Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Studio Babylon Casio Q10 pics (pt2)

A while back I posted some pics from around '97 from the then new Casio Q10 digital camera. Like I said before in hindsight the photos it produced where rubbish! But it was all we had. I've recently been diggin' in my digital archive again and found some more beauties. So here we have for your visual pleasure is a whole stack of pics from the studio Babylon studio from around '96 or '97.

From the top: L to R. Freezer compartment from the 50's fridge. The studio at night. Caution Wet Floor sign . Fred Deakin's logo. Phillies Blunt. Studio at night again ! Robi's Graffiti. Jazz Power stencil. Space is the place stencil. SNC Award, Found objects and finally Blue Room Speakers and Swifty art !

Monday, 16 July 2012


This year we have a Dingwalls Olympic Special happening! And for those of you who don't know my missus janine has been involved pretty much from the start. here she maps out the post Dingwalls history .

The 80's were an exciting time for me. There was no "scene" as such but the seedlings of one which were beginning to sprout with the likes of the Electric Ballroom, The Wag, Special Branch, the Belvedere Arms in Richmond, K Jazz pirate radio and Jazz Bops. This was a fledgling scene and the start of a musical love affair that I would have for the next 30 years and am still having. 

Being musically inept, plus having the memory of a gnat, I needed to find my niche for this love of mine. It was not enough just being there, I had to be a part of it. So realising that my best asset was my fog like vocal skills! (deaf people have said they can hear me!) and my reasonable people/organisational abilities, I started flyering my most favourite sessions (whether it was wanted or not)! Strangely although there were flyers around they were usually displayed at the front of venues for people to collect on their way out, and very rarely were they "flyered" at other events, so it was a fairly lonely job, but it was my only religion and I was preaching what I believed.

In the beginning there was Dingwalls, and considering its legendary status & the scene it spawned, ridiculously only truly existed for 4 1/2 years. What came after was actually what cemented its iconic status.

We did carry "Dingwalls" on for a short time in Camden at a venue called the Underworld, but whether it was just too soon for us all to get over our beloved Dingwalls or the fact that the space was so strangely configured, it just never really gelled.

While we were Dingwalling, another club on a Thursday called Babyelon at Heaven, Charing Cross was trying to join a few musical dots and in one of the dark caves, Gilles and Patrick joined forces for the first time. Another important element that was to feature at Dingwalls very soon.

During "the Dingwall time" there were other smaller weekly/monthly happenings, the most significant being The Fez in Paddington, where Patrick Forge, Kevin Beadle and Gilles Peterson dj'd a more soulful, funky set. A mad little club at the bottom of a huge hotel, where the likes of Paul Weller would hang out.

Another was Jazz 90 which we started towards the end of Dingwalls and was a little spin-off for all the jazz dancers. Gilles along with a DJ called Sylvester started up these monthly's at slightly out of the way venues. The Emerald Centre on Hammersmith roundabout, Torren Street behind Angel Islington and even the Pullitt Building in Camden - an old warehouse building on the canal, where interestingly we also held a Dingwall reunion & created Dingwall membership cards.

Because of the success of Dingwalls and Gilles' record label Talkin' Loud and Saying Somethin', around 1991, The Fridge in Brixton came a calling. This was a huge step up for us coming from a small venued, niche intimate crowd to an over 1000 person capacity cavernous venue, in an area that none of us were really familiar with. This was where we almost turned into a professional set-up. For the first time we had a budget for bands, DJ's, visuals & flyers. This was an important time for all these amateur elements that we had, to become more professional. Flyering was a classic example, I'd always done this by myself, now I was able get a posse of like minded girls who were really the first proper London leaflet team, predating the likes of "flying Squad" and "Don't Panic". My girls were clubbers and they were good.

We spent about 2 years at the Fridge, starting on a Saturday and moving finally onto a Friday. It cemented our sound, our DJ's, was one of the first club nights to introduce personalised all night slide show visuals (created by Swifty -Talkin' Loud and Straight No Chaser fame) and gave us a much wider audience. In our last Summer there, which we reclassified as Talkin' Summer we installed a young resident DJ called James "Holygoof" Lavelle, latterly known as James Lavelle of Mo'Wax, Man from Uncle fame.

