Interview with Phil Asher

We heard the sad news on Friday that legendary London DJ and producer Phil Asher had passed away. We only knew him briefly when he took the time out of his hectic schedule to be interviewed for our fledging webzine at the time - Tothedisco.com. Here is the interview from August of 2007.

Let's start at the beginning. Who were your biggest influences at the beginning?

My parents and family were my first big influences. Both my Parents worked at Harlequin records and they would bring home Motown, Dusty Springfield, the Young Rascals and Elvis records. As I reached my teens the major musical influence in my musical upbringing was 60's R&B. At secondary school, my friend Ray and I would sell second hand records to the punks and mod's at the school Fair. I discovered the Clash, the Jam, and the Sex Pistols. I stayed on the soul path though. I then discovered Jazz Funk, Level 42, D train, Incognito and Eddy Grant, all at a Club called the Lyceum in the West End, hosted by the late Steve Walsh. There was also a small club in Paddington called Reflections, hosted by Greg Edwards. After leaving school and hanging out near Portobello Road I met Noel Watson, Roy the Roach and Norman Jay M.B.E. Roy hired Ray & myself to work in his Quaff records store on Portobello Road alongside Nik The Record. It was here I met a whole new world of music -  real funk and rare groove, deep soul and most important to me the Paradise Garage Sound and Larry Levan and my biggest musical influence...Disco, which lead to house music.

Here are some of the people that have inspired me along the way: my best friend - Ray Whittard, Noel Watson & Maurice Watson, the lady who used to play before Steve Walsh at the Lyceum, Paul Trouble Anderson, Peter Harris (KICKIN music, the first time I went into a studio to work was his doing), AJ from the Smart boys, Ollie Claridge (Paradise Garage Regular), Marco from the Young Disciples. Kenny Dope, Christian Pronovost, Kid Batchelor, Danny Rampling, Marco Militello, Daniele Baldelli, Larry Levan, Tee Scott, Dave Mancuso, Tony Humphries, Harvey, DJ Red Alert, John Robinson R.I.P. Kerri Chandler, Todd Terry, Larry Heard, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. I've got to stop now, I love that question..... 

Who was playing house music first, London or Manchester? What was it like to be at the dawn of the house age DJing at Delerium in London? What were the big tunes of the day?

I never DJed at Delirium until the early nineties and at the Camden Palace around that time. So I cant lie, but being on the dancefloor of Delirium at the Astoria at midnight when Maurice would start dropping tunes like Adonis'  "The Poke" and "Chip E  - "Like This" straight after "Moody" by ESG. The place would just electrify after the first couple of hours of the night Noel would smash the place up with rare groove and fresh hip hop, "Just Ice -Cold Getting Dumb" "LL cool J -rock The Bell's" "Junk Yard Band - Sardines/The Word" were staple classics, then come midnight Maurice would take over and the party heads would come out the woodwork, not that it wasn't a party vibe before. Big tunes I'll always remember are things like, Original Concept "can you Feel it"  Chuck Brown & the soul Searchers - Money, Little benny and the Masters - Who Come to Boogie. Spoonie Gee - Godfather (dub) And of course Harlequin Four - Set it off and Raze -Jack the Groove, to name but a few.

What was the idea behind Inspiration Information? Was it just taken from the Shuggie Otis song? How did the event get started?  How did you end up working with Patrick Forge? What are the punters like? Do you see a newer generation of kids coming out to Inspiration Information or is there a generation gap? 

The idea behind Inspiration was Patrick's. I lived in the same area as the Notting Hill Arts Club, so at a good friend's birthday party, he asked me what I thought of the idea of a club night that plays right across the musical board of our collective tastes. I thought about it for 2 seconds and said "Great Idea! "Do you fancy Deejaying together there" Patrick asked and ten years later were still doin it! The name is totally from Shuggie, we see the old music we play as inspiring & the new (music) as informative, these roles often switch. The regular crowd we have on a special event night is made up of old friends and long time regulars... we certainly have a lot of  younger people coming to check us out every week. The gap is brought closer by the music on the dancefloor. Aaron Ross (1Xtra-Fanatix), Leo Greenslade (club YOYO), Katie Barber (Inspiration Information/Faith), are just a few of the young people who originally came 10 years ago and still do. And well Katie has to now she's a Resident.

