Dave talks about his early years in music with The Global Dance Music Collective…
INTERVIEW #001 – DAVE SEAMAN
Full Name: David Charles Seaman
Nationality: Citizen of the World.
Occupation: DJ/ Producer/Record Label Owner
Labels: Selador, Sudbeat, Suara, Sincopat – anything beginning with an S it seems!
Current Releases: Racket Abuse [Selador]
Where are you today and how are you feeling?
I’m at home in the UK. Like everyone else we’ve been in lockdown for the last 3 months so it’s been a strange period. On the whole, I’ve quite enjoyed it. It’s been nice to step back from the rat race for a while and spend time with the family. I’ve managed to get lost of jobs done I’ve been putting off for years and really stand back and take stock of everything which has been healthy and cathartic and put a lot of things in perspective. If it wasn’t for the small issue of not earning any money, I could happily carry on like this for a while longer!
True or False: Did you start DJing at 8 years old and play your first gig at 12 years old? I mean, what 8 year old knows they want to be a DJ? My eldest is almost 7 and I can’t even convince him to tie his god damn shoelaces together!
It is true that I decided I wanted to be a DJ at 8 years old. I was on holiday with my parents and a mobile DJ let me help him set up his equipment in the hotel we were staying at and then I was allowed to stay up late to attend the disco later. I was immediately hooked by the whole idea of playing music and seeing everyone having a good time. As soon as I got home I started ‘playing’ at being a DJ in my bedroom with one Dansette Record Player and a cassette deck. I quickly became obsessed with music and collecting records and the rest as they say, is history.
Can you tell us a little about how your career started so early?
As I say, I started to collect vinyl. Either through getting family members to give me parts of their collections that they didn’t really want anymore (My step brother was a big Bowie fan and gave me a whole bunch of his 7” singles) or by spending my pocket money. I religiously read all the music press and listened to the radio to help quench my thirst for more musical knowledge. So by the time I was twelve, I had a fairly decent collection of music and was asked if I could play the music at a neighbour’s eleven year old’s birthday party in the local church hall. I didn’t need any encouragement. I hired two banks of four bulb flashing disco lights from the local record shop and along with one borrowed turntable and a cassette deck, I gamely stood up. Not long after that I was standing in for the DJ at the school disco when he was ill. They had a proper FAL double deck there. I was in my element. I never looked back.
What was the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
The first record I bought with my own money was Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ with ‘We Will Rock You’ on the other side. On 7” vinyl. I’d gotten into Queen through a neighbour who had all their albums which he lent me to record onto cassette. I remember he also had ELO’s ‘Out Of The Blue’ which also made a big impression.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Right now, I’ve got BBC 6 Music on. It’s my default go-to station. They have the perfect mix of music for my taste and a bunch of very talented presenters. The likes of Lauren Laverne and Shaun Keaveny are brilliant at what they do. I still harbour a secret ambition to be a Radio DJ on a big station like 6 Music.
What music did you listen to growing up? Favourite bands etc?
Blondie, The Police, The Jam, The Specials were probably the first bands I had a fascination with. Then New Order & Prince. But as I was DJing at weddings, birthday parties, the school disco and local pubs all the way through my teens, I had to have a broad knowledge of all kinds of music so I really did listen to genres across the board. Part of the job was being able to cater to all tastes and send as many people home happy as possible. A policy I still try to adhere to to this day.
What’s the coolest record/album you’ve found in your mum or dad’s record collection?
Take your pick. My Mum & Dad had pretty good taste on the whole. They loved Barry White (‘My First, My Last, My Everything’ was ‘their’ song) and The Carpenters, Gladys Knight & The Pips and The Beatles of course. We’ll gloss over my Dad’s penchant for Johnny Mathis! lol.
Do you remember your first rave? What was it called and who was playing?
I think the first one I went to would have been Joy at Ashworth Valley near Rochdale in 1989. I remember Mike Pickering & Graeme Park were playing which was the main reason I went. I used to drive from London every Friday to go to the Hacienda in Manchester to listen to Graeme & Mike. Those early raves were such an adventure. The excitement of not really knowing where you were going and how the night would unfold was such a buzz. Amazing times that I was very privileged to live through.
For most artists, trying to figure out their own unique ‘sound’ is often preceded by a phase of learning, or emulating others. Did you find that in your development as an artist?
I think it can take time to find your niche yes. We all have our influences but it’s the way you blend them together that makes you unique. Of course, you’ll make mistakes along the way, I know I did, but that’s all part of the process. Patience is the key I think which is a rare commodity in today’s world of instant gratification.
I know everyone would be very interested in hearing about how your residency at Shelley’s began. I mean, there must have been a shitload of other DJs dying to jump at that opportunity. Was it a case of ‘right time, right place’ and knowing the right people?
It was very much that yes. I had a few very lucky breaks in that respect early in my career. In short, the guy who started Delight at Shelley’s, which was the name of the Friday night, Gary McLarnan was my main photograher at Mixmag so when he decided to start the night and Sasha only wanted to commit to doing 3 Fridays out of 4 every month, he asked me if I wanted to do the other week. I jumped at the chance. It was one of, if not the, best night in the country at the time. The Hacienda had had to close it’s doors because of the trouble it was having with the gangs in Manchester so everyone started to flock to Stoke to go to Shelley’s. It was the most amazing atmosphere from the minute the doors open right through to the last record being played. I started to go every week whether it was my week to play or not and soon I was playing every week before Sasha as well as the week he didn’t do.
Was your Shelley’s residency your first really massive gig? Was this the residency that established you within the scene? I mean, warming up for Sasha to start…. that must have been nerve wracking…. Or did you know him beforehand? Were you nervous? Could you tell us more about this time in your life?
It was actually the first proper nightclub I’d played in. Talk about in at the deep end! Especially trying to come up to Sasha’s standard who was setting the bar very high as you can imagine. But because I was Editor of Mixmag, I had access to all the latest, hottest music so what I lacked in technical skills, I made up with all the exclusive music I had at my disposal. I did know Sasha before Shelley’s though yes. I’d seen him play lots of times at Shaboo in Blackpool which was his residency before Shelley’s but that didn’t help with my nerves. Probably made it worse in fact!
How does is feel being a part of a revolutionary movement of sorts…an acid house pioneer? The ‘Summer of Love’ and all that. Knowing you will forever be remembered as one of its key players?
I was very lucky to be right there in the eye of the storm. I’d moved down to London in 1987 just as DJs were starting to come out of the shadows and through the advent of technology, becoming artists in their own right. By 1988 I’d become the Editor of Mixmag (another in-at-the-deep-end moment) so was living through the whole Acid House explosion. The greatest counter-cultural movement of the last 30+ years. Again, it’s such a privilege to have lived through those times.