Letter #77

Hello,

I hope you’re well. This is letter seventy seven, and it’s a bit different. I know I say that phrase quite often, but I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this project, and many of you noticed that last week’s letter was a little different. Over the course of the last eighteen months, we’ve had some brilliant guests (thank you to every single one), some letters that I’m proud of, and to be frank, some letters where I’ve felt I’ve phoned it in a bit. Many of you have asked how I find the time to do this every single week; the truth is that I love writing this letter and sharing music with you, and I find time because of that reason.

I never started this project with any goal in mind, and if I’m honest, I never really expected anyone to read it. I thought that after the first wave of enthusiastic friends and family had gotten bored, I’d probably have just packed this in and considered it an interesting idea, but not much else. So I was as surprised as everyone else when people I didn’t know started to subscribe. Then when people that I massively admired from music and culture started joining, I had to pinch myself.

Right now there are 962 of you, and while you don’t all listen to every single letter, over the course of each month around 85% of you listen to at least two. A further 10% dip in and out, and I think about 5% never see the email because of spam filters. Over the last eighteen months around 80 people have joined us, and later unsubscribed (I know this letter isn’t for everyone). Amazingly, there is a hardcore of around 450 of you that listen to every single letter (and most of you within ten hours of it being sent out). This is (literally) a hundred times more people than I ever expected.

I can’t thank you enough for reading, listening, and sharing stuff. Without you, I wouldn’t have continued.

Before you / some of you / my dad start to think this project is finished, it absolutely isn’t, but I’ve decided to take a break for December. I never thought this would go beyond ten letters, and now it has, I’d like to spend some time thinking about this properly. I want to think about if the format, content, frequency, and distribution of the letter, and mixtape content, structure, platform, and length are still the right thing to do.

I would love your thoughts on how this could develop and progress. I’d also love for you to share our project with your friends if you think it’s good, and if you think they’d like it. The more people we have, the more suggestions people send in, and the better the quality the letters are. It genuinely makes a massive difference, so please share.

Rest assured my obsessive compulsion for listening and buying records won’t stop (it never has), and so when this is back, it’ll hopefully be better than ever. I’ll be back on the 11th of January, and until then, as always…

If you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.

PRESS ME TO PLAY
PS Between now and the 11th of January I will almost certainly be sending an interim letter that has a Christmas playlist – here, if you can’t wait – and a little message to say happy Christmas to you all 🎄.

PPS Oh go on then, here’s my favourite letter 🖤

📃 The tracklist 📃
  1. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Do You Love What You Feel
  2. Le Stim – A Tribute to Muhammad Ali (We Crown the King)
  3. Little Scotty – I Want to Dance
  4. Herbie Hancock – Go For It (special 12″ version)
  5. The Mike Theodore Orchestra – Cosmic Wind
  6. Slave – Baby Sinister
  7. Yarbrough & Peoples – Don’t Stop the Music
  8. Ron Trent – Boogie Down
  9. Detroit Swindle – High Life
  10. Franc Moody – Dopamine
  11. Crazy P – Open for Service
  12. Emmanuelle – L’uomo d’Affari
  13. Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime (Axel Boman dub)
  14. Deep Blue – Deep Blue (The Inner Part of Me)
  15. Yoshinori Hayashi – Palanquin Bearing Monkey
  16. Anchorsong – Ancestors
  17. The Invisible – Wings (Floating Points remix)
  18. Greentea Peng – Used To
  19. Throwing Snow – Linguis
  20. Bruce – Elo
  21. E-Talking – Telephone Rose
  22. Jensen Interceptor – Lean Before the Interview
  23. Deena Abdelwahed – Al Hobb Al Mouharreb
  24. Flying Lotus – Data Entry
  25. Earl Sweatshirt – Nowhere2Go
  26. Nazar – Airstrike
  27. Run the Jewels – Let’s Go (The Royal We)
  28. Radiohead – Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors
  29. TV On The Radio – Staring at the Sun
  30. Rival Consoles – Them Is Us
See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #76

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

How’s things? You good? Good. If you’re reading this in America(s), happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone else has had a great week. I have, it’s been a blinder 😊. Huge thanks to Steven for last week’s guest letter, I think everyone enjoyed it just as much as me.

This week I’ve had a bit of a revelation, and the mixtape has been massively influenced by Anita Sarko. There’s a proper explanation in the notes below, but the short story is that Sarko was instrumental in shaping 80s New York (and arguably UK) culture, breaking new artists, and (in at least two cases) breaking new genres. She was at the nexus of art, music, and fashion in the late 70s and the 80s. Without Sarko, there would probably be no Beastie Boys, no Madonna, and no Basquiat. And those are just the ones that come to mind…

Anyway, this letter is dedicated to the enduring influence of one of the most underrated DJs of all time; Anita Sarko. There’s so much brilliant music on the mixtape that it feels a bit like a ‘best of’, but that was the power of Sarko, and after you’ve listened, I think you’ll forgive me. Enjoy ❤️

💥 If you enjoy this weekly letter (like I know you do), then please take a second to forward this email, or share this link with a short recommendation on Facebook or Twitter 💥
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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. Eccentric women, like Sarko, are fundamental to pushing culture forwards and fixing the ills of society
  2. Hannah Höch is my new favourite Dada artist
  3. Little Black Book has a brilliant feature on the mega talented female directors reshaping hip-hop videos (thanks BW for the tip)
  4. Keith Haring’s first ever proper UK exhibition is coming next year
  5. I love Georgia O’Keeffe’s explanation on why flowers were so important to her
  6. London has THREE new record shops
  7. My worlds collided so hard this week when I found out that Gil Scott-Heron was the voice over artist for the famed 90s You Know When You’ve Been Tango’d ad (thanks to Steven for the tip)
  8. On a similar note, here’s a compilation of all the ads that David Lynch has directed
  9. Huck has a brilliant photoessay on the UK reggae scene in the 70s
  10. And finally, yes, this is almost certainly going to be me in another 42 years – “garden shed DJ with audience of one gets big break after 44 years”
📚 The notes 📚

