My Big Weekend Part 1 – Sankey’s With Derrick May, Surgeon and Dana Ruh

It was always going to be a big weekend. My stomach was in knots all day Friday at the prospect of meeting and talking to one of the originators of dance music, and I’ll be honest and say I was shitting it a lil bit. Friday night was Sankey’s night. I was there to review the Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour ‘Industrial City Sounds’ featuring Derrick May, Surgeon and Dana Ruh. It was something I’d been looking forward to for a while, so it was with great delight I got an email from the PR team at Sankey’s offering me free guest list entry.

On my musical journey that night were two of my closest friends, Andy and his lovely girlfriend Lisa. Joining us was an old friend of theirs, Lee (who coincidentally was part of Death on the Balcony back in the day). I met them at their city centre flat and had a few vodkas to get in the mood. Before too long it was coming up to 11.30 and we had to leave. Shame really, because the YouTube contest Lee and I were having was getting really interesting – we share very similar early house influences.

Quickly into the club (which is a stones throw away) and we are suddenly confronted by a wall of lovingly textured bass sounds from the formidable Dana Ruh. Little time for standing in a queue for a drink, we head straight on to the busy dance floor for a boogie, and do we boogie! Ever developing rhythms and devilish bass fill our thoughts and we soon get to the business end of her set. Never one to spill over, Dana keeps the beats deep and funky, with occasional nods to her techno roots. A talented DJ, if you ever get the chance to see her, do, you won’t regret it for a second. Next up was UK techno powerhouse Surgeon, the music very tangibly hardens up with the very first track, but that soulful edge remains. To start with…

Derrick May

Heading off to the green room with Dana for a break from the madness, Lisa and I stick up a conversation with her about music, life and the universe. The girls hit it off, so I leave them to chat to some Red Bull event staff taking a well deserved break. They tell me about the weekend so far, kicking off on the Thursday with Skepta in conversation at the Albert Hall and at gig at The Ritz, Today was day two with this gig and another at the Soup Kitchen featuring Mount Kimbie and Synkro. Saturday had a live radio broadcast with Krystal Klear and guests followed by a Zed Bias rave up at Antwerp Mansion in the student area of Rusholme. If that wasn’t enough, Sunday had 2 dates as well featuring hip hop legend Jazzy Jeff and PRhyme. PHEW! I was exhausted just listening to them! But it kinda made me realise how com the club wasn’t as filled to the rafters as a normal Friday night, there was simply so much more to do. With there break over I walked back over to where my mates were. Lee and Andy had started up a conversation with a Japanese guy who it turns out is the director of Sankey’s Asia! Then Derrick arrived. Eager to say hello, give him my business card and start a conversation, I steeled myself. “Do not be a fanboy, Do not be a fanboy, Do NOT be a fanboy!” The conversation went something like this…

Me : Hi Derrick, Im Simon from Decoded Magazine [shakes hand firmly – holds eye contact for just long enough]
DM : Good to meet you man, You’re real serious!
Me: Yes, I am about music. [instantly regrets choice of words]
Me : [nervously laughs too]

I go on to chat about Movement and that we have some of our team heading over there and he offers to email me a list of new restaurants to check out. Thats how cool Derrick May is. Kids, if your reading, thats how to do it (Him, not me). Buoyed up by our conversation, I’m keen to hear the man play. Surprisingly, for someone whose been clubbing for over 20 years, Derrick May and the Transmit sound is one I’m not familiar with. So it was extra exciting to see him live; like the first time you go clubbing. He didn’t disappoint. Disco bass lines and wildly frenetic percussion took over and he DJed like a man born with turntables for hands! As the set progressed the music got tougher and more industrial until it was almost too intense for words. Then he’d drop a bomb of a track and the room would explode just a bit more. We were working hard for the Detroit Lion and he thanked us with tracks like Ame’s minimal wonder production Rej and some classic techno. It was a bit of a shame I had to go, but with another big night on Saturday, I did the sensible thing and ducked away about 4am for a sleep and recharge.