So before I moved to Australia from California in 2000, I'd fallen in love with a new style of music (to me, at least) called breakbeat. To put my DJ life in perspective at this time, know that I didn't purchase turntables or a mixer until the fall of 98 and all of my first purchased records were either hiphop, funk or reggae that I dug or house music that was prescribed to me by a very good friend of mine who got me into DJ’ing in the first place. So let's just say, i hadn't really found "my feet" as a DJ yet.
Fast forward to 6 months after I got my decks, which happened to be 6 months after quitting my long-time band, I flew out to Australia to visit my girlfriend (who has now been my wife of just about 18 years now). On the visit to Melbourne, we went out one night to this party at Colonial Stadium to see some techno act and danced are arses off all night. As we were leaving we went to the side room to say goodbye to our friends and these two DJ's were just about to start, who just so happened to be Soul of Man. Let's just say we didn't leave and we found enough energy to dance our arses off again until the sun came up.
The label that started my love affair with breakbeat.
It's safe to say everything played by those two cats was exactly what I wanted to be playing as a DJ, i.e. funky breaks, which I didn’t even know were called breaks at this time as they just sounded like sped up instrumental hiphop beats or upbeat funk…all I knew was I loved it. In reality, they really reminded me of this new act that I’d just gotten into, called The Freestylers but with a bit more of an "underground" vibe to them. So of course I hit em up after their set and they were kind enough to give me some stickers with their record label URL on it (something quite new back in 1999).
Upon returning to San Jose, I drove over to my mom’s place to use her partner’s computer as he had the Internet and I didn’t at my shared house in the city (wow, times have changed). With a slow dial-up connection that took forever, I managed to get on the Finger Lickin Records website and then found the links for all of their records through the ‘Hard To Find’ Records website (I wonder if that is still around). At this time, there were only about 5-6 records, so I bought everything.
Over the next 6-months, I started gobbling up everything I could find with a breakbeat as the music spoke to me in ways that no other music spoke to me at the time. Fatboy Slim, more Freestylers, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers; you get the idea. I came to Melbourne less than a year later for what was supposed to be a 1-year graduate diploma course before adventures overseas with my girlfriend, but then life went a bit left of centre on us and our first son was born, then our second and next thing you know I’ve been happily living in this part of the world ever since.
But back to the start…
Two weeks after moving here, I played an open decks night at the Laundry Bar in Fitzroy (a place my wife had taken me to before she was my wife). It was a Tuesday afternoon with the sun still shining and I carried a crate of records in to play (having never actually played a real gig before – house parties only up to that time for me). With 2 cleaners (I shit you not), 1 bar manager and my new best mate in the world, Mark Spies (below), in tow, I played a 1-hour set of hiphop, funk and reggae (quite poorly, as I couldn’t beat mix to save my life), but the manager liked me enough to offer me another (free with a pint of beer) 1-hour set the next week at a better time, which I accepted on the spot.
Could not imagine my life without this legend being a major part of it.
I came back for that set and did the same thing and this time got an OK reaction from the semi-full punters there on a Tuesday night and this time the manager asked me when I was done if I was interested in playing weekly at their new bar in the CBD, called The International Lounge Bar (of Ding Dong fame). Of course, I said yes and within a month of moving to Australia I had my first weekly residency playing 12am-4am every Friday night after these two dudes named Mark Brand and Nick Thayer (you may know em). Pay was $25 per hour, so $100 for 4-hours of work each week until 4am. Think about that for a second, young DJ's.
So I played that Friday night every week for about a month or two and got better at beat mixing, reading crowds; you know the drill. It was about this time that my girlfriend and I found out we were pregnant and that this year-long holiday may go a bit longer and I was completely and totally OK with that as my grad dip was going well so a career was just around the corner, my hot girlfriend was happy to have a baby with me, all my new mates (especially Spies) were the best and I was playing weekly at this cool venue. Winning at life!
Then one night I realised that I wasn’t getting to play the breakbeat records that I loved (the ones which had now morphed into 2 crates worth of my blood, sweat and tears of digging). So I called up and got myself onto the roster for another open decks gig at the Laundry (not very hard as I was already one of the company’s resident DJ’s) and asked for a late set after midnight on the Tuesday. I did this specifically so I could play my breakbeat records, many of which had never been played out in Australia other than at an occasional house party at our place in Hawthorn.