I finished Patti Smith’s M Train this week, and I highly recommend it. It’s quite hard to describe what it’s about, but broadly it’s part journal, part exploration of her creative process, and part autobiography. It is beautifully written, and I’ve not read a book that pulled me in quite as tight as this one did for a long time. It’s an incredibly thoughtful book, and it’s dense with ideas and thoughts that create sparks of new thoughts. One thing that struck me so heavily was Smith’s creative process. There’s no rush. No rush to create, and no rush to consume. There’s definitely moments of intense frustration at not being able to create, and she applies a craftsman’s approach (aka inspiration doesn’t ‘strike’ and what you create is perfect, instead perfection comes from whittling and working on something), but there’s no sense of being overloaded. She’s in charge, and she’s controlling her inputs and (to a certain extent) her outputs. There’s a sense of calm in everything she does.

I finished the final pages of M Train while I was on my way to work on Tuesday morning, and I’d become so consumed by the book, that once I’d finished it, I had a sudden panic; I’d forgotten my ritual of building a long list of music to listen to. Each week, I scour hundreds of different sources, and create an enormous playlist of music to listen over the week in order to find new music. As time has gone by, I’ve caught a rhythm, and each week I gather the last seven days worth of new music. It’s an intense system, but it works. Or at least, I thought it did until Tuesday morning. The panic rose, and almost immediately I clocked the sharp contrast with what I’d been reading and my own process. My system had become an overloaded habit. Worse still, it wasn’t just a habit with music, it had seeped into my behaviour with magazines, books, websites, newsletters, flyers – I wanted anything I could get my hands / eyes / ears on, because I thought the more I had, the more interesting stuff I could squeeze out. Like a juicer, the more oranges, the more juice. But my brain isn’t a juicer, and at some point the juicer gets overloaded and jammed.

I think this week was the week I realised I’d jammed my juicer.

I think I’ve inadvertently equated consuming quantity with producing quality, and forgotten that the value comes from the process of being able to properly consider what’s important and interesting. Not just skipping through five second snippets of more than 1,000 songs, and skim-reading the first and last paragraphs of 100+ articles. (I know, now I’m writing it down it sounds ridiculous.) I think I’d lost sight of why I started this thing in the first place – it was never to be a filter for everything that’s happened in every culture over the last seven days, it was to bring you a snapshot of what I thought was interesting and important that week. To share my process and music that I thought was brilliant.

I’d forgotten how to listen properly, and I’d forgotten how to go deep.

So I decided to make some changes. I went out and bought a new notebook, I gave away some magazines and kept only those that I knew had something interesting in, and I made a much smaller pile of books that I’d been wanting to read for ages. I forced myself to ignore my phone whenever I was in bed (before I slept, and when I woke up), and put off checking emails, feeds, and the like until I was in the office. In only three days I’ve finished two more books, written up all my Kindle notes by hand (the only way I remember anything is if I physically write it out) , read six in-depth magazine interviews, and created a mixtape that I think is one of the best I’ve done in ages. I forced myself to go deep. I remembered how to care again. Most importantly, I think, I broke this rancid cycle of ‘more more more’, click-bait-style behaviour that had become seemingly habitual. My intention was always to learn more about lots of different cultures and subcultures, using music as the guide for that exploration – I think I had accidentally become someone who used a tiny bit of skimmed information to ‘signal’ that I knew more than I really did. Culture signalling, basically.

If you’re signalling, then all you have is a tiny bit of knowledge. You’re stood in the middle, with everyone else, and you’re (basically) one step ahead of them because you’ve leaned a bit to the side. You’re not on the edges, and you’re not really exploring. You’re showing off. The excellent Paul Ruffles put an Insta story out this week with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that cut me down in my stride, Vonnegut said; “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the centre”. You have to lean so far you might fall. Hopefully this week you’ll hear how the music guides you through a culture, and the links above in the TL:DR section are mostly connected to the subject too.

With this renewed focus, I’ve been reading the Beastie Boys book this week (please, I beg you, buy it now) after one of my all-time favourite people, Frank, suggested I give it a read. It’s about so much more than the Beastie’s – it covers the rise of late 70s New York as the cultural epicentre of the world – but about a quarter of the way through there’s an essay from Anita Sarko. It’s a brilliant first hand account of how the DJ came into contact and gave the Beastie’s a huge helping hand, and cements Sarko as a driving force behind everything good that came out of the 80s. I would argue that Sarko is probably one of the most underrated DJs in history; she was one of the first (if not the first) paid female DJs, she toured the world, and in New York she put Mudd Club and Danceteria(two of the most influential clubs in music history) on the map. She gave Madonna her first big break. She gave Basquiat a sofa to sleep on. And she created a space for LGTBQ+ cultures not just to be safe, but to thrive. I first came across Sarko in Tim Lawrence’s brilliant book Life and Death on a New York Dance Floor, where she’s given her rightful credit in the New York / London musical pantheon.

Rekindling my love of Sarko this week, I sat watching a short video interviewshe did a few years before she passed away, and I was hit smack between the eyes by something she said; “what’s interesting about now, and what’s so dangerous to the creative people in history, is that there’s so much information out there, that people can get lost in the cracks”. I hope we never lose people like Anita Sarko, because they are the totems of culture. In tribute, the music I’ve included on this week’s mixtape is almost entirely made up of songs Sarko would’ve played at Mudd and Danceteria, and where there’s new music, they’re songs that I think she’d have approved of.

