Law & Auder
One of my longest quests in regards to organising a repress was tracking down Utomica. I had received many messages about trying to sort out that release by fans of the record who would direct message me. I was determined to make it happen and played the waiting game. But as the saying states ‘patience is a virtue’ and this was most certainly the case as not only was Martin a member of Utomica, he was also part of Law & Auder. And Law & Auder have a near mythical status within the 90’s jungle collector’s circles. Saying that, Utomica was also near mythical as well! But Law & Auder would always appear in any of the ‘Top 10 most collectable Jungle records’ lists that would be done by Discogs or DJ Magazine and the like. It’s like Martin has the Midas touch. But for a guy that has made such an impact on the hardcore and jungle scenes, he hasn’t got a huge ego, he is the total opposite. He is mild mannered, unassuming and very laid back. It’s always a pleasure to chat with Martin and today was even more pleasurable as he brought along his old mate, the studio maestro and another part of the Law & Auder team, Phil Dickson-Earle. Today I was given a schooling.
Martin & Phil – Catching wreck in Hoxton 1995
Very similar to how Utomica came about, Law & Auder formed through the same mutual friend, a guy called Bobbi Style, from The Love Junkies, who was signed to Pro-One Records, the same label that Martin was signed to as Utomica, run by the other half of Utomica, David Salvi. Bobbi was central to both musical partnerships. “I went up to Bobbi’s to buy a bit of kit” Phil explains “and I ended up leaving as his manager! I was already working with a guy called Lawrence Elliott-Potter as part of Friends, Lovers and Family and was signed to Rising High Records. But to be honest, I wasn’t that interested in the project, it was more Lawrence’s thing. But on our trips to Rising High, I somehow ended up as the manager of Caspar Pound, otherwise known as The Hypnotist. Lawrence was engineering for Caspar for a while but moved on after launching his own label Lush Recordings and started producing trance. Upon his departure, I then became Caspar’s engineer. I stayed loyal to the label whilst things took a turn for the worse and it went into administration. There was only myself, Caspar and Joe Trawker, a guy that lived at the end of Westbourne Mews that heard our music and wandered in, left by this point and we kept it going the best we could but eventually I had to depart to pursue my own dreams”.
Phil continues “Helping to run Rising High I became good friends with lots of the artists, so when the label started slowing down due to legal reasons, I wanted to start my own label. And in 1995 Law & Auder Records was formed and a few of the Rising High acts supported me, including Luke Vibert who I was good friends with. But prior to that, there was Law & Auder the group which was signed to David’s Pro-One Records and myself, Lawrence and Martin released two projects on the label; ‘Num Yo Ho’ and ‘We Run Tings’, back in 1993. Though ‘Num Yo Ho’ was actually started in 1991! By the time our EP’s came out on Pro-One Records, the jungle scene was in full flow. But at the time of writing the music I didn’t know there was a scene called jungle! I was just experimenting. My studio was based in Vauxhall, South London at this time and Mendoza Records would send all their artists over to mine to record. It’s though these sessions that my musical direction was being influenced, subliminally. Though before I moved to Vauxhall, my studio was up in Hoxton, a home studio set up that I put together around 1989-1990. Actually, when I moved out of my Hoxton studio, Martin moved in!” (The story of Martins time at this studio is covered in the previous Utomica interview – Brent)
Law & Auder was actually more a collective than a group, with its core members being Martin and Phil, as Martin explains “Originally the group was myself, Phil and Lawrence from Friends, Lovers and Family. It was this trio who were behind the Pro-One releases. Then when Lawrence left we were joined by Nigel and Ian from The Junglites, along with my wife to be Faye and Fritz. Fritz, who unfortunately is not with us now, was a good friend of Phil’s and the singer for the band Honeychile, a band that Phil managed. He was an amazing trumpeter as well as a live poet, waaaay before being a live poet was cool. He also worked on our ‘Num Yo Ho’ release, which was inspired by a Buddhist flatmate of his! Then there was Nigel and Ian who we met back in 1993 whilst I was based up in Hoxton. At this time they weren’t recording for Mendoza, they were just making beats. They were so on it, I mean, they lived it, it was amazing! They were out all the time, at the raves and jungle parties. They would then come back to my studio, all inspired by something like a bassline they had heard the night before and they would spend the next day trying to recreate that bass sound. They were so focused. Actually, the track ‘Gimme (The Weed)’ was actually started by Nigel and Ian but they just never finished it. But I knew there was something in the tune and I knew it was possible to make it into something, so myself and Phil finished it. Actually Nigel and Ian were very much like Hopa was at Pro-One. They were out in the clubs, vibing, getting ideas together and coming into the studio and getting us to help them create these ideas into tunes. They were our eyes and ears in the clubs”.
