We speak to one of the legends of hardcore, Vinylgroover, who also transitioned into hard house and hard trance, making him a very versatile DJ indeed. He’s lso not bad at making music and amassed hundreds of releases over the years. Helped to his first play by Carl Cox, broken keys, kidnapped by strippers and stealing his name back… it’s all in here…
Where did the name Vinylgroover come from?
Initially I made up the names ‘Vinylgroover’ & ‘Tripper’, I took the ‘Tripper’ name at first and told my friend Ashley that he could have the VG one. Literally that month or sometime that summer a flyer appeared with the ‘Tripper’ name so I knew I had to change it, I asked my friend and lucky enough he was cool with me taking ‘Vinylgroover’ back on.
How did you get into DJing?
It was all I ever wanted to do, I have always loved music, when the whole ‘acid’ thing happened I was hooked as my friends parents used to play all the latest tracks, I loved the movement, all the bright clothes and beads, headbands, all that stuff, it was more a way of life, and I wanted to be a part of it. As it moved on to the Rave / Hardcore scene I was on the decks all the time even though I was so young. Then the first ‘Rave’ I went to was Vision at Popham airfield in 1992, I was blown away, my friends parents took me and I just remember thinking the whole way there that I’m not going to get in… we came over the hill into the valley and at the time it seemed like a small city, I was so excited. Anyway I got in, loved every minute, I remember vividly looking at the main stage and thinking, this is what I want to do, I want to be a DJ.
Who are your DJ heroes/heroines and why?
My favourite DJ’s were Slipmatt, Carl Cox & Ratty. Slipmatt’s track selection and they way he put his sets together was always perfect, with Carl Cox, it was the pure energy he would generate, its almost like his love for music ‘poured’ off him into the crowd, and then Ratty, the tricks and things he could do with the crossfader inspired me a lot… three great DJs.
You were lucky enough to play at Sterns, an iconic landmark in rave culture. Hodid that come about?
I was, and its still one of the best venues I’ve ever played to this day. I used to go to the Sterns under 18’s nights when they were doing those, I used to ‘bug’ all the DJ’s with my mix tapes but I gave a few to Carl Cox as he played more of them.. I actually used to get the train there with all my records and walk about a half mile or so up the motorway to Sterns, it seemed really fun at the time. Anyway like I said I gave a few tapes to Carl Cox before and I just remember speaking with him on the middle floor (where they used to have the beetle car cut in half with the dj in it), I’m sure it was Grooverider that was running late that night, I was stood there with Carl and Mensa, (that ran the club), and Carl said “give the nipper / youngster a go”…. I got about 20 minutes in the ‘Underground’ but more bookings came from that, its still one of my favourite places I ever played.
You played at every major rave event back in the day. There must be many good memories but is there one that stands out more than others and why?
Yeah I’ve been very lucky to play at a lot of really great party’s and festivals, one memory that really sticks with me was when I was on my way to play Tribal Gathering / Universe, its more of a ‘nightmare’ than a ‘good’ memory but its pretty funny so I’ll share it… That weekend I had about five events to play and I had a car full of friends that came out on the road all weekend. Because of all the driving I decided to rent a car for the weekend, the car was just a ‘cheap’ rent and was pretty shit but it would do, anyway we did the first events, the Friday night we smashed through Norwich, Leicester and ended up in Sheffield where I played last set, so we literally all went to the local swimming baths and had a shower and stuff, ready to go the festival as I was playing in the daytime before I was supposed to go to the re-named ‘Mansion house’ (formally Sterns).
We all set off on the motorway get something to eat, I used to always take a football with us to pass the spare time we had so we had a bit of a kick about. Then we set off, the festival was near Luton so we headed down the M1 and about 40 minutes away from the event I needed fuel so we stopped at the services,. This car I had was so crap you had a key back then to unlock the petrol cap, I passed the key to my mate to open it!? Anyway when I got out he was just kinda looking at me with this ‘Ashen’ look on his face, I mean, he didn’t even have to say anything I could see it. I was like “you haven’t”, he replied “i’m so sorry mate”….. and yes the car key had ‘snapped” off in the petrol cap lock…. Now usually this wouldn’t be an issue as you could get into the boot through the back set where all my vinyl’s were, but noooo, not with this piece of crap!!