All hail Anita Sarko ❤️

📃 The tracklist 📃
  1. Beastie Boys – Cooky Puss
  2. Run-DMC – It’s Like That
  3. Funky 4+1 – That’s The Joint
  4. The Sugarhill Gang – 8th Wonder
  5. Defunkt – Strangling Me With Your Love
  6. Funkadelic – Undisco Kidd
  7. Blondie – Rapture
  8. Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love
  9. Taana Gardner – Heartbeat
  10. Komiko – Feel Alright (extended disco version)
  11. Atmosfear – Invasion
  12. ESG – Moody
  13. A Certain Ratio – Lucinda
  14. Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps
  15. James White and The Contortions – Contort Yourself
  16. The Lounge Lizards – Do The Wrong Thing
  17. The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
  18. Roisin Murphy – World’s Crazy
  19. Syncbeat – Music (Boris Dlugosch remix)
  20. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me (special extended dance mix)
  21. New Order – Blue Monday
  22. Eric Copeland – Mateo
  23. Beastie Boys – Drinkin’ Wine
  24. Joy Division – She’s Lost Control
  25. DNA – Blonde Redhead
  26. X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents
  27. Television – Venus
  28. Strawberry Alarm Clock – Incense And Peppermints
  29. Laurie Anderson – O Superman
  30. Skeeter Davis – The End Of The World
As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #75

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a great week. There’s quite a few new people this week, so if you’ve got no idea what’s going on, click here for an explanation as to how this works.

This week hasn’t gone as expected. There is loads of brilliant music out this week, and I’ve got a long list in excess of about 200 tracks, and as I was starting to filter through it all, an email dropped into the Love Will Save the Day inbox, from Steven Doherty. I met Steven more than a decade ago, when he was working at Discovery Channel (he was one of my first agency clients!). I was pretty sure at the time he thought I was annoying. I’m not sure his views have particularly changed, but we bonded over a shared love of music and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. He was very literally one of the first people to sign up, and I asked him to write a guest letter last year.

It was worth the wait. Having had a sneaky listen yesterday, I can hand on heart say it’s one of the most complete mixtapes I’ve ever listened to. The tracks are well considered and balanced, there’s a great mix of the familiar and the unexpected, and there’s a huge variety of different genres. What I’ve found most fascinating is that while there’s so much variation, the mixtape has a certain tone to it. I think you’ll see / hear what I mean.

The letter is also brilliant, with loads of interesting thoughts and links, and he’s even covered off the first five TL:DR links this week too!

You’re going to love it ❤️

💥 If you enjoy this weekly letter (like I know you do), then please take a second to forward this email, or share this link with a short recommendation on Facebook or Twitter 💥
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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. Watch this short film celebrating 25 years of the Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers
  2. Listen to this great interview with DJ Sprinkles on RA
  3. Watch New York, the film on Bill Cunningham (and get the story behind that French workman’s jacket everyone wears) – trailer here
  4. It’s just a scam to take away the land from the Barbudans so they can give it to people like Robert de Niro”
  5. The original James Murphy.
  6. I really enjoyed this interview with David Byrne
  7. Lydia Lunch had lunch with Anthony Bourdain.
  8. Bleep has opened a record shop in Dalston (well, a pop up shop until the end of the year)
  9. The Quietus’ Bakers Dozen feature stars Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs – it’s great
  10. Finally, you’ve probably seen this already, but this metal band scammed a world tour.
📚 The notes 📚

I met Jed in the late 00’s. He was about seven years old. At the time he spoke of his searches for vinyl from a far-off time he’d heard village elders call the ‘nineties’. He approached his quest for grungy britpops with an energy and passion like no normal human. Now, ten years later, aged 14 ½, Jed puts the same energy into a ridiculously good, generous, and comprehensive weekly newsletter. Thank you, Jed, and thanks for letting me join in this week.

To make this mix, I just played records all weekend, picked them in as arbitrary a manner as I could. Then I looked for them on Spotify and put them in an order. It’s funny hearing it back on Spotify as some – like Marcos Valle, or the Staple Singers, for example – are maybe too compressed, or not particularly well mixed for streaming. Check them on vinyl, or even CD, if you can.

Joyce Heath kicks things off with a track I’m sort of obsessed with from the Sky Girl compilation. I find it inescapable. Lynne Ramsay had it on the soundtrack of her last film, and I really liked hearing her on the radio this year – if you can find a repeat of this anywhere, check it out.

I’m a massive, completist fan of Colleen. The track selected is from her latest album, but calls back to her early music box work I reckon. Here’s a nice videoof her current live set up (heart the chart!) and a link to a great mix she did a couple of years ago.

The Naum Gabo edit is an enduring favourite, and a record I was kindly given in a meeting at work. It turned out an account director I was working with ran the record label that was about to put it out, and we had talked about a club I used to go to where Jonny Wilkes (half of Naum Gabo) DJ’d at. The remix is by the real talent behind DFA. Thanks for the record, Simon, it’s still being hammered ten years later.

Mission Control is from a perfect mix CD I bought back in from ‘Y2K’ (when Jed was born). I now have the vinyl pack too. It’s all timeless stuff. Buy the CD. I’ll refund you if you don’t like it *Boris Johnson pinkie promise*.

Skipping ahead (a lot), it turns out that the Staple Singers cover of Talking Heads was more of a collaboration than a cover, it seems. I bought this about 15 years ago, expecting something like the Curtom Staple Singers. I hadn’t read the credits, and obviously it was nothing like it. I fluked an all time banger, and you should definitely buy the 12″.

The penultimate track is buy a wholly unique act from DRC. The groove is unlike anything else I have in my collection, and a friend of mine made a belter of an edit of it – pitched high with a squelch added in!  He runs another generous and interesting blog. Download the free EP!

Last up is Sylvester. It’s the instrumental I have and love – but the vocal version available on Spotify is great too. Here’s the original demo as a treat – another brilliant Dark Entries release. If you get into this track, you might want to check treatments by Eli Escobar, Pyschemagik, Smagghe & Cross. But I know what you’ll go back to everytime…

Anyway, thanks for listening. And thanks Jed for the comprehensive and generous effort every week. Futures.