So around 1993/4 a friend of ours Chris Greenwood asked Gilles if he might be interested in taking on a more intimate space in the heart of the West End, Gilles asked James Lavelle if he would like to join him. That's How it Is! 12 1/2 years at Barumba. Interestingly THIS! was as far away musically as you can get from the original Dingwalls but it instilled that same passionate intensity and like Dingwalls inspired its audience to take up the musical reigns. Very few clubs sessions have created more DJ's, musicians, producers, record labels, presenters, graphic designers, promotors, Artists etc. than the Dingwall to Barumba Road.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Way back at the start of my career - bloody way back the 80's ! I was lucky enough to work for the don gorgon of the day - Mr Neville Brody. He had hooked up with another Don - Mr Erik Spiekermann and together they hatched a plan, which became the publication FUSE. I was working on some pretty weird and  wonderful fonts in a piece of software called 'Fontastic' which was a bitmap font editor - you could only plot squares (this was before Fontographer) or at least version one of Fontographer - which from what I remember was a bitch to use and was pretty much unusable! All the fonts I designed have long since gone - all backed up on Floppy disks and retired to the scrap heap (see an earlier blog entitled 'Digital Nightmares') Anyhow push comes to shuv and Neville and erik both liked these experiments and I was asked to contribute to FUSE 1 along with Neville (of course) Malcom Garrett and Phil Baines. I was seriously out of my depth, but to this day incredibly honored to have been in such legendary company. The Fuse publication went on for another 18 issues with two planned that never came out due to  the demise of the floppy disc!

Over twenty years on Taschen are about to publish FUSE 1-20 packaged in the iconic cardboard box with all 20 posters , 416 pages and online font library £34.99
more info

Top - My poster of the font 'Maze' designed for FUSE 1 .
Below left Issue 1 cover and right the new Taschen FUSE 1-20 coming soon 

Sunday, 5 February 2012


The VW Campervan myself and Stash had customized in 95 was well and truly smashed! After a few minor crashes and mishaps it looked terrible. So it was time for a new paint job ! We enlisted the services of one Mode 2 who I think just happened to be in the area. We couldn't use the car park of Studio Babylon  as it was way too busy, so we decided to do it at my house in leafy suburb of West London. Mode set to in the afternoon sometime, we where ok it wasn't raining! One of the neighbors complained "don't get bloody spraypaint on my car !) we had to move it. We worked into the night and the new van complete with "Ice Flames" was ready. I think the van was used for a few years, and then I remember Tullyman ringing me a telling me they where gonna flog it as it was always braking down and just became to unpractical , don't know where it ended up.

Mode going over the old design on the rear of van (Pic: Swifty)

Even the roof gets the treatment (Pic: Swifty)

L to R Mode, Kam, Mitchy, Robi (& local nutter who wouldnt leave us alone!) (Pic: Swifty)

Friday, 3 February 2012


I'm going back a bit now ! well before my days as a Jazzer or acid jazzer - well lets say it i lived up North and very proud of it too! In the heady days of the early 80's aged 15 onwards or world was all about the music and people we experienced right there on our doorstep. Yes we are talkin' Factory records, The Hacienda and Berlin Nightclubs, checking Pete Burns at Probe records and buying our gears at 69A clothing shop as well as the early copies of i-D. I saw my old mate Dave Standley the other day and he evidently has a slighty better memory than me ! Not difficult - know what I mean - nudge nudge say no more - or just getting old. Anyway cutting to the chase I mentioned a gig we went to at Deeside Leisure centre to see NEW ORDER! But I couldn't remember the name of the gig or even the rest of the line up! Well dave enlightened me  - they put thick rubber mats on top of the ice rink (which we where standing on !) and built a stage - It must have been the Saturday we went, and saw all the bands - waiting for the big event NEW ORDER - they eventually came on later than expected and according to Dave we saw them perform TEMPTATION and a couple of other tunes before Dave's Dad arrived to take us home.

Parents eh !

Image taken from http://www.songkick.com/festivals/27566-futurama-4/id/2668236-futurama-4-festival-1982

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


For those of you who don' t know my partner of 20 years - Janine has successfully ran club nights and parties for over 23 years! We pretty much met in clubland and one of the regular haunts of that time was the Sunday afternoon session -  'Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Somethin' at Dingwalls. Here she recalls her memories and experiences of that time.

Left: Flyer for this years Reunion at the weekend and right: Janine as she looked way back in the eary 90's - gorgeous!

