Toolroom founder Mark Knight picks out five of his hidden classic house gems ripe for rediscovery.
Before he’d even heard a house record, Mark Knight’s musical history was entrenched in soul and hip hop. Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, every evening was spent by the radio listening the shows of Froggy, Greg Edwards and a very young Pete Tong – either taping music or writing titles down from the likes of The BB&Q and Leroy Burgess through to the mind- blowing productions of DJ Eddie F and Teddy Riley. He would then take these playlists to Blue Bird or Trax in London’s Soho on a Saturday afternoon, slowly building a catalogue of music that has been the foundation of his musical career.
His first break as a DJ was becoming a resident Bobby & Steve’s Garage City – where he learnt his craft playing regularly alongside some of the world’s best Soulful House DJs at Bar Rhumba in Soho. This in turn lead to a residency at Kiss 100’s Friday night at the Hanover Grand ‘Independence’, where Mark first met Dave Lee AKA Joey Negro. “We struck up a friendship straight away through our very dry sense of humour. Dave invited me to sit in sessions where I literally learnt from the best. I went on to work with Dave’s Studio engineer Kevin, and I eventually shared the studio with Dave. The first record I ever released was on Dave’s Z Records – I couldn’t ask for a more authentic seal of approval than that”.
Over the course of his career Mark has naturally built up an impressive record collection, with a significant section devoted to those ‘classic’ records that have without doubt stood the test of time, but aren’t relentlessly rinsed by every DJ going. Some of these Mark’s remixed or remade – including his latest collab with Mr Roy ‘Something About U’ which landed last week.
“I’ve always been interested in putting my own spin on classic records as it presents a completely different challenge to producing something completely original. There’s so much incredible music from the last 30 years, some of which people know and still play obsessively to this day, but way more that for whatever reason really doesn’t get that much airtime.”
To celebrate the release of ‘Something About U’, Mark’s picked out five personal favourite classic records from his collection. If any of these are new to you, you’re in for a treat.
This is without doubt my all time favourite house record. If I was only allowed to listen to one record for the rest of my life, this would be it. Those chords just evoke so many memories, and for me sum up everything that was amazing about house music in that era. One of the most special projects I’ve done at Toolroom was to go on and sign the track for the label, and re-release this classic with an updated remix from Dusky.
This was one of the many record I became aware of as a result of the support of Paul Trouble Anderson. This is a perfect example of a song that stands up on its own right, outside the context of it being a ‘house’ record: something that’s definitely lacking with the vast majority of dance records today. One of the best nights out I ever had was at a Bagley’s Hard Time event: they booked every US and UK soulful house DJ you could possibly imagine, and on the drive home we played this song on loop. It will always remind me of those time, just the perfect frame for an insanely good night.
To be fair this is a record that’s never really gone away, if you put on a pirate house station in London I can pretty much guarantee you would hear it, but I still think this will be a new one to a fair amount of people. In the 90s there was barely a single DJ that didn’t have a copy of the Cover UP EP, regardless of what style of house they played.
For me this is undoubtedly Deep Dish’s finest hour. It has that incredibly long reprise intro: it’s just a beautiful piece of music that could easily bring you to tears, and has done me on many occasion. I remember when we used to put on parties before Toolroom, we were the first promoters to booked Masters At Work in the UK outside of Ministry. They started their set with this, looping the beatless intro for ages before Kenny brought the beats in from The Bomb. When it finally dropped, people lost their minds. Good times!
You know when you hear a record in a club, and it has that immediate effect on you? It just slaps you around the face, and you’re thinking ‘what is that?’. That’s exactly what this record did to me the very first time I heard it back in 1995. This was a massive anthem back then, and always a highlight record for me when I went to Club UK, Bagleys or the Gardening Club. One of the things that made it so special was that it had this amazing vocal hook that you couldn’t quite make out the lyrics to. So you would have a club of 1500 very euphoric clubbers singing their own interpretation of the song, which meant everyone had their own individual connection to the record.
Fast forward six years, and I was starting to make headway with my own music. There was one label I really admired called Ultra Vinyl – they were putting out some quality Tech House, they were kind of like the UK version of Subliminal. I submitted a demo, and they released one of my early tunes, ‘Part of This’. Anyway, it turns out the two guys running the label, Alan and Graham, are in fact Mr Roy! We soon became good friends and I would often hang out in their studios in Bromley.
19 years on, and I finally managed to get hold of the parts and offer my own interpretation. It’s loaded with great hooks and melodies, so it was a dream to remix. It’s nice to think it’s come full circle – from falling in love with the record on the dancefloor back in 95, to becoming good friends with the producers of the record, to remixing the track on my own label in 2019. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Mark Knight vs Mr Roy ‘Something About U’ is out now on Toolroom
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