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| Artist's Bio & Live Videos :: Graeme Park

 

Artist's DJ List Information


Current Location :: Manchester, UK
Music Genres :: Rave & Hardcore, House


Artist's DJ List & DJ Mag Rankings

DJ Mag Ranks :: (2010) N/A (2011) N/A (2012) N/A
DJ List Ranks :: (Global) 3,455 (House) 791

Graeme Park – 10 years on the radio, 20 years on the decks, 40 years on the clock, still looking forward…

The story of DJ Graeme Park is really the story of the evolution of dance music and club culture itself. Graeme found himself working in a Nottingham record shop called Select-A-Disc in the early 80s, when the very first house records began to filter through from Detroit and Chicago. When the shop’s owner also opened the Garage nightclub, it was only natural he should turn to Graeme to select the discs. Determined to showcase this new style of music, his reputation as a house pioneer soon brought him to the attention of Mike Pickering at the Hacienda in Manchester, who asked him to cover for him whilst he went on holiday in 198-. Simply put, there was no-one else in the country who could do the job. The Summer of Love followed, and Parky became one of the biggest names on the scene – aside from his eight year residency at the Hac, he was the first British DJ to play places like Australia and some South American countries,

“I started doing it purely by accident,” he tells his handsome, dashing young publicist. “And then realised I was actually pretty good at it. But I never thought I’d end up doing it for 20 years!”

OK, so far so good and most folk know all of that – unless you have spent the last 20 years living under a rock, or at least listening to it. Fast forward 20 years and where are we at now For Graeme, celebrating his 20th anniversary all through 2004, things are as fab as ever – and if club culture really is at a cross-roads, who better to ask directions than the man who wrote the disco A-Z:

“There are plenty of great records out there you just have to look for them. If you pay attention you can really get into different things. Personally I’m into all types of music because I’m very open-minded. At the end of the day when I hear a record I know whether I can play it.”

Because the scene has grown into a strange beast, no doubt about that, with excessive pigeon-holing of DJs and genres:

“Yeah,” Graeme agrees. “What does ‘funky house’ mean Since 1988 you can arguably say I’ve been playing ‘house based music’. That encompasses a lot of different styles, but it’s house music at the end of the day. People say they play ‘funky house’ because they want to attract a glamorous crowd but that’s rubbish.”

For example, at the moment Manchester nights seem obsessed with ‘Glam House’. The hacienda wasn’t concerned with getting all glammed up it was purely about the music. “

Graeme is a DJ who has stuck to his guns, never jumping on popular bandwagons, arguing that “people who jump on bandwagons tend to fall off”. The clubs are still there to book him, the music is still out there to be played, and there are still the people out there who want to dance to it.

The dance culture scene has outlasted everyone’s expectations, and other cultural scenes, such as the punks and hippies – and unlike those scenes, at its heart it’s about playing music for people to dance to, and if that ain’t broke, why fix it

“I see no need to stop at the moment,” Graeme continues. “I don’t think age matters anymore.”

The Hacienda was a club without a purpose until house music filled its cathedral-sized dimensions. It was undeniable defined Graeme as a DJ, but in 2004, that can only be seen as one chapter in an on-going tale: “Yeah it was a very big chapter. I guess the first was when I discovered I could DJ, and found house music from Chicago and Detroit. The Hacienda was chapter 2; and 3 was when it re-opened. Chapter 4 was when it closed and I played all around the world. Chapter 5 where we are now.”

And where we are now is a very interesting place to be. Aside from all the regular gigs, Graeme has chosen the occasion of his 20th anniversary to reunite with his old DJ-spa Mike Pickering, for a series of very special gigs, and closing Glastonbury on the Radio One / Tribal Sessions stage including the grand finale of the Sankeys Soap 10th Anniversary celebrations. Although keen not to be bracketed as a “classics” DJ, he couldn’t let the occasion of his 20th anniversary go by without delving into the two lock ups, and one other garage he has filled with vinyl, and dusting down some belters: “House music has made people channel their tastes, so I think I’ll be going back to my roots and pulling out some forgotten classics,” he grins, already keen to get on with the process of mining those rich seams of vinyl.

Outside of the capital, over those 20 years Graeme has spun a lot of records to a lot of people. And the best thing is he still loves it, still loves the music and still loves to play it for people to dance to. Simple, really! 20 years in, and things are as exciting as ever – spinning at clubs like Renaissance, Turnmills, Ministry, Love Zoo and Sankeys - producing tracks under the guise of Papa Cool and Arouser, and presenting a show on Key 103 (the third biggest station outside London). Bridging the tricky gap between day-time and evening (6pm-9pm, Saturdays), according to Rajar he’s already upped listening figures by 4000.

Also celebrating 10 years as a radio jock in 2004, Parky understands the specialist skills required by a radio DJ: “A lot of radio shows or DJs just play the same big tunes. You can’t simply pretend you’re in a club, you have to talk to the audience and put your personality across… without sounding like an idiot.”

Never short of a tune, a gag, or an opinion, Parky is especially narked (and who wouldn’t be) that after all this work, the BBC has still managed to re-write history - in their recent two-part documentary series on Radio 2 about the evolution of house music, they took it upon to tell everyone that the whole thing had started within the M25. Lazy, London-centric journalism at best; Orwellian at worst.

“I must have imagined going to London in 1987 and playing house music to an empty dancefloor, and being told to stop playing “poof’s” music,” he recalls, of I-D magazine’s invitation to come to the capital with Mike to present “The Northern House Review” (and “Northern” doesn’t refer to north London).

“We both have dreamt about the coach loads of people who visited The Haçienda every week from London. It must have been a dream! All of it! London DJs invented house music and E-Culture. Thank the Lord that we have the BBC to keep us informed with the truth.”

So, don’t believe the hype. Just ask Parky. He was there before it all started, he was at the forefront of the dance scene when it was at its Zenith and he’s still there, still rocking it, twenty years later - longer than some of the people on the dancefloor have been on the planet. And the best thing is he still loves it, still loves the music and still loves to play it for people to dance to.

Yes, for 20yrs I’ve been finding good tunes that I want other people to hear. The reason I keep doing it is because it’s my mission in life or my job to let people hear good music that might otherwise get ignored.

The Haçienda is now an apartment building ( the developers asked Graeme to DJ ay the launch; he politely declined). At the back of the building is a time-line, carved into steel, detailing the history of the club from Madonna’s early performance to its closure. And there’s Graeme’s name – not once, but twice - carved into the metal for time immemorial. I’m not sure what other DJs - and what other clubs - have had that significance in clubland…

 

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| Old Skool Rave & Hardcore Compilations :: Graeme Park

[1]
Current available Compilations:

Compilation 1
(1989 - 1996)

Sets: 9 Hours: 14

 CD:

(2)

 Our Price: £9.99
   
 

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