Bobby & Steve! How are you both doing?
We are both doing extremely well thanks.
Let’s start right at the beginning. So you started DJing in a bar, then went on to play illegal raves and parties like the Blues... what sort of music were you playing at these raves and how different is it to the style of music you play now?
We started djing & promoting in 1984 at the Simpsons pub / wine bar in Forest Gate, our hometown. Musically we were playing soulful, disco, boogie selection from the Chi Lites, Temptations, Archie Bell & The Drells, Jeffery, Side Effect, Thelma Houston, Heaven & Earth, Leroy Burgess, TS Monk, Salsoul and Philadelphia amongst a library of others. Our musical taste has always been soulful from the core and uplifting. You could say we’re disco queens at heart, so musically we play the same style today as we did 32 years ago but with a current feel.
What was it like playing at these raves in terms of the atmosphere and the crowd? Is there anything about them you miss?
The whole crowd, vibe and atmosphere back then was truly amazing, the main reason being that we were all in it together, all experiencing the whole warehouse & blues parties at the same time, for the first time. We wasn’t relying on clubs for us to do our thing, we would scout around Forest Gate for an empty commercial or domestic space, put our own locks on and throw a few parties and onto the next one. If the police turned up, we had keys and was having a private party, we was told to keep the music down and they would leave. In the mid to late 80’s the laws were a bit more relaxed, so yes, we took advantage.
So during this time you were approached by Gordon Mac (Kiss) who asked if you wanted to put on a radio show, which led to “Zoo Experience” – can you tell us a little bit about this show and how you came up with the concept?
Back in 1978 we were 15 years old and we went to see a film called ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ starring Jeff Goldblum and featured the late great legend Donna Summer. The film was based around a nightclub in LA called ZOO. When we left the picture house we said to each other if we ever had a club we would call it Zoo. Fast forward to 1984 (Simpsons, where it all began), we remembered that conversation and the Zoo Soul Beat was born. We started on Pirate Kiss FM in 1984 doing the graveyard shift 6-8am Saturday mornings and worked our way up to legal Kiss FM in September 1990 on a Friday night and gave birth to the Zoo Experience.
Hosting a radio show and playing out at a club are obviously quite different and arguably require different set of skills – was taking on the show something that came quite naturally to you guys?
To be brutally honest, it really did come naturally for us. We would just be ourselves, play great soulful music, have the best time ever with a few friends in the studio, which always turned out to be a bit of a party and that whole vibe, atmosphere transcended onto the airways and kept us with the longest running Friday night show at the time.
Following this success of this radio show, you started up the legendary “Club Zoo” parties, known for pioneering early house/ soulful sounds – what was it that attracted you to this genre?
Club Zoo was launched in September 1990 at the now defunct Soho Theatre in London. We were mainly playing soul-boogie & disco there. Back in 1987 we went on our first trip to New York with our good friend Norman Jay and was more than blessed to visit the legendary Paradise Garage and bared witness to the late great Larry Levan on the decks. That was our introduction to house music. Like I said earlier, we are big disco queens and house music was our new disco in many ways, so we had to introduce it to our crowds and Club Zoo was where it began for us and then our legendary Garage City nights.
You guys have been residents for us since day one - how long does your relationship with the Groove Odyssey fam go back?
We hooked up with Mikee about 10 years ago in 2006 and started doing parties together at Herbal in Shoreditch, then SE1 Warehouse and then started Groove Odyssey club nights together seven years ago. We’ve all just been building the Groove Odyssey foundation and we will continue building and building. There are still a lot of bricks to lay on that foundation.
What is it that you love about playing Groove Odyssey?
There’s nothing better than playing music you love, to a crowd that loves it even more, and that’s what you get from the Groove Odyssey family, each & every time.
Finally, anything we can look forward to this year or beyond?
There’s so much to come from Groove Odyssey, our nights at the Ministry Of Sound our London Residency, our Ibiza four-day weekender in May 2017, GO nights in Italy-Switzerland and Dubai. New music from yours truly on Groove Odyssey Records featuring Leroy Burgess, Byron Stingily, Overjoyd and more.