Phil in the studio – 1999, Shillington, Bedfordshire
Phil and Martin are still friends with Nigel and Ian, which just goes to show how the early years of the 1990’s were so influential and helped forge lifelong friendships, something I have noted throughout these interviews I do. There was just something about this era that brought people together and the experiences they enjoyed have bonded people for life. I know this to be true as myself, Dave and Kieron (Aquasky) have been friends for the past 27 years and though we may not see each other as much these days due to other commitments, when we do come together, it’s just like when we were young again, sharing the same jokes and falling back into our group roles (Dave being the calming influence, Kieron being the studious one and me, well I am the hyperactive one!) There is something very special about this and I think it must be due to how we all felt; that we were fighting the music industry in some way as this bedroom music using samplers was frowned upon in the ‘more serious’ musical circles of the major labels and record buying public. We didn’t conform; we didn’t feel that we fitted in with what came before. And for me personally, after years of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman glossy pop, and coming from a background of hardcore hip hop, I felt that we were, in the words of the great Public Enemy, ‘Fighting The Powers That Be’.
“Martin was the catalyst for getting this music released” Phil explains, with Martin interjecting “I just knew there was something there, I knew the music was good enough to be released and that it would be supported. But Phil was pre-occupied with his engineering with the likes of Caspar and his role at Rising High, he was too busy to find a home for the music, but I was very passionate about the tracks.” And thankfully Martin’s passion for the tunes paid off and a swathe of Law & Auder tracks were released throughout 1995 on various labels, all of which, as previously mentioned, went on to become cult releases and heavily sought after to this day.
Phil continues “Gimme (The Weed)’ sat about for well over a year, originally being started in 1993. It was only thanks to Martin that it ever came out at all. At the time there was an era in the jungle scene, when a big spliff tune was needed. It was the done thing and everyone had one going on at the time and we needed to have our own out there. Stamp our name and vibe on the scene.” Martin adds for clarity that “It was funny as neither of us smoked!”
Back then Phil had some serious gear in his studio, probably why Mendoza was using him and he was the engineer for The Hypnotist as well as other Rising High artists. He was able to get the sound that was needed for the clubs and raves of the time. And what a great menu he had to peruse (non tech-geeks please turn away now); A Roland D110 synth, a Korg M1R rack mounted synth and the absolute don of the jungle and drum and bass synths; the E-MU Systems Vintage Keys! There was an arsenal of Akai’s – an S900, S950, S1000 and an S3200, a Novation Bass Station, rack mounted Yamaha SPX900 and SPX1000, an Alesis Quadraverb and a Boss DE200 delay. All of this was run via an Atari 1040ST and through a Soundcraft Spirit Live 24 channel mixing desk and finally recorded on a Sony DTC100ES DAT machine. Now, even that menu has me drooling! And the mad thing is, Phil still has all this gear and it’s still all set up and being used today.
The Law & Auder studio – 2020
Right, non tech-geeks, you can look back now.
“Back in the day, everyone could quote Pulp Fiction. Everyone had a favourite line. The same could be said for me and the film Babylon (a 1980 British film that was set during the Thatcher era in South London. It follows a young black guy as he forges his way through the racist backdrop of the time, dealing with police brutality, local racism, the National Front and lack of employment, whilst trying to build a career in the soundsystem culture – Brent) I knew every word of that film, line by line. That was my Pulp Fiction. I couldn’t believe it when Martin took that one and managed to get it released. To me, I felt it was never properly finished!” Phil confides. Martin feels differently though about that track “I felt it was right, it was perfect. It was such a great tune. It needed to be heard. You know what though Phil, you could of finished it if you had wanted to!” The two of them laugh. I think there may always be a difference of opinion over this track between Phil and Martin but thankfully Martin managed to secure its release as it did go on to become an anthem of the London and now global jungle scene and has forever left an ever-lasting impression within the community.
Phil shares with us a little secret “I have just found every Akai disk for all of the Law & Auder tunes. I have everything. I am even thinking about perhaps remixing some of them!” Martin is excited about this news. He recalls the Law & Auder amen beat, their go to stock version of it “Our amens were raw. They were dirty and they were crunchy and they were unlike anyone else’s back then. That’s great news you still have them Phil”.
“I can remember the first time I heard the tune being played out” Phil recalls “I was walking around the Notting Hill Carnival in 1995 and I was walking down one of the smaller streets and there was a soundsystem playing jungle and the DJ dropped ‘Gimme (The Weed)’. I was surprised to hear it and just thought ‘Bloody Hell!’”
Martin has his own personal memory of that tune “I went down to the Dalston cutting house, I forget the name of it now. I went down to get it cut and I just remember everyone else who was there cutting plates wanted a copy of this tune. It was madness!”
And so we conclude the first of what will become many conversations that I will be having with Martin and Phil as there are many more tunes that the guys made that are to be re-released, alongside a heap of unreleased material, some of which I have already heard and I know for sure you will all love them too. And by the sound of things, there may well be some new Law & Auder remixes coming soon too. Does that mean Law & Auder may be back again in 2021? We will have to wait and see.
But till then, crank up the subs and bask in the glory of that Law & Auder amen!