Interview / Paranoid London

Gerardo Delgado and Quinn Whalley are Paranoid London. They released a new E.P., Annihilate The World And Start All Over on May 28th – their tenth to date – not counting the PL Edits – but the first without their trusty, trademark Roland TB-303. Nonetheless, with the 303 down, the tracks, such as The State Of That, are still genius shots of stark house / techno. 

I can’t quite believe that it`s been nearly a decade since I picked up a copy of the duo’s Eating Glue. I still find myself fascinated by its unique mix of Trax / DJAX up beats and Neal Cassady-esque street poetry. Posing the pair “a few” questions was well over due.

Where are you from?

Del: Guildford in Surrey. I`m still based in Guildford, but I have a studio in Hackney. 

Quinn: I was born in Manchester, but I live in London – in a very small room in Hackney.

Did you start out DJing, before making music? 

Del: I think everyone around our age was a DJ. It was the thing to be. My first paid gig was a residency at Paradise Lost in Tenerife – a really cool little club, in between the madness of Tenerife back in the day. That would been the late `80s, early `90s and I would have been playing Balearic and house. In the early `90s I was more into British prog – loads of Andrew Weatherall, Justin Robertson, Leftfield, Slam, and Darren Emerson remixes, plus some techno with a few disco records thrown in. Paradise Lost was a great little club and I have really fond memories of it. I could write book about the adventures I had working out there. 

Quinn: The first time I recorded my own music my voice hadn’t dropped. I recorded my break dance crew-  Electric Patrol – doing a rap that was exactly as good as you would expect from a bunch of 12 year olds from suburbia. The first time I used 2 turntables was at around the same time, and I won the Kingston DJ Competition 1986. Mark Curry was the judge so that would give you some idea of the technical excellence on display. First paid DJ gig that I remember was the school youth club. I was playing a mix of properly hardcore hip hop and electro with Whitney Houston and Rick Astley acapella’s over the top to get the girls dancing. Again, it probably sounded as bad in real life as it does in theory.

Quinn, I read in an interview last year that your parents used to take you to The WAG? They sound like seriously cool parents. What kind of music were they into? How old were you? 

That was a mix up. A guy in the year above me at school, Ray, took me to The WAG. My parents’ friends were involved in setting up a lot of raves so I used to hire them my decks and I DJed at quite a few of them.

Can both of you remember the first time you heard a house record? 

Quinn: I reckon it would have been on LWR (London Weekend Radio). A London based pirate station. 92.5FM if memory serves.

Del: It would have been at some rare groove party. House never went down well with the older, purist, crowd.

Since the TB-303 seems pretty integral to what you do, can you remember the first time you heard an acid house record? 

Quinn: The first time I heard it called that would have definitely been Jazzy M (legendary London DJ, Michael Schiniou) on LWR.

Del: There was an older lad round my way called Rock, who put on these rare groove parties. He had all the records. I remember being over at his house and he had just been given a bag of records from a label called Trax. He was not amused couldn’t get his head around this electronic sound. Me I loved them. I remember Adonis` Rocking Down The House being one that really stood out for me – plus probably another 10 acid records. He just gave them to me. They were all I thick heavy vinyl and sounded like shit. Just the way I like it.

You’ve mentioned in interviews that you both used to go to Land Of Oz and Rage – both at Heaven. Did you ever do the Balearic thing? Did you go to places like Future and Shoom?

Quinn: I was a massive Colin Faver freak – but I didn’t know who anybody was, so for a long time I thought that Colin was Danny Rampling (alongside Danny, Colin was one of the regular DJs at the early Shoom parties)

Del: Yep, I loved all of those clubs. Right at the beginning it was more of a secret society. I remember being at 6th form and there were 3 of us going to these clubs. I wouldn’t  talk to these kids at school, but I would see them out and about. The next day we`d swap a small glance and smile just to say, “How good last night!” Those clubs were full of amazing liked-minded people listening to great records.

Del you used to work at Fat Cat. How did you get the job there? How long did you stay, and what did you do next?