Here is a short list of Artists or songs we love to play:

Sweet Love - Anita Baker
(You Make Me Feel Like)  - A Natural Woman Aretha Franklin
You're All I Need To Get By-  Aretha Franklin
Circles  - Atlantic Starr
Brace's Tower Dub No 2 - Augustus Pablo
Walter Murphy -  AFTERNOON OF A FAWN
The Mexican  - Babe Ruth
The Bridge is Over - BDP
Melting Pot - Booker T And The MGs
Walking Into Sunshine - Central Line
The Magnificent Dance - The Clash
Voices Inside My Head - Common Sense
Give Me Your Love - Curtis Mayfield
You're The One For Me - D Train
Changes - David Bowie
Go Bang - Dinosaur L
Love Has Come Around - Donald Byrd
Steppin' Into Tomorrow - Donald Byrd
Fantasy - Earth Wind & Fire
Watching The Detectives - Elvis Costello
(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Shakara - Fela Kuti
Water No Get Enemy - Fela Kuti
Misdemeanor - Foster Sylvers
Brazilian Love Affair - George Duke
Private Life - Grace Jones
Pull Up to the Bumper - Grace Jones
I Thought It Was You - Herbie Hancock
Chameleon - Herbie Hancock Reasons
To Be Cheerful - Ian Dury & The Blockheads
That Lady - The Isley Brothers
Snakecharmer - Jah Wobble
The Edge - Holger Czukay
I Want Your Love - James Mason
Shifting Gears - Johny Hammond
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Police And Thieves - Junior Murvin
Bad Weed - Junior Murvin Th
Hanging On A String - Loose Ends
Is It All Over My Face (Larry Levan Mix) - Loose Joints
"T" Plays It Cool - Marvin Gaye
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Marvin Gaye
Just Kissed My Baby - Meters
For The Love Of Money - The O'Jays
Haven't You Heard - Patrice Rushen
Number One (Instrumental) - Patrice Rushen
Music Is My Way Of Life - Patti La Belle
Don't Make Me Wait (Larry Levan Mix) -  Peech Boys 
I Wanna Be Your Lover - Prince
The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker - Prince
Sexy M.F. - Prince
Let's Spend The Night Together - The Rolling Stones
Respect - Rotary Connection
We Live In Brooklyn Baby - Roy Ayers
Love Will Bring Us Back Together - Roy Ayers
Cherry Pie - Sade How High (Larry Levan Remix) Salsoul Orchestra Inspiration Information Shuggie
Specials Ghost Town (12" Vers.) - The Specials
I Wish - Stevie Wonder
As - Stevie Wonder
Too High - Stevie Wonder
Living For The City - Stevie Wonder
I Zimbra - Talking Heads
Come With Me - Tania Maria
Dizzy - Tommy Roe
I Hear Music In The Streets - Unlimited Touch 

How did you get involved with music production? Looking back on your career are there any tracks that standout as your favorites?

I always wanted to produce, Ray and I Did work for Pascal's Bongo Massive, Then I met Luke McCarty and we started restless soul. I've since had the pleasure to remix Earth Wiind & Fire, Jamiroquai, Jocelyn Brown, Bah Samba, Roy Ayers, Alison Crockett, 4hero, Josh Milan, Reel People, Peven Everett and Mark de Clive Lowe amongst many other's. Favorite tracks, not sure bout that, still trying to make one....if I had to choose I'd say Nathan Haines - "Believe"  


Phil Asher 
London, 2007


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