Luke Solomon – INFLUENCES
One of left-leaning British house music's heroes, Luke Solomon has an impressive track record. From setting up the seminal label Classic Recordings with Derrick Carter to shoe horning 'quirky house' into the UK Top 10 and international charts with his band Freaks, Luke has been there for many of the more interesting 4/4 moments of the last many years.
With that in mind then, it seemed only fitting to invite Luke to join the fold of imparting his Influences and what has shaped him and his music.
I lost my Mum at an early age, which was something that had a profound effect on the rest of my life. My Mum had a brother, my Uncle Frank. He was an architect, an incredibly talented one. He would always encourage his children (my cousins) and me, to draw and read whenever we could. We would spend weekends visiting castles, places of importance, something that I try to do with my own children. My cousin Anna (Dougherty) went on to pursue art as her lifelong career. She ended up having a self portrait displayed in the National Portrait gallery, something that made me so incredibly proud and happy, but something that also made me feel so incredibly inspired. I am sad that I lost my Mum, but at the same time, incredibly happy that I was part of her family after her death – they had a great influence on my life.
John Betjemen goes by Train
Something that has stuck with me since I was so very young is the idea of traveling around on trains across England. I started reading Betjemen's poetry and became fascinated by him and his love for architecture and suburban towns. I love that he wrote from a romantic perspective but in turn wrote about day-to-day life: the things that he saw. I have always taken that approach to writing songs (I’ve never been one for writing about love or heartache from a direct perspective), takes a different slant on life and turning that into music.
London the Modern Babylon – Julien Temple
Julien Temple was responsible for documenting a lot of punk’s history and he made this quite recently. This focuses more on the development of culture out of London as a city. I guess I have grown to be very London centric over the years. I find the architecture and extended history of the city amazing, but I do find London's cultural history even more amazing. I find London both horrible yet wonderful at the same time. The moments when I can travel around and seeing nothing but beauty and feel inspired – to then walk around and be afraid and disgusted – is inspiring in very different ways. I own a "London Stinks of Piss" T Shirt actually, I used to wear it whilst DJing at Plastic People many moons ago – which was a giggle.
England’s Dreaming – Jon Savage (Book)
I went through a phase of reading and watching every possible thing I could get my hands on. Punk was something I grew up with as a child – I had older friends (and relatives even) who lived the whole experience. I remember my uncle turning up at the house with green hair and seeing the Sex Pistols on TV but being too young to comprehend it; but at the same time I was being totally captured by these freaks from another planet. Naturally I was too young to ever be a punk (the closest I got was ripped jeans) but the whole ideal really shaped my youth and character. I loved the anti-everything manifesto: a ‘fuck you’ to those that set the rules, stating that it doesn't have to be this way. As I have gotten older I guess I have become less reactionary to an extent – but I still hate following rules.
Three and a half years ago I lost a very dear friend. It was a devastating moment in time for many people that were extremely close to him. My world caved in and I spent two years battling with grief, depression, lack of confidence, and all the other things that accompany loss. I then started to slowly deal with the grief with the help of friends and family. One of the ways I learnt to deal with the grief was by channeling Kenny's memory into my day-to-day life. Remember songs that he loved, his sense of humor and his take on life. I wrote songs for him, about him…I made music that I though he would play if he was still around – and eventually I started to remember the happy things he left behind. In more recent years, he has quite literally been one of my greatest influences.
In 1994 I was working at a now defunct label called Freetown. It was one of my first proper jobs in the music industry and the doors were opened to me. I worked with now legendary artists, some of whom went on to become close personal friends. My first ever USA tour took me to New York, Toronto, Detroit, and Chicago. I fell in love from the outset. I met some life long friends and I was completely drawn into the Chicago way. It was the place where I learnt my craft by watching others – people the same age that had already been DJing 10/15 years. I go there every year still and it is like home from home – I feel honored to have been accepted as one of the ‘family’.
I deliberated over this one as in all honesty; I could have put ‘good music’ in its entirety. To then single a certain person out as being an influence could be both tricky and one could accuse me of favoritism. But if I were to break it down and take it right back to an early musical memory, to a moment when everything changed, then I can actually pin point it to one single artist that has had a profound effect on my musical life.
I remember having bootleg cassettes of ‘For You’ 1999 and most importantly ‘Purple Rain’. I was riding my BMX back from the bootleg cassette shop in Nicosia, Cyprus and I had my walkman on. It was the first time I had heard the album, the opening words did something to me: it was a life changing moment. It was the moment where I knew somehow music would be a major part of my life. My obsession with Prince has always been a thing, musically he had a great affect on early Freaks career; I then continued to follow intently whilst everyone else lost interest. There was a series of albums that appeared as NPG, Crystal Ball, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic and some albums he produced including Chaka Khan and Larry Graham. Each had a gem on that I have since edited and played, I was of the few that listened to Rainbow Children and N.E.W.S. on repeat.
My love has never waned – ever.
The Little Soul Cafe – Tokyo, Japan
I tend to find that the places I go and the people I meet are generally a catalyst to new worlds – and in those new worlds I am culturally involved, but the music is always a focus. I first went to Japan over 10 years ago now and I was very fortunate to play at Yellow, which was an incredibly enlightening experience as a DJ. I stayed in Japan for a good couple of weeks, the majority of which was spent trawling record stores both new and old.
The amount of musical content that was openly available to me as a consumer just blew my mind (and my bank account). Amongst all of this I was taken to cafe called the Little Soul Cafe, run by a wonderful man named Miachan. I have visited many times over the years and spent many drunken evenings with friends listening to soul music – the bar contains Miachan’s entire record collection, which has thousands and thousands of records. It inspires me very time and my ears are constantly opened a multitude of wonderful soul music, stuff that I know, and stuff that has gone on to influence my music and my life in general – a truly magical place for music lovers.