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The Secret DJ on how Glastonbury changed his life

"Everyone hated us because we were skint, energetic and pretty"

  • Words: The Secret DJ | Illustration: George Morton
  • 15 May 2018

In the really early days it was a National Express coach then free in. No fences. Nearly every band was an ageing version of prog-rock or metal. Some whizz, tepid lager and maybe a bit of ’shroom action and it was a laugh and a half. Other drugs didn’t exist for us. No phones. No money! No way of getting any. You literally brought everything you’d need with you. We’d look on in envy at people with cars and transit vans, though they were covered in just as much shit as we were. There was one toilet backstage and it was as rough as everywhere else on site. There were no VIPs. Few people bothered to camp. We arrived the Tuesday before the weekend of the festival and we didn’t need ‘glamping’ and indeed you’d be hard-pushed to see a tent at all, because we’d stay awake for more than a week. Sometimes catch a couple of hours under a truck like the world’s worst mechanic. Or in a bass bin. No, really.

Then we started to go as a gang. It was before acid house really took off, and we all played in bands. But it was funk by now, not metal. We were the ones they told off for changing the comfy status quo 30 years ago. We were the proto-hipsters – although no one had beards except one or two of the riggers and a couple of actual wizards. We were ‘ruining it’ for everyone. The hippies loathed us. We brought speakers and electricity to the peripheries where it had never been before. We were mates with Spiral Tribe, DIY and Tonka and were the first people to rave there. We got in trouble for it. Everyone hated us ’cos we were skint, energetic and pretty. We were the millennials of acid house.

We were the first to play house and techno. I was one of the first DJs to play records on the sidelines, and sometimes between the bands on the big stages – or at least to mix them together – and it’s something I’ll always be proud of. The Second Summer of Love didn’t really dent Glastonbury, because we were already knee-deep in what acid house was just starting to do. We had a huge tin bath full of mushroom tea in an army surplus tented bar. We jammed for hours with our bands, and in between we played records. We gave the tea away. Back then you really could go there without a penny. Loads of things were free, including being there. Then one year traders had to pay for the pitch, and things changed…

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