📃 The tracklist 📃
  1. Joyce Heath – I Wouldn’t Dream of It
  2. Julia Holter – Whether
  3. Ninos Indigo – Luna
  4. Colleen – November
  5. Bing & Ruth – TWTGA
  6. Marcos Valle – Democustico
  7. Damon – Don’t You Feel Me
  8. Edan – Promised Land
  9. Maya – Distant Visions
  10. David West – Dream on Dreamer
  11. High Places – On Giving Up
  12. Material – Ciquri
  13. Ruth – Polaroid / Roman / Photo
  14. Isolee – My Hi-Matic
  15. Naum Gabo – Pictur (The Loving Hand remix)
  16. Omar S – Seen Was Set
  17. Dukwa – Thoughts
  18. Adesse Versions – That’s What Friends are For
  19. Mission Control – Outta Limits (Shelter remix)
  20. Lee Gamble – Kali Wave
  21. LA Vampires – Supercool
  22. John Talabot – Families
  23. Steve Summers – Lucid Fingers
  24. LNRDCROY – I Met You on BC Ferries
  25. Move D – Eastman
  26. Manicured Noise – Metronome (Cousin Cole remix 5-2)
  27. The Staple Singers – Slippery People
  28. Solange – Losing You
  29. Mbongwana Star – Malukayi
  30. Sylvester – I Need Somebody to Love Tonight
As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #74

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’re good. I’ve had a glorious week, busy, but really fun. After two weeks of weird timing issues, you should hopefully be reading this at 11am GMT.

I asked for some thoughts and feedback on Love Will Save the Day last weekend on a few Instagram stories (the questions are below in the notes), and a couple of people mentioned I’d never really included much reggae, dub, or drum and bass. So this week I’ve dug deep and tried to push myself into unfamiliar territory, while still retaining the thread of this series. Don’t worry, it’s still soulful. It’s been really fun putting together, but so much harder than usual!

Let me know what you think ❤️

There’s also some brilliant stuff in the TL:DR section below too – including a new compilation from Tim Lawrence, news about David Lynch, and a great Q&A with Neneh Cherry. Also, there’s a MUST READ letter from Nick Cave.

Oh, and after overwhelming feedback, the tracklist is back at the bottom of the letter 😂

💥 If you enjoy this weekly letter (like I know you do), then please take a second to forward this email, or share this link with a short recommendation on Facebook or Twitter 💥
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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:

IMPORTANT: Nick Cave shared a beautiful letter on the death of his son, grief, love, and ideas. If you read nothing else this week, read this.

  1. Pre-order Tim Lawrence’s upcoming compilation, Life and Death on a New York Dance Floor – the tracklist is filled with must-haves
  2. Haruki Murakami is donating his 10,000-strong record jazz collection to Tokyo’s Waseda University
  3. You can now visit Le Corbusier’s beautiful apartment in Paris
  4. i-D has a brilliant Q&A with Neneh Cherry, who’s posed questions from some of her friends
  5. David Lynch is raising money to make a film about Robert Johnson.
  6. Here’s the story behind Dalí‘s Freud à tête d’escargot
  7. The sad passing of Roy Hargrove has generated a lot of features on him – this collection of key performances is nice
  8. I’m a huge fan of Imogen Heap – both her music, and her way of looking at the world – and this interview with FADER just builds on that
  9. One of the world’s most influential and underrated DJ’s, Laurent Garnier, is the subject of the latest XLR8R feature, Real Talk
  10. Bandcamp has a lovely feature on the ever glorious Mr. Bongo label
📚 The notes 📚

As I mentioned, this week’s mixtape is quite a lot different from usual. It’s actually been really hard to pull together, because while I really like dub, reggae, jungle, and drum n bass, it’s really light in my record collection. Sure, I’ve got a few Roni Size records, some Trojan compilations, and some Lovers Rock stuff from StudioOne, but there’s not exactly a depth of music. I guess this is largely due to my collection has historically been made up of a lot of music I’d consider either playing to people at a party, or DJing with, and I haven’t ever really considered the music on this week’s mixtape like that.

That’s definitely changed now, and as soon as I started to work through how I wanted to structure the mixtape, the music started to make more sense. I’ve also probably found so much new music that retains the jazz / soul / rhythmic feel that I’ve always been driven by, and that’s opened my eyes (ears?) massively. What’s nice is looking at the mixtape and seeing Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry only a few steps from a brilliant dubby techno remix from Andy Stott. Likewise, it sounds naturally to sit modern dancehall from Equiknoxx so close to a pummelling dubstep classic from Punch and Loefah, then only a few tracks later have a Total Science track with a huge jazz influence. As an aside, that Leofah remix of Pinch’s Punisher is intense. I’d forgotten all about it.

Hopefully the mixtape delivers on the same standard as usual, but I’d be lying if I said it had been anywhere near as easy or confident putting it together. Each week I put thirty tracks together knowing the musical stitches, (usually) something about the artists, and a lot of the history and heritage of the genres. This means I can usually be pretty confident that I’m picking music that works together, that’s not too obvious or trite, or (more scarily) I’m not being crass with certain choices (which is surprisingly easy to do, especially with regards to cultural appropriation).

I also found it really interesting asking people questions on Instagram – if you didn’t see, then the questions I asked were:

  • Is there enough variation in the music?
  • Does anyone read the TL:DR section? If so, what would you like to see more of?
  • Does anyone read the rambling notes section? What would improve it?
  • And finally, would people like to see the tracklist adding back in at the bottom of the letter? (A resounding yes, so you’ll find it below…)

If you didn’t see it on Instagram, I would love to get your thoughts (just reply to this email). I’m also going to do more of that sort of stuff on Instagram in the future too, so follow me to see.

