DJ Windmill Talks Divine Inspiration

Divine Inspiration is a classic example of early drum and bass produced very much in a hardcore style. A sampled atmospheric breakdown pitched up, rugged amens and the Tragedy drips that sound slightly out of time. This looseness gives it a great sense of character and urgency that quantising would have probably destroyed. I caught up with Windmill to discuss the track, LTJ Bukem, the Legend Records crew and DJin.

I read you made Divine Inspiration in two hours, is that true? Tell us about its production.

Yep, that’s true! I had the ideas for the samples and literally knocked it together in two hours one morning! It’s interesting you mention the tragedy samples (good spot by the way as they are not from Isao Tomita “Mercury – The Winged Messenger” as a lot of people think, the vocal sample is from the same song) the intention was to clean it up. Both that sample and the loop. I wasn’t totally happy with the track but I took the rough demo on DAT to Bukem’s and asked for his thoughts, the next thing you know we are on our way to Music House in Holloway Road for him to cut a plate! Peshay just happened to be there and they both started playing it out heavily from then.

What was it like in Music House getting that plate cut?

Pretty cool! I was playing out at the time so it was a good opportunity to pick up some new tracks. There were loads of guys in a similar boat so I was happy to swap my tune with them. I think Tayla was in there too if I remember rightly.

Bukem played Divine Inspiration at Dreamscape 6 and it immediately stands out for being so incredibly raw and almost aggressive. What does it mean to be part of a set that also introduced us to Atlantis, Gangster, Palomino and Hall Of Mirrors?

At the time, Danny Bukem was the best DJ around in my eyes. In terms of style and tune selection so him just playing it was a buzz for me! I remember being at Dreamscape and hearing him play it and my friends and I were going nuts! I didn’t really give it much thought at the time as I was only 19 and partying as much as I was playing out. It was certainly a real honour that someone like Bukem was into what I had done though, that to me was the benchmark and a real seal of approval!

How did you manage to hook up with Bukem?

I DJ’d at the same places a few times like Milwaukee’s in Bedford. I was a big fan and knew he was local-ish (Watford at the time) so grabbed his number and asked for his opinion on the first release I did “Out of Mind”. He liked that so I gave him a call for some feedback on “Divine Inspiration”.

The source samples in this are quite diverse, what were you listening to at the time and what inspired the production?

I loved the Tragedy track “Landslide” which I sampled two sections from. It took me a few years to find out that one of those was originally from a 1968 James Brown record. Inspiration really came from the stuff I liked at the time, anything with a decent break, a heavy bassline and spooky sample. I liked the idea of reversing the drums just to make it a little different from the obvious Amen loop.

Listening back, I would have liked to have reduced the drip a little. I think I overdid it on the original mix but never got round to tidying it up as it kind of got rushed out! It was made using only Cubase and a dodgy keyboard round a mates house. We probably have more memory in our iPhones these days but it served a purpose at the time!

Did that friend make tunes as well?

Yeah, he was responsible for “Jungle Muffin” by The Moog.

Any other friends make music?

There were a few very local guys doing stuff at that time including Justice and Blame. I remember being at Camden Palais with them when someone first dropped ‘Music Takes You’, we were all buzzing for Blame!

How did you hook up with Gwange and the others?

Gwange found me! I can’t remember exactly how I just had a random call one day asking me if I had any plans to put out Divine Inspiration and it went from there. I hadn’t finished anything to put on the flip. He mentioned he had a guy in the same boat (Spinback) and would I be interested in a double A-side release. Keen to make the most of the momentum I just went ahead and it came out as was. The previous release I had out was on Paradox based in Milton Keynes. The Legend guys seemed far more into the same things as me music wise and were a decent bunch. I loved some of their early stuff, Invisible Man etc.

Do you have a favourite track from the Legend Records crew?

Based purely on which one I played out most, probably The Invisible Man “The Beginning”. I loved that track!

