Ashley Beedle‘s odyssey took shape like many of his pairs we could see on the covers of the British magazines: the sound-system! He started doin’ gigs first under the Stateside guise then Shock which would get him to the light at the famous Notting Hill Carnival by the second half of the 80’s, and also at the memorable RIP nighters along with people like Kid Batchelor, Mr C and Evil Eddie Richards. He then would get to cross the path of Phil Perry, his idol and the resident of the Queen’s famous Sunday Sessions, close to Windsor, prior to teamin’ up with him on a regular basis. Meanwhile, one could meet him at daytime in Soho behind the decks at Black Market, under the direction back then of Larry Heard‘s manager, René Galston.
The world being quite small, I found myself back for another round in front of the one who I’d got tons of vinyls from by the time I was living in London…
“Quite some time without talkin'”, he said to me, in the middle of the recording process of the Black Science Orchestra album. Just like Coldcut and countless others at the time, Ashley Beedle‘s first production – the obscure ‘Psychic Vitamins’ – displayed Hip-Hop influences, soon before the establishment of House Music which he attended to from a so to say privileged position while selling boxes of 12″ to the Black Market aficionados. “Galston was a die hard music fan. He made me discover countless things, including the first Ragga productions. Those who got to work at BM, like Nigel Watson or Frankie Foncett, have soon after seen their situation becoming better. BM has been a like springboard for many of us…
Back in the days of Shock, everything was about rare groove”, he explained to me. “We would play everything from House to Hip-Hop, Disco and Reggae. What people don’t seem to realize, is that when House Music landed to England, the mix sets were not only about House. It came up progressively…”
Ironically, although not necessarily surprising, Ashley Beedle would have to make himself a name Stateside before seeing his stockholding starting to grow in his own country. “Rather pathetic, huh? I’d always been a big supporter of whatever we could do here in the UK. But that’s just the way how people tend to work. For them, being accepted in the USA means you’re good. That’s just bullsh.. to me!
The Americans have been pretty much receptive to what I’ve done with Black Science Orchestra, and have adopted me coz’ I’ve dared saying that Garage Music had lost its substance back then.
They saw me trying to give it a new momentum with BSO while keeping its texture alive, although giving it a slighty different rhythmic concept. Deep Dish did the same in a direction which I’ve appreciated even though it looked kinda strange to me. And so did Masters At Work, contributing giving a new energy to Dance Music back then, while embracing all genres…
“I never got the fragmentation process of music”, explained the one nowadays responsible for more than 1,000 productions. “You could see a subdivision appearing almost every hour! Like the Handbag House, the Speed G. As for Techno, people would come up with Goa, Trance, Hardcore. And I’m not even talking about Trip-Hop, and the list goes on. What the hell! I mean a guy like DJ Cam just got himself locked into what he called Abstract Hip-Hop at the end, despite his ovious talent. Why? This is how we, the musicians, have ended up being parked into niches that would go from sall to even smaller.” As many reasons which pushed so many producers to adopt various guises, depending on the concept of their projects.
“I want to keep the ability to embrace different styles. Black Science Orchestra which got its influences from the Philadelphia Sound was mainly my work (even though put together along with Rob Mello, Marc Woolford, Uschi Classen and Lindsay Edwards), meanwhile both Ballistic Brothers and X-Press 2 came from my association with Rocky and Diesel.”
His models? John Coltrane, Leroy Hutson, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Burt Bacharach. “Impossible to walk in the streets without hearing here or there a song written buy Bacharach. Example: ‘Walk On By’, a beautiful song, synonymous with a bygone period of prosperity, just like these countless standards which have got sampled from a year to another.
Nostlagia has always been around, coz’ we’re in a continuous move and move faster and faster. Too fast i would say, considering the fact that we’re lesser and lesser in the position to be able to follow it nowadays. Evolution has always engendered a reaction of misuderstanding if not revulsion.
The expression of nostalgia is the translation of the need which is ours to make a break when everything seems to go too quickly around us.
Technology has paradoxically given birth to a new generation who doesn’t have a single clue as to what music is about. So easy to be sampling like a piano line, but we can go so much further whenever knowing about the notes, can’t we?”
Ashley Beedle (as Black Science Orchestra) – Walters Room (Junior Boy’s Own)
Ashley Beedle (as Ballistic Brothers) – London Holligan Soul (Junior Boy’s Own)
Ashley Beedle (as Ballistic Brothers) – Rude System (Soundboy Entertainment)
Ashley Beedle (as Black Jazz Chronicles) – Future JuJu (Nuphonic)
Ashley Beedle (as X-Press 2) – Muzikzum (Skint)
Horace Andy & Ashley Beedle – Inspiration Information (Skint)
In the series…
30 Years of House Music (Pt. 3) – St-Germain