Eric Powell started DJing in Manchester, his hometown, in what was to become known as the Summer of Love. He went on to DJ at all of Manchester’s most important clubs including the world famous Hacienda. It was not long before Eric became one of the UKs most sought after guest DJs and in 1994 he took on residencies at the Zap Club in Brighton, at a night called Protection and the Red Club. Both these nights have won awards and much respect throughout the UK. Eric Powell owns and runs for Bush Records, one of the most recognizable and sought after dance labels in the world today.
Eric’s annual “Mobile Disco” event in Australia is now an institution, gives him the opportunity to dip in the his extensive record collection and play the music that has influenced him through the decades, everything from Jazz to Funk to Classic House.
You have been at the forefront of dance music for a very long time dating back with shows at the infamous Hacienda and building the foundation for a very healthy industry in your home town Manchester. We would love to hear some tales of the Hacienda days? Some of the early rave parties from Manchester and some of the most memorable moments from back in the summer of love days?
Sorry the most interesting and funny stories can not be repeated – I’m sworn to secrecy – maybe over a nice rum one day 🙂
How about some of the tunes back then that you played that still influence your sets nowadays? Any we can expect to hear at the Mobile Disco show coming up at Ulu Cliff in Bali alongside partner in crime Carl Cox?
We dig deep – you’ll hear some classics but you will also hear tracks for the first time – we don’t plan a set list so it is pretty open, get ready for some Jazz/Funk/Soul/Disco and House – the day is a journey though different genres and decades. We do pull out some of our favourites – Slave, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ramsey Lewis to name a few.
How did you and Carl meet? Its no secret you have been friends for many years and still share the passion for music like you have done since day dot what do you think is the secret behind that for both you and Carl?
As I remember it we met at a rave in Coventry called Eclipse, Carl was already well and truly established – he was headlining, I was just starting really. I don’t think there is a secret, its a genuine friendship and our love of music is genuine, we have similar views on life – respect what you have and respect the people that are with you.
How about some of your earliest memories DJing together? Does it all make sense now your doing the mobile disco as a team this many years later?
Their is a mutual appreciation society thing going on and that has been there for years, the “Mobile Disco” grew organically – we started off inviting some friends and family, it was really loose – Carl would get up for and dj for a while, then I would take over, then we would play together. I’m not sure it is a team thing or could it be described as back to back, as we still play as individuals but without the constraints of set times. There are not many people that could perform this way and the event still have a flow. I feel lucky to share the stage with Carl and that the Mobile Disco works for both us as performers and the audience.
Your based in Australia now for quiet some time? What made the decision to base yourself down under? Surely sunny Manchester didn’t rain you out? Carl is based in Australia correct during the summer?
I had already been living in Brighton in the U.K. for a number of years and travelling to Europe every week for a good while, I was on Carl’s DJ agency “Ultimatum”, he decided to call it a day with the agency, my girlfriend (now my wife) came home around the same time and said she had the opportunity to work in Australia for a year, I said lets go for it – eighteen years later we are still here :-). I still love Manchester though.
How’s the Pure shows being going the last few weeks down Australia your other more underground and upfront techno project? how do you compare the Aussie shows to the European stop?
I love techno and in the beginning was better known of playing techno, PURE has been a huge success in Australia – we wanted to get back to the music – strip it back so the dj stood by his music selection – no distractions. The response has been amazing. Last year we took PURE to Ibiza and had two sold out shows at Privilege – that is the whole club sold out – ten thousand people per night – incredible. I am back to Ibiza this year playing at Resistance.
Not only are you just a very experienced DJ bringing a massive showcase of years of music knowledge to a show like Mobile Disco but also a record label owner of Bush records correct? Tell us some more about the label ? its history? some of the best selling releases to do? And what we really want to know about is Thomas Schumaker ‘When I Rock’ what a tune!!
Bush Records has been around since 1994, I really set up the label for selfish reasons – I wanted Techno that had some house music influences, so I decided to start releasing records with those ingredients. The music industry is tough and is even tougher now but I have a great time working with artists, I have helped some artist move forward with there careers. “When I Rock” great track, great record – Thomas Schumacher is a fantastic producer and I am grateful to have been involved in his musical journey.
How about your own releases as a producer? What have been some of your most treasured releases on your own label? Your favourite collaboration and any plans for a new release on Bush from yours truly coming soon?
Carl and I have started a project “MD Funk Connection”, it is funk/house based – but driven by real musicians. Our first release was a revisit of “Mass Productions – Shante”, we have been blown away by the response. We have two amazing engineer producers “Joe Roberts” based in the U.K. and ‘Chris Coe” working out of Carls new studio in Australia. The project is the bringing together of live musicians to revisit, re-imagine and to record a bunch of Jazz/Funk/House tracks. The project has already gained its own momentum. We are looking forward to working with the iconic/genre defining “George Clinton” and we have a WIP with Nile Rodgers. Bush records we have just released what I would consider to be one of the most complete techno albums of the last couple of years by “Torsten Kanzler”, we are now working on a project with Pascal Feos – what a man.
Eric Powell’s Mobile Disco current top 5 is?
MD Funk Connection – Shante
Sweet Mercy – Take Me Away
George Clinton – Knee Deep (Carl and Eric Revisit)
Gypsymen – Babarabatiri
Banda Blanc Rio – Miss Sheryl
The one tune that you cant travel without when doing the mobile disco shows is?
MD Funk Connection – Shante 🙂
What preparation is different about the upcoming Bali show compared to all the other Mobile Disco shows to date and why?
This is the first time we have taken the Mobile Disco outside of Australia – so I am feeling a bit more pressure but that is because I want to make sure we put on the best event possible, the preparation is probably going to be the same – making sure I have all the tracks, they are organised – there is nothing more frustrating than knowing which track you want to play and not be able to find it. The venue is off the hook and their team have been really positive, we don’t just turn up with our tunes, we discuss production, dj plots, venue set up – some pressure but nothing I can’t handle.
When Eric Powell isn’t DJing or travelling the world what does he like to do in his down time? any projects outside of music or hobbies on the go in your man cave?
I’ve got three kids – one I make music with, the other two are still at school – the thing I enjoy most is being a dad – hanging out with them, taking them to sports, dancing and music events.
See you very soon Eric and thanks for your time. Anything else you would like to add before hitting Bali?
thank you very much, I am really excited and looking forward to the “Mobile Disco – Bali”