Rewind is a new running feature that asks established UAL alumni to talk us through a selection of music, films, books or events that were influential to them during their student days. Kicking off the series, we welcome Camberwell College of Arts graduate, world-renowned beatsmith, turntable jedi and designer extraordinaire Kevin Foakes, aka Strictly Kev, aka Openmind, aka DJ Food. Kev’s gone deep into the crates to select ten tracks that meant something to him whilst studying at Camberwell in the early ’90s.
For the uninitiated, Kev has been a hugely influential figure in the fields of music and design since graduating from Camberwell in 1993, notably for his affiliation with Ninja Tune and work under the DJ Food moniker. From his involvement in the early Jazz Brakes releases, via the cut-and-paste magnum opus mix/documentary Raiding the 20th Century, through to his 2012 artist album The Search Engine, Kev remains a key figure in UK electronic music.
As a producer he blurs the lines between hip-hop, jazz, funk, breakbeat, dub, techno and beyond, and as a performer he pushes the boundaries of turntablism and technology when creating the DJ Food live audio-visual experience. When he’s not touring the world DJ’ing or in the studio making beats, you’ll find Kev hosting Ninja Tune’s Solid Steel radio show or designing artwork under his Openmind pseudonym.
As well as a regular schedule of solo gigs, Kev is currently touring his 3-Way Mix show – a 4-deck, 3-DJ reconstruction of The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique album alongside DJs Cheeba & Moneyshot. Click here to keep up to date with all Kev’s gig dates and activities.
That’s enough of our chat, over to Kev with his Rewind selections…
Deee-Lite – Groove Is In the Heart (1990)
“I moved to London in 1990 to do my three year BA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Art and this was just everywhere – a monster, monster hit and, justifiably, a classic still to this day. Coming off the back of the whole Native Tongues movement with De La Soul, Jungles Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest, they took it that bit further with a retro pop image. You couldn’t go out or turn on the radio without hearing this everywhere and it was an ice-breaker at parties as everyone loved it (along with EMF’s Unbelievable would you, er… believe?).”
The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds (1990)
“The Orb were the stoner’s soundtrack of choice in the early ’90s, alongside The KLF’s Chill Out LP and Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, and this was a popular tune to hear in student dorms, like the Tooting Broadway one I lived in for my first year in London. Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld was the ’90s Dark Side of the Moon as far as I was concerned and the follow-up, U.F.Orb, sealed their popularity, as word of mouth had spread far and wide by its release. I saw The Orb a number of times whilst at college and even took inspiration from this song for a design based on the words to Little Fluffy Clouds by printing in letterpress on layers of tissue paper (see below).
Another reason to buy Orb releases was for the gorgeous sleeves designed by The Designers Republic – probably the biggest design superstars in the music world at the time with Warp records, Pop Will Eat Itself and The Orb under their watch.”
Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealin’ (1990)
“I was never a Jane’s fan but some of my best friends at college were, and I couldn’t resist the funk of this, later putting it on a mix CD, Now, Listen for Ninja Tune. This was usually listened to with the likes of Rage Against The Machine’s first LP and the first two Nirvana albums, the second of which went stratospheric of course whilst I was in my second year. A big design influence around this time was David Carson’s Ray Gun magazine with his rough, distressed, anything-goes style bringing texture to typography after the clean-ness of ’80s design heroes like Neville Brody and Malcolm Garrett.”
808 State – Cubik (1990)
“Proper heavy metal rave. Pacific was a huge student record, as was their 90 album which I played endlessly to work to, but this first turned up on the B-side of the Extended Pleasure of Dance EP that followed the LP. It was such a hit that they remixed it and put it out as a single in its own right. Always a winner at parties, I would hoover up any 12″ I could, equally enamoured with the design aesthetic of the ZTT label that released them as the music.
Another new design team working in the dance music sphere around this time was Tomato, of which two members – Dirk Van Dooren and Graham Wood – were tutors on my course at Camberwell. I was assigned Wood in my third year and, for the brief time I was in his charge, he managed to inspire me more than any other tutor on the course.”
The KLF – What Time Is Love (1990)
“I was (and still am) a huge KLF fan and 1991 was their year – this was the one that kicked it all off for them chart-wise though (discounting the Timelords’ novelty No.1). Their Chill Out LP is still one of my favourites and a great soundtrack to work to but What Time Is Love was the summer rave anthem of 1990. Jimi Cauty’s bold typography on the artwork was always recognisable and, despite finishing KLF activities in ’92, they are still legendary to this day.”