I wouldn’t say I worked at Fat Cat, I just managed to annoy everyone that worked there ha!ha! I helped out when I could. Fat Cat`s Alex Knight, who’s now one of our managers, has been a close friend of mine for over 30 years. I first met him in Phuture Records – a great shop – in the Garage, on The Kings Road. We hit it off straight away. He was telling me how he was opening a shop called Fat Cat in Crawley. So I would pop down there and see him. Then he came over to play for me at Paradise Lost – by which point he was moving the shop to London. When I came back from Tenerife I popped in to the new Fat Cat, in Covent Garden. The rest is history. It was without a doubt the greatest electronic music shop that London has ever had. All of the staff were great lads who really knew their music. 

Just a quick story…I was working one day when I mentioned that I was going Ibiza for a quick holiday. Dave Cawley, one of the owners, handed me a box of records and said, “These are for Jose Padilla, at the Cafe del Mar”. On arriving I went straight down to the bar, introduced myself to Jose, and gave him his records. In return he gave me a card on which he wrote “Good friends of mine – please let them into your club” and signed it. I didn’t pay for anything that holiday because of that card. The bonus of working at Fat Cat.

Did you both meet in Fat Cat? 

Quinn: Not to my knowledge, but he always looked familiar to me so you never know.

Del: No, I didn’t meet Quinn until years later.

Quinn I know you made music before Paranoid London. As Slack, how did you get signed to Sabres Of Paradise? 

Me and Justin Drake just sent a tape to Mr. Weatherall. He didn’t know us, and definitely didn’t know what knobheads we were, but he got straight back in touch and said he wanted to put it out. As you can imagine we were convinced that this was it – we were definitely going to be techno gods and very probably Andrew`s best friends in the whole world. All joking aside though he bothered to listen to a tape sent by a couple of kids and signed it up and put it out.

Del were you also making music before Paranoid London? 

I had the sound in my head that I wanted, but the problem is that you need the right engineer. Like a marriage you have to get what’s in each other’s heads. There’s nothing worse than an engineer that you give an idea and sound to, who then goes on to fuck around with it so much that by the end it’s got nothing to do with your original idea. I think after going through 4 or 5 engineers – some doing some incredible work on other artists amazing albums – along came Quinn, the man who could hear the noise that was in my head. He’s a genius, gentlemen, and all round top bloke.

Have either of you had any formal musical training? 

Del: I played the trumpet at school and got told by a teacher to please stop. Point taken! I don’t think it’s a good thing when making house records to be musically trained. It gets in the way of good ideas. I always looked at house like punk. They are records that anyone can make. Every person in the world has right to make a record good or bad. House like punk is about energy, not the right note or key. Fuck that leave that to folks who over produce records with no soul. I could listen to a feedback noise for hours. It’s music to my ears.

Quinn: The recorder at school. I picked it up for the first time in 40 odd years a while back and smashed out Little Donkey as if I’d never put it down.

Who’s idea was it to get Chicago house legend Paris Brightledge to cover The Fall`s Immortality?

Del: Mark Potts one of our management knew Paris, and it was Mark who made it happen. As for the cover of the Fall, we are both big Fall fans. So why not get a man that can sing to do a spoken word cover of a band that can’t sing. The lyrics are amazing. It seemed natural to do.

Quinn: When Mark mentioned that he knew Paris, we thought we should dream up the most perverted way we could possibly have him on our record. Having one of the greatest ever House vocalists covering The Fall and not actually singing but talking seemed fittingly skew whiff.

How often – trying to forget the pandemic – do you usually get together to make music? Are you working on new stuff all the time? 

Quinn: Once a week. Not enough.

Del: We are always coming in with new ideas. It`s our job. It’s easy working with Quinn. If doesn’t work within 20 minutes, then it gets scrapped, and we move on. That’s the way we work.

The press release for the new E.P. states that you’re 303 broke during lockdown – did this open up a freedom of sorts – having to make music without it? I have to say that The State Of That is an incredible track. 