I don’t know if you are aware but did you see that the original 12 went for £100 on Discogs? Prices are going up and up recently even with represses that are trying to give a more affordable option for fans and also trying to direct some of that money back towards the artists. Longtime friend of yours and drum and bass legend Justice is in the process of getting this out on vinyl again, what can we expect from the re-release?

It was Tony (Justice) that made me aware of how much it sold for. I had no idea until recently and was pretty surprised, in fact – I wish I had kept a few more white labels back!!! I know he has managed to track down Spinback to get it put out as per the original release so I’m happy that if there is a demand people can now get their hands on it! It’s very humbling that there is any interest in something I did 20 odd years ago and had kind of forgotten about. I’m proud of it! I would have liked to ‘clean’ it up and master it properly, but maybe the fact it is a bit raw and messy adds to the charm!

One thing I’ve always wondered is for a track that’s so sinister how did you come up with the name?

Good question! Again, nothing that clever. I remember reading it somewhere and thinking “that’s cool”. I like the idea of inspiration coming from above somewhere!

How come you never released anything else?

To be honest, the Jungle scene started to get a bit moody and I had been doing it for a while, my interest shifted into the whole Acid Jazz scene instead. I started going back in time and listening to old funk, soul and hip hop. Maybe I did it the wrong way round!? I still kept an interest in drum and bass as well as house music but the passion had gone for me.

Labels like Talking Loud and Mo Wax gave artists like Roni Size, 4hero and Peshay a new audience and also exposed Drum and Bass fans to some really interesting experiments into modern jazz. Where there any Acid Jazz or Trip Hop artists that really impressed you back then or a particular track?

Oh yes, loads! There were so many great artists back then. One track stands out that a lot of drum and bass heads would definitely feel is “Garden of Earthly Delights” by D*Note. The Ballistic Brothers remix of that is heavy!

Can you tell us about your DJ career?

I kinda got into DJing by chance! A friend of mine and Tony Justice’s bought some decks so we all used to hang around in his bedroom playing records. I had a go and for some reason beat matching kind of made sense in my head so I picked it up pretty quickly. My mates all decided I was the DJ and that was that! In the end, he gave me the decks so I could knock up mix tapes for them all. Another friend played one of them at work and his boss was the guy that ran the Lovelite crew at The Grid Club in Luton. He liked it and I became one of the residents there, it was also where Swan-E started out, it was a great little venue. From there I sent tapes out and picked up a few gigs – ESP at Milwaukees, Bass Box in London, Stamina in Oxford and whatever raves I could get booked for. I hooked up with the Exodus crew who were running illegal raves around the Luton area and pretty much played for them every Saturday from the very first one to two years later. The most famous was probably a New Year’s Eve bash they did that had 10K people attend according to the local paper! I remember standing at the decks and all you could see were people, that was a massive buzz. On reflection, to be honest, sticking with Exodus was probably a mistake as I should have moved around a bit and got my name out more.

I used to go to Milwaukees and to say it was special is an understatement! What was it like playing in there??

Amazing! I and all my friends used to go there and loved the place! An interesting fact was that I actually didn’t know I had been booked to play there. We had been there one night and if you remember they used to give out flyers for the next month outside afterwards. One of our group saw my name on the flyer and came running over and that was the first I knew of it! It was such a cool place to play at, a great sound system and the crowd were right on top of you which made it really special. They had some top names play there like Bukem, Fabio and Grooverider so was a real honour to have DJed at such an iconic venue.

You have kindly dug out a tape for us, has this been heard online before? What kind of stuff are you playing on it?

No, this hasn’t been heard online before. It starts with Metal Heads “Terminator” (you may have heard of that song?) then classic tunes from the day like Top Buzz “Living in Darkness” and tracks by Utomika, Kev Bird and Foul Play. I think it must be from 1992 but not sure exactly where and when it was recorded. This is ripped from a cassette back then so excuse some of the mixing – it was about 25 years ago!

One last question, can we expect any new music from you soon…?

Yes, hopefully hooking up with Tony Justice in the near future, so watch this space!

Discogs: DJ Windmill
Discogs: Legend Records

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