Primal Scream – Don’t Fight It, Feel It (1991)
“‘Screamadelica’ was the LP of ’91 for a lot of people. A big post-gig/rave comedown record with that all important Andy Weatherall touch and the Orb connection on Higher Than The Sun – a huge crossover record between the indie and dance scenes. I always loved this more club-friendly track most (specifically the remix by 808 State’s Graham Massey) and still play it at times (with its odd off-time edit near the start). This was the next step after the whole ‘Baggy / Madchester’ fad with bands like The Farm, The Happy Mondays, James, The Charlatans and such filling in the gap left by the Stone Roses. Again the sleeves of the Primals led me to Factory Records, Peter Saville, Central Station Design and, later, Julian House.”
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Television, The Drug of the Nation (1991)
“The Disposables only made one album but it was a killer. I remember buying it on the day of release and it’s sadly not too well remembered, but its day will come. Television… was the lead single and its message still rings true today. I saw them play in Camden (the Underworld maybe?) and they were using angle grinders on metal and showering the place with sparks. Along with similar bands like Consolidated and Meat Beat Manifesto – who all mixed rock, rap, socio-political commentary and samples together in a more industrial style than others – they formed a big part of my listening material during college.”
Beastie Boys – So What ‘Cha Want? (1992)
“Regrouping after the commercial failure of their Paul’s Boutique LP, the Beasties came back with the rawer, more band-based and less sample-orientated Check Your Head album. By melding rock and rap in a less obvious way than just nicking AC/DC riffs, this was another of those records that united the Metallers with the B-Boys at gigs and parties and I remember seeing them with the Rollins Band at the Town & Country Club during this tour. This was during the heyday of DJ Muggs’ career peak with Cypress Hill, House of Pain and Funkdoobiest and he provides a remix on this single too. Other favourite rap albums at the time were Black Sheep’s A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, De La Soul Is Dead and singles from NWA and Caveman.”
Aphex Twin – Digeridoo (1991/92)
“I first heard this late one night on Colin Faver’s KISS FM techno show which I used to listen to religiously after college each Tuesday, along with Colin Dale’s Monday show. It knocked me sideways as it was at least 10bpm faster than everything else at that time and it sounded like nothing else. I immediately hunted down everything I could find by him, which was about three 12″s as Selected Ambient Works Vol.1 hadn’t been released yet and he was about a year away from signing a deal with Warp.
I met Richard at a Shamen gig at Brixton Academy and later he came and DJ’ed at an ambient party called Telepathic Fish I was hosting with mates at a squat in Brixton. I played his music endlessly throughout college, making tapes of various 12″s and remixes. I also used his Xylem Tube EP as the basis for a sleeve design brief, printing mutated type onto tracing paper for a CD and cassette inlay that showed parts of the design through when folded up.”
Galliano – Skunk Funk (Weatherall remixes) (1992)
“This inclusion is for two reasons: the Acid Jazz movement was a big part of things when I was at Camberwell, with one of the tutors actively DJ’ing with bands like Galliano and The Brand New Heavies. The Talkin’ Loud label was in its heyday and Swifty’s graphics were a big favourite with a lot of people. Search out the Thames & Hudson book, Design After Dark as that was a kind of bible to me because, by this time, I had swapped illustration for graphics and wanted to design in the music industry. I’d always done music and art side by side but it took the course to make me realise that design for music was the direction I wanted to pursue, I was just too pre-occupied with trying to draw comics for the first half of the course.
It was around this point when the first book of collected artwork from the Blue Note label was released and I remember said tutor excitedly bringing it in to show the class. We instantly realised where Swifty was getting a lot of his inspiration from, and got a history lesson in record sleeve design and typography into the bargain.
The second reason for this inclusion is for Andy Weatherall’s remixes – I could have included so many different tracks as they were all long, lush and legendary. Future Sound of London’s Papa New Guinea, My Bloody Valentine’s Glider, Primal Scream’s Loaded (not to forget the LP), Flowered Up’s Weekender, Fini Tribe’s 101 and Forevergreen, The Orb’s Perpetual Dawn – it was just a seal of quality if his name was on the sleeve.”
Featured photo courtesy of Will Cooper-Mitchell, DJ Food