Thursday, September 25 2014
uk prior to 1991
Lee’s career started on December 26th 1985 in his fathers pub in the countryside of the South West of England. Never dreaming what laid ahead he started his career playing Birthdays, Weddings and the occasional funeral. Born from a decades passion for music and seeing it as an opportunity to get a girlfriend he spent the first few years playing 7″ records to everyone from age 5 -95. He was soon spotted by a local nightclub who snapped him up as their regular Saturday night DJ. This lead to being invited to other local nightclubs playing as he describes it ” a mix of the best of the worst music from the 80′s”. Lee’s path diverted in 1988 with the discovery of acid house. After attending some of the outdoor raves that were gaining momentum around London’s M25 motorway Lee’s passion for music was turned on it’s head and he felt excited in a way never felt before. “I had to find this music” he said and started to collect the first records which have grown from the one red plastic record box of 1988 to over 35,000 records today. Lee and friends started to organize small club and beach events where he lived but getting to play these big raves proved difficult. Not living in London or knowing anyone involved made Lee just another Dj handing out mix tapes to anyone and everyone whom would listen to them. “I’m not sure what would have happened if I’d been asked to play back then as in 1990 my life really changed direction”.
Hong Kong and Thailand 1991 -1997
Lee was spotted by a club owner from Hong Kong in 1990 and left the UK early in 1991 to work as a DJ there. During the first six months it became apparent that Hong Kong’s underground dance music scene was non existent and Lee spent the next few years changing all that. Small Sunday night parties for 250 people grew quickly into a thriving nightclub scene which constantly saw him playing marathon sets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Overseas DJ’s and club nights started to grace the shores of Hong Kong as it became one of those happening destinations on the global DJ circuit. This continued throughout the 90′s. Lee’s residency at the now defunkt Big Apple and Neptunes nightclubs became so popular he DJ’d six night a week for three years until eventually deciding to leave in 97. The decision was made after playing with Sasha and Craig Richards on numerous occasions and having them offer to launch his career in the UK.
Also during the 90′s Lee ventured to Haadrin, Thailand. Haadrin is now a mecca for clubbers and it’s full moon parties attract 10,000 + people every month. Lee arrived in February 1992 after hearing about it from travelers who passed through Hong Kong. The full moon party at this point consisted of the drum circles around open fires on the beach and a DJ playing tapes in one of the bars. Lee decided to fly back to Hong Kong and come back with records and turntables while the Thai people organized a sound system. Lee stayed for 3 months at a time playing and helping to grow the parties which were held every week leading up to the main party on the beach each month for full moon. “This was always something that was going to happen in Haadrin” states Lee “I was just lucky enough to have been there very early on while the parties grew. I wouldn’t credit myself with being the first person playing dance music in Haadrin. That right goes to a fantastic DJ who went by the name of Backyard Dave but I was definitely one of the first few playing records on the beach there. We didn’t have a proper DJ box, just decks set up on a plank of wood balanced on beer crates with some palm tree leaves above to protect us if it rained! I regularly was electrocuted by the mixer when it got damp” Lee continued to visit the Island every year until 99 and stayed for months to experience the privalidged position of playing sunrise on the beach each full moon and at the Backyard club which he cites as one of the most special places in the world ever to have played at.
Back to the UK 1997 – present day
On the recommendation of Craig and Sasha Lee returned to the UK but it wasn’t an easy first year. Craig Richards ran a highly successful party in London which he invited Lee to play several times but without contacts or an agent Lee was a relative unknown and it took time to become recognized. Fortunately with strong and consistent appearances at Craigs night and then the launch of the Tyrant night featuring Lee alongside both Sasha and Craig Lee’s career really started taking off. Offers to play other leading UK clubs such as Cream, Golden, Ministry of Sound etc lead to Lee being offered to mix a CD for Hooj Chons mixing the breakbeat tracks on their label. Lee was asked to have the mix done by the next morning so no computer trickery here, just two decks a mixer and the records. He was also asked that year to mix his first solo CD (this time with tracks of his own choice). The compilation went down very well with the magazines. Tyrant was also picking up speed with a regular monthly party in both London and Nottingham. Lee and Craig were left to their own devices on several occasions with Sasha unable to make it and throwing them in the deep end. Would a packed house expecting to see Sasha be disappointed? The answer was clearly no as the crowd kept coming back month after month. In 1999 The first Tyrant compilation was released and won album of the month in every single magazine. This mix has stood the test of time and still sounds as fresh today as it did back then. Sasha decided to bow out of Tyrant after a few years and Lee and Craig continue, to this day, to confound and twist the heads of the people who hear them play .A Tyrant mix was featured on the UK’s Radio One live from the Homelands festival as well as the duo being invited to do an essential mix fro Pete Tong. Lee and Craig as Tyrant held down a monthly night at Fabric in London almost from the day it opened until the end of 2005 when Lee embarked his 365 project.
