On the roof of a warehouse party somewhere near dawn I had an epiphany. Watching the messiness unravel as the sun rose, I realised we were all chasing things that weren't real, and destroying ourselves in the process. It started me on a journey across the world to find a new way. I found it, and I got bored. This is the story of what happened next.

rave 3.jpg

I get bored easily. If I’m going to listen to a whole set of the same artist, it needs be good, or I’ll get bored. That’s why I love a good DJ, the ability to keep things fresh and engaging, while gently leading the listener on a trip through a huge range of music (if they do it properly that is). Growing up in the 90s in London I was witness to some masters of the art, and enjoyed many a mind-expanding journey through strobe-lit forests of flailing limbs, brimming with sweat and love.

I had some great times, and met some amazing people, but I got bored. Bored of the drugs, the predictable highs and godawful lows. Bored of the cigarette breaks and slurred conversations, spilled drinks and sticky floors. Bored of the judgemental fashionistas. Bored of crawling through broken glass and spent balloons blurrily grasping for the next rail… or maybe that was just me, anyway, I was over it.

Thing is, I still loved dance music, and I still wanted to dance, so I stumbled into sober dance events. I went on some deep journeys, met some amazing people, but I got bored. Bored of being told what to do on the dance floor. Bored of the earnest pseudo-spiritual superiority. Bored of feeling judged in a 'non-judgemental space'… or maybe that was just me, anyway, I was over it.

Check out this brutal video satirising the dark side of the kind of dance workshops I'm talking about here. Some of them were great, but some of them were a bit like this.

I decided to start my own. I knew now that people didn’t need to be on drugs, or told what to do. I'd seen that people who weren’t on drugs didn’t want to dance to the same tempo for hours at a time. After many iterations I discovered what worked was a crazy variety of new and classic tracks, riding a balance of freshness and familiarity, activating the same yummy brain chemicals the drugs did anyway. One night I watched the movie Fight Club with my wife and, inspired by the renegade underground movement, she suggested calling it 'Dance Club'.

While I had so much fun putting the music together for these events, it became clear that it was physically impossible to mix the variety of music I enjoyed, while still being able to dance to it at the same time. I experimented with creating 'blends' - 10 minute chunks of multilayered music that smoothly transitioned from one vibe to another. These pieces were designed to be played together without needing to be mixed, creating a modular set which was able to change direction with the crowd, but still remain tight and diverse enough to keep them moving.

Of course, I got bored. Not of the music, of the business side of it. I had some incredible nights, met some amazing people, but I got bored. Bored of the continual admin. Bored of the incessant ‘content creation’. Bored of thinking about Facebook marketing algorithms. Bored of writing ‘engaging copy’. Bored of setting up and packing down a sound system at each event. Bored of feeling pressure to do what I love to a deadline… maybe that was just me, anyway, I was over it.


So much love, care, excitement and work went into putting these blends together. This was the art at the heart of this thing. Thousands of hours sourcing, editing and weaving the maddest, most beautifully badass tracks into a form that could be slotted together and reformed on the fly. I wanted each piece to stand alone or work together, to be able to be mixed in by a DJ, but also easily mesh when put into a media player, so that anyone could seize the means of production and put on a Dance Club event anywhere in the world.

Here they are, every one of them so far. Push the sofa out the way and do it in your headphones, throw one on at the club, or head out to the bush with a stezza and kick up the dust. It’s up to you, I just recommend you use the instructions below in order to have a really good time.


Each blend is free to download in the format of your choice. Full track listings are also available if you click the heading on the player.

Who knows, when I’ve made some more and the time feels right, the Dance Club portal might open up once more for another event. In the meantime, turn the lights down low, pump up the volume, and let go.

1 - Try not to play two blends of the same level next to each other

2 - If you can, set the crossfade function on your player to 2 or 3 seconds

3 - Commit to dancing through it all - no skipping. Trust that if it gets difficult, it will change.

