DJ - ALAN HANDSCOMBE
Alan has been a mover and shaker on the London club scene for a very long time, he has been called the DJ's DJ and happily shares his vast knowledge with anyone eager to learn from a master, we are very lucky to have him as part of this website with his own page and we can't wait to welcome him to the decks at the weekender.
Hi Alan, can you tell us a bit about yourself, how you got into DJing and your musical influences.
Well, I was Born at the University College Hospital on Jan 14, 1963, one of the coldest Winters in years. We lived in Corams Fields just at the back of Theobalds Road then moved to Kentish Town in the Borough of Camden London.
I've been DJing since the about 1983 and was given my first DJ set by Alex Gerry who used to DJ with James Hamilton down in Soho.He was away on his hols and asked me to step in for him. I was playing all well-known stuff like the Impressions and Darrell banks. But my main Musical influences was the Jamaican side of things Ska, Rocksteady and Skinhead Reggae.
I really enjoyed spinning the Tunes and thought I could do this so bought some Decks and Speakers and went from there.
Do you have any favourite musical styles?
Musically I'm influenced by 50s 60s and 70s and Anything new which has the right sound Black or Hispanic Music. So in My sets, you might get Marcia Griffiths Mark My Word mixed with Bardo Martinez Bad Education and the Ster-Phonics Don't Leave me. My style of Dj'ing well I get the set flowing from one genre to another just like a house DJ would I really hate half-hour sets so Promoters I'd like an Hour please.
Who are your current favourite DJ's and favourites from the past?
Current Fave DJ's From the Pow Wow Mik Parry, Gave Arno, Mace and Callum Simpson, Fonsoul from Barcelona, Mark Johnson. If you want to hear the cutting edge stuff that's who you need to get on everybody else myself included are in their wake. On the Soul Side Ady Croasdell, Tony Smith, Butch and Irish Greg
Favourite DJs from the past, Guy Hennigan, Keb Darge, Shifty, Pat Brady, Ian Clark all Soul DJs whom I would travel up North to hear back in the 80s and Gaz Mayall at Gaz's Rockin Blues an Education in Jamaican sounds
Can you recall the day that music changed your life and the early records?
Well, the Specials doing Gangsters on Top of the Pops, that was it out the next day number 2 crop got a Ben Sherman and it went from there. Was at a Gig at the Electric Ballroom in Camden and the DJ played this Tune with a Heavy Baseline something about a Grapevine so popped into Rock On records next to Camden Town Tube next morning they knew it Marvin Gaye of course. Still have that copy. They said well if you like that have a listen to this and it went from there.
Can you tell us about the promoter side of Alan Handscombe?
On the promoting side I've retired now, the last Night I ran with Tim Ott-Jones was RnB123 which ran for 5 years originally with Angela Kouklaki and Andy Powel, done Tons of stuff, Capitol Soul Club With Irish Greg, The Reggae Shack with Dave Edwards and French Fred, The Penny Black Dublin Castle and the Souls Arms in the 80s early 90s. Scorched with Ian Grinham and Niamh Lynch, Soulful Shack with Paul Hallam. Loads more.
Can you tell us about your favourite times behind the decks?
Favourite times behind the Decks. Every time I DJ I love it it's just great to see that people appreciate fantastic music that was made 50 or 40 years ago or the newer stuff coming out on Colemine, Big Crown or Daptone.
And your connection with KENT/ACE records and running the appreciation page on Facebook.
I've know Ady since I went to one of his early Nights which was held at the Belsize Park tennis club in north London. Started going to the 100 club as a regular and carried on from there. I noticed there wasn't a page for the Kent Releases on Facebook so asked Ady if he minded if I did one he said go for it so it's just gone from there. I really enjoy that Page and it's great that so many people get involved with posting stuff it's a mine of information.
Other DJ's, have called you the DJ's DJ and you have inspired them in their own musical careers, how does that make you feel?
You know I Love DJ'ing it is a job for me I take it seriously and I love to entertain the people who pay money to hear you play. People can always ask me about the tunes I always share the knowledge and if they go away loving what I'm doing and they fancy giving it a go they should do it. Even though I've been doing it for years I still get the goosebumps rising when certain 45's are dropped that's what it's all about.
In these days of digital DJ’s, are you a vinyl purist?, What are your thoughts on record prices today and how they have changed over the years.
OVO from me I've had a few things that were unreleased carved up onto 45. There are thousands of 45's I'd love to own but out of my price range but I won't go out and buy a bootleg to DJ with. For a start, the sound quality is generally dire and there's the whole thing around royalties. I find loads of under the radar stuff which I put in my sets all from between 10 to 50 quid. If your gonna play the Mod/Northern Top 500 from bootlegs you may as well play them from a cd and you're not really a DJ are you where's the imagination?
What are your favourite current club nights/ events?
Clubs I frequent on a regular basis, The 100 Club All-nighters the best soul music is played here and has been from its beginning. Sidewinder run by Dave Edwards and Giles Plumpton first Thursday of the Month. Brilliant Mod night at the Wenlock and Essex on Essex Road. Crawdaddy at the Fiddlers Elbow another great night a mixture of soul, latin, ska and reggae, Studio 45 at the social run by Dean Thatcher and the Trojan Club night run by Steve Brown at the Social lovely venue on Little Portland Street near Oxford Circus tube.
What is your treasured track and why?
My Treasured Track something I would never sell. Well I don't collect anymore so really everything at some point is up for grabs but keepers would be the beat ballads Ralph Graham - She Just Sits There on Up Front and Bobby Bennett Alone with my Tears on V-Tone.
What advise would you give an aspiring DJ?
My advice for any aspiring DJ's is do it how you want to do it find your groove and go for it. If you do start your own night get all your friends along make everybody feel welcome. It astounds me sometimes when people put on an event then they complain that no one turns up. You need to go to peoples clubs chat to people. For example, if you have three guest DJ's if they bring ten each that's 30 people straight away. Invite dancers even put them on the guest list a jumping night will attract more in.
What would be your dream DJ line up (including yourself) of legendary DJ's?
My Dream DJ Line up with myself included Butch doing his Rare 60s and Ady Croasdell, well I have done that one a few times but always good to do it again or any from above.
Can you tell us 10 all time favourite spine-tingling tracks.
Ten all-time favourite spine-chilling tracks that I don't own. Even if I had a lottery win wouldn't mean I'd get a lot of these.
JOHNNY ROGERS - MAKE A CHANGE
THE SKATALITES - RINGO
THE GAYLADS - SOUNDS OF SILENCE
BOBBY VALENTIN - GERONIMO
BOBBY GRAY - DEVIL EYES
JACKIE OPEL - OLD ROCKING CHAIR
BUSTERS ALLSTARS - THE HAUNTED ROOM
THE COMBINATIONS - WHAT CHA GONNA DO
GENE TOONES - WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT
YVONNE VERNEE - JUST LIKE YOU DID ME
BUDDY SMITH - WHEN YOU LOSE THE ONE YOU LOVE
TERRY CALLIER - ORDINARY JOE
TUT SUTTON - NO APPRECIATION