British DJ and producer Weiss has long been a leading proponent of upfront house music, with recent singles First Sight, Where Do We Go? (feat. Harry Romero) and Funk U (feat. A-Trak) bringing some much-needed funk to the recent coronavirus lockdown period.
With the clubs back open, he’s just dropped Lift Me Up, a piano house banger featuring vocals from Basement Jaxx’s longstanding vocalist Sharlene Hector, that channels the vicarious energy of the early 90s – with an accompanying rave-themed video to boot. The track can be downloaded/streamed here.
Since bursting on the scene eight years ago, Weiss (aka Richard Dinsdale) is perhaps best known for 2018’s Feel My Needs, which earned a myriad of local and international plaudits, while his other productions have earned support from the likes of Armand van Helden, Eats Everything, Carl Cox, and even Elton John.
909originals caught up with him.
Hi, thanks for taking to us. We’re now emerging from the pandemic once more (hopefully), with things going back to normal. Has the past year and a half been productive for you?
Yes, and what great news to hear. It’s been very productive for me as I’ve had plenty of time to come up with more ideas and not have any strain on getting things finished.
Before the lockdown, I was touring a lot which didn’t give me much time to get things finished. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to finish tracks how I wanted them to finish – but it just took a little longer.
Many of your productions, including ‘Lift Me Up’ bear the hallmarks of the early 90s rave scene. Why do you think this ‘sound’ is enjoying such a revival at present?
I’m not sure to be honest. Maybe because it’s feel good music, and people need that right now. Music always comes around again on itself and follows fashion so maybe it’s that.
It was never intended, it’s just how I feel at this current time, and I’m really enjoying it.
How do you ensure that your music both pays tribute to that old school sound, but is also bang up to date for today’s audience – is it a difficult balance?
It’s not a difficult process, as it’s what I enjoy making and if you enjoy making what you love then I feel it all falls into place without having to over think it. I was brought up in the 80s but when the 90s came around, that’s when I truly got into music – especially the rave scene.
What was it like to work with Sharlene Hector on Lift Me Up?
It was an absolute pleasure. She is a lovely lady and definitely up for working with her more in the future. It was an easy process laying down the vocals after Ella Henderson and Camden Cox helping out with the top line.
Was it difficult for you to get into the ‘club mindset’ when producing tracks during the pandemic?
Not really. I’ve been taking the same process I’ve always done but just with a more broaden mind around making them. Instead of a straight up club banger, I’m approaching my songs with more of a ‘musical’ element to them.
In terms of your own clubbing past, what venues and/or club nights were particularly influential on you?
I played in my first club when I was 16 years old, at The Chunnel Club in London, which was very special. I was so nervous – my hands were shaking uncontrollably – so I had to throw the needle onto the record and rewind it back to the beginning to cue the record.
Ministry Of Sound was a big part of my clubbing days back in the late 90s and early 2000s, when I used to go to the Strictly Rhythm nights. They were the first club really to bring over that ‘American house’ sound to the masses and you knew you were guaranteed an amazing night whoever was on the line up.
Was there a particular night/event that you went to that made you fall in love with dance music, all those years ago?
I went to many nights in and around London growing up but I would have to say going to Strawberry Sundays, The Gallery and Trade were out of this world. I really wish I was old enough to go to Club UK when it was around – but a little birdie told me it might be reopening.
We’re eight years on from your first releases as Weiss, although you were releasing tracks under your real name before then. What prompted you to create the Weiss persona?
I wanted a change, and didn’t want people to judge my new music from what I’d done previously. Also, I think changing my name to an alias meant I had no hold back on what I could do as a producer, so it was a big weight off my shoulder from what people were expecting from me.
How has your production approach changed over the years – in what ways have you evolved as an artist?
Being more creative with my sounds and definitely making my tracks sound more ‘musical’. You learn a lot from either being on your own or watching other artists work in the studio.
I now approach my music from the start with an idea that’s probably been going around my head for a few hours, ha ha, and getting it down probably with a lead or piano sequence. Then I’ll move onto the drums, making sure everything fits perfectly.
Sometimes it doesn’t come out right straight away but I’ll call these the ‘acoustic’ versions until it’s right. If I know it’s not right from the start I’ll never try and polish a turd – so the idea has to go.
Now that the pandemic is hopefully behind us, do you think there’s anything that has changed about the dance music landscape? Or is there anything that you would have liked to see change?
I think it’s given the scene a new lease of life. I think we were all becoming used to it and taking it for granted, so having the break has made people realise what they had on a plate.
When I went back to gigging for the first time after the pandemic, the crowd were wild! It was so nice to see so many smiles on peoples faces, and really listening to the music instead of having their phones out.
[Weiss’ Lift Me Up featuring Sharlene Hector can be purchased/streamed here]