Five Minutes With: Micky Finn
Jamie S23 takes a rare opportunity to speak to Micky Finn about his Sunbeatz brand, spectacular dubplates, unreleased gems and his thoughts on pushing the scene forward in 2014. Read on to discover previously undisclosed information and don’t be surprised if following this interview, certain wheels start to move in the right direction.
As a special bonus, Jamie has also converted some of his favourite Micky Finn tapes from back in the day for your listening pleasure.
Sunbeatz is back in Ibiza for 2014, why did you choose this popular clubbing destination for a drum & bass event when previously the island has been typically associated with house music?
My passion for the island dates way back to the early days of house music and the time when I originally fell in love with the scene. Back then the diversity of the music allowed so many adaptations which quickly became techno, acid house, hardcore and then so much more. These styles were then imported to the likes of London and Manchester.
Back in ‘92 I was playing in Ibiza alongside Grooverider and Jumping Jack Frost, those were the early Hardcore days when the underground scene was really exploding. I’ve always wanted to promote events in Ibiza, I’ve been going as a raver for over 20 years and felt that I wanted to bring the many styles of drum & bass to it’s original birthplace. I also love taking big risks and so far it’s paid off as this is our 5th year promoting Sunbeatz.
Looking at the lineup for Sunbeatz this year, it contains a nod to the old school with the likes of Devious D, Rap and General Levy. Do you feel it’s important that events maintain the scene’s roots in their line ups?
Sunbeatz isn’t about one form of drum & bass, we have always wanted to feature all types of artists from the whole of the scene. We didn’t choose Rap or Devious D because of their links to the past, we chose them because they fit within the ethos of our events.
Take for example the AWOL parties, these are always held on the last day and really change the dynamics. It’s a great end to the holiday and leaves everyone relaxed and chilled out. Some of the records played at the AWOL night were made 15 years ago and they still get a better reaction than some of the upfront beats!
The Sunbeatz website looks great! It’s taken sometime for the drum & bass scene to recognise the importance of getting online presence right – why do you think this is?
I’ve always thought that house music labels have led the way in terms of their understanding of online presence. The drum & bass scene really took it’s time to get to grips with having a proper grasp on everything controlled via a computer. It’s a case of making sure we cover all angles, from street promo to social media to having an up to date website.
This isn’t to say we haven’t missed a trick in the past, Gavin (Aphrodite) created the original Urban Takeover website totally in Flash which went on to receive an award from Macromedia.
Social media can sometimes be seen as negative, what with the abundance of keyboard warriors all eager to express their opinions, however the positive side is sometimes ignored. Take for example the huge amount of sets from the past on YouTube and Soundcloud with dozens of positive comments – do you see any of them?
I’ve never been a dj to be famous, the reason I do what I do is because of my love for the scene and the music, so coming across a YouTube video featuring a set from years ago with so many positive comments is always a pleasure to see. I don’t think many of us get to see a lot of what goes on online mainly because their is such a huge amount of it.
I look after my own social media pages so when someone posts about a tune id or shows appreciation then I always try my best to communicate with them.
You have always pioneered the ‘dub plate special’ and some of your intro tunes have gone down in drum & bass history. What influenced you to do this and why do you think it was so popular? Will you be releasing them as an exclusive download at any point?
L Double’s ‘Bass 2 Dark’ featuring Bassman was probably one of the first dubplates to be made as a ‘dj special’, I remember getting it and thinking what a wicked idea it was and sooner or later I was getting loads of special versions of tunes. We saw it as a great way of publicising our tracks, especially the remix of Luniz ‘I Got 5 On It’ where we added the “Micky Finn in a temper” vocals – that still goes off today.
I need to dig out some of the old DAT’s, you never know, maybe I’ll put together a special download if the demand is high enough.
‘Bass of the Tramp’ / ‘Baddest Mother Fucker’ sadly never saw an official release – was this due to sample clearance or was it only made for a select few to play? Is there any possibility of this and other releases such as ‘Dark Selector’ being released digitally?
The version you’re talking about was called ‘The Champ’ which used a sample that our publisher was wise to, so they wouldn’t allow an official release hence it stayed on dub then pretty much vanished. That was around 1997 though, maybe we could revisit it and look at doing an official release in the future. I’m not overly keen on allowing anyone else to remix it though, with these types of tracks I would only look to release the original version to maintain its status from back in the 90’s.
Finn People came and went in 24 releases, was this project a direct replacement for Urban Takeover for the new generation or just a sideline label to showcase producers you enjoyed working with?
Because Urban Takeover was a joint venture between Gavin and I, nearer the end of its life it became harder and harder to get answers on certain tracks due to his busy DJ schedule. Finn People was born on the basis that I could be free to release fresh new music with producers I enjoyed working with.
During the Finn People era, did you find it difficult to adjust with the ever changing world of drum & bass considering, at the time, it was so detached from it’s original roots?
Looking back at the label some tunes worked and others didn’t, it was always going to be a trial and error exercise at that point in drum & bass, what with the ever changing styles of jump up. Even then the scene was flooded with repetitive, throw away music so finding production I was passionate about was hard work. I’m so fed up with basslines made up of 6 or 7 different noises, for me that’s not music. We need to bring back proper melodies, breakbeats, sampling, big single basslines and most importantly – anthems!
What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in the music scene to date?
Gavin and I played a dj set in the dance tent at Glastonbury in 2001, it was the last day and the arena was rammed, the crowd were going mad, even that can be considered a highlight but what happened next I will never forget.
David Bowie had always been a great inspiration to me as a teenager so when he asked the stage manager “what the fuck is going on in this tent? all I can hear is air horns and crowd noises” it was as if he was accepting our music and almost being blown away by it.
Another big achievement for me was playing at World Dance in the Docklands Arena on New Years Eve ‘95. All of their events were totally ahead of their time but this really stood out for me.
You have played back to back with plenty of dj’s in your time, if you had to choose one other to play a set with who would it be and why?
If we are talking the 90’s then Ray Keith, he always chose a dark selection and I think our styles then would really compliment each other. I don’t see the point of choosing 2 dj’s with the same style, a back to back set should be challenging and varied.
Someone who I would love to do a set with now though is Carl Cox, he’s been playing drum & bass recently in his sets, even the last 4 tracks at Bestival! I’ve spoken to him about a joint venture at Space in Ibiza so maybe a 2 hour back to back special could be on the cards in the future.
Production wise it’s been quiet from you for some time, do you have anything in the pipeline?
This year has been an exciting year for production, I’ve been working alongside T>I on a vocal track called ‘On My Way’ which is pretty much finished. The tune sounds like 1995 being dragged into 2014, I’m really excited about it. I’ve also been working with Turno on a Latin influenced jump up track.
Check out the full classic Micky Finn sets playlist below:
Fancy going to Sunbeatz from 14th to 21st September this year? All the details can be found on their website here