Aphrodite ‘Raw Motion/Dub Motion’ 12″ – Originally released on Aphrodite Recordings, 1993.
Gavin King has always gravitated to music. At the age of 4 he started to play the violin and it wasn’t long before his parents realised he was gifted and was classed as a musical prodigy! He still retains his love of classical music to this day. But it was the restrictive nature of classical music that made him rebel from his first love; “I didn’t mix with the other musos as they were a bit spoddy” Gavin tells me with a chuckle. Spoddy, now that is an adjective that I haven’t heard since the 1980’s!
It was also his love of computers. Growing up in the early 80’s in a world dominated by Commodore, Atari, Sinclair and Amstrad, a young Gavin started to experiment with computers, teaching himself how to code and how to push the boundaries of these pioneering machines. But it was the rise of the early Electro scene in London that inspired him to progress from playing instruments to playing music. In 1984 a friend of his hardwired two turntables by joining the 5 din plugs together into the back of a HiFi unit. “I could only mix records that were roughly the same speed as there was no pitch control” he explains when I question how he actually managed to mix, adding “Its all about creative finger control!” DJ Gavin’s first proper gig in front of people was his sisters 21st birthday party in 1984. Gavin was the youngest sibling and at the age of 15 he was mixing up Jazz, Funk, Chaka Khan, the Electro albums and Michael Jackson. When playing pop music he started to notice that he could veer off piste a little and start dropping a few underground tunes, mainly tracks from Morgan Khan’s ‘Street Sounds’ albums, coming back to the mainstream songs when he saw people’s interest declining; “That’s when I and others noticed I had a knack of making people dance” Gavin adds. A realisation that made him plot the next steps in his formative years.
In 1987/88 he was at the University of Warwick studying Computer Science and had already spent his student loan on a set of decks and a cheap mixer from Radio Shack, recalling that the decks cost him £50 each – “Radio Shack was the go to place for electronic equipment back then! They weren’t Technic turntables but the most important thing was that they had pitch control!!!” That summer holiday he returned to London and was swept up into the Acid House craze that took the country by storm. The Summer Of Love had a profound effect on a young Gavin, one that has stayed with him on a daily basis since then, which he explains: “Sunrise FM was local to me and I use to listen to with other pirate radio like Kiss a lot that summer. I started buying the records I heard being played on the radio and by the end of the summer, I had about 3 inches worth of records. I returned to Uni in September 1988 and was determined to put on an Acid House night. I met another guy called Adam who also had the same about the same amount of records as me, so we joined forces and started a night called ‘Aphrodite – The God Of Love Bringing The Sound Of The Summer Of Love”. It was at this point that Gav decided his mission going forward would be to try and forge his two main passions, mixing computers with music.
Gavin in his Bromley Studio, 1993. Gavin – “That’s a Mac Performa, intended for music use, but only ever actually used for online/office/CD’s, the Amiga was next to it in the middle.”
By the summer of 1990, both Adam and Gavin left Uni. Adam went on to be banker or trader and the two of them still friends to this day! Gav focused on his new direction in life and in doing so, retained the name of the night, taking it one step further by naming himself Aphrodite. An alias that he has enjoyed for the past 31 years. It’s at this point of the story that we bring in Claudio Giussani, a close friend with similar interests. Claudio was studying Computer Engineering and had also been sucked into the world of Acid House in 1988. Together they created Cellar 4 with Ade Lovett and Mark Burton and released ‘The House Fusion’ EP on Radioactive Lamb in 1991. Though a highly collectable record now, with people paying £50.00 a copy, Gavin tells me that “It was a total failure and we disbanded that project straight away and that was the last time I worked with Ade and Mark”. But his relationship continued with Claudio and they formed the all conquering Urban Shakedown alongside newcomer to the scene, Micky Finn who had been a DJ since Acid House, hitting the national charts in 1991 with ’Some Justice/Ruff Justice’. It was at this point that Gavin’s musical output started to increase, inspired by the gigs he was playing and being in tune with what the ravers wanted from a track. He could see there was a future for himself in the music industry.