 It’s a very daunting prospect putting down the written word on something that you have been a part of past & present. Do you actually remember all the little details correctly or is it just an enhanced memory! Well wrongly remembered or not Dingwalls was for me the first proper gig I was truly involved with. I’d leafleted Gilles’ Wag club on a Monday night, the Special Branch events that he did etc, but Dingwalls was the first gig that Gilles did that was his through & through. It was also the first one he’d asked for my help in “getting it out there”, as all the flyering and religious preaching that I’d done up to this point, was purely me just wanting to spread the word. It turned my passionate hobby from basic leafleting to organising the guest lists, sorting out any problems for Gilles & Patrick, co-ordinating with the Manager and security & eventually booking the bands. I suddenly realised it had turned into a ‘proper job’ and one that I loved.
The initial promoters of “The Sunday Afternoon Brunch Club at Dingwalls”, later known as Talkin’ Loud & Saying Somethin’, was Radio London. Gilles had the last show on Tuesday night before the station went over to Radio 2 and they asked him to organise a weekly session. A sort of chill out mellow Jazzy afternoon at the end of a hectic weekend .......
Dingwalls was the venue and although had had success a decade before with live rock acts, in the 80’s become a naff dodgy pop venue, which very few people visited, so always a bit risky! Gilles had asked Bob Jones & Kevin Beadle to join him behind the decks and so it began. The boys behind the stage in this DJ Cage! And me on Camden Lock Bridge doing my fisher-wife bit and dragging people in literally.

It was a weird one, as quite quickly we were getting 200 people in and the dancers from the Wag and Electric ballroom just loved the space. It was also dark and dirty & you could dance your socks off without making a fool of yourself. So great combo really. An added bonus was that in the days of early Sunday closing, with some grey area shenanigans, people could buy a round of drinks for a plate of chips!

When Radio London were told to pull out of all external gigs, Dingwalls was bringing in just enough people for Gilles to keep it going independently and we also got a new Venue manager, Joe Strong. He was in absolute shock when he experienced his first Sunday afternoon, especially as he had sat in an empty club every night prior to our session. Joe then vowed he would make every night like Sunday and so was the start of the individual promoters specialising in the club scene at Dingwalls. Around this time Gilles had started playing along side a Kiss Fm DJ called Patrick Forge at a gig in Heaven (Charing Cross) called Babylon on a Thursday night. Not too long after this Gilles invited Patrick to join him at Dingwalls.

Although we were DJ dance floor orientated, there were some seriously talented musicians around, and very few venues that were willing to give them a go. Gilles always the visionary realised that Dingwalls was a perfect place for showcasing all this talent & so over the next 4 ½ years, bands like Snowboy, Steve Williamson, Marie Murphy, Cleveland Watkiss, Incognito, Philip Bent, Ed Jones, Rowland Sutherland, Byron Wallen, Mark Murphy, Jalal – last poets, Dave Valentine, Galliano, Mongo Santamaria, Roy Ayers, and so many more would be playing this mad dark space on a Sunday in the middle of Camden Market.

The biggest nightmare for the DJ’s in the early days was the positioning of the DJ Box. It was behind the stage, with a dirty Perspex window and metal grill, and the only entrance was from a small room behind the stage. Not what you call user friendly and so after loads of moaning about the “cage”, Joe Strong finally managed to get some money together and had a new DJ/sound/lighting platform built between the stage and the bar. This was a massive improvement for Gilles & Patrick and the fact that we could also control a few dance floor lights meant that we could also achieve the occasional total black out before a big tune. A feature that has been a part of our nights ever since.

Talkin’ Loud and Saying Somethin’ which would nearly always be referred to as Dingwalls, was like this huge bubble of inspiration for so many, from the record sellers in the foyer, the artists that performed to the future promoters that used to come & take notes, but ultimately the most important element of Dingwalls apart of course from the amazing tunes that Gilles & Patrick were dropping week after week, were and still is the people. The connection between the boys behind the decks and the people on the dance floor was tangible, it was/is a living breathing physical thing & for me the reason why it is still such a magical gig.
An example of the passion that Dingwalls invoked, was at the end of the afternoon we would stagger out from this black cavern into bright daylight and this incredibly bustling busy Market. We always had to park miles away & it used to take us ages to walk to our cars, but it never stopped numerous Dingwallers from coming with us. Gilles & Patrick would be carrying these ridiculously huge and heavy record boxes and they would have to answer question after question on tune names or why a certain track had been dropped when it had. The  obsessive desperation, the passion, god I loved it.

When the “reunion” happened in 2007, it was because a little record label influenced by the legendary Dingwalls status, wanted to put out a record reflecting all that was good. What it did was make Gilles, myself and Patrick realise that it was time for a second helping of Dingwalls. Yes it was a different space, yes you should never go back, especially on something that was so special. But experiencing the incredible energy and the feeling of amazement amongst people of old alongside people that quite frankly would have been children at the original, was just too hard to resist. After that first session in 2007, I don’t call them reunions , I call them Parties because they are, bloody fantastic parties, where everyone is on the same tip, where everyone is smiling, where happiness is leaking from every sweaty pore. That is why it is still SPECIAL.  Yes it’s a bit evangelical but then Dingwalls was and still is the only religion that I’ve ever preached. See you all on the dance floor my friends.

