"We both believe in the same things, good people, good parties, good music. Acid house, basically." Idealists, hedonists, prophets, call them what you will, but Layo & Bushwacka!'s love affair with music started as teenagers under 1988's strobe lights and it's led the both of them through techno, breakbeat, electro, dub and electronica, emerging blinking into the light a decade later with a sound that fuses all their influences and channelling them into 2002's most anticipated dance floor album.
'In My Memory', is a testimonial to all the sounds that have influenced DJ Tiesto to first start playing records back in the days. The culmination of all those influences and his very own personal touches make this a very special album with plentiful surprises and many exciting things to come.
It's the same outlaw spirit of eclecticism that still informs their five hour DJs sets, whether at their spiritual home in London's The End, or on a beach in Brazil or a state of the art superclub in Ibiza or Argentina. Layo seamlessly segueing cutting edge sounds, while Bushwacka! tears the arse out of the crossfade, turning nondescript breakbeat battle weapons into a compulsive collage of beats and breaks. The same spirit that took the "for the fans" thousand-copy only 12" Untitled into a global club anthem. It's now 'Love Story' - renamed with the title given to it by the fans in Argentina who sit down rather than dance through the track as a mark of respect for its majesty. "I thought that track was a bit cheesy initially," muses the ever-analytical Layo. "Of course now everyone loves it, I've warmed up to it a bit." And you can't get much more acid house than the legal minefield that is Bushwacka!'s much bootlegged remix of Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' - surely the biggest bootleg mix in a year inundated with white label remixes of dubious legality. If only, as Matthew shrugs, he'd done the bootlegs himself, as everyone assumes.
Layo and Bushwhacka! have come a long way from the teenager who frequented Clink Street's infamous acid parties and the kid who dropped classical music to hang out on the hardcore scene: two motor-mouthed refugees from the underground enjoying their position as new leaders of clubland's cutting edge. Layo & Bushwacka! have both served their time supporting British underground music when no-one wanted to know. Layo opening The End, a purpose-built club dedicated to breaking new music to the right people. Matthew jacking in a lucrative career as a rave circuit DJ when the moody music had gone too far for him, both taking the emergent strains of ?techno, tech-house, electro and breakbeat and forcing them together with the blues, classical and film soundtracks of the last hundred years to create the dance floor sound of the new century.
Matthew 'Bushwacka!' Benjamin has always been into music: as a schoolboy in Ladbroke Grove, West London, he was playing percussion in the London School Symphony Orchestra." I played the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican. We toured Italy when I was 13. It was a magical time of my life." It was 1988, and hooked on hip-hop and DJing, his life was about to take a sharp left turn. "In August '88 I went to a Rat Pack warehouse party. I left there at 11 o'clock the next morning and come home to an angry mum." Handing out flyers by night and working in Harrods by day, he began working for the Rat Pack. By 1989's summer of orbital rave he was DJing for them, as well as on London's legendary 'Radio Rental', pirate station Sunrise FM. ?
Graduating from a studio engineering course, Matthew - now widely held in awe by other producers for his crisp beats and heavyweight production techniques - went to work at Mr C's new studio "making cups of tea 80 hours a week". The Shaman front man had ploughed his pop earnings back into the studio, and he was also planning on opening a club with another young protÈgÈ of his: "That's where I met Layo," Matthew remembers. "About the same time as the End idea was coming about."
Layo Paskin had a different upbringing in a liberal North London household: the son of an architect and a writer, he was putting on funk parties at sixteen while working at weekends in Camden Market. "When I was 17," he recalls, "I went to my first acid house party, and straight away I was blown away by this thing." From then on he too was immersed in underground dance and within a couple of years he was throwing warehouse parties with Mr C. "We found this site for a party," he explains, "and that became The End." The End was designed by his father, and became Layo's life... taking in nights from future superstars like Fatboy
Slim and Roni Size it quickly became the leading underground music club in the capital and one of the most influential dance clubs worldwide.
By the time Layo and Bushwacka! started working together it was the mid-90s and dance music was changing. The hardcore scene that Matthew had been such an integral part of was already shifting into drum & bass, while new hybrids - that would later be termed tech-house and breakbeat - were emerging out of clubs like The End. ?Matthew had started his own Plank records, and was making and playing what he terms "good quality music to go out and dance to."
In 1998 Layo and Bushwacka! released their first album Low Life, on End Recordings, the label that had begun life the day The End opened. A deceptively smooth collection that mashed together electro, techno, underground house and old skool breakbeat, but stretched into delta blues and dub reggae for inspiration, for a trippy down-tempo atmospheric breakbeat sound. It was rather brilliant. ??
They also started DJing together more often - first at the End's Subterrain nights, later across the country and beyond. They make a good combination: ?Matthew tearing his crossfade through anonymous tech tunes and electro breaks?Layo taking a more considered approach to playing "proper" tunes. Now, a year since they released the half-jokey 'Untitled' as a 1000 copy only Christmas present to their fans, their DJing has gone supernova. They can afford to play only clubs that allow them a five hour slot, so they can play an hour each at a time, building the intensity then dropping the tempo to play the odd vocal or hip-hop track.
Now their second album - Night Works - takes their blueprint onto a bigger, broader canvas. All the elements we loved about Low Life, and singles like the breakbeat blues of 'Deep South', are still there - there's still the adherence to low end theory bass lines, but this time wrapped in a comfort blanket of synapse-tweaking soft chords. Once again its edited and tweaked into a non-stop collage that lulls you into a false sense of security at home, where you can't feel the monster bass lines these tracks unleash over a club sound system. Already planning to take their live performance on the road, the garrulous odd couple are keeping their hardcore fans happy by starting a monthly club night (at the End, where else?) where they will be the only DJs. Not to mention residencies at Space in Ibiza and Sirena in Brazil, two more of the finest clubs in the world.
"The music industry is an industry where the best business people do the best and the most creative people don't," reflects Layo, "that's life I suppose. But I'm hungry for that creativity. I'd like to be really good at what I do, rather than hugely successful. You need to be able to look yourself in the eye and say the route you,re taking is a good route, be proud of what you do, and on the other hand also enjoy it. I'd be much more happy if this album had good reviews, rather than sell a million copies. Something I can visit in a few years and be really proud of."