Get To Know: Waifs & Strays
How did you both learn to produce and DJ?
Both were self-taught…I got my first turntables at 17, some really awful belt drive jobs where the platter moved loads with the slightest touch – they were awful! I stepped up to Technics when I went to University and just practiced every day, spending all my hard-earned student loan on records, and trying really hard to blag gigs wherever I could to get club experience (many nights spent in the pissing rain outside clubs handing out flyers).
Production didn’t come until much later, but again it was me sat at home practicing practicing. I bought a copy of reason and went at it. When I met Rich I started learning a lot as he had been producing for a lot longer. Both production and DJing are a constant learning process – I really don’t think there is any producer in the world who can honestly say they know everything…and there are no short cuts – it just takes time. People ask me all the time whats the quickest was to learn to produce – there isn’t one. Its like a musical instrument, you have to put the hours in.
What’s the backstory of your name? And how did you two meet?
Ha ha, I really wish there was a great big interesting back-story to the name, some really convoluted tale of woe, hardship, and adventure…but there isn’t I’m afraid. Rich and I had met at an afterhours club in Bristol and decided it might be cool to make music together. We made the track ‘3am’ which we sent to Matt Tolfrey and he decided to sign it to Leftroom. It was coming out and we still didn’t have a name to put it out under…we went through loads of terrible options until we came up with Waifs & Strays. The connotation of the people on the outside of society seemed kinda cool so we went with it…
What were the first records you heard that made you think, “I want to do that”?
It was when I was at school, and everything was indie based, with Blur and Oasis being the popular bands, which I really wasn’t into. A friend of mine suggested tuning into Pete Tongs show on Radio 1, which was still quite new. I listened to that show everyweek, recording it, listening back, and I was hooked. So I guess I have Pete to thank for all of this!
How has your hometown of Bristol influenced you and your music?
Well Bristol isn’t my home town (I’m a Londoner by birth) but Bristol is hugely influential, not just to me but to so many people. The city is so creative in so many different ways, and its around you everywhere – I genuinely don’t think there are many places in the world that have so many idiosyncrasies and quirks, making everyday life interesting as you walk about. This piece on a blog summed it up really well!
Which DJs have influenced your style of producing and which 5 DJs do you listen currently to the most?
Well, apart from Pete Tong who I mentioned above, the most influential people for me were the early house producers and DJs, a lot of the Americans - Frankie Knuckles, Terry Francis, Kerri Chandler, Derrick Carter, Sneak, Jamie Principle etc were all massive influences for me. In the UK, it was DJs such as Carl Cox and Sasha who were the people I would go and see week in week out… All of the above are amazing DJs, who are still killing it now – real masters of their craft.
More recently the DJs who really stand out for me are my good friend Eats Everything, who continues to push the boundaries of how much a dancefloor can be ripped apart (he’s genuinely one of the best DJs in the world in my opinion); Dyed Soundorom and Matt Tolfrey I really love watching; Richy Ahmed for just simply bringing the party every single time, and Craig Richards because, well he’s the guv’nor really!
Seeing any one of those DJs will always result in a good night!
Which 10 artists would you choose to perform at a Waifs & Strays electronic festival?
Only 10?! Ok, I’ve gone for purely dance artists here as its an electronic festival…
Jacques Lu Contes (circa 2003)
Daft Punk (obviously)
You guys have performed all over the world. Has there been a stand out memorable country you performed in for any reason and why?
All the countries are really different. I’ve always had a great time in Russia, the parties there are mental. Miami has been really good to us too, with some really excellent parties at Treehouse. To be honest, we are lucky that nearly all of the shows have been really good and memorable in some way.
Taking into account the rapid rise in popularity of house music over the course of this year, what do you think about the house scene currently?
That’s a tough one…I am not a massive fan of everything being lumped into deep house at the moment because that’s the fashionable thing to say…virtually all the music that people call deep house today isn’t deep house at all – its house, US Garage, Uk Garage, tech house etc…proper deep house doesn’t sound like any of that music at all! Its great that so many more people are getting into house music though!
How do you rate 90s house music with todays?
Well a lot of todays house music is taking its cue from 90s house music so there isn’t much difference! The thing I liked about 90s house music was that, for a large part, it was very uplifting music, lots of pianos and strings etc. For a while it seemed that modern house music got really serious and lost a bit of it’s fun element – its really nice to see that coming back.
Are there any up and coming producers you tip to make it big time?
I really rate Christoph from Manchester – his productions are ace, and a young guy called Jack Priest from Bristol is making some really nice tracks too.
What track would you play to rescue a dance floor?
Inner City – 'Big Fun' always goes down well – that being said I would happily play that any time!
Where do you dream of being in 5 years time?
Alive, happy and still making music somewhere.
What’s next for Waifs & Strays?
Lots of releases in the upcoming months, most notably an EP on Kerri Chandlers MadTech label, and lots of collaborations too with some of our artist friends, which I am really excited about. That and loads of touring!
NDSM Docklands, Amsterdam
Loves Saves The Day
Castle Park, Bristol
Zcre Beach, Croatia