Harry had a chat with the very talented Jon Dasilva. Jon learnt his trade as a DJ playing at The Haçienda, and is now a resident for I Love Acid, who will be hosting a stage at Alfresco Festival 2022. They talked about his route into DJing, the unrivalled atmosphere at I Love Acid Parties, artists that influenced Jon when he was starting out, like Francois K, and those who influence him now such as Josh Caffe.

Harry: You were a resident at The Haçienda back in the late 80s. What was your way into DJing / the Acid House scene?

Jon: There was a magazine called Collusion that got me into DJing in many ways. Sheryl Garratt was the editor, who was also the editor of Face Magazine, so, it was an important mag at the time. There was an article by Steve Harvey about New York DJs – Francois Kevorkian etc, and it was inspiring to read about what was going on. I got all the tapes and recordings of that period and that’s what really got me into DJing. Then I had to learn how to do it with the equipment! I got a pair of cheap technics, that weren’t even direct drive! Me and my best friend at the time had a go on these for a while, then we formed a little crew called the ‘Little Bag Crew’ with Damien Harris who set up Skint Records, and we used to do parties at squats. That was a more NY house / balearic influenced spread of music. House music kind of penetrated my consciousness around 86’ when I was at University in Kent. By 87’, it was a full blown love affair and I ended up moving up North to Manchester. There I started doing regular club nights and guest slots, then got spotted and asked to the Hot! night at The Haçienda. In terms of Acid House, it all comes in that period between 87’ and 88’ – we played everything at the time, it wasn’t just pure acid house like the name may suggest to some. There’s two understandings of the word in a way – there’s acid house culture and there’s acid house as in 303s… So, what I was doing then was all very much acid house culture. It was all from that New York balearic / house scene. We saw the DJs in New York doing exactly that. But it also kind of span on it’s own axis, and was very different to everything going on in London, which is what made The Haçienda unique.

Harry: Was there a point where you switched and just focused on playing house? 

Jon: The music I was playing during the first two years of The Haçienda was very much across the board. We were playing hip hop, techno, house, the Italo sound, and slow balearic stuff as well. I’d say my style has got more concentrated by promoters in a way. I left The Haçienda scene after about three years in 91’ and went out to the big world of guest DJing. When you play for most promoters there’s obviously a certain expectation of the music policy depending on the night at hand.

Harry: Talking of promoters, when did you first meet Joshu Docherty & Rich Bevan (Posthuman) who started the I Love Acid label / parties? 

Jon: I’m surprised to say it’s almost seven years ago! I was living in Sweden from 2010 until 2019. Around about 2016, I was helping out with an agency that I was on called Electronic Soul with Joey Bennett who was running it. I was helping him sign people, and Posthuman caught my eye. I was really interested in what they were doing with their live acid sets, so, I got in contact with Joshu and asked him if he wanted to come on board. We did a few gigs with him, then he booked me to play an I Love Acid, (party named after the Luke Vibert track) and we hung out. Then from there on, every time I was in London we’d meet up. I’ve got to meet so many people through Joshu, such as Quinn from Paranoid London and Josh Caffe who was also at our agency, who’s now the singer for Paranoid London. There’s this big acid house family in London, it’s great.

Harry: Since you got involved as a resident, you and Joshu Docherty (Posthuman) have frequently played b2b, would you say you connect well musically?

Jon: We’ve done b2b for the last few years now, after he moved into DJing, after doing the live shows for Posthuman. We really enjoy it, there’s a little bit of telepathy that goes on, it’s fun, hard to prepare for the b2b because you don’t know what the person is going to play next. You’ve got to know your tunes, and you’ve got to bring new stuff to the table, otherwise it starts to get stale. You’ve really got to work hard to have a vast amount of stuff ready to go, for example if Joshu went breakbeat on me you can’t just say fuck it I’m playing house! You’ve got to react and be intuitive. 

Harry: Does any of the music you were playing at The Haçienda cross over into the music you play at The I Love Acid parties today? What can we expect from you at Alfresco Festival?

Jon: To be honest it’s rare for me to play anything old, it’s not a retro night. Sometimes we book some DJs and we know they’re not going to be play all new acid house. But personally for me, there’s too much new stuff to warrant playing all the older tunes. It’s very much forward-thinking. The music lends itself to different mixing styles… I noticed this at my last gig in London with Josh Caffe and Quinn Whalley. They have a style that I find really infectious and made me question what I was doing a little bit. I was watching Josh for ages and haven’t heard Quinn DJ much until recently, but there’s a much more laid back and funky kind of approach, which is layered and hypnotic as fuck. Rather than playing tunes that have big explosive arrangements, they play stuff that’s a lot more linear. A lot of new acid house is in that bracket, which is why we try and stick to being more forward-thinking… 

Jon: I found myself looking for those big dramatic acid tunes too often, and now I think I play a good balance of those and the more layered, hypnotic tunes. There is the element of the b2b that you can end up in a bit of a battle situation of who can play a bigger tune, which is fun but doesn’t always end up being the best set! It’s important to listen to other DJs and expand your ideas.

Harry: How would you describe the I Love Acid parties to people that haven’t been before? 

Jon: Quite genuinely, I’ve never known a better atmosphere at a party. There’s something about the people that come to I Love Acid. I particularly love the London ones because it’s such a weird cross section, we get all walks of life coming in the door. I particularly like the use of glow sticks, everyone makes things with them and has a laugh, which makes things quite interesting. When everything goes right, I think you’d rarely find a better atmosphere in a club / at a festival anywhere… it seems the acid sound attracts the right people!

Harry: We’re looking forward to welcome the I Love Acid community to Alfresco! We had Paranoid London play this year and it was one of the best atmosphere’s of the weekend, which is why we wanted to have a whole 8h of acid house in our new Bunker stage on the Friday. The stage is built in a bomb crater, which was formed during WW2. I can’t wait to see it as a dark, smokey, strobey acid house and techno pit!

Jon: I’ve heard there’s a destroyed electricity pylon that acts as a DJ booth….

Harry: Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of cool production on that stage!

Jon: Looking forward to it!

I Love Acid take over the brand new Bunker Stage at Alfresco Festival 2022 on the Friday, with some very special guests tba soon. Day and weekend tickets are available via the link below, including some special discount for families and single parents. 

Tickets for Alfresco 2022 → https://alfrescofestival.co.uk/tickets/

 

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