Interview / Paul Doherty / Paul Doc / Count Sizzle / Phuture Records

In `80s London Paul Doherty was fixture in the city’s clubs, and warehouse parties, particularly as balearic beats and acid house took hold of the capital`s dance-floors. He was also one the fine folks who manned the counter at Phuture Records. I’ve already waxed “lyrical” about my memories of the store, which was arguably the first to be born directly out of the scene, and as such, for a while at least, was incredibly important. Post second summer of love Paul took his passion for DJing, and vinyl of all kinds, and created two very different aliases – Paul Doc and Count Sizzle – each catering to their own distinct and colourful crowd. As well as being central to a varied spectrum of specialist nights, since the turn of the 21st Century he’s also been heavily involved in the evolving UK festival circuit. During last year’s lockdowns Paul seemed to resurface on Facebook, and super keen to talk to key movers and shakers, those perhaps “forgotten”, the full of whose stories have yet to be told, I immediately got in contact. 

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Where are you from, and where are you based? 

South East London. I’m living in New Cross.

How did you get interested in music and records?

My mother had the usual Irish household records – Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Shadows, The Clancy Brothers, and The Beatles. I remember playing the With The Beatles LP and Elvis Presley’s Greatest Hits a lot. I was obsessed with Money (That’s What I Want) from that Beatles Album and also Elvis’ Guitar Man, which I would play on repeat, sometimes just the intro over and over. The First 45 I bought myself was The Monster Mash for 25p in Woolworth’s. I still have it.

What were the first things, musically, that you can remember really getting into?

At my Primary school, St.Patrick’s in Plumstead, between `78 and `81, one of our young teachers would put on a weekly lunchtime disco. He’d have his Dansette on the stage and he’d play an amazing mix of music. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time but he was a bit of a character – behind the façade of his conservative appearance, his tweed jacket and leather elbow patches, there was this anti-establishment punk subverting the kids with his musical selections. He would play Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall and stand there waving his hands up and down as we chorused ‘Teacher leave those kids alone!’ or he would do a nutty boys dance as we Jumped around like absolute lunatics to Madness` Baggy Trousers. I was really into Madness and The Specials. Suggs was my idol. Baggy Trousers and The Specials were the first albums I bought with my own hard-saved dosh. I was a bit of a suedehead – the shortest my mum would allow! – with my tonic trousers, Fred Perry, and penny loafers, which I would even wear under my cassock whilst on alter boy duties at church, aged 9 or 10. 

My local adventure playground youth club, was an amazing place, a real melting pot. There was always music playing, lots of lovers rock, and jazz-funk, and early electro and hip hop. They would screen super-8 films during the holidays. I’d seen Black Belt Jones, Shaft, and Enter The Dragon, by the time I was 12! The manager Bill – who we all called “Sport Billy”, because he was quite small with a perm and a `tache – always wore Admiral tracksuits and carried a Gola sports bag everywhere he went. He used to play a film, more or less, everyday during the school holidays. There was music on constantly. The place was a little cultural hub and would continue to be for me until I was around 14.

Towards the end of summer holiday in `84, they showed The Wildstyle movie, which I was blown away by.  A few weeks later I saw the Arena Hip Hop special and became immersed in all things B-boy and graffiti. It was around this time that I started to listen to pirate radio – Tim Westwood on LWR Monday to Friday, taping the show almost every day, and also JFM on the weekend, Galaxy, Invicta and later on Kiss. Pirate radio’s huge influence, for a young boy aged 12, 13, cant be overstated. Hearing so many West Coast electro and New York hip hop records along with soul, funk, and boogie, really inspired me and brought a new exotic world into my life. I loved it all and it was around this time that I started buying 12’’s. There was a local breakdance crew, called The Barbarian Warriors, and they used to all hang out at the youth club and practice. They all had matching puffer jackets and were all phenomenal b-boys. Loads of us went to watch them take on The London Allstars and London’s finest at The First UK B-boy Championships at The Hippodrome in late 84. 