📃 The tracklist 📃
  1. Derrick Harriott – Loser
  2. Gregory Isaacs – I Can’t Give You My Love Alone
  3. Lynn Taitt and the Jets – To Sir With Love
  4. The J Sisters – I Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)
  5. Leslie Butler – Ashanti Ganja Dub
  6. Jackie Edwards – Invasion
  7. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Doctor On The Go
  8. Rhythm & Sound – King In My Empire
  9. The Blondes – Pleasure (Andy Stott remix)
  10. Terrence Dixon – Inside Radio Room
  11. Phil Kieran – Find Love (Andrew Weatherall remix)
  12. The Black Dog – Sleep Deprivation 1
  13. Equiknoxx – Flagged Up (Mark Ernestus remix)
  14. Gemmy – Shanti Riddim
  15. Four Set – Kool FM (Champion remix)
  16. Pinch – Punisher (Loefah’s SE25 remix)
  17. Skream – Rutten
  18. Source Direct – A Made Up Sound
  19. Origin Unknown – Valley Of The Shadows
  20. Shy FX – Gangsta Kid
  21. Shabba Ranks – Let’s Get It On (Dilinja / Goldie Beef Joint mix)
  22. DJ Hype – The Chopper
  23. The Ganja Kru – Super Sharp Shooter
  24. Ed Rush & Optical – Chubrub
  25. Roni Size – It’s A Jazz Thing (Jucieman remix)
  26. Random Movement – Goblin Jazz Banquet
  27. Peshay – Funkster
  28. Total Science – Piano Funk
  29. RoyGreen & Protone – Jazzypants
  30. The Elder Statesman – Montreal Sunrise
As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #73

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a bloody lovely week. I’m back! I’ll try not to bore you too much, but Sri Lanka was absolutely amazing. It was without a doubt the best holiday I’ve ever had, I cannot recommend it highly enough ❤️.

After having such a relaxing week, this week’s mixtape is one to lose yourself in. It’s blissful (while still having some serious funk to it).

Big love! ❤️

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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. Floating Points, Four Tet, Daphni, and Jamie XX went back to back (to back to back) this week on NTS – and, naturally, it’s brilliant
  2. After a recommendation, I’m reading M Train by Patti Smith – so far, it’s amazing
  3. Moodymann’s iconic Soul Skate party is the subject of a great documentary from Dazed and Carhartt (who are smashing it at the moment)
  4. I’m so excited for the upcoming Beastie Boys biography – this interview in the Guardian is amping me up even more
  5. My Dad sent me this brilliant album on Mr Bongo by Spaceark – it’s filled with bangers
  6. Apparently Avalanches used more than 3,500 samples on classic album Since I Left You
  7. Huck has a brilliant feature on the history of BOY
  8. The New Yorker has a great long read on Debussy
  9. Jay Rayner wrote a glowing review of Träkol (part of a cultural movement in Gateshead mentioned a few letters ago), so get yourself booked in
  10. Finally, I read Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels –  it’s brilliant, and definitely worth a read. I’m trying to write something a bit more detailed, but for now get reading. I read Champagne Supernovas too, and that’s filled with brilliant stories (and insight into the cultural revolution that took place in fashion in the 90s)
📚 The notes 📚

This week’s mixtape is heavily influenced by my holiday. It starts with songs I heard on the beach, watching the sunset in a Sri Lankan Buddhist hippy surfer bar (yep), moves towards some seriously laid back funk (from bits I was listening to, and references to tracks from the Snowboy book I mentioned last week), and finishes with some of the music I’ve found this week.

The laid back feel definitely comes from watching the sea roll in and out. I’ve always been obsessed with the sea, and it has an intensely calming effect on me. It’s one of the reasons we live by the sea, and it’s why I need no excuse to escape on holiday to a coast. When most people think about the sea, they think of blissful sunshine and heat, and I love that, but I also love the sea in the bleak depths of winter too. So this last week I’ve been spoilt by the Sri Lankan sea, and coming home to the British coast in the midst of winter.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #72

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’re well. As I mentioned last week, I’m currently wandering around Sri Lanka having a proper family holiday, so this week’s letter is short but perfectly formed. We have a guest letter from Paul McDonald, one of the founding members of our little crew, and someone who has an ear for killer songs, so it’s a real gem of a playlist this week!

BIG LOVE ❤️

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📚 The notes 📚
It’s a real privilege to contribute to the ever growing, and always enlightening Love Will Save The Day library of playlists… I first approached Jed probably edging on two years ago now and volunteered my services only to spend the time in between then and now endlessly procrastinating, editing, and generally overthinking every aspect of this playlist. That’s just how I am. I take these things very seriously, because music’s very important to me.

I’ve never met Jed in person, but feel like I’ve always known him. What he gives up in his weekly letters and notes is more than most give away in years of intimate conversations and that’s something to be treasured and continually encouraged.

In his weekly notes Jed frequently talks about keeping a safe distance from comfort zones in both music and culture in general and I can relate to this ethos 100%. I grew up on a staple diet of 70s and 80s pop like every other person my age but equally, I also got to soak up 2 Tone, post punk, electro, hip hop, shoegaze, Madchester, rave, brit pop, drum and bass, trip hop, acid jazz, house, trance and techno first hand. My bibles were the NMEMelody MakerSoundsSelect and later on Mixmag and DJ Magazine and my haunts were the local indie clubs (Roundacre in Basildon on a Friday night and the Pink Toothbrush on a Saturday in Rayleigh) and later when I broadened my horizons (or expanded my mind) Fabric and Turnmills.

I hear a lot of talk about how young people these days aren’t tribal like they used to be and have their fingers in multiple cultural pies rather than belonging to one specific group, but that’s not a new thing. The mods weren’t just into The Who and The Small Faces, they were hip to Motown, Stax and Jazz too (I bet there was even some rock n roll 45s under some of their beds). More so, we know the punks were digging dub reggae and Pink Floyd as much as the Pistols and the Clash and I know I wasn’t the only person coming home after experiencing an 8 hour Sasha DJ set and putting on a Cocteau Twins album.

