#035 – Andy Allwood


As the summer starts to melt away into the autumn, it seems like an ideal time to welcome a purveyor of twilight grooves to our mix series. Andy Allwood has been providing streets both at home and abroad with soulful, luscious house music for decades now, and has become well known in that time for his smooth, delicate mixing and his keen eye for selection. Both epitomised by the effortlessly quality of this interview and mix. Enjoy!

Andy mate, a privilege to finally have you a mix with us. It’s been a long time coming! How are you?

I’m very well thank you, I love what you guys do, so the privilege is mine.

You’re possibly the longest serving house DJ and Promoter we know in the North East. So can you tell us: where did it all begin for you? When and how did house music start to take over your life?

Music has always been a major part of my life, I bought my first cassette in 1988, when I was seven years old (Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me) and the first dance track I heard was ‘Charly’ by The Prodigy, back in 1990. That got me started in all things electronic, then during the ’90s I fell in love with house music.

Are there any sort of defining records from that time, any that you listen to now that make you nostalgic about the early days that your love for the music was developing?

The ’90s is personally my favourite decade for house music, with records such as ‘To Be In Love’ by Masters At Work & ‘The Whistle Song’ by Frankie Knuckles, both amazing records that I still play now.

What sort of house music do you play, and what one tune probably best sums up your sound?

House music with soul, and the tune that best sums up my sound? Joey Negro’s remix of ‘Backfired’

Now, you’ve been DJing up here since (probably) we were busying ourselves with building Lego space stations and making swear words out of alphabetti spaghetti (although we still do both of those things sometimes). Can you tell us a bit about your history in Newcastle and the North East? The different nights you’ve played, how you got into playing out in the first place, and so on?

I studied Music Technology & production at Newcastle College in 2000, where I met a couple of lads who DJ’ed, they got some 1210s out and I was hooked instantly. We started a night called ‘Keepin It Real’ which ran for a couple of years, playing at the old WHQ and Egypt Cottage, as well as many bars which have changed hands dozens of times since. I also co-ran a night in 2011 called HomeSpun, again for a couple of years, playing all over the North East and Ibiza. Then myself and Paul Junior started ‘Sanctuary’ got the legendary Graeme Park up in 2013 for the launch and at the end of the month we’re celebrating our second anniversary at No28, where it all started.

How do you think things have changed house music wise in the North East over the years? And to what extent do you think the recent upsurge of what you could call ‘student’ house has impacted upon the city?

When I first started going out in the late ’90s, most of the bars played really good house music, vocal and funky, but never too commercial, which is the opposite of most bars now, they all seem to be carbon copies of each other these days.

As you’ve mentioned, you’ve also spent some time in Ibiza. We’ve only been there as punters and never to DJ. What’s it like playing out day in day out on the White Isle, and how did you get your first chance to go out there?

I decided that in 2012 I would just give it a go, so I booked a flight and a hotel for a couple of weeks, then walked around the island looking for work. I met a lot of nice people and eventually got to play at various places, doing guest slots and filling in for residents’ nights off. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of DJing there, everyone is always up for a good night (and day) so the vibe is always great.

Now, of course, things have changed a lot in Ibiza. Do you have any opinions on how the music and culture has changed in Ibiza over the past few years?

I was a late starter to Ibiza, first going in 2010, but even since then it has changed quite a bit, the past two or three years especially, with so called ‘celebrities’ DJing (if you can call it that) and the whole VIP culture, and people posing for photos to pretend to their friends they’re having a good time. It’s definitely damaged the whole scene, although you can still have a great time in Ibiza.

Any plans to go back there or, now we think about it, to any other places to do another season?

This is the first summer in six years I will have not gone to Ibiza. I do plan to go back, but not for the season, although saying that, you never know what could happen!

Closer to home, we’d also like to ask about Sanctuary, which as you’ve already told us celebrating its second birthday this month at No. 28. Congrats! Tell us a bit more about Sanctuary: where did it come from and what’s the ethos or concept behind it?

I started Sanctuary with my good friend Paul Junior, who had played for me before. We’d got chatting about putting on events, talking about how it seems Newcastle is immersed in commercial music and needed some good proper house music again, so we started Sanctuary, an escape from the mediocre music.

When you played for us at our 12 Hour 12 DJ event a little while ago, we were struck by the absolute seamlessness of your mix; how the tunes just seemed to melt into one another. As mostly drum and bass and dubstep DJs its not something we’re that clued up on. So in general how do you go about constructing a set, and how important do you think it is that mixes are smooth rather than more abrupt or noticeable to the crowd?

I’ve always been a fan of the long mix, blending two tracks together, it works well with my style of house music. The way I constructed my set for you guys was I sorted out some of the best new and classic tracks I had, then just went with the flow of the event, which was great, I think it’s important not to plan sets too much, as you have to go where the crowd takes you in the moment.

Finally for this section, what’s the best and worst song requests you’ve ever had playing out?

I recently had a request for Masters At Work – ‘To Be In Love’, my favourite house track of all time, so that was definitely the best. I’ve had plenty of bad requests over the years too, especially around Christmas time, so probably Mariah Carey.

The questions we ask everyone…

What is the most prized vinyl in your collection?

It would have to be a test pressing white label of ‘Must Be The Music’ by Joey Negro & Taka Boom.

What one tune would you have most liked to be a fly on the wall when it was being produced?

‘Your Love’ by Frankie Knuckles, to hear that piano riff for the first time would be amazing.

What’s your food heaven and food hell?

I love cooking, so I would have to say my own home made Moroccan Tagine is my food heaven, and my food hell would be anything non-vegan.

In a four-way Hell-in-a-Cell battle to the death between Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot, who would in and why?

Super Mario, as he is the original and just like music, the original is always the winner.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into mixing?

Start on vinyl, once you have mastered that, mixing on other platforms is a lot easier.

And finally…

Now, we know that you’ve recently turned vegan. With that in mind, can you share with us one of your famous Chef Allwood recipes for the best vegan dessert you’ve ever made? We love our desserts here…

Haha OK. Banana Muffins are a great dessert, but you can eat them any time, which makes them even better. Mash up 4 large bananas in a bowl, mix in 100g Brown sugar & 75g of vegan spread, add 225g of self-raising flour, 2 heaped tsp of Baking powder, 3 tsp Cinnamo, mix well and add to a muffin tin, then cook in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees.

Very lastly, can you tell us how you put this mix together for us?

I’ve chosen some of my favourite soulful house tracks from the last eight months, some of which I played at your event back in May.

Well mate, once again the pleasure is all ours. If you’ve got any final thoughts or any shout outs, now is the time!

Just to let everyone know they can get in touch with me via my Facebook page or @andyallwood on Twitter and for more mixes check out andyallwood
Thanks again guys, keep up the good work.

Tracklist

Tom Glide ft Shylah Vaughn – Soul Life (Bangsy Soul Anthem)
Rampus – Breathe
Osunlade – My Reflection (Andy Allwood Edit)
Allovers ft Elliot Chapman – Psychedelic Love (Earnshaw & Hayes Remix)
Luis Martinez (US) – Don’t Change
Gamma ft Chelsea – Love Again
Tony Humphries, Junior White & Aaron K. Gray – Wonder Why (Vocal Mix)
Soul Power – Live In The Moment
Chanelle – This Love (Rampus Remix)
Aristofreeks ft Kathy Sledge – Keep It Movin’ (Eric Kupper Club Mix)

#035 – Andy Allwood – House by Onehouronedj on Mixcloud

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