Greg Wilson is a man who needs little introduction. Once, a regular at some of the biggest clubs in the 70's and 80's. He reappeared once again in 2003 with the release of the album Credit to the Edit, where he edited a fine collection of disco and house. He hasn't looked back since. Today you can find him constantly traveling around the world, always rocking the dancefloor and adding that extra special touch with his vox box supplying the sound effects.
Greg will appear twice at Future Disco events over the coming weeks. First up he plays Supper Club in Amsterdam on Friday 29th January and then at Ministry of Sound on Saturday 13th February for the start of a bi-monthly residency.
Dammie Vant Zelfde caught up with the man himself about past, present and future.
1. Who is Greg Wilson? (for the people who don't know you)
A DJ from the 70's / early 80's who re-appeared in 2003 after a 2 decade hiatus.
2. How was it like to be the 1st Uk DJ to mix live on TV?
Very scary. I was aware that if I screwed up I was going to look stupid, and there was a cameraman with a hand held hovering around far too close to my equipment, which he actually banged into as the piece was being broadcast. Fortunately the needle held firm and all was well in the end.
3. What was the vibe like in the 70's in the Legend?
Legend didn't open until 1980 and I started playing there in '81. The vibe on the Wednesday night, which I did every week between Aug '81 and the end of '83, was the best I've ever experienced in a club. It was really intense, with incredible dancers, from all over the North and Midlands, and the most upfront black music, fresh in on import from the US. It was way ahead of the game in all ways, the club itself having sound and lighting that was second to none in the UK. It truly was the dream gig for me.
4. Which night/venue gives you the biggest smile: Wigan Pier, Legend or Hacienda?
Legend, definitely, with Wigan Pier not too far behind.
5. What are the good things you had back in the day that you would like to see in the dance scene today and which things you see today would you like to have had back then?
I suppose the thing that I miss the most is the standard of the dancing. People just don't seem to be geared towards dancing like they used to be - back then it was a really serious business, especially with the black kids who were always pushing at the barriers.
6. What record is always in your bag and why?
Don't carry a bag these days, but a laptop, so all the tunes are with me all the time - I'm well covered.
7. Music's high points and low points from the last year and why?
Younger producers are putting together some really strong tracks that draw from the past, but have a distinctive contemporary feel. I really think there have been some very positive moves in this direction, and I'm optimistic that things will continue to progress. I'd like to hear more vocals - maybe that's the next phase.
On the negative, I'm still disturbed by the stranglehold that TV talent show participants have over the pop charts, although it was encouraging to see Rage Against The Machine beat the X Factor winner to Christmas number 1 in the UK. Hopefully this bodes well for the future.
8. Best party or gig from the last 10 years and why?
Difficult to pick just one, but the Electric Chair in Manchester would be right up there. The Chair stopped doing monthly nights a couple of years
ago, but its influence lives on (they also do the odd one-off). Give it another 5 years and people will talk about it in hallowed terms, as a key part of UK club heritage in the 90's / 00's, which, in many respects, laid the foundations for the current disco direction.
9. What needs to change if you look at the dance scene today?
I think things are already changing naturally. Many people are moving over to smaller, more intimate parties, having grown tired of the commercialisation of dance culture during the superclub / superstar DJ era. There's also more of an openness to a wider spectrum of music, whereas previously everyone seemed to be into their own narrow bags. So, all in all, I'm encouraged by the way things are going.
10. What made you decide go back behind the wheels in 2003?
I'd noticed that whilst the history of UK dance culture was being documented, in books, via tv and radio documentaries, and on the internet, there was hardly any mention of the black scene in the 70's and early 80's, which pretty much underpins everything that followed. The myth had grown
that Ibiza '87 represented some sort of year zero, completely negating everything that went before.
Given this situation, I decided to start my website www.electrofunkroots.co.uk, documenting the early 80's period and what led up to it. I'd fortunately kept all my archive material from the era, so I was able to draw from this in putting together the content for the site, offering precise information about what was happening back then alongside my own personal memories.
It was as a result of this that promoters began approaching me about deejaying at their nights, and everything grew, in a very organic manner,
out of this.
This interview also appears on the ClubJudge Website