Gone To A Rave #40: Rip Colin Faver


Around 10 days ago I met up with Tim Taylor. Tim’s a DJ and producer I’d written about for a previous Gone to a Rave. He’d got in touch after reading my piece, pointing out that whilst he was flattered I’d dedicated a column to him, a lot of what I’d written was way wide of the mark. I’d agreed to meet up to have a proper chat. We met in Victoria near the booking agents Tim used to work for and he started telling me the story of his incredible career, a career that has included playing at Danceteria in New York, releasing Mickey Finn’s first record and writing the acid techno track that soundtracked the seminal club scene in Blade.

Early on in the interview Tim reminisced about a life changing experience he had going to the Camden Palace in 1984.

In early ’84,” he said, “I got the courage to approach the DJ booth, it was a big long ledge on a second tier. I went up the stairs to the gate – there’s a guy DJing, he’s got dark glasses on, he’s got a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he’s mixing absolutely flawlessly, and I’m like, ‘my God who is this guy? This guy’s the nuts!’ His name’s Colin Faver.

"I manage to get his attention – in my pocket I’ve got a brand new TDK C90 cassette –I said ‘excuse me, I love your music, I’ve been coming here a few months now, if I buy you a couple of drinks, would you pop that cassette in the deck and record for tonight, cos I’d love to hear your mixes’, and he went, ‘yeah, no problem.’

And that tape, live from the Camden Palace was the next level for me. Colin Faver was part of combining all the different genres into what became house and techno. Colin was a master. He was a very quiet person – if you became friends with him you knew it was real. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. That recording he made in January 84 was the beginning for me. He had three decks, a Formula sound mixer and a Revox reel to reel, all of the highest quality. He used to have rappers and DJs from New York we’d never heard of come and play, it was brilliant. He’s a great person, he’s been an inspiration to me and I don’t think he gets enough attention.

 “I’d really like to interview him,” I agreed, mentally planning to cover him in Gone to a Rave later in the month. The conversation moved on.

A week later I got a text off Tim;

Hi Ian just heard Colin Faver died today. Gutted.

It can’t really be over-emphasised how much Faver meant to the generation that created England’s dance music pantheon. Before house music existed, Faver was playing records as though it already did, picking through electro, industrial, new beat and synth pop, searching for a magical thread of rhythm that would lasso dancers onto the floor. In his residencies in the Camden Palace, and later at the techno club Knowledge, on his radio show on Kiss FM – the dance music specialist station he founded in the face of adversity- and in his unfaltering passion and enthusiasm for rhythmic machine music, he inspired techno producers, jungle producers, house producers, hardcore producers, ambient producers, and on and on. Much as they may not know it, every single DJ or producer who has come in the wake of artists stretching from Grooverider to Dave Clarke is indebted to the unassuming pioneer Colin Faver.

He didn’t do much in the way of production, which probably explains his relative obscurity in recent years. He did, on the other hand, sign Bauhaus and The Cure and release Aphex Twin’s early records. He was playing acid house records before Oakenfold knew what an Ibiza was.

There have been older heads lining up to pay tribute to Faver, and the sheer depth of passion shows how much this DJ meant. It feels like the best way to pay tribute is to stick on one of his mixes and marvel at someone who got it. Before superclubs, before stadium dance, before SamCam claiming to ‘love’ house music or Simon Cowell punting about a DJ version of X Factor, Faver was one of the few who advocated tirelessly for a rebel sound that split UK society. Listen to this recording of Faver smashing it out at a ’92 Phobia party.

Listen to how fucking alive it is.

Colin Faver, R.I.P.