By spring `87, I’d been getting more and more into funk and rare groove, a mate of mine, Paul Allen’s brother Ross was playing at a lot of local parties in church halls, etc., and I was digging what he was doing. I’d been hanging out a lot in his attic record room and absorbing all this great music. Around this time I also went on my first clubbing expedition. The Mud Club, at The Piccadilly Theatre, was my very first experience at 16. A few mates and I went dressed as ‘freaky as possible’ – basically rolled up jeans, stripey top and socks, and a cloth cap – as we’d heard it was almost impossible to get in, and there was a 7-foot transvestite on the door – who would mock you mercilessly if you didn’t look the part. Turned out that he wasn’t 7-foot, more 6.5 in heels and never mean. Everyone was wearing black MA-1 bomber jackets, with loads of communist badges pinned on, big cloth caps, baggy pressed workwear jeans, and had cut the leather off their steel toe-capped Dr. Martin`s. I had a great time and made some new friends. The following week I was back there – I went alone – and then continued to go when it moved to Busbys. I also frequented The WAG a lot mid-week and would go there, meeting up with people on the train into town, or at clubs like The Boiler House and R.A.W. , at The YMCA’s ridiculously deep down basement, or Delirium! on Saturdays – which is where I heard Maurice and Noel Watson play proper house music for the first time. That was first time I started to think – a little begrudgingly – that house music was just going to take over eventually. 

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As a spectator, initially, I’d been to the Special Branch Do At The Zoo and Gospel Oak parties, and was really into DJ Paul Murphy, especially because of the dancers – IDJ (I Dance Jazz) in particular – and Gilles Peterson. I’d been to Dance Wicked a few times at The Electric Ballroom, and found out about the Sunday sessions that took place there, called Talkin’ Loud And Saying Something. This was my favourite club for dancers, IDJ boys again and scores of other fantasticaly expressive dancers interpreting the mostly Jazz dance and latin that Gilles and Patrick Forge would play. I would just go there alone, watching, and dancing in a corner, copying moves that I saw and creating my own. I was barely 16. I also started going to Family Function / Shake N Fingerpop nights and warehouse parties at Butlers Wharf, Performance / Soul II Soul at the African centre, Hedonism and Westworld, Cock Happy at  Belsize Park town hall.

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What were your first experiences of Balearic Beat and Acid House

At one of the Special Branch Parties in Gospel Oak. I`d gone there to hear Paul Murphy play, but ended up in the room that Danny Rampling and Nicky Holloway were spinning in. Everyone was more or less off their noggin. It was house music, a bit of weird industrial German-sounding stuff, and what seemed to me to be Euro-pop. I thought it sounded terrible, but everyone was going to nuts to it. I thought acid house it was squelchy nonsense. The atmosphere was pretty amazing though, everyone was just smiling at each other, holding their arms aloft and hugging. There was lots of hugging. Quite a few old rare groove friends who I`d not seen for a while were there, and looked totally different. Very wide-eyed, hands revolving about, stirring a big pot of imaginary stew. 

By this time I was hanging out with a lot of cats from Ladbroke Grove and  had started going to the Bash Street Kids parties – which were run by Tosh from the Vinyl Solution record shop / label. One of these parties was in a big house / squat in St. Johns Wood. It had a kind of outhouse, where they were playing just house. This was late spring `88. I was a fervent funkateer and wannabee jazz dancer. I thought the idea of dancing on E or acid was ridiculous, but so many of my old rare groove / warehouse scene friends were disappearing only to re-emerge in tie-died t-shirts – some even in bandanas – with this evangelical ‘Don’t tell too many people but you should get on one and see for yourself…’ attitude. I was knocking about with all the WD graffiti writers and their extended firm, and one of them, Rev – later of Tonka fame, who very sadly recently passed away – came out of this room absolutely dripping with sweat, and started to tell me that I should come into the room to check it out. I thought it would be interesting to watch, so I wandered in ……The room was pretty small, but again there was a similar atmosphere to that Special Branch do. The music was a bit more out there though – and louder, way louder – and there was smoke, strobes and lights going off. I decided to get fully involved, if you catch my drift, and after a short while of ‘What have I done?’ / panicking, I got into it started to notice how nice the lights were and how warm the music started to sound. Just as I was thinking ‘Well this is nice, not remotely crazy’ I felt the hairs on the back of my legs stand up like a wave, gently rising up my legs, through my back to my chest and arms. It just seemed to move up and up, and all the hairs on my neck were on end, and everything just went ‘Booom!’ The sounds the lights, the smoke, the people, everything came together, and I distinctly remember feeling a huge rush of love and emotion. In trying to deal with all of this, the music had seemed to temporarily disappear – my senses overloaded. As I calmed down and started to go with it, We Are Phuture came on and took me with it. Darrel Lewis’ vocals ‘With rocket ships and lazerguns, and acid music can you hear, we are now among you…..’ – everything made sense at that moment. All my old rare groove mates were right! It was a totally transcendental experience and the sheer power of acid house hit me like a hammer. I spent the rest of the summer playing catch up.

