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Slaying the Cerberus – Craig Gunn talks parties, people and promoting.

Reported by Adam Symbiosis / Submitted 17-05-06 11:13

A long time ago the Cerberus protected the entrance to Hades, keeping the living out, its three heads lined with teeth. Not so long after, Cerberus helped to keep the nights of the living dead rocking at parties like Quake and Chaos.

These days the three heads are gone and so are the hard trance beats, having been replaced by progressive house and trance. Since his Gallery DJ competition win Craig Gunn has stepped out of the shadow of his ancient influences and into a brave new world lining up with some of the world’s greatest djs.

“When you spend so much time in clubs like Escape From Samsara and you are surrounded by people called Sayber, Oberon, Beamish and you’re into Euro trance, well I just came up with the name,” he explained. “Cerberus fitted with the style and the parties at the time but it was only for a very brief period. What brought me back round to the sound I’m playing at the moment, progressive house into trance with a little bit of electro and breaks chucked into the mix, was my love for the music djs like Sasha, Digweed and Nick Warren were playing, stuff from Global Underground.”

After his flirtation with monikers I wondered if he might have grown up, moved on because he’s older, but for Craig it was more a case of the music growing up. “It wasn’t that I got serious, rather I started taking my music seriously. I think also the music, the production quality is a lot better than it was 5 years ago. I’ve also become a lot more accessible to different dance sounds and stopped being narrow minded or focused on one particular sound.”



Is that a problem with the hard scene at the moment? Maybe not, as he thinks all genres can get stifled. “Hard house has been influenced by the electro scene, even the breakbeat scene. How many hard house records do you hear that have a breakbeat breakdown of some description? The same with the trance scene. People now just expect more from their club nights.” More rooms, a more varied selection of music, even if that just means a change in the music across the night in a one room venue but there is a danger of losing yourself or the party within the music. “You should get a bit of everything in your night. But if you filter down the music too much you start to lose your identity for the night, but I’m totally down for having music policies that give you at least two or three types of music. The concept of a night though that caters for everybody, I wouldn’t really want that as a reality. You should take the club or leave it and there are so many parties on the market now anyway.”

Like his own party maybe? “Subsonica? It’s our little project. We’ve had it running for a couple of years and it’s just designed to be a party for our friends. So it’s a party and not a club promotion, we don’t spend a huge amount of money on the advertising, just produce a flyer but that’s really so our immediate friends know what’s going on.”

As with a lot of other clubs, they’ve moved around a bit, mostly to venues in East London, The Rhythm Factory, The Fortress, though currently they’re rocking The Cosmo Bar in Farringdon. “We wanted a venue that was quite laid back without a heavy managerial presence around the venue to make people feel uncomfortable about being there. It’s got a nice bar upstairs that you can just chill out in with a small but intense dance floor downstairs and it’s cheap. We try and cater our parties to people’s pockets. You pay a fiver to get in and you’ll be pleased as you’ll get a whole night of great music. Each time we do a party we always have a guest dj, last month we had Steve Morley down who produces as Dave Holmes and has done a number of trance classics. We always look to book djs who have something unique about them, they’ve got to have a story.”



Moving away from the usual type of bookings, next month sees Alchemy Records boss Shane Gobi grace the decks. “I saw Shane play two years ago at Boom Festival in Portugal and I was totally blown away by his style of psy trance. His stuff was akin to uplifting trance but with that psychedelic take on it. A totally laid back guy as well.”

The musical policy for the rest of the night ranges from funky house, to breakbeat, to electro, to trance, all in the same night. “You know if you are seriously into your hard trance you might not be satisfied with your whole evening but if you are just generally into dance music from 9 o’clock in the evening till 3 in the morning, you will be satisfied. Personally I like progression in the music, starting off pretty funky and ending up, well, it could be techno, it could be hard trance, even hard house.”

Attracting masses of people isn’t the goal though, putting on a good party is. And if there are 100 or 200 people there who are a little more open and appreciative to hearing something different then the team is happy. The boys are planning to take a break over the summer to concentrate on separate projects, holidays, festivals and the like. “In the autumn we may come back, maybe do a little re-brand, maybe even look at another venue, but the Cosmo Bar at the moment serves its purpose. It’s intimate, it’s friendly, and by the end of the evening you’ll know some extra people, that’s one of its charms really.”