Big love,

Treats <3



There’s something so inspiring about how the forest grows together. So many different species all touching, supporting each other, living together in pulsing green harmony, slowly weaving towards towards the sun’s rays. For a while I lived near the foot of Mount Dandenong near Melbourne, Australia. A round trip through Sherbrooke Forest near my house took about ninety minutes. I wanted to craft a soundtrack to this walk, based on the bpm of my footsteps, evoking the dense interwoven layers. 

The forest feels a bit like a church or temple sometimes, inspiring a feeling of reverence and respect as I softly step through. It is healing and calming, sometimes I match my breath to my footsteps and it becomes like a meditation. At times a shuffle comes to my feet as the music in my earbuds lifts and turns to a dance. Sometimes I'll turn down the volume to hear the forest noise mix with the music. A tumult of tiny tunes all slotting together into this tapestry of sound, blanketing the soft ferns with undulating clouds of melody and rhythm.

If I’m lucky, I’ll hear a multitude of different birdsongs in one spot, and the Kookaburra won’t sound quite right, then I’ll know it’s a Lyrebird, The elegant and ebullient male triggering it’s sampledelic masterpiece to impress the discerning females. Also known as Bulln-Bulln by the local people of the Kulin nation, the Lyrebird has the most complexly muscled syrinx (vocal organ) of any songbird, and it uses this to effectively record, cut up, loop and play back the sounds it hears in the forest.

For this mix I wanted to create a diverse but cohesive habitat for your mind to wander. I selected a wide variety of musical pieces from around the world (including Norway, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Holland, Mali, Germany & The UK) that sounded at home together on the forest floor. Like the lyrebird, I have deconstructed, looped and rearranged some of these pieces into a patchwork, not to impress the ladies, but hopefully to evoke the densely woven and multilayered forest, with it’s rich, moist fragrant soil, magical fungi, glitchy insects, fractal ferns, wise old trees, restless mammals and colourful, swooping birds.

I was asked by Rocco from the Spoor People collective to create a mix for their Trailmix series. They have been commissioning mixes along the theme of forest walks, and I thought it would be fun to take this very literally. The tracks needed to have a steady beat, but vary in tempo, so House was a natural choice of genre to start with. Although I've coloured far past the edges of this genre boundary, it serves as a uniting rhythm for the feet. I wanted to base this mix on the exact tempo of my journey, so I measured the speed of my footsteps at different points along the way. At the start of the walk there is a steep hill, so I walk at around 95 bpm. This gradually rises as the ground evens out, and rises further as I gain pace when the path opens up towards the end. On the way back down the hill I go a lot faster, around 120-125 bpm, so the rhythm of the mix becomes like a map of my footprints along the trail - just as many of the tracks in the forest are made by the tracks of the wallabies, wombats and lyrebirds, this trail mix is a track made of tracks, matching my journey almost exactly to the beat of the footsteps.

I have paid special attention to the intersections of these pieces. As on the forest floor, there are no gaps, everything interweaves. Pieces of things break off and take on a life of their own. Everything eventually becomes raw material. Of course, beat-matching is nothing new, it’s been around at least since Francis Grasso in the early seventies, but you may notice that some of the transitions are a lot longer and more complex than traditional DJ mixes. That's because I just love it when two tracks mate. If timing and key are right, a mysterious third song is born of that moment. I get such a kick out of finding these diverse and paradoxical combinations, to me it often seems like tracks were made for each other, I just need to introduce them and they get it on. It was so much fun putting this mix together!

I recommend you take this mix into the forest yourself, or just let it bring the forest to you.

Enjoy this journey, wherever and whenever you go.

I love weaving these magical audio journeys. I’d like to to be able to spend more time on this, so if you dig this mix, you can support what I do for as little as $1 a month on Patreon.



Cornelius – Brazil

Isan – Fire Damage

David August – J.B.Y.

