Except for tatties, neeps and coos, its hard to imagine anything of any merit originating from the fertile lands of Angus in the North east of Scotland. Isolated from the sophisticated central belt, the entertainment options dont appear to have progressed past the karaoke and fun pub paradigm.
Its no coincidence that one of its former residents went on to create Peter Pan, the archetypal boy who wouldnt grow up. But scratch below the surface of this rural backwater and you may be surprised; isolated as it is, those residents that choose to expand their cultural influences had no option but to embrace the old punk philosophy of do it yourself. Embrace it they did, and a healthy underground scene was born in the back rooms of pubs and hotels and in the fields and glens of Angus for the past 15 years. And it is from this culture of open-minded experimentation and perseverance in the face of mundanity that Richard’s DJ’ing was spawned.
The Royal was the introduction to the world of clubbing for a 16 year old Richard Skinner. A dingy back room in a Hotel in Forfar where deviants from a 50-mile radius would meet weekly and listen the up and coming underground sounds. We werent aware of any of the restrictions and classifications that people put on dance music nowadays, to us it was all just house music, he explains.
Enthralled and captured by the scene and the sounds, Richard was soon to be found playing in the backrooms of similar establishments throughout Angus. He stood out from his peers by the simple fact of being able to play two records at the same time. Quite good at it, as it happens.
Burned out hippies, drop out punks, far out ravers, even tired out rockers, hipsters and soulsters all combined to give the scene an eclectic range of musical tastes and inspirations to draw from. At a time when people in the big cities were narrowing their tastes, these tuechters were expanding their horizons, ruling nothing out. Youd go to an all day gig in some squalid pub explains Richard first up youd maybe get some punk band, then a house DJ, then maybe a rock band, then a techno set and so on. People would play a Lou Reid track and mix it in with Hardfloor, anything went. In saying that, Richard usually sticks to dance music nowadays, but it is perhaps this scene that has contributed to Richards broad taste of music Anything, so long as you can jump about to it.
Whilst spending six months on the hippy trail in India, Richard further broadened his spectrum. I came back from India and every one was saying Goa this and Goa that, and I was thinking, fuck that, a dark room and a strobe and it doesnt matter where you are in the world!
On his return Richard reacquainted himself with the local scene. Moving to Dundee where he started to gain a fearsome reputation as a Techno DJ. Not wanting to be button holed, he soon started Djing, organizing and promoting Deep n Dirty at the citys now defunct and much lamented Foundation. A night renowned for playing house as fat as ya mamas ass. This gave Richard the chance to play alongside such luminaries as Harri and Domenic from the Sub Club, Silicone Soul, George T, DJ Dove, Kenny Hawkes, Colin Dale and Anthony Teasdale.
Another underground scene, Dundee was mad; really mixed up. The main stream is all band based and the student population wont venture off campus. But again he found a dedicated group of individuals hell bent on having a good time.
It was here that he hooked up with a group of internet designers who were trying to set up a web site for clubbers, Clubtek. They approached me and asked me to recruit reviewers and edit the written content. he explains, It was great fun, I relished the chance to promote the club scene in Scotland. Clubbing has always been more than something to do on a Saturday night, its, a lifestyle. No. More than a lifestyle, a mind set, a way of life.
During this time Richard was keeping himself busy and expanding his repertoire: Djing, organizing and promoting Deep n Dirty, as well as Sinful in Dundee and Edinburgh and the seriously underground Club Blart; guesting at other local club nights and venues throughout Scotland; as well as making his first serious forays into the world of producing.
I hooked up with Mike Greig [Euphony, Elemental], an old friend and producer who showed me the ropes; how to handle all the equipment. Pretty soon the Djing became a way to showpiece Richards own tunes. I played some of my first live sets at outdoor parties he explains The crowds tend to be a bit freer and more into experimentation, you could do so much more by playing with a tune live than simply playing a CD.
Wishing to spend more time with his sequencer, Richard decided to take a break from the DJ scene and set off for Inverness to live the secluded monastic life. Upon meeting the natives, however, his true missionary zeal was rekindled and his mission is now to bring the good word to the heathen.
Since his move, Richard has guested at Jungle Palace (Silicone Souls first residency) and State of Grace sharing the bill with Steve Mac and Mauro Picotto. He also played at the 2003 Eclipse party on the Black Isle, which was attended by over 1000 people and is now promoting Club Blart in various secret locations throughout the Highland area and generating a great response, as well as employing his broad and vast knowledge of dance music as a buyer for the independent record shop Cynic Clinic.
Richard has now found that djing is more important than ever: it gives me a chance to try out my own tracks on people. He has become more experimental in his technique; embracing technology in his DJ sets with extra CD players and effects flung into the pell mell. Two decks and a mixer should be your starting point he says theyre just the solid foundation upon which you build a solid house.
Solid house seems like a pretty good description of what Richard does After all, he says, you can call it what you want, but its all just house music.