Whether as Lionrock, The Prankster, Revtone or most recently The Deadstock 33s ('Underneath The Pines' out this month), Justin Robertson has been making his mark on dance music since his Manchester uni years. The man behind Most Excellent at The Haçienda during the early '90s and a Bugged Out! resident since the beginning — and still now — these days you'll catch him sporting sailor stripes, a twisted moustache and a tweed jacket at any number of trendy jaunts across the capital most weekends, either in the booth or in the thick of the dancefloor.
During his career he's remixed/covered everyone from Björk to New Order, either in the studio or as part of a band; the man is a walking, talking dance music encyclopedia, so we had a few questions for him...
First ever rave experience?
“I was a gangly youth of 18 summers. I had a penchant for long macs and the bands of Factory Records. It was pre-acid house. I had just moved from southern suburbia to my spiritual home of Manchester. Me and my mates headed to the Nude night at the Hacienda, all spots and raw enthusiasm. Mike Pickering and Martin Prendergast (they played as MP2) were mixing up a heady brew of early Chicago house and heavy hip-hop.
I'd never heard anything like it. In my head they dropped 'The Dance' by Rhythm Is Rhythm, but thinking about it, it was earlier than that — whatever it was, it blew my NHS specs right off, a road to Damascus moment.”
Most crucial dance record of all-time?
“That is an essay or thesis right there. I'm going to say a record like 'Blackboard Jungle Dub' By Lee Perry, because it showed producers what they could do in a studio. It's a lesson in using space and utilising effects as an instrument. If I'm allowed another, I would have to say anything by Kraftwerk, as I think so many pioneers heard their stuff, bolted it onto disco and invented techno. Without them, house might have ended up as simple disco pastiche, arguably of course.”
Three tunes that never leave your bag?
“Joey Beltram 'Energy Flash'. Just simply the best groin-thrusting, fist-pumping, simple, primitive jacker there is. Great for the “big fish, little fish dance”.
Björk 'Big Time Sensuality (Lionrock Remix)'. Hark to the sound of me blowing my own trumpet! Sorry, but I have ended a fair few sets on this. Her voice is magical. Daniel Avery 'Naive Reception'. Been in the box a scant few months compared to the other two, but I've played this at every gig, the best contemporary producer around to my mind. Stone-cold classic.”
What's your lights-up, end-of-the-night tune?
“I used to end Most Excellent on 'Glad It's All Over' by Captain Sensible. I played it over the summer at one of our Tranquilo dos. Not a dry eye in the house, still love it.”
If you could meet anyone — alive or dead — who would it be?
“I always wanted to meet Tubs Marin. He had the high score on Defender in Slough market. No matter how well my mates did on the game (I was always bobbins). Tubs' name was always top of the leader board the next week — always wondered who he was.”
Imagine the world is going to end tomorrow. What you gonna do tonight?
“Iron some shirts and polish my shoes. I'm not strolling into the afterlife looking like I've been out all night involved in some Bacchanalian end-of-world orgy.”
Three words to describe clubbing in the Y3K...
“Martian House Mafia.”
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