Fresh from a busy summer of festival and club performances, Liverpudlian Bear Growls can begin to forge for food and begin his long winters hibernation. Raised on a diet of Masters at Work, Gilles Peterson and more, young Bear learned his craft in the time-honoured tradition of DJs at Weddings and family parties. Combining Funk, Soul, House and anything else with a groove, he quickly advanced on to the underground and hasn’t looked back since!
Decoded Sunday writer Ste Knight sat down to find out what makes this bear growl.
Hi Mr Growls, or can we call you Bear? Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to record us a fantastic mix and have a chat with us. First things first, what inspired you to come up with the name Bear Growls?
Hello, and please, call me Bear! I’ve been nicknamed Bear by a number of friends over time for my appearance. Plus, I Growl slightly when I’m tired or frustrated so I thought ‘why not’?! It seems to be an easy name for people to remember which really helps.
Tell us a bit about where it all started for you. What made you want to get into DJing?
Well, I’ve been DJing for around 10 years now in one form or another. My first real gig was at a Liverpool Warehouse Mash Party, a very underground run of parties back in 2007. I’ve never seen anything in Liverpool quite like it to this very day! I entered into the world of Party/Wedding work to pay the bills around 6 years ago. Which taught me how to mix it up and be able to keep an age range 18-90 entertained.
This also taught me how to mix through genres well. From there about 3 years ago, I propelled myself into DJing music I wanted to play to people – Funk, Soul, Disco, House and grooves. And over time my taste seems to have got more eclectic, especially when some gigs are 6-7 hour sets so mixing through genres has become more of a normality.
Your mix has a great summer party vibe to it. Do you try and take this route with all your mixes, or do you just tend to go with the flow? What is involved in your mixing process and tune selection?
It ultimately depends on what the occasion may be. I’ll always have a solid bank of music with me but each gig will lead to me planning a very rough set list of some kind. Even if it’s three or four times the length of my set I’ll use this as a foundation, keep my head up, and read the crowd.
You’re arguably Merseyside’s busiest DJ. Have you actually managed to sit still this summer?!
I’ve ‘sat still’ to sleep and that’s been about it! Seriously though I’ve had an extremely enjoyable summer – very busy, you’re right – but extremely rewarding. I was absolutely stoked being asked back for a second year by Tim Burgess’ Tim Peaks Diner. I’ve had some crazy gigs! Along with a Residency at the Magnet in Liverpool, amongst others, it’s been a non-stop summer! Highlights include being asked to play the Bowie Disco at Liverpool Sound City 16, all the gigs I played at Kendal Calling, Festival No6 and Electric Fields.
Let’s talk about influences. Who influences you musically?
Are there any newcomers you’ve been keeping your eye on that you would like to put us onto?
I wouldn’t say these guys are newcomer’s but no one seems to know about them! Psychemagik. I suggest you listen to their mixes and buy their music asap, I have even put a couple of tracks in the mix I’ve done for you guys!
Have you got anything big on the cards for the rest of 2016? What does the future hold for Bear Growls?
Only the main event of the year! Liverpool Disco Festival is fast approaching! With a serious line up that I’m stoked to be a part of! It will be one hell of a Party, and if you haven’t got tickets get them quick, Roll on October 29th!
01// Ozomatli – Cut Chemist Suite
02// Linda Lewis – Sideways shuffle (Leftside Wobble Edit)
03// Robert Palmer – Every Kind of People (Joey Negro re edit)
04// Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes – Wake up Everybody (Psychemagik Edit)
05// Prince – Sign ‘o’ The Times
06// David Bowie – Love is Lost (James Murphy edit)
07// The Reflex – Computer’s Dream
08// Led Zeppelin – Whole lotta Love (V’s dub)
09// The Reflex – Sunshine
10// Sister Sledge – Living in Ecstasy (Norinton Remix)
11// Paula Cole – Feelin’ Love (Psychemagik Edit)
12// Prince – Black Sweat
13// King Cats -Down in California (Psychemagik Edit)
14// The Jungle Brothers – What You Waiting For?
15// Gladys Knight & The Pips – Taste of Bitter Love (Joey Negro Edit)
16// Hall and Oats – I Can’t Go For That (80s Child Re-edit)
17// Tracy Hamlin – Never too much (John Morales edit)
18// Grace Jones – Pull up to the Bumper (Joey Negro Edit)