Were you a regular at Zigi`s, Future, Spectrum, Shoom?

I went to The Project Club at Zigi`s once, pre-Acid House. A mate of mine’s older brother had been in a few of the Comic Strip TV shows and had met Nosher Powell on the shoot for their Eat The Rich film. Nosher had invited him to the club, where he was on the door. I was way more impressed at meeting Nosher then caring about what was going on music-wise. We were there early, and I think it was Carl Cox playing rare grove and funk. I didn’t stay too long. In the summer of 1990 I had a residency there on Saturdays with Jonathan Moore (Leftside Wobble, not Coldcut). Nosher was running the place by this time, and his wife Pauline was in charge of the bar. Nosher bought a pub in Wandsworth later that year and his ties with Zigi`s ended. 

Future Poster

I started going to The Future late in the summer of `88. Although I had wandered in – via the connecting doors from Heaven – one night earlier in the year. I`d gone to Delirum! in around March, April, of that year, and walked in from Heaven by mistake. It wasn’t very busy, and the music was a bit slow, so I went back into the main room. A friend of mine knew the person, Barry, who was doing the door. I distinctly remember the first time I went, because Barry was reading Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. I didn’t know quite what to make of that. It was Oakenfold playing then. Not too long after Steve Mayes started doing the door, and I got to know him too. I ended up going to Future more or less every Thursday until around March `89. The music was basically the same there every week – and got a bit repetitive – but I knew a lot of good people there, so went mainly to see them. One of the most embarassing moments of my life – up until that point – happened outside Future…..It was December `88. I was standing in the queue, early, and club wasn`t actually open. A guy I`d met a few times walked up behind me and said in quite a loud voice ‘Alright Doc, we are sorted for tonight mate! Spread the word and I`ll sort you right out!’  I barely had time to acknowledge him, when two plain clothes police – one of whom had really long hair and looked like a proper ted – asked us to accompany them to their van to be searched. I was fine, but the other guy`s face was as white as a sheet. They took us into separate vans on Villers Street, near the top of the entrance to Babylon (Thursday night party hosted by the Delirium! crew in the club Heaven). The policeman asked me if i had any drugs on my person, to which i replied ‘No’. He then asked me to take off my shoes and socks and remove my jacket and jumper and drop my trousers and pants. So there I was standing in the van, facing the drivers seat holding my t-shirt up whilst they confirmed what I`d already told them. This was embarrassing enough but then the doors flew open and the whole of the queue for Babylon saw my bare arse. It was mortifying and the noise from those in the queue that could see me was only bettered by the round of applause I got once I clambered out of the meat wagon. I’m sure the cops did it for their own amusement, but at the time I didn’t find it funny at all. I managed to get back round to Future and gave everyone in there a good laugh relaying what had happened. The other guy unfortunately got properly busted. I was just relived to be in the club trying to forget that half of Babylon had seen my very skinny acid house ravers backside!