Janine xx

Monday, 27 June 2011


Not long after we'd moved into unit 65 Pall Mall Deposit I started these pieces entitled 'Digital Nightmares'. It was a gut reaction to the continued problems we were having with digital technology in general and in some ways almost an emotional cry for help ! Back in Coronet St from 1989 onwards we'd stored all our data on 3.5 inch floppy disks. Well before photoshop and scanning you could literally fit a complete magazine and several record sleeves designs in 1.4 megs of data! yes true. I had a plastic box full of the things, even font disks, back up disks, software everything came on a floppy! After a year or two after one fate full day popping the floppy in the drive waiting for it it to mount onto the desktop and hey presto - nothing ! yes it turns out floppy's only have a life span of about 2 years. Consequently I had tons of these things with much valued back up on - as good as ready for the bin! As the technology got better and the advent of Photoshop and scanners (about '93/'94) jobs where sent off on 44mb and 88mb Syquest Disks. Again we used them as back up and again realized some time later that they too had a limited life span and they cost a bloody fortune. My frustration with all this led me to do these pieces - now I wouldn't really call them 'Art' but in a funny kinda way looking back they are. Moving swiftly to 2011-  maybe my next pieces will feature Lacie Hard drives as I've had two of 'em collapse on me in the last year ! my complete back up for the year 2006 completely gone - The Digital nightmares continue!

'Digital Nightmares Part 1' 3.5inch Floppy Disks (with data!) and spraypaint mounted on wood 

'Digital Nightmares Part 2' - 44mb and 88mb Syquest Disks and spraypaint mounted on wood

'Digital Nightmares Part 3' 3My old Quadra 700 Apple Macintosh, which was stolen in a burglary at 41 Coronet St, and dropped from the third floor by the burglar - it smashed through a skylight on the ground floor next door .
The hard drive and data were recovered but alas the mac was done for!  These 3 pieces where shown at the TypoBerlin conference 1996 were I lectured too! the theme for the lecture was the same 'Digital nightmares' 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

FUTURA 2000 Live Paint for fosters Ice 1995

As part of the fosters Ice 'Street Art' campaign we secured NYC legend Futura 2000 to paint his billboard live at the event. At the time live painting was unheard of apart from Graffiti jams and again the concept broke new ground in the advertising world and the brand community.  Along with this event and his frequent work for Mo' Wax the interest in Futura's style and work went ballistic in the UK!


Early 1995 my missus Janine met and old friend she knew from Dingwalls and the Soul weekenders by the name of Jon Wilkins (he now is one of the founders of Naked Comms!) funnily enough in a supermarket. He knew of me (Swifty) and mentioned that the ad company he worked (BMP) had some spare cash from the Fosters Courage account and wanted to do something more edgy with it and mentioned the idea of 'Graffiti' on billboards. Push comes to shove and he visits my studio then in Coronet St, Hoxton sq with his collegue Rupert Newton and we hatch the plan ! I came up with the concept 'Street Art' as Graffiti at that time was a very dirty word in Advertising circles and we also wanted to have spray can art as the basis but also wanted the boards to be done by a range of creators from musicians to graphic designers , photographers and illustrators. Now its never been looked into but I'm 100% the word 'Street Art' had never been used in print prior to that date and this campaign broke new ground and received worldwide recognition for narrowing the gap between Graffiti and brand culture. It was radical stuff we booked 10 billboards along Kentish Town Rd from the camden lock market up to Chalk farm tube station and I set to commissioning a range of art to go on them. With the help of Paul Tully (who now runs PD3) we hired a space called the 'Arts Depot' behind St Pancras station an old victorian gym with brilliant vaulted high ceilings to do paint the art and hold the party to launch the event .

Street Art Flyer Front for launch party at the arts depot

Flyer back showing map of Chalk Farm Rd and position of artists billboards

Launch party at the Arts Depot Left: Futura 2000 Middle: Stash and Req on the right

left to right: Wack, Ian Wright, Peter Williams, Rupert Newton (BMP),  Swifty, Jon Wilkins (BMP),
Peter Harding (Courage) , David Crow,  Paul Tully and Req .

Party people! Front row, left to right: Billy, Carleen Anderson and Hassan Hajjaj
Back, left to right: Unknown, Paul Tully, Blaize and unknown

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Pas D'Quartiers / Lille / France (1997)

We all chipped in on the design for this one - event program / posters / flyers etc. The festival itself was officially mental! Highlights include: hanging out with the Wu Tang (actually quite scary!), the event staff fighting & throwing chairs at each other over lunch, Robi pushing me into a mosh pit at the Wu gig.....not to mention the amazing line-up. We barely made it home alive. This event certainly lived up to its name.