1992 came around and Aphrodite was banging out the tunes. He had witnessed first hand the rise of the symbiotic drug culture that collectively grew up with the rave scene. But this wasn’t something that was part of the whole Aphrodite brand. Gavin had already had his period of experimenting with drugs; “Back in 1986 I had a drug inspired rock phase, listening to Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. This was after my Electro era. I used to get really stoned and listen to the music. That’s what it was made for!” Full of inspiration from his chart success and constant touring, he decided the time had come to create his own label for his output. It didn’t take long to think of the name as he wanted to build up his brand, so Aphrodite Recordings was created. By this time Claudio was getting more involved in the Goa trance scene after he went there on a long holiday, so Gav took some new steps alone.
Gavin in his Woolwich Studio, 2020. In the background is one of the Amiga’s he used to make these tracks back in 1993 along with the Akai 3000 that came a few years later. Octamed 4 is in full effect!
The first release for his new label Aphrodite Recordings was ‘Raw Motion’ and ‘Dub Motion’, two awesome rolling tracks with creative beat edits that had their own unique flavour. Made on the Isle Of Dogs in East London, a large peninsula bounded on three sides by a large meander in the River Thames (thanks Wikipedia!), the vibe was captured by using an Amiga. Well, actually, two Amigas running in tandem! Using one for the sounds and the bass-line and the other for the beats and percussion, Gavin started forging his own personal flavour as he explains “I loved how in Reggae you could just roll a continual bass-line and everything else would change over the top of this bassline. It was infectious. I had tried this once before with Urban Shakedown on the ’Some Justice’ which was similar, being that things changed over a constant bassline”. Distributed by Basement Records, it didn’t do all that well at the time, with only 1000 pressed. “It did its thing, but didn’t make its mark back then. But over the years it has influenced many people and I am often asked about it” he explains. Gav’s business plan was to release one tune a month on the label as this and his DJing was his only income. “I also didn’t have enough money back then to buy many records, so to build my DJ sets I had to make the music myself, which is why the earliest version of ‘Some Justice’ was made, to bump up my mixtapes!!!” Gavin chuckles.
During the lead up to the launch of Aphrodite Recordings Gav had been busy on various other projects. There was the Interlok EP released in 1992 on Weave Recordings, where he submitted the track ‘Put The Fucking Record On’. Alongside Claudio as Urban Shakedown they had released the ‘Moon Walk’ EP which came out on a white label in 1992 (and soon to be repressed by Vinyl Fanatiks) as well as ‘Do It Now’ EP and the ‘Bass Speaker’ EP, released on their collaborative label of the same same, Urban Shakedown. Gavin was also working alongside Claudio on another project caled T-Boom (Takaboom) which featured Andrew Chatterley and Helen Mason. They only ever released one record ‘Feel That Feelin’ on Elecit back in 1993 which is a high energy breakbeat piano tune with some awesome summertime riffs. There was also one release that many didn’t know that Gavin had a hand in… the 3 Thieves And A Liar ‘In The House’ and ‘Audio Fear’ EP’s. As Gavin shares “The 3 Thieves And A Liar project came about as they sent us a demo which we liked. We met up a few times at theirs and I did some ‘executive production’ as it were, meaning we sat in on sessions giving ideas on how to structure the tunes with phrases and impact, and of course assist in mixing them down”. Gav continues “We did a 50/50 deal, designed their logo, labels and we released it so it looked like their own release. At the time it didn’t sell that well, 1000 – 2000 on the first, then 500-1000 copies on the second release I think”.
The DAT that these tunes were found on!
At this time he had a very basic set up as a studio, which was the way back then as everyone was young, didn’t have much money (this was the period of Thatcherism) and the equipment available was limited. There were the two Amiga computers, 2 small reverb units and no keyboard, which I find amazing! So all the drums were programmed directly into the Amiga and without a delay/echo pedal or hardware, that too had to be hand programmed in the Amiga via Octomed 4. This was proper underground business and very much a raw motion!
Personally I was intrigued with his logo for Aphrodite Recordings as most of the logos and artwork back then were hand drawn or typeset, as this was way before most of us were creating labels and logos at home on our Macs and PCs. “Where did that logo come from?” I ask Gavin. “I use to love my disco and had many disco records from the early days of DJing” he tells me. “There was this one label called PRT Records who had this dancing lady logo that always caught my eye when looking at the sleeves. I liked it and kind of stole it. I then adapted it so her boobs were bigger!”
Well, as they say, sex sells! As does great Jungle Music… 27 years after it was originally made. Vinyl Fanatiks is testament to that!