When Stephen Mallinder Met Marshall Jefferson

In the late ’80s, Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder was so inspired by American dance music that he took a trip to New York to try to track some of the artists down. This story, taken from Mallinder’s 2006 lecture at the Melbourne edition of the Red Bull Music Academy, details the record he made when he couldn’t find the ones that he was looking for

I loved the very first Todd Terry records. It was very cool, the way he just jammed on samples. “Bango” and all that kind of stuff. I mean, obviously this was kind of early days. Just as Shoom and places like that were starting. Shoom was really where acid house started, I suppose, when they brought it back from Ibiza. You’d be able to fill Wembley Arena with the number of people who said they went to Shoom, but you could actually fit only about 50 people in there really. It was a fitness center, the original down at London Bridge. But it wasn’t the only club. Café de Paris had been going for a while too.

Todd Terry didn’t answer his phone... So that’s how we ended up in Chicago.

That music started to filter through to clubs that were happening in London. Todd Terry stuff, early house stuff. So I went to New York trying to find him. We really wanted to work with him. He didn’t answer his phone. I was talking to the head of Atlantic Records in New York, and he said, “Marshall [Jefferson] is in town, you should meet him.” So that’s how we ended up in Chicago.

The record, Groovy, Laidback and Nasty, took about a year to sort out at the end. We did some basic pre-production stuff and then went to Chicago and lived in Chicago for about a month and worked with Marshall and all the guys over there. It was like a little clique of people. There was Ten City, Kym Mazelle... ‘cause they were all managed by sort of same guy. Paris Brightledge was on the album, who worked with Sterling Void. Lil’ Louis. (Not Vega.) We spent a little bit of time there in the middle of winter. It was freezing, but it was fun. And Marshall is a dude, you know? He’s such a great guy.

Stephen Mallinder Lecture (Melbourne 2006) | Red Bull Music Academy

It was too cold to go out too often. But we went to clubs that Lil’ Louis was doing. We'd go out with Sleezy D, Mike Dunn and all those guys, but it's kind of interesting ‘cause we were English and white and it was an entirely black culture, really. And people were lovely to us, though. It was great. We had a great time, yeah. I remember Lil’ Louis playing his own version of “French Kiss” that went for about 20 minutes with trains and airplanes and everything going through the sound system in this really small club. You sit there and go, “A fucking train just passed in the middle of ‘French Kiss,’ wow!” They were pretty mad, those clubs. We were really lucky to have a look inside them.

Marshall didn’t go out very often, apart from a couple of times. We said, “Come on, Marshall. We got to go out!” So we would hire a stretch limo and we would cruise around Chicago and go to clubs. When we did “Hypnotised,” we went back to shoot a video and got everybody in it. We wanted to document it. But, obviously, they were doing very well by that time.

By Stephen Mallinder on August 15, 2013

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