So about a week later, I rolled into the venue on a Tuesday night and, sure enough, it was dead. I didn’t care though, because all I wanted to do was play my breakbeat records on a sound system and that’s exactly what I did. While I was playing these records on a system for the first time, I noticed a rather dodgy looking short bloke, who I assumed was from Franga’s, walk in. You know the type and so did I, so I immediately checked that my wallet was attached to my belt, brought my records in a bit close and clenched my fists in case I was going to have to defend myself.
Obviously, I’m talking about Scotrod aka Scotty C aka the Hampton Park Shuffler. Whilst he did look a bit dodgy, he walked up to the booth and set his record box down (being the next DJ to not get paid to play to nobody in the venue) and then he sat down near the booth to have a smoke (remember when smoking was legal in venues – I do, yuck)! Anyways, he didn’t really say much and when it was his turn to take over, he barely said a word to me and then pulled out a phone receiver (like those old corded phones from back in the day)…I shit you not, a phone receiver. This was going to be his headphones for his set and I immediately thought, “I gotta see this”.
So you can say I was on a high because I just played all my favourite records (to nobody but Scotrod), but I played them and that’s all that mattered to me at the time. 99% were Finger Lickin Records tracks, a few Krafty Kuts tracks, Freestyler tracks and other assorted bigbeat jams that were big circa 2000 so you could say I wasn’t really schooled on nu skool breaks yet, but boy was I in for a lesson from this dodgy looking dude with a phone wedged between his ear and his shoulder.
From our second party at the International Lounge Bar (we already paid for a banner - decor was a big deal to us). Notice the phone headphones that Scotty C is using.
Before I even sat down, Scotrod played his first track and a sound I’d never heard before engulfed the room. I think it was a Kraymon track or something like that, but it was dark; it was tough; it was futuristic. I did the quickest double-take of all time and bailed up Scotrod so fast it wasn’t funny to find out what this record was and he showed me the cover (or the label, I cant remember) and I wrote it down on a napkin. Then he played his next track (probably Rennie Pilgrem) and I wrote that one down, too. After biting his entire set, we got to talking and before we knew it the night was over and the venue was closing down.
Scotrod and I shook hands and said our goodbyes and I went outside to catch a cab ride home with my bag of records and whilst waiting, a white van rolls up beside me and the window comes down and Scotrod is peering out at me and offers me a lift home. I accepted and we’ve been mates ever since.
The second BW flier ever (cuz Scotty C had already tried a BW before that fell on its arse)
Soon after that, Scotrod came to a house party at my place to play some records and met my circle of friends, including Mark Spies aka MC Direkt, and they hit it off like I knew they would. Soon after that, Scotty and I did the first Beats Working party in Bendigo (where Scotty C worked as a resident DJ every week at this hotel up there – for real, he’d go up on Thursdays and stay til Sunday every week). That led to another party up there, which I cant believe as neither really blew the doors off the place and before you knew it, I had played a couple of breakbeat parties. Soon after I would play my first Out of Order party at Lounge in the CBD, which was a very big deal to me at the time.
Anyways, whilst my soon-to-be wife was blowing up like Violet Beuregarde from Willy Wonka with our soon-to-be born first son, Zach, we had a Sunday morning get together (or I should say our flatmate Sam had a bunch of mates over after a big night). I had been home with my pregnant girlfriend on call (as I was working as a shift allocator for a nursing agency whilst getting my grad dip) so decided to play some records that everyone seemed happy with and this led into a daytime party at our place (those were the days). It was at this party that I met one of my flatmates good friends boyfriend, a dude named Hans (who my flatmate had been trying to introduce me to for ages). Anyways, Hans (who was not the Scandinavian I presumed he would be) and I hit it off and either he played some of my records at this party or he’d brought some records to this party. Regardless, he was an awesome DJ.
My fav pick of the original Bee Dub DJ's and MC. L-R: Direkt, Scotrod, me & Hans
So it was only natural that my two new DJ mates and I would decide to throw a little breakbeat party called Beats Working so I asked the manager at International Lounge Bar if we could throw it in their back room and he said yes. We’d do it differently this time, too, as we wanted our good mate Spiesy, MC Direkt, to hype the crowd like drum’n’bass MC’s were doing at that time. We also made some of our "decor" and worked really hard to make the room look like it was ours...something that we'd always maintain throughout the life of the party.
Hans and I designing some of our first decor pieces in my back yard in Hawthorn.
