A Tribute to Andrew Weatherall – The Mancunion

Gilles Peterson tweeted saying it is hard to put into words the influence and impact Andrew Weatherall has had on UK cultureso sad to hear of his passing.

Novelist, Irvine Welsh said, Genius is an overworked term but Im struggling to think of anything else that defines him.

The Chemical Brothers, Ed Simons declared A true inspiration and hero. A lovely funny man. Incredible DJ.

These are just a selection of some of the reactions to the death of electronic musics own man-of-letters and proclaimed swordsman Andrew Weatherall at the age of 56.

Andrew Weatherall occupies a distinct position in British electronic music and club culture. To view him merelyasthe producer of Primal Screams 1991 album Screamadelica is reductive, rather he should be remembered as an arranger of Screamss raw materials, allowing them to catapult to an untouchable pinnacle as a result of Weatheralls knowledge of dub and house musics sonic potential.

He worked alongside New Order and the Happy Mondays producing a scintillating remix of the latters track Hallelujah. However, although Screamadelica and Weatherhalls foray into the Madchester music scene was a commercial highpoint.

Andrew was much more than a one trick pony. He was a DJ, a tastemaker, a remixer, a record collector, a selector, a techno cosmonaut, a revolutionary. He signalled the confluence between the vitality of acid house and an emerging post-punk aesthetic and in the process, carved himself a niche as an idiosyncratic figure within underground music.

Weatherall was born in Windsor, Berkshire, in 1963. During his formative years, he spent his time immersing himself in the vibrant funk and soul nights littered across the capital city. He eventually left home aged 18 and worked in various roles as a labourer; but it was in 1987, the year he moved to London, that Andrews career exploded.

Weatherall was hired to DJ at the south London club Shroom, where he began to establish himself as a selector, playing across the spectrum of electronic music. In 2014, Weatherhall told the BBC that I saved up all my money and went to London at the weekend to buy records, I just got a really good record collection together to the point where people started to say Why dont you play this at our party?, Why dont you play this at our club?'

Following on from his emergence as a collector and DJ, in 1990 Weatherall created his own label Boys Own Productions where he became a highly sought remixer. He collaborated with Paul Oakenfold on Hallelujah, as well as New Orders World Cup single World in Motion in 1990. His Radio 1 Essential Mix broadcast on November 13, 1993 has gone down in electronic music folklore as an iconic touchstone that was to be heavily imitated yet never bettered.

Andrew Weatherhalls views on electronic music often aligned with notions of spiritual transcendence, viewing music throughout the ages as being the vehicle to which we achieve a higher level of spiritual enlightenment.

In an interview with Uncuts Michael Bonner, Weatherall states that club nights imitate the ancient Greek rituals involving herbal drugs to achieve transcendence. For Andrew, People were having transcendent experiences in 1940s dancehalls, dancing to a big band; now we do it with drum machines and electronic technology its the same concept. Humanity hasnt changed for 100,000 years, but our technology has.

For Weatherall, then, there is something innate in humitys quest to seek an out of body experience, an experience that he soundtracked for so many across different generations.

I was lucky to attend a few of Weatherhalls A Love From Outer Space club nights in Glasgow that he ran with Sean Johnston. The nights were always intergenerational, attended by old-skool ravers from the late 1980s summer of love, to new generations of dancers.

Weatherall set one rule and one rule only for DJs at these club nights: no track could surpass the 122bpm mark. As a result, the club nights plodded along to the steady rhythms of the 808 drum machine underpinning the swirling oscillations of synth stabs and the dancers gnawing on their Wrigleys spearmint.

An anecdote I heard from an ALFOS club night was, upon hearing a dancer giving Sean Johnston trouble across the DJ booth, Weatherall asked the dancer how much hed paid to get in. A fiver, he said. To which Andrew replied, Heres a tenner, now f*ck off.

As tributes will continue to pour in across the underground and mainstream music world, Lord Sabres influence on dance music culture will last in the collective memory for as long as there are dance floors.

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A Tribute to Andrew Weatherall - The Mancunion

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