Aphrodite & DJ Phantasy ‘Stick Together/Cocaine (Aphrodite & DJ Phantasy Remixes)’ – Recorded in 1993 but never released.
1993 was a busy year, so much was happening at such an alarming rate. Rave music was shifting and morphing, progressing on its creative journey, enveloping the country, inspiring producers the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. Bedroom studios were a hotbed of creativity and vision manned by a younger generation of predominantly male visionaries. Many childhoods had been spent growing up listening to 80’s electronic pop music in the charts as well as electro grooves laying down the soundtrack to many kids lives, a future-bound perspective of twisting the norm had been generated. The rave years were the formative years of dance music which created the blueprint that would be tried and tested by future generations as it crept to global dominance.
But none of this ran through the heads of those early adopters and hardcore warlords. In the late 80’s and early 90’s the youth had been left behind in society and the frustration of lack of support and faith had scorched the kindling, producing a tinderbox environment. Each spark igniting the fire further-still. Each record made continued to stoke the furnace. The progression to Jungle was happening and it was chance encounters that helped lay the way to its rise. An unpredictable logical progression. And this is how this record was made!
It was 1993 and DJ Phantasy had been working with Jack Smooth at his London studio which was above the Basement Records warehouse unit, a hubbub of like-minded souls. As Phantasy recalls “Aphrodite came to see Basement about something and I was upstairs working with Ron. This was the first time we had met one another and I really wanted to work with him. I had seen him on the front cover of the Amiga Format magazine so I asked him there and then if he fancied doing a tune together, which he agreed to”. Phantasy continues – “Back then there were no ego’s in place, so people liked working together. We both hit it off straight away”.
Urban Shakedown on the front cover of Amiga Format, August 1992.
Aphrodite chips in “I honestly cant remember that was how we met for the first time but I was at Basement to discuss distribution for Aphrodite Recordings. I had decided I didn’t want to work with SRD as they, in my eyes, were the machine, they had all the big labels like RAM and Moving Shadow and I felt I needed to be on a more underground tip. I had already worked with Mo’s Music but they owed me money and I didn’t wish to work with them anymore”.
Steve Phantasy drove from his West London base to the Isle Of Dogs to work with Gavin not long after that chance meeting. I couldn’t resist asking Steve what it was like in 1993 for a loan Chelsea supporter to make their way into the heart of Millwall, an arch rival football team who had a notorious hooligan firm, The Bushwackers, back in those rowdier days of terrace culture – “They wouldn’t of known as real football fans don’t wear shirts, so they wouldn’t know I was Chelsea. I wasn’t worried, it didn’t cross my mind. Though there was this other time though, me and some pals were on the Old Kent Road when a load of Millwall recognised me as Chelsea. That got a bit aggy!” (NB: Its at this point I would recommend you pick up Phantasy’s book ‘Three Generations Deep’ for his take on the terrace culture and life as a DJ. And just to add for balance, Chelsea also had a heavily rated firm, The Headhunters).
DJ Phantasy rocking a club, circa 1990.
Steve already knew Gavin was a master on the Amiga, as Steve recalls “I had been pressurising Ron to start working on a screen and not use the MPC to make music. Ron was a master and a perfectionist and it was a joy to work with him but I also wanted to experience how people made music using a computer screen! So when I worked with Gav I was amazed. He blew my mind as Gavin was using numbers to make music! He was so good and knew the system so well”. I wondered what the first tune they did together – “I heard the ‘Cocaine’ tune and straight away wanted to remix it, so that what we started with. I didn’t have a clue what Gav was doing though. I said that I wanted to stutter the word cocaine and bang, Gav did it by punching in 1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0 into the Amiga. It was all numbers! And suddenly we had this stuttered vocal. It was amazing!”
“He loved his tunes to roll” Gavin tells me when talking about what it was like to work with Phantasy. “Where as I would battle with a 4 bar loop. Sometimes I would just go into one, trying to create the perfect 4 bars. A few times I could lose 3 or 4 days building those 4 bars!” he pains “Where as Steve would be like ‘yes, sounds great’ and move onto the next thing. He could make a groove out of not much and would be able to create something out of what was there. He was talented like that. For example, the last 2 minutes of the ‘Cocaine’ remix, I’m lost in that groove. Its so unique!”
DJ Phantasy at Fantazia Summertime, Bournemouth 1992. Photo by my good mate Ian Lloyd AKA KZ1.
“How was it working with Gavin in a new studio environment, did you learn how to use an Amiga?” I ask Steve. “I probably rolled a spliff and said whatever and let him crack on. I use to smoke a lot of weed! I just knew how it should sound and what should happen where. The Amiga was just another level back then! It’s funny, I always thought in life I was really busy. It wasn’t until I gave up the weed that I realised that I basically use to do fuck all!”
‘Stick Together’ and the ‘Cocaine’ remix were the first tracks that the two of them ever did together but they never came out. The music was just changing so quickly back then, the trends would come and go within months and it wasn’t worth putting out a tune if it sounded dated, even if that tune had only been written a couple of months before! The scene was evolving at a frantic rate in 1993 and that is why these two tracks haven’t been released until now. “It’ll probably get more love now than if we had released it back then, the scene was evolving so fast” Steve adds.
“How come the same vocal was used in ‘Dub Motion’ and ‘Stick Together’ Gavin?” I ask, which he replies “I would of had it knocking around on a disk at the time and I just stuck it in there to get the track rolling. I’m not sure whether ‘Raw Motion’ was first, but had ‘Stick Together’ gone on to have been released, I would of removed it and replaced it with something different. But its thanks to you that these two tunes are going to get heard again by people as I had forgotten about them! I’m really happy they are finally going to get heard”. “I didn’t even know they hadn’t been released” Steve laughs, recalling how stoned he was back then!
The original DAT that the masters came from!
After 27 years both Gavin and Steve have nothing but nice things to say about one another. “After all these years we have never had a disagreement about anything, never fallen out. It just shows what a nice guy he was. Very professional. Never did drugs back then and was very focused on what he was doing” Steve says, bigging up Aphrodite. “So, what was the best thing you ever did with Aphrodite Steve?” I ask. “It would of been our remix of Four Horsemen Of the Apocalypse ‘Drowning In Her’. I remember playing it to Steve Bradshaw, rest in peace, after we did it and how happy he was with what we had done. I will always remember his face when the bass kicked in!”
So, there we go. Two legends, two tunes! Brought to you for the very first time on vinyl. This also wont be the last you have heard from either Aphrodite or DJ Phantasy on Vinyl Fanatiks… they just did too much quality material to leave the story here!