“Mr C’s a schizophrenic. There’s two Mr C’s. There’s pop Mr C and there’s underground Mr C. However, Richard, that’s myself, is completely normal. […] Richard’s open minded, but Mr C’s a schitzo.”
With The Shamen at its peak – Top of the Pops, anyone? – lead vocalist (and all-round nutter) Mr C, aka Richard West, established Plink Plonk Records, a label that sought to take experimental electronica out into the mainstream.
A world away from Ebenezer Goode, in other words.
As he told Generator magazine in December 1993, the philosophy behind Plink Plonk was in response to the dance scene of the time, which had become “a bit of a parody of itself, and that’s a shame. Especially for those of us who have been in it since 1986/87.
Now, people are laughing at dance music, now raves are laughed at… acid parties are just there to let capitalist people make money with dodgy sound systems and dodgy DJs, and it’s become a bit of a farce.”
Describing the musical style of Plink Plonk as “psyber”, a term coined by Shamen bandmate Colin, early releases on the label included psychedelic cuts from Pluto, Megalon and Wild West, which sit well alongside experimental releases of the time from the likes of Eye Q and Irresistible Force.
It was also responsible for the first release by Matthew Benjamin, aka Bushwacka!, back in 1995.
As he explains in the interview, if Plink Plonk had a modus operandi, it was to tackle the ‘aggression’ in dance music.
“That aggression you see in clubs and raves, the macho tops off. I don’t like that, it’s not nice,” he explains.
“When music gets too fast, say around 145/150 bpm, you can dance properly any more, you have to jump from foot to foot. When the music becomes jumpy, it gets harder, nosebleed, a bit aggressive. […] When the music is slower, you’ve got a bit of space between the beats, and the sexier you can get with a partner on the floor.
“And as sex is the lowest common denominator for reaching an altered state of consciousness, that’s what it’s all got to be about.”
That, and turning yourself into the most maniacal-looking Santa this side of Lapland.
Plink Plonk closed in 1997, as Mr C embarked on his next musical adventure… seminal label and nightclub The End.
[Article snippets taken from Generator Magazine, December 1993]