I go on to ask him about highlights he’s had over the years. A sip of beer and a wry smile precedes his answer: “The first gig I ever played was a learning curve. Metamorph, some track on Tetsu Records, a Nick Sentience track, I remember the running order. Four tracks into the set one of the monitors fell down from above, hit the mixing desk on its edge and bounced off over my head. Everyone at the front of the party had seen it, the dj standing next to me had seen it and although it’s not necessarily a good highlight, it’s stuck in my mind.” Mixing CDs on the beach in Thailand comes up as well as his residency parties. But the biggest highlight has to be winning the annual Turnmills/Gallery DJ competition.



Last time the winner was a young girl by the name of Sophie Sugar with her blissed out vocal trance sound so how does Craig feel about being a progressive house DJ winning this year? “You could look at that in a broader sense and say in 2004 we were coming to the end of massive trance events, trance promoters were finding it hard to put on packed out events, look at The Fridge for example. For Sophie the criteria included being a good solid main room trance dj to play a peak time pumping set. In 2005 they were looking specifically for a warm up DJ for the main room. All their headlining djs from Tall Paul, to Fergie, to Sander Van Doorn, John Askew, Gavin Mytchel all play quite hard, so obviously they were looking for someone that could fit in, play a 10 to 12 slot and really warm up for those guys. How the djs in the competition interpreted that reflected on how far they progressed in the competition. Coming from a trance background those guys were playing hard trance and I think progressive house is a precursor to what that is, it works perfectly in building up the trance theme and I nailed it there on my heats.”

Other criteria were solid mixing, tunes that got the crowd going without being peak time. “I think it was a combination of everything and the support that I brought down. Without the support for the event, whether I played the best set on the planet or had the best tunes in my record box, there would have been no way I would have got to the final. Sophie Sugar has gone on to good things, she’s been doing a lot of production, released a few tracks and I think that’s the way I’d like to go as well.”

He did think it was strange for a prog house DJ to win, but thought it showed the open-mindedness of the judges. “One of the things I’ve discovered is that if you are playing one or two gigs a month that you feel comfortable at, like at a residency, you feel easier about experimenting with your sound, playing new records out and that’s a good thing. From that my djing has increased exponentially, not necessarily the quantity but the quality of gigs I’m doing.” Since winning the competition he’s played with Sander Van Doorn, Tall Paul and John Askew among others.



“When I played there on my 30th birthday they opened up the 3rd room and had a live band playing in there, Crazy P, who were doing an indie — rock — dance crossover type thing, that just goes to show the club is keeping up with the times.” An interesting point, considering the launch of a number of nights now catering not just with a mix of dance music but just a mix of music in general. “I think it is heading that way, Manumission are putting on people like The Killers, Kasabian are getting gigs at dance events. I think its promoters being on the pulse of what clubbers want. There’s always something about live events at clubs. The live PA scene, someone up there with a computer, Orbital, Underworld, these guys, it’s a great and magical spectacle to see someone interacting with technology live, it’s something that still amazes me. Sasha is doing it with his Ableton thing in some shape or form but there’s still something absolutely fascinating about someone playing a guitar or drums. People want to be entertained, they want to see something. Once you’ve seen three million lasers and five million backdrops you start to look for something else and if someone offers a live band in the second room, you want to go check it out. Promoters should take note of that really. Of course there’s a role for the dj but it just means you have to work twice as hard behind the decks. You have to be seen to be entertaining, to actually look like you are having a good time. Really everyone in the dance music industry has to up their game. It’s a positive thing, it doesn’t mean the end of the dj, it doesn’t even mean the end of dance music. More than anything else, it’s an enhancement.” It’s not quite indie crowds in a dance music venue, a giant crunch of music, but he thinks it’s involving more people who aren’t so blinkered in their tastes. “It’s involving more people on the peripheries of the scenes.”



I see a glint in his eye and I wonder if Craig plays some kind of instrument at all? “I’ve got a lot of people round me that play instruments and I’ve played guitar for 15 years. My girlfriend as well is a fantastic musician, grand master at piano. Prozak has been working with me on some stuff as well. I’d like to throw in a live band element into some productions. Playing guitar will come into its own now I’m beginning to write music, it helps me to put together bass lines and chord structures and it’s given me a sound musical knowledge base. What chords work well together, what notes go in a scale, things like that. I think there’ll be elements in there that I can incorporate into dance music. Just come back in a year and a half and see where I am.”

