Oi Polloi

Interview: Justin Robertson

Published: Fri Oct 24 2014

Justin Robertson is a busy man. He makes his own records, he remixes other people’s records, he jets around the world playing these records — he also collects hats.

Between all this, he somehow found the time to make a mix for the sweatshirt impresarios at Good Measure. This seemed like a good excuse to ask him a few quick questions.

First things first, how’s it going?

Pretty good. I’ve not had a computer for two weeks, so I’ve gone all analogue, strumming my guitar and doing some painting. But I’m glad the thing is back at last, so I’m multi-platform multi-medium fiddling about now.

It seems that you keep fairly busy. What have you been up to lately?

I’ve been finishing my new Deadstock 33s album, recording EPs for ‘Days of Being Wild’ and ‘Clouded Vision’, and doing a couple of remixes, doing a massive painting and planning some sartorial manoeuvres for the future. I really want to do a clothing line, not just simple music merchandise, so I’m speaking to some good people about that.

You used to work in Eastern Bloc just round the corner from us. Have you got any good stories from your time there?

That was quite a trip, sometimes literally. I worked there at the height of ‘Madchester’ and quite often we would extend the psychedelic experience into the daytime. It was magic working there, it has to be said! Everything was so exciting, a musical revolution was unfolding and it was a dizzy journey at the eye of the storm. Having said that we often got fried and tetchy, as it was manic in there — so apologies to any one I was rude to! But it’s fair to say Eastern Bloc made me the man I am today.

It’s hard to pick one story, so maybe a quick edit of some ‘highlights’ is in order — getting threatened by gun toting gangsters (weekly at some points), John’s special box, amazing record description stickers, a riot breaking out, sewage leaks, special deliveries, posh mitherer, film crews from across the globe seeking wisdom and getting wide grins, the shandy vs stormtrooper debate, Johnny Abstract’s morning visits, The Wigan Scream Team… oh and of course the swathes of amazing music.

On your Wikipedia page you’re listed as a ‘DJ and re-mixer’. Was this something you always wanted to be or did it just happen?

Like most things in my life, it’s all just an accident.

What makes a good re-mix?

A personal stamp — something that takes a tune into a different sphere, or just kicks like a fucker.

You started playing at clubs in the early 90s. How do you think the world of clubs and ‘going out’ has changed since then?

Not at all, I mean, it’s lost a bit of that outsider vibe that early acid house had — it’s hard to underestimate how alien that music sounded when it first came out — but essentially it’s the same — folk out for kicks, listening to top sounds.

One thing I’ve notice with a great deal of pleasure is that older people (like myself) are refusing to take up the pipe and slippers and are still getting involved. I think its top having a cross-generational rave legion. In terms of ‘dance music’ I think it continues to evolve, each new generation provides fresh ideas, and new sounds — it’s the best I can remember in many ways.

You played at the Hacienda. Was it really as good as people say it was?

Yes… better.

You’ve just done a mix for Good Measure, how did this come about?

I’ve known the chaps for years and years. I used to listen to Fred play down The International, he had a good ear for go-go and some snappy threads, and Carl is a veteran of the Balearic network too. Splendid fellows — and the new garments are spot on, so it was a real pleasure to be asked.

What do you get up to when you’re not doing music stuff?

Painting pictures currently. I also read a great deal, search for vintage clothing and walk my dog. I’m also currently thinking about learning to drive.

And last but by no means least… you’re a big fan of headwear. What’s your favourite hat?

Brown Christy’s Fedora.

Listen to Justin’s mix below…

See the deadstock Good Measure sweatshirts

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Ball.