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I only managed to get into Shoom once before it stopped at The Fitness Centre. I’d tried to get in a few times, but had no joy, so was really happy to finally get in and see what all the fuss was about. When Shoom moved to the YMCA on Tottenham Court Road, and then Busbys, I went almost every Wednesday. I was listening to Andrew (Weatherall) play a lot around this time. He had a bit of an edge, and I heard so much new music listening to him. He was also very approachable, unlike a lot of his peers, to my rather shy 17 year old self….I missed all the Shoom parties at The Park on Kensington High Street, because I was in Ibiza from early May `89. As for Spectrum, I knew a guy called Mac – he was from my area. He’d been in Ibiza every summer from `86, and he was the very first person who told me all about Alfredo and Amnesia, Café del Mar, and also Glory’s – which he thought was the best place on the island for people and music.. Mac had been involved in setting up / helping with décor for the first Spectrum night. He was constantly bangin’ on about Spectrum, telling me how amazing it was becoming. It was a while before I went, and first time was a bit of an eye-opener, but short lived because it got raided by the police. I was one of a few hundred “Teds” stranded in Leicester square dancing to the big Swiss clock! Spectrum was first place where I really got a sense of how big acid house was going to be. The queue was all the way down Villers Street, and it was jumping. Luckily Mac had guest list. He told me that the first couple of weeks were pretty quiet, but then it was mobbed. I went quite a bit through the summer, and when it changed its name to Land Of Oz. A lot of friends from where I grew up, who hadn’t had any interest in going to clubs or warehouse parties, were all suddenly going,  but I got a bit bored with downstairs and all the smiley t-shirts and bandanas. So I would just hang out upstairs, and listen to Terry (Farley) and Roger (Beard). Mac moved to Thailand early `89 I think.

Were you DJing before acid house? If so where did you DJ and what sort of stuff were you playing? 

No. I was buying records though – rare groove and funk mainly. When I started to hear more balearic / alternative stuff, I began to find all that music in bargain bins, in second-hand record, and charity shops….so towards late summer `88 I started to think about DJing. In the winter of `88 I got my very first gig at the Red Lion Pub in Gravesend – booked by a guy also called Paul Doherty. I was nervous, made a few mistakes, but it was a great feeling, as we had a bit of a crew there.

How did you get the job at Phuture Records? When did the shop open? 89?

I’d known the Roundshaw Estate / Deja Vu boys to say hello to for a while. Their “Mystery Tour” party to Rochester Castle was, for me, one of the best events of that era. The music was amazing all day and night, and we even got a food fight in. I still cant quite understand why someone thought it would be a good idea to have a fruit stall in the grounds……I was standing next to a guy called Benny when he got hit by a satsuma full in the face, and things escalated from there. I got to know all the Deja Vu boys properly in Ibiza, during the summer of `89. I knew them a bit from from The Future and The Shoom – Sean Slattery and Spencer Guinere – both of whom I liked a lot. Together, with Barry Ashworth, Steve Mayes, and Steve Lee, they’d started Phuture Records, in The Garage, in Chelsea. When my 8 stone self got back from Ibiza after a very long summer – around late October – I went to the shop, which had just opened At this point it was just a stall. Steve Lee and John Edis were behind the counter. It was the first record shop to emerge from the acid house / balearic scene and a real hub. I‘d be there most Saturdays and, after incessantly badgering Sean and Steve Mayes, they relented and gave me a part time job. I was very happy to be working there. The stall became a shop around spring 1990 – next door to Aussie Pete’s leather store. For a good while Saturdays in the shop were amazing. I met so many great people, and there was so much music coming out. Italian piano house, which had started as something quite small and interesting, had by this time become a bit much. We seemed to be selling a lot of it though, but most of it would do my head in. Spring / summer 1990 it was ubiquitous, it was all you heard. By that summer, Jon had moved on, and I started working full time. I was just 19 and clueless in the shop management stakes but it was became clear to me that the shop was not operating effectively. Early in `91, they decided to sell the business, well it’s debt, which wasn’t huge but substantial enough. The owners got a friend of theirs in to try and sort the books out, which were almost non-existent. Steve Lee had left. It`s easy to say in hindsight, but, really, when the shop was smashing the crap out of it, takings-wise, we should have got external investors in and moved to the West End. I was still trying my best to keep the shop afloat and sell what little stock we had – but it was a struggle and we were just surviving on ticket sales commission. Two mates of mine, Rob and Daniel, decided to buy the debt and keep the shop going. From early `91 me, and a really lovely bloke called Mickey Richards, worked there but by mid-summer the shop started to become really quiet. I left around that time. I met some great people, who came to the shop to buy records, many of whom I still know, but the most surreal memory I have was Lil` Louis looking through the sparse racks and pulling out a copy of French Kiss that he wanted to buy for a friend who he was staying with on Battersea Bridge Road. For a while everyone from the scene would be in the shop on a Saturday and it was a real pleasure and a privilege to have been a part of it.

