We catch up with oldskool legend DAWL…

So firstly I wanna say a massive thank you for letting me do this interview and to begin I’ll start with asking when did you first start DJ’ing and what got you into it all?

Well as a kid I got in to the break dance craze back in the early 80’s so I would tape hip hop shows off the radio and I had some of those Street Sounds Electro albums to breakdance to, that was my first taste of Hip Hop and Electro music.

In 1989 I recorded the DMC mixing championships off the TV and was very much inspired by it. I would watch it over and over again and at that time I had built up a nice little collection of about forty or so Hip Hop and Acid house records which seemed like allot to me at the time. I also got my first set of turntables in 1989 they where Technics SL BD22s belt drives then in late 1991 I got a pair of Technics SL 1210s direct drives which I still have to this day.


I never promoted my self as a DJ I never really wanted to do DJ’ing as a job so when I played out it was for the love of it and never took it too seriously. In the early days I would DJ at local parties playing mostly early rave music then moved on to various venues around London and Essex playing Breakbeat, DnB, Hip Hop and Electro, at that time I was really into turntablism so if the venue had a good set up I would be able to juggle, cut up and scratch in my sets. I stopped Dj’ing out around 2006 due to family commitments as I now have three kids but I still love mixing and recording mixes and podcasts for the internet.


Do you just play vinyl then or do you use other formats?

I am a vinyl junkie but last year I bought myself Rane SL3 Scratch live for anyone that’s not familiar with scratch live you have time coded vinyl on the turntables that you can play Mp3s on just like you where mixing normal records, this is great for me because I can play mp3 and vinyl together without having to use anything other than me turntables.
 
So what was the best gig you’ve DJ’d at and why?

I couldn’t say which gig was the best as there where many I really enjoyed for different reasons. I used to play a monthly night called Headspin which was later called Soulsonic back in the mid to late 90s I particularly enjoyed DJ’ing at these nights because they where B-boy hip hop party’s. I was really able to go mad on the decks chopping up 80s Electro with old and new hip hop, breakbeats and funk. These party’s where held in a fair sized basement underneath a Bar and was always packed out. 
 
Tell us your favourite moments ether as a DJ or as a raver over the years?

I went to a few Raindance raves back when it was an outdoor event in Jenkins lane Barking, there were always good Dj’s and PA’s it’s all a bit hazy now but I remember having some blinding nights down there. Crazy club at the Astoria London…amazing venue, World dance at Lid airfield was always good, I used to travel around for the big Renaissance nights these would be held all around the country so we would be staying in digs which was always a good laugh.
In the late 90s and early 2000s I had a good spate of DJ’ing at warehouse party’s and music bars around London. One venue was a closed London underground station (Aldwych Tube) they just put a sound system in there and that was it wicked night.
 
You’ve died and gone to oldskool heaven, which 10 tracks are on the playlist?

That’s a hard one to answer but I will try, I reckon I would have to have…

Afrika Bambattaa - Planet Rock
Cybertron - Clear
Genaside II - Narra Mine  
LFO - LFO
Two Without Hats - Try Yazz
Joey Beltram - Energy Flash
2 Kilos? - Mohamed’s Mind
Blapps Posse – Bus’ It
Unique 3 - The Theme
Bam Bam – Where’s Your Child?

This list could go on and on and would change every time if asked.

So why DAWL? And what’s your real name or is that a closely guarded secret? ;)

This comes from my graffiti writing everyone calls me Dal so I added the w to make the name slightly longer as its looks better having four letters in graffiti pieces than just three letters. I always used my real name on flyers when I was Dj’ing, I only started using the name DAWL when I was Dj’ing on stressfactor.co.uk a few years back but the name was originally my graffiti tag.

You have not long got into production so could you tell us a bit more about how that started and what equipment do you use to write tunes?

First of all I was cutting and pasting beats and samples together and getting them cut on to vinyl to use as personal DJ tools to use in my sets these where really handy to have. This was one of the reasons I went on to buy scratch live because I could produce my own Dj tools without having to get them cut on vinyl which is expensive. I got myself an imac just over a year ago which came with garage band so I have been using that to knock up a few oldskool style tracks mainly for my own use and also to share them on Soundcloud.

What are your main passions in life?

Other than music I love graffiti writing, I try and get out as much as I can with my graffiti pals down to the Chelmsford gas works or along side the river Thames at Thurrock with a load of cans. We usually take some music with us and a few beers and stuff its always a good laugh.

 
If there was a fire at your house and you’ve got 5 minutes to save yourself and a few personal belongings what would you take with you?

It would be my records but I would never be able to move them in five minutes, I would definitely have to save my graffiti black books and comedy DVDs and all my trainers.

If you could time travel to any age where would you go and why?

I would love to go back to the early rave days because at the time I think we all thought it would last for ever but the music and the scene changed very quickly and I was not ready for it to end. There has always been good clubs and festivals to go to over the years but they where never as good as the the rave days I think. I just think the music was better then and I loved how the Dj’s at raves were playing a mixture of music in their sets rather than just one style. 

Dawl’s debut tune ‘Mind Crash’ is available now on Cutting Shapes