Hey Ashley. How’s it going? How has your year been so far? What have been some highlights?
“It’s been a fantastic 18 months so far. I have been involved with remixes on my partner Jo Wallace’s labels, Ramrock Records and F*CLR Music. So far I’ve done a host of North Street remixes – that’s me, Darren Morris & Jo Wallace. Productions have included Glenn Davis’ ‘Body & Soul’ EP, Blazers ‘Groove Sequence’ EP, Daniel March’s ‘Falling For You’, Stan Serkin’s ‘Save Me’ EP and DB Cohens’ Find a way EP. External North Street remixes have included Steve Cobby & Daniella Moore ‘Left Handed Books’, Mama ‘Unmask Me’ (huge Weatherall breakout track), Blank & Jones ‘Give It To Me’… .And various others that will be revealed in due course!”
It seems you’ve been busier in the last couple of years than you’ve been in a long time! Would you agree? Has it felt like a musical revival? What’s inspiring you lately?
“I’m drawing my inspiration from a lot of the artists that are associated with Ramrock and F*CLR. Ages range from 20 upwards and there’s a huge variety of styles which suits my production approach perfectly. I stepped back from production for about three years due to health reasons but things are on the up and up and it’s my second chapter. I really feel like I’ve been given a second lifetime of producing and spending time in the studio. I’m truly blessed.”
Recently, ‘London Xpress’ topped the Traxsource ‘Classic House’ chart. Also, last year a video of Or:la playing ‘Lazy’ at Farr festival did the rounds online. It all seems to be a testament to how influential and longstanding your productions still are today. How does that feel?
“I haven’t seen the video! News to me! As for the Traxsource #1 slot – it’s very heartening that people still listen to the Xpress 2 productions. I think they still hold their own and they were groundbreaking on release. The impact of ‘London Xpress’ can’t be underestimated – the soundtrack to a generation! I have to give my thanks to my co-producers including Rocky & Diesel, Rob Mello, John Howard, Danny Arno, Phil Asher, DJ Cosmo, Mark Ralph, Marc Woolford, Uschi Classen, David Holmes, Dave Hill and coming right up to date with Darren Morris & Jo Wallace. No man is an island and you are only as good as the team around you.”
I hear you’re back in the studio with Rob Mello. Might there be a Black Science Orchestra reunion on the cards?
“Might be! We’re already in the studio working on forthcoming releases including our own album and collaborations with Waterson, Paul Randolph, Baby Bam from the Jungle Brothers, Joseph Malik and Pauline Taylor.”
Notting Hill Carnival is coming up. Do you still go regularly? How do you feel it has changed over the years? Do you think it feels more vital this year, given it’s coming after the Windrush controversy these past few months?
“I haven’t played there since the Shock Sound System days really back in the ‘80s. Flavours and artists are constantly changing and what worked back in the day isn’t relevant now. I did one gig with Ramrock HiFi for Wray & Nephew a couple of years ago but that was a very traditional rocksteady vibe. It is essential that the Windrush Anniversary is represented and I hope that the original ethos and legacy will be carried on by future generations remembering those who came to the UK before and set the tone.”
What’s going on with Back To The World lately?
“Been incredibly busy on the forthcoming Waterson album and a remix that I can’t divulge yet…trust me, it’s big!! So, all this and more (including Black Science Orchestra releases) will be surfacing soon. It’s all been ‘background’ work in the studio getting everything ready.”