Quinn: It was very cool to do some Paranoid London stuff without basing it around that one piece of equipment.

Del: It was nice to explore other ways of making music – music that`s more sampled oriented. We were both discussing how amazing Autumn Love, by Electra, is as a record. Loads of samples but it works. We have a lot of old records so we used them as tools.

Did you use any new equipment on the new E.P.? Or is it still a 101, 808, and 909?

Quinn: We did use an old Yamaha thing that belongs to our friend. It looks a lot like our old MS20, but it was pretty knackered and very crackly. Perfect for what we were after.

Is the 303 fixed now?

Del: The 303 is being fixed as we speak, plus we have a new one on the way. So this will never happen again.

Is there an album on the way? 

Quinn: There’s always an album on the way.

You’ve always worked with amazing vocalists – can you reveal who are you working with at the moment?

Quinn: A mixture of the same old weirdos and some new loonies.

Del: We are always throwing names around but nothing really happens until there is a clear idea – then demos will be sent and away well go.

Did the stuff with Shoko Yoshida pan out? 

Shoko is an ongoing project I`m working on. Her vocal range is so amazing. We have maybe 8 to 10 tracks done. We need some more time before the vinyl will be out for public consumption – but this lady is one for the future. So so good.

Del I’ve read that you`re a big A Certain Ratio fan. ACR seem to super active at the moment – they played some amazing gigs here in Tokyo a year or so ago. Would you ever consider collaborating with them? I know as a rule Paranoid London don’t do remixes and the like. 

I have to be careful what I say because we work with Simon Topping, who was the original ACR vocalist. But a long time ago I did have a conversation with Martin Moscrop about maybe producing some records for them. They never got back. I like it like that to be honest – moody old men doing their own thing. Bit like Paranoid London.

I picked up Eating Glue when it was first released – hooked by the vocal – which was / is a bit like beat poetry meets Ramellzee. It`s really hard to believe that was nearly 10 years ago. How did the collaboration with Mulato Pintado come about? 

Del: Craig’s one of Quinn`s mates, so he bought him to the table. He sang on Eating Glue. A match made in heaven.

Quinn: I’ve know him for years. I used to play at his club in New York, and we were in a band together. He’s my favourite vocalist ever so it seemed natural to do stuff with him.

What does “eating glue” mean? When I bought the record I assumed it was a drug reference, but now I’m more inclined to think that it refers to working a shitty 9-5, in somewhere like Patti Smith`s “Piss Factory”.

Quinn: You should always let people make up their own minds about lyrics.

When did you first start performing live? Can you remember when and where your first gig as Paranoid London was?

Quinn: Our first live gig was at the Warehouse Project in Manchester, more than 10 years ago. The resident, Krysko, booked us, knowing that we’d never done it before. 

Del: It was 2008, we were in the back room, and 1500 kids were going nuts. we had Paris on lead vocals and Mr. Marshall Jefferson on backing vocals. We also had the legend that was / is Mr. Andrew Weatherall – rest in peace – playing after us. Paranoid London was born and history was made.

How much of your performances are rehearsed, and how much is improvised? 

Del: There`s always a start and an end. What happens in between – you know as much as us. That`s the fun of playing live. All crowds are different, so they may react differently to different tracks. Plus your vocalist may go missing into a crowd at any moment. Making for fun and games.

Quinn: We rehearsed the shit of it when we started the live show. Nowadays we know where it starts and we know where it ends … everything in between is up for grabs.

Have you started to get booked up again for festivals, and clubs?

Del: UK based festivals, and clubs are starting to come in.

Quinn: We’ve got a few things at the end of the year. I’m not counting on any of it until we’re actually sound checking at the venue though.

Paranoid London’s Annihilate The World And Start All Over E.P. is out now. Digital is available on Bandcamp – the vinyl is unfortunately all gone, but they still have a handful of nice collaborative Sports Banger tees and sweats. You can keep tabs on the band over at their website, on Soundcloud, and Facebook. 

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