I could have made it to my set as other ravers travelling to the event said they would give me a lift so I called someone out, like a professional to sort the key, the plan being id meet my friends at the festival and then we would drive on to the last event, needless to say it wasn’t going to happen I just couldn’t get my tunes, we stuck it out and got the car sorted, we actually made it to Universe and saw how good it was and I was so gutted I hardly spoke the rest of the day – to this day its still a running joke with me and my friends and least now I can laugh at it…
Is there anywhere you really wanted to play but never got the chance to?
I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve managed to play so many great clubs all around the world, but if I had to pick one I’d love to have played at ‘Turnmills’ in London, I really liked the vibe in there, very unique club and a great crowd. (That’s you and the Tidy Boys then – JD)
How do you feel the scene in the UK is right now compared to back then? Do you feel it is the same, it has improved or it’s gone downhill?
It is very different, and has progressed in many ways that’s for sure, but I think people are very selective in the UK in terms of the events they choose to go to as we have been very spoilt here in terms of having that period through the nineties and early naughties when you could see pretty much all the best DJ’s week in week out for so long, I think it got to the point where people just thought ‘well, I can see them, plus A, B & C at Dreamscape / Club Kinetic etc so that didn’t help a lot of clubs, because you go abroad on tour etc and it may be the only chance they get to see you play for a year or so and because of that the events abroad where always full where as UK became a bit hit and miss. In terms of music though at the moment I think there is some absolutely incredible stuff being released right across the board.
What style of music do you enjoy playing out the most?
I love all kinds of music, as long as its tough with a bit of edge I’ll play it
You’ve also played overseas a fair bit too… can you tell us about the Canadian strippers who ‘kidnapped’ you?
Haha, well I was quite happy with the situation in the end to be fair… But yeah… this was back in 1996 I think and there was quite a few of us all playing a big warehouse event in Toronto, the first or second night we were there we all went out to a strip club, I was pretty young and had never been to a strip club in my life so I was actually kinda nervous, I wasn’t actually going to go but the boys said I wouldn’t have to have a ‘dance’ by the girls etc so I thought okay why not, I’ll just hang out and have a drink with them all.
So, we get to the club, have a laugh and a couple of drinks, the boys are like “have a dance Scott, you should really get one”…. I was actually so fucking nervous and almost scare I just kept saying no I can’t do it. So the night kicks on a bit we are all having a great time and in good spirits when all of a sudden a stunning girl approached me and said Hi, she said “come with me I want to speak with you”, I Wass like “I really don’t want a dance” and she said “it’s just a little chat between us” and so I was like OK,. I got up and followed her and she took me some other place in the club, sat me down, we had a little talk as she knew the event I was over for to play and asked me a bit about it, then all of a sudden one track ended and another begun, she thrashed this curtain closed and just said “relax”…. I did not know what to do, where to look, or what… ha ha,
Anyway, I got a few dances and we talked a little longer, I went back, big smile on my boat race and the lads where all all like ‘oi-oi’…. About half hour later she took me again and the same thing happened, and then she took my hand and said ‘I’m going to take you home, do you wanna come to my place its not far’, I was feeling much more confident at this point so I was like “Yeah okay, why not’. So we drove to the penthouse / condo place she was staying at right in Toronto and arrived there where she lived with two other girls, both of whom where strippers at that same club and we just had fun it was a really good night. I wake up in the morning there was all these candles on and the bed was pretty much on the floor but no one else was in the room, I get up and go into the living room area where there was a very large round table, it had a round ‘sofa ring’ surrounding it and again was quite low, the girls where all in the kitchen and I was like hey, and they were like “Hey Scott, sit down how do you like your eggs, bacon, breakfast?2
I just actually couldn’t believe it, it was a amazing breakfast and they did that for the rest of the week that I stayed there, and we would go out on the balcony in the sun playing on their ‘ping – pong’ table and stuff and just have laugh. Thing was none of my friends and the other DJ’s knew where I was and so after a day or so they were calling but I didn’t answer and left my phone off a lot of the time because I was just having too much fun hanging out there. So it comes to the day of the event and I was like “Shit, I better go get my things together and get changed and get to the event, the girls asked if they could come and said they would drive which seemed like a good idea to me saved me getting any Taxi to the hotel etc, so we did that then all arrived at the gig which was amazing and in full swing, the guys were like we been trying to reach you all week, no-one knew where you where, I told them “I have been fine, was staying in a penthouse with these three looking after me I’ve been pretty happy”….. funny times, there’s many more stories but I have to save some….ha ha!
When did you become involved with producing?
