There’s no doubt that the summer of 1988 marked a watershed moment in the history of dance, as the house rhythms of Chicago, artistic exuberance of Ibiza, and electronic soundscapes of Detroit surged through club culture.
With this in mind, 909originals presents ‘Postcards from 88’, a new series that will see leading DJs, promoters, journalists, club owners, photographers, and of course the clubbers themselves, shed some light on just what went on during those halcyon days, 30 years ago.
This week’s ‘Postcards from 88’ comes from a producer who alongside the late Mark Bell (RIP), was a pioneering force in techno in the early 90s: LFO’s Gez Varley.
Q. Do you remember what you were doing as the Summer of 1988 started?
Yeah, in ’88 I started my group, LFO. I managed to get hold of a Casio sampler and a cheap keyboard (Jen SX-1000), and also a 808 drum machine, so for most of that summer i was jamming at home and learning how to program and write music. At the time, I remember the amazing acid house tracks that were coming out, and i wanted to make music like this.
As for the club scene, I used to sneak in at the Warehouse Club as a few of my mates were residents there: Roy Archer and Martin Williams, who went on to join LFO with me and Mark Bell in ’89.
Also at that time, I was only 17, so getting into clubs was a bit tricky. We also went to a few illegal parties in the Chapletown area of Leeds, which was a big influence on the LFO track… the heavy bass.
Q. When or where did you first realise that ‘something different’ was happening with music, particularly dance/club music?
In 1987 I went to London with a mate of mine from Ikley, Graham Dixon, who’s also a DJ. We were into hip hop, so were were looking for some new tunes to buy.
One day, we walked into Groove Records, and they were playing Acid Trax from Phuture… the record just blew us away! That really was the start of ‘techno’ for me.
Q. Was there a particular tune from the Summer of 1988 that stood out for you?
There was just so much good stuff coming out then but It Is What It Is by Rhythim Is Rhythim really stood out for me.
Q. Why do you think that people are still so interested in the origins of the dance scene, old school and everything that goes with it?
I think the years from ’87 to ’94 were the groundbreaking days for techno and acid house. Today, the styles and production have got better, however there are no new ideas at all, so I guess people making music now are looking back in time for ideas and inspiration.
You’d be surprised how many people still buy the early LFO stuff. I think personally, when I look back, it was an amazing time for music, fashion, clubs ( legal or illegal ) and even for music technology.
Q. If the ‘you’ from 1988 could give the ‘you’ from 2018 a piece of music-related advice, what would it be?
Keep on going and never stop..! I think all of us from that time would never have imagined that this music would last for so long.
[Thanks again to Gez for taking part. Postcards from 88 continues next week.]