld. Nearly 20 years later, here’s Bjork still ploughing her own furrow. I love the use of pipe organ on this LP. And the lyrics – anyone who can get ‘as fast as your fingernail grows’ into a song is alright by me.”

  • 2012 - Frank Ocean - Crack Rock

    “Just the tune I played the most in 2012. Obviously due to its excellence. The children are older now and cringe as I sing various ‘Crack Rock’ lyrics around the house.”

  • 2013 - Mica Levi - Love

    “Mica Levi conducting the London Sinfonietta for a screening of Under The Skin at Hull University’s Middleton Hall was a highlight of the City of Culture for me. Such a great score and to hear it live was a treat. Also an honourable mention for Says by Nils Frahm. I saw him play in Norwich and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been at.”

  • 2014 - Khruangbin - A Calf Born In Winter

    “One of the very few bands I’d like to be in. This was the first thing I heard by them. Loved it and all the beautiful sonic canvases they’ve painted since.”

  • 2015 - Shye Ben-Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, Rajasthan Express - Hu

    “I’ve got a lot of time for Jonny Greenwood, particularly his film score work. Tree Synthesisers from Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is another favourite of mine.”

  • 2016 - Apollo Brown - Shadows Of Grief

    “Clouds is still one of my all time favourite LP’s. AB is a don and always produces top crafted assemblies.”

  • 2017 - Thundercat - Show You The Way

    “Another wife (not pregnant this time) and me gig- Thundercat at the Invisible Wind Factory in Liverpool in 2017. It took us forever to get there so we were a bit late. We could hear the bass throbbing from miles away as we walked through the old industrial docklands to the gig. The gig was great and not too many excursions into bass-wank territory.”

  • 2018 - Back South - Mansur Brown

    “Stunningly gifted guitarist and writer. Still appears criminally overlooked.”

  • 2019 - Rozi Plain - Quiz

    “Alternate reality 70s kids TV drama theme tune. What A Boost – what a tune!”

  • 2020 - Bittersweet - Leanne Le Havas

    “Have not stopped hammering this song since its release. Utter perfection. Uber-talented lady.”

  • 2021 - Arooj Aftab - Baghon Main

    “I first heard this beautiful piece on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Fila Brazillia fan (and Room nightclub regular in the 90s) Anita Rani played it after saying she was obsessed with it. No wonder, it’s ace.”

  • 2022 - Steve Mill - Love Attack

    “DJ’d in San Francisco in November of ’22 and this tune cemented itself as a trip highlight and subsequent aide de memoir of a lovely time.”

  • 2023 - Kosmischer Läufer- Schreibmaschine

    “Who doesn’t love a big fat arpeggiator and a ripping yarn?”