Adam Symbiosis Smile

Further details can be found at Craig Gunns website

Photos courtesy of Craig Gunn and Symbiosis. Not to be reproduced without permission.


SUBSONICA PRESENTS SHANE GOBI
Send an eFlyer for this event to a friend Include this Event in a Private Message Direct link to this Event
On: Friday 26th May
At: CosmoBar [map]

From: 9PM TILL LATE
Cost: 6 POUNDS ON THE DOOR
Website: www.djprozak.org.uk
Ticket Info: Call for info: 07956 472 558
More: LAST SUBSONICA UNTILL THE AUTUMN

May's event see's our very special guest Shane Gobi!!!

Shane Gobi is Alchemy records founder and Label Manager. Originally from south-africa, but now based in London, Shane has a strong reputation for powerful psychedelic trance DJ sets. Known for his flowing and energetic Dj style, over the last four years he has played outdoor parties and clubs in the U, Israel, South Africa, Portugal, Austria and Japan. DJ and producer, Shane is also part of Groundzero - a psytrance side project with label firend Dark Soho, which features on Alchemy Records.

Great Venue - Great Tunes - Great Sound - Great Lighting - No Geezer's!!!
Flyer:
-
Region: London
Music: Trance. Hard Trance. Tech Trance. Psy Trance. House. Funky House. Prog House. Tribal House. Breaks.
DJ's: Special Guest's
Shane Gobi
DJ Akanski
Brash Cad

Residents
Prozakwww.djprozak.org.uk
Craig Gunnwww.djcraiggunn.com
Craig H

Who's Going? (9) : Cerberus, chill, Dj Akanski, Ian Edwards, Jay OM, KatyKoo, pam@pam, Prozak, ViKa 
HF Photographer: Cerberus HF Reviewer:


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Other Features By Adam Symbiosis:
Godskitchen Xmas Party: Reviewed
The Big Chill: Reviewed
Tiësto at Victoria Park: Reviewed
Lilly Allen: Reviewed
Digital Society May 2009: Reviewed
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
Comments:

From: Mat Lock on 17th May 2006 18:24.32
Interesting read there Claps Hands Look forward to seeing and hearing more from you Craig. Judging from that demo you sent me there's a huge future for you.

From: Prozak on 17th May 2006 22:35.03
nice one bruv Wink

From: Justin Time on 18th May 2006 14:18.51
Wicked stuff Craig Big grin

From: Cerberus on 18th May 2006 14:38.41
grazia..

From: Craig H on 18th May 2006 15:48.20
Nice one Mr Gunn....
Now, where did you put little Tiesto...?

From: Cerberus on 18th May 2006 15:54.33
he is right here in my top left pocket now that Mr V Dyk is worlds number one you crazed saffa.....you coming out Saturday?

From: Nacho on 18th May 2006 21:47.15
Well done Craig! Looking forward to that Beer time soon!


From: Katie Girl on 19th May 2006 00:22.18
Add your comments here !

From: Katie Girl on 19th May 2006 00:23.48
Brilliant Craig Brilliant Smile Great interview and extra specially great to see you're doing so well! Keep it up luv. My old stomping friend Smile Loads of love Katie Kiss

From: Cerberus on 19th May 2006 09:04.58
thankyou Katie Girl feelin your love all the way from NZ sweetie...

From: garyoptim on 19th May 2006 15:27.03
good stuff! interesting read. really enjoyed subsonica when me and david were down, looking forward to catching your set 2moro aswell. wicked to see things going so well for ya

From: Cerberus on 24th May 2006 12:10.15
I will be playing with BLANK & JONES, TALL PAUL and FERGIE in the main room at TURNMILLS on the 30th JUNE check out website for concession passes!!!!

From: Menthol Taz on 26th May 2006 08:34.51
Great interview & a nice guy. Great to meet you last night (Raymondo's last set). All the best for the future & hope to see you soon.

From: Cerberus on 26th May 2006 11:14.04
Thanks Taz.....keep rockin' x

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