Whether it’s Swag or Wiggle, Presence or Pure Science, Justin David or Evil Eddie Richards, the sounds of 90s UK tech house have always held special resonance with all of us that write, edit and format Six Axle. For the 50th edition of our podcast series, it feels perfectly fitting to pay tribute to an era of British dance music that we so dearly love.
Who better to offer a retrospective of 90s UK tech house than Jane Fitz, not only perhaps the finest British Dj currently in business, but a Dj who witnessed the scene first hand, as a collector, writer, promoter and dancer. Before we get all misty-eyed, we’ll leave the write up to Jane, who describes below, with typical passion and poise, what rendered the tech house era a unique moment in British dance music history:
In the same way that house music was originally just a term to describe the mix of records Frankie Knuckles played at the Warehouse, tech house was the term used to describe the sound of the dancefloor at Heart & Soul or Wiggle or Whoop Whoop or Subterrain or Positive or any number of underground parties in and around London and the south-east in the mid-late 90s. Tech house was the mood of sound, a dancefloor vibe, a spirit of the times.
So, this mix isn’t meant to represent tech house as a genre – because, importantly, a lot of these tracks were made before tech house even was a genre. Every track on here is British and came out somewhere during that period. Essentially, a really fertile time for British house music. All these records are made by people who met, attended and probably DJed at those parties – inspired by those nights out – with plenty of collaborations and crossover of engineers, studios, labels, remixers and producers. It goes to show how tight that scene was.
Except for a few pockets round the UK (and later, the world) this music didn’t really break out of the London/southeast tech house scene. And I think that’s a massive shame, because if you listen back to these records now, what strikes me is how sophisticated the productions are. And how well they balance proper grooviness with a load of personality, even humour. You would never have heard all these records in one set (not just because they span quite a few years, and are all UK). At the time, DJs focused on playing upfront records across the board, whether that was breaks or acid, US deep house dubs, European techno, or records like these. Everything was in the mix, coming together on the dancefloor, that’s what tech house really was.
I think these records all stand up to the test of time so well, and I’m astonished that they didn’t receive more attention – they are definitely as good as anything that was coming out of the US at the time. I still play these records out now, mainly because I’ve never stopped playing them – they’re that good.
Six Axle Podcast 050 | Jane Fitz [Night Moves] – ‘UK Sounds from the Tech House Era’ by Six Axle on Mixcloud
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