Lee decided to try and make more sense of his unrelenting travel in 2005 at which point the 365 project was born. It was an idea Lee had had to expand the impact a DJ would have by setting up shop in seven countries/cities for one or two months over 365 days. While in each location he became resident of a club and hosted at least four parties to grow the relationship and understanding between himself and each crowd. To learn more himself as well as expose each crowd to his unique music selection and Djing style. In each place he also set aside time to work alongside local producers and write music. Lee’s residencies were held in New York, Ibiza, Florence, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Denver and Hong Kong. He also kept a journal which was published online for each city by DJmag.com each month describing the unusual and unhinged lifestyle that is his. The project was a great success and after a few months break Lee returned to New York in Fall 2006 and expanded the 365 residency to 4 months. This is an ongoing project which could land in a city near you soon!
He has continued to release widely regarded and much loved underground mix CD’s for companies like Global Underground, Everybody and most recently Balance. He is also a yearly visiter to Miami’s winter music conference where for the last three years he has held his own party where he takes the controls and messes with your mind for seven hours. The party has gone from strength to strength and this year had to be moved to a larger venue due to outgrowing BED. The ‘Barrage’ Pawn shop party was mentioned as one of the parties of the conference.Lee continues to play the major festivals of the world from Notting Hill carnivals famous Sancho Panza stage to Exit festival, Creamfields and Homelands, Coachella, Love Parade, Dance Valley, Ultra, Acafest and in the last few years Burning Man which he cites as the best event he’s ever been to in twenty five years of going out. 2008 will see him visiting the Virgin festival in Toronto for the first time.
Lee was involved in Fire recordings during the nineties but is really a latecomer to producing citing laziness and studio fear as causes. His first solo production was the Lost and Found Ep on Fire which was instantly licensed to James Lavelles Global Underground, Tyrant 2 (although Lee said he felt a bit weird putting one of his own tracks on a compilation), Cass’s Prologue and Sancho Panza’s carnival CD. Not a bad start! As Tyrant they remixed UNKLE and Lee set up Almost Anonymous in 2006 which was “simply a label for releasing tracks made on the 365 tour”. Tracks alongside Dan F, Andy Page and Steve Porter were released through 2007.
2007 to present.
Lee’s most recent triple mix CD for Balance was released in Fall 2007 to critical aclaim. Ranking as compilation of the month across many many publications and websites it then went nominated for compilation of the year at the PLUG awards. Lee’s tour to support the CD ran through into 2008 covering most of the world and back.
Projects in 2008 include a new set of parties called ‘GET WEIRD’ which will start out as residencies on the left and right coast in San Francisco and New York. A return to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert will see him warping minds at various parties as well as this year his own sound system. Lee is also going back in the studio to “take it a bit more seriously this time” alongside new studio guru Tim Green (TG). Expect some wonky and weird music to see the light of day towards the end of 2008.
On a last note Lee has regularly been described as a DJ’s DJ and I asked the ever popular journalistic question “Describe the music you play”? I asked . He said he usually doesn’t have an answer to have an answer but narrowed it down at least. “The records that can’t really be described. Those are the ones that always interest me. Wonky, Wobbly, bassline driven, trippy, melodic, mean, nasty, gentle, deep, spacious, distant and rocking.Interesting not obvious. Those are some of the words that I’d use to describe the records in my box”.