How did it all start for you and Tribe Records?
‘My first big break in DJing came in 1988 during “the summer of love”, where I was resident at the infamous Clink Street warehouse parties called RIP, with my DJ collective Shock Sound System.
‘From there I found my career path in the music industry from managing Black Market Record store to A&R for Dreamworks Records and running my own production company in partnership with Def Jam Records.
‘It was always a dream for me to launch my own label one day and Tribe Records realised that dream when it was established four years ago. I wanted it to be a label that would release dance rhythms from around the globe and be focused on creating and exposing artists, not just producer-driven releases.’
What was it like working with Michael Jackson?
‘It was a surreal moment as I was hired to DJ for a private party in Bahrain and given no details about whom I was playing for. It was set in an amazing location with the sea and swept sands as our backdrop. I noticed a familiar figure approach me. It was one of those moments when a triple take was in order.
‘MJ came to the booth and we exchanged greetings and he made that his station for most of the evening. He would rest the palm of his hand on the speaker cone as if to feel a musical pulse.
‘Then the moment came that every DJ craves, I could not resist and played a segway dedicated to him and invited him to the dancefloor. He showed off his moves to Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and I thought if I never play again this would make all my years of DJing worth it.’
Do you have any gigs planned in extraordinary places for this year?
‘Yes! This year we start our new festival Can You Dance to My Beat which is a spin-off from a monthly party we do at Notting Hill Arts Club. The festival will be held on the Greek island of Kefalonia and take place over four days in August. We have invited Gilles Peterson, Joe Clausell, Timmy Regisford, Afshin and Global Fantasy to each come and host a night as well as a Can You Dance to My Beat Beach Party each day.’
What inspires you and what sort of music do you listen to?
‘I take my musical inspiration from many places, such as the dance floor in watching how people dance and react to music. My listening pleasure is wide from the bata rhythms of Yoruba to the sweet tones of Mali. I love world music as I find an energy in there that connects with me. I travel a lot to the Middle East, Cuba and West Africa to record sounds and work with extraordinary musicians playing wonderful local instruments. Afro house is a genre on the rise coming from Angola, South Africa and also being created in the western hemisphere. I am a great supporter of this style in both my productions and DJ sets as it captures the youth through its energy.’
Where are you based in London?
‘I’m based in west London and while I have always considered trying to relocate to another part of town there is something about the mixture of people and culture in west London that I love.’
What would you change about the big city?
‘It needs to be brighter. We live in a grey city due to our weather conditions, so I would make the effort to brighten our buildings.’
How do you relax and wind down?
‘Shisha and playing backgammon, and listening to music from a distant place. I don’t watch TV, but I do like a good box set that I would zone out to for a couple of days – then back to work.’
‘This spring – whenever it finally decides to start – will see my next single featuring Mr V called Dance Release hitting the stores with a great video shot in Paris featuring some of the world’s best house dancers. One Sound One People One Tribe!’
Zepherin Saint will be headlining The Date’s house room on Saturday 20 April at:
77 – 81 Scrubs Lane