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What music would you say that Phuture specialized in? What records could you find at Phuture that you couldn’t get elsewhere? 

Lots of Balearic records, indie dance music, and a bit too much substandard Italian / euro piano knees up music.

From memory, would you be able to give me a list of best-sellers? Tunes I remember picking up from the shop were the first 2 Heavenly 12s – I was so chuffed – and a white label of Cola Boy`s 7 Ways To Love

I`m fucked if I can remember exactly what sold well but here are a few tunes that I got whilst there.

Primal Scream – Loaded

Soft House Company – What you Need

Shay Jones – Are You Gonna Be There 

Rhythm Doctor – Future / Mister

St Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart 

Djum Djum – Difference

Mr Marvin – Entity

Leftfield – Not Forgotten 

Last Rhythm – Last Rhythm 

Omniverse – Never Get Enough

The Grid – Floatation

Swemix – Keep On Moving  / Love To Love You Baby bootleg

Mass Order – Take Me Away

Tuele – Drink On Me

Masters At Work – 69 Steps

7 Ways To Love was probably our best seller but my least favourite. Hearing the same record 20 times a day for weeks on end can do that to you. 

Where was the shop sourcing its records from? 

Greyhound Distribution in Battersea, Panther van distribution. There was this guy called Mario who turn up with a a load of records in the boot of his car. He eventually got van, and then premises. There were also a couple of chaps we`ll refer to as “Billy & Chips” whose constant supply of bootlegs kept us going. 

Was there any competition with other shops, like Trax? Was this friendly or otherwise? Did / do you know Oscar from Trax?

I met Oscar at the only Sunrise rave that I ever went to, and also at Spectrum. He was / is a lovely fella. I`d say no competition initially but when Flying Records started up in Kensington, we couldn’t compete, as, unlike them, we had no real investment in shop. Flying definitely blew Phuture right out of the water. Charlie Chester was guiding it all, with Flying becoming the party, the label, the brand. By the time I called it a day, there were even more shops popping up – like Tag, which was a great shop, on Rupert Court, off Piccadilly Circus. 

Did working in the shop lead to DJ gigs? Did you have any residencies? 

Yeah I was DJing a lot. I mentioned Zigi`s, but I also had residencies at Limelight, The WAG, Burlingtons, and a few others.

Can you tell me more about you and Ibiza? 

In 1989 I spent from mid-May `89 until the end of October out there. I had the time of my life, ducking and diving. I`d spend most days the Cafe del Mar and then onto Atillo or Rock Bar in Ibiza town, and then Amnesia and Angels, since Space was being built or refurbished. I was just 18. 

I’ve seen some pictures of you DJing at Amnesia in `89 – how on earth did that happen?

Antonio from The Atillo Bar approached myself and a mate of mine, George, about helping to put on a party on at Amnesia, and play a warm up set there. They’d also booked the Centreforce DJs (East London “collective” based around a pirate radio station of the same name) to play from 3AM.  Along with Alex P, who wasn’t DJing but helping to promote the night, we spent the week before plastering posters everywhere for our ‘London Groove’ night. When the evening came, we were actually quite surprised to find the club pretty busy from the off – which was unusual since usually no one really turned up until 2AM at the earliest. We had an expanded crew of about 200 British people – from London, Manchester, Coventry, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hereford, Brighton, Cardiff…