Anyway, I’m rambling so just to say enjoy the playlist, it’s not the soundtrack of my life but it is a partial soundtrack to my life right now and hopefully you will allow it to soundtrack a couple of hours of yours too…. Enjoy!

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #71

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a great week! As you read this, I think I’ll most likely be wandering around Colombo a bit lost, but having the time of my life. Yep, I’m on holiday! There’s no break in service, don’t worry. I went to the brilliant All Our Friends party last weekend, so the playlist has some heavy inspiration this week. I’d put it together by Tuesday and it’s been on repeat since then – I think it’s one of my favourites. Anyway, enough rambling.

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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. The All Our Friends party is one of the best I’ve ever been to, and I think membership might be open for a short while 😉 (HURRY)
  2. Read this fascinating interview with Haruki Murakami in the New York Times
  3. Vulture has an interesting roundtable discussion on race and pop culturethat’s worth a read
  4. LEGENDARY record collector Ed Motta is the latest to take part in The Vinyl Factory’s excellent Crate Diggers series
  5. The Guardian has picked five rising stars of photography. I’m a big fan of Phoebe Kiely’s work
  6. Do you have producer friends that use terms you sometimes can’t follow? Try this glossary
  7. I also enjoyed this piece on projections of dystopia and cyberpunk (thanks to Jay for sharing it)
  8. I loved Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, and while he courts controversy, this feature from Huck had some interesting ideas
  9. Watch Migrant Sound, from Boiler Room – a brilliant documentary series on the importance of the cultural impact of the Windrush generation
  10. Finally, I loved this NYT piece on the importance of mediocrity and doing things because you enjoy them, rather than doing them to be the best. Seems fitting really, given this project…
📚 The notes 📚

Shiv and I always see holidays as opportunities to explore (with a bit of relaxation too, I suppose), and one of the reasons we were so keen to visit Sri Lanka is immerse ourselves in a new culture. I love the feeling of being dropped into a new world and everything feeling like an alternate reality.

I’ll also be reading a bunch too, so instead of rambling notes, you can have my rambling holiday reading list instead 😃.

  • I’ll be finishing Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove’s excellent book on the evolution of jazz dance, jazz funk, and acid jazz. For anyone with an interest in ‘modern’ jazz, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s filled with stories, interviews, and endless recommendations of music too.
  • I’ve just started Champagne Supernovas, which is a short history of the 90s fashion revolution, told through the stories of Alexander McQueen, Kate Moss, and Marc Jacobs. So far it’s excellent, and makes for interesting reading alongside the recent reviews and furore around Hedi Slimane’s first show at Celine.
  • I’ve never read Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson, but I’ve always wanted to, so that’s getting read too.
  • I’ll also have the Leifur James album A Louder Silence on repeat, as it’s beautiful.
  • I might also try to sneak Catcher in the Rye in too, given I’ve never read it…

Any book, music, or Sri Lanka suggestions, I’d love you to fire them through. And as always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #70

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’re well. Prepare yourself, for this week I’ve got something special for you! Let me explain…

Last Friday night, after a busy week, I decided that rather than spend the evening sorting and resorting records, I needed something a bit less strenuous. So I had a look through the stuff we had saved on Netflix, and found a documentary to watch. For the next 124 minutes, I sat totally enthralled. The documentary was Quincy, and I urge you to watch it.

I suppose it’s difficult to not know the name ‘Quincy Jones’. He’s had a high profile career that’s spanned seven decades (yep, you heard me), but I didn’t truly appreciate the impact that he’d had on culture until I watched the documentary. Alongside producing some of the greatest music of all time, developing some of the greatest artists of all time, and altering the course of musical history, he’s also one of only a handful of people to have won an ‘EGOT‘. On top of that, he’s responsible for a number of humanitarian and philanthropic projects that are making a huge difference to the world. Basically, to borrow Quincy’s parlance, he’s a ‘cool motherfucker’.

So this week’s letter is dedicated to Quincy Jones. The mixtape is filled with music he’s created, produced, or heavily influenced. Scan down the mixtape and you’ll see amazing music from Jones himself, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, and George Benson, as you’d expect. You’ll also see music from some unlikely artists that cite a direct influence from Jones (and the songs included contain samples from Jones’ productions). The TL;DR section is made up of content featuring or focused on Jones and his impact on culture, and the rambling notes contain some of the many incredible thoughts I’ve collected / stolen from Jones over the years.

BIG LOVE ❤️

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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. Probably one of the best (and one of the longest!) interviews I’ve ever read was with Jones on Vulture – the gossip is next level
  2. There’s a brilliant feature on his early life in an old copy of the Smithsonian magazine (available online here) that charts his childhood and the start of his career as a trumpet player with Count Basie and Sinatra (really)
  3. Last year Jones did an interview with Rolling Stone and discussed at length his experience of working with Michael Jackson – with some salacious stories too, no less
  4. A few years ago there was a Quincy Jones tribute at the BBC Proms, and this particular track has always stayed with me (although stick with the first minute or so, as it takes a little while to get going)
  5. There was an interesting moment in this feature on Nightmares on Wax when talking about getting clearance of samples from Jones – he had to write a two page letter explaining the usage and the purpose before he could get clearance
  6. This clip from the 1984 documentary I Love Quincy is brilliant – watch Herbie Hancock and Jones jamming on a new synthesiser
  7. You may remember Jones had some pretty audacious stories (and opinions) about the Beatles, so it’s interesting to get McCartney’s response (and hear his own stories about Jones!) here in this GQ interview
  8. Weirdly, Jones once attended a memorial service to commemorate his own death. Totally true.
  9. The absolute motherlode of all interviews, however, is this interview from earlier this year with Quincy and GQ – it’s bursting with amazing anecdotes and behind the scenes stories. Give it a read.
  10. If you want even more then get this autobiography on order – I have
📚 The notes 📚

After reading, listening to, and watching everything I can about Jones this week, it feels a bit daft to try and write something new and insightful. So instead, I wanted to share what I’d pulled from all of those places – the thoughts and words that really resonated with me, and hopefully will mean something to you (as well as a couple of juicy stories too, of course).