Nicola Cruz – Mantis

Francis Bebey – Forest Nativity

Tinariwen – Tenere Taqhim Tossam (Four Tet Remix)

Mariah – Shinzo No Tobira

Ghost Feet – Doom

Space Dimension Controller – BBD Alignment

Greg Sheehan & Ben Walsh – Instant Hits

Matthew Dekay & Lee Burridge – Lost In A Moment (Dixon Rework)

Tipper – Spun Cookie

Typesun – Last Home

Boxcutter – Panama

Mr Scruff – We Are Coming (Max Graef Remix)

Herbert – The Last Beat (Twisted Dub)

Floating Points – Monparnasse

Sabo – Lunar Tom

Umoja – Umboweti

John Parsley – Marimba

Martin Iveson – Cobra xl (Freddy Da Stupid Edition)

Four Tet – Lion (Jamie xx Remix)

Stimming – Southern Sun (Dub)

Die Vogel – Mesmerize

Damian Lazarus – Adventures Of The Ancient Moons

Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – a2 (Max Cooper Remix)

? – Track 09 (Indonesian School Recording)

Flako – Lion’s Mane

Memotone – Small Good Thing (Live Version)

HNNY – Memory Tape One

Camille – Assise (I’ve Been Sitting)

Bugge Wesseltoft – Movement Eleven

RVKIT – Moon Rocks

Let's have some Aphex lullabies

Let's have some Aphex lullabies

This edition of Treatscast is about when Aphex Twin recently uploaded a huge volume of previously unreleased tracks to a secret Soundcloud account. Over 200 tracks were added. 

It didn’t stay a secret for long, and a few months later they were almost all mysteriously deleted.

Richard David James' output has ranged further than pretty much any other electronic artist, from the most blissful, beatless ambient to the most spine-blisteringly frenetic breakcore and jungle - sometimes all in the same track.

The unreleased uploads had a similarly wide range of textures and tempos, so that listening to all of them together was quite a challenging experience. I decided to curate them into subfolders of different climatic zones, so it was easier to visit particular places.

After listening to all of them, I decided to collect some examples of his most warm and somnambulant tracks into this Treatscast, as a tribute to his early Ambient works, and their relationship to sleep and altered states.


First though, Let’s make sure that we understand the context of this music - from his upbringing in Lanner near Redruth in Cornwall, to being, according to Sacha Frere-Jones in the New Yorker, “about as important as a single figure can get in Electronic Music.”

His entire career is shrouded in myth and legend, everything from his track titles to his interview technique to his advertising is somehow hidden or obscured, playfully contradictory, or incomprehensible. Whether this is all innocent cheekiness or carefully thought out plan of “lush disinformation” is satisfyingly unclear.

There was an NME article from the mid-Nineties, headlined 'You Lying Cunt', which compared stories it alleged he'd made up about himself with The Truth as determined by the journalist. Richard chuckled, “In nearly every instance what they said was false was true and vice versa.”

In another interview he says “I find it weird to spend my time sitting down with journalists who end up writing things about me that I never said. I mean, who’s telling lies here? I read interviews that I have apparently given in various newspapers and think, ‘Wow! I said that? That’s a lie!’. Oh well. I can tell you that I never say things that aren’t true … I cannot think of any lies that I have ever told.”

But then, “If everybody always only told the truth, we would all get bored pretty quickly. I like not knowing if someone is telling me the truth or is lying to me.”

With that in mind, here’s a few true facts about him, along with some of my own experiences.


He owns an armoured car, (a Daimler Ferret Mark 3 Armoured Scout Car) for recreational purposes, describing it as being “like a womb, with a gun”. He also bought a submarine in 2001 for "about £40,000. They're really cheap."

He believes Chris Morris is “the best comedian of all time”

In the late nineties, he bought a former bank vault in Elephant & Castle, the four foot thick walls providing excellent soundproofing for his studio.

When once asked to do a remix for Madonna, Richard sent her a letter detailing the exact noises she would have to make with her vagina in order for him to take the job. He feels her approach is almost vampiric. "Her whole career's been like, 'Oh, they're the trendy person of the moment, I'll work with them to make me younger.' They're using you."

In his opinion, the 624 vocal overdubs in 10CC’s I’m Not In Love is the best moment sonically on a pop record

He loves Cornish and Celtic culture, and many of his track titles are in Cornish. Jynweythek = electronic machine. Ylow = music. So Jynweythek Ylow could mean music of the electronic machine. A vor = cutter, rowboat or sailboat. hos = a "big" noise. So Vordhosbn most likely means a noisy boat. As for Avril 14th, recently sampled by Kanye West, April 14th is the date of the Kernow festival in Cornwall.

He once cut off his beard and sent it to his Dad, “He got well confused. He's really straight, so he didn't understand.”

He once emailed Sean from Autechre a 20-second chunk of 'Equinoxe VI' from Jean Michel Jarre’s 1978 Equinoxe album. “The end bit. I was, like, 'Check out these spicy pitch bends'!” 

In New York in 1994 Richard once performed using a blender and discs of sandpaper. People danced enthusiastically, believing the horrible noise to be death metal. The evening ended with James throwing the blender at a man in the crowd, who later asked him to autograph it as a souvenir.

I once saw him DJing using some of these sandpaper discs in the billiard room of a Butlins holiday resort. One of the Aphex branded sandpaper discs subsequently sold on ebay for over 200 pounds.

My personal favourite live experience of his was in Barcelona at Sonar 2003. He was playing after UK Garage duo Oxide & Neutrino. As he was about to start, while the two MCs were repeatedly exhorting the crowd to “make some noise”, he seemed to subtly adjust their voices, distorting them, recontextualising the refrain, and adding some of his own glitched out rhythms, creating a juxtaposition of two sides of the UK underground that was way before it’s time, and extremely inspiring to my young ears.

The ‘Twin’ part of his name is due to his brother who died at birth. “He was also called Richard James. By the way, that’s not a lie. My mother really struggled to deal with it, and therefore named me after him when I was born. My brother was supposed to continue to live through me. As a result, I have felt guilty my whole life … because I could never get rid of the feeling that I should assume the identity of my brother”

His parents met while working in a mental hospital together, one of their duties was to “dole out LSD to the patients”.

As a child, he used to play his family piano from the inside, pulling it apart, then inserting objects in between the strings and the hammers. He studied electronics at school, learning how to make circuit boards from scratch. He started work on his first Ambient works when he was just 14 years old. It is claimed that James was seen producing music in his Cornwall bedroom at age 12.

“I bought a synth when I was 12, thought it was a load of shit, took it apart and starting pissing about with it. I got really into making things with electronics. I learned about it in school until I was quite competent and could build my own circuits from scratch. I started off modifying analogue synths and junk that I bought, and got addicted to making noises"

He began by recreating tracks he had made while sleeping, during lucid dreams. In a 1994 interview he explained, “I go to sleep, dream I’m in my studio with imaginary bits of gear and do a track. Then I wake myself up and recreate it.”

When asked if lucid dreaming was actually dreaming or just daydreaming, Richard replies "Well, both really … when you're asleep, like making sounds in your head, and trying to work out songs. I used to do it. I don't do it anymore. Like I had a dream on the bus the other day, and I had this tune in my head, and I couldn't remember it when I woke up. It takes a lot of practice to remember it when you're awake … most of the time, I have a dream and know that I've dreamt up a wicked tune, or sound, or idea, and when I wake up all I can remember is the fact that it was really wicked, so that's really irritating."

He says he can only control his dreams some of the time. “Yeah, I can change it. Not all the time. But most of the time -- 75%. That's why I love sleeping. For me, there's different degrees of control. There's ones that are like a movie, where you're in the movie, and you can control yourself, and those are the best ones. And then there's ones where you control everything, and that's really boring, because nothing happens."

When asked if his dreams are more real than reality, Richard replies, "I think dreams are a bit more honest, because you don't lie to yourself in dreams. I don't think you have an ego and all this business; it all seems to disappear. The way you are in a day is basically the way you were shaped the night before when you were sleeping; and when you're asleep, that's when all your thoughts are put into order - it's when your brain does all its filing; prepares you for the next conscious day. You could argue that when you sleep that's when all the shit goes down."

Conversely, he has also spoken about putting himself into altered states through sleep deprivation, sometimes going as long as five weeks without sleeping.

"When I was little, I decided sleep was a waste of your life. If you lived to be 100, but you didn't sleep, it'd be like living to 200. But, originally, it wasn't for more time to make music, it was just that I thought sleep was a bit of a con. I'd always been able to get away with four hours a night, but I tried to narrow it down to two. And you do get used to it. I reckon it'd take you three weeks to whittle down from eight hours to two. You should try it, it's wicked."

"It gets very strange when I don't sleep for a long time. Cos it's not that I'm actually that good at staying awake. I can only do it if I'm making music. If I watch TV during a period of going without sleep for three days, I always fall asleep immediately. But it's fucking excellent, not sleeping, you really should try it. It’s sort of nice and not-nice at the same time. Your mind starts getting scatty, like you’re senile. You do unpredictable things, like making tea but pouring it in a cereal bowl."

There are conflicting reports about his drug use, some sources say he never does drugs, others say he smokes a lot of weed, but in another interview he has stated "Don’t do anything creative with drugs. It's just a bit of escape, like a laugh. I like to be totally straight, when I do my music, so I can think about what I'm doing. I don't like being stoned. And I could never do stuff pissed. Well, I've done some stuff pissed. I did some stuff with Mike Paradinas - the Mike and Rich album - most of that was done drunk and on acid, as well … it was a bit messy."

"I never wanted to big up any drugs, because I don't reckon they deserve it. It's just something that you choose to do. I probably come across as, like, 'Yeah, acid and weed are amazing.' But I don't think that at all, really. And if I did, I wouldn't want to say it in an interview. Plus, I'm never under the influence of drugs when I make music. Whenever I have been, it's always been totally rubbish. It's a real disciplined thing, making music. When you're tripping, you're just fucked. You could never get it together to make a track. When I'm stoned, I go to bed."

However, he has also detailed inspiring hallucinogenic experiences. “I had an extremely moving, enlightening experience when I was 17 after taking some schrooms: lying in a field at night on my own, the wind talked to me through the grass. I find wind incredible; it can be the darkest of dark, totally ancient. It is completely alive but that hasn’t been discovered by mainstream science yet. I could also hear sounds before they happened, they had a kind of reversed delay with the pitches rising which got louder until the event happened – that completely changed my perception of time and made me realise that we perceive time in just one way, which is maybe useful to our species but is in no way universal”

In the same interview, he goes deeper. “I know all of us have the potential to do almost anything we want but we aren’t encouraged and that is no accident: The human spirit is kept down, and mostly by the media. Education should not be about remembering facts someone else thinks is important but how to think and how to be encouraged to do whatever we want – as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else”

He has invented his own musical scales. “I've always liked these weird scales and tunings. I've been using my own scales for quite a long time now, since Selected Ambient Works Volume II ... It always sounds more right to me when it's detuned. When it's right in tune, it's like there's something slightly off. But at the end of the day, it's all about frequencies and what they do to you. That's the real core. Forget all the equipment, forget the music, it's just literally frequencies and the effects on your brain. That's what's everyone's essentially after.”

"It is all about sound, but people forget that. They think, "Oh, I want to hear a nice tune." But what you're actually saying is you want to hear the combination of frequencies that make you feel a certain way. And more excitingly, it's about finding out the new ones.”

“You're brainwashed in the West with equal temperament, so it's quite hard for people who like following rules to get outside of that and see what you can do. But for me it's easy because I don't work like that. I work intuitively. I actually prefer it if I don't know what I'm supposed to do. If you've got an equal temperament piano keyboard, then you know what you're going to get if you play certain chords. But I actually like it if you don't know where the notes are, because then you do it intuitively. You're working out a new language, basically. New rules. And when you get new rules that work, you're changing the physiology of your brain. And then your brain has to reconfigure itself in order to deal with it”

The New York Times has described him as 'forever future bound'. From his unorthodox means of inspiration, through to modifying synthesizers and writing his own music production software, and performance (notoriously collaborating with female bodybuilders and giant neon teddy bears), every aspect of Richard's music has remained defiantly unique throughout his career.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Daniel Avery, “Aphex is a continual reminder that the most interesting musicians are the ones who create their own world and don’t particularly care about existing outside of it. In today’s pop culture, where extroversion and gushing collaborations are seen as the most desirable attributes for success, Aphex remains the ultimate anti-careerist. Everything he creates has a beautiful cohesion to it: whether it’s serene ambient electronica, laser-guided acid, or disconcerting, dystopian glitch, the work clearly comes from a singular mind but one that is not affected by outside trends. Aphex is one of those figures who has always done things exactly on his own terms and I see many new artists with the same mindset. The next few years could be very exciting.”


Shoutouts to DJ Food, who did a great mix of rare Aphex tracks including some of the tracks from the soundcloud dump, that I found out about after making this Treatscast

Special mention also to Eskmo who made this beautiful blend of Tom Waits songs with Aphex Twin’s recent EP (Diskhat ALL Prepared1mixed [snr2mix])




Treatscast 02 - The Bernie Mix


We stand at an incredibly important moment in history. America, the most powerful and influential country in the world, has the opportunity to choose between the eyes of love, the eyes of hate, or the eyes of manipulation. Bernie Sanders is the world’s best chance of redemption. He has solidly stood his ground with his beliefs and his principles since the earliest days of his long and successful political career. He is a man of honesty, integrity, kindness and wisdom. These are things the world needs today.

I wanted to get behind Bernie’s campaign, but not being an American citizen, I had to be a bit inventive. I had seen a lot of videos of Bernie’s speeches with uplifting piano music behind them. I was inspired to do something similar, but I wanted it to be more personal, like a conversation with an old friend by the fire. I began to research Bernie Sanders, his life and the music he enjoys, like classic Motown, rock & folk.

I listened to hours of his speeches, and was often brought to tears by the truth of his words. I had never heard a politician speak like this before on so many issues that I cared about. I realized that there were a lot of parallels between today and the Civil Rights movement of the 60s & 70s which Bernie was a part of. He has a 50-year history of standing up for civil and minority rights, fighting against discrimination, segregation and police brutality. He has a long record of standing up for what’s right, even when it is unpopular.

This got me thinking about the many protest songs that were written around that time. Classics like Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ and The Stylistics ‘People Make The World Go Round’. I had a few different versions of some of these tracks and wanted to see if I could weave them together in a narrative that supported and resonated with Bernie’s words. I coupled his quotes on Native American policy with some Native rock and folk by indigenous heroes Eric Landry & Willie Dunn, and I found a beautiful piece sung in Spanish by Agnès Jaoui called 'Suen¡o Ideal' to position behind his words about Latin America.

Where I wanted to include longer quotes to allow Bernie to go into depth about his beliefs, I used more sparse and ambient tracks by Jasper TX & Cliff Martinez. I tried to keep the warmth and informality of this fireside conversation, but somehow take it to a deeper, more emotive place. I wanted to create the vibe of those uplifting piano backed speeches but keep the intimate tone of the rest of the mix. This led to choosing a wonderful piece by Melbourne based composer, Helen Mountford, to pair with the earliest televised interview with Bernie Sanders that I could find, from 1988, where he is asked what kind of a person he would like to see as President of the United States.



Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66 - For What It’s Worth

Buffalo Springfield - For What It’s Worth

Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues

Monty Alexander - Inner City Blues

O'Donel Levy - People Make The World Go Round

The Stylistics - People Make The World Go Round

Michael Jackson - People Make The World Go Round

The Rationals - Glowin’

Eric Landry - Out Of The Blue

Willie Dunn - I Pity The Country

Tracy Chapman - The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Live at Madison Square Garden)

(House Finch singing song)

Las Cafeteras - This Land Is Your Land

Agnès Jaoui- Sueno Ideal

Curtis Mayfield - Rap

Curtis Mayfield - I Plan To Stay A Believer

Undisputed Truth - Ungena Za

Talk Talk - The Rainbow

Shuggie Otis - Tryin’ To Get Close To You

Jasper TX - Last Boat In

Cliff Martinez - We Don’t Have To Think Like That Anymore

Helen Mountfort - Tremble

Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come


Bernie Sanders Quotes (with times and links)

1:04 A Conversation with Bernie Sanders (In 1988)

1:57 Bernie Sanders | The Young Turks Interview

3:53 Sen. Bernie Sanders: What would you DO as President? 1st Campaign Interview - Ed Schultz

6:52 Bernie Sanders - The Vox Conversation

7:09 Bernie Sanders - Talking Shop 5/6

9:58 Bernie Sanders - The Vox Conversation

16:03 Bernie Sanders/Native American Policy

25:34 A Conversation With Residente - Bernie Sanders

33:34 A Conversation With Residente - Bernie Sanders

38:47 Bernie Sanders - The Vox Conversation

43:16 A Conversation with Bernie Sanders (In 1988)

“Ding-Ding-Ding Diddle Ing-Ding”

“Ding-Ding-Ding Diddle Ing-Ding”

David B0wie x Queen x R0bert Van Winkle - Under Pressure (Treats Blend)

This is the third in a selection of secret blends I’ve been playing out recently, this one with Hugo the Poet as part of Hugo & Treats. Most notably at Earth Frequency Festival 2016. It is a blend of Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie, with a snippet of the unreleased acapella version, and the beat stem from Ice Ice Baby by Robert Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice.

Queen had recorded a demo of a song called ‘Feel like’ written by drummer Roger Taylor.

The final version, which became “Under Pressure”, evolved from a jam session that Bowie had with the band at Queen’s studio in Montreux, Switzerland. The scat singing that dominates much of the song is evidence of the jam and the song’s beginnings as improvisation.

There is some controversy over who wrote the iconic bassline. Bowie on his website says it was written before he arrived, and according to Brian May, John Deacon, the band’s bass player, had been playing the riff over and over throughout the recording sessions.

Roger Taylor claims that when the band returned one evening from dinner, Deacon, amusingly, forgot the riff, but fortunately Taylor was still able to remember it. However, Brian May contradicted this account in a 2016 Mirror Online article, writing that it was actually Bowie, not Taylor, who had inadvertently changed the riff. The riff began as “Deacy began playing, 6 notes the same, then one note a fourth down”. After the dinner break, Bowie corrected (actually changed) Deacon’s memory of the riff to “Ding-Ding-Ding Diddle Ing-Ding”.

This bassline along with Freddie Mercury’s piano chords was then sampled in 1990 by champion motocross and jet ski racer, Robert Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice. It wasn’t a direct sample as the piano and bass parts were replayed. Vanilla Ice altered the rhythm of the bassline thinking he would thereby avoid any question of credit, royalties, or license. This case never went to court as it was clear that Vanilla Ice had stolen the sample without permission. He settled out of court with Queen and David Bowie for an undisclosed but likely very large amount.

Here's Vanilla Ice in 1990 explaining the difference between the two basslines.

Suge Knight, the head of Death Row Records later claimed that he had written the song, and visited Van Winkle to convince him to sign over the publishing rights. It is rumoured that part of the convincing involved hanging Vanilla Ice over a balcony by his ankles. Knight made a lot of money from those publishing rights, which went into Death Row Records and the development of artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac.



"Another phase"

"Another phase"

My boy CL hipped me to Idris Muhammad during one of our cloudy basement studio sessions back in the early 00s. I’m pretty sure it was in the context of Beastie Boys samples, a source of much inspiration for both of us over the years.