That party went much better than the Bendigo parties (mainly because Hans knew – and still knows – everybody; and also because we had Direkt get on the mic to hype the crowd up) and that led to another party there in the back room.
So many familiar faces in this original Bee Dub crew pic
A young Hans-DC...doing a rat tail long before they were ever popular with bogans.
Without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm lucky!
Possibly our first party at the Laundry...notice the Scotrod sound manipulator thingy. Still have those decks in my DJ room.
Reggie with her hands near the crotches of Nick Holland & Tony Woods (from the mighty Hawks)
This then led to a party in the main room (which had Shane Crawford in attendance – I shit you not) and then that led to us taking the party to upstairs at the Laundry and eventually we got both levels of the Laundry and it would be fairly packed every month for our “little” breakbeat party called Beats Working that was completely a “word of mouth” party with very little promotion other than the fliers we’d hand out after the show finished for our next party and our first website designed by a good mate.
WTF was I thinking with this mohawk?
Anyways, whilst all this was going down and my first son was born, we all starting getting booked for festivals, bush doof’s, club nights; you name it. It was a really good time to be playing breaks in Melbourne.
This baby is now 16 years old and taller than me.
Our first flier produced by the venue...we got these out everywhere.
Due to my Lounge connections, I got us onto a VS night. Much fun was had...
This was the first 33 1/3 I played...about 6 months after getting out of the hospital. Joh brought the kids to meet me after my set so we could celebrate Zach's birthday in St Kilda.
A standard Bee Dub poster...name brand recognition of a simple design worked well for us.
Down the track, I started playing gigs with the new breed of breaks DJ's coming through the ranks. This was one of those gigs and Rock Like This are still killing it.
An old flier from 02, featuring our good mates in Fizard (always a supporter of these cats and they should have gone bigger -- Weapon X's first band, I think).
Everyone was doing these big parties where a plethora of DJ's all played on the same bill from multiple crews. This was one of the first ones and is what inspired me to later do Melbourne Breaks Unite with the Bee Dub and Gimme A Break boys.
I think Tiesto was on in the main room when I played...one of the first BIG gigs I did at a stadium (albeit the side room of a stadium, but I took it)
I came back for this one off breakbeat party with some ol mates. Don't think it went well in terms of heads, but the cats doing this party were legends in my mind (still are).
Always happy to play one of Drew's parties because he put his heart and soul into every event. This one was off the hook, if I remember correctly.
I played a chilled drum'n'bass set in the side room at this party, but it was such a big night. Local breaks act...packed venue. Direkt on the mic killing it with the dude from Triple J. Breaks were HUGE!!!!
Unfortunately, although we had some good parties here, this was the beginning of the end (for me) with breaks. Soon after this party, I went into the hospital for my operation and came out feeling "different" and didn't want to keep doing it the way I had been up to that point. My style would change...
Cats like Phil K, Brewster B, Ransom, The Alias, Nick Thayer, Ben Shepherd, Ides, Heath Myers, Agent 86, Ducky, Shane Ford, Ben Stacey, EK, Boogs, Ferris, Gsan, Blueprint, Keltec, Lynt, Guyno, Little Evil, Dan Mangan, Kilroc, Hound, Khalil and Brainstorm (Lilstormer & Brain) were everywhere and played breaks in one form or another (yeah, a lot of electro crept in but that was alright with me) and everyone was bringing their own twist to it. Of course, there would be countless others that came to the party soon after (many of whom I still book today), but these DJ’s I’ve listed (apologies if I missed anyone) were the people who inspired me to get out there and keep spinning records nightly when I first moved here and first started playing breakbeat in nightclubs.
Melbourne Breaks Unite Press Pic, 2006???
So I’m not getting sombre and this isn’t one of those, “where did it all go” blog posts. It’s actually a happy celebratory post about a brief period of my life where I moved overseas to a far-away place for a girl and what happened next was a new life that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
The mix you’ll find a link to above was recorded back in 2010. I’ve had it laying around on a hard drive for ages, but forgot about it until recently when I posted a bunch of old fliers I found when cleaning out a box from my garage. It contains all those tracks I used to play weekly (I’m actually amazed we got away with this type of stuff, but we did).
Hope you enjoy the mix and I hope this is inspiring enough for a bunch of old breakbeat DJ’s (and MC’s) to get back out there for a night sometime soon to celebrate the broken beat.
Peeze, Eric OB