Diesler and Simon Ham are DJs and musicians both, with deep connections to Manchester’s music scene. Diesler has been writing and remixing for labels including Tru Thoughts and Freestyle since his early twenties, while Simon Ham continues to play bass with The Plimp Souls. Their deep music knowledge and understanding of what makes for a great clubnight, are two of the reasons we’re thrilled to welcome them to Band on the Wall for You Dig? SAMPLED on 15th September. Ahead of the night, we caught up with Simon to discuss the history of the night, some famous samples and some records he’s still in pursuit of.
You Dig? Began back in 2012 and has found a home in a few Manchester venues over the years. What has changed since you established the night and why was now the time to bring it to Swan Street?
SH: ‘We started out as a bar night in the Soup Kitchen’s canteen then moved down into the basement where we were able to spread our disco wings. We owe a lot to SK for giving us the opportunity and believing in us. A lot has changed since 2012. These days cheesy gimmicks are more important than the music itself, this is why Swan Street (Band on the Wall) is where You Dig? Wants to be. It’s about the music, the journey, & the emotion good music gives.’
You’re heading back to the source in September, celebrating the music sampled by some of contemporary music’s biggest names. When you came up with the concept, what was the first record that sprung to mind; the first 45 in the bag, if you will?
SH: ‘Back in 2005 Diesler (Aka Jono Radford the other guy behind You Dig?) and myself Simon Ham (Aka Simon Ham) found ourselves releasing music around the same time, Jono being signed to Tru Thoughts records (as Diesler) and me on Catskills Records (as Ch3vy). We were both avid diggers and both were putting out sample-laden jazzy, broken, dance floor tunes, heavily influenced by funk, soul, Jazz, Latin & Hip Hop. So putting the “Sampled” concept together was easy and one that is close to our hearts. As far as the first record in the bag, or favourite “original” record, it has got to be either Sly & The Family Stone – Trip To Your Heart (Sample By LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out) or Lee Michaels’ – Who Could Want More (Sampled by Young MC – Principal’s Office.) These are a little deeper, but there’s always David Bromberg’s – Sharon (Sampled by Beastie Boys – Johnny Ryall) & Tom Scott – Today (Sample by Pete Rock & CL Smooth –They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).’
When you DJ together, what tends to be your approach? Do you usually play back to back, or take say 20 mins each and sub in and out, or do you decide it all in the moment, according to where the crowd and vibe takes you?
SH: ‘At You Dig we go back to back, it keeps it fresh and keeps us on our toes. Some DJ’s like to prepare a run of records, not us, we take the bull by the horns and go guns a blazing into the unknown. No seriously, after 6 years of DJ’ing together we feed off each other and it seems to work really well. YD’s club nights see some serious dance floor action.’
Many of the breakbeats, piano parts etc. sampled during hip-hop’s ‘golden era’ came from records made with a few microphones, in modest studios by musicians playing live and trying to capture the perfect take. Do you think those circumstances and creative restrictions were part of what made those records so great?
SH: ‘Yep, back then it was pure and innocent, those guys weren’t thinking about what would make a good break or sample. And the fact the recordings weren’t over produced and raw makes it all the better. It’s got to be to do with analogue recording and full band, one take approach. There is a fantastic documentary called “Sample This”: The Story of ‘Apache’ and The Incredible Bongo Band. It is a great watch and the story behind the band and how the most icon hip-hop break was created believe it or not in a studio in Vancouver Canada.’
Are there any records, heavily sampled or otherwise, that you’re still desperately trying to track down on wax?
SH: ‘The list is endless, but still on the hunt for an album by The Heath Brothers called Marchin On and the song – Smilin’ billy suite part 1 sampled by Nas ft. Q-Tip One Love. Also a song called Space by Galt Macdermot – Busta Rhymes sampled it for Woo Hah. Another, Hang on in There by Mike James Kirkland sample by Ugly Duckling.’