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I’d befriended Ricky Lyte, who was from London – part of the Shock Soundsystem with Ashley Beedle – and in 1989, Alfredo’s warm-up DJ. Ricky used to play a lot of hip house, and was very popular at Pacha, and after-hours clubs like Angels.  Ricky aka Ricardo Da Force went on to be in the KLF and N-Trance. He passed away a few years ago, which I was very sad to hear about. Ricky and I did his usual warm up slot until 2 or 3, playing mostly Balearic and a bit of house music. The sort of moment passed me by a bit as I was pretty nervous for the duration of my set, but I managed to not make any mistakes! Then Centreforce came on and all I remember from their set is an MC doing a bit too much shouting….until Alfredo suddenly turned up. He wasn’t supposed to be there until later, and he didn’t look too pleased with what was going on. The MC-ing stopped and at around 4AM he took over. It was a great night and – since I’d only been DJing for just under a year, mostly for free as a warm-up a little parties – it was wonderful to get paid properly for my efforts. We went to Angels afterwards and then straight to Disco Gallery Records in Ibiza Town and spent the lot! I ended up playing a couple more times before Ricky, towards the end of the season, and along with all the magical moments I experienced in Amnesia, hanging out with him, listening to him play as people came in and the place began to fill up, was an education in itself and a real pleasure. 

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Photos taken by Paul at the Amnesia opening, 1989.

I also did a party at Summon, on other side of San Antonio harbour. Summon was designed by the Catalonian architect, Lluis Güell, who also designed Cafe Del Mar and Es Paradis. The club had a great sound system but hardly anyone went there. I won’t give his full name but “Dodgy Dave” approached myself and George about DJing there. We both had reservations after being informed by a few people that Dave had a history of ripping DJs off.  Anyway on the posters Fat Tony was down to headline, so we spent three weeks flyering and promoting the event. When the night came it was a sell-out. We had managed to pack 350 people into this beautiful space, and from 11PM as well. All our friends, associated crews, and grafters, all came. It was a fantastic night. It got to around 3AM and Dodgy Dave came up to me and said ‘Keep playing, Fat Tony can’t make it, I’ll give you extra money at the end!’ So we kept going. To be fair it was mostly people that we knew and I don’t recall anyone hassling us about what time Fat Tony was playing. Come the end of the night, at around 5, Dodgy Dave is nowhere to be seen. He’d been on the door all night, taking the cash and had basically done a runner. Everyone had left and it was just me and one of his mates making our way out, when one of Fat Tony’s friends turns up, absolutely fuming, holding a lump of wood. ‘Where is he? Where is he? Fat Tony never agreed to this!’ Luckily I knew this chap, and he recognised me, so and after I told him that we’d been shafted too, he calmed down and left. Dodgy Dave’s poor mate got a clump in the process though and was pretty shaken up. A few days later I saw Dodgy Dave, he had the audacity to turn up at the Café del Mar. I informed him that Fat Tony wasn’t too happy with him using his name with no intention of booking him to play and that a certain chap had come looking for him with a big stick. He gave a load of ridiculous excuses, pleaded poverty, and said that the club owner had ripped him off – when we knew he’d sat on the door and taken a thousand pesetas a piece (approx £5) off around 275 paying guests and got a cut of the bar. In the end he offered me a brand new pair of Patrick Cox shoes – which I wish I’d kept as they’re worth a fortune now! – and a Michiko Koshino suit – which fitted me perfectly, and I took – and I never saw him again after that as I think he’d upset a few more people. 

Angels nightclub is worth a mention. This was open while Space was being Refurbished / built. It was a crazy, typically red lit, on numerous levels, with glass dancing podiums, and loads of dark corners – our favourite being the very top end, which had wide stair like levels leading up to it and a little bar tucked away in the corner. I had some amazing nights in there listening to Nello, from Pacha, and Leo Mas. The music was pumping. Lots of hip house and Detroit techno.

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Have you visited the island since?

I went back in 1990 for a few weeks, late season, and then the next time I went wasn`t until 2016! I been twice a year since then, staying up in the National Park near Calla Vedella – not clubbing once, except for a DJ gig at the Experimental Beach Club near the Salinas salt flats. I find it a bit sad that so many good old west side beach spots have become mega naff beach clubs with bland music.

What did you do when Phuture closed? Steve went to work with Perfecto and then off to Buenos Aires. 