On what drives great creatives:
“It’s an attitude they have – I want to know how everything works. Curiosity. Sinatra had it too.”

The advice Jones snr. gave Quincy on committing:
“Once a task is just begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”

On facing adversity:
“Well, listen, anger doesn’t get anything done, so you have to find out: How do you make it work? That’s why I was always maniacal about transforming every problem into a puzzle which I can solve. I can solve a puzzle—a problem just stresses me out.”

On Michael Jackson’s insane attention to detail:
“He had a perspective on details that was unmatched. His idols are Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, James Brown, all of that. And he paid attention, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the only way you can be great, you know, is pay attention to the best guys who ever did it.”

Watching Prince make a fool of himself in front of James Brown and Michael Jackson:
“Prince told Michael he’d kill him if he showed it to anybody,” Jones explains, but one way or another, time-coded raw footage of what took place that night eventually surfaced. First Brown invites Jackson to the stage. Jackson sings a few phrases, spins, moonwalks, then embraces Brown and can be seen whispering to him. Brown then calls for Prince. After a delay, Prince gets onstage, takes a guitar, jams a little, then strips off his shirt. He does some mic-stand tomfoolery, dances a little more, then nearly tumbles into the audience trying to pull down an oversize streetlamp prop. It was a superstar face-off that has often been seen as a triumph for Michael Jackson, and a rare humiliation for Prince.”

On a brilliant introduction to Picasso:
“We had lunch with him. He was a character, man. He was fucked-up with absinthe all the time. We both ordered sole meunière, which is one of my favourite dishes of all time from Paris, and after he’d finish he’d take the bones and push it out in the sun and let the sun parch the bones, and he’d take out these three colors, orange and blue and red, and when the waiter would say, ‘L’addition, s’il vous plaît,’ Picasso would push that. And you look all across the walls, his bones with his writing on them. That’s how he paid his bills. He was a bad motherfucker, man.”

On capturing the attention of an audience:
“If one producer does a record, the sequencing is the most important thing, keep it moving all the way through. In 15 seconds, if it doesn’t engage, the ear goes to sleep. They want ear candy. It’s amazing what engages the ear in a great song. Not too many of them going on today – a lot of champagne-selling noises. But I love Kendrick Lamar, the Weekend, Drake.”

On his preferred way of working:
“All his life, Jones has relished that moment around midnight when something new begins. “The muses come out at midnight,” he says. “No e-mails, no faxes, no calls.” And when the rest of the city is fully asleep, that’s when Quincy Jones, three months short of his 85th birthday, will really get to work.”

On advice Jones was given for soaking up new cultures:
“When he was getting ready to take his first trip to Europe with Hampton, in 1953, the veteran sax player Ben Webster sat him down. “Eat the food, listen to the music and learn 30 to 40 words in every language,” Webster said. Jones listened: “It’s like a code to enter another culture. If you open up your mind, it’s like music.”

On Jones’ enduring impact on culture:
“Quincy Jones was right up there with George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong as one of the cornerstones of American music,” says Gerald Early, an English and African-American studies scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. “He’s influenced American culture and had a presence that few other musicians have had.”

On his eternal sense of groove:
“He never loses the melody and he has the pulse of jazz, which is the pulse of life, in everything he does.”

On what drives his work:
“Just make music that gives you goosebumps”

Amen, and preach to the king, Quincy Jones.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #69

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a lovely week, and you’re ready to start the weekend. Big thanks to Ben for last week’s guest letter – and thanks to everyone who sent in fan mail too 😍. You’re a cute bunch. This week it’s back to boring old me, but I reckon I’ve got a treat for you.

There’s a lot of musical variety on the tape this week (and even some Hall & Oates). I’d also say that it follows the Mancuso Bardos more than usual, so I’d recommend getting yourself a little drink of something nice and sitting down to listen – but expect to be kitchen dancing before you know it.

BIG LOVE ❤️

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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. First things first, one of our crew (Matt Everitt) has got a new book coming out – The First Time – get it pre-ordered!
  2. This is a brilliant profile on Robyn and her impact on pop music over the last two decades from Laura Snapes of the Guardian
  3. It’s neurologically true – jazz musicians are wired different from classical musicians
  4. The Saatchi Gallery has a new exhibition that looks great – Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire – part of which is the Ray’s A Laugh photo-series that shows what the midlands was like in the 90s (it looks about right to me)
  5. There’s a new free jazz documentary from Tom Surgal coming soon that sounds absolutely amazing
  6. Head down to the Tate Modern to see Kode9’s contribution to an installation by Tania Bruguera in the turbine hall (spoiler: it’s a 40,000 watt sub bass rig)
  7. There’s a nice interview with Jon Phonics on his alternative history of Detroit soul on Stamp The Wax
  8. Stephen Titmus from RA has published the latest in the Art of DJingseries – this one with genuine legend Louie Vega (from Masters at Work, of course)
  9. There’s a new Netflix documentary series coming called ReMastered – eight episodes, each exploring a different major moment in music culture
  10. Finally, have a read of this interview with Chilly Gonzales in Huck, I knew very little about him, but I’m going to go looking for more now
📚 The notes 📚
The notes this week are a little brief, as I’m working on a bigger idea that I want to give proper time to rather than rushing it. However, I had a few things I wanted to share. I finally finished the Dave Haslam book this week, and I cannot recommend it enough – I can honestly say it’s one of the best books I’ve read in ages, not just for the musical history of Manchester (and the Hacienda), not just for the bands and DJs featured, or even for the way he talks about culture, but for Dave himself. He’s an astounding human, and he looks at the world like we do. There’s a line near the end of the book that I wanted to share, as it captured so perfectly how I (and I think we) feel, and the very reason for Love Will l Save the Day; “I’m just a guy who believes the project of being human should be fuelled by talking, connecting, positivity and love. And music, of course”.

