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PlayGround Mix 071: Albion Venables

An hour of continental disco from the Swedish retro dance wizard

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PlayGround Mix 071: Albion Venables | PlayGround | Music Mixes


Duration: 01:09:40

Venables is a family name many people will remember, especially in Barcelona. Specifically, in relation to the British coach who - in his first year on the Barça pitch - managed to end a twelve-year episode during which the club didn't win a single league title (the last one until that day was when Johan Cruijff was team captain). The man in question was called Terry, Terry Venables. The Venables we're bringing you today, however, calls himself Albion, even though he's not English but Swedish. He's one of those people who rummage around flea markets looking for disco records to use in his sets for such prestigious platforms as iCrates, Intergalactic FM (the radio station of the king of kings in this field, I-F), Another Night On Earth, and the site of another acclaimed digger, New Yorker Lovefingers. The man is followed by a court of avid fans of vintage sounds, all getting together on his Soundcloud page in order to hear, for instance, his Mixtura series (with seventeen episodes so far, the last of which he delivered five months ago, full of priceless gems).

Some of those tracks, often hard to find or at elevated prices on market places such as Discogs, could be heard on a CD compilation released last year on Ambassador's Reception, Chicken Lips' Steve Kotey's label. Venables is also the A&R and owner of Frisbee Records (not to be confused with Frankfurt techno label Frisbee Tracks, risen from the ashes of Harthouse). It specialises in dark and dirty disco - by the man himself, alongside his friends Spacelex and Dea - and now has the second episode of the “Heavy Rotation” series ready for release. Apart from all that, the Swede has several collaborations in the pipeline, on labels such as Black Disco, which is like the Champions League of retro new disco. PlayGround managed to get in touch with Albion Venables to ask him a few questions, acquiring an exclusive mix to boot.


How's your relationship with Intergalactic FM going? What kind of material do you include in your mixes?

The truth is that when I first heard of the station I thought I'd never have the courage to send them a mix. The quality they have on offer is such that I thought my sets just wouldn't cut it. In fact, I got in touch with other Dutch internet radio stations, for which I made about 30 podcasts. At that point I decided I should grow a pair and send I-F's people a mix. “Astronomix” and “Mixtura” became my first two appearances on the station. They then started to call me to play at their parties, and the rest is history. Since then, I firmly believe in the value of consistency. My sets basically feed off European disco, or, as I prefer to call it, 'continental disco'.

And what can you tell us about Lovefingers?

Loverfingers is, first and foremost, a musical guide who leads you to the most marvellous pieces of this thing we love so much: music. His blog became a never-ending source of references, influences and, most of all, inspiration. He's also a great friend whom I had the pleasure of meeting at one of the Microparties by CBS, the former incarnation of Intergalactic FM, back in 2006. Around that same time I got to know Spacelex, with whom I founded Frisbee Records, along with another common friend, Dea, who, by the way, is about to release a 12” on Blackdisco, Lovefingers and Nitedog's label.

Apart from your own label, you also work with Ambassador’s Reception.

Yes, that was one of those things that make you continue your path. People told me I should send my edits to Stevie Kotey, who later admitted he already knew me because he had heard my mixes. I started working with the label with a series called Mixtura, like the mix I told you about before, which included four edits. The second volume is already in the making, it will be released pretty soon. Like many other projects we have in mind, we still need some time to fine-tune everything. I've released some things on other labels, but honestly I think Kotey's label fits my musical philosophy like a glove.


Are you still working on that other side-project, Naked Ape?

We released an album on Lobotom Records five years ago, of something we could define as synth-pop, called “For The Sake Of The Naked Ape”. The project's been shelved for now. My mate Jonas Mathiasson is taking care of it, and of the bootleg website. I say for now, because we've been talking about picking it up again, but nothing's confirmed at the moment.  I'm working on my solo career and until I really know what I'm capable of, I don't think I'm going to participate in any more group projects.

So how's it going with the label?

Well, I haven't got it here yet, by “Heavy Rotation II” is about to be released. The first one came out in 2010, with tracks by Spacelex, Dea and myself. The new one is very fresh, you can hear we're starting to fine-tune the sound. After that, we'll get busy with the Blackdisco release I told you about before, and I suppose that by the end of the year we'll release the third chapter of Heavy Rotation. The series is the label's main musical pillar right now, so we really want to make it into something solid.

What's the Swedish disco scene like? From the outside, it looks pretty strong.

I think the Norwegian scene is stronger. People tend to put all the Scandinavian countries in one bag, and they confuse Sweden with Norway. The truth is that right now, the Norwegian scene is more productive right now.


By the way, and I noticed this with many of the vintage disco sound gurus: why don't you follow anyone on Soundcloud?

Because I wasn't born to follow anyone in this life. I try to go by my own standards; I think that's the only way to do something meaningful in this music thing. Right now many people are following many people. The result of that is that many ideas are repeated and give way to a lot of brief fads. Furthermore, I have no time to listen to what others are doing. When someone I trust recommends this or that DJ, that's a different story. Yes, I'm too much of a perfectionist. I know. But if I were to follow other DJs and producers, I would start comparing myself to them, I would start to doubt myself and get confused. So it might also be a defence mechanism.

What does a disco track need for you to include it in your sets?

I'm into good percussion, good harmonies, lyrics that make some kind of sense, and it must be well danceable. It should give off good vibes to people hearing it. If people don't dance to the music, they start to think - they start to conceptualise and intellectualise the music - and that's dangerous, because then we're not able to get excited. And that's, of course, fatal.

So what kind of collector are you? If you are one, that is. Judging from your selections, it looks like you are.

I consider myself a DJ who goes out to get the records I feel my people are going to like. In general, it's people who don't have access to those records. Not because they don't know anything about them, I don't care about that, but because they haven't got time or money to buy them and listen to them at home. To me, that is the main function of a DJ. The more people are downloading music for free, the more a DJ needs to get his music at second-hand stores or flea markets. That should be any self-respecting DJ's natural reaction. I've noticed that the only thing you need to get your own audience is to be personal. The audience is out there. You need to seduce it, and there's no better way to seduce anyone than by being unique. If you're like the rest, you're doomed to have a promiscuous audience, because you're interchangeable.

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