Behind the groove. The life & times of Deephouse House & Techno music
 

Getting behind the groove with . . .

Russ Dewbury

 

PT3 "So there’s me... the decks… and then 60,000 people!"

 
 
 
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We’re back with the 3rd and final part of our interview with Jazz Rooms legend Russ Dewbury. .

In this instalment we discuss Jazz Rooms & Jazz Bop Australia, Soulful Strut Brighton + much much more…


PT3/3

PT3: Jazz Rooms & Jazz Bop Australia, Soulful Strut Brighton + much much more...


Author: Alex Rose

Russ Dewbury & Alex Rose

Russ Dewbury & Alex Rose

PREAMBLE: With more than 30 Years of service to the music industry and still with skin in the game, Russ Dewbury is held in high regard as a key influencer and shaper of the UK's independent music scene over the last 30 years. . .

Photography: hayleyrosephotography.co.uk


 

BTG: So some time around 2013, Jazz Rooms, it’s UK Brighton format ceases and then there’s a move to Australia, tell us a bit about that time?

RD: I was used to travelling a lot as a DJ, as I was getting booked for a huge amount of gigs in America, Asia, and all over Europe, and I got booked to do this Australian DJ tour around 2003. And when I was out there I realised these these people almost never heard this kind of music before, because club culture in Australia was a bit in the dark ages at that time so to speak, but they loved it and i saw a huge amount of potential there to do something. Not only in terms of being a DJ, but with a view to getting the Jazz Bop thing together agin and doing live shows.

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So in 2004 as a tester, I partnered with a couple of others out there and we said, we’ll bring Quantic out there from the UK with Alice Russell, sources a band from Australia, and there really wasn’t much of a black music scene out there at the time but i’d heard of this band in Melbourne called ‘The Bamboos’. I knew they had the right kind of sound and had a couple of albums out, so I contacted them and said, right here’s the idea, we’re gonna tour the country, would you be a support act for Alice & Quantic? They said yes and we ended up with 6 dates around the country, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth & Adelaide, and every show we did was around a thousand people, the turn outs we got were just incredible!

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So the formula was, me DJ’ing, with local guests, and then live acts, so it was effectively a Jazz Bop, and so we did this massive re launch, with a big 3 page article in straight no chaser magazine.  I could see that this was good be a good thing..

The other guys I was involved with at the time were Fat Freddys Drop, in New Zealand, at that time no one really knew who they were, but I had put them on here at a Jazz Bop and they’d blown everyone away, and I thought, this could be good. So I decided to apply for a ‘distinguished talent’ visa out there. Quite hard to get, they only gave out say 100 or so a year and the kind of level you had to be at was like, test cricketer level, so it was pretty tough level to have to pitch for. But after quite a long process, 2 year later I go the visa and I was good to go! So in 2008, Jazz Rooms had to come to an end in Brighton as I prepared to move out to Australia. I moved out there and stayed 3 years, establishing Jazz Rooms and Jazz bop nights all over the country.

 
 
 
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" We ended up with 6 dates around the country, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth & Adelaide, and every show we did was around a thousand people!  "

- Russ Dewbury

 
 
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RD: What was fantastic for me was promoting to a new audience, people were hearing the music for the first time and it was so new to them. I got a real buzz from that.

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My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

russ-dewbury-jazz-bop-australia.jpg

My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

My then wife and I moved out there with a 7 month After some time and had a great time, but after 3 years, decided we really wanted to be back closer to our families, and so we came back in 2010. I still get out there every year and tend to do a block of gigs for a month or so a t a time.

BTG: Wow, sounds like you had some fantastic opportunities in your time out there!?

RD: I have been so blessed with the work I have had in Australia, I landed a brilliant residency in Sydney when i arrived and got some amazing gigs. I have played in front of 60,000 people out there, twice over the years! I played for Syndey Festival First night in 2009, they booked me to support Al Green and there were yeah, 60,000 people at that! There was me, then the decks, and then 60,000 people. I remember feeling nervous before hand and feeling like my hands were shaking, I was playing vinyl and I remember being so worried I could knock the needle off or something haha! but I found my confidence had a great time. They gave me a radio mic as I usually talk when i’m playing here and there, but I couldn’t quite find it in me to speak to the crowd! It was amazing though and they booked me again a year later, that time playing with Manu Chao!

But yes, overall I had a fantastic run in Australia playing at all the big festivals and having a great time. In the end though we came back to the UK…

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" There was me, then the decks, and then 60,000 people… I was playing vinyl sets at the time, and my hands were shaking!  "

- Russ Dewbury

 
 
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BTG: A perfect segway into the next part…  you’ve been back here in the UK a few years now and have been running your next venture… Back in Brighton, Greendoor Store, Soulful Strutt… How did that come to be?

RD: Yea, six years in now we are and it still feels like a new night! An old friend who used to be regular at the Jazz Rooms nights contact me one time and said, you should really come and do a night here (Greendoor Store), which is a really highly regarded venue, so I went along and had a great meeting with them, and settled on a monthly night, called it Soulful Strut.. The name just came to me in Morrissons Supermarket on St James street, don’t know why haha! and that was it!

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Already we are into what 45 nights so far and it still feels new! It’s been absolutely brilliant since the start. For me, it takes the essence of the Jazz Rooms, in a bigger venue, and we play some newer music too, but in essence its just like the Jazz Rooms. People still come up and ask ‘What id this music? ’People for all different backgrounds, it’s brilliant, it also broadcasts live to which a lot of fun.

For the most part, I do most of the DJ’ing, but we still have guests, drawn from a great pool of DJ’s,

BTG: And some beautiful artwork too!?

RD: Yes, it really is, i’d love to do something more with it too, it’s a great piece of art.

BTG: And you now have the ‘Healing Force’ radio show?

RD: Well my big radio show was always the New Jazz Spectrum, I started to doing radio in Brighton in 88, and eventually a decent station actually got it’s first legal licence, that was Surf 107 and I had the Sunday Afternoon show on that. I did that show 15 years and at one point it was their most popular show. At it’s peak it was an excellent show with thousands of listeners, and I had some great guests on it too, Brian [???], Nitin Sawhney , whoever was in town, came on. I did that show right up until I went to Australia. When I can back I did Juice FM a bit, but I started to get into doing a Podcast show, which is where the Healing Force comes in…


BTG: So what does the future hold?

Well  i’ve been in the music industry for some 30 odd years now and what experience has taught me is that you need to have ‘fingers in pies’ so to speak and something which has been great recently, is a business I have created selling rare vinyl, mostly black music. But I also love it because it really takes me back to my roots, searching out rare funk records and all.

I’m thinking of getting out to the US to go on a buying trip to develop that side of things at some point.

So between DJ’ing, radio, promotion, that collection of things is how you keep things moving. I’ve been really blessed with my career, but looking back over what i’ve achieved, i’d really still like to push my DJ career on to the next level! I have always loved Brighton and have a lot to owe to this place, but I do find that the next level for DJ’s in this country is pretty London centric, so who knows, watch this space I guess!


BTG:  Well, your contributions have certainly been vast, highly influential and numerous, and you are well deserved of more progression!

We’re looking forward to getting ourselves down to the next soulful strut and broadening our more musical knowledge through your sonic teachings!!

Russ Dewbury… it’s been an absolute pleasure and an honour to spend some time in your company, getting behind the groove! thank you so much for your time, and keep on doing what you keep on doing!!

You are very welcome, it’s been a lot of fun, thank you for having me!


Catch Russ playing his Soulful Strut residency every month at The Greendoor Store Brighton (more here), and check out his incredible monthly Totally Radio show here.