I’m sure it was 1993 – 94, I used to get the bus to the Sunset Regime studio in Southampton because I couldn’t drive around that time. I remember the first EP release was on Hectic Records and I did that with DJ Ramos, it was a good connection actually as both myself and Ramos liked both the happier and darker side of hardcore so we did a bit of both, Phantasm was a very uplifting hardcore rave tune with all the big pianos and stab hits then on the flip we did ‘The Beast’ which is very dark hardcore, early jungle vibes, it did very well though we had support from Slipmatt, Sy etc all the way to Ratty and Grooverider for the darker one.
Who are your musical influences?
There are too many to name just a few seriously, I have quite an eclectic taste in music I literally just love it.
How many tracks and remixes do you think you have made?
Hahahaha this is a good question and one that has been asked before but I honestly couldn’t tell you, its literally hundreds across various genres and different names etc..
Do you prefer software production with plug-ins or using hardware?
I love that everything is onboard now, its tidy and less stress, a few years ago I thought some onboard kit lacked the quality and depth of some of the sounds that hardware can offer but I don’t think thats entirely the case anymore.
What is your studio set up?
The set up I have now is very small compared to what I used too have, I mean when I had all the outboard equipment it was pretty crazy the amount of space needed, I mean just the mixing desk would consume half of the room, I don’t miss having to set that all up, the leads too, oh my god it could get messy and annoying. Now I just have my built up music PC, the Daw I use is Ableton and then I have quite a fair few plug in’s, my favourite is probably still sylenth though I still love that.
Is there anything you would really like to add to your studio?
I do wish I never sold my Virus, I may have to get another one pretty soon..
Who have you enjoyed collaborating with and did you learn anything from it?
I have loved collaborating with everyone that I’ve worked with over the years and I still learn everyday whether I’m working with somebody or not, its really good to see how other people work and their musical approach, especially when some one does something and you think, god that would take me an hour or so to do that usually, then you take all the things on board and became a stronger producer for it.
How do you combat writers block?
I’m very lucky that it doesn’t happen to me all that much in the studio but when it isn’t working I just find its best to turn everything off, re-charge for a few days and come back, if something isn’t working I find its best not to force it and keep trying to push it.
Any plans to release them on a DJ Friendly USB?
I have spoken with people about it a few times, I did the Vinylgroover’ obsession continues album last year and that was over 150 tracks all re-mastered however that was on CD and then as WAV downloads, its something I’m interested in for sure.
You are one of the few hardcore DJ’s who transitioned from that sound to hard house and hard trance. How difficult was that transition?
Yeah, it was very difficult at the time, I mean I had to start over, I got some stick from some people for doing it too which wasn’t great but the time was right for me to do some different things.
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement from all of this?
I guess it would have to be making some people dance, enjoy / listen to the music & bringing some smiles – happiness..
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Never give up, keep going, keep growing and keep learning.
What is in the pipeline for Vinlygroover..?
There is a lot of music I’m working on, obviously with the current world pandemic any / all live events are off, I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and seeing everyone.
Vinylgroover’s all Time Top Ten
It’s impossible for me to list an all time top 10, I’m going to list 10 tracks that really hold big memories for me from the dance scene, and not in any specific order too… Ha ha sorry, its just far too hard.
- 808 State – Pacific
- In Effect – DJ Red Alert & Mike Slammer
- Revolution – BK
- In Complete Darkness – The Fat Controller
- Eye-Opener – Brisk & Trixxy
- The First Rebirth – Jones & Stephenson
- Pilgrim – Scott Brown
- The Dawn – Tony De Vit
- For An Angel – Paul Van Dyk
- SMD#1 – SMD
Vinylgroover Top Ten
- The Dawn (Vinylgroover remix) – Tony De Vit
- Everlasting (Jakka B remix) – Vinylgroover & The Red He’d
- Crash & Burn (Teknikore remix) – Tweekacore * Darren Styles
- Deep In The Night (Jakka B remix) – Hixxy
- Don’t Go (Vinylgroover *Bananaman remix) – Awesome 3
- Bass Keeps Pumping – Spyro * Hartshorn
- Better On Your Own (Mike Reverie remix) – Scott Attrill * Steve Hill * Luca Antolini
- Vintage Bass – Scott Attrill
- Time – Ice Cold (Al Storm • Eufion remixes) – Vinylgroover (Remix EP)
- My Little Fantasy (Bananaman remix) – Vinylgroover