Sometimes you end up interviewing the same person over and over again because they’ve got a record out. I remember interviewing Dizzee Rascal about eighteen times for various magazines circa 2001/02 and went on similar multiple interview missions with a whole load of people from Massive Attack to Mike Skinner over the years. And so it is with Mr Oliver Jones. This interview is for Groove Magazine’s version of Desert Island Discs, the Radio4 programme where a person of stature talks about their life through a selection of eight records. The German version of this comes out very soon.
When did you first start buying music?
To be honest I first started buying music when I was in primary school, mostly East 17 and Peter Andre. I was six or seven. It was generally from Woolworths and I’d always buy the deluxe CDs with bonus remixes on it and I always liked the remixes best. Return Of The Mack, that remix was sick. Back then, the boys liked East 17, the girls liked Take That. Then I realised my brother worked at a record shop and I would find any means of making money so I could go and buy records. Anything I heard I needed. It wasn’t that I wanted it, I needed it.
How much music do you have?
I got fucking loads of vinyl. I was buying vinyl from the age of 12 and that’s a lot of garage, a lot of ’99-2000 drum and bass. And I got all my brother’s records from ’89 to ’94. I got every big garage record, every big remix that was every made, every shit bootleg that was ever made, any record that any big MC MCed over, then as I got older I got into disco. I went into this shop in Canada, and me thinking it was the same price as buying garage records, I picked up a pile and it cost $500. I bought three records. I got into a phase of buying funky house, not UK funky but Naked Music, soulful funky house. I’ve got a Paul McCartney album. Temporary Secretary! That was electro back in the day. I got a few hip hop acapellas that I tried to turn into dubstep before dubstep existed.
What does your collection look like? How is it stored?
Up ’til two years ago they was on my wall, shelves on my wall. My old bedroom was my brothers old bedroom and he built stacks on the wall, but then my mum boxed them up and put them in the loft. He was very not happy. The one thing about all my records is that they’re made around the baselines. I’ve got a two faced record collection: one’s really pretty, ones horribly disfigured. Some I’m ashamed to have bought like Eminem Vs Judy Cheeks. It was sheer boredom. I didn’t even play it. I used to play a lot of house parties and them tunes was necessary.
OK, so let’s move on to the tracks you’d take to a desert island….
Artwork had just bought this Nord keyboard from Japan and I’d never heard nothing like it. It was so dark and weird and horrible. It amazed me. I actually heard this record while it was being made because their studio was upstairs from Big Apple and me and Benga would go and hang out up there. It was the same with Sounds of The Future. I made the ringone for that actually. That was my sideline at the time: Arthur would give me the notes and I’d programme it on the Nokia 3810. I head the first loop of the bass and I was gone. I once tried to remake this record but I couldn’t do it.
Log On (Horsepower Remix)
We all first heard this tune for the first time in Big Apple. I remember it really well. There was me, John who ran the shop, Benga, Hatcha and Artwork. It was a real ‘fucking hell!’ moment. This tune is so heavy. The vocal was there obviously, but the beat behind it was so original and it was a massively inspiring record to us all. This mix was around even before FWD>> started and it came out around the time when Big Apple did the Xmas party in Croydon, when Fonti from Heartless Crew did the dubplate-only party. That night was how FWD>> started. It gave everyone the idea to do our own club and that’s how the night got started.
This track sent everyone mad. There wasn’t one person that didn’t like it. It was a tune that made people do gun fingers before gun fingers were trendy. I listened to a lot of pirates and I was obsessed by the clashing and good MCs. One of my favourite clashes was the Heartless Vs Pay As You Go when Heartless proved they were kings. It was amazing. Heartless were fun whereas Pay As You Go were a bit more ghetto. Dizzee was my favourite, though. There’s a reason he’s so big. When he come on the circuit on those old Sidewinder tapes, he’d bring such a strong vibe and agginess. The only equivalent now is Tempa T’s Next Hype, that’s a tune with agginess and hype. I think Wiley’s a genius.
All I can say is it never heard anything like this tune before and it nearly made me break my neck once, I actually injured myself going mad to it. It used to send people bonkers. I’ve always been been amazed by Coki. Everything he has ever done has been groundbreaking. In my eyes, he’s the best engineer around and I’m really glad he’s starting to step out of the shadows. He should be headlining places, getting ten grand a set and producing for everyone. He don’t sound like nobody. But it’s musical at the same time. I listen to the programming and I swear I can’t get my head around it. And his basslines talk. It sounds like they’re saying words sometimes.
It’s amazing. And I love the fact it caused so much controversy. At the time it couldn’t get mainstream play because he never said if the lyrics said ‘fuck’ or ‘funk’… I think it says both. It’s a dance record but the record is really political: Am I straight or am I gay? Am I black or am I white? When i’m walking in the sun, and you’re listening to this, you just start shrugging your shoulders, getting a swing in your step. People think it’s a swing record. Those classic Prince chord changes are just killer.
Hot Raw Sex
I bought the album yesterday. It’s sexually creepy, it’s quite nonce, and the whole album is filth. You can imagine someone whispering it in someone’s ear. It’s the nearest to that Prince era I like, though the shameful thing is that it won’t be massive. Why would I take this to a desert island? It would make me feel a bit sexy and if I was stranded alone I would need to feel sexy somehow. I’m saying I’d take Jimmy Edgar, I’m just talking the music. I’d be laying there under the stars, no-one watching, at one with myself.
On Desert Island Discs you can also take a book and luxury item. What would you take?
Anything by Martina Cole. I read The Take and that’s amazing. It was the first book I read since I left Primary School. Luxury would have to be a laptop with some kind of production otherwise I’d fucking go mad.