As I’ve been reading, it’s sparked so many thoughts on my own exploration of culture and music. Something that’s always felt so natural and organic, but still occasionally needs a bit of a check up. I think I find it easy to slip into a cultural bubble. To read the same sort of books, to buy the same set of magazines, visit the same record shops, where I look in the same genre sections, and pull from the same set of sources for new music. It’s easy to get trapped in a loop, and often I find two things pull me into that loop; time, and routine. Time is hard, because I have a wonderful family that I desperately try to spend as much time with as I can, and a dream job that means I pour what’s left of my time into that. This project is so intensely important to me, but it can be tempting to cut corners, to churn something out without really thinking just to say that I’ve done it. Tick. Done. You deserve better.

The second challenge is definitely routine (which is definitely connected to time too). I’m a horrendous creature of habit. My job can be unpredictable, so I crave structure in other ways. I wear similar clothes, eat similar foods, and have little crutches that provide routine. I never, ever want music or exploring culture to become routine, so I have to keep a check on where I explore, and force myself to break routines and habits.

The risk is falling down an ever decreasingly narrow hole, and missing the bigger picture. I always want to have one foot in popular culture, and many other feet at the many other edges of culture. So it’s important to pop that bubble. In fact, last weekend the bubble was popped for me, without me knowing it. About a year ago a new record shop opened up in Southend, called Two Twelve Tensand despite knowing the owner, last weekend was my first visit. Along with being busy, I thought that because the shop specialises in drum’n’bass, there wouldn’t be anything for me. I had a couple of hours free, so decided to pop down and see how it was going. The shop stock is mostly built from second hand collections bought in bulk, so I decided to have a dig through on the off-chance I’d find a couple of records I wanted. Two hours later I finished the last crate, and ended up bringing home 20+ records. There was so much killer music, most of which I don’t think I’d have ever found from my usual sources, and definitely wouldn’t have found from my routine record shops. Quite a few of the tracks are on this week’s mixtape – I’d be intrigued if you can spot which ones.

Last week I was talking with Phil Hilton (founder of Shortlist magazine), and given he’s spent more than two decades shaping and reflecting UK popular culture, I asked how he kept up? He said that he consumes everything that he can, and never stops asking questions and looking for more. Which felt like half validation, and half warning shot to never stop looking. Anyway, I’m rambling, but I suppose my point is that there’s so much amazing stuff to experience and find, it’s important to keep the desire burning and never give up trying to find the edges.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

Letter #68

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had great week. If you’re new here, then this is how this works. I’ve been away all week at a work thing, so you’ve got the treat of a guest letter from Ben Isley.

I’ve never actually met Ben, but he joined our crew off the back of another brilliant guest letter (thanks Matt H!) forty letters ago or so. After a few letters he emailed to chat through some of the tracks and share some of his own thoughts and music suggestions. He shared some songs I’d never heard, but immediately loved, so naturally I asked him to put a guest letter together. He was travelling through South America at the time, and I think you can hear that in the mixtape – not in the genres, but in the mood and the tone. Beachy. Sunset. A few beers.

It’s glorious, and I know you’re going to love it.

BIG LOVE ❤️

PS Go buy the latest edition of The Move mag too.

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🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Interesting things this week:
  1. The Gilles Peterson x Safaplace pop-up Look Up finishes this weekend – so get yourself booked in!
  2. On its ten year anniversary, read the amazing backstory of The Quietus
  3. Nick Cave is reportedly working on a new album 🌚
  4. Learn about what ecstasy does to an octopus (it’s science, honestly)
  5. There’s a new Basquiat documentary coming soon from the BBC
  6. The Beeb also recently put out a documentary on house music in the UK (of questionable quality, but everyone’s talking about it)
  7. Watch the trailer for the upcoming Yayoi Kusama documentary; Kusama – Infinity
  8. Listen to my new favourite album, from Noname
  9. Andy Warhol once shot a screen test for Bob Dylan. It’s as you’d expect
  10. Finally, Ben suggested I read The Untethered Soul, so that’s just moved to the top of my reading list
📚 The notes 📚

I’d like to thank Jed firstly for putting such an organic sharing platform such as this together, and inspiring many of us by being that catalyst through which we explore beyond what we all may otherwise. And secondly for being patient with my request to do one of these great things. The letters leading to this one have reignited times in my own musical journey, triggered me to listen to full albums that I likely wouldn’t have come across & generally enhanced my listening to music. With big boots to fill, here I am…

My main source of musical influence from a young age was my older brother, Sam. Skate films & Dr Fox’s Weekly Rundown definitely did its bit, but he was my source of new music. I remember hearing Eminem Stan at the bottom of our stairs in 2000 and my mind front flipping out of my cranium. He was, and still is, a ruthless filter and a tough nut to crack… He’ll appreciate the irony there!

I remember my first cassette being Robert Miles’ Children, and Daft Punk’s One More Time being my first CD bought with my own money – both were seen as ‘waaay too dancey’ amongst my 11 year old peers, busy slow dancing awkwardly to Destiny’s Child. But I stuck with it anyway. My main influences and I guess where I continue to draw inspiration are definitely the likes of OutKast, producers like SBTRKT & Four Tet as well as respected broadcasters like Mary-Anne Hobbs & Gilles Peterson.

As I’m sure like all guest letters prior to this one, the list has been through countless edits over a length of time. But one thread remained throughout… A wholesome challenge to myself to include a varied amount of styles that flow somewhat. Hopefully I’ve achieved that. It’s so difficult when it comes to selecting as there is so much out there worth sharing.

I hope by sharing some of ‘mine’ , I can somewhat repay the hundreds of ‘yours’ I’ve taken and loved from previous Love Will Save the Day letters. 😁

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ❤️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day