I started making music, ended doing a couple of 12”s for Lisa Loud’s Loud & Proud label, under the name of Oomph. Then a couple of years later Sven Vath heard a dubplate of a tune I did and decided to sign me up for an album on Harthouse – which I recorded at Darren Price`s Under The Flightpath studio in Heathrow. I DJed quite a bit round Europe off the back of that.

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Harthouse promo pic, circa 1995

For a while I worked for Dean O’Connor at the London EYE Q office. I enjoyed my time there but was partying way too much and was pretty useless in the admin stakes. I did however hear a great demo from two guys called Bill And Ben, which we signed. Ben went on to become Benny Ill, who inadvertently become the godfather of dubstep. In about `98 I got a bit tired of banging techno and was buying a lot of  broken beat and nu soul stuff. I ended up making music with Bill a few years later for Bugz In The Attic.

I worked in Fatcat Records a handful of times – Alex used to come in Phuture to buy records, and I got to know him well, I met Andy at the Trip, and Shoom – but record shop work wasn’t for me anymore. I then ended up working at EMI Music, in the tape room after Sean Johnston informed me that he was leaving. That was last proper job I had.  

What do you do now? 

Well, since then I’ve been doing music for TV and film – both curating and making original music. I also got heavily into the burgeoning UK festival scene – DJing, designing and creating stages, and running productions. Working at events like Secret Garden, Glastonbury, Standon Calling. I was also co-director of a little festival called Winterwell.  

I’ve had two DJ hats for almost 20 years. I`ve been using the alias Count Sizzle since 2003 for playing all the old school music I’ve collected over the years – all kinds of antique beats and vintage grooves, from old time jazz, blues, gospel, swing, rhythm n blues, to calypso, ska, rocksteady and early soul. Basically it’s all music pre-tape/overdubbing, the “musical photo moments” as I like to call them. A moment in time and the right take from a bunch of musicians at the top of their game. Mostly playing in and around the UK festival scene. I ran a monthly night called The Sizzle Suite, at Ginglik, for a few years, and was also resident at a Tuesday night called Rakehells Revels, which took place at The Bar & Grill of The Café Royal. Designed by Robert Nash back when Regent Street first built, this is probably the most beautiful room in London for a party. We played nothing later then mid `50s R’nB, and went all the way back to back to very early Jazz n Blues – lots of drink and drug songs from the prohibition era. It was an amazing night combining vintage fashion freaks, London clubbing aristocracy, drag queens, models, and amazing dancers. The night was run by two friends of mine, David and Wade, but our door-woman Chandra, Erol Alkan`s wife, was the person that made sure the right bods got in. The club ran for a couple of years. We had all manner of stars coming and I personally got some incredible and ridiculous gigs from playing there every week. I have so many stories from there, enough for a book in it’s own right!

paul doc rakehell revels

One of my greatest pleasures since I embarked on all things Count Sizzle was being asked to play for Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues at The Notting Hill Carnival. I’d been to Gaz Mayall`s night quite a few times, since the early `90s, as my cousin Antoin plays bag pipes in his band, The Trojans.  Up until lock down it was the longest running weekly club night in the world, well over 40 years now. It recently reopened and is still going strong. I started going to his sound at carnival, on Talbot Road more and more around 2003/4, as Good Times, which I’d been going to since `87 – when it was at Acklham Road – started becoming a bit too mobbed and a nightmare to get in and out of.  I just really got into the vibe at Gaz’s. From the amazing Cumbia Gaz’s brother, Jason, would play to start the day off, to hearing Natty Bo’s ridiculous collection of killer 45s, to all the old local Carribean folks, the originators – who were treated like Lords and Ladys of the dance. I felt that the real sound system essence of carnival was represented there – all the old calypso, soca, mento, to rocksteady and ska. I met Jamaican musical royalty there too, Prince Buster, more than a few times…Owen Gray, Delroy Wilson, Susan Cadogan, Desmond Dekkar and the mighty Tan Tan, who’s well into his 80s and still killing it with his horn and amazing showmanship. Being invited to play there around 2009 was a huge honour and I even managed a set with my then two-year old son, Duke, selecting the 45s and pressing play on the decks in 2011. 

Paul Doc and Gaz

Paul & Gaz

I also played regularly at The Lady Luck Club, run by the dearly departed El Nino. It started in the early 2000s – under a secret gentlemen`s club in Euston – way before vintage music and burlesque was even a thing. Mods, rockers, and freaks galore, would gather there and dance to all kinds of old 45s. There was also another night he ran, together with his wife Lady Kamikaze, called The Black Cotton Club, where we played strictly 78 rpm records all night – this was between 2010 and 2015. During the summer months we’d take a little generator and some decks and go have a dance on The Millennium Bridge, from 3AM till sunrise – only getting stopped twice – once by the Bishop of Southwark, who’d walked across from Bankside in his dressing gown to complain about the noise, and once Her Majesty’s constabulary, who came from the city-side carrying assault rifles, only to lower them and look really confused as to why 50 odd people dressed head-to-toe in `30s and `40s suits were dancing above The Thames. They left us to it, but advised us to go over to the south side outside The Tate, where there were no neighbours to complain. I loved those little parties. The organizer Gary sadly died a few years back. Playing music bang in the middle of The Thames back dropped by Tower Bridge was something special and I always thought, a little bit Acid House , but in tweed…..

I play lots of other music – from `70s funk to disco, jazz funk, Balearic, house, etc., under the more “normal” name of Paul Doc. I’ve always had very eclectic tastes, and have found myself rediscovering all my disco and jazz funk 12’s thru lockdown. This has led to me making a lot of reworks/edits which will see the light of day on a new label called Hot Shot Lovers. The first one is a rework of Melo Do Tagerela by Gang Do Tagerela, and hopefully we will have have test pressings / promos of that soon. 

What are your current hopes and plans for the festivals that you’re involved with? 

Having worked in festival production from the early 2000s, my only hope is to play more and possibly curate line-ups. I definitely have no intention of designing stage sets, building them, sleeping in a tent for two weeks leading up to an event, then hosting, managing and producing it all weekend. It’s a young man’s game! Really I’m just waiting, like everyone else, to actually get back out there DJing. I did one 6-hour set in the huge garden of my local, The Fox & Firkin, and it was wonderful. Then I did a few sets at Standon Calling for The Disco Shed Crew, and dancing in a field for the first time in two years was speaker hugging bliss! I also managed to get Duke – now aged 11 – on the decks again at a recent garden party, and he pulled out a couple of belters, Razzy`s I Hate Hate and  Lonnie Liston Smith`s Expansions……I`m off to Orchard Festival this Bank Holiday – as sadly there`s no Notting Hill Carnival, and then playing main stage at Electric Park, in Jersey – supporting The Manic Street Preachers, Razorlight, Scouting For Girls, Dr Hook, and a few others. I`ll also be playing at the rescheduled Give Festival, on  September 23rd, which has been going for 28 years. I’ve missed playing records and sharing music with people so much. It`s something that I’ll never take for granted again. It’s one of the greatest pleasures of my life and means more than ever following the last couple of years we’ve all endured.  

More news on Hot Shot Lovers to follow….

Below is a segue of a selection of songs, either specifically mentioned by Paul, or that I personally purchased from Phuture Records. I ummed and ahhed about putting Loaded at the start of the mix, since everyone’s heard it so many times. But the tune has taken on whole other level of significance over the last 18 months, and without it the set just wouldn’t be an accurate snapshot.


Dr. Rob / Back To The Phuture
Primal Scream – Loaded
Swemix – Keep On Moving Remix
Sinead O`Connor – I Am Stretched On Your Grave
Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
The Grid – Floatation
Mr Marvin – Entity
Shay Jones – Are You Gonna Be Mine
Leftfield – More Than I Know
The Farm – Stepping Stone
Fluke – Joni
Omniverse – Never Enough
Djum Djum – Difference
Sly & Lovechild – The World According To…
Masters At Work – 69 Steps
Teule – Drink On Me
Mass Order – Take Me Away
Soft House Company – What You Need
Last Rhythm – Last Rhythm
Rhythm Doctor – Phuture

A big Thank You! to Al Mackenzie of D:Ream for the clean rip of Djum Djum.

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