Clive Henry is one of the UK’s longest standing flag-wavers for underground house music having been an original member of the West London house mafia, one half of the genre-defining tech house outfit Peace Division and resident at the world’s most musically influential nightclub DC10. Clive started his long musical journey way back in the mid-eighties when he was working after school to earn money to feed his vinyl addiction. He caught the DJing bug going to local hip hop jams in West London and listening to early electro/hip hop on pirate radio. It was all about to change however, when in 1988 he was introduced to London’s early acid house scene by Rocky and Diesel from Xpress 2. They took him to the seminal Spectrum and Shoom clubs which proved highly instrumental in shaping Clive’s musical future.
Not long after, Clive and Rocky started running their own successful nights in the emerging West London party scene called Bone and Gosh with guests like David Holmes, Andrew Weatherall and Ashley Beedle. It wasn’t long before Clive started playing at his own events, which in turn lead to bookings at other clubs, first in London and then across the UK. In 1998 he founded the iconic tech house label Low Pressings with fellow surburbanite Justin Drake who went on to become his production partner in Peace Division.
Decoded Radio manager Daz Pearson catches up with Clive ahead of House Proud presents Decoded Magazine this Bank Holiday Sunday.
Hi Clive thanks for taking the time out to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. We’re looking forward to seeing you at House Proud’s terrace party in Peterborough May Bank Holiday. Now only in its third year at The Solstice, House Proud has already played host Alex Arnout, Adam Shelton, David Glass, Harry Romero and Yousef to name a few. As a new upcoming brand with a strong underground musical foundation how important do you feel it is to play and support newer nights and events?
Very important as some of the more established nights/events maybe have a recognised format/template where as the fresher parties maybe give a new twist to it all and take more chances with lesser light DJs/artists and you get to hear people that you might not necessarily get the chance to.
Do you get excited to see a buzz generating within our UK house scene with new nights starting to last longer and begin to grow in reputation?
Of course. Its always refreshing and inspiring to see something start from near enough nothing to turn into a major force within the scene. I’ve Seen it happen so much over the years. Jamie Jones’ Hot Natured night which is now Paradise, is one event that I’ve seen grow from a small humble gathering playing everything from disco to house etc for about 200 people to a well established brand/club night. Admittedly its not based so much in the UK but its roots and core of its followers and fans are.
Who do you feel in the UK are currently onto a good thing with consistent solid line ups and also based on the energy and vibe you got back from the floor?
From the gigs I play i.e. Infinity in London and just recently Percolate at Oval Space who hosted the Back to Basics 25th anniversary party, the crowds are more in tune with how it used to be, just getting the heads down and grooving (and hardly anyone with their phones out recording it all too!) I’ve not had the pleasure of spinning at Toi Toi but have heard great things about the musical ethos & energy/atmosphere. MuMu in Liverpool is another party I feel that’s always stuck to its guns and not followed trends too much.
The new Ibiza season is underway and another stella opening party line up for Circoloco Coming of Age @ DC10. As a long standing resident now, how has it helped mold your sound and style of house music you play today?
I know that when I play there people come to see/hear me play in my spiritual home so I feel I’m much more relaxed/comfortable with the vibe I create than say if its an event in another part of the world that may not necessarily know/understand it.
Is it difficult logistically with a residency in Ibiza or do you move over there for the summer?
It’s not that difficult especially with so many options flight wise out of London, so I fly in and out nowadays.
What are your early predictions for tunes that will be doing damage on the island as the season kicks off?
The new Alex Arnout track fresh off the conveyor belt has been blowing up for me its called Destroy All Lines. The rest are my secret weapons lol.
You gave us one at least ha. As a massive fan of Peace Division I’d like to talk about the good old days for a moment. The name originated from a UN peace keeping force I believe. Were there links to this and the message you were purveying when you began writing music together with Justin Drake? How did the name solidify?
To be honest, not really I just thought it sounded pretty cool at the time lol.
Well it certainly worked. Peace Division were the forefront of UK tribal house along with the likes of Farley and Heller alas. Do you think the tribal sound of the UK with our more progressive roots differed much to that of the U.S with the likes of Junior Vasquez, Murk and Tenaglia?
I think it was all much of a muchness. Most of it was on point and was a great moment in the scenes history but maybe the UK sound wasn’t so over the top in part and we weren’t massively into progressive believe it or not; it’s just that we got tagged with that due to a plethora of DJs from that scene being into our stuff.
Which common similarities do you think unified both the UK and U.S which pulled our scenes closer together?
Music is just like football it unites various people from all walks of life. The U.S didn’t totally understand what it had created until the UK showed them how huge it was and I still can’t really believe that we all felt it would be ingrained into the fabric of mainstream culture near enough 30 years later.
How influential was the New York based Tribal America and later Tribal UK label to you in building and establishing yourself as pioneering artists of that time in the early 90’s?
I don’t think we purposely used them as influences as in more we were on the same page as them musically and it was more of a zeitgeist moment. We just loved finding obscure drum loops to sample and it just fell in place when the whole thing became huge in the NYC/US.
Before we move on which tracks were inspirational at the time for you which lead to some of your own material produced along with Justin? One of our favourites from you guys is Beatz In Peacez 3. It’s pure groove.
To be fair we didn’t really use any tracks as inspiration we used to go in to the studio with an open mind and just see what we would come up with. We used to listen to loads of music from all aspects of the scene and get buzzed up about certain tracks and how good they were. I suppose you could say Danny Tenaglia was heavily influential at some point but that was more from a DJ stand point because he could mix disco, techno, house, proper electro and make it sound seamless and connected.
Lightening the mood a little, lets talk partying. Does Ménage a Trios boat parties in Southampton in the late 90’s spark any memories? I’ve heard there were a few good after parties, one in particular at a mansion in the middle of nowhere for two days straight?
Hahahaha yeah that was a bit of a major carry on. We were young and reckless.
You can thank Paul Sawyer for that haha!
I understand you lost a selection of your vinyl collection while touring due to an airline incident which prompted you to switch to digital/USB. Which do you find is the best way to manage your music, storage and filing? Decoded always look to offer a top tip to our readers.
Just make sure you have your music backed up constantly. I do it every week on USBs and a portable back up drive.
If you could collaborate in the studio or DJ alongside any artist of your choice who would it be and why?
Ha that’s a tricky one as there’s loads but I would say Dyed Soundorom and Matthew Dear as they have their own unique vibe/sound and stay true to what they do without being influenced with current trends and make amazing records.
As each year is set with bigger goals and target achievements what will be your main focus for 2016? Will it be a big studio year for you?
It’s all about the studio for me right now its been a slow process but we have a pretty dope set up and I wanna be in there as much as possible even if it means cutting back on being in Ibiza this summer.
What material are you currently working on or releasing in the coming months?
We have got an Aquarius Heaven remix coming up for Miguel Puente and I just remixed a Nubian Minds track for Vitalik with Alex Arnout. I’m also just in the process of finishing up an EP for Vitalik too but have had some unforeseen “glitches” in the studio which has held us back for a while.
I’d like to thank you for the informed chat and laugh along the way and look forward to catching up over a few drinks at House Proud next week